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How to Help Your Clients with WordPress SEO (And Make It Pay)

How to Help Your Clients with WordPress SEO (And Make It Pay)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), most of us would agree, is vital in ensuring the success of many clients’ WordPress websites.

If nobody finds your client’s site, that client isn’t going to get business from it and they’re not going to be able to justify spending any more on it (i.e. on you) in the future. A bit of SEO can make a big difference to your client’s feelings about the Web, and can bring a lot of money your way from projects as a result of recommendations, or anything else that clients needs.

The problem? SEO takes time: lots of it.

Nevertheless, your clients cannot be expected to know how to optimize their sites alone – not least because effective SEO practice changes with such frequency; mostly at the whim of Google’s algorithmic variance. And it won’t do to allow their sites to become neglected – that wastes their money and won’t bring anything new to you in future.

There are ways to get the best of both worlds, though, by making sure your clients have excellent search engine rankings without the necessary steps being too much of a drain on your time – and what time you do invest will be paid upfront and well worth it in terms of overall client satisfaction and future work coming your way. This article will guide you through a few of the most effective ways to make this compromise work for both you and your clients.

Include SEO From the Beginning

First things first: You need to explain what SEO is and why it’s important for your client.

Another point is that keeping things simple to start off with for clients is probably a good idea. Many will not have heard of SEO before, much less thought about how to use it effectively to improve their business; to this end, using Google as the reference point for what you’re aiming at might be worthwhile – and anything else you can do to avoid confusion or information overload for the client. Make things as simple as possible to begin with and you can introduce more at a later date.

One nice easy task to get the client started with is setting up a business presence on Google  if they haven’t already – they can even do this while their site is still being developed. Although not pure SEO, it will improve their Web presence and make their pages look better on Google results.

google-plus-business-1024x412

Setting up a business presence on Google can be favourable for the world’s most popular search engine. It’s simple enough that your client should be able to create one themselves.

Take Advantage of Existing Software

As a WordPress developer, you’ve got the power of plugins at your disposal, which can make lots of things easier. SEO is no exception.

Having explained the importance of SEO, you can offer your client an SEO plugin install and configuration on their project for a small extra cost. There are some very good SEO plugins available free in the repository, such as WordPress SEO by Yoast, which includes a helpful traffic-light-style visual representation of how good SEO is on any given post or page.

yoast-seo

You should also use a keyword monitoring tool by adding Google Analytics code or activating the Site Stats module of the Jetpack plugin. These will show the user which keywords are getting them the most success and on which content, enabling them to tailor their future content to cater to these successful areas in a more focused way.

Since you want to give your client a fighting chance with SEO when they first start out, you can offer – again, for a reasonable fee – to have a few of their site’s first pages (e.g. the About page if they will have one) written in an SEO-friendly manner before the site is handed over to them. If you don’t want to be doing this, you can still offer the service but find a freelance writer who’s good at following instructions and has a good grasp of SEO concepts; take a small cut of the fee the client’s paying for the writing.

Offer SEO Training

So far, nothing I’ve suggested will actually be a huge drain on your time – the biggest would be configuring the settings of an SEO plugin, but they’re generally quite good to start with and require only a few minor tweaks. Now, however, let’s consider something that does require more time – but can absolutely be worth it for you and your client if you do it well.

SEO training is something you can have as a separate service, sold independently of your Web projects – although you should advise it for any SEO-conscious client alongside a new website. Using quite a bit of your time as it would do, you can charge a premium rate for it; the justification for clients is that it should overall improve their business’s prospects for the Web if they make the most of their session and go away with knowledge on how to boost their online impact.

What exactly needs to be included in such a training session will depend on a number of factors. Primarily, the client’s current understanding – do they have a vague idea of why keywords might be useful already, or are you going to have to explain that “Google” and “the Internet” are not synonymous? The amount of time available (roughly one hour per session is advisable) and changing SEO trends will also play a part, but the basics probably include:

  • Reiterating why SEO is so crucial for their business – getting found by the right people equals more sales.
  • The importance of writing content for their site’s blog regularly. Having a blog will give their rankings a boost in some search engines anyway (an advantage of blog-centric WordPress as a CMS platform) and writing regularly allows them to build a following of people who see them as an authority; post regular, interesting social media updates if they have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other websites; over time, create a large amount of SEO-friendly content for people to find in search engines.
  • How to write SEO-friendly content, including:
    • Using the SEO plugin, if you’ve installed one, to create good browser titles, descriptions and perform useful analysis.
    • Coming up with eye-catching titles.
    • Writing content of an appropriate length – less than 400 words will generally be considered “thin” content, whereas Google is looking for high-quality, helpful content.
    • Weaving in keywords to their content, including linking them and making them bold to improve SEO. In saying this, content should still flow well and be interesting for humans to read it or they’ll just leave and it’ll be pointless.
    • Never, ever, ever plagiarizing content – duplicating another site’s content will lead to penalties, not a quick boost.
  • Noting again how crucial blogging will be: they need to stick at it, creating a bank of good content, and results will start appearing over time.

Generally, you should try to keep at least the initial sessions as simple as possible – once the client is confused, it’s hard to get back on track without wasting a lot of the session.

Given the ever-changing nature of SEO, you can offer your clients refresher sessions in the future. This way, you keep your clients’ techniques up-to-date, their sites fresh and bringing in business (reflecting well on you as the developer) and keep earning on the sales of the sessions.

You could also consider compiling a booklet for those who have taken the session to refer to (again, this could be sold as an extra if you wish), updating it with new trends. This might also help you keep up if you spend a lot of time doing things other than SEO because you’ll have to dedicate a little time to finding out anything new.

Build a Network of Affiliates

Development isn’t everything in the Web business, but if you’d rather it were, you can make that happen – just make sure your clients don’t miss out on anything important as a result by building a network of affiliates to whom you can outsource various other tasks for them. This does have the advantage of allowing you to have a greater client base as you spend your time only in the one area (development), not in several (SEO, copywriting, and anything else).

If you’re not hot on the idea of giving SEO tutorials then find someone to whom you can refer clients for that training. They’ll still receive the benefits, as will you (active, fresh, successful site to your names) and in fact you could work payment through the agency so you take a small cut.

The same can be the case with freelance writers and SEO copywriters if the client feels that despite SEO training they might not be up to the task, or won’t have enough time. You can negotiate good deals and get the best people for your clients, making your service more valuable and hopefully ensuring your clients stick with you for a long time.

Once you’ve established these ties, you hardly need to invest any more time in them – although you could continue to take a small cut of the fee for setting up the affiliates with the clients. Your clients get good service, your affiliates employment and whilst reaping the benefits of an improved site for your client, you also make a little extra.

Summary

The core message here is that you should be making SEO part of your Web development services because it’s important for the client, and for you to retain the client. Making websites more successful is only going to be a good thing for the client and will keep them enthusiastic about the new opportunities you can offer them on the Web. Yet it needn’t be a loss leader: you can make money out of providing and/or recommending SEO services.

Whether you set up the services in-house or do build relationships with affiliates, it will benefit everybody not to ignore SEO and getting business’ websites found in favour of simply pursuing new development jobs (tempting as that can seem). To do the best for your clients, you need these services available in some form – and you can be paid for it, so what could be better?

55 Web Design Blogs to Follow in 2016

55 Web Design Blogs to Follow in 2016

As a web designer, knowing where to look online for all the best news, tips, tools, freebies, tutorials and other useful resources is pretty important. But with thousands upon thousands of blogs out there focused on web design, which ones are actually worth reading?

Your time is valuable, so wasting too much of it browsing through a large number of mediocre blogs isn’t a habit you want to bring with you into the new year. By subscribing to a few reputable blogs that delivered the highest quality content over the past year, it’s safe to assume that they’ll be doing the same in 2016 – possibly with plans to deliver even better content.

55 Web Design Blogs to Follow in 2016

The following list includes 55 great web design blogs that really shined in 2015. Here’s hoping that they’ll be around for many years to come!

1. Creative Bloq

Creative-Bloq

With a focus on both creative and inspirational tips, Creative Bloq aims to deliver the very best in web design, graphic design, 3D design, digital art and more.

All of its content is geared toward helping readers stay on top of current design trends, with multiple posts published each and every day.

One of Creative Bloq’s most popular posts from 2015 was 6 Tips for Using Grids in Logo Design.

2. Smashing Magazine

Smashing-Magazine

Smashing Magazine is one of the biggest design and development blogs that takes pride in emphasizing the quality of its content, rather than the quantity. Everything you read is based on the latest trends and techniques in the industry.

In addition to all the valuable free content you get from its blog posts, you can also purchase books in print or e-book form and get tickets to attend Smashing conferences.

Why Static Website Generators Are the Next Big Thing was one of their most popular posts in 2015.

3. Co.Design

Co.Design

Fast Company’s Co.Design has been around for years and is currently one of the largest design sites online, with more than a million readers every month. The blog puts a focus on both business and design, including all the areas in which the two topics intersect.

An interesting and popular post from 2015 to consider checking out is The Golden Ratio: Design’s Biggest Myth.

4. SitePoint

SitePoint

First launched in 1999, SitePoint has become a central hub for web professionals in all sorts of web-related fields including design, development, programming, product creation, SEO, and entrepreneurship.

The blog also offers a premium membership option for those who want access to thousands of video tutorials and every book ever published by SitePoint.

One of their best posts of 2015 worth having a look at is 3 Things (Almost) No One Knows About CSS.

5. Tuts+

Tuts

Envato’s Tuts+ is all about hands-on learning; helping people apply the creative skills they acquire in areas like coding, illustration, photography, web design and more.

Basically, if you’re looking for tutorials that you can follow at your own pace, Tuts+ is one place you’ll definitely want to check out. You have the flexibility to dive deep into a specific topic or expand your learning right across a wider range of topics.

One particular tutorial that did really well in 2015 was Blending Models in CSS: Color Theory and Practical Application.

6. Codrops

Codrops

Codrops is a blog that offers articles, tutorials, blueprints, freebies and all sorts of other great content based on all the latest trends and techniques in web design and development.

While the blog isn’t updated with new posts quite as frequently as some of the other blogs on this list, you can still count on Codrops for only the most useful, inspiring and innovative content.

A popular post from 2015 includes one where they showed off an Animated Map Path for Interactive Storytelling.

7. Hongkiat

Hongkiat

Hongkiat has been a popular blog for designers, developers, and other types of techies since 2007.

You’ll find tips, tutorials and inspiration on almost everything. Whether you’re looking to learn more about Photoshop, HTML/CSS, WordPress or even Facebook promotion, Hongkiat has you covered.

One of their most popular posts of 2015 includes 20+ Tools to Create Your Own Infographics.

8. Design Shack

Design-Shack

Design Shack has been around since 2003, aiming to provide inspiration in all areas of design with accompanying articles and resources that help readers learn how to create the same examples and succeed more in their work.

The blog offers content on a range of design topics including related subjects like business and freelancing.

A great 2015 post worth checking out on Design Shack is What’s a Logo Grid, and Why Should You Use One?

9. Designmodo

Designmodo

Designmodo is a blog packed full of resources for both designers and developers, offering useful content in categories like coding, WordPress, tutorials, freebies, inspiration and more.

Some of their UI packs are available for free and you can check out their shop for more premium products, ranging from website and design frameworks to icons and WordPress plugins.

One of their best posts from 2015 was Great Font Combinations You Need to Try.

10. Web Designer Depot

Web-Designer-Depot

Web Designer Depot’s goal is to share only the best and latest discoveries, tips and techniques in web design and development while also covering the business side of design work, mobile apps and working as a freelancer.

Given that it’s quickly grown to become one of the web’s most popular design blogs, you can find all sorts of great, in-depth articles and tutorials on almost anything.

7 Secrets for Enhancing UX with Micro-interactions was one of their best posts of 2015.

11. CSS-Tricks

CSS-Tricks

Back when it launched in 2007, CSS-Tricks was all about just what its name suggested – CSS. Today, however, it has since expanded to include all topics related to web design and web development.

The blog is updated with multiple posts every weekday and in addition to those, you can enjoy video tutorials, community forums, code snippets and more.

One post from 2015 worth reading is The Debate Around “Do We Even Need CSS Anymore?”

12. Speckyboy

Speckyboy

Initially launched in 2007 as the creator’s personal freelance web design site, Speckyboy quickly evolved into the design magazine that designers and developers know and love today.

You’ll find helpful tutorials, time-saving techniques, useful resources and inspirational art in all areas of design, development, advertising and mobile.

A popular post from 2015 that you won’t want to miss is 50 Free Books for Web Designers & Developers.

13. Noupe

Noupe

Noupe is a design and development blog that aims to keep readers informed about relevant news in topics like CSS, Ajax, JavaScript, web design, graphic design, typography, advertising and more.

The blog is usually updated with one daily post. There’s a great “Essentials” section with all sorts of freebies, deals and giveaways you’ll want to check out.

43 Handpicked Services for Completely Free Images was one of their most popular posts of 2015.

14. Web Design Ledger

Web-Design-Ledger

Written for web designers by web designers, Web Design Ledger’s main goal is to serve as a platform that allows users to share their knowledge and resources on everything from tutorials and tips to inspiration and interviews. This is another blog where you can expect to read multiple new posts each and every weekday.

You’ll want to have a look at The Anatomy of an Invoice (That Gets Paid) if you’re a freelance web designer.

15. Designr Fix

Designr-Fix

Designr Fix is a blog that caters to literally everyone and anyone who considers himself to be a design junkie.

With a big focus on community, there’s a big focus on the evolution of art in terms of both inspiration and technique. You can take advantage of freebies, tutorials, deals, resources and more.

A great post of theirs from 2015 worth a read is The Absolute Minimum Every Novice Web Designer Must Know.

16. Six Revisions

Six-Revisions

Six Revisions has been a resourceful blog for web designers and developers since 2008. The blog maintains a minimal look and is updated with new posts a few times every month with only the best content.

You’ll find all sort of posts on topics like CSS, HTML, JavaScript, design, WordPress and more, along with the opportunity to get access to great freebies, useful tools and in-depth tutorials.

Their most shared post of 2015 was 15 Free Books for People Who Code.

17. You the Designer

You-The-Designer

UCreative’s You the Designer is a design blog for both beginners and seasoned professionals.

Posts tend to lean a little more toward the artistic side of things rather than the technical side, and they’re kept short enough that you can read them in just a few minutes. You can also browse through other categories like business and photography or check out the resource section and freebies available.

A great post from 2015 to read would definitely be 11 Things That Don’t Mean Good Design.

18. Awwwards

Awwwards

Awwwards aims to recognize and promote the work of talented designers and developers who can offer readers useful, innovative and inspirational value. In addition to that, you’ll come across a lot of great posts featuring tutorials, tips, trends, interviews, videos, freebies and more by browsing the blog.

One particular post that did extremely well this year was 100 Greatest Free Fonts Collection for 2015.

19. Line25

Line25

First launched in 2009, Line25 is a blog that shares web design ideas and inspiration by publishing tutorials and showing off examples of beautiful site designs. The blog is usually updated with a new post at least every weekday, featuring everything from pattern and texture roundups to WordPress plugin reviews.

25 Interactive HTML Websites That Look Like Flash was one of their best of 2015.

20. Abduzeedo

Abduzeedo

Abudzeedo is a design blog that’s been around since 2006. It’s focused on collecting resources for visual inspiration and useful tutorials that serve designers.

Collections include topics like illustration, interviews, logos, photography, typography, sites of the week and more. Tutorials are broken down by the software program they focus on while also including longer case studies and shorter quick tips.

One great post of theirs from 2015 was 12 Paradoxes of Graphic Design.

21. MonsterPost

MonsterPost

Template Monster’s MonsterPost is a design and development blog that has been around for more than a decade, covering everything in the industry through daily posts.

Stay updated on news, read reviews, get access to useful tools and teach yourself new skills by taking advantage of the tutorials provided by MonsterPost.

Their most shared post of 2015 was Growth Hacking – an Outlaw of Marketing or Efficient Strategy for a Start Up..?

22. 1st Web Designer

1st-Web-Designer

1st Web Designer is a popular blog for newbie designers. It aims to teach people how to learn web design from scratch, but it’s still a great resource for seasoned designers too.

The blog’s design itself is very simple and minimal, featuring posts on everything from CSS templates and UX trends to WordPress theme reviews and font collections.

99 Jokes Only Web Designers Will Understand was their top shared post in 2015.

23. Digital Telepathy

Digital-Telepathy

Digital Telepathy is a design company focused on marketing sites, e-commerce, platforms, digital products and mobile apps.

All of the design work they do for companies is heavily focused on the user experience, which is what their blog posts focus on as well. Categories you can browse through include design, inspiration, business, philosophy, products, productivity, resources and interviews.

Their most popular post from 2015 was How to Choose the Right UX Metrics for Your Product.

24. Design Beep

Design-Beep

Design Beep is a blog that’s all about publishing content for designers and developers looking for inspiration, tutorials, tips and tricks, free collections and anything else that’s related to design.

There’s a great freebie section where you can get access to brushes, fonts, icons, PSDs and so much more. WordPress is also a big focus in the resource section.

A lot of their top 2015 posts are for free stuff, one of which was a free download for a Travel App UI Kit.

25. Inspired Mag

Inspired-Mag

Inspired Mag combines topics related to the web, design and lifestyle and aims to provide each reader with at least one piece of raw material that fuels their inspiration.

The blog features posts in categories like web design, reviews, WordPress and freelancing. There are some great freebies and deals you can take advantage of in addition to the daily posts.

Their most popular post of 2015 was 4 Reasons Why Czar Might Prove to Be the King of WordPress Themes.

26. InstantShift

InstantShift

InstantShift is a community geared towards web designers and developers that covers an array of topics, including WordPress tips, plugin reviews, CSS, Photoshop and JavaScript tutorials. They offer collections of open source fonts and icons too.

Readers are encouraged to submit news that they deem relevant to the site and submissions are always open for writers with an interest in web design or development.

Their breakdown of the Top 22 Designing Trends For 2015 That Are Must For Graphic Designers is well worth a read.

27. From up North

From-Up-North

From up North is all about visual inspiration, be it for graphic designers, photographers, or illustrators. Pretty much all professionals who deal any aspect of design are bound to find something that will get their creative juices flowing here.

The idea was born as a simple personal blog curated by Daniel Nelson in 2009, which then garnered enough of a following to be relaunched as From up North, and underwent a final visual makeover in 2013.

One of their all-time most popular posts was 35 of the Best Graphic Design Pieces of 2014.

28. Design Instruct

Design-Instruct

In-depth tutorials about web development, professional advice for web designers, and round-ups of inspirational tips are at the heart of Design Instruct. It may not publish daily articles, but those that make it on the site are all high-quality pieces.

It was launched in 2010 in a collaboration between Isaac and Jacob Gube (a photographer and a web designer/developer respectively) and the project is open to all contributors with an interest in design or art.

If you’re in the market for a job, 10 Free Clean and Minimal Resumé Templates to Help You get the Job might be just what you’re looking for.

29. David Airey

David-Airey

As you might surmise from its title, this website is all about one man. David Airey is both a writer and a graphic designer who has worked for renowned companies such as the BBC, the Yellow Pages, and the Asian Development Bank.

His website acts as both a personal portfolio and a collection of inspirational pieces for designers, which are brought to life by David’s writing.

In his most popular post of 2015, Airey published a short memorial for Swiss type designer Adrian Frutiger.

30. Spoon Graphics

Spoon-Graphics

Spoon Graphics is the brainchild of Chris Spooner, a graphic designer who has made it his mission to share interesting tutorials, in-depth articles, and collections of freebies that other artists can use in their own work.

His endeavor is in part supported by a premium area in which he shares stock material such as patterns, brushes, icons, and fonts for designers who want access to high-quality collections.

If fonts are your thing, you should take a look at his list of 60 Quality FREE Fonts You Probably Don’t Own, But Should!.

31. 24 Ways

24-Ways

24 Ways is a blog built around a unique concept. For 24 days during each December, a team of professional web designers and developers band together to bring you 24 articles focused on the topics they deem most important for workers in their areas of expertise, which are then published a day at a time.

Since its inception in 2005, 24 Ways has brought together over a hundred articles, published over two hundred articles, and given its followers an additional reason to cheer for the arrival of December.

Donovan Hutchinson’s piece, Animating Your Brand, was one of our favorite articles of their 2015 repertoire.

32. UX Booth

UX-Booth

UX Booth is one of the definitive resources for UX professionals; covering everything from analytics, to business and content strategy, information architecture, interaction design, user experience philosophy, research information, accessibility, and visual design. We weren’t exaggerating when we used the word definitive.

The publication was born on 2008 and since then it’s amassed a massive collection of writings by dozens of UX specialists.

User Stories: A Foundation for UI Design is a great introduction to the kind of content that you can find in this community.

33. A List Apart

A-List-Apart

A List Apart is a publication with a long history; I remember reading it when I was but a wee lad. It’s been publishing in-depth pieces centered around web design, development, and best practices ever since 1997, when it was founded as a simple mailing list.

The website was then born in 1998 and since then it has upheld the highest of standards when it comes to content while still remaining on the lookout for new voices who have interesting perspectives regarding web content.

One of their most popular articles of 2015 (and part of their issue number 415) was Quantity Queries for CSS.

34. Creativeoverflow

Creativeoverflow

While Creativeoverflow is, at its heart, a blog devoted to design, they also publish quite a lot of articles regarding work productivity and finances that can be appreciated by professionals from areas.

Their wide range of topics is part of the reason why this blog has amassed such a dedicated following since it was created in 2009 by Jacques van Heerden.

Design professionals will find some great advice in their 2015 piece, Frequent Mistakes Graphic Designers Make And How To Fix Them.

35. Vandelay Design

Vandelay-Design

Vandelay Design is a prolific resource not only for web design professionals and developers, but for all kind of entrepreneurs who want to get a leg up in their respective fields. In their mission statement, they make an emphasis on how education is the foundation upon with all success is built, and as such, their team strives to share the best content with their readers.

Aside from their regular articles, Vandelay Design also offers a shop which is stocked with thousands of handcrafted graphic resources, with everything from resume templates to icon packs.

One of their most popular articles of 2015 was a Blogger’s Guide to Creating Better Content.

36. The Next Web

TNW-Design-Dev

The Next Web is a leading online publication which covers tech advances, business, and cultural news. Despite not being solely design-focused, they do possess a dedicated Design & Dev section which is essential for professionals of these fields due to its combination of tips, tutorials, and coverage of the latest developments within their fields.

5 of the best interaction design trends of 2015 is a must read for designers with an interest in UX.

37. SiteInspire

siteInspire

SiteInspire has a unique concept: to showcase the very best in website design according to specific criteria. The team that decides which sites to showcase is partial to clean and simple designs, while excluding those that use Flash excessively, or those with obvious visual errors.

Over time, they’ve amassed a collection of over 4,700 sites that’s been painstakingly categorized according to style, type of website, subject matter, and platform (including Behance, Cargo Collective, ReadyMag, Shopify, Squarespace, and Tumblr). This makes it a breeze for designers to search their catalog when they’re looking for inspiration.

One of the latest sites to have been featured in their showcase is Merry Everything!

38. Onextrapixel

Onextrapixel

Onextrapixel is a Singapore-based online magazine featuring case studies, tips, news, tutorials, reviews, and other useful resources for both web designers and developers. Their case studies and analysis on design trends are particularly insightful, making it an essential stop for design professionals.

The site was birthed in 2009 by a team of design enthusiasts who then went on to recruit authors from across the globe as it grew into the successful publication it is today.

If you’re a creative professional, check out their recent roundup of 7 Ted Talks Every Creative Must See.

39. Little Big Details

Little-Big-Details

Floris Dekker created a simple collection of pieces meant to inspire designers in 2010, with Tumblr as his platform of choice. Five years and thousands of submissions later, he’s now joined by Andrew McCarthy and together they’ve kept their collection growing with a new piece every day.

Their thousands of subscribers help them out by sending pieces for consideration, which are mostly geared towards UX design.

One of their most popular notes is about the icon design of the iOS voice memo app.

40. Creative Market

creative-market

Besides churning out high-quality articles mostly dedicated to design, Creative Market is also an online marketplace for handcrafted and mousemade (in their own words) content open to designers from all walks of life.

Their articles tackle all kind of subjects, from design trends to inspirational quotes, step-by-step guides to launch your own blog and a fun weekly column called Designer Problems.

In fact, if the idea of reading about designer problems tickles your fancy, you might enjoy another one of their articles titled 10 Things Designers Freaking Hate With a Passion.

41. Naldz Graphics

Naldz-Graphics

Naldz Graphics is a little blog with thousands of subscribers and regular readers, who flock to it for their regular fix of freebies which can be used in their own design work, breakdowns of the top trends in web design, and tutorials.

If you’re the kind of designer who likes to browse around for inspiration and keep his arsenal well-stocked with free content, you’ll enjoy your time at Naldz Graphics.

One of their most popular posts of 2015 was the 50 Finest WooCommerce WordPress Themes To Check Out Now.

42. Tutorialzine

Tutorialzine

This little zine was created by a team of highly-motivated (and talented) web developers and designers from Bulgaria, who’ve been regularly publishing their own step-by-step tutorials ever since 2009.

While their site may look simple, their tutorials are anything but sparse. In their web development pieces, you can follow their guidance as you code, and they include screenshots at every step for better understanding.

As far as design goes, their tutorials are just as in-depth as those focused on development, which you can see for yourself in one of their most popular pieces, Comparing Bootstrap With Google’s New Material Design Lite.

43. Treehouse Blog

Treehouse

Treehouse is well known in the world of web development as one of the best places for people to learn coding online, thanks to their thorough library of tutorial videos and practice platform, as well as their gamification approach to learning.

The Treehouse team also maintains a community blog which has turned out to be a surprisingly good resource for web and app designers and developers. On top of news regarding updates on their learning platform, they also publish advice for new professionals in their field and inspirational pieces about self-taught average people who’ve gone onto success.

One of their most thorough (and popular) pieces of 2015 was 3 Steps to Better UI Wireframes.

44. Happy Cog

Cognition

Happy Cog is a collection of the musings on web development and design from a team of professionals based in New York, spearheaded by founder Jeffrey Zeldman. A random sample of their articles pulls up diverse topics such as learning how to teach from kids (which could be used to simplify the UX experience), the development process, and print design.

Things I’ve Learned From Working With My First Web Team is one of their most interesting pieces and applicable to professionals working in pretty much any field.

45. WebAppers

web-appers
WebAppers is a compilation of the very best when it comes to open source resources for both designers and developers. For designers, there’s collections of icons, stock photos, brushes, fonts, and inspirational resources; all categorized according to their licenses to simplify your search.

It’s the brainchild of Ray Cheung, a web entrepreneur who runs several other blogs focused on the same fields.

If you’re on the lookout for high-quality stock photos, check out 15 New Websites to Download Free Stock Photos.

46. Hacking UI

HackingUI

Hacking UI is a goldmine of curated content meant for designers to develop their professional skills. Inside, you’ll find podcasts, step-by-step tutorials where professionals walk you through solving design issues, and unique insights into business-end matters such as scaling a design team.

This online magazine was created by the designer/developer team of Sagi Schrieber and David Tintner, who previously co-founded a web startup.

One of their most popular pieces deals with a designer’s experience after using Sketch for a year, A Year Using Sketch – An Honest Review, which was a follow-up to another one of their articles (which went viral) The Sketch Manual Part 1: How and Why I moved to Sketch.

47. Material Design Blog

Material-Design-Blog

Whether you love or hate it, material design has certainly made a big impression in the design world and it’s likely to remain in vogue for a while to come. This blog was founded upon that principle, and it’s made a name for itself by rounding up the best examples of material design out there, as well as publishing tutorials and apps to help designers in their day-to-day jobs.

If you’re a regular visitor to Elegant Themes, it’s probably safe to say you’re interested in WordPress, so you might enjoy this roundup of 11 Free Material Design WordPress Themes to Spice Up your Blog.

48. Design your way

Design-your-way

Design your way is a visual feast of tips for web, UI, and UX design, alongside a healthy helping of free resources for designers, and some articles covering typography and WordPress advice.

Its articles are filled with gorgeous imagery and you’ll be glad to find they have very few generic advice articles. Here it’s all about design, covering everything from case studies in good color contrasts, why UX is important for designers, to how to make the best use of blocks in web design.

Curiously enough, their most popular article of 2015 was about food packaging design, Intelligently Made Food Packaging – 50+ Examples.

49. Design / UX (Medium)

Medium-Design-UX

Medium hardly needs an introduction. In the past years, the publishing platform has gained enormous traction among bloggers and become one of the de-facto sources of information in the web.

This curated list of authors covering design and UX topics hasn’t been as active lately, but it still remains a good resource for those who looking for a first-hand account from professionals in the field.

Characteristics of a User Experience Designer is one of the most recent and well-received articles from this list.

50. UXPin Blog

Studio-UXPin

The team behind UXPin is most well known for their UX design platform, which is meant to help design professionals go from wireframing to testing in a single app, regardless of their platform of choice.

It stands to reason then that they should know their stuff when it comes to design, which is why their company blog is a fantastic resource for design, UX and project management tutorials and tips.

If UX design is your thing, you might want to take a look at 3 Problems Killing UX Design in the Enterprise (And How to Fix Them).

51. Good UI

GoodUI

Good UI’s website is an experience in and of itself. If you’re expecting a regular blog, you might find yourself confused for a few seconds once you find yourself in their homepage, which as its name implies, is a simple ongoing collection of ideas for good UI design.

Each idea is short and to the point and is accompanied by a graphic example, which makes them all easy to digest. Our favorite part of the website is the counter that tracks your progress down their list of ideas.

Want an example of one of their ideas? Try merging similar functions instead of fragmenting the UI.

52. UsabilityGeek

Usability-Geek

UsabilityGeek started off as a personal blog created by Justin Mifsud in 2011, who felt that there was a widespread lack of knowledge about how usability affected the quality of websites. Since then its reach has expanded and the array of topics has evolved to cover UX, conversion, human-computer interactions, and information architecture.

Overall, however, the main goal of the site continues to be educating its readers on how to deliver a great user experience. Its most popular article during the past year was 10 UX Design Trends You Shouldn’t Overlook in 2015.

53. Boxes and Arrows

Boxes-Arrows

This online journal has been dedicated to the discussion of graphic design, UX, information architecture and business design ever since its creation in 2001. This has been made possible through the contribution of hundreds of design professionals who’ve lent their voices and expertise to further discussion in the topics they feel most passionate about.

Its minimalist design may not turn any heads, but their articles are sure to get you thinking. A good place to start would be their recent piece into how Creativity Must Guide the Data-Driven Design Process.

54. Boagworld Blog

Boagworld

Boagworld is the aptly named suite of resources (from podcasts to books, and the aforementioned blog) devised by Paul Boag, where he and other members of the Headscape team get to talk about web development topics ranging from accessibility, design, marketing, and working in the web.

Headscape is a web solutions company with a diverse team and years of experience in the field (so you should listen to their advice) and their articles are both in-depth and enjoyable to read.

For starters, take a look at this article written by Paul Boag himself, User experience design is not what you think.

55. UX Magazine

UX-Magazine

Last but not least, UX Magazine has been a staple in the online UX community ever since 2005. For years now it’s been publishing top shelf articles regarding all areas of design thanks to the help of industry leaders who take the time to impart their wisdom to other practitioners.

Among its articles, you’ll find diverse topics such as accessibility, data visualization, storytelling and empathy in design, all alongside the traditional studies into UX design trends.

One of their best and most popular articles (with a title that is sure to raise some eyebrows) is Why Web Design is Dead.

Conclusion

And that’s a wrap! It definitely isn’t always easy to find the best or most up to date information on web design topics, but the above list of blogs can help solve that problem as you move forward with your work in the new year.

Where To Find A WordPress Developer When You Need A Custom Website

Where To Find A WordPress Developer When You Need A Custom Website

By 

WordPress is famed for its versatility. With tens of thousands of themes and plugins available online, you can build a feature rich website using WordPress with no knowledge of coding. Of course, if you want to use themes and plugins to build your website, you are restricted to what solutions are already available. If no such solution exists, you will need to customize your website yourself.

You could learn how to do this by following step by step tutorials and referring to resources such as the WordPress Codex. You could also ask for help from WordPress support websites like WordPress Development Stack Exchange.

For complex projects, you will need to find a good WordPress developer to help build the website you desire. The price you pay a developer depends on the difficulty of a project, their experience, and what country they are located. While a higher price is no guarantee of quality, you should be wary of developers who quote prices that are too good to be true. Check out similar projects listed on job boards and freelance marketplaces to give you an idea of how much a particular job should cost.

In this article, I would like to share with you some websites that will help you find a good WordPress developer for your project.

WP Hired

WP Hired is a job board that publishes WordPress related jobs on a daily basis. They cater for part time, full time, freelance, internship, and temporary positions. Jobs are categorized into bloggers, designers, developers, and SEO.

It is 100% free to post jobs and reply to job offers. All of their jobs are also promoted to their followers on social media.

WP Hired

WordPress.net Job Board

WordPress.net is the official job board from the developers of WordPress. A wide number of positions are advertised including website migration, theme development, plugin development, and design and development.

It is free to post jobs to the board and its affiliation with WordPress.org ensures that a lot of people will see your advertisement.

WordPress.net Job Board

WPMUDev Job Board

The WPMUDev job board publishes WordPress development requests every day. Jobs detail the project budget and the due date for the project.

To publish a job advertisement, you need to sign up as a WPMUDev member. This currently retails at $39.60 per month. A lot of great WordPress developers look for work on their board, so this could prove to be money well spent.

WPMUDev Job Board

Smashing Jobs

The Smashing Jobs job board publishes design and development jobs every day. All positions are advertised as freelance or full time.

It costs $75 to publish a freelance position and $225 to publish a full time position.

Smashing Jobs

Tuts+ Jobs

Tuts+ Jobs replaced the old FreelanceSwitch job board. Jobs are advertised on a contract, part time, or full time basis.

For the time being, it is 100% free to publish a job offer; however the cost will soon rise back to $99 per listing.

Tuts+ Jobs

Simply Hired

Simply Hired is a huge job website that has regional websites across the world. They charge $99 to post a job advertisement for thirty days.

A number of tech job boards are powered by Simply Hired. For example, Sensational Jobs pulls related design and development jobs from the Simply Hired database.

Simply Hired

Krop Creative Jobs

Krop is a job board that is popular with designers and developers alike. It is mostly used to promote ongoing freelance and contract work; rather than small one off projects.

It costs $199 to post a job advertisement for thirty days. Be prepared to pay a good rate as the standard of developers is very high.

Krop Creative Jobs

Freelancer

With over ten million users, Freelancer is by far the most popular freelance marketplace online. It gained this position in just a few years by acquiring several large marketplaces such as GetAFreelancer.com and ScriotLance.com.

Freelancer’s pricing policy is a little sneaky. When you attempt to publish a job, you are advised that they only charge 3% of your project cost as a fee. You can only receive this price if you choose their premium membership plan of $199.95 per month. Their standard membership plan at $24.95 per month charges a commission fee of 5%.

All of their other plans, including their free plan option, charge you 10%. This is not a large fee if your final project fee is small, however it could be considerably more if your final project fee costs thousands of dollars.

Freelancer

eLance

Founded in 1999, eLance is one of the most well known freelance services online. It is used by hundreds of thousands of designers, writers, and developers.

There is no fee for posting jobs, however freelancers will have 8.75% of the total cost of the project deducted from their earnings. Membership plans are available that allow employers and freelancers to promote themselves better on the marketplace; however the fee remains at 8.75% for all freelancers.

eLance

Odesk

The Odesk marketplace was created as a way for businesses to hire remote workers. It merged with eLance at the end of 2013, however both websites continue to operate separately.

It is free to post a project on Odesk, though freelancers have 10% of their earnings deducted as a fee. Therefore, if your project costs $500, the freelancer’s take home pay would be $450.

Odesk

PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour is a UK freelancing marketplace that supports payments in UK Pounds, US Dollars, and Euros. They have an interesting option called hourlies that allows you to post small tasks for developers to complete quickly.

Posting a job offer is free, with the cost of doing business being absorbed by freelancers. They have a unique way of charging freelancers that encourages them to use their service every month. Rather than charge per project, they charge freelancers 15%, excluding VAT, for the first £175, $280 USD, or €210, billed that month. After that, they are charged 3.5% plus VAT for all remaining projects.

PeoplePerHour

Guru

Originally launched as eMoonlighter.com back in 1998, Guru is a freelancing marketplace that focuses on development, design, writing, IT, and admin.

It is free to post a job to the Guru marketplace, however there is a $29.95 upgrade option that marks your job advertisement featured. This apparently increases bids received by 50%. Freelancers have a 8.95% fee taken from their earnings. This can drop down towards 4.95% if you purchase a premium membership.

Guru

When you post your job description, try to give as much information about your project as possible. This will help applicants know whether they are suitable for your project and save you from answering unnecessary questions.

Please also remember that in freelance marketplaces, reputation is everything. You can rate the quality of service received by freelancers, however they can also rate you. It is therefore important to remain polite and professional at all times; even when they are not. If you mess around a freelancer, their bad rating of you could scare other developers from ever working with you.

If you know of any other great places to find WordPress developers, please share them in the comment area below :)

WordPress Developers: How to Hire Top Quality Sub-Contractors

WordPress Developers: How to Hire Top Quality Sub-Contractors

The wide reach of the internet has opened up an avenue that was never before available to the small businessman – outsourcing work to a global pool of workers. WordPress is an extremely popular platform, and you will find thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of professionals working globally. This gigantic pool of talent is willing and able to handle almost every job imaginable.

Outsourcing is so easily available; to be honest, it’s almost a fad. You will find people shipping out work that doesn’t really need to be sent away, receiving completed tasks that wouldn’t be worth the bandwidth consumed, and expending way more resources than a job would have otherwise required.

Striking a balance is the key. In this article I will explain how to unlock the potential of outsourcing and delegate your work efficiently and effectively.

Why Delegate Your Work?

Businesses cannot run as a one-man show, especially if they intend to scale. A good team is the greatest asset of your business. Once you start delegating your work and free yourself of micromanaging tasks, you can put your energy and efforts into the core of your business and finding ways for it to grow.

You get more time for personal and professional gigs, and your business gets a shot in the arm. A small business probably wouldn’t be able to afford hiring several people, and that’s when you pick up sub-contractors.

Depending on how well you spread your talent search and your requirements, you might very well get hold of an experienced rockstar developer looking to make money on the side, or a total newbie trying to get hold of some job.

You could very well hire someone from the other corner of the world. There is an inexplicable joy in assigning work in the evening and waking up to find it completed and waiting for your attention. You may have been asleep, but the gears on your business continue to churn.

Outsourcing Your Work – The Basics

Before you attempt outsourcing, make a clear roadmap. Decide what can, and what must not, be outsourced.

What Not to Outsource

The core part of your business should never take a trip down the outsourcing lane. Identify the core competencies of your business and make it a point to keep them in-house. For example, as a WordPress developer you may want to keep your personal approach to WordPress development and problem solving to yourself. Once you let the cat out of the bag, you lose your unique edge over the competition.

Don’t outsource something just because you don’t feel like doing the work yourself. There must be a tangible benefit to outsourcing, and “I didn’t feel like doing it” is not one of them.

Don’t outsource what can be automated. Employ tools that can remove the grunt work from WordPress development and let you focus on creating code, rather than managing it. Tools like Grunt and Gulp can help to take monotony and repetition out of the equation, and keep your focus on things that really matter. Similarly, powerful WordPress themes like Divi can enable a developer to create a fantastic UI and front end with endless possibilities without too much work.

See if there is a plugin or resource available for your task. The WordPress repository has countless plugins to handle a wide range of operations. There are also several websites that offer paid (or premium) plugins targeted at specific tasks. You could find a free plugin, or buy one that would end up being cheaper than hiring someone.

In summary, you shouldn’t outsource:

  • your core competencies,
  • for the sake of outsourcing,
  • when you could be automating, or
  • if there is a plugin or resource.

What Can be Outsourced

The first thing to cross the threshold are usually the monotonous tasks. If your projects include tasks like data entry, they are prime candidates for outsourcing. Accounting is also something that most small businesses outsource.

Virtual Assistants are increasing in popularity. You get to take care of the heart and soul of your business, while the assistant handles simple jobs, manages your schedule and keeps your time available for more constructive work. A virtual assistant could also work as a first point of contact for your clients and answer basic questions or queries. Remember the previous lesson in a setting like this; your VA should not have access to core competencies of your business, nor a direct line to your clients.

Jobs needing specific expertise is another thing to outsource. A small business can rarely afford to fill its ranks with top executives. If your business includes content creation, an editor could come by a few times every month to take measure of how things are progressing and the changes that could be made. Similarly, a Chief Financial Officer-level person could spend a few days checking the books and providing financial analysis. That specific UI design requirement or that one piece of javascript code are also good candidates for outsourcing.

You could also outsource for brainstorming and getting new ideas. Businesses often get trapped in the artificial boundaries of their own work culture. Allowing a fresh mind in to handle some tasks could bring in new ideas and shake things up a bit.

Financial benefits are probably the biggest reason and the largest contributors to outsourcing. Sending work to a developing nation can usually result in big savings. It’s not really difficult to find unskilled workers willing to work at $1-$2 per hour. However, do keep in mind that the quality of work is always dependent on the amount you’re willing to pay.

So we can sum up good jobs to outsource as:

  • Repetitive tasks
  • Administrative tasks (Virtual assistants)
  • Highly skilled expertise
  • Specialized knowledge

Ensuring the Quality of Your Outsourced Work

As we have already said, outsourcing is easy. So easy in fact, it’s almost a fad and very accessible to anyone wanting a taste. That is precisely the reason why the figurative streets of the internet are full of people recounting bad experiences of their outsourcing foray. You need to stay clear of the pitfalls that a lot of people will fall into:

1. Outsourcing is Cost-Effective, Not Cheap

Good, professional work is never cheap. The gains of outsourcing to a developing country come from the difference in the cost of living. Always pay fair and keep the local costs in mind. If someone is developing a custom WordPress site for $20, only a miracle will return a decent site.

Fair pay for a fair day’s work. That is how it should work, and how it does work. If your project is lower than the basic pay in the sub-contractor’s country, it is likely to be ignored by most freelancers. Sometimes, new contractors will agree to work for a low wage to build clientele. A low paying project will be squeezed out as soon as a better project comes along.

2. Research Your Sub-Contractor

Get to know the person you are handing the job over to. Do a web search for your freelancer and see their reviews. An established sub-contractor may be slightly more expensive, but you can be sure that your work is in safe hands. An established freelance reputation is of course, the best part. However, it pays to remember that everyone starts new.

Don’t be scared of considering those who have just made their entry into the world of outsourcing. Being thorough should land you with an excellent sub-contractor who has a lot of time to devote to your project.

3. Know Exactly What You Want

Before you hit the market to outsource your work, make sure you are clear about what you want. Spend some time creating documentation for the job. You get to clear your ideas, and the sub-contractor will have the ropes to get started.

Asking your recruit to design a “magazine-style WordPress theme” is unlikely to get you anywhere. Be clear and upfront with your requirements and expectations. This will also give you a good idea of whether or not the sub-contractor is the right person for the job. If he can understand your approach and your ideas, you’ve got your man. Being clear about what you want enables you to be certain about the person you hire.

4. Keep the Communication Channels Open

Clarity in communication is indispensable. You want to make sure that the sub-contractor knows exactly what you need so that he can deliver the goods. Sub-contracting work is a lot like a regular job, and you are the supervisor. Be available to clarify on points, give clear instructions and make sure the sub-contractor and you are on the same page.

A successful outsourced job is heavily dependent on the relationship you share with your recruit. You will be the one setting the tone of the conversation, so set up channels to communicate for your convenience and benefit. Treat your outsourced professional with the professionalism you would offer to an in-house employee. Share your vision and ideals with the sub-contractor to make them really invested in the job.

There will be mistakes; be prepared for them. Your sub-contractor is only human and will take time to settle into the specifics of the job and the work environment you set up. Give it time and let your sub-contractor grow, but don’t lose sight of your goals.

5. Have a Firm Grasp on Your ROI

As with any other business, the ROI is the deciding factor when it comes to the success of your outsourcing overtures. Build on your success to create a team of skilled professionals, and cut your losses if you have to.

Tangible gains are what you want, and there is no reason to settle for anything else. Your sub-contractor should be bringing in more money than what you spend on him. It is equally important that the contractor also be a valuable addition to your team.

Ideally, outsourcing is your tool to building a skilled team without the expense of having full-time employees. You should no longer have to worry about tasks that can be completed without your direct attention and the entire setup should move smoothly.

Be objective, but add a degree of ruthlessness. Your team should meet reasonable deadlines and bring results to the table. There is no room for inefficiency. Your time and skill should be spent on developing the core competency of your business, not on managing your sub-contractors.

Where to Find the Right Sub-Contractor?

In an outsourcing market full of possibilities, finding the right place to go to can be an overwhelming task. Kevin has a great article on useful websites for hiring a developer for custom jobs. We’ll take a quick look here at some channels you could use for finding sub-contractors:

Networking

This tried and tested method is exceptionally useful. Finding a freelancer through the recommendations of people you know has a lot of positives. Word of mouth is the strongest form of advertising there is, and it does increase your possibilities of finding the right person for the job.

Visiting WordPress meetups provides an excellent opportunity for networking as well as finding people with the skill set you desire. Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn can be excellent hunting grounds.

Reddit is one of the most popular websites out there and has thousands of members. The website offers a thriving community of developers and an easy way of posting jobs for your specific requirements. You can visit communities (or subreddits as redditors call them) and post a job listing.

Subreddits like ForHireJobbit and JobOpenings can be your playground for recruitments. You could also narrow down your search to specific cities or countries with their relevant subreddits.

The process is simple; you make an account, add a post to the relevant subreddit and if you find the right candidate, you negotiate a deal with them. Unlike several other boards and websites, Reddit job boards are about direct person-to-person contact. So keep in mind that there will be no dispute resolution or payment assistance from the website.

Envato has made a good name for itself in the world of technology. Their offerings like Themeforest and CodeCanyon are already very popular with WordPress users and developers, so it is quite natural that the website make WordPress specific job outsourcing more accessible.

A benefit of using Envato Studio is that you can be confident of hiring experienced and vetted professionals. Envato allows shopfronts only after its review team goes through the application of the freelancer. You can rest assured that the person you are hiring has demonstrable skills in WordPress development.

WordPress Professionals: Why You Need Business Insurance

WordPress Professionals: Why You Need Business Insurance

Do you ever give any thought to the potential risks that your WordPress business might be facing?

If you’re like most small business owners, you probably don’t. Sure, every now and then a “what if?” thought pops into your head. But dealing with client inquiries, lead generation and a mountain of other issues often means that priorities are dictated by the degree of urgency.

And that’s the funny thing about business insurance – it’s rarely an urgent matter. Until, of course, it’s too late. Insurance is not an exciting topic. But unfortunately, it’s a topic that needs to be addressed because the future of your business and financial well-being might depend on it.

In this post, we’re going to outline the core issues that you should be considering when it comes to insurance for your WordPress business. We’ll also cover some of the different types of insurance you might want to think about obtaining.

To Insure or Not to Insure

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to running any small business is the sheer magnitude of issues you have to deal with. Between lead generation, onboarding new clients, technical problems and maybe even employees, something has to be put on the back-burner. Insurance is often one of those things.

The need for insurance is a catch 22. There are times when it makes absolute sense. But there are also times where it pays to think carefully before making a decision about whether or not it’s required.

The insurance industry will have you believing that you should insure for every eventuality. Just keep in mind that insurance companies are in the business of managing their risk as well as yours. They employ actuaries, who use complex mathematical formulas and statistics to predict the probability of a future event occurring.

If an insurance company pays out more than they bring in from premiums and investment returns, they are in a position of losing money. Any time you purchase insurance, you can be sure that the odds are slanted in the favour of the insurance company.

On the other hand, if you pay those premiums and end up needing the insurance, you’ll be grateful you have it. The secret here is giving some serious thought to how you, as a business owner want to manage your risk.

Luckily, there are many different types of insurance available. This means you’ll be able to look at your WordPress business and determine which areas you feel present an acceptable risk, and which areas require coverage.

The vastness of the WordPress ecosystem means that there is also a wide variety of business types. We have developers, designers, hybrids, WordPress maintenance providers, content creators and conversion optimization specialists to name just a few.

The insurance needs of each one of these WordPress businesses is going to vary, which is why you need to use your judgement when making a decision. It’s also a good idea to get advice from an insurance broker and a lawyer as well.

If you’re working as a sole proprietor, you and your business are considered to be a single entity. That means that you personally are responsible. If a client feels that you’ve done something wrong and they pursue legal action, they can come after you and your personal assets.

As we jump in to take a closer look at the different types of business insurance, remember that each decision you make should come with a cost-benefit analysis. Very few people, especially small business owners, can afford to insure themselves against every possible scenario.

Health & Disability Insurance

When you insure your car, you’re often given the option of replacement insurance. If for some reason your car is destroyed, the insurance company will replace it. That’s important right? Nobody wants to lose their ability to get around town – it’s inconvenient.

But what if something took away your ability to earn an income. Wouldn’t you find that to be inconvenient as well? You bet you would! Consider for a second, your earnings potential over the next five, 10 or 25 years. If you lost that potential, what would your liability look like and how might your life change? Would it affect your ability to provide for your family?

Most of us who are able-bodied and working with WordPress, rely on our fingers to type and or eyes to see the screen. What if you lost that ability? How long would it take to learn the skill again with your disability? I don’t point out these scenarios to scare you. I point them out because most business owners don’t think about them until it’s too late.

Health is always a concern. When you’re young and carefree, these things rarely cross your mind. But as you get older, the chances of health problems increase. At some point in time, it might be a good idea to insure your most important asset – yourself.

Typically, health insurance can be broken into a few different categories so you can pick and choose what you feel is most appropriate. These include:

  • Critical Illness.
  • Long-term care.
  • Disability.
  • Health and Dental.

While not all of these insurance types are critical to your business, they can be critical to your ability to earn an income from your business. And that is what it’s all about in the end – your continued ability to provide for yourself and your family.

Liability Insurance

Liability is always a concern for small business. As a WordPress professional working from your home or office, you need to be concerned about what clients or other people may feel you are liable for. Sometimes, unbeknownst to you, a client might have a reputation for being quick to head off to court.

For example, if you work from home and have a dog, what happens if a client comes to see you and is injured by your dog? It seems absurd, but these are the kinds of things that happen. Or what happens if a client trips down your stairs and says it was your fault?

Maybe those scenarios sound a little too far-fetched for your business? General liability insurance can cover the loss of data as well. If you’re building out a client’s website and you lose 2,500 lines of code the day before launch, what will that delay cost your client in lost revenue? Is it possible that you could be on the hook for damages?

Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society. General liability insurance can help to manage those risks caused by personal injury, property damage or bodily injury.

Errors and Omissions Insurance

Sometimes Errors and Omissions insurance (E&O) is also referred to as professional liability insurance. This type of insurance is designed to cover you in the event that you make a mistake – even if it’s caused by negligence or lack of judgement. Anytime you are providing professional service or advice, E&O insurance is a good idea.

We all know the importance of backing up a website before making any changes to a database, right? What if you were tasked with updating a client’s WordPress website to the latest version, or even cleaning up the overhead in their database, and you forgot to backup. What if their entire database was lost as a result of your mistake and their business went offline? What would your potential liability be in this situation?

Error and Omissions insurance is as much about protecting you as it is about protecting your client. If both parties are involved in signing a contract, it’s not uncommon for there to be an insurance requirement contained within it. E&O coverage can keep both parties at ease.

Partnership Insurance

Any time you bring a partner into your business, it’s a good idea to consider partnership insurance. If you’re running a small WordPress development agency and there are two or three partners involved, it’s important that no single partner is faced with the liabilities of the others.

This is one area where getting legal council is an especially good idea. There are various opinions as to the best way to structure insurance products between partners. Corporate insurance owned by the partnership must be weighed against a personal policy and, depending upon your jurisdiction, there can be tax, creditor and family legislation issues that need to be considered.

Another angle to be considered is what happens to your partner’s share of the business in the event of death? Would their spouse be your new partner? Or, would you have a buy/sell agreement in place with an appropriate insurance policy that gives you the ability to buy out their half of the company?

Workers Compensation Insurance

There are times when the government steps in and mandates the use of insurance. If you’ve managed to build yourself a small WordPress agency and are finally at the stage of bringing on a few employees, Workers Compensation Insurance is almost always a requirement.

Depending upon your location, you may be required to purchase a Workers Compensation policy from an insurance company or in some cases, there will be a government body that is responsible for administering the coverage.

In most situations, if you don’t have employees you are not required to maintain workers compensation insurance. But just because it’s optional doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking into.

You should also pay close attention to the laws in your specific area regarding contractors. You might find that you are responsible for that casual SEO contractor because she’s uninsured and performing work for your company.

Wrap-Up

The primary purpose of this article was to get you thinking about where your potential liabilities might exist and what types of insurance you might give some consideration to.

While it’s possible to insure against most risks and liabilities, it’s not always affordable. Depending upon what type of work you’re doing with WordPress and in what capacity, you’ll find that your insurance needs will change.

Before making any decisions regarding insurance, it’s a good idea to get opinions from more than one source. Insurance can get expensive rather quickly so it’s often a case of finding an appropriate balance. Just remember that the day you really need it, the cost will seem relatively inexpensive.

If you currently maintain any form of insurance, how did you decide what was most important for your WordPress business?

The Essential Plugins for WordPress Business Websites

The Essential Plugins for WordPress Business Websites

Business-Plugins-for-WordPress

Just a few decades ago, if you needed to find a local business, you’d probably open up the phone book. These days, you’re almost certain to turn online.

There are two major consequences of our changing behaviors:

  1. The slow death of the phone book industry.
  2. The fundamental importance of a business’s website to its overall success.

Today, of course, we’re going to be focusing on the latter.

If you own a business, your website is, more often than not, the place your customers will find out about you – who you are, how to find you, the services/products you offer. As such, you could argue that your website is one of the most important aspects of your business to get right.

But what does a business website need? What functionalities should it support?

If you want to know the answer to these questions, read on! Today, I’m going to introduce you to 16 WordPress plugins for business websites.

To avoid listing too many similar plugins, I’ve decided to focus on one plugin for each functionality, which means I’ll be providing the full spectrum of business website functionalities.

The plugins I’ve picked are all targeted at businesses with an offline presence, but many of them will be equally applicable to online businesses and even bloggers. With this in mind, there should be something for all WordPress users listed here.

Sound good? Then let’s get started.


 

SEO: SEO by Yoast (FREE)

WordPress-SEO-by-Yoast

Looking to enhance your search engine rankings to attract more visitors? It all starts with on-site optimization.

I strongly recommend that all WordPress websites install an all-in-one SEO plugin. My personal choice would be WordPress SEO by Yoast – and with over 19.5 milliondownloads, there’s a lot of WordPress users in agreement.

The plugin allows you to work through a pre-configured SEO checklist to ensure you’re fulfilling all SEO best practices. Included in the plugin’s impressive list of features is custom meta descriptions, XML sitemap creation, and RSS optimization.

As Dan stated in his recent post on boosting eCommerce conversions, to boost total conversions you need to find new visitors or increase your conversion rate. Well, SEO by Yoast focuses on the former, attracting the new visitors you need to boost overall conversions and your business’s bottom line. Not bad for a free plugin, huh?

Alternative plugins: All-in-one SEO, SEO Ultimate, Premium SEO Pack.


 

Local SEO, Maps, and Schema Markup: Yoast Local SEO (from $69)

If you have an offline, brick-and-mortar presence, the SEO rules are slightly different. Certain businesses will only have a local reach, so it’s fundamentally important that your website appears for local searchers.

Type “hairdressers” into Google to see what I mean. The top results will not be international or even national, but businesses local to you. All of this happens automatically, reflecting the needs of the searcher.

If you want your business featured in local searches, I recommend another Yoast SEO plugin: Local SEO.

As well as this, Local SEO allows you to add your company’s address and opening hours onto your contact page. The plugin will convert this information into the relevant Schema.org markup, allowing Google to display this information as a rich snippet alongside your search result.

You can also use Local SEO to add Google Maps to your website, which saves you the trouble of installing a dedicated Google Maps plugin.

If you run a local business, don’t underestimate the importance of targeting local search results — consider the plugin’s $69 price tag to be an investment.

Alternative plugins: WordPress Local SEO, Local Business SEO.


 

Speed: WP Rocket (from $39)

WP-Rocket

The speed of your website impacts user experience and also where you rank in the SERPs – Google consistently re-iterates that speed is a ranking factor. As such, I strongly recommend that you take website speed seriously. After all, do you really want your brand associated with a sluggish website?

There are loads of plugins that target different elements of a website’s speed. If you want an all-in-one solution, however, WP Rocket is a great option.

WP Rocket can reel off a long list of features, including:

  • Page caching
  • Browser caching
  • GZIP compression
  • Minification
  • LazyLoad
  • Image optimization
  • Seamless integration with CDNs, including free solutions like CloudFlare

That means that all the important speed optimization functionality your business website needs is fully supported. Remember: fast website = happy customers.

Alternative plugins: W3 Total Cache, WP Smush.it, BJ Lazy Load.


 

Social Media: Monarch Social Media Sharing (Elegant Theme Membership)

Elegant-Themes-Monarch

The search engines aren’t the only way for people to find you. If you publish compelling content and your customers love what you do, you can attract a lot of traffic via the social channels.

This requires a social media plugin, of course. I know I’m biased, but, even objectively speaking, Elegant Theme’s Monarch plugin is one of the very best social media plugins available.

Monarch allows you to add colorful, stylish social sharing buttons to your website. You can add the sharing buttons in five different locations, plus there’s an impressive 20+ social networks supported so that you can target all the main social channels.

The plugin has minimal impact on load times, plus you can monitor your social sharing figures via the comprehensive dashboard statistics.

Alternative plugins: Easy Social Share Buttons, Floating Social Bar, Ultimate Social Deux.


 

Page Builder: Visual Composer ($33)

Visual-Composer

Many potential customers will get their first impression of your business from your website. With this in mind, you need a website that looks stunning, is memorable, and reflects all of your core values. And, despite thousands of WordPress themes in existence, does any theme really encapsulate all of your business’s ideals? I doubt it.

If you want the flexibility to build your perfect business website, you have three options:

  1. Hire a developer to make custom changes
  2. Use a multi-purpose theme
  3. Install a page builder plugin

As we’re focusing on plugins today, I’m going to be taking a look at the latter. And, with almost 80,000 sales (making it CodeCanyon’s best-selling plugin of all time), I’m going to recommend Visual Composer.

Visual Composer allows you to construct beautiful custom layouts with either the front- or back-end editor. There are 40+ predefined layouts and 45+ content elements to choose from, giving you the flexibility you need to add the aesthetics and functionality your pages need. As a result of its popularity, there are many third-party Visual Composer extensions available, allowing you to add even more content elements.

Alternative plugins: Beaver Builder, Themify Builder, MotoPress.


 

Security: iThemes Security Pro (from $80)

iThemes-Security-Pro

If you want your website to grow and thrive, you need to defend it from the most common security vulnerabilities.

Perhaps website security lacks the glamour of some of the other functionalities featured today, but it’s arguably the most important of all. This is especially true for business websites, as security breaches reflect badly on your brand.

With this in mind, all websites need a good security plugin. My choice? An all-in-one option like iThemes Security Pro – a free Lite version is also available.

iThemes Security Pro helps protect your website from the most common security breach: brute force attacks. This is achieved by enforcing strong passwords, hiding your login page, and also restricting the number of failed login attempts.

You can also use the plugin to lock out bad users, notify you of any file changes, and lock your WordPress admin area during hours you know you won’t be using it.

Alternative plugins: All in One WP Security & Firewall, Sucuri Security.


 

Back-up: VaultPress (from $5/month)

VaultPress-Plugin

A broken website – or, worse still, a crashed website – is not the best first impression, is it?

When things go wrong, having a back-up of your website will prove invaluable – and things can go wrong, even with an excellent security plugin installed. Back-up plugins allow you to restore your website to its former glory in a matter of minutes.

There are lots of great options out there, but my advice would be to go with a name you can trust – in this case, Automattic’s VaultPress service. At least then, if bad luck strikes, you know you’re protected.

Alternative plugins: BackupBuddy, BackUpWordPress, BackWPup.


 

List Building: Bloom Email Opt-ins (Elegant Theme Membership)

Elegant-Themes-Bloom-Plugin

Now that we’ve covered security, SEO, and speed, let’s start looking at how you can drive more customers for your business.

Around since the internet’s earliest days, email marketing has stood the test of time and remains one of the most effective ways to make money. I’m guessing you want your business to make money, right? Then you need to start collecting emails and building an email list.

To grow your list in the most efficient manner possible, we need to turn to another plugin in the Elegant collection: Bloom.

Integrating with twelve email marketing services, Bloom allows you to collect email addresses from interested parties using six opt-in form types:

  • Pop-ups
  • Fly-in
  • In content
  • Below content
  • Widget area
  • Content locker

Pop-ups are proven to be the most effective at generating conversions as they command maximum attention from visitors. They’re known for being intrusive, however, and so Bloom lets you pick the perfect time to display your pop-up opt-in forms – time delayed, scroll delayed, after inactivity, after commenting, and after purchasing.

Alternative plugins: OptinMonster, Ninja Popups for WordPress, Optin Forms.


 

Email Newsletter: MyMail ($39)

MyMail

After securing a subscriber, the really hard work begins: converting someone withsome interest into a paying customer.

Your success will be determined by the quality of the emails you send out. And, in my opinion, aesthetics is a component of quality, so you’d better make sure your emails look good.

If you want to craft stylish newsletters in WordPress, you need the MyMail plugin, available for $39 from CodeCanyon.

You can use the plugin to build beautiful, custom newsletter layouts courtesy of the intuitive drag-and-drop interface. The plugin also tracks all your important email metrics.

Alternative plugins:  SendPress, MailPoet Newsletters.


 

Contact Forms: Contact Form 7 (FREE)

Contact-Form-7

Of course, if you want to run a successful business, you’re going to want an easy way for your potential customers to get in touch.

For this, you need a contact form plugin. I’ve suggested a lot of premium plugins so far, so how about a free one? The classic and ever-popular Contact Form 7.

Contact Form 7 is intuitive to setup, allowing you to build an unlimited number of forms. You can also add advanced fields to your form, including drop-down menus, dates, and CAPTCHAs.

Alternative plugins: Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms, Fast Secure Contact Form.


 

Live Chat: Pure Chat (from FREE)

Pure-Chat

Customer service is an afterthought for many business owners, but it’s something that’s deeply important to your customers – if anything goes wrong, it’s likely the quality of your customer service that resolves the problem.

If you want to offer enhanced customer service on your website, adding a live chat functionality to your website is a great place to start – it’s the quickest way to get a response, after all.

If your business is large enough to justify it, live chat is a must. Not only does it offer the aforementioned reputation-enhancing customer service, you can also use the live chat to answer any pre-sales questions and nullify buyer objections.

We’ve talked about live chat in great detail already, so allow me to recommend my preferred plugin, Pure Chat. The plugin allows you to extensively customize your live chat windows’ appearance on your website, plus you can handle all live chat conversations from the stylish Pure Chat interface.

Alternative plugins: WordPress Live Chat Plugin, WP Live Chat Support, Zopim Live Chat.


 

First Impressions: Video Intro for WordPress

Video-Intro-for-WordPress

Now for something a little bit different.

Online users decide within a matter of seconds whether a website is right for them. In other words, first impressions matter. A lot.

The Video Intro for WordPress plugin allows you to greet visitors with a full-screen video. If you’ve spent a lot of money on an engaging video advertisement for your business, this is the perfect time to show it. Visitors are redirected to your homepage upon completion of the video, or they can get there more quickly by skipping it.

You can customize the frame around the video to match your branding, and also display your logo prominently at the top of the screen.

Alternative plugins:  WP Mega Intro, Video Intro for WordPress Lite.


 

Maintenance Mode: Anticipate (Elegant Theme Membership)

Anticipate-Plugin

If you run a business, professionalism is king. Everything you do will shape how your business is perceived, and so you have to put your best foot forward at all times.

One example of this is when you’re updating your website – something we all have to do from time to time. Now, a site full of work-in-progress, placeholder text, and broken elements is hardly going to impress visitors, is it? If someone visits your website during this time, your business is going to look more than a little amateurish.

So what’s the solution? Well, it’s relatively simple: display a maintenance mode landing page. It’s not ideal, but it’s a huge improvement on a half-finished website.

If you want to add a maintenance mode screen, I recommend Elegant’s Anticipate plugin. Simply activate maintenance mode and your visitors will see a simple, stylish maintenance mode page. This gives you the opportunity to work on your website in private.

Alternative plugins: WP Maintenance Mode, Ultimate Maintenance Mode,Maintenance.


 

Broken Links: Redirection (FREE)

Redirection

Continuing with the theme of professionalism, this time I want to look at broken links.

For visitors, a website littered with 404 errors suggests ineptitude – if you can’t keep your website working, how will you manage to fulfill your customers’ needs?

With this in mind, broken links will turn away your visitors in droves. That’s not something any business can afford to do.

If you want to keep your website running smoothly, the free Redirection plugin is one of the best ways to fix 404 errors. This is done by manually configuring 301, 302, and 307 redirects to point visitors to the right place.

Not all 404 errors are your fault, though: some are caused by mistyped external links. Redirection will automatically monitor for fresh 404 errors, allowing you to quickly resolve any problems.

Alternative plugins: Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin, Safe Redirect Manager.


 

Editorial Calendar: CoSchedule (from $17/month)

CoSchedule

Content marketing is a great way to grow your business. Not only does publishing great content help you gain visibility in the search engines, it also reinforces your expertise within your industry, and this in turn will attract more customers.

Publishing great content is a labor-intensive and time-consuming job, however. If you need a helping hand, look no further than CoSchedule, an all-in-one content marketer’s dream.

CoSchedule supports its own editorial calendar functionality, allowing you to use drag-and-drop to reschedule your posts. Beyond this, it can also be used for scheduling social media posts – sync CoSchedule up with your social media profiles, and you can write and schedule social posts from within the WordPress admin.

Want more? You can also use CoSchedule to collaborate with other team members, schedule social shares for your recently published content, and also to give your older posts a push.

Alternative plugins: Editorial Calendar, Revive Old Post, Buffer.


 

Boost Conversions: WordPress Calls to Action (FREE)

WordPress-Calls-to-Action

So you’ve put together a beautiful website. It’s fully functional, lightning quick, and it attracts hordes of visitors.

You’re heading in the right direction, but now you need to get your visitors to pull out their wallets and become paying customers.

What you need is a call to action (CTA). A compelling CTA encourages visitors to perform a desired action – perhaps making a purchase, giving you a call, or subscribing to your email list. An effective CTA eliminates indecisiveness by telling your visitors exactly what they should do, and this has been proven to boost conversions.

WordPress Calls to Action is a fantastic free plugin that allows you to do just that. The plugin lets you create pop-ups and widget boxes that encourage visitors to take your desired action – and as you can add custom text to the boxes, this “action” can be anything you want.

To help get you started, the plugin includes a number of pre-configured templates, plus you can continuously improve results with built-in A/B functionality.


 

Final Thoughts

By considering all the plugins featured in today’s list, you should be able to give your business website all the functionality it needs to satisfy customers and stand above the competition.

I’ve deliberately avoided plugins used to directly monetize a website — eCommerce, booking taking, and invoicing plugins — as these plugins are dependent on the nature of your business. Instead, I’ve included general plugins that are applicable for all businesses. In today’s post we’ve covered:

  • attracting new clients
  • speeding up your site
  • boosting conversions
  • improving customer service
  • growing an email list
  • creating a great first impression
  • developing a content schedule

Of course, this is just a work in progress, and now I need your help. What other WordPress plugins do you think are essential for business websites? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!