Things to consider before sellecting a new plugin for your WordPress Website

Plugins are to WordPress what apps are to a smartphone and in the world of Content Management Systems, and just how the iPhone was one of the first smartphones to offer virtually limitless possibilities thanks to the ubiquitous App Store, it isn’t a stretch to say that plugins have helped WordPress to a similar degree in making it the number 1 choice of Content Management System (CMS) across the world.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished as it’s said and with all that popularity comes great security issues to be aware of and take into account before you decide on which plugin to install.

If you’re thinking about adding new features to your WordPress website, this short but useful guide from Diffusion Digital will help you decide on one that is fit for purpose and safe for use.

Ladies & gentlemen, start your plugins.

Your Needs

The first step is to understand what you need from a plugin before you even begin the search for one.

Take time to figure this out and note down the specific needs you would like it to address or any problems it should solve.

This is likely to save you resources in both time and money, and give you ideas on where to start your search.

The Developer’s Reputation

It makes sense to find out how preeminent a developer or the agency is in the world of WordPress plugins as well as how effective their plugins are.

The first step is to check the reviews, ratings, as well as the number of downloads their various modules have.

To state the obvious, a plugin which has had lots of good reviews and comments is a good one to go for.

However, don’t just take your decision based on reviews as you might miss out on identifying recently launched plugins simply because no one has downloaded it yet (there has to be a first one, right?).

A safe bet here is to look at plugins the developer might have released before and how they have performed. Even if they weren’t incredibly popular but has had mostly positive reviews and the developer has a good reputation, don’t hesitate to try a new one and help others by being one of the first to leave a review.

Security

It is estimated that the hacking of about 22% of WordPress websites is purely a result of some security issues within a plugin such as them being out of date or a vulnerability being discovered..

One of the most straightforward approaches to confirm the risk of security breaches is confirming when a particular software lastly got updated.

It is advisable to opt for packages that are often updated, at least within the past two months, and most preferably compatible with the latest version of one’s computer programme or website.

Software that is updated frequently has lower security risk; this is mainly because known issues on previous versions of itself are likely to have been rectified.

Look at the Changelog

A changelog is a record of all alterations done to a programme. By taking a look at the log, one can tell the security issues that have been resolved, if any, as well as what the application has to offer.

It helps one see the additional features that come with each update as well as how often the changes have been affected over its lifetime.

More modifications not only imply that the developers are keen to solve any issues detected but are also eager to tweak their add-on to satisfy client needs.

Client Support

Premium plug-ins have a dedicated team of personnel that works around the clock to ensure that customer experience is optimised. This means that any time a client makes an inquiry, they get a reasonably fast response.

Such a prompt response is critical especially when one is faced with a security risk. With a premium package, it is even possible for the developers to check for issues from their end by accessing your device or website.

Unfortunately, some of these features are not available for free packages usually so if the plugin has mission-critical to your business, spending the additional amount for tech support could be a wise investment. .

Recommendation
It is wise to consider acquiring plug-in bundles. Such a bundle comes with a few modules that work hand in hand. This can spare time and cash, as you don’t have to look for different applications from different companies.

Furthermore, all the applications in a group originate from a similar source, therefore, they are in sync with each other. On the off chance that for reasons unknown they don’t, you need to go to one source for assistance.

It is also more economical to acquire a bundle than purchasing individual modules.

Conclusion

It’s estimated that there are approx. 29k WordPress plugins to cover a wide range of functions and features so if you have an addition you’d like to make to the website, chances are that there’s a plugin for it.

However, taking the additional time to do some research before you make the choice can help make your WordPress site more secure and safer.

Of course, if all of this is simply too overwhelming for you, don’t hesitate to give Diffusion Digital a try, we’d love to help!

The Ultimate Guide To Selecting an eCommerce Platform

By Will Wigram

 

Thinking of building a new eCommerce store or replatforming an existing one?

 

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to choosing an eCommerce platform to help your store get off to the best possible start from the get go.

 

1)        Getting Started / Business Objectives

 

So, what are the key considerations or questions you should ask yourself? Well…

 

What are the reasons behind the re-platforming? What are the key business objectives form this project?

 

Perhaps its your global growth ambitions that is spear-heading this, or potentially to reduce costs and management overheads.

 

Whatever the reasons are its key to make sure that these have been discussed, considered and that everyone is in agreement.

 

What are the key success metrics of the website?

 

Increasing overall sales is probably up there but what other metrics can you attribute to the success of the website?

 

Knowing these is extremely helpful for both you and us when we take on a project as we can link back all of activity and proposed work to these to make sure we are achieving these initial goals.

 

 

If applicable, how is the current website failing?

 

What are the current pain points? – This could be user experience / navigation issues, it could be inflexibility with scaling or a dated look and feel.

 

Whatever they are, it is imperative they do not crop up again and therefore need to be made clear from the get go.

 

But also think about the successes that we can develop even further going forward.

 

What are the main features and functionalities that you want?

 

Of course you will refine this as you go through this process (and we’ll discuss this more in a minute) but its useful to lay everything out on the table to start with. From here you can try to organise them into must haves and nice to haves.

 

Knowing what the priorities are is really useful as it can help point us to the most appropriate platform, and in cases where there are budget limitations, it can help us put together a phased project plan.

 

There are a huge amount of factors that can and will consider in this process, but beginning with the four points above will get you off to a good start.

 

I think one of the most important takeaway’s here is to make sure you involve all departments in these initial discussions. As you go through the process it won’t always be necessary to have all departments involved, but including everyone at this early stage is only going to result in a much more rounded view of the needs and objectives.

 

2)        Product Make Up

 

At the core of any eCommerce website are the catalogues of products. Again on the surface this may seem quite straight forward – items for sale, different colours, different sizes, prices, descriptions and images. But actually, the make-up of these catalogues can be quite intricate and there may be certain limitations on some platforms that could prevent you from running your business effectively.

 

Some of the SaaS platforms (like Shopify & Bigcommerce) are more suited to less complex catalogues than the likes of Magento. For example the number of variants a product can have cannot exceed 100 on Shopify. There are ways around this but it involves customisation and/or the use of a third party app.

 

In isolation this is not that much of a problem but if this type of customisation is needed throughout your product offering, it can become a bit of a pain to manage.

 

So, to alleviate the risk of this happening here are some of the the product questions you should be asking yourself:

 

  • How many products do you want to sell online? Quantity in isolation is rarely an issue but it’s good to know this nonetheless as it will have implications in various ways such as design and site speed optimisation.
  • How many categories and sub categories will you have? This could be quite small to begin with and then grow, so future ambitions is good to also bare in mind at this stage.
  • How Complex is your product taxonomy? Think about the number variants each product will have – colours, sizes, types etc. Will these be presented as single products or as SKUs within the products
  • Is there a requirement to be able to group / bundle products? This has implications for stock management so it’s good to know
  • Will products be sold on a subscription basis? If so, what are the rules here? What does this model look like?
  • Is pre order a requirement? If so should this be triggered automatically when a product is out of stock or manually? Can pre order be managed through other channels such as by phone?
  • Do you have a BTC and BTB product offering? How do these differ and should they be set up completely separately?
  • How will your product make up change and grow over the next few years? Linking back to what I mentioned earlier, what are the ambitions for all of the above?

 

Ultimately it is preferable to choose a platform that can accommodate as many of your requirements as standard features of the platform. Of course, one of the great perks of many of the eCommerce platforms out there, is the vast range of third party apps/plugins that are available that you can bolt onto the website to enhance functionality (we get to this later).

 

However from experience, it’s not advisable to have heaps of plugins as this can have a negative effect on overall site performance and speed.

 

If the majority of the functionality of your website comes from third party plug-ins, it’s probably a pretty clear sign that you are not on the most appropriate platform.

 

This is why it’s important to have all of this detail clearly available when selecting a platform, to alleviate the risk of choosing a one that restricts you and does not allow you to create and evolve in a hassle free manner.

 

3)        Content Requirements

 

Content is at the core of every website and different platforms offer different solutions to the variety of different elements that you may or may not require, some making it easier that others.

 

Types of Content:

Ediorial – Blog, News, Press – archives

Campaign – Projects, Case Studies , Look Books

Brand – About, Philosohy, Process / Craft, History,

Social – integrating 3rd party content

 

Again, try to think about how this will evolve as well as what you’re launching with. How often are you going to be adding new content to the site?

 

If this is regularly (as, of course, it should be to help your SEO rankings) it is so important that it is an easy to do, otherwise it will cause such a headache to whoever has this job, wasting their time going through a tedious process or even worse deterring them from adding any new content.

 

WordPress, is a great option for content rich sites as there is no real limitation from a creative or management point of view. We have historically connected this with WooCommerce to offer a powerful eCommerce solution for our clients – and this is definitely a combination we still recommend.

 

Bigcommerce has recently developed a WordPress integration that creates a really powerful solution giving you all the benefits of WordPress, but weaving this into a very capable and solid ecommerce platform.

 

Shopify is also improving as a content management system and whilst it used to be tricky to manage editorial style content, this is no longer the case.

 

4)        Technical Requirements/Integrations

 

You will find that a lot of the more common integrations are easily achieved with ready made plug ins available. These include:

  • Connecting to email marketing platform to capture newsletter sign ups
  • Connecting to Payment gateways – to allow a seamless check out experience
  • Feeding your instagram account onto the site to offer fresh and dynamic content

 

But it’s not always this straight forward. The recommend approach therefore is thinking about which integrations are going to add value for your customers and your business, rather than going off what you have on the existing site or copying current trends.

 

Once we have this list we can start to evaluate how these can be executed on different platforms, and what level of integration is needed.

 

As mentioned, on the one hand you don’t want to be in a position where you are having to completely customise and bolt on hundreds of apps to achieve your desired offering

On the flip-side you also don’t want to buy into an expensive enterprise level solution when you actually only need 2% of what they offer and are therefore hugely over engineering the situation.

 

We’d be here all day if I was to attempt to list all of the different types of integrations that could be incorporated into your site, but these are some of the potentially more complex but really useful ones that definitely need consideration, and will really help with the seamless running on your business:

 

  • Stock Management
  • Accounting
  • ERP Systems – he
  • Taxes and Duties
  • Multi Currency Check Out – internationalisation
  • Multi Language
  • Fulfillment / Shipping

 

Internationalisation especially, is often one of the biggest factors that will shape platform choice. Giving your customers a local shopping experience, and allowing your business operations to work efficiently on a global scale is essential.

 

Up until now we would only have suggested the more enterprise level platforms – like Magento or Shopware, for this type of requirement.

 

This said a lot of the SaaS platforms are now getting up to speed with this.

 

For example, implementing Shopify to target several countries around the world was always the biggest deal breaker as the only option available previously, was to clone the store in order to enable check out in another currency. However now, multi currency checkout is available through their premium offering -Shopify Plus. In 2019 the road map for Bigcommerce also has Internationalisation at the top of its agenda.

 

As the capabilities of every platform is constantly evolving, it is really important to think about what your technical requirements are and what integrations are needed so that we can help pair you with the a platform that’s the best fit, now and in the future.

 

5)        Costs and Timings

 

And last but by no means least – money! Ultimately one of the determining factors in this process is going to be the available budget and deadlines.

 

The time (and therefore cost) it takes to build an eCommerce website will vary hugely based on the size, complexity and platform you are using.

 

Whether you choose to disclose your budget with your agency at this stage is up to you – from our point of view this is helpful as we can tailor an appropriate solution.

 

Either way, though, it is just crucial to have these figures worked out in good time.

 

So, there are two key factors that must be considered and budgeted for:

 

  • The initial cost of the build of the website
  • Ongoing costs to keep the site running.

 

This initial cost can include:

 

  • Discovery costs – could be UX, brand work, concepting, SEO
  • Design and build costs
  • Data import
  • Content creation – copy writing and photo shoots
  • Third-party integration costs,
  • SEO Set Up

 

Once the implementation is completed, you have to account for the ongoing cost. Items included in this are:

 

  • Maintenance and support retainers,
  • Ongoing host fees,
  • Platform licence costs
  • Payment gateway related fees,
  • Third-party apps / plugin subscriptions
  • Ongoing SEO and marketing

 

Depending on the type of platform you choose, some of these costs might not apply which might be a deciding factor for picking one platform over another.

 

So, there we have it. Once you have a good idea about all of the above points, let’s organise a time to sit down and discuss which eCommerce platform will help propel your business forward.

 

 

A List Of WordPress And WooCommerce Plugins For a Variety of Uses

WordPress came to life on May 2003 and few technological inventions in the internet age have become as ubiquitous as WordPress when it comes to website Content Management Systems (CMS).

 

This is what the WordPress home page looked like back then:

Old WordPress home page screen shot

 

And this is what it looks like now:

 

current wordpress home page screen shot

 

The rise of WordPress and WooCommerce as a CMS has mainly been due to 2 main factors: ease of use and scalability.

 

As a CMS, WordPress is an extremely versatile and easy to use CMS with a learning curve that is much less steep than say Joomla and esp. Magento.

 

Scalability has been made relatively easy due to the myriad number of plugins that have been built for it by WordPress and third parties around the world.

 

If you have a WordPress site there’s a good chance you have at least a few plugins installed already. However, the list of available plugins and their potential uses are almost too vast to count thus making WordPress even more functional and scalable.

 

In this post, Diffusion Digital will talk you through some of our favourite plugins for a shipping and SEO. Bookmark this page as we’ll be updating it with more plugins next month!

WooCommerce plugins for Shipping

 

Flexible Shipping for WooCommerce

 

Flexible Shipping for Woocommmerce

 

Download: 20,000+

 

First up, we have the Flexibility Shipping for WooCommerce which claims to be the most advanced shipping plugin for WooCommerce and whilst we’re not sure we believe in that claim, it does offer quite a wide range of features and customization options to choose from.

 

There isn’t much that the plugin can’t do and is an ideal solution for WooCommerce sites in the medium to high competition sectors where offering a wide range of delivery options is a must.

 

In addition to allowing the calculation of shipping costs based on cart total, you could also do so based on weight. Plus, it also offers COD (Cash On Delivery) shipping options which is something most other shipping plugins do not.

 

Additionally, you have options to integrate insurance options which again, could be a way to add a USP to your WooCommerce site.

 

The plugin comes in 2 flavours: the free version which gives you the tools that should be sufficient for most small retailer and a paid option for more advanced Ecommerce businesses.

 

For a full list of features and the differences between the free and paid version, check out their official site.

 

WooCommerce Delivery Time Picker for Shipping

 

WooCommerce Delivery Options

Next up, we have the WooCommerce Delivery Time Picker which is a good option to consider if your WooCommerce store offers shipping based on time slots.

 

Successful Ecommerce stores know that one of the ways you can increase sales is by reducing the amount of ‘friction’ between the user and the buying process and it is usually a good idea to offer as many shipping options as is possible.

 

This plugin is more like an ‘add-on’ to your existing setup, adding the functionality of allowing users to select when to receive their purchase, giving control to the user on both, the day as well as the time.

 

Of course, not all courier companies offer this feature so it’s a good idea to check that yours does.

WooCommerce Weight Based Shipping

 

Woocommerce-delivery-options-table

 

No. of downloads: 20,000+

 

Being able to calculate shipping charges based on weight isn’t exactly a unique feature by any means but the WooCommerce Weight Based Shipping does have a super-useful way of offering this option.

 

There’s a section for adding multiple shipping rules and you can set further conditions based on when certain rules should or shouldn’t apply.

You can also configure your shipping rates based on total order weight, price or a combination of the 2 and although most companies will probably end up using either one it’s a good feature to have.

 

WordPress Plugins for SEO

 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is to a website what the engine is to your car. Without it, no matter how amazing your product is, no one is going to see it.

 

The popularity of SEO has meant that this is area of plugin development is one of the most popular for WordPress which means there’s literally thousands of WordPress SEO plugins to choose from.

 

A thing to bear in mind is that no matter how good the plugin, they only offer you the tools to have the basic on-page SEO in place. If you’re hoping to attract a wide audience for your WordPress website, you will also need to undertake an off-page SEO campaign that encompasses important traffic-driving techniques such as link building and content marketing.

 

Yoast SEO

 

Yoast - SEO for everyone

 

No. of downloads: 5+ million

 

First up, we have the Yoast SEO plugin which is by far, the most popular SEO

plugin for WordPress around.

 

Yoast SEO comes in 2 flavours: the free option which offers you the basic functionality around keyword optimisation, page previews and duplicate content checks whilst the premium (paid) option offers you all of that and much more.

 

Here’s a snapshot of the comparison but for more on this head over to https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/.

 

Yoast price guidelines

 

At the time of this writing, the paid plugin costs £79 plus VAT.

 

If you’re asking “is the premium (paid) Yoast plugin worth it?” then our answer is going to be annoying yet inevitable: it depends.

 

For small WordPress sites in non-competitive sectors and where you don’t need to drive a ton of traffic to the site, the free option might be just fine. Or, if you have a professional SEO company who is looking after your site, both on-page and off-page as well.

 

However, if you want to do it all yourself and don’t plan on a link building and content generation campaign or traffic isn’t all that important, you may find the paid plugin adds a little bit of value.

 

All In One SEO Pack

 

All in One SEO

 

No. of downloads: 3+ million

 

The All In One SEO Pack is another WordPress plugin for SEO and just about as useful as Yoast.

 

All In One has a useful XML sitemap submission feature for those who don’t know how to work with Google Search Console or Bing (or simply aren’t inclined to).

 

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is becoming increasingly common-place on the mobile web and All In One has integration and monitoring capabilities for those 2.

 

Which is better, Yoast SEO or All In One?

 

The differences between the 2 are subtle and in many cases, comes down to your personal preference.

 

For example, whereas the various functions of Yoast are laid out on different tabs, All In One has then all listed on a single page (think of a multi-step checkout process compared to one where you enter all your info on the same page).

 

Another example is Social Media – Yoast does tend to offer a few more options for Social Media monitoring and integration than All In One.

 

WordPress Plugins for Marketing

 

Welcome back to part 2 of our list of essential plugins for your WordPress or WooCommerce website.

 

This month, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the best plugins around to help you super-charge your marketing efforts.

 

The popularity of WordPress has meant that there are thousands of developers around the world building plugins for it for pretty much anything you can think of.

 

From a marketing perspective, WordPress is designed for small to medium sized growing businesses which means no matter what your skill set when it comes to marketing, there’s sure to be a plugin that is right for you.

 

CAOS

https://wordpress.org/plugins/host-analyticsjs-local/

No. of downloads: 10,000+

 

First up on our list is the CAOS plugin built to make the task of Google Analytics integration easier.

 

If you’ve got a website, you’ve most likely have an analytics programme installed too which gives you data about how many people visit your website, where they come from, actions they take and so on.

 

Google Analytics (GA) is one such platform and perhaps the most popular one for most small to medium sized websites.

If you’re considering adding GA to your site, you should know that GA only works once you’ve added the GA code to all pages of the site and often you will need to get your web developer to do it.

 

This is where CAOS comes in. it is a plugin for Google Analytics which allows to you connect to it without the need for any outside help.

 

The plugin is natively compatible with WordPress which means that installing it on your site is going to be seamless and hassle-free.

 

What’s more, once you have this in place, it can also show you the basic info from GA right into your WordPress dashboard saving you a lot of time and clicks having to bounce around from once platform to another.

 

MailChimp for WordPress

https://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7-mailchimp-extension/

No. of downloads: 100,000+

 

Mailchimp is for email newsletters what Google Analytics is for website analytics so it’s no wonder that we have a bespoke plugin for MailChimp available.

 

MailChimp is one of the most popular newsletter software around and until the arrival of this plugin, it wouldn’t be too uncommon to find your email subscriber data separate from the signups from your website which means each time you had someone signing up to your newsletter via your website, you will have to manually add them to your MailChimp database.

 

With the MailChimp for WordPress plugin however, all of that is history.

 

Once installed and connected, not only can you automatically sync your newsletter and website subscribers but you can also carry out some advanced functions such as offering the ability of people who make an enquiry via your site to sign up to your newsletter directly via opt-in checkboxes.

 

This is not only a great time saver but will also go a long way in enhancing the size and quality of your subscriber list.

 

OptinMonster

https://ps.w.org/optinmonster/assets/banner-772×250.png?rev=1145863

 

https://wordpress.org/plugins/optinmonster/

No. of downloads: 800,000+

 

Speaking of increasing your email subscriber list, another tool that is designed precisely for that is the OptinMonster plugin for WordPress.

 

Your website’s conversion rate is one of the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and offering multiple ways for a conversion (aka call-to-action) to occur is a must.

 

For example, even though your most important call-to-action is going to a sale if you’re selling something or an enquiry if you’re a service business, secondary call-to-action such as a newsletter signup or to download a white-paper or brochure can also be very valuable in the long run.

 

OptinMonster offers the ability to create several different types of forms such as popups and light boxes and even ‘exit-intent’ light boxes which can help you increase the number of page/views, increase conversions and ultimately make your website work better.

 

Drip Marketing Automation plugin for WordPress

https://wordpress.org/plugins/email-marketing/

 

No. of downloads: 9,000+

https://ps.w.org/email-marketing/assets/banner-772×250.png?rev=1817747

 

If your website’s subscriber count is in the triple digits, you need to have a marketing automation CRM in place if you don’t have one already and Drip is one such option.

 

In addition to collating all your signups and subscriber info from a variety of signup sources, a software like Drip can also automate certain marketing tasks that you carry out on a routine basis.

 

For example, Drip will allow you to send out an automated email notification to a a visitor who signs up via your blog each time you publish a new blog post which is not only a great time saver but also helps you improve your return visit levels.

 

Or, you can create lead nurturing emails which are designed to gradually move your user from the ‘cold’ to ‘hot’ stage of the buying funnel. In the long run, this can mean more sales for relatively less effort.

How to choose a website design agency

The website design and development racket is a tricky field to navigate.

If you find yourself in search of web design agencies, it’s sometimes hard to tell the wood from the trees in terms of differentiating between the good and the bad.

The aim of this blog is to give you a few pointers on why it’s worth your while getting professionals to design and develop your website.

 

#1 How hard can it be? I’ll do it myself for a fraction of the price

 

Don’t get me wrong many people have successfully designed, developed and launched their own websites using one of the well-known platforms such as WordPress or Wix.

But, have they created something that truly reflects their brand or business? Well I’d bet that 99% of ‘self-built’ websites entirely misrepresent their brand/business or simply don’t do it justice.

A website is often the first place a prospective new client will look – the importance of making a good first impression is essential in building trust, driving conversion and encouraging advocacy.

 

 

#2 Due-diligence whether it’s a new business or an upgrade – don’t go rogue

 

So, you’ve made the right choice and realised what’s best for your business.

You must be careful though. As in every industry, especially overcrowded ones, there are those who have your best interests at heart, and then there are the crooks.

Owing to how diluted the industry is, the web design and development space is littered with people trying to exploit other peoples ignorance and make a quick buck and whilst most agencies in question provide a similar service offering to one-another, it’s up to you to differentiate between them all.

It’s important to try and choose an agency that will take as much pride in the client’s business and brand, as the client themselves.

This is obviously easier said than done but finding a team with enthusiasm for not only their work, but also their clients, will ensure a positive outcome further down the line.

An obvious place you can check this is in their case studies. If there aren’t beautiful examples of past work proudly placed on a pedestal on the agency’s website, alarm bells should be ringing.

Another easy way of finding reputable agencies is through industry related publications and the annual awards given out to leading website design agencies in London and globally.

 

#3 Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys

 

Monkey selfieWhen it comes to costs, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is and somewhere down the line you’ll end up in losing out either financially or being lumped with a mediocre, under-whelming website.

Always bear in mind the number of different elements it takes to build a good website – design, UX, development and SEO. Each are very specific skills that people spend years honing and as such you expect to pay!

So, save your time and don’t engage with any company who quote significantly less than all the other quotes that you have received.

Especially in regard to SMEs and start-ups, budgets can be restrictive, but, considering the importance of a website plays on client’s first impressions, every effort should be made to make them as well-crafted as they can be.

Websites are often more expensive than people think but when you take into account the expertise you are getting for your money, the juice is worth the squeeze.

75% of user judgment about your business’s credibility is based on your website’s design
University of Surrey

People are often taken aback by the costs of building a custom website. Whilst these costs are usually fair, the agency should provide fairly comprehensive breakdowns demonstrating how they are arriving at the forecasted costs, including an idea of additional development and post build costs should they be needed.

Getting several quotes from different agencies should give you a good idea of a ballpark figure you should expect to pay.

Whilst there are some very intuitive platforms out there that can walk you through every step to building an intuitive and responsive website for relatively little money, the chances of you creating a website that best reflects your business is hard with off the shelf templates. What’s more; by using the standard themes offered by the likes of WordPress and Shopify, it’s likely that your website will end up looking similar if not identical to someone else’s and correct me if I’m wrong, it’s in a businesses interest to stand out from the crowd, not mix about in it.

 

#4 Forming Lasting Relationships

 

Digital professionals helping ambitious brands thrive online.

This is the mantra at the core of Diffusion Digital’s ethos and fundamentally lays out our driving force, and, in danger of sounding self-righteous, it’s one that every digital agency should pursue.

people working happily

I say ‘pursue’ because – owing to evolving environments, demographics and products, to name but a few – this process is changes with the times and we must adapt with it. Having an agency aboard throughout will make your life easier in the long run.

Agencies should demonstrate that they take genuine pride in the websites they help craft. They should take the time to truly understand what the brand or business stands for and the client’s objectives or vision into the future, as well as Key Performance Indicators.

When a collection of brilliant minds, hearts, and talents come together… expect a masterpiece
John Ruskin

 

#5 Sit back and watch your business/brand evolve online

 

The beauty of using an agency is that you should expect all bases to be covered.

  • Appropriate platform

Magento, WordPress, Kentico, Salesforce, Shopify are just a few of the platforms that people host their websites on and which one to use depends on your business. Engaging the correct platform from the outset is critical to all businesses moving forward in terms of functionality abd scaling the business in the future.

  • SEO structure

It is essential to involve Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) from the earliest stages of a website build. Creating keyword optimised landing pages will help Google recognise what your business is and subsequently, with an ongoing content strategy, high quality organic traffic will be driven to your site.

  • Clever custom animations

Being able to customise apps and other integrations is essential to truly bringing a brand to life online. Agencies make it their mission to tweak existing apps to best fit the profile of the business they are working for. This allows entirely bespoke interactions that will truly enhance the appearance and performance of the site.

  • Seamless user experience

Creating a site that is easy to navigate, with intuitive integrations and that’s pleasing both visibly as well as practically is a crucial part of attracting engaging and retaining visitors to a site.

  • Responsive design

Increasingly people use a variety of devices to access the internet making it essential to develop a website that transitions seamlessly from one device to another.

#6 Key considerations

 

  • Does this agency have the right expertise?

Choosing an agency cartoonThe agency doesn’t necessarily have to be old but it is worth checking the experience of the team who is going to be working on your account. It has been known that experienced people will be in the discovery stages in order to win the brief and subsequently pass the account onto less able juniors. Whilst this is great in teaching other people skills, it might not be ideal in terms of building your website.

  • Does this agency offer all of the services I require?

Where possible find an agency where all departments — SEO, Development, UX, Copy Writing to name but a few — are housed under one roof. In terms of simplicity, efficiency and ease of communication this is far better than working with agencies who sub-contact elements out to people who might be based on the other side of the world

  • Is my business important to them?

Find people who care. If it is a small project don’t go to a big agency because they might not assign the same amount of time as they do to other projects.

  • How many people will be working on my account?

This will vary throughout the build. Expect all sections to be involved during the initial discovery stages but once designs and strategies have been laid down the teams will work individually on the sections that are relevant to them before passing it onto the next to complete theres.

  • Who will be my main contact?

Ensure clear lines of communication are set up and you know who you speak to directly should you need to

  • What am I paying for?

You are paying for a team of experts in their respective fields to help bring your business to life on line. In a world where digital is taking over a little more each day, it is essential that we keep up with the times and by creating a beautiful website you will extend your reach enormously.

  • Do you like and trust them?

This isn’t just an agency who you need to help you in the short term. These individuals are going to be dealing with something which is incredibly important to you and as such you need to not only to like them, but more importantly trust them. You need to be able to look at them and tell that they are going to treat your baby – so to speak – with the upmost respect. Essentially a website design agency becomes intimately involved in the development of your brand/business and as such you need to see that they care.

  • Are they asking the right questions?

The agency should develop a deep understanding of the business and how it works during the initial discovery stage, this should also look into key performance indicators and future targets.

  • Are they able to provide testimonials and examples of work?

Whilst the agency doesn’t necessarily have to be too old, it is important that at least a few of the people who work there have considerable experience working in the industry. This can be tested by looking at the testimonials on both the individual as well as the work they have done.

Ultimately what you ant to ask yourself is whether or not you will form a good relationship with the agency and especially the team who are going to be working on your account.

Contact with an agency rarely ends after the build is complete and usually an agency will offer retainer packages to manage a website into the future. Moreover finding an agency who offers on-going SEO and content marketing retainer strategies that will help drive high quality organic traffic to your site.

 

9 FAQs on WordPress.

There are thousands of searches on WordPress every day. In fact there are over 2.8 million on Google for the keyword ‘Wordpress’ every month.

What are the 5 best plugins for 2018?

Can my cat have a blog on WordPress?

What is a WordPress permalink?

It is easy to become weighed down by indigestible attempts to explain these common queries, particularly the ones about cats. In this weeks blog we are hoping to redress the balance and answer a selection of the most common questions about WordPress from all corners of the digital expanse.

Let me make it clear, we are not trumpet blowers here, this will be an honest view of some of the positives as well as – and arguably more importantly – the negatives associated with using WordPress as your springboard to a successful future online.

So, let’s kick off with an easy one….

1) What are Diffusion Digital’s top 5 plugins for 2018?

Tricky to narrow down but here are some that we use across most of our website builds.

WPERP logo

Any business owner, on or offline, needs to have exceptional organisational skills if they want to scale up their business, and they are going to need even greater skills to stay there.

WP ERP is a powerful plugin that aids hman resource management, customer relations management and accounting. These three pillars are key to supporting a scaling business and dramatically brighten up what is normally an incredibly mundane and time-consuming job.

Price: Free

best web soft logo

For those of you looking to cross borders and go global, having a Multilanguage option on your site is crucial to attracting and retaining new customers. Now, no translation software is perfect and even the best leave a little to be desired, but the Multilanguage plugin is up there with the best. The plugin works across pages, posts, widgets, menus, custom post types and taxonomies, allowing the user to easily switch to one of the 80+ languages the plugin offers.

Price: $32/mo or $320/lifetime

Yoast SEO Icon

It’s all very well have a beautiful site with unrivalled content, but if you don’t reach your target audience what’s the point? From shyest blogger to the multi national businesses, there will agree there’s very little point in having a website that doesn’t try to reach out to people.

Yoast SEO walks you through all of the steps you need to boost your search engine ranking. From keyword suggestions to content insights to internal linking suggestions to many many more; this powerful tool will dramatically increase your reach and in turn, will bring more quality leads to the site which ultimately will increase conversion.

Price: £69

Woo Commerce logo

As an eCommerce specialist it would be remiss of me not to one of the most powerful plugin that will transform your WordPress site into a fully functioning transactional platform.

The WooCommerce WordPress plugin is responsible for driving around 30% of online stores. Like in most things, when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys and whilst the free version of the plugin gives you basic functionality, the premium version comes with the really useful stuff including one-page checkout, cart abandonment emails amongst hundreds of others.

Price: $79/month, 5 sites – $129/month, 25 – $179/month

Advanced Custom Fields Pro Logo

Anything with ‘advanced’ and ‘pro’ in the title is either overcompensating or genuinely worth its weight in gold. In this case, the latter springs true.

Advanced Custom Fields Pro enables developers to build extra fields into the backend of your WordPress site that enhances repeatable blocks, page building layouts, intuitive galleries, custom settings and reusable fields. This will allow you to optimise the way your content can be consumed, as opposed to being constrained by an off the shelf template.

Price: $25AUD Personal, $100AUD Developer

With 55,000 other plugins out there, this list could ramble on longer than one of the Mad Hatter’s riddles, but it does bring me neatly onto my next point.

Wordpress.com vs Wordpress.org logo

2) What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

There are substantial differences between the two and it is important that you kick off your online presence on the right foot. Fundamentally the main and most obvious difference is that WordPress.org is free. Whilst this might be useful for the hobby blogger, it leaves a lot to be desired if you are looking at taking a more professional approach.

On the one hand wordpress.org provides a free, open source, downloadable version of the software, which you must install yourself, choose a suitable hosting provider and between the two of you, you are responsible for your WordPress installation and management, including backups; upgrades and site security. If you are the person blogging about your cat (or one of the people – I hear this is quite a popular topic?) this might not be an issue as it is unlikely that anything too drastic will happen if for some reason the site goes down (I suspect I am in danger of treading on a few cat lovers’ toes here…. No offence intended!).

On the other hand, WordPress.com offers you a range of off-the-shelf, ready to use Software as a Service (SaaS), basic and premium plans. These versions are fully hosted, all backups are taken care of and security updates and upgrades are handled for you. Whilst it is free initially, premium services are obviously paid for and prices range from £36/year for a partially customised blogging platform, to £240/year for the business plan, which allows you to fully customise your site and install third-party plugins.

There are over 55,000 plugins available on WordPress and it can quickly feel like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole — I perhaps could have phrased that better, apologies Alice — into Wonderland when you start searching for the best plugins with which to optimise your site. But although it can be quite complicated, if you are really after a site that will reflect your brand or business online, these plugins are essential.

Sticking with the subject of plugins, here are some that would broaden the Cheshire cat’s already pretty broad grin…. (Tenuous link – I think Alice in Wonderland is this weeks theme – I couldn’t tell you why. How many references can you find?)

Computer with code, wordpress security

3) How do I secure my WordPress site from rogue plugins?

Fundamentally WordPress is a very secure platform. However, owing to the open source nature of the site, you take the risk of opening up your site to hackers who like to exploit poor coding or out of date software. However, the vorpal sword is always nearby to fight them off and there are many means by which you can mitigate risk. Here is a list of common issues with plugins.

  • Website Security Breaches.

Beware the hackers my son! The jaws that bite the claws that snatch… (hmmmmm, not sure if Carroll will be too happy with this one – or any of them for that matter.)

Hackers will use plugins as a means of gaining entryto your website with potentially catastrophic consequences in terms of your business or data security. The reality is not as dark as I make out here and there are several security plugins that you can install to put yourself in the strongest position in staving off attacks.

Furthermore, simply by backing up your website regularly you can ensure that should an attack take place you can quickly restore your website to working condition.

Keeping your plugins updated, or by removing them if they are not being used, will slam the door on hackers looking to exploit weaknesses in your site.

  • Site performance and page speed.

In terms of retaining and converting visitors to your site, page-loading times are critical. The more plugins you have installed could mean reduced website performance as each plugin requires more code to be read and understood by the browser. Installing a caching plugin like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache can help prevent this problem by reducing the processing load on your server which can dramatically enhance performance by increasing your site speed.

A potential further issue is that some plugins are not compatible with one another which can cause problems with page loading times and as a worse case scenario entire website failure.

  • Reliability

The reliability of plugins can also be called into question. Reliability can be effected by poor code quality, discontinued products, slow or rare updates, poor support infrastructure and at the most basic level; the complexity of the plugin.

Ensuring all of your plugins are up to date or those that you are no longer using, removed altogether, can reduce reliability issues.

The following is a selection of recommendations that will help prevent you becoming as foul-mouthed as Alice’s nemesis; the Queen of Hearts:

  • ‘Too many plugins’ is not an issue; poorly coded ones are, so due-diligence is essential.
  • Research the developer – does the WordPress community respect them?
  • Look for plugins with 4/5 star reviews
  • What is the new plugin going to add to your website? Will it help or hinder UX?
  • Are there detailed tutorials/guidelines on how to use the plugin?
  • How often is the plugin updated? How many times has it been downloaded? A trustworthy plugin will be regularly updated.
stacks of money

4) Can a WordPress blog make money? 

The simple answer to this question is yes.

However, if you’re thinking of get rich quick then you should probably start looking elsewhere.

WordPress’s roots are deeply set in the blogging world, whilst it has developed into a different beast altogether, fundamentally it’s area where people can share ideas to an audience who cares.

As with many other digital platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — one of the biggest opportunities to make money is through marketing. But this is not as easy as it seems and requires a huge amount of skill. Essentially, generating an income through blogging largely revolves around building a large following who companies can target.

How can I generate a large following I hear you ask. Well, again, the answer is simple but the reality is a little trickier. Ultimately you have to be able to write regular, quality and sharable content that retains a strong readership over a long period of time. Once you have this readership in place you can look to ways of monetising it.

The following is a list of a few ways to monetise a blog:

Affiliate marketing

  • Linking to other websites using tracking links (PPC/CPM)

Google Adsense

  • Allow Google to present ads on your site. (PPC/CPM)

WordPress Ad plugin

  • Allow people to directly place ads across your site.

Sponsored content/reviews

  • Be paid to write articles on behalf of a company or business

Restricted ‘Members Only’ content

  • Restrict access to special features – video, podcasts etc

Create a directory/job board

  • Find a niche and map it, making it a useful resource for companies/businesses.

Of course there are other ways like selling products through eCommerce, or becoming a WordPress developer – as WordPress developers ourselves we’d rather you chose something else though!

Sony Music home page screen grab

5) What big brands use WordPress as a platform?

 

Disney 

Tech Crunch 

Bloomberg

MTV News 

BBC America 

Alice-in-Wonderland 

Sony Music

Sweeden’s official website

Mercedez 

6) Can WordPress host my Domain?

When you sign up to WordPress you will be issued with a free address – for example; diffusiondigital.wordpress.com – however you can change this by signing up to a WordPress plan which will allow you to create a new address or import an existing one.

Essentially what you will be buying is a Domain Mapping Upgrade and whilst this sounds complicated, it isn’t. In layman’s terms, this upgrade means directing anyaddress.com to your anyaddress.wordpress.com site. Basically – your visitors will see your site hosted on wordpress.com although anyaddress.com continues to be the visible address.

Ultimately WordPress is like the Hatter’s tea party. It hosts all sorts of different businesses and brands and brings them together around a common platform. (Still tenuous?!)

7) How does a WordPress website work?

Many people look at a WordPress with fear as if it some kind of savage beast whiffling through the tulgey wood. They hear expressions like open-source or code or pluggin and terror strikes them down. But fear not. Boiled down to the bear essentials it is quite simple.

If you don’t like slightly technical stuff fear not because nor do I. I am going to attempt to translate this to the point that my grandmother will understand and she is still struggling with the electric telephone.

So, without further ado….

WordPress is what is known as an open source platform which means everyone has access to its code (essentially what any computer programme is written in) and can manipulate it in order to make new plugins or features.

Since its conception as a blogging platform in 2007, thanks to the army of developers who have been able to access and adapt the code, it has evolved into the world-leading platform that it is today.

Having access to the source code means that developers are able to make plugins (or…addins, add-ins, addons, add-ons or extensions), which are software components that add specific features to a webpage. For example if you want to have an image slider that enables the user to be able to slide through an image library across the screen, then there is a plugin for that. The same goes for drop down menus, accordion style FAQs, parallax scrolling. In fact there are over 55,000 plugins that will allow you to completely fit out your website so that it truly reflects your brand or business, as opposed to having to work to a template design.

Ultimately, WordPress is a beast worth taming and it will help organise and bring to life the brand or business that you care so deeply about.

8) Will WordPress Die and what happens if it does?

I admit this one surprised me a little bit as well but sure enough, ‘will WordPress die?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions in Google on WordPress. So it would be negligent of me no to give it a look in.

Well, put simply it would be a bit of a nightmare for the 19,500,00 or so websites that use it. But is it likely? well… no.

WordPress is a juggernaut and only some sort of herculean miracle will see it taken over and I suspect it will rule the digital CMS roost for decades to come.

permalinks settings page screen grab

9) How do WordPress permalinks work?

We’re in danger of slipping into the technical abyss with this one but I shall try and keep it simple.

Permalinks are the permanent URLs of your blog posts, service pages or product pages of your WordPress site. Essentially it is through these that the digital world can identify what is on the page in question, and allows them to share what ever it is you have been producing.

Put simply:

  • People use your permalink to point to content on your website
  • You’d use your permalink to share your content across social media
  • Google uses permalinks to help index your content
  • If you want to a webpage in an email you would drop in a permalink

So, as you can see they are quite important to the structure of your website and attention must be paid to them if you’re trying to increase your quality exposure.

The problem with WordPress is that the default permalinks are not very digestible for humans and Search Engine Spiders alike.

Fortunately you can change them (this needs to be done when you build your website as once you change these URLs, all pre-existing links will become defunct).

By going into the backend or ‘admin’ side of WordPress and going to ‘settings’ and then ‘permalinks’, you can select how to set your default permalinks using date/time, plain or the best as far as I’m concerned: ‘Post Name’.

10) Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Well if you can answer this then you know more than me about WordPress! But don’t worry if you can’t, find out more about how we design and build WordPress sites or talk to one of our team of WordPress specialists today and discover how we can help bring your brand to life online.

Key Considerations to Making your Website more Engaging

Getting your website right can be difficult – from one angle you want your site to display as much information as possible in an attempt to emphasise your expertise in a particular field. On the other, you don’t want your website to appear clunky and boring as it needs to stand above all others to catch the eye of the consumer.

This can lead to a middle-ground, that for some, is difficult to achieve – A grey area, found on a thin line between over-the-top design and tedious content. You don’t want your online business to fall into either of those traps, so how do you get it right.

High quality content is absolutely essential for the success of your website, but this content must be incorporated into a memorable experience by utilising certain design features – features that will fully engage users and position your brand above other contenders. But what exactly are these?

Website design

The above image is owned by https://traineracademy.org/ 

 

Navigation

For some websites, having a simple and concise navigation bar can seem like a near impossible task to achieve, especially considering the vast amounts of content that some organisations have. Having too many navigation options is a big NO when it comes to web design – it can leave users overwhelmed, confused, and irritated – something that definitely won’t help with your conversion rate. A logical and intuitive navigation scheme is the way to go – effectively you should know the next step that users want to be taking before they do, gently guiding and nudging them in various directions that ultimately result in coherent finishes.

Easy Contact

More often than not, when users have a question, they want to get straight to the point and get in touch – meaning they often bypass any FAQ sections and go straight for the contact page. Of course, the way in which a user wants to get in touch varies from person to person – some like over the phone, some like emails, some even prefer the simplicity of the contact form. So, as a business, you should make sure that all of these options are available to your customers – phone, email, contact form, and social media. It makes users feel like their needs have been tended too, and can often significantly reduce levels of stress associated with time critical requests.

I know this seems like a really obvious one, but often having well-placed and noticeable Call-To-Actions will always give users somewhere to go.
Will Wigram, Managing Director

Obvious Call-To-Actions

I know this seems like a really obvious one, but often having well-placed and noticeable Call-To-Actions will always give users somewhere to go. This, if thought-out properly, will enable users to see most of the website by utilising a natural flow – effectively giving you the opportunity to guide them to the areas of the website you most want them to see.

Social Media Shareability

Social media can easily be considered one of the primary forms of marketing and communication when it comes to your businesses’ online presence. Making sure that areas of your site can be shared appropriately on all social media sites allows for real engagement from your users – and is the best way of attracting traffic. Having live feeds for your Twitter or Instagram pages allows users to see that you are active and therefore likely to be accessible and responsive – a key feature in this day and age.

Stick with the High Quality Content

Besides all of the points above, once users get deeper into the site, design and navigation don’t really stand for much if you haven’t managed to retain fresh, original and high-quality content. Besides, just as important, all the major search engines have algorithms in place that are designed to reward websites with higher search page rankings if those websites keep on top of their content. That means relevant, consistent, and constant content.

 

Diffusion digital creates bespoke websites on several platforms. To read more about how we can help enhance your WordPress site click here.