What To Look For In Web Hosting

As a web designer in Plymouth I often recommend clients to web hosting that suits their website, if the client doesn’t already have a web host.
What To Look For In Web Hosting
But what do I and should clients look for when seeking web hosting?

Firstly, what is web hosting?

A web hosting service is a service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server for websites to be uploaded and viewed on the internet.

What to look for when seeking a Web Host?

1. Support.  A host offering the best technical specs and pricing will mean nothing if their support is lousy. My advice is to telephone the support of a host you’ve short listed once or twice (not on the same day) to evaluate how quickly they respond to your enquires and how technically adept they are, it is also worth testing out their email support and live chat support too (if available). But good constant telephone support, preferably in the same country as you, is a must when looking for a web host.

2. Website Reviews. No matter how good a web hosts offers seem, check out their reviews and testimonials, not on their own website but by Googling your desired web host. There are many review sites on the internet where your search will most likely crop up, take the time to visit more than one review site or forum and evaluate the number of  positive and negative reviews for the particular web host.

3. Great Speed and Stability. A site that is frequently down or slow to access can lose viewers, and be terribly frustrating, if you intend to host a blog or forum for example, test out blogs and forums already hosted by the web host during peak as well as off-peak hours, it is also worth checking feedback via website reviews, forum posts or word of mouth. A web host should be reliable and fast and guarantee its uptime, look for a minimum uptime of 99%.

4. Web Space. Web hosts offer more than one package, each package varies in price and features, one feature is the web space of the package, for instance one package could include 500MB sosted space, whilst another have 100GB hosted space. Determine the size to suit your needs. Website sizes vary depending on how much pictures, videos, flash etc they use, and a site with a database will grow overtime. If for example, you intend to use a database for a blog that will have many posts and pictures, be sure to keep that in mind when choosing a hosting package.

 5. Allotted Monthly Traffic. Look for how much Data Transfer (Traffic/Bandwidth) is offered with each package.  Data Transfer is the amount of bytes transferred from your site to visitors when they browse your site. A generous amount of GB should suffice. Your mileage, however, will vary depending on your target audience and content of your website.

6. Services Provided. Advanced features depend on your needs, but scripting tools that help you create dynamic pages are a must (PHP, Perl etc). The ability to create custom error pages is also recommended. Check out each package to see how many MsSQL Databases are provided, for example if you’re planning on a blog and forum for one website you’ll require more than one database.

7. Location Of Servers. Search engines know where your web site is hosted based on the web server location and IP details. If your website’s target audience is predominantly from the UK, its recommended to look for a web host with a server in the UK, which in the long run could help your local Google ranking.

8. Control Panel. At times you may wish to use your web hosting control panel, to add an extra email account for example or delete a file, many hosts use popular control panels (Such as Cpanel) or their own, at the very minimum, they should allow you to access files, to add and delete etc. If a web host comes with its very own unique Control Panel, make sure you try out a demo to get the feel of it and see what’s on offer. You should also check which apps are included with the Control Panel, such as WordPress, Joomla, PhpBB etc.

9. Email Features. Email forwarding, (so that mail can be forwarded to your current email address) whilst using your hosted domain name and online webmail with spam filtering, if desired are recommended.

10. Security. Protecting your websites data from unwanted intrusions is another key consideration when selecting a host, check if free daily backups are included when selecting a host.

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Templates – Pros and Cons

Template Pros And ConsWhilst browsing the web (especially on business sites), I often come across two websites that look exactly the same, and often these websites are of the same profession.

Such websites are due the use of templates, usually they free but often templates can give an amateurish look, especially if your closet competitor is using the same design!

Below is a short list of Pros & Cons of website templates, in the hope that it may be of use to a new business seeking an online presence.

 

 
Template Pros

Ready To Go – With a readymade template to download you already know what the finished article looks like. You can chose a template that appeals to you from the wide range available.

Speed – A downloaded template can be up and running within a fraction of the time of a custom creation, provided you have the content, pictures and logo ready to customize the template.

Choice And Cost – Templates are very cheap to buy, whilst some are free, there’s also a huge range of them available on the internet to chose from. However, prices, quality and support do vary.

 
Template Cons

Not Exclusive Or Unique – Templates are downloaded by many hundreds of users, so they are not exclusive or unique to you or your company. Several people may have already bought or downloaded the template you have chosen. If you can’t modify the colours or layout, your site will be a clone of other sites, which may seem  unprofessional  to users looking at your site if they have already seen the same design elsewhere.

Forced Design – With a template it may be difficult to add extra navigation links should you decide to later down the line. If you have a lot of content to add but have chosen a template with limited space for text, the additional text may hinder the look of the webpage if the template was not designed for lots of content. Templates force you to fit your content into a predetermined design instead of the other way around.

No Search Engine Optimization – Website Templates will only give you the shell of your site. They are not optimized to attract search engines.  A template is very unlikely to come with keywords and meta-tags to suit your needs.

Free – Free Templates often come with a catch, often requiring you to display a link to the template site on the footer, You can usually pay to remove this.

Customer Support – After tweaking your template, you may have found an error you just can’t fix, customer support for templates is very hit and miss depending on where and who you downloaded the template from.

Ownership – Certain companies that offer hundreds of templates to chose from, offer domain names too, when you register a domain through them,  you are essentially not the owner of your domain name. In fact, the company actually owns your domain name and rents it out to you for a fee. The same goes for your website, you do not actually own it but rent it from them.

 

Therefore, as much as you may want to make your site as original as possible, you won’t achieve this objective unless you hire a web designer to create a unique website for you.

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Stay Safe Plumbing & Heating

The guys from Stay Safe Plumbing and Heating wanted a website design similar to the style of their business card and colour of their vans.

Their black and gold website is now live, ready to attract new customers in Plymouth and Devon.

Stay Safe Plumbing And Heating

Feel free to visit Stay Safe Plumbing and Heating at: http://www.staysafeplumbing.co.uk/

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How To Add A Google+ Profile Pic To Google Search

Google+
Whilst searching Google (or googling as its better known), you may have noticed pictures next to some links, the pictures are usually Google+ profile pics of authors or contributors of websites.

There are some interesting stats starting to come out regarding these profile pics – its significantly increasing a websites click through rate from the SERPs (search engine results page).

If you have a blog or website and would like to add your Google+ profile pic so it may show up in results, the tutorial below should help you.

Although, it would be beneficial if you already have an established Google+ profile, as Google states in their webmaster tools article:

“If you want your authorship information to appear in search results for the content you create, you’ll need a Google+ Profile with a good, recognizable headshot as your profile photo. Google doesn’t guarantee to show author information in Google Web Search or Google News results.”

1. If you don’t already have a Google account, simply create an account for free.

2. Add a photo (250×250) to your Google+ profile, try to use a headshot of you as your profile photo, not a company logo or an image of multiple people.

3. Associate your content with your Google+ profile. Add a link to every page you author or contribute to in the following format:

<a href="[profile_url]?rel=author">Google+ Profile</a>

[profile_url] will be changed shortly, but your link must contain ?rel=author, otherwise Google won’t be able to associate your content with your Google+ profile.

Replace [profile_url] with your Google+ url, You’ll find your profile url in the web address bar when you view your profile.

For example mine is: https://plus.google.com/u/0/108511438827152738314/posts

So modifying

<a href="[profile_url]?rel=author">Google+ Profile</a>

Mine would look like:

<a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/108511438827152738314/posts?rel=author">JC Madge on Google+</a>

4. To link your website to a Google+ profile you need to add a link to it on Google+. Edit your Google+ profile, and add your website to the Contributor to field. Once your site is added to your Google+ profile click save.

The results won’t appear instantly on Google, but if you continue to add step 3 to your posts, the results with your Google+ profile pic should appear in time!

Further reading: Webmaster Tools

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JCM Design Referral Program

JCM Design recognize word of mouth recommendations are one of the highest JCM Design Referral Programcompliments any company can receive. For sending new clients to JCM Design, our referral program acts as a thank you for your trust and confidence.

When you recommend JCM Design services to a prospective client and your recommendation results in a new or redesigned website, JCM Design will provide you, the referrer, with one of the following referral rewards:

£20.00 payment
or
An hour of free website maintenance.

If you have friends, family and business associates that are interested in a website, simply recommend JCM Design and ask them to mention your name.

Contact JCM Design to let us know that we may be contacted by your referral. There is no limit on how many times you may take advantage of our offer!

Terms:

Onlу one reward wіll bе awarded per website.

Yου mау nοt refer your οwn existing website.

Referral rewards wіll bе paid tο thе referrer after payment of the new website or redesign is complete.

JCM Design reserves thе rіght tο change οr modify its referral program.

 

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Gmail: How To Add A Letterhead And Signature

Previously tutorials have covered how to use Gmail with your own branded domain and an article covering its benefit, recently clients have asked how to add a letterhead logo to an email and how to add a signature.

Neither is as straight forward as it looks, so here is a tutorial for both.

To add an inline image to an email you are composing in Gmail:

1. In Gmail, click the compose button, once clicked, make sure you have rich formatting on by clicking the link above the compose message area. If you already see icons above your compose message area such as B (for bold) and I (for Italic), rich formatting is already on.

2. Adding an image into the compose message area is not on by default, follow the Settings link in Gmail. Go to the Labs tab. Make sure Enable is selected for Inserting images. Click Save Changes.

3. Click the compose button, and with rich formatting on, you’ll now see a new button added to rich formatting called insert image.

Click the insert image button, and upload your desired letterhead image, once you see your letterhead in your email, continue composing your email as usual.

Rather than uploading your letterhead image from your hard drive every time you compose a message, you can also add it from a web address (URL). There are many free image hosting sites where you can store your letterhead, such as photobucket.com or flickr.com.

Unlike adding a signature, which will always be there once you compose a message, you’ll have to add the letterhead image every time you compose a new message.

Try not to make your letterhead image too wide, if its too wide the image may not fully show on the various email clients out there.

If however you do not wish to add a letterhead image to your message, you can add a small logo to your signature.

Once set, a signature will appear below your composed message every time you create an email.

A signature can include an image or logo, your name, your website, your telephone number and your address. Its up to personal preference how much you wish to include.

To set up a signature automatically added to emails you compose in Gmail:

1. Follow the Settings link in Gmail’s top right navigation menu.

2. Click on General.

3. Scroll down to signature and select signature with the radio button, make sure the desired account is selected under signature.

4. Type the desired signature in the text field.

With rich formatting already on, and images already enabled. You can add an image to your signature as previously stated.

A recommended image size is 88 pixels by 70 pixels.

5. Click Save Changes.

6. Compose a new message and you’ll see your signature already there!

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Re-design: Avacom Services

The Avacom cleaning services website re-design is now live. Feel free to visit it at: http://www.avacomservices.co.uk/

A light blue colour scheme suited my clients wishes and already he’s getting new clients himself via the websites new contact form!

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Benefits Of Using Your Own Domain With Gmail

Recently I posted a tutorial How To Use Gmail With Your Own Branded Domain.  

Yet I did not explain the reasons and benefits for using your own domain name for emails, instead of using yourname@googlemail.com or yourname@yahoo.com etc

Professionalism, free advertising, brand reinforcement and better organization are all key aspects to using email with your branded domain.

1. With your branded domain every email you send out advertises your website, every time you give someone your email address or advertise your email address on your business card, you can also be advertising your website. Using your branded domain as your email ID will promote your domain rather than Hotmail or Yahoo!

2. Using your domain name for emails gives constant reminders of your domain name to your current users and customers, which is critical for your overall brand reinforcement.

3. It is simply more professional, and it gives that impression to clients too, whenever I see small business’s use free email accounts, it looks amateurish compared to using a branded domain for emails.

4. Unlimited options, with any good web hosting company you can make an unlimited number of email accounts and/or email forwarding, so your employees can have use of the branded domain too.

5. Organization gets easier. Creating several emails for different purposes can really streamline communication flow and email organization.

6. You don’t have to give up your current email address. If you’ve been using Hotmail or Yahoo! for years, you can simply forward emails to those accounts from your Gmail account with its branded domain, but just remember to reply with your branded domain! 🙂

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The Microsoft Telephone Scam

The MicrosoftTelephone ScamOver the past year I’ve had three or four calls from people claiming to be from Microsoft and telling me that I have a virus on my computer, luckily I’m internet savvy and know this is a scam by crooks, but for those that aren’t such calls can be more than just an annoyance…

The Microsoft telephone scam goes something like this, the crooks will inform you that they are calling from Microsoft and tell you that your computer has picked up a virus.

The scammers will then try to persuade you to grant them access to your PC via a remote access tool. If you agree, they’ll install malware to show you a list of fake infections. And then they’ll try to convince you to hand over your card details, so that they can fix the problem.

If you receive one of these unsolicited phone calls, hang up and do not download anything they ask you to.  And definitely don’t hand over your credit card details, just because someone mentions the well known name ‘Microsoft’.

The following is Microsoft’s advice, if ever a scammer calls you:

Be suspicious of unsolicited calls related to a security problem, even if they claim to represent a respected company.

Never provide personal information, such as credit card or bank details, to an unsolicited caller.

Do not go to a website, type anything into a computer, install software or follow any other instruction from someone who calls out of the blue.

Take the caller’s information down and pass it to the authorities.

Use up-to-date versions of Windows and application software.

Make sure security updates are installed regularly.

Use a strong password and change it regularly.

Make sure the firewall is turned on and that antivirus software is installed and up to date.

Microsoft advises anyone who thinks they may already have been a victim of a phone scam to do the following:

Change their computer’s password, change the password on their main email account and change the password for any financial accounts, especially bank and credit cards.

Scan their computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner to find out if they have malware installed on their computer.

Contact their bank and credit card companies.

 

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Re-design: Alpha Services

The re-design of Alpha Services has now gone live – http://alphaservices.co.uk/
Alpha Services are electrical contractors based in Plymouth, Devon.

Green and white was the required colour scheme and each page shows an informative Youtube video of their services.

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