13 posts categorized "WordPress"

12/06/2018

WordPress 5.0 is ready for download!

Bebo (aka WordPress 5.0) is  ready for download. As of writing it has already been downloaded over 100,000 times. Some of the fresh new features include:

  • A new content editor that enables creating content with blocks - WordPress is here to simplify the process, not the outcome. This new editing experience provides a more consistent treatment of design as well as content. 
  • A stunning new theme called 2019 -- ready for blocks! Twenty Nineteen features custom styles for the blocks available by default in 5.0. Featuring ample whitespace, and modern sans-serif headlines paired with classic serif body text, Twenty Nineteen is built to be beautiful on the go. It uses system fonts to increase loading speed.
  • The Classic Editor plugin restores the previous WordPress editor and the Edit Post screen. It lets you keep using plugins that extend it, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor.

 

Here are the 16 core content blocks you can play with today. And there will be many, many more soon!

16 gutenblocks

You can download the latest version in your dashboard or wait for your host to do an auto-update.

And with a Toronto or Vaughan Library card you can access the new WordPress 5 Essential Training by Morton Rand-Hendriksen for free!

08/11/2018

WordCamp Niagara 2018 - Managed WordPress Demystified

In an updated presentation called Managed WordPress Demystified, Alex Sirota, wowed the WordCamp Niagara audience with an updated talk on selecting a managed WordPress host. The video (coming soon!) and the presentation is below.

03/05/2018

WordPress.com Supports Plugins and Themes

Wordpress plans
WordPress.com plans

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, has upped their game by allowing plugin and theme installations on the business offering of WordPress.com. For $33 CAD ($25 USD) per month you have access to a fully managed WordPress website, but there are some features missing from this new entrant into the custom WordPress hosting space.

Until sometime in August 2017, WordPress.com severely restricted the use of themes, offered no plug-in installations and limited the access to CSS for theme customizations.  The ability to install plugins, themes and customize CSS made WordPress.org the most popular platform in the world. Automattic’s hosting options were great for hobbyists and people running personal blogs, but not for businesses. That all changed late last year.

By giving WordPress.com customers the ability to install themes and plugins that satisfy most business requirements, Automattic could draw millions of customers from the existing WordPress hosting services.  The question is, has Automattic offered enough technology and service at each price point to deter the average website builder from installing and maintaining their own copy of WordPress?

There is no cut and dry answer to this question because every user has a different set of priorities. Automattic’s various service plans are compared on their website, and every website at WordPress.com now comes with a free SSL certificate and a few necessary plugins that are auto-installed. With the addition of the plugins, hosting at WordPress.com is now a viable option for business users.  

We’ll start by examining the free plan which used to be very cookie-cutter because users were offered only a yearly theme (2016, 2017 etc.) Now the free plan has dozens of themes to choose from, and several plugins are included. You can store up to 3 GB of files for pictures, audio and video, and even the free version comes with Jetpack essentials. Jetpack essentials is the most popular WordPress.org plug-in and offers features such as social media share buttons, stats and analytics about your traffic, site security, faster content delivery, a subscription system, and multiple site management from one interface. Some features in Jetpack you have to pay for such as VaultPress which offers back-ups and restoration for your site for $39/year.  The free plan will still insert “wordpress.com” in your domain name and you have no choice but to host ads on your site.

Where things become interesting is in the Personal plan for $5 a month. On this plan you can have a custom domain name and you get rid of all the WordPress.com ads that are sprinkled in the free sites.  Along with hosting and looking more professional, you get support by email and live chat, 6GB of storage space and email forwarding for five custom email addresses such as yourname@yourdomain.com.  WordPress.com only offers email forwarding and not email hosting so you have to go with another provider in order to be able to ‘send’ from your custom email address.  G Suite is available through WordPress.com for another $5/month per user but their email hosting is $50/mailbox/year. Note that to support email inboxes with WordPress.com you have to register your domain with WordPress.com (or transfer it to them).

The next plan up is a $10/month Premium plan where you get everything already mentioned in the Personal plan, plus access to all the Wordpress.com themes - there are about 300 of them to choose from. You also get full access to the CSS code in order to totally customize your your theme, an ad-free video player (Automattic’s VideoPress product), 13 GB of storage space and the ability to monetize your site through Automattic’s WordAds program.  

WordAds is a proprietary program only for WordPress.com sites that combines the features of Google Adsense and Adwords.  Adsense is actually one of the many partners that WordAds manages in this program.  Drawbacks include restricted participation in WordAds unless you get thousands of hits per month and they offer less control than Google’s Adsense over which ads are displayed on your site. Since its a new program, there’s no data yet on revenue generation as compared to Adsense but it will be interesting to see the stats on this program as it unfolds.  

The next plan is a big leap in price and options with the Business plan at $33/month.  On the Business plan you get unlimited storage, access to live training, SEO tools, access to the entire 50,000+ WordPress plugin directory, the ability to install custom themes from the theme directory and Google Analytics integration.  eCommerce, the ability to transact online, is delivered through plugins, so until the cheaper levels of WordPress.com include Woocommerce or another eCommerce option, the Business Plan is the only level where you can ‘sell’ on your site.  

Every WordPress.com site comes with one free, perpetually renewed SSL certificate which can save you up to $100/year from having to buy your own certificate. That’s 3-10 months of savings right there depending on which plan you buy. When you’re protecting your site with SSL your customers will be ensured that the data and their traffic is encrypted and no warning messages will appear due to lack of encryption. More importantly a little “secure” lock will appear on every page of your site, even if you don’t sell anything online. Google loves SSL so you get an instant SEO boost by having this certificate.  Some managed hosting companies, such as GoDaddy are countering this offer by also offering free SSL for every site on their premium levels of Managed WordPress Pro hosting.

WordPress.com charges for each site on an upfront annual basis so you’re locked in for a year with their plans, and there is no month to month payment schedule or any discounts for paying for a year.  

Now let’s compare the WordPress.com offering to Managed WordPress hosting offerings from web hosting and internet domain companies:

Managed hosting usually includes server monitoring to keep your site up and running, as well as proactively dealing with issues like security, back-up and restore, staging sites, storage space and support.  By putting your site in the hands of professionals, you are less likely to incur security breaches or have site downtime and you can choose a plan that meets your needs and budget.

As for pricing, let’s take GoDaddy Managed WordPress as an example. Their normal price is CAD$11/month for their basic managed WordPress (a domain, hosting, 1 WordPress site plus 1 staging site, daily back-ups and automatic core WordPress updates.  A visual page editor is also included as well as 24/7 support phone.)

GoDaddy is currently offering a 1 year discount of only $1.49/month including a Microsoft Outlook mailbox with 5GB of storage.  They are offering the same service on an monthly basis for $6/month.  GoDaddy’s regular pricing is $11/month for the Managed WordPress and $8/month for Office 365. GoDaddy has made the free domain contingent on an upfront annual payment so they are also looking for the one year commitment although they have more flexibility in their plans by offering monthly options.

GoDaddy includes SSL in all their Managed WordPress Pro pro plans which start at $20/month for 1 website. Most of their Managed WordPress Pro plans support the ability to manage more than 1 website from one account, which is not easily possible from WordPress.com. In fact you get a discount if you set-up a 5 or 20 website plan account with GoDaddy. These plans are aimed at web designers, developers and freelancers who build sites for customers rather than end users of WordPress.

After looking at WordPress.com and GoDaddy Managed WordPress if you are dealing with multiple websites, it will probably make more sense to go with a managed WordPress host for multiple WordPress.org collection of sites.  If you only have one site, have little interest in tweaking the theme you’re using and are only looking for an easy and low-cost way to get online, WordPress.com may be your best solution.  

Deciding between WordPress.com and managed hosting with WordPress.org is an interesting debate and we’ll revisit the discussion as we work with more of the WordPress.com plans and see how the Managed WordPress providers react.

09/28/2017

Building an alumni club fundraising and communications platform with WordPress

UMACT Horizontal logo
When I became the president of my alma mater's alumni club in Toronto, I reviewed other University of Michigan alumni club websites around the world.  Currently UM alumni club websites are plain-looking, cookie-cutter sites that don't feature the flavours and feel of each community nor do they let each club easily fundraise and collect detailed information about their members. I started the UM Alumni Club of Toronto (UMACT) in 2011 and  quickly experienced the pain  alumni leaders have when they start clubs -- no money and a list of zero members to work with. 6 years later the club is has over 500 on our mailing list, and we're aiming to have 1000 members in our membership list by end of 2018. We hope to have at least 50% of Canadian UM alums on our mailing list with the help of our technology platform.
 
Each alumni club has an obligation to communicate with their members through a well-maintained membership list on a well-designed online fundraising platform. We chose WordPress to build our platform and were pleasantly surprised by the flexibility and power of the platform. The UMACT had the privilege of hosting two LSA Opportunity Hub/Global Internship interns, Reis Becker and Olivia Varnado. Reis and Olivia built the UMACT fundraising and communications platform over the summer with a bit of guidance and direction from Alex Sirota, director at NewPath Consulting.
 
 
The benefits of the resulting platform are truly amazing:
 
 
The features we've implemented:
 
  • The homepage can be used to feature any UMACT photos and events, as well as a call to action to create a UMACT member profile.
  • Visitors can view UM alumni member profiles under the 'Member directory' page, where approved UMACT members can display their photos and information. Contact information is protected and can only be viewed by other approved UMACT members.

  • Members can choose to hide their profile but still allow the club to maintain their information. Each member has a username/password to update their information directly with the club.

  • The 'Connect' page lists our social media platforms and contains a contact form which can be used to contact UMACT directly via email. 

  • The 'Blog' page will feature newsletters as they are published and other news. These can be pushed to social media channels automatically. We are exploring ways to push automatic notifications to WeChat and other app platforms.

  • The 'Events' page displays all upcoming club events and supports online registration forms.

  • The 'Donate & Shop' page can be used to make online donations to UMACT, and features merchandise like t-shirts and other UM memorabilia. WordPress has a full ecommerce system with support for inventory, backorders, and supports multiple currencies.

  • Each member can be assigned a role (like 'board members') to enable select access to pages exclusively for board members. When you login as a board member you get access just to the pages and file you need.
 
Here is a list of free plugins we used to build our UM alumni club fundraising and communications platform. All these plugins can be extended with commercial 'add-ons.'
 
  • Ultimate Member - membership management, member directories, integration for protected access to sections of site and dynamic menus

  • Mail Poet - email marketing, supports template and dynamic content from the WordPress database (automatic event calendar in emails for example, or latest posts)
     
  • WooCommerce (for ecommerce) - can be used to sell just about anything including keeping inventory, and you can have special items available only for members
     
  • The Event Calendar - event calendar management, categorization of events, premium ticketing features
     
  • Ninja Forms - custom forms to enable surveys, event registrations and other data collection functions
  • Duplicate Posts - A very handy feature is being able to "clone" any page, post, product, event, venue or really any other "post type" in WordPress. This makes it easy to create template content that can be modified quickly. (Editor: Added this plugin on Feb 7 2018)
 
If you'd like to know more about how we accomplished all this for free this summer with the help of a couple of UM LSA interns please get in touch and I'd be happy to share our efforts. We even have administrative documentation you can use and adapt/translate for your needs as website administrators. I look forward to talking with you soon.

09/05/2017

How and When to Choose the Right Software Solutions For Your Business

Digital Workplace Infographic Final - reduced

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on digital workplace transformation. Part 1 and Part 2 are also available on this website.

There’s a problem with how most small businesses choose their technology solutions, and we see it far too often. First the owner or manager purchases a product that solves a particular perceived pain or problem. Then they try to make it work within their existing business model and organizational structure. We feel that this approach is backwards, and your business ends up not getting the real value from the tools you choose. It’s not the technology that small businesses need first, but rather core knowledge and capabilities in the areas of business, market, content marketing, design/usability and implementation.

Ideally, you should know the key activities that will expand and sustain your business, and the key resources you’ll need to execute those key activities. In the Business Model Canvas (the one-page business model generator that we use and recommend), these two elements appear on the left-hand side of the model or the “backstage” area of your business.

From working with so many small businesses over the years, we have become adept at helping businesses identify their key activities and resources (business objectives), as well as the technology solutions that can support those activities implemented by your key resources. In the following infographic, we’ve organized our favourite technology tools and services around six different business objectives (the concentric circles), building up from the five core knowledge areas in the middle.

NewPath Consulting Technology Stack

The productivity tools in the infographic are indicated by their company logos, and are arranged in concentric circles according to the business objective(s) of each tool. These circles radiate from the core capabilities and also correlate to the size and maturity level of an organization. We believe that businesses of every size can benefit from assessing their core capabilities and having a well-curated technology “stack,” a combination of software services used by staff and customers to achieve various business objectives.

For more details about NewPath’s technology “stack” (combination of software services) and the services we use and recommend the most, please see our post about software integration.

The five core capability areas are:

  1. Business - clarifying your business model and business objectives, and your professional ethics and legal practices such as contracting and intellectual property.
  2. Market - understanding the customer and what motivates them to engage, and defining your value proposition and the 4 Ps of marketing (product, price, promotion, place).
  3. Design and usability - creating the necessary online environment to deliver value to customers, which includes branding, graphic design, security and privacy.
  4. Implementation - developing or acquiring technical knowledge and fundamental capabilities of digital workplace software services
  5. Content marketing - combining capabilities 1 through 4 to publish and distribute content that will help you find and retain customers and business partners

For reference, here is the full set of subtopics for each of the five core capabilities:

Web Management Professional Body of Knowledge
Web Management Professional Body of Knowledge c/o Web Management Institute

 

Of course, you may be thinking, how can I be awesome at all of these core capabilities?!? Be assured, no single business owner can be equally good at all these areas of knowledge. In fact, MBA (Masters of Business Administration) graduates focus on only two of these core capabilities - Business and Marketing. Many companies are started by a ‘technician’ who does not likely have many business or marketing skills, or a business whiz who doesn’t have the implementation skills to deliver on the value proposition by performing the core service offering.

What you need is to invest in getting help to bridge the gaps, yet we rarely see businesses doing this well. We get it; it’s intimidating. But there are resources out there to help you learn, and people you can hire to help. In fact, we hope you’ll let us help you.

Going outwards from the centre of the diagram we focus on the “orbits” that surround the core knowledge areas. We believe the software tools you choose must be aligned with the maturity of your business - how long you’ve been in business, how many people work for you, and your revenue.

We begin, as most small businesses do, with the content and experience band - a website and lead generation program. Unfortunately, most organizations stop here, but as your company grows you will need more tools and services. The next band is advertising and promotion, where you start making more direct and outbound offers.

As your business grows, you might want to start selling online, and you’ll need services that support your commerce and sales process. As we go further out, you’ll need to build awareness with a larger audience through social media and relationship building.

When you grow to the data layer, specifically if you are a larger organization, this is where you’ll need things like analytics, invoice and billing, and data aggregation services. At the management band, you will need human resource management products, training and project management tools that have  a broader scope.

What’s important is not just which products you choose, but what business objectives each tool serves and how they work together. As your organization grows, you should be adopting these products based on your needs and level of maturity. The more mature your business, the more tools you will have to adopt and integrate. Yet if you start loading up on software too soon, you’ll create chaos and confusion while wasting money and time.

The customer is the most important thing

We believe the most important thing to any small business is its customer, and that today’s online customer requires that you have the high quality digital workplace we have outlined here. From that solid foundation you can get more customers, deliver more value, to then be able to charge more and earn more revenue.

This article concludes our blog post series on digital transformation for small businesses. First we covered the need for building a digital workplace. Then we revealed the importance of creating and evaluating your business model, a must for digital transformation. In this article we addressed how to choose the right software for your business, based on NewPath's own software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology stack and how we’ve used these tools to help our customers grow.

Click here to download a free one-page visual summary of our digital transformation model.

The important question now is what do YOU think is the most important thing to your business? If you’re still juggling time and money as your top priorities, instead of your customer, we invite you to make this business paradigm shift to focusing on your customers.

NewPath’s SMB experts are here to help you choose, implement and use new technology in order to benefit your business and find you more time. Business Success Plans start at $239.00/month for all-inclusive technology, service and support with no contracts or start-up fees. Contact us today for your free consultation!

04/05/2017

Software Overload? Integration Brings Relief

There are almost 4,000 cloud-based marketing services on the market today (UPDATE: As of May 2017, there are now over 5,000 martech services), many of which are free or cost only a few dollars a month. With such a low barrier to entry, many small and medium-sized business owners are tempted to keep adding more and more tools and services until they’re too overwhelmed to use any of them effectively.

NewPath's guiding principle is to choose the software services just right for your business size and maturity, rather than buying into a monolithic "do all" software platform. Our two primary evaluation criteria are quite simple: Can the core value of the tool be demonstrated in 30 minutes and does the underlying service vendor have outstanding support?

The trick is to get your software products to work together, integrating them to effectively talk to each other. You will get the best benefit when your tools work together to accomplish business requirements that each cannot accomplish on its own.  

For example, any online form has the ability to notify you that someone has filled it out, which generally happens via email. But imagine the possibilities within an integrated set of tools, e.g., as soon as a form is submitted, a business process is activated depending on the fields filled out, an automated response is sent to the website visitor, and a new account is created in your customer database. A specific employee is assigned to the account and receives follow-up reminders to stay in touch. This is all possible when cloud services are properly set up with your business’s model and requirements in mind.

Some SaaS (software as a service) products integrate better than others, with built-in functionality that business users can apply with a bit of time and effort, with no coding required or the need to reinvent the wheel.

NewPath Consulting has evaluated a wide range of SaaS products over the past four years for their effectiveness, ease of use and interoperability. In the infographic below, we’ve highlighted our favourites, and demonstrated how they correspond with five core capabilities of all businesses, outlined in the centre of the diagram:

NewPath Consulting SMB Martech Stack

  1. Business - business modeling and operational planning
  2. Market - understanding the customer and what motivates them to engage
  3. Design and usability - creating the necessary environment to deliver value to customers
  4. Implementation - understanding the fundamental capabilities of cloud-based tools and services
  5. Content marketing - combining capabilities 1 through 4 to find and retain customers and business partners in the digital realm

Each business must acquire these capabilities over time as they mature and grow. These capabilities are required to understand and validate your business objectives, your sales and marketing techniques, and which tools to use and when.

At NewPath we believe that as a business becomes more capable and experienced at these five core knowledge areas, they also become ready to transform into a digital workplace. 

For example, most businesses need an online presence (ie a website or mobile app) but not every business requires a formal customer relationship management (CRM) tool since many don’t employ large groups of outbound sales people. If you’re just starting out and don’t have many prospects or customers, then a shared cloud-based spreadsheet with some basic analytics can be as effective and has a lower cost and complexity than a CRM.

The productivity tools in the infographic above are indicated by their company logos, and are arranged in concentric circles according to the business objective(s) of each tool. These circles radiate from the core capabilities and also correlate to the size and maturity level of an organization. We believe that businesses of every size can benefit from assessing their core capabilities and having a well-curated technology “stack,” a combination of software services used by staff and customers to achieve various business objectives.

Tool set #1: Content and experience

The first objective every business is to develop a modern and interactive website on a capable content management platform. NewPath supports the easy-to-use yet fully extensible WordPress platform. WordPress is best in class for template-based sites, with extensibility via plugins and themes to handle any requirement you may need. Couple this with the easy yet powerful form builder Formstack to enable your prospects and customers to interact with you 24/7. The overall driving principle of this tool set is “Serving the customer.”

Tool set #2: Advertising and promotion

The tools NewPath recommends are AppSheet, Wild Apricot and Mad Mimi. AppSheet allows you to build mobile apps from spreadsheets, using your own data to deliver a branded experience to your customers. It's easy, free, and there is no coding involved. Wild Apricot is a cloud-based service that includes website management, membership renewals, email marketing and donations for membership-based organizations (nonprofits, clubs and associations). Mad Mimi is NewPath’s choice for email marketing. Read more about why Mad Mimi is still our choice after all these years. The overall driving principle of this tool set is “Attracting the customer.”

Currently, at NewPath we don’t recommend any online advertising ad platforms. We recognize this is a controversial position, yet content marketing simply provides a better return on investment for most SMBs over online ads. Here’s some proof based on our own experience with content marketing and spending on ads. Online ads can work, though, for certain product sectors, to boost an already well-known brand, or for local advertising of local services.

Tool set #3: Commerce and sales

For commerce and sales, NewPath recommends PayPal, WooCommerce and Stripe. Everyone’s heard of PayPal and the service remains easy to use for secure online payment processing. WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to set up an online store to sell directly from your website - why pay for an ecommerce platform when you can have more power for less cost? Stripe makes it even easier to do business online by offering recurring and one-time credit card payment processing. Stripe checks out the transaction, makes sure it is legitimate, and if all looks good, they send the money automatically over to your business bank account, without the need for a merchant account. The overall driving principle of this tool set is “Making it easy sell and buy services and products.”

Tool set #4: Social and relationships

Social media and the cultivation of relationships is an important step in the sales cycle. Some aspects can be automated and other parts must be handled directly, but in each scenario, business acumen and technology can help. At NewPath Consulting we use the following social and relationship management tools: 

  • Slack.com is our internal communications and collaboration tool, which we use as an alternative to inter-office emails so everyone remains on the same page and informed of internal projects and delivery of customer service.
  • Highrise is our customer and partner database that keeps us abreast of all interactions between our sales and marketing team and our prospects and customers, and allows us to schedule touchpoints and keep notes and to-dos in order. Highrise integrates seamlessly with your email inbox, important since after phone calls, email is the primary communication channel between staff and customers.
  • Zoom is our recommended service for video meetings, which can be recorded and scheduled ahead of time for up to 50 participants via phone and video.
  • Appointlet helps us automate the process of scheduling meetings between team members, prospective customers, and customers, eliminating the back and forth of trying to find a mutually available time in people’s busy schedules. 
  • Hootsuite lets us monitor social media and schedule new and popular content when the intended audience is most likely to be online.

The overall driving principle of this tool set is “Staying organized while keeping in touch with prospects and customers.”

Tool set #5: Data & Management

As an organization matures to the point where it needs to effectively manage a lot of data and personnel, NewPath uses and recommends these products to use analytical insights to drive business decisions:

  • The Business Model Canvas helps a business owner clarify and iterate a business model that may not be complete or functional.
  • Stitch Data, WebHooks, Zapier and SuperMetrics help integrate and automate data integration between various services.
  • FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting tool that keeps track of invoices, expenses and taxes, and offers recurring billing. And your business will get paid faster when you can deliver invoices electronically and get paid electronically!
  • Google Analytics allows you to track website traffic, events and the return on investment of marketing efforts.
  • LastPass provides secure password management for all staff.
  • GoDaddy offers secure, reliable domain name management and managed WordPress hosting.
  • Safari Books online and Lynda.com provide ongoing business education for your staff and customers.
  • G Suite from Google allows for cloud storage and instant, collaborative editing of documents, illustrations and spreadsheets.

Do you have a mismatched collection of productivity tools that aren’t working together to help your business grow? Step back and look at the big picture of how your business is evolving, which core capabilities you have and which you need to build, and which set of services will help you reach your business goals.

10/05/2016

Installing SSL Security on Your Website

Starting in 2017, you will be hearing a lot about securing your website with something known as SSL. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.

So for example when you type your credit card into a form you want that information to be passed securely without anyone being able to snoop while it is in transit. That is what SSL does. A visitor to a web page knows a website is secure when they see a little lock somewhere near the address bar:

image from www.geek.com

If you manage a website, how do you obtain the necessary SSL certificate required? That's the question many will be asking, and there is a lot of confusion around this topic, unfortunately. In the past, SSL certificates were sold for anywhere between $20 and $100 and had to be renewed, like domain names, every year. This is presently still the case, but we think SSL prices will go down dramatically as more website owners start to purchase and install them. Obtaining an SSL certificate can be a complex exercise but many domain name registrars like GoDaddy and 1and1.com are making the process much easier and less expensive. Starter SSL certificates are now available for free from LetsEncrypt.org and from many hosts.

Zerossl.com is one such authority that can generate a free, domain-validated (ie DV) certificate using the Let's Encrypt system. Domain Validated certificates only need to confirm your ownership of the domain name. The confirmation process is very simple and there are two options to choose from: DNS verficiation and HTTP verification. The former requires creating a specific DNS record of TXT type for the domain. The latter requires creating a plain text file with a specific content on your web server. Note that the text file that you need to install does not have an extension and some hosts prevent files without extensions as a security measure. This may change in the future. Choose the option you are most comfortable with - normally all registrars provide a way to edit DNS records, but you might like creating a text file better. DNS verification also might take a bit longer depending on how quickly your registrar's servers publish the changes (usually within 15-20 minutes), while HTTP verification can be instant.

We have a Business Package from 1and1.com and recently were offered a free SSL Starter certificate that we enabled for www.newpathnetwork.org. The process was quite painless as it is essentially a one click install and creates a domain validated SSL certificate. We had to spend about an hour eliminating references to non-secure code in our website to ensure full security was activated.

Finally we had to create an .htaccess file to ensure non HTTP requests (non-SSL) redirected automatically to the secure version of the site. This also makes sure when Google searches bring up your site you will be found online. We are sharing our .htaccess file stored in the root directory of our Linux-powered shared hosting environment over at 1and1.com. If you are running WordPress, SSL installation may be even simpler with your host.

Step 1. Create or edit a file called .htaccess in the root of your website.

Step 2. Add these lines (or edit if they already exist)

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.yourdomain\.com$ [NC]
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Step 3. Save the file. You can upload via SFTP or use your favourite shell editor to edit the file.

Step 4. Test your website to make sure the SSL secure site is loading. Click the lock or the little circle with an i in it to check security details.

Essentially these commands take an inbound request for www.yourdomain.com or yourdomain.com and redirect the visitor to the https://www.yourdomain.com equivalent. Any URL will automatically redirect to the correct new, shiny and secure URL.

NOTE: Adding SSL security to your site does not mean that you don't have to maintain the integrity of the software that runs the site. If you have a host that does the updates and maintenance, then great! But if you are worried about hackers getting into your website, get in touch with us. We can tell you more about how we can help you maintain security on your WordPress-powered website. We include SSL certificate installation with our Silver and Gold plans!

 

 

04/27/2016

"Building a Digital Workplace with WordPress" Presentation - Toronto City Hall

On April 27, 2016, NewPath Consulting participated in the Enterprise Toronto Small Business Technology Forum. Presented by the City of Toronto this event was aimed at traditional businesses looking to embrace technology and make money online - whether it be ecommerce and digital marketing, or building a digital workplace, this event has everything a business needs to start embracing digital thinking.

We enjoyed seeing many small businesses at our presentations and at our booth at the event. Even though this was our first time presenting at this event, the reception and turnout exceeded our expectations. We look forward to continuing the conversation with everyone we met at the event. Below is the presentation we presented with a few small edits based on feedback we received. Feel free to pass around the link to this post to your colleagues!

02/20/2016

Shifting WordPress from Manual to Automattic

Thank you to PodCamp Toronto 2016 for inviting us to speak this morning. We hope this presentation informs WordPress enthusiasts and experts alike about the evolving ecosystem of WordPress maintenance.

 

10/26/2015

The biggest competitor to WordPress? No CMS at all.

The last 5+ years in content management systems (CMS) has seen a tremendous upswing in the usage of WordPress. The percentage of websites using WordPress is at an all time high, much greater than any other CMS by a wide margin (almost 10x Joomla, the #2 CMS). But what's most interesting is that more than 50% of all websites are still not using a content management system at all, relegating their site owners to making changes manually to code, essentially rendering them "frozen in time." WordPress and many hosting providers have a ton of education to do for the non-CMS market, describing the power of managing a website through a system rather than just cobbling together HTML pages. Educating this market will bring in a ton of innovation to websites that to date have been left to whither.

  2011
1 Jan
2012
1 Jan
2013
1 Jan
2014
1 Jan
2015
1 Jan
2015
26 Oct
None 76.4% 71.0% 68.2% 64.8% 61.7% 57.8%
WordPress 13.1% 15.8% 17.4% 21.0% 23.3% 24.8%

The market share numbers also indicate that while WordPress seems to have reached a plateau at around 60%, there are many other solutions being used and gaining traction. Magento, PrestaShop, Shopify are all gaining ground for ecommerce solutions. Bitrix, Squarespace, Wix are also gaining some popularity for website builders. Both Joomla and Drupal are clearly losing ground to the WordPress juggernaut and these other incumbents. The next few years will be particularly interesting to see how WordPress engages the wider community and continue to expand its brand and win over the non-technical customers to expand its reach and dominance.

  2010
1 Jan
2011
1 Jan
2012
1 Jan
2013
1 Jan
2014
1 Jan
2015
1 Jan
2015
26 Oct
WordPress 51.0% 55.3% 54.3% 54.8% 59.8% 60.7% 58.8%
Joomla 12.0% 10.9% 9.5% 8.7% 9.1% 7.6% 6.6%
Drupal 7.1% 6.1% 6.5% 7.2% 5.5% 5.1% 5.0%
Magento         2.7% 2.8% 2.9%
Blogger   2.7% 3.0% 3.5% 3.3% 2.9% 2.8%
TYPO3 4.2% 2.6% 2.0% 2.1% 1.6% 1.6% 1.5%
Adobe Dreamweaver             1.4%
PrestaShop       0.9% 1.1% 1.2% 1.3%
Bitrix   0.8% 0.9% 1.0% 1.0% 1.1% 1.2%
FrontPage             1.1%
OpenCart           0.9% 0.9%
Shopify         0.3% 0.7% 0.9%
vBulletin 8.4% 5.9% 4.4% 3.5% 1.6% 1.1% 0.8%
Squarespace   0.2% 0.2% 0.1% 0.3% 0.5% 0.8%
DataLife Engine   1.9% 1.6% 1.5% 1.2% 0.9% 0.8%
DotNetNuke 1.3% 1.0% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7% 0.6% 0.6%
ExpressionEngine 1.2% 1.1% 1.1% 1.0% 0.7% 0.6% 0.5%
phpBB 3.1% 1.9% 1.4% 1.2% 0.8% 0.6% 0.5%
Discuz! 1.5% 1.6% 1.6% 1.3% 0.9% 0.6% 0.4%
osCommerce     1.3% 1.0% 0.7% 0.5% 0.4%
Bigcommerce           0.4% 0.4%
Wix       <0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.4%
SharePoint     0.6% 0.7% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Weebly       0.1% 0.3% 0.4% 0.4%