It’s all about your business

melodyI’ve been in Santa Cruz County since 1981, designing and maintaining websites since 1996. You can be confident of my skills (yes, I’m delighted that your nephew builds websites, too!) because as a business owner myself, I want to help you grow your business. Melody Sharp Web Design has developed hundreds of websites–from standard HTML to WordPress CMS–but specializes in collaborating with smaller clients and nonprofits to give them a unique and successful online presence.

Continue Reading →

Why WordPress Sites Need Maintenance

wordcamp-sacramento-team

WordCamp Volunteers

One of the reasons I attended a recent WordCamp in Sacramento was to find out how WordPress as a Content Management Solution is faring and whether other “hosted” solutions are gaining traction.

When WordPress got started in 2003, it was hailed as a minor miracle for people building websites.  Now used by tens of millions, its community remains kind and generous.  As an Open Source project, hundreds of people all over the world work on it and developers are constantly adding new features and “plugins” that extend its allure.  As they say, “WordPress is limited only by your imagination.”

What I learned is that WordPress continues to grow and improve.  Lots of larger businesses are now building separate WordPress sites within their organizations for specific groups such as Human Resources or Project Teams because it’s easy and doesn’t require IT support.  WordPress remains an excellent solution for small businesses and nonprofits: You can just do more with WordPress than hosted solutions like SquareSpace or Wix.

While WordPress is the most popular publishing platform in the world (it runs more than 24% of all websites worldwide), like everything else on the World Wide Web, it has been attacked by dark forces.  I’ve been building websites for more than 20 years…but keeping those websites secure has become an unfortunate, time-consuming, consequence.

Every WordPress site uses WordPress free software, Premium themes and various plugins that all need to be updated on a regular basis.  And when sites do get hacked, it requires running security software to identify and repair the damage.  My business model doesn’t include maintenance service contracts because I want my clients to “only pay for what they need.”

But the reality is that people become complacent and really can’t be bothered with the protection business until something goes terribly wrong.  Let’s not wait, okay?  If you see that plugins or WordPress need updates, please get in touch so you don’t wake up one morning with the “white screen of death (WSOD)” where your website should be.

 

WordPress Website Hosting Nightmares

This is a follow up to my post last year about recommendations for WordPress hosting.  Unfortunately, most small, reliable hosting companies are getting swallowed up by the big guys.  These boutique companies start out with great service and tiny monthly fees.  Then they get bought out, enter into greedy price wars, and things start to fall apart.

A colleague called to tell me that a client of hers lost their entire WordPress site when A Small Orange Hosting went down and the website couldn’t be restored.  The idea of losing months worth of work gave me a stomachache and is still gnawing away at me.

I guess the bottom line is this:  Forget about cheap hosting unless you can afford to lose your website and don’t mind starting over from scratch. People roll their eyes at me when I suggest WPengine at $30 per month.  Yet it starts to sound like a very good deal when you realize they backup their client’s sites every 24 hours so, whether their servers are struck by tornados or vicious hackers, you can easily restore when bad things happen.

So, based upon discussions with local experts, these are my recommendations for 2016:

cruzioWhile Cruzio costs a bit more, if you want to support local, why not use their services? You can walk right in and talk with someone, too. Always nice. Use Cruzio or I can host for you at $15 per month.
wpengineDo you mean business with your site? wpEngine costs a bit more but worth the expense with superb customer support, built for WordPress clients. Get 2 months free hosting with WP Engine on any shared annual plan
laughing-squidThis firm is independently owned, based in San Francisco and I’m told is a good bet. At only $4-$8 bucks a month, you won’t find much cheaper than that. View more info here.

Wordcamp Sacramento 2016

Spending the weekend at WordCamp. Lots of good stuff but here is one presentation that is valuable for anybody who wants and/or builds websites. Profitable Website Development: The Oreo Cookie Strategy WordPress is a complicated application software.  It’s a CMS. Presentation by James Hipkin, Red8Interactive, Inc. Planning | Design | Concept Discovery Objective: Wireframes Functional […]