Tag Archives: wordpress

Most Common Questions of Website Design Bids and RFPs

1. Difference between hosting and maintenance.

Many understand the main difference, the innuendos are what cause the cost variable.

  • For large content management system (CMS) based sites you need individual (not shared) hosting.
  • Host server speed and reliability are the next considerations.
  • Although your Small Business, City, County or Government website may not have large traffic volume normally, you may have an increase if there is a storm or a major event that drives people to the site all at once. It needs to handle that. Most professional bidders won’t be working with a personal server in their home office. There may be some clarification needed once you get down to the chosen few bidders.

    2. Design Development Platform (WordPress, Drupal, Custom CMS, etc.)

    Big debates on this one.

    • WordPress is the most recognized, so is the most likely to have features desired now and in the future. Also if there is an issue there are many local experts to fix or update and not have to hit the budget hard.
    • Drupal – is a strong CMS, it is a good program. Some of our clients have found it is not as easy to learn. There are also not as many developers available resulting in higher pricing and harder to find experts.
    • Joomla! – We don’t see as much about this one anymore but it is still out there – not as many developers supporting it as previous.
    • Custom CMS – Many developers can build their own CMS. Before we embraced the simplicity and ease of updating of WordPress we also did so. However, the code is proprietary, and if something happens to the developer or someone else has to step in, it can get costly to pay someone to decipher what the original company did. The other caveat is if you want to move away from it, you are starting from scratch again. With WordPress and Drupal you can move to a new template, a new host, a new developer, and you can do as little or as much as you want. You don’t have to start all over.

    There are other free CMS systems such as WIX, Weebly, Chamilo. Dotclear, Serendipity, Typo3.. etc. Typically these systems are very basic. They are great for individuals or small businesses with little to no budget, but hopefully are not recommended by any responders for your Small Business, City, County or Government website RFP.

    We are partial to WordPress, we have chose it as the best CMS for our customers for over 10 years and have not regretted it due to its ease of use (front and back end) and high level of customization.

    3. Maintenance – look for clarification on this line item.

    Maintenance can be a developer/designer posting every meeting, street light out, etc. or just updating software and maintaining backups. There is a wide range. When you are closer to the chosen few RFPs or bid responders, make a list of what you think you are going to need (example: Updates, File Back-up). You may find some for the maintenance estimates include more than your Small Business, City, County or Government website needs and there could be a considerable cost savings per year.

    We are happy to answer any questions when we bid on your website project as are most designers and developers, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

Regular WordPress Website Maintenance

regular wordpresswebsite maintenance-no-hackers!

Responsive WordPress website designs are an affordable, versatile  solution for small businesses seeking a new or updated website they can update themselves. Those who already have a WordPress website know that WordPress works great on many levels. The biggest concern with choosing a WordPress website and managing it yourself  is that the regular WordPress website maintenance is often neglected.

wordpress feature random falling snowWordPress software is updated by WordPress programmers regularly. As any software, some updates are minor and you may not detect a difference on your site. Other updates are more robust. Some WordPress website updates offer new web functionality or a couple just-for-fun features, like falling snow in Winter. You can choose to implement all the new features or just  a few. What is most important in each WordPress update is the added security. Security updates protect from hackers and malware that can take down your website or infect others systems.

Installing WordPress updates is a necessity for keeping your website safe

WordPress is the top content management website platform across the world. It offers great benefits, especially to small businesses. For all of the benefits to choosing WordPress there is a drawback. Hackers love to target it. (Then again it’s not just WordPress that has this concern. Hackers target Joomla websites, Blogger websites and custom built content management systems also…) To avoid issues, Wordpress website maintenance is a critical practice to keeping your WordPress website or WordPress blog in optimal working order. wordpress update alert screen capture

WordPress programmers are proactive in protecting customers against these attacks.  New walls of code are built to keep predators out when vulnerabilities are detected. Once the code is developed a free update is available to all WordPress users. When a new WordPress update is available, there is an alert posted clearly at the top of the administrative area at log in. The date when it was first available is noted as well.

When should the WordPress software be updated?

We will often wait a day or so after a new WordPress version is posted before we select to update. This is because many of the responsive WordPress websites we design include 3rd party plug-ins.  Wordpress plug-in developers may need a little extra time to unsure their plug-in code is compatible with the latest WordPress version. If the plug-ins haven’t updated yet some may not function correctly. Within a few days most plug-ins have caught up. At that point we’ll update to the latest WordPress and plug-in versions. If plug-ins are not updated within a few days of the release of a new WordPress version, install the update but check your website very closely and make sure all plug-ins are working correctly.

Caution: plug-ins are also susceptible to hackers. New versions are made available and alerts are posted in the administrative area of the WordPress websites for plug-ins also. Plug-in developers may offer a new version with increased features and functionality in addition to added security protection.

We recommend updating plug-ins one at a time. After you update each one, check your website to make sure the update is compatible and all functionality is in place. If you choose to update your plug-ins all at once and there is a conflict, it can be difficult to pinpoint which plug-in is causing the conflict.

What happens if I don’t update WordPress regularly?

  • hackers can invade it
  • malware can be installed on your site
  • Google is alerted and will black mark your website
  • your website is rendered harmful to visitors
  • prospective clients and visitors will get a scary alert stating your website may be harmful to their system

What do you do if your website was hacked?

You send a frantic call to your website hosting service or website design firm that your website was hacked, it’s not live and clients can’t reach you and… worst… you don’t have a current back up. Your website will need to be taken down. Once removed from viewers, a temporary screen is posted, and clean-up begins.

What does it cost to fix a website that has been hacked?

  • your website is removed from view from all prospective and current clients
  • you will now be paying hourly website developments fees to comb through each file to find all corrupt code
  • developers clean / remove bad code
  • the cleaned website is uploaded as a  temporary page
  • website is tested
  • website is tested again… again… and again
  • once clear the new files can be uploaded
  • your web host is alerted that your website is safe to go live again
  • submission requests are sent to Google and other SERPs to remove the blocks that have been put in place for your website
  • requests are sent again… again… and sometimes a third time before alerts are completely removed and your website gets the all clear

 This whole procedure can take days or even months to resolve, it depends on how quickly you are alerted of your compromised site and the size of your website.

What is the best way to help keep websites safe from hackers?

By practicing regular WordPress website maintenance. Log in to the administrative area of your WordPress website frequently and make sure everything is up to date. Consider changing your admin password regularly also. Do not assume your web hosting company or your website design firm is maintaining your website. Web maintenance is usually an additional feature because of the time commitment. Look at your plan or agreement, or send your web hosting or design firm an email of phone call to be sure.

We understand staying current with WordPress and 3rd Party plug-in versions can eat up a lot of time. We also feel horrible getting the call “My website’s been hacked, what do I do?” from a small business. Before that happens, set a weekly or monthly timer to log in to your admin panel and keep your software updated. If you don’t have time or the due diligence to do this, you’ll want to look into website maintenance options for small businesses.. Our basic web maintenance package is a perfect entry point for most small business WordPress  websites.

wordpress website maintenance packageBasic WordPress Website Maintenance Package includes:

  • updating all WordPress, Theme and plugins
  • techies handle the technical stuff
  • website protection -security protection from Securi,
  • scheduled back-ups,
  • included Maintenance time / Email support,
  • 1/2 hour of styling and updates.
  • peace of mind

Knowing your site is protected  from potential hackers and will not be a concern to visitors or scare clients and prospects away from working with you is the best return.

Call us today to discuss which package is best suited to you or sign up for a website maintenance package..

Membership Website Ideas – WordPress Makes it Easy to Update

Jug&Mug Club Membership website home pageWe recently were selected to provide new membership website ideas and design for a local Lansing Michigan All Seasons Club JugAndMug.org. We worked with the president and a few other board members to re-create the site. I wish I had a screen capture of the old membership website – a before and after would have been dramatic and impressive.

We were happy to hear the group contacted us because we were referred to them as a company who would provide quality service and a website design that met all the goals of the organization at a reasonable rate. Upon our initial meeting with the website committee we learned more details about their ideas for the new membership website.

Local Club Membership Website Ideas:

  • Bring website design into the current decade
  • Offer a content management system that was easy for non-programmers to update
  • Responsive website format: detects screen size and format for smart phones, tablets or desktop monitors
  • Slide show of photos that can be updated easily
  • Blog page to be part of the membership website and not a separate url
  • Online inquiry forms, contact forms or registration forms
  • Emails with domain name (name@jugandmug.org) that forward to each board persons personal email if desired.
  • Ease in updating content and adding photos in all areas
  • E-commerce capability for accepting payments, ticket sales, membership dues, etc.
  • Members only section – password protected with different access levels

local-club-memberhsip-website-ideas

We have provided similar membership website ideas and solutions in the past with password protected areas, e-commerce, events pages, and specific administrative access. Membership websites can range between local clubs like jugandmug or large national or state associations, non-profit and political groups as well as business groups membership sites.

When we’re provided membership website ideas and solutions throughout our  17 years of business that incorporated content management systems (CMS) we typically built them from scratch. Now we can often use the robust WordPress options available.

Jug&Mug.org was built with a WordPress theme that supports e-commerce interactions. There were a plethora of plug ins available if we needed for the password protected area or the photo slide shows. The use of WordPress for this particular project was ideal primarily because of the ease in updates. Since membership websites are often updated by different people and the administrator may change with each board member update it is important to keep website updates simple. Jug and Mug is lucky, they have a President and website committee right now who is knowledgeable of computer programming and interested to learn. Other memberships, associations and clubs may have people responsible for managing the website who have no clue what web code is. Use of WordPress CMS helps alleviate worries and errors and helps newbie website managers to feel at ease.

ski club responsive website - on smart phoneThere are some particular rules to follow when choosing a website company and a WordPress theme,

  • do you want the website for business or just for fun
  • do you want to use your own domain name (hosted on it’s own)
  • a responsive theme
  • a theme that allows e-commerce
  • a theme that allows third party plug-ins
  • customizable
  • … and more depending on your website goals

Discussing WordPress, membership website ideas as well as customizing existing WordPress themes really requires another article. For instance I throw WordPress plug ins out there like they are little miracles… they can also be mean little sprites that choke your website speed and may not play nice together… So much to cover so little blog space.

If you are interested in using WordPress as a new website design solution and would like to talk to us about your considerations whether you have your own membership website ideas, an e-commerce site, or a website offering a service that you need help with. please call us today, 517-645-4387.

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