30 Creative Business Card Designs for Inspiration

Business cards are the simplest yet most powerful tools in job-hunting and contact-building. They contain, in its small area, all pertinent information that anybody needs to know about you. They help your prospects understand who you are, what you offer and how you can be contacted. However, the competition for one job could be so tight that presenting ordinary business cards might not do any good. In truth, poorly-designed and printed cards may even give future clients or employers a bad or wrong impression of you.

Here, we have collected a variety of design samples to help you get your creative juices flowing and craft that perfect business card. You can now shy away from the plain and boring. Enjoy!

Please feel free to join us and you are always welcome to share your thoughts even if you have more reference links that our readers may like.

Deceptively Simple

instantShift - Creative Business Card Designs for Inspiration

10 Most Overused Fonts in 2016

So what are the most overused fonts in 2016? It’s possible that nobody told you this. It’s possible you’ve never considered it. Yet, there are certain rules when it comes to writing.

10 Most Overused Fonts in 2016

Specifically, the practical, the mundane, or the literal writing. Typing words onto a blank page is a process in and of itself. It needs to be exhaustively checked and that means looking at the typeset.

Because when the words start overflowing onto our canvas, we need them to flow in beautifully. Because harmony in the mind needs to be complemented by harmony in the fonts we use. While that means staying clear of abominations (Comic Sans and Papyrus, we’re looking at you!), it also implies avoiding currently overused fonts.

Over the following list, we’ll make sure you don’t make the unknowing mistake of going for the Times New Roman of this week, month, or year.

Times New Roman

We know it’s one of the obvious ones. However, that does not mean that Times New Roman isn’t still grossly overused. What is baffling, though, is that users still rely on this font for many of their needs. Oddly enough, this stems from the fact that it’s the required one in academia – students delivering essays, professors submitting research papers – all use Times New Roman.

Let’s analyze it a bit by looking at this overused quote from Hemingway that delivers a nice companion for our examples:

Times New Roman

While the quote may influence our perceptions of this font and those to come, we should still try to look at the specifics. First of all, Times New Roman appears very airy. It’s spacious and grand like it wants to show you that the words are important. Like a show off muscle-man booming out through an S-sized T-shirt, Times New Roman makes a conscious effort to demonstrate its exquisiteness. And that’s what makes it so undesirable.

The relatively fat “g” is unnecessarily big. The capital “I” further develops the self-centered quote above into an over-the-top singularity of narcissism. However, these two just scrape the top of the heap of things wrong with Times New Roman. Yet, instead of talking more about these, we should see some alternatives.

Say you’re writing a paper for your class on comparative lit, what are you going to use? Surely, if you’re to follow the tips from the teacher, you should stick to the classic. However, we’ve all gone through the downsides of Times New Roman. There’s no way to un-see how badly-shaped it is, how disproportionate and crude. Thus, a few tips:

  • Baskerville; Helvetica; Calibri.
Brandon Grotesque

Don’t mind the name of this one – it’s not grotesque. When speaking about fonts, that word should be reserved for fonts like Brush Script or Curlz MT. Brandon Grotesque may have seemed like a nice typeset… a few years ago. May have. While the bright letters of Brandon’s font may have seemed like a good idea and general direction for font-making then, now it’s just a cliché.

Fashion houses have set their creeds to it. Scholars have wrought papers full of its smirk-like letters. Bloggers have started odd cult-clubs and novelists have rested character destinies on the Is and Ts of the Brandon Grotesque. So much so that Typewolf named it most overused font of 2016. Let’s take a look at it:

Brandon Grotesque

We’ll be the first to admit it: the font does pertain to a peculiar sense of sophistication. However, what we’ve said earlier still holds true. Hemingway now seems like a second-rate writer that appeals to middle-aged housewives and their teenage daughters. The more we think about it, the more it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to use this cheat to have them reading one of the greatest American writers.

Still, the font looks like it’s trying too much to grab our attention. Its ultimate trick appears to have worked. So many young and naïve writers are now hooked to it. It’s unreal and we’re here to set that straight. Some amazing fonts that could work instead are:

  • Neutraface; Halis Rounded; Baskerville.
Calibri

We’ve decided not to ignore this font just because it’s the default font in Microsoft’s eternal Word. While changing it is a simple as can be, few people actually do. This gives way to oh-so-many documents delivered in Calibri. A font that’s at the same time too spacy, too simple, too smug, and too boring.

While we contemplate how a single typeset can be those four things at the same time, it would serve us better to have a look at it, for demonstration purposes. We apologize for what you are about to see; we do know you see it every single day at work.

Calibri

Simply looking at the basic Calibri makes one realize that it’s too much. Even the typical line spacing in Word – multiple at 1.08 – is too much for Calibri. This font manages to be tight and spacy and similar to Lucinda Console and to Arial at the same time (two of the most trivial fonts in history).

We know we’ve recommended this one as replacement for Times New Roman. And we stand by our decision. It’s still miles ahead of the general go-to academia font. It does better on screens and performs well in printed form.However, Calibri is the exception confirming the rule that fonts need to be more than just fonts – they need to be carefully fashioned into the right proportions. That’s how masters like Garamond managed to popularize their typesets. And that’s why I don’t use Calibri. Some replacements:

  • Whitney; Droid Sans; Calibri Light.
Caslon

There’s a simple solution to Caslon. It’s called Garamond. However, most people who go the extra mile to buy Caslon will probably see switching to the classic and free font as some sort of downgrade. Like voluntarily switching to a lower societal class.Using Caslon, therefore, has something to do with elitism – the characteristic idea that once you paid for something you are supposed to use that something.

Moving on to more about the font itself, one safe call would be to say that it’s very unruly. Just look at the following example:

Caslon

One small-but-annoying defect of this font is that it’s several pixels larger than normal. That makes it appear bulky. Like it almost wants you to struggle reading its lines. Moreover, look at those “t” symbols – they look unfinished with their little unfinished horizontal lines. And the “I”s are even more standoffish with Caslon than with Times New Roman. This time, they look as if they’re the only bolded letters on a string – magnifying Hemingway’s id to Freudian proportions.

Here are some alternatives to this overused and ridiculously bellicose font:

  • Sabon; Plantin; Ehrhardt.
Impact

I don’t think we need to stress how much we dislike this font. It’s become a cliché to be used in just about every internet meme possible (raising the probability of first grade encounters to “I can’t take it anymore”). But apart from that, it’s like the mother of poor taste had a lovechild with human folly to create something so blinding and invasive that I’d almost threaten to sue it for invading my personal space.

Every time I encounter Impact captioned images on the internet, I fast forward as quickly as I can. The long set of crimes that I would prosecute against this horrid font involve violation of the cornea, moral depravity, and the abusing of freedom of speech. Look away now:

Impact

If you’re more resilient to internet crimes and do not find the above image morally degrading, please do read on. I don’t think there is too much to say about the utter ugliness of this typeset. However, if there ever was a Font Penitentiary, I would wholeheartedly nominate Impact for the position of first inmate.

If you want to create a meme online, here are few options so as not to assault the eye of the beholder:

  • Lyon display; Leitura Display; Tiempos Headline.
Brown

Impact was a crime. While not directly responsible for the unfortunate state of humanity, Brown still presents itself as an accomplice. For many people, internet people especially, Brown may prove a suitable replacement for the aforementioned typeset. However, as we are both persons of good taste and fancy,we will steer clear of Mr. Brown’s typeface.

Brown is a favorite among those involved with fine arts. Announcements for gallery exhibits, posters for classical concerts, modern art museums, and conferences on Giotto all have used this font in their headlines. However, if you are about to try to market and promote something similar, we recommend you scroll a little bit for alternatives. Here’s how Brown looks:

Brown

Brown has been categorized as being a more poster-friendly form of Futura. However, nothing about this font reminds us of anything friendly. Instead, it’s only slightly less invasive than Impact. Far more of a self-aggrandizer than Times New Roman. And let’s not forget annoying – mostly because it pretends to be a wiser, older brother of the previous font, while only being a second generation step-cousin.

If you want to appear like you know your fonts, here are the best alternatives to Brown:

  • Value Sans; Harmonia Sans; Value Serif.
Courier New

We have no idea what kind of evil mastermind invented this one (actually it was Howard Kettler), but for a monospaced font, this one is a truly horrid typeset. There are oh-so-many fonts out there that outmatch this typewriter relic in terms of readability, design, and overall proportions.

Courier new is now, strangely enough, rising in popularity. We think this may be due to the recent rise of hipsters coupled with its 17th Century letter look. If you needed a reminder of how this typeset looked like, look at the following example. Hemingway’s quote is now even more authentic.

Courier New

The above body of text looks like a letter that Hemingway sent to his dear friend James Joyce. However, we know that they did not send too many letters: they preferred each other’s actual company. Preferably both inebriated in a London pub. So Courier seems blatantly fake – all the more because we know Kettler designed specifically to look like a typewriter font.

Here are a few more likable alternatives to Courier New:

  • Anonymous Pro; Pica 10 Pitch; Courier Prime.
Proxima Nova

Marc Simonson really hit it big with this clunky, over the top font. We’ll admit: its geometric harmony seems sublime. The way it pampers the readers’ eye makes it likable, almost too likable. Were it not for the insanely overused factor, we would all tend to agree that Proxima Nova is a decent font. However, since we’re not here to play the devil’s advocate, we’re going to go all in against this typeset.

There’s no excuse for web designers to use this font today. Neither should you, no matter what type of writing services you’re offering. From a plain header, to a webpage’s buttons, and to your next bestselling novel, try to avoid it. Here’s how to identify the suspect:

Proxima Nova

There are a lot of alternatives to Proxima Nova. Thus, we believe there’s no excuse for someone willing to go to great lengths to make use of this typeface. The writing is tall. The symbols look elongated way more than they should have been. The general impression is of someone incessantly trying to make you read and review his new book.

If you want to avoid friends slowly distancing themselves from you, try these fonts instead:

  • Armitage; FF Mark; Neuzeit.
Trajan

Trajan is a noble font. It is endowed with the blood of the ancients. Fashioned through fire and steam in the olden days of the Roman empire. It was the go-to choice for many a monument and it has braved battles over battles to its supremacy. However, for all its history, all its pretentiously ostentatious displays atop buildings, Trajan remains overused.

While Guttenberg, Garamond, Adobe, and 3rd-year high-schoolers remain inspired by this Latin model of perfection, we can’t help but sigh. It’s useful to remind ourselves, therefore, of the virtues and vices of this typeset:

Trajan

How to teleport Hemingway from the 20th Century to ancient Rome? Apparently, it’s enough to transpose his writing from whatever font to Trajan. This creates a short-circuit in Earth’s timeline, making sure the great modern writer suddenly becomes an ancient philosopher. Maybe he was Virgil – who knows?

In all seriousness, though, if you ever want to make whatever quote seem like it’s from times of old, write it in Trajan. For extra points, you can try adding yellowish, decrepit wall as the background. Still, if you want to take yourself seriously, use these fonts instead:

  • FS Rome; Stevens Titling; Shango Gothic.
Futura

The twentieth century was one of war, turmoil, futuristic designs, and communism. Want to see the lovechild of the latter two? Try typing something and setting it to the Futura typeset.You’ll either immediately reignite the cold war, get a friendship request from the Soviet Union, or both.

Futura is a really good font, however. It’s decent and offers a clean, pleasant read. Compared to some of the fonts here, it gives the feeling of nobility. It seems wise. It’s seen its fair share of history and that’s saying a lot for an 89-year-old typeset.

Futura

Sophisticated and old-fashioned at the same time, Futura makes a font for those who like to dwell in the past yet stay firmly anchored in the present. And that for of temporal acuity is what brings it slightly into the cliché zone, especially since it’s so overused today.

Luckily for you, there are more than a few decent variations of Futura that eliminate the cheesiness and replace it with a bit more pizazz. Try these ones out:

  • Sofia; Harmonia Sans; Avant Garde.

What to Take Out of This?

In the end, we should keep in mind that just because a font is beautiful, we shouldn’t assume it’s not already on the yellow brick road to pretentiousness and cheesiness. Moderation in all things is a motto that should apply to everything in life, typefaces included. The 10 most overused fonts of 2016 make no exception.

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Ultimate Guide: WordPress Security for Non-developer Bloggers

Maintaining a blog is a colossal work. It sounds as a truistic statement just to feed the vanity of the bloggers, but it’s not the case. I started a year ago a web design blog and I expected that its administration would consume much time and resources.

Ultimate Guide: WordPress Security for Non-developer Bloggers

In spite of all my preparations, I underestimated how much time and resources I should allocate for running the blog: promoting the blog posts takes much time than writing them, the homepage is never completely designed,and the monetization is a complex task. These are just a few lessons I have learned from this experience.

In this light, neglecting the security of your blog is understandable, but certainly it’s not a smart idea. I was one of the many bloggers that simply didn’t care about security. I have a strong antivirus, a strong password and I have tried to stay away from “dangerous websites”. I thought that it was enough to avoid being hacked but the reality proved that I was wrong.

Consequently, a few months ago I decided to get my hands dirty with WordPress security; now I want to share my opinions with you. First of all, I am a non-developer blogger and many times I associated WordPress security with a Php proficiency level. I talked with other bloggers and they shared the same idea; it will be great to know if you agree with me or if you have a different viewpoint. Well, right now I think that it is partially true – you can take care of your website security without being a Php wizard. Of course, the better you know Php, the better you can protect your website! Wrapping up, anyone can substantially improve the security of a WordPress blog! The only requirements – passion, time and a bit of good luck!

Secondly, I thought that if a hacker wanted to break my website, it would only be a matter of time until he/she did the trick.I didn’t change my mind, but I learnt how to harden my blog. There is no 100% secure website but you can take action and make a real hell hacking a website. I purposely bolded a matter of time – it’s a huge difference between being able to hack a website in just a few hours and hacking it in a week. Only hackers that have spying missions will invest his/her resources to permanently trying to hack a website.

Thirdly, the WordPress security specific terms make most bloggers run away from this area. Yeah, there are some terms hard to describe and understand, but none was born top level security expert. Step by step, any blogger can learn how to secure his blog and the terms related to website security. In the next lines I will explain to you some of these terms.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to study about WordPress security, you should put the theoretical knowledge into practice. Here is my personal guide of securing a WordPress powered website. I believe that it is a good starting point for a non-developer blogger; it’s perfectible and I am open to your suggestions.

Proactive Measures

The golden rule of website security says that it’s better to prevent than to clear. I strongly emphasize that taking proactive measures is the best way to assure the security of your blog. The developers behind WordPress work day and night to make better and more secure versions, but simultaneously the hackers try by all means to find new vulnerabilities.

Bingo, what is vulnerability? This term describes a product weakness that allows an attacker to compromise that product. It’s not a quite complex definition, but I think that it resumes the essence of its meaning. If you want a more insightful definition, this article from Microsoft is your next lecture!

The latest Sucuri report demonstrates that the security of a website isn’t a luxury and the attacks are more and more sophisticated. Beside these, WordPress is the leading CMS by the number of attacks! My intention is not to alarm you, I want to present the exact situation and give you a plan to improve your website security.

1. Pick quality hosting

There are tons of blogs treating the matter of picking the right hosting; in spite of that, all the answers begin with “it depends on” (if you want to name them as answers as long as these begin with “it depends on”). The WP White Security informsus that 41% of the hacked websites take place because of the hosting provider.

It’s pretty difficult to trust the hosting reviews because these aren’t accurate due to affiliate marketing commissions (don’t get me wrong, there are still blogs that offer objective reviews). However, I think that the recommendations of the WordPress.org should work the best in terms of reliability, speed, customer service and obviously, security! The main drawback is the cost, but quality can’t be achieved with low prices!

2. Update your WordPress version, themes and plugins

Please, don’t disregard the article just because of this piece of advice – it’s stupid, but you should know that it’s one of the most used vulnerability by hackers to get the control of a website. Or maybe this tip isn’t as stupid as you think – a lot of data can be obtained by a smart hacker by hacking plugins or themes that aren’t updated. I guess that everyone heard about Panama Papers. Well, behind the huge data loss is believed to stay a vulnerable version of an extensively used plugin called Revolution Slider! In this situation, the breach has positive effects – people have found out the names of the leaders who hide money from them.

It’s a real paradox, the simpler a method is to protect from being hacked, the more ignored it is! The plugins have the most vulnerabilities (there is more coding behind a plugin), but also the WordPress versions and themes should be updated. Imagine that a hacker finds out that you use an old WordPress version. Almost certainly, any hacker has a database of WordPress versions and their vulnerabilities. This is a helpful archive in this respect and it can be used freely by any hacker! Of course, the hackers update their databases as soon as a new vulnerability is founded! Take their example and update your themes, plugins and WordPress versions to avoid security issues!

3. Strong passwords – strong websites

It is another widely spread security tip that is known by everyone. In spite of this, almost 8% are hacked due to the weak passwords. Honestly, I think that you have no excuse of being hacked in this way! Sometimes, the hackers use sophisticated methods to steal your account credentials, but sometimes they use the brute-force. Yeah, this is another term specific to website security!

The concept of brute-force is simple; the hacker tries various combinations of username and password to enter into your website. It’s a laborious job and it requires much guess work and time. Unfortunately, there are software solutions that do the dirty job and these are extremely fast. If your username is admin (which is a very common username), then you give to the hackers a precious help!

4. Limit login attempts

One of the most efficient solution against brute-force attacks is to limit the number of login attempts. The concept is simple and effective: the website admin limits the number of unsuccessful attempts to login. As example, if a user attempted to login for five times in a row, his/her IP is blocked or he/she is required to login after a specific period of time. Luckily, there are some trusty plugins as Jetpack Protect, Login LockDown, and Login Security Solution. Of course, the plugins are packed with many other additional features – you are able to monitor the IP attack sources, get notification when an account is hacked and customize the number of login attempts.

5. Two steps authentication

This measure is more complicated, but it significantly reduces the risk of being hacked. It’s about two-steps authentication – a new term from website security area. This designates the method of using a supplementary code or password to login into your website. It’s not complicated at all, but it requires extra time. Practically, you enter your “conventional” credentials and you are required to send a code to your smartphone. Once you receive and type it into the submit form you are able to log in. Pretty hard to manage hacking a website that uses two steps authentication, isn’t it? On top of that, it’s simple to implement! Of course, as for any WordPress related problem, there is a plugin to resolve it! WPMU Dev proposes you six reliable and efficient plugins for implementing a two steps authentication.

6. Disable login hints

To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that when typing the username or the password wrongly, you get a message informing that the username is incorrect typed or the password isn’t matching. So, a hacker gets a confirmation from your website if he/she manages to steal your username. For instance, if the username is “admin”, the hacker will be notified that he/she typed wrongly the password – certainly the username “admin” is tried by any hacker! In this case, half of the job is already done.

Luckily, it’s simple to make disappear this hint, just add the next lines of code into your functions.php file. If you aren’t too keen to the WordPress core files, this video from WordPress Beginner shed light on this matter.

functionno_wordpress_errors(){
return 'Bad luck! Back off!';
}
add_filter( 'login_errors', 'no_wordpress_errors' );
7. Keep your computer safe

Applying all the above tips will make your website more secure than the huge majority of them, but it is still vulnerable. Another modality used by hackers to break into a website is to infect the computer of the website administrator. Usually, an administrator periodically checks her/his website and it’s a pity to be hacked by a virus stored on your computer files!

Consequently, you should have installed on all your devices a strong antivirus software; some of them are even free so you have no excuse!

8. Avoid phising and spear phising attacks

Both terms are specific to website security and to some extent I think that all of us were victims of such campaigns. If you received unwanted messages about medicines and magical solutions to improve your sexual life, then you were a victim of this method.

As you probably deduced, phising is an illegality in which the attacker tries to get credentials or other kind of login information by posing as a trusted entity. These attacks usually happen via email.

Spear phising is a finer version of phising –it’s a targeted attack. However, anyone may be the victim of a phising attack!

Many WordPress powered websites are blogs and the bloggers use to get in touch with lots of people – readers, potential sponsors, other bloggers, guest writers, websites’ buyers etc. Therefore, I recommend on paying attention to any email received from unknown people. For instance, I received an email informing that a rich investor from Canada is interested in buying my domain and he is ready to pay good money. It was a wow offer for me…in fact too attractive to be true! I searched online for “this rich investor” and I found out that he was interested in many other domains. I should purchase a certificate (from a scam agency) and eventually provide them the credentials. To be honest, I was ecstatic when I firstly read the email and I was almost on the point to buy the certificate. Surely, other WordPress bloggers experimented the same situation and feelings. Unlikely, some bloggers achieved the certificates and maybe provided the login credentials.

How to Determine if a Website is Hacked

Unfortunately, there are cases in which even the most vigilant website administrators are cheated by viruses or hackers. Therefore, it’s recommended to have a solid grasp about determining if your website is really hacked. Also, it’s a good idea to have a clear delimitation between a security breach and a plugin or theme malfunction. Sometimes, a plugin or a theme may not work properly from various reasons and you can get panicked that the website is hacked.

Here I suggest you some tools to have a clear evaluation of your website security!

1. Google Search Console

Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is a precious resource that helps the website administrators to have useful insights (indexing, search traffic, crawl aspects and security) about the managed websites. The users of Search Console can set up to get notified any time Google identifies a suspicious activity regarding the website administration. Also, here you get some valuable information when the website is hacked.

Wrapping up, if you own or administrate a website, Google Search Console is a tool that should be used frequently and you should start using it even to secure the website.

2. Google Safe Browsing

This is another tool provided by Google and it follows the same pattern – it’s simple and efficient. You should type the name of the website into the search box and Google will give you the verdict in no time. Let’s hope that the current status will be “not dangerous”!

3. Google organic search

Yeah, it’s a good indicator to check your website, but it should be regarded as a last solution. Google uses to flag the hacked website in search listings. Quite probable, you spend a lot of resources to earn the first or the second position in the search results. It’s totally unwanted to be number one when users search for your keyword and Google to flag your website with messages as “This website may harm your computer” or “This site may be hacked”! Also, the users will avoid clicking your website name!

4. Analytics tools

Usually, a website hacked is associated with a traffic spike, so you should check your analytics in this respect. Of course, a traffic spike should be a reason of happiness, but sometimes is better to be circumspect!

 

Aside from these tools, the webmasters has at their disposal many online scans that are able to provide useful information and helpful security hints. Here is a list of some of the most appreciated by WordPress users, in no particular order:

1. Sucuri Online Scan

Sucuri is a famous provider of WordPress security solutions and their scanning tool works as a magnet to attract new customers. Obviously, it lets you know if your website is suffering from injected spam, defacements or malware.

2. Virus Total

Virus Total is a simple tool that does a great job. It allows scanning a file or a URL and informs about the viruses found – let’s hope that Virus Total will report 0 found viruses. In spite of its simple design, behind this tool is an active community waiting for you to join them.

3. SpamHaus

SpamHaus is a great security help for any type of website. It has two distinct tools: IP Address Lookup and Domain Lookup. The first tool is useful to determine if an IP address is associated with spam or illegal activities. As example, if you noticed that an IP address attempted multiple times to login to your website you should check it and find additional information about.

The second tool, the Domain Lookup informs if your website is on their list of spam sources. I wish you to never be added on this list, but in case that you are, SpamHaus offers you information about how to resolve your security issues and finally, be erased from the list.

4. Quttera

Quttera is another impressive tool that should be used periodically by anyone interested in his/her website security. It analyses a lot of files, therefore it takes some minutes before listing the result. Also, due to the multiple website analyzed simultaneously, it is possible to get a message requiring you to try later their services. It’s not Ok, but the services are free and top-quality, so a little bit of patience is golden!

5. Acunetix

Unlikethe previous tools, this requires a subscription, but it’s similar in terms of efficiency and usefulness. Acunetix is a security leader and their online scan offers lots of precious information. They have a special offer – 14 days to test for free and benefit from their services.

How to Clean a Hacked Website

In spite of so many tools for hardening the website security, there are still tens of hacked websites each day! I hope that the next subparagraphs will be just a reading for improving your general knowledge and not something to put in practice. You guessed, in the next lines we will discuss about how to clean the hackers attacks.

First of all, in these cases it’s inestimable how important a backup copy is. Fresh content is required to keep a strong connection with the readers and feed the spiders of search engines. Many WordPress creations are blogs or news magazines, so you shouldn’t waste your content if you are hacked. There are tons of solutions to back up your website and many are free. Check this list of backup plugins provided by WP Beginner or this article written by a WPMU Dev expert.

Secondly, you should stay calm! If you are panicked, it’s quite possible to take the wrong decisions! Don’t forget, there is nothing that can’t be repaired. Thirdly, if you are a non-developer blogger, it’s better to ask for the services of website security agencies. The prices are expensive for a low budget website, but you have the certitude that the clearing is done by experts.

Altogether, a courageous non-developer blogger is able to clean his/her hacked website. Here is a personal strategy of cleaning a website – I hope that you won’t be ever forced to apply it for your website, but it’s wise to pay close attention to each of the below steps.

1. Get in touch with your host

Usually, on shared hosting, the hack may have affected more websites and the hosting team is already alerted when you are asking for help. Also, a reliable hosting company has a security team that frequently deals with various types of hacker attacks. Consequently, the security specialists are able to help a non-developer website administrator. Follow their pieces of advice and you have big chances of minimizing the hack effects.

2. Change the passwords and restore a backup

Before starting to clean the infected files, you should change the passwords – both yours or of other website users. If you have a backup solution, then you are lucky. You just rollback to a previous version and the infected files disappear. You should still be cautious by applying this method – you may end up by losing important pieces of content. This is the reason why is so important to create backups on a daily basis.

3. Determine the infected files

This is the most demanding step; finding the infected files is a difficult job. The non-developer administrators should ask the hosting team about which files are hacked. Usually, the host will email a list with the name of the infected files and some directions about how to clean them.

Another solution is the use of online scans that provide guidance in cleaning the website. These suggest the infected files and what kind of actions you should take. Once you have the files that are infected, you should eliminate and replace file by file.

4. Update everything

Well, I am sure that if you had your website hacked, the matter of update WordPress core, themes and plugins will be treated way more serious.

5. Request Google a review

If you are hacked, Google most likely will be the first one that finds out. The website administrators are warned via Google Search Console about possible security issues, but Google warn the Internet users about the hacked websites, too. Of course, not only Google warns the users about hacked websites, but also the rest of the search engines and even the browsers notice users about hacked websites.

Definitely, it severely damages the traffic – who dares to visit a website when Google tells you that the respective address is used by a hacker? Consequently, a website administrator should act fast and clean the website. Immediately after finishing this job, Google specialists should be informed that the website is clean and ask them for a review.

I hope that the security specialists will confirm that the website doesn’t have any malicious code and it’s safe for users. However, here is a guide elaborated by Google to help you dealing with this matter.

 

As I previously said, in the WordPress world the miracles are possible and many of them are metamorphosed in the shape of plugins. The WordPress repository is full of highly efficient and active plugins that are unpriced tools to harden your website. Here I listed for you some of the best solutions, in no particular order.

1. Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security has 1+million active installs and 4.9 out of 5 rating. I have spent much time in WordPress repository and I don’t know another plugin having so many active installs and such a good rating at the same time. These statistics should convince you about its mighty power. I am a user of this plugin (no affiliate links here) and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to spend much time on website security. It does everything you need to make your website a real fortification that stands up against hackers’ attacks.

It’s unbelievable, but the plugin is free! You have tons of features even if it’s a free version. If you still want more, there is a premium plan for this amazing plugin. You should check Wordfence official website for more details; Learn Center is a precious source of information for any WordPress users and you should use the experience of Wordfence specialists to harden your website.

2. All In One WP Security & Firewall

This is another plugin that fully deserves your attention. It’s a popular plugin, extensively used by many WordPress websites – in other words, it’s reliable, efficient and powerful. The plugin is built taking into account the needs of a non-developer WordPress user, so there will be no problems when configuring it. The interface is attractive and designed to maintain the interest of the user. For instance, the security strength meter is an original and eye-catching solution.

Amongst other important features, you have protection against Brute Force Login Attacks, complete information regarding the accounts activity, schedule backups, add different firewalls and import/export security settings.

3. iThemes Security

This is another top-notch plugin that won’t let anyone to hack your website. Its previous name was Better WP Security; it is the same efficient tool against website attackers. Some of the settings may be confusing for the less experienced WordPress users but this article is a golden nugget for them. Here you have clear and precise explanations; you have a bonus – a short video to watchabout how to better configure the plugin. Aside from hardening your website, iThemes Security creates backup versions of the website, therefore it has two major roles – back up solution and security strengthening plugin.

4. Sucuri Security

Sucuri is a well-known company for anyone that has a solid grasp about online security. Their WordPress plugin is a great tool that helps the users to significantly improve the security of their websites. Amongst many options and features, the developers claim that one of the most underrated function is security activity monitoring. Practically, the website admin is able to see any modification/activity of the users. In simple words, Sucuri Security gives you the possibility of preventing any security breaches. Obviously, the plugin is efficient against Brute Force or Denial of Service attacks. Well, it’s time for another term – Denial of Service. The explanations from Wikipedia are clear and the examples are suggestive.
According to Wikipedia, a Denial of Service is compared to the situation where hundreds of people are struggling to enter simultaneously into a shop.

Clearly, none can enter through the door and in this way the shop is blocked. The same idea is applied to a website – the attacker prevents the legitimate users from login to the website.

 

This is the end point of our journey; if you carefully read this post and apply at least a half of the tips presented, the chances of being hacked are low and you can fully focus on other aspects. Still, the security of a website is a dynamic field and you should stay updated to the latest news. As you see, hardening your WordPress website isn’t as complicated as it sounds for a non-developer blogger. Almost everything can be resolved with the help of a plugin.

In the end, I am curious to find out your opinion about WordPress security and what you are going to do to improve the security of your websites. The more opinions, the best for all of us! Of course, you can share the posts with your friends to let them know how to secure their websites.

Visit us at InstantShift.com

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Ultimate Guide: WordPress Security for Non-developer Bloggers

Maintaining a blog is a colossal work. It sounds as a truistic statement just to feed the vanity of the bloggers, but it’s not the case. I started a year ago a web design blog and I expected that its administration would consume much time and resources.

Ultimate Guide: WordPress Security for Non-developer Bloggers

In spite of all my preparations, I underestimated how much time and resources I should allocate for running the blog: promoting the blog posts takes much time than writing them, the homepage is never completely designed,and the monetization is a complex task. These are just a few lessons I have learned from this experience.

In this light, neglecting the security of your blog is understandable, but certainly it’s not a smart idea. I was one of the many bloggers that simply didn’t care about security. I have a strong antivirus, a strong password and I have tried to stay away from “dangerous websites”. I thought that it was enough to avoid being hacked but the reality proved that I was wrong.

Consequently, a few months ago I decided to get my hands dirty with WordPress security; now I want to share my opinions with you. First of all, I am a non-developer blogger and many times I associated WordPress security with a Php proficiency level. I talked with other bloggers and they shared the same idea; it will be great to know if you agree with me or if you have a different viewpoint. Well, right now I think that it is partially true – you can take care of your website security without being a Php wizard. Of course, the better you know Php, the better you can protect your website! Wrapping up, anyone can substantially improve the security of a WordPress blog! The only requirements – passion, time and a bit of good luck!

Secondly, I thought that if a hacker wanted to break my website, it would only be a matter of time until he/she did the trick.I didn’t change my mind, but I learnt how to harden my blog. There is no 100% secure website but you can take action and make a real hell hacking a website. I purposely bolded a matter of time – it’s a huge difference between being able to hack a website in just a few hours and hacking it in a week. Only hackers that have spying missions will invest his/her resources to permanently trying to hack a website.

Thirdly, the WordPress security specific terms make most bloggers run away from this area. Yeah, there are some terms hard to describe and understand, but none was born top level security expert. Step by step, any blogger can learn how to secure his blog and the terms related to website security. In the next lines I will explain to you some of these terms.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to study about WordPress security, you should put the theoretical knowledge into practice. Here is my personal guide of securing a WordPress powered website. I believe that it is a good starting point for a non-developer blogger; it’s perfectible and I am open to your suggestions.

Proactive Measures

The golden rule of website security says that it’s better to prevent than to clear. I strongly emphasize that taking proactive measures is the best way to assure the security of your blog. The developers behind WordPress work day and night to make better and more secure versions, but simultaneously the hackers try by all means to find new vulnerabilities.

Bingo, what is vulnerability? This term describes a product weakness that allows an attacker to compromise that product. It’s not a quite complex definition, but I think that it resumes the essence of its meaning. If you want a more insightful definition, this article from Microsoft is your next lecture!

The latest Sucuri report demonstrates that the security of a website isn’t a luxury and the attacks are more and more sophisticated. Beside these, WordPress is the leading CMS by the number of attacks! My intention is not to alarm you, I want to present the exact situation and give you a plan to improve your website security.

1. Pick quality hosting

There are tons of blogs treating the matter of picking the right hosting; in spite of that, all the answers begin with “it depends on” (if you want to name them as answers as long as these begin with “it depends on”). The WP White Security informsus that 41% of the hacked websites take place because of the hosting provider.

It’s pretty difficult to trust the hosting reviews because these aren’t accurate due to affiliate marketing commissions (don’t get me wrong, there are still blogs that offer objective reviews). However, I think that the recommendations of the WordPress.org should work the best in terms of reliability, speed, customer service and obviously, security! The main drawback is the cost, but quality can’t be achieved with low prices!

2. Update your WordPress version, themes and plugins

Please, don’t disregard the article just because of this piece of advice – it’s stupid, but you should know that it’s one of the most used vulnerability by hackers to get the control of a website. Or maybe this tip isn’t as stupid as you think – a lot of data can be obtained by a smart hacker by hacking plugins or themes that aren’t updated. I guess that everyone heard about Panama Papers. Well, behind the huge data loss is believed to stay a vulnerable version of an extensively used plugin called Revolution Slider! In this situation, the breach has positive effects – people have found out the names of the leaders who hide money from them.

It’s a real paradox, the simpler a method is to protect from being hacked, the more ignored it is! The plugins have the most vulnerabilities (there is more coding behind a plugin), but also the WordPress versions and themes should be updated. Imagine that a hacker finds out that you use an old WordPress version. Almost certainly, any hacker has a database of WordPress versions and their vulnerabilities. This is a helpful archive in this respect and it can be used freely by any hacker! Of course, the hackers update their databases as soon as a new vulnerability is founded! Take their example and update your themes, plugins and WordPress versions to avoid security issues!

3. Strong passwords – strong websites

It is another widely spread security tip that is known by everyone. In spite of this, almost 8% are hacked due to the weak passwords. Honestly, I think that you have no excuse of being hacked in this way! Sometimes, the hackers use sophisticated methods to steal your account credentials, but sometimes they use the brute-force. Yeah, this is another term specific to website security!

The concept of brute-force is simple; the hacker tries various combinations of username and password to enter into your website. It’s a laborious job and it requires much guess work and time. Unfortunately, there are software solutions that do the dirty job and these are extremely fast. If your username is admin (which is a very common username), then you give to the hackers a precious help!

4. Limit login attempts

One of the most efficient solution against brute-force attacks is to limit the number of login attempts. The concept is simple and effective: the website admin limits the number of unsuccessful attempts to login. As example, if a user attempted to login for five times in a row, his/her IP is blocked or he/she is required to login after a specific period of time. Luckily, there are some trusty plugins as Jetpack Protect, Login LockDown, and Login Security Solution. Of course, the plugins are packed with many other additional features – you are able to monitor the IP attack sources, get notification when an account is hacked and customize the number of login attempts.

5. Two steps authentication

This measure is more complicated, but it significantly reduces the risk of being hacked. It’s about two-steps authentication – a new term from website security area. This designates the method of using a supplementary code or password to login into your website. It’s not complicated at all, but it requires extra time. Practically, you enter your “conventional” credentials and you are required to send a code to your smartphone. Once you receive and type it into the submit form you are able to log in. Pretty hard to manage hacking a website that uses two steps authentication, isn’t it? On top of that, it’s simple to implement! Of course, as for any WordPress related problem, there is a plugin to resolve it! WPMU Dev proposes you six reliable and efficient plugins for implementing a two steps authentication.

6. Disable login hints

To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that when typing the username or the password wrongly, you get a message informing that the username is incorrect typed or the password isn’t matching. So, a hacker gets a confirmation from your website if he/she manages to steal your username. For instance, if the username is “admin”, the hacker will be notified that he/she typed wrongly the password – certainly the username “admin” is tried by any hacker! In this case, half of the job is already done.

Luckily, it’s simple to make disappear this hint, just add the next lines of code into your functions.php file. If you aren’t too keen to the WordPress core files, this video from WordPress Beginner shed light on this matter.

functionno_wordpress_errors(){
return 'Bad luck! Back off!';
}
add_filter( 'login_errors', 'no_wordpress_errors' );
7. Keep your computer safe

Applying all the above tips will make your website more secure than the huge majority of them, but it is still vulnerable. Another modality used by hackers to break into a website is to infect the computer of the website administrator. Usually, an administrator periodically checks her/his website and it’s a pity to be hacked by a virus stored on your computer files!

Consequently, you should have installed on all your devices a strong antivirus software; some of them are even free so you have no excuse!

8. Avoid phising and spear phising attacks

Both terms are specific to website security and to some extent I think that all of us were victims of such campaigns. If you received unwanted messages about medicines and magical solutions to improve your sexual life, then you were a victim of this method.

As you probably deduced, phising is an illegality in which the attacker tries to get credentials or other kind of login information by posing as a trusted entity. These attacks usually happen via email.

Spear phising is a finer version of phising –it’s a targeted attack. However, anyone may be the victim of a phising attack!

Many WordPress powered websites are blogs and the bloggers use to get in touch with lots of people – readers, potential sponsors, other bloggers, guest writers, websites’ buyers etc. Therefore, I recommend on paying attention to any email received from unknown people. For instance, I received an email informing that a rich investor from Canada is interested in buying my domain and he is ready to pay good money. It was a wow offer for me…in fact too attractive to be true! I searched online for “this rich investor” and I found out that he was interested in many other domains. I should purchase a certificate (from a scam agency) and eventually provide them the credentials. To be honest, I was ecstatic when I firstly read the email and I was almost on the point to buy the certificate. Surely, other WordPress bloggers experimented the same situation and feelings. Unlikely, some bloggers achieved the certificates and maybe provided the login credentials.

How to Determine if a Website is Hacked

Unfortunately, there are cases in which even the most vigilant website administrators are cheated by viruses or hackers. Therefore, it’s recommended to have a solid grasp about determining if your website is really hacked. Also, it’s a good idea to have a clear delimitation between a security breach and a plugin or theme malfunction. Sometimes, a plugin or a theme may not work properly from various reasons and you can get panicked that the website is hacked.

Here I suggest you some tools to have a clear evaluation of your website security!

1. Google Search Console

Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is a precious resource that helps the website administrators to have useful insights (indexing, search traffic, crawl aspects and security) about the managed websites. The users of Search Console can set up to get notified any time Google identifies a suspicious activity regarding the website administration. Also, here you get some valuable information when the website is hacked.

Wrapping up, if you own or administrate a website, Google Search Console is a tool that should be used frequently and you should start using it even to secure the website.

2. Google Safe Browsing

This is another tool provided by Google and it follows the same pattern – it’s simple and efficient. You should type the name of the website into the search box and Google will give you the verdict in no time. Let’s hope that the current status will be “not dangerous”!

3. Google organic search

Yeah, it’s a good indicator to check your website, but it should be regarded as a last solution. Google uses to flag the hacked website in search listings. Quite probable, you spend a lot of resources to earn the first or the second position in the search results. It’s totally unwanted to be number one when users search for your keyword and Google to flag your website with messages as “This website may harm your computer” or “This site may be hacked”! Also, the users will avoid clicking your website name!

4. Analytics tools

Usually, a website hacked is associated with a traffic spike, so you should check your analytics in this respect. Of course, a traffic spike should be a reason of happiness, but sometimes is better to be circumspect!

 

Aside from these tools, the webmasters has at their disposal many online scans that are able to provide useful information and helpful security hints. Here is a list of some of the most appreciated by WordPress users, in no particular order:

1. Sucuri Online Scan

Sucuri is a famous provider of WordPress security solutions and their scanning tool works as a magnet to attract new customers. Obviously, it lets you know if your website is suffering from injected spam, defacements or malware.

2. Virus Total

Virus Total is a simple tool that does a great job. It allows scanning a file or a URL and informs about the viruses found – let’s hope that Virus Total will report 0 found viruses. In spite of its simple design, behind this tool is an active community waiting for you to join them.

3. SpamHaus

SpamHaus is a great security help for any type of website. It has two distinct tools: IP Address Lookup and Domain Lookup. The first tool is useful to determine if an IP address is associated with spam or illegal activities. As example, if you noticed that an IP address attempted multiple times to login to your website you should check it and find additional information about.

The second tool, the Domain Lookup informs if your website is on their list of spam sources. I wish you to never be added on this list, but in case that you are, SpamHaus offers you information about how to resolve your security issues and finally, be erased from the list.

4. Quttera

Quttera is another impressive tool that should be used periodically by anyone interested in his/her website security. It analyses a lot of files, therefore it takes some minutes before listing the result. Also, due to the multiple website analyzed simultaneously, it is possible to get a message requiring you to try later their services. It’s not Ok, but the services are free and top-quality, so a little bit of patience is golden!

5. Acunetix

Unlikethe previous tools, this requires a subscription, but it’s similar in terms of efficiency and usefulness. Acunetix is a security leader and their online scan offers lots of precious information. They have a special offer – 14 days to test for free and benefit from their services.

How to Clean a Hacked Website

In spite of so many tools for hardening the website security, there are still tens of hacked websites each day! I hope that the next subparagraphs will be just a reading for improving your general knowledge and not something to put in practice. You guessed, in the next lines we will discuss about how to clean the hackers attacks.

First of all, in these cases it’s inestimable how important a backup copy is. Fresh content is required to keep a strong connection with the readers and feed the spiders of search engines. Many WordPress creations are blogs or news magazines, so you shouldn’t waste your content if you are hacked. There are tons of solutions to back up your website and many are free. Check this list of backup plugins provided by WP Beginner or this article written by a WPMU Dev expert.

Secondly, you should stay calm! If you are panicked, it’s quite possible to take the wrong decisions! Don’t forget, there is nothing that can’t be repaired. Thirdly, if you are a non-developer blogger, it’s better to ask for the services of website security agencies. The prices are expensive for a low budget website, but you have the certitude that the clearing is done by experts.

Altogether, a courageous non-developer blogger is able to clean his/her hacked website. Here is a personal strategy of cleaning a website – I hope that you won’t be ever forced to apply it for your website, but it’s wise to pay close attention to each of the below steps.

1. Get in touch with your host

Usually, on shared hosting, the hack may have affected more websites and the hosting team is already alerted when you are asking for help. Also, a reliable hosting company has a security team that frequently deals with various types of hacker attacks. Consequently, the security specialists are able to help a non-developer website administrator. Follow their pieces of advice and you have big chances of minimizing the hack effects.

2. Change the passwords and restore a backup

Before starting to clean the infected files, you should change the passwords – both yours or of other website users. If you have a backup solution, then you are lucky. You just rollback to a previous version and the infected files disappear. You should still be cautious by applying this method – you may end up by losing important pieces of content. This is the reason why is so important to create backups on a daily basis.

3. Determine the infected files

This is the most demanding step; finding the infected files is a difficult job. The non-developer administrators should ask the hosting team about which files are hacked. Usually, the host will email a list with the name of the infected files and some directions about how to clean them.

Another solution is the use of online scans that provide guidance in cleaning the website. These suggest the infected files and what kind of actions you should take. Once you have the files that are infected, you should eliminate and replace file by file.

4. Update everything

Well, I am sure that if you had your website hacked, the matter of update WordPress core, themes and plugins will be treated way more serious.

5. Request Google a review

If you are hacked, Google most likely will be the first one that finds out. The website administrators are warned via Google Search Console about possible security issues, but Google warn the Internet users about the hacked websites, too. Of course, not only Google warns the users about hacked websites, but also the rest of the search engines and even the browsers notice users about hacked websites.

Definitely, it severely damages the traffic – who dares to visit a website when Google tells you that the respective address is used by a hacker? Consequently, a website administrator should act fast and clean the website. Immediately after finishing this job, Google specialists should be informed that the website is clean and ask them for a review.

I hope that the security specialists will confirm that the website doesn’t have any malicious code and it’s safe for users. However, here is a guide elaborated by Google to help you dealing with this matter.

 

As I previously said, in the WordPress world the miracles are possible and many of them are metamorphosed in the shape of plugins. The WordPress repository is full of highly efficient and active plugins that are unpriced tools to harden your website. Here I listed for you some of the best solutions, in no particular order.

1. Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security has 1+million active installs and 4.9 out of 5 rating. I have spent much time in WordPress repository and I don’t know another plugin having so many active installs and such a good rating at the same time. These statistics should convince you about its mighty power. I am a user of this plugin (no affiliate links here) and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to spend much time on website security. It does everything you need to make your website a real fortification that stands up against hackers’ attacks.

It’s unbelievable, but the plugin is free! You have tons of features even if it’s a free version. If you still want more, there is a premium plan for this amazing plugin. You should check Wordfence official website for more details; Learn Center is a precious source of information for any WordPress users and you should use the experience of Wordfence specialists to harden your website.

2. All In One WP Security & Firewall

This is another plugin that fully deserves your attention. It’s a popular plugin, extensively used by many WordPress websites – in other words, it’s reliable, efficient and powerful. The plugin is built taking into account the needs of a non-developer WordPress user, so there will be no problems when configuring it. The interface is attractive and designed to maintain the interest of the user. For instance, the security strength meter is an original and eye-catching solution.

Amongst other important features, you have protection against Brute Force Login Attacks, complete information regarding the accounts activity, schedule backups, add different firewalls and import/export security settings.

3. iThemes Security

This is another top-notch plugin that won’t let anyone to hack your website. Its previous name was Better WP Security; it is the same efficient tool against website attackers. Some of the settings may be confusing for the less experienced WordPress users but this article is a golden nugget for them. Here you have clear and precise explanations; you have a bonus – a short video to watchabout how to better configure the plugin. Aside from hardening your website, iThemes Security creates backup versions of the website, therefore it has two major roles – back up solution and security strengthening plugin.

4. Sucuri Security

Sucuri is a well-known company for anyone that has a solid grasp about online security. Their WordPress plugin is a great tool that helps the users to significantly improve the security of their websites. Amongst many options and features, the developers claim that one of the most underrated function is security activity monitoring. Practically, the website admin is able to see any modification/activity of the users. In simple words, Sucuri Security gives you the possibility of preventing any security breaches. Obviously, the plugin is efficient against Brute Force or Denial of Service attacks. Well, it’s time for another term – Denial of Service. The explanations from Wikipedia are clear and the examples are suggestive.
According to Wikipedia, a Denial of Service is compared to the situation where hundreds of people are struggling to enter simultaneously into a shop.

Clearly, none can enter through the door and in this way the shop is blocked. The same idea is applied to a website – the attacker prevents the legitimate users from login to the website.

 

This is the end point of our journey; if you carefully read this post and apply at least a half of the tips presented, the chances of being hacked are low and you can fully focus on other aspects. Still, the security of a website is a dynamic field and you should stay updated to the latest news. As you see, hardening your WordPress website isn’t as complicated as it sounds for a non-developer blogger. Almost everything can be resolved with the help of a plugin.

In the end, I am curious to find out your opinion about WordPress security and what you are going to do to improve the security of your websites. The more opinions, the best for all of us! Of course, you can share the posts with your friends to let them know how to secure their websites.

Visit us at InstantShift.com

RapidxHTML

11 Web Design Techniques that Improve User Engagement and Conversion

How do UX professionals define conversion optimization?

11 Web Design Techniques that Improve User Engagement and Conversion

According to Jeff Gothelf, author of Lean UX book, conversion optimization is about “finding the right mix of value proposition, call to action and price point to convince a customer to take a deeper level of engagement with your product or service.”

However a “Conversion optimization consultant” is usually someone who a business contracts to evaluate a particular workflow. They typically come from a web analytics background and propose a series of tests to run to improve the conversion of a flow.

A beautiful website might make a great first impression, but if it has terrible usability, users can’t figure out what to do, forms on the site don’t quite work, the error messages are not helpful and the copy on the website is vague, the overall experience will be quite bad.

The question is, how can you drive user engagement on your site? From a web designer’s point of view, let’s take a look at twelve great tips that will help you in this direction.

1) Make a strong first impression

Every day a potential customer is seeing your interface for the very first time. This can be forgotten within teams that are always designing for themselves. The first screen your users see has 3 important jobs…

  1. Explain how your web application works.
  2. Motivate your users to get started.
  3. Let your users know how to get help, if and when they need it.

If someone lands on your web app and doesn’t understand how to signup right away, that’s a huge problem. It should be obvious to the user what your site does and how they can be apart of it.

Make a strong first impression

2) Use a Hero Image

The hero Image is a popular trend for minimal, responsive websites. These sites have a large photograph or video with a few lines of text or a headline that draws a user’s eye.

Make sure that the Hero Image on your website is perfectly suited to the site’s purpose. Generally, capturing the reader’s attention is becoming more and more difficult. So the use of one large image will cause the reader to pause or “rest”, and then give them the go ahead to read the page.

Use a Hero Image

3) Parallax scrolling effects

A good concept that a parallax scrolling effect has an advantage is storytelling. Parallax effects are used to assemble products right before your eyes as you scroll down the page in an artistic and beautiful way.As far as engagement is considered, parallax scrolling really takes initial users to a trip and completely absorbs their attention.

Parallax scrolling effects

4) Implement accent colors and call-to-action buttons strategically

Effective call-to-action buttons (CTAs) have the ability to trigger a customer to signup, join, buy now, share, download etc. Together, CTAs and accent colors have the ability to draw attention, increasing engagement and sparking action. It’s all about, size, placement and color.

Implement accent colors and call-to-action buttons strategically

5) Intro/explainer videos

Explainer Videos are short videos that explain a company’s story and a company’s business model. In other words they give an answer to the question “What do you guys do?These videos can be in animation, digital drawings, hand drawings, or regular videos. People are not only mostly visual learners, but people retain 68% more information from videos than from texts.

Explainer videos is one marketing move that helps you to stand out from the crowd of competitors. When you use Explainer Videos, you provide a medium due to which users stay on your website and probably end up with desired action such as buying out your products and services.

Intro/explainer videos

6) Your website must be designed to be as strong as a landing page

The goal of a landing page is to persuade a website visitor to take an action, meanwhile every page on the internet is a landing page. Website visitors don’t always begin their journey on your homepage therefore, it’s important to remain consistent and provide key pieces of information near the top of all pages.

Let’s see an example of an American lifestyle brand O’Neill website that perfectly clear with an image-led landing page that sells you its clothing ranges and sports gear through stunning photography of big waves and snow-covered mountains.

landing page

7) Adding social widgets and buttons

Social Widgets increase traffic and user-engagement on your website. They have the capacity to gather new customers or expand newly created communities by allowing users to connect with them on social media like Facebook and Twitter to bring more referring visitors.

Did you know Dropbox has spent very little on advertising?They’ve implemented many growth hacks. For example, one growth hack is to incentivize some of your current users to refer others. This incentive may come in the form of company swag or a free month of your service.

Dropbox did something a little different. With each Follow on Twitter, connect with facebook or twitter, Dropbox gives the user a 125MB increase in space:

Adding social widgets and buttons

At the time of this writing, Dropbox had a little over 720,000 Twitter followers. While not all of them can be attributed to this hack. Dropbox incentivizes users to connect with them to spread the Dropbox product.

8) Add a subscription form on every page

Subscription forms are generally just a box with a place for the user to enter their name and email address. When they click on the ‘subscribe’ button they are automatically added to your email list. By providing multiple opportunities for blog readers to sign up for email updates, you’ll increase the number of your email subscribers faster if you add a lightbox option on every page.

In addition to a signup form in the sidebar, you can put one within your post or at the bottom.Putting the signup form in the content will be easy to convince someone to join if they are already enjoying your content.

Add a subscription form on every page

9) Use more white space

Whitespace is an important element of design for good reason. If used well and correctly, it can transform a design and provide many advantages to your website.

The whitespace that is between paragraphs and around blocks of text and images actually helps people understand what they are reading and adds up to a better user experience overall. It will also help to increase engagement as users are more likely to stay on the page longer. Using more white space help to creates a more professional looking design and increase content legibility.

Use more white space

Use more white space

10) Engage audience with mobile friendly website

Make it easier for users to interact with your site on a smartphone. Things like using a font size that is legible on small screens, or making it possible for them to call you with a single click, go a long way towards improving user experience.

Engage audience with mobile friendly website

11) Heat maps show engagement

Heatmaps tools are graphical overlays of your website which points out what content is hot and what not. This is mainly done by tracking the mouse clicks of the visitor.

Learning about visitor behavior is important for the success of your website.

Heat mapping answers many questions. Are your visitors distracted by too many choices? Are they leaving your page before subscribing to an email subscription option? Are you putting enough emphasis on the pages that are most important to users? What images and ads on landing pages are evoking the best responses and generating conversions to sales?

Heat maps show engagement

Conclusion

I hope this article can get you started thinking about some common web design techniques that improve user engagement. The best thing you can do is place yourself in the shoes of a typical user and try to determine the major flaws of an interface.

As consumers get smarter and in more control of their buying experience, it’s necessary that your marketing strategies keep up with the trends. There are many benefits of using engagement marketing for your business.

Better user engagement conduct to better conversion ratio, lower abandonment rates and probably an increase in sales.Do you have any of your own tips?Let us know in the comment below?

Visit us at InstantShift.com

RapidxHTML

Learn to Сode: The Secret of a Recursive Method

Coding is where the future is at, globally as well as individually. There are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ about it. Afraid for your job, worried about globalization and frightened you won’t be able to make ends meet in the years to come? Then future-proof yourself by learning how to code.

Learn to Сode: The Secret of a Recursive Method

It is open to anybody, no matter what their age, the sex or the color of their skin, it earns good money, with the average software developer getting in the neighborhood of 100k per year, and is a sector that’s expected to continue growing at 22% until 2022.

And it’s utterly location independent. You can easily do it online, communicating by Skype e-mail or snapchat. So if you’re living in the Rust Belt, Bangladesh or in a cave, as long as you’ve got a decent connection you can code, draw a salary and live in comfort – though admittedly that last part might be hard if you are living in a whole in the ground.

And even the biggest excuse of them all, that it is hard to learn and that you’ve got nobody to teach you, doesn’t hold water anymore. Every day more resources are being put online to help you learn how to select the language you want to code in, how to learn that language and opportunities to code in it.

The only thing that’s holding you back is you.

What Language Should You Learn?

Okay, that might be a little glib. There’s a little more holding you back than that. But all the problems can be overcome! It doesn’t even need to cost you money. The first choice you’ve got to decide on is what language you want to start off learning. There are a lot of them and it can be a little intimidating.

Fortunately, there are tools available here as well. Alternatively, you can work it out on your own. It isn’t actually that hard. The first thing you need to know is that there are two different groups of languages. These are dynamic and static languages.

  • Dynamic languages are more beginner friendly. They don’t require as much code and are very flexible. They’ll teach you the theory. They’re also what is known as ‘higher level’. This means that they don’t worry about the bits and the bolts (which are the lower levels) and instead are several steps removed from there. So, instead of saying ‘take bread out of fridge, take out two slices, take butter…’ you would instead just say, ‘make peanut butter and jam sandwich’. Obviously the latter is a lot faster and in that way Dynamic languages get you results more quickly.
  • Statically typed languages are the other side of the coin. These languages are closer to what you imagine when you think of coding. This language is at a lower level and therefore requires more code to accomplish the same thing – but at least you get decide if your sandwich will be with or without crust, so there is that. These programming languages are considered more scalable, robust and easier to maintain. At the same time, mistakes are punished more harshly.

Got that? Okay, next let’s look at some examples of languages that you could consider using. We’ll start with some of the dynamic languages first.

PHP

If you’re planning to play around with WordPress – and chances are you are, as it’s one of the most popular website building platforms out there with XXX of the websites on the internet built with it – then you’ll want to start with PHP.

Fortunately, this server-side scripting language is quite beginner friendly, as it’s easy to understand what the code will do when you use it. That means that it is far easier to pick up than many other languages.

What’s more, as it has been heavily specialized for web use and that’s probably where you’re going to start out on your programming learning escapades, you can certainly do worse than PHP.

Other platforms built on PHP include Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo and Tumblr.

Javascript

On the other end of the scale is Javascript. It is immensely popular and used in many different places and ways. It is compatible across all browsers, is often used to create interactive web apps and is also used as a server-side language.

The only problem? It’s considered quite difficult, as it’s an untyped language, which makes it very hard to debug. This is definitely you’ll want to learn eventually, but you should probably not try to pick it up first. Focus on one of the other ones instead.

Great, so next let’s look at some statically typed languages for you to consider.

Java

You really can’t talk about a statically written language without mentioning Java. It would be like talking about North America without talking about the US. Ninety percent of Fortunate 500 companies use Java. That’s right. Nine zero. And those that don’t are probably like people who refused to use Apple in the noughties. It’s the principle of the matter, damn it!

It isn’t exactly an easy language so it might not be the best place to start off. That said, it is certainly learnable, because if 90% of those companies are using it, then obviously somebody has to be earning it, right? You could certainly do worse than choose Java as your first statically written language.

C

Another (very) important language is C. It is the language of choice of operating systems. It has influenced every programming language we’ve mentioned so far. In a way it’s like Latin, with every European language having borrowed heavily from it and its ideas. And just like Latin, learning it will make learning all those other languages a lot easier.

The problem? Again, the Latin comparison will serve me well. It’s complex and abstract and will require quite a lot of code to do what other do in much less. This means it can be hard to stay motivated as a beginner. It’s probably best to first learn something to come to grips with the basic ideas and then pick up C.

Where Can I Learn About These Platforms?

I’m glad you asked. There really are countless resources available, some of them paid, some of them free. I’d suggest you start with the free ones. You can just type the language you’ve chosen and include the words ‘how to program in’ and you’ll be on your way.

Alternatively, and since you’re already here, you can click on one of the following links and check out the online code learning platforms there.

CodeAcademy is free and24 million people have already learned to code through this platform. That’s probably more people than you thought could code in this world. It’s a very good place to start. Here you can learn HTML, CSS, Javascript, Jquery, PHP, Python and Ruby.

Coursera has over 1000 courses available. Most of the courses are free. You can also get a certificate for some of the courses if you pay. The place has courses by such illustrious locations as the University of Washington, Stanford, The University of Toronto and Vanderbilt.

edX is another good one. This one is open-source so you’ll never have to pay anything. It was built by Harvard and MIT back in 2012 and has been growing since then. There are over 60 schools associated with the place today. So you’ll know you’ll have variety and be at the bleeding edge. You could certainly do worse.

How to Learn

There are a few essential tools that you’re going to need to pay attention to. First of all, you’ve got to familiarize yourself with the libraries of the programming language you’ve chosen. These are the terms and expressions that you’ll have to understand in order to get the computer to do what you want it to.

Yes, understanding these libraries is a little bit like learning another language. Fortunately, there’s one big advantage that you’ll have in coding that you won’t have elsewhere and that is that the expressions are at least partially in English. This means that you’ll at least have some tie-in points to your normal understanding. And trust me, that will help a lot.

Now you can already start experimenting, trying out new things and exploring the different facets of the language. With some really basic programming articles you can come to grips with the language you’ve chosen.

Alternatively, you can start looking at the design patterns in the language. What does that arcane-sounding expression mean? It means that you look at some of the basic solutions to the big things that every programming language needs to do. Yes, you can try and figure these out yourself – in fact, I advise that you try your hand at least a few of these as it will teach you how to think in a programming language and understand the basics. That said, you don’t want to spend your time reinventing the wheel – particularly since your wheel will probably be square in comparison to what’s already out there.

Read Recursively

A very important way to learn to read programming articles is to read them recursively. This means that you read an article that is informative, take all the terms that you don’t understand and google them independently. Then, you read whatever articles are the most helpful there and, if there are any terms that you don’t know here, you repeat the process. Finally, when you’ve come to understand the concept that you stumbled over, you return back to the article and continue reading it.

Yes, this does mean that occasionally you’ll be opening up dozens of different articles in order to come to grips with one article, as one term leads on to another and so forth. The thing is, as time goes on and you find yourself knowing more and more, you will find this happening less and less. What’s more, your understanding will be far more complete and holistic than if you just read things without understanding everything that’s being presented.

Why do you need such holistic knowledge, you ask? Why can’t you just skim read programming like you do everything else? For a very specific and important reason: with other fields if you don’t understand the ins and outs of a concept you can get away with it, either by blathering vaguely or avoiding talking about it.

That’s not possible in programming. In programming you do actually need to understand every aspect. If you don’t, then you can write highly inefficient code, or worse, inadvertently introduce weaknesses into your code that make it susceptible to hacking or crashing. That means you can’t get away with just sidestepping something you don’t know. You have to bite the bullet and tackle every concept head on.

Conclusion

Whether you’re learning programming in order to make money, in order to have a better insight into how your page and your company is being run, to communicate better with whoever is managing your site or to save money by programming aspects yourself, the advantages of learning how to program are immense.

Not only will you be able to write your own code, but you’ll be in a position to understand better what the computer world means and why it functions the way it does. Computers are not people – yes that sounds inane, but you don’t realize the full meaning of that expression until you understand the logic and mechanics of a few programming languages. From there you can then know when something is fishy, what is possible, and when somebody is pretending something is difficult when in truth it’s a piece of cake.

Those are all immensely useful skills to possess. And all you have to do to get them is to sit down and invest a few hours a week in learning a programming language. The benefits, in other words, far outweigh the costs, don’t you agree?

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RapidxHTML

6 Trends In Web Design That Will Rock 2016 With A Bang

You must have encountered articles telling a lot on web design. Especially, the web design trends making an impact in 2015, and the ones to rock 2016. However, do they tell why the trends rock? I guess, “NOT”.

6 Trends In Web Design That Will Rock 2016 With A Bang

We do not claim ourselves to be the ultimate experts in this arena. However, we do have our share of explanation, justifying our real predictions related to web design trends going to rock this year.

1. Forget about ‘clicks’, only remember ‘gestures’

Have you ever thought of how painstaking the scrolling may be, especially when you have infinite scrolling in place? Famous magazines like TIME have infinite scrolling in their news section, which makes it difficult to keep scrolling across stories, having no end practically.

Of course, you might be using track pad, cursor keys, or mouse wheel, to make the task easier on your desktop. What if, you are accessing the same website on your smartphone? The only things coming to your aid are fingers or thumbs alternatively. Imagine the precision required to scroll, or click.

Looking at the scenario, today, it is not surprising to see things easier to scroll than to click. Clicking on a precise target within your mobile, has actually became difficult than ever. As a result, we expect most websites to work on their scrolling first, while clicking taking over the second priority.

We have every reason to expect this trend just moving forward without seeing back. Modern sites have too many things to click. With too many elements or components present on every single page, users need to scroll down the entire page to check whether they are missing any Call to Actions (CTAs), or not.

Let us take an example to prove our point. The example depicts noticeable characteristics of taller pages, few clickable areas, and smooth interactive scrolling.

SerioVerify
Image credit: SerioVerify

SerioVerify is probably one of the best websites, a classic example of parallax scrolling. The website has parallax scrolling embedded in an amazing, yet simplistic way with minimal clicks, and great ease of scrolling. It sells the cloud platform software for call-center sales optimization, and does it beautifully.

JacobsPillow
Image credit: JacobsPillow

JacobsPillow is another good example of a gesture based UI, wherein a Facebook floating bar comes from the right, as soon as you land upon the homepage. What’s more? When you move your cursor on the video button, it is converted from “Watch Video” to ‘Play’ button.

2. Uncover the text gradually while scrolling

Gone are the days when loading used to take ample time, due to too much data to display. In fact, the pages were visible, only after the content is completely loaded. Now users do not have to wait much, since users have the opportunity to see the page, even with partial content loaded.

Medium
Image credit: Medium

Medium is a website, wherein users get to see the blog posts page, only with titles, while the actual blog post content slowly loads, as users scroll. This proves beneficial, not letting users wait too long before start seeing the content. Moreover, users are always on the edge of the seat to check out what is in store for them.

NavigatingResponsibly
Image credit: NavigatingResponsibly

Another example proves why this trend has a bright future ahead. NavigatingResponsibly combines the fold with animation, to deliver a brilliantly striking homepage, blowing your mind away. Herein, the content is well organized between images and animations, letting it uncover when the page is scrolled.

PlumeWifi
Image credit: PlumeWifi

PlumeWifi is a classic example of parallax scrolling combined with animated effects, and text uncovering gradually with scrolling down. A unique thing to note here is the website maintains the simplicity factor, in spite of combining all three effects on every single page. In fact, the order page is so good that the details are well-mentioned with clear fonts, leading to checkout with deductions.

3. Websites simplify on users demand

Today, you have a hoard of expert users, who might look amateur, but still act like pros, swiping things, and accessing multiple tabs, as if adapted to mobile since ages. People want things to be fast, and it is not surprising to see people getting pissed off with slow Internet speeds.

Websites have became much faster than it used to be a few years back. Today, slow websites have the same impact, as websites that do not load at all. Simpler designs are definitely an ideal choice, since they are not just easier to scan, but users enjoy a quick response time from the websites, in terms of loading up.

This is why skeumorphic design era turned out to be not as expected, simply because of too much content cluttering up, with users waiting impatiently, and the site taking hell of a time to load. Apps are highly capable when it comes to super minimal design, unlike websites. They offer such beautiful interfaces, which not just perform, but also look brilliant.

You have already seen flat design making a good start towards simplistic and immediate approach. This trend is bound to see a rise with 2016 progressing right ahead. Let us analyze this trend, taking into account a few awesome examples.

StinkDigital
Image credit: StinkDigital

StinkDigital is one of the best sites to come across, proving how a minimal design can be amazingly eye pleasing. When you visit the homepage, you have only two things coming to notice, a menu tab bar and a Pinterest like cardboard style showing up the blog posts. It is so easy to move around the website that even a novice user could do so.

StudioRotate
Image credit: StudioRotate

StudioRotate is another wonderful example of a minimalist website, which just has a Menu bar on the homepage, leading to just two other submenus in the form of About & Follow, with an option to close the Submenus bar.

YorkshireTea
Image credit: YorkshireTea

YorkshireTea is a very good website displaying simplicity combined with large fonts, and gesture based call to actions. With too many large size fonts, videos, and video buttons in the form of teapots at disposal, you are bound not to get mesmerized, unless you hate tea.

NeffAssociates
Image credit: NeffAssociates

NeffAssociates is a good combo of neat and clean design, combined with a highly effective animated effect. When you visit the homepage, you have text appearing, being deleted by itself, and new text appearing. This is to tell users that the related person knows everything, you want him to know.

4. No more hustle about pixels

Just a handful of people know, what a pixel is, and more importantly how 72 dpi pixels come together to form an inch. In case, if you are having a responsive design in place, you will get to see a whole lot of percentages and grids. However, there is still one area, which demands one heck of a challenge to deal with – bitmap images.

More than 90% websites built across the globe by far; have a resolution not even matching today’s modern display; lacking the scaling factor as well. In today’s world of modern browsers, and displays, it is time for the vector images to shine that gained momentum last year.

Google’s Material Design has already given a push to this trend, with icons that are font based. You not only have fast loading websites, but also scaling of images adjusts as per the requirements, without losing on the quality. This is an ideal situation, especially for designers to deal with modern web browsers.

Although the technology is present today, professionals need time to change habits, when it comes to building a top quality display. As soon as an average desktop transforms into a retina grade display, designers are bound to stick to this trend for long.

Lovefila
Image credit: Lovefila

Lovefila is an amazing instance of how picture perfect pixels can make a huge difference. When you open this particular homepage, you have too many high quality colors and pictures flooding your entire screen, allowing you to stay on the site for long, without letting your eyes off from screen.

5. Say “hello” to animations

Animations play a vital role in hiding the outdated style of your website behind “Under Construction” flash animations or GIFs. Animations give rise to storytelling, which make the entire user experience entertaining as well as interactive at the same time.

However, you have to play cautiously, while dealing with animations. Do not place them just about anywhere. Carefully carve the personality and other story elements revolving around animations. Let large-scale animations act as a primary interaction tool, like popup notifications or parallax scrolling, while allow small-scale animations to play a supporting role, like loading bars, hovering effects, spinners, etc.

WhiteClaw
Image credit: WhiteClaw

WhiteClaw is a wonderful example to understand this UI style. Herein, you have animated effects combined with parallax scrolling to give a magnificent effect. There are too many small-animated effects leading to the homepage leaving a major impact on user eyeballs while scrolling down.

6. Varied UI patterns proliferating ahead

Responsive design is great for your site, seen possibly on every single screen size. However, responsive design does carry a disadvantage of your site appearing same all along the way. Other reasons for responsive design losing its charm are website themes observing a surge, and the rise of WordPress based websites.

Having a similar appearance is not necessarily bad. However, design patterns have matured, and so do the user expectations. Still, you cannot expect a hell lot of innovations applicable to UI patterns.

A checkout will be checkout; a login form should look like a login form; etc. There is no use reinventing the wheel at every single place. Just ensure that UI patterns used should drive an absolute smooth experience for users. Let us look at few of those trends rocking in nowadays:

  • Hamburger Menu: When clicked, expands and shows submenus present within. Looks like a hamburger with a bunch of few short lines, and present at the top in almost all websites.
  • Registration Form: The most common trend found in 99% of websites, a gateway to register or signing into the website. The form is accompanied by create account, login, social login buttons, labels, and form fields.
  • Long Scrolling or Infinite Scrolling: While implementing lengthy scrolling or infinity scrolling, you need to be aware of using the space above and below the fold. Place all the significant elements above the fold for a quick view, while place the storytelling below the fold, keeping the element of surprise intact. Breaking the fold into two clear sections, will keep things organized, and allow for an eye-pleasing view.
  • Card Based Layout: Such a layout became highly popular with the inception of Pinterest, and later on implemented onto many sites. Each card represents a significant chunk of information, leading to a unified concept. Their rectangular shape makes it easier to rearrange the content containers, creating separate breakpoints.
  • Central Images: Vision is the strongest sense experienced by humans. Especially, HD images grab user attention right away. With advancement in data compression and bandwidth, it has become easier to avoid slower loading times, even with high quality images in place. A hero image, or a central image, placed above the fold, makes a nice long lasting impact on the first glance, followed by a card based layout, or creative sections.

StockX
Image credit: StockX

StockX is a wonderful example of how central images can make your ecommerce store exceptionally brilliant. You can see other trends all across the store, with infinite scrolling by exploring thousands of products, a card based style layout for depicting the products 3-5 products in infinite rows, and more.

2016 has lot in store…so just wait and watch!

2014 was the year when mobile use took over desktop use. However, still organizations first work on their desktop website, before creating a mobile website and a mobile app. 2015 saw a touch of professionalism with websites going minimal, and to the point, no matter present on desktop or mobile. Keywords became the buzz, with simpler sites grabbing user eyeballs.

With 2016 in progress, many of the trends that rocked 2015 such as flat design, responsive design, parallax scrolling, infinite scrolling, and more, will continue to rock even in 2016, with a pinch of enhanced creativity, simplicity, and interactivity. In addition, the incorporation of images, animations, motions, and blog posts, will be a common phenomenon, supporting UI/UX in favor of users.

If you have any other trends in mind, please feel free to post it within the comments section!

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RapidxHTML

10 Must Have Plugins That Will Make Your WordPress Site Do Wonders!!

WordPress Platform is the easiest way to make sites, as it does not require much coding and is fast and reliable.

10 Must Have Plugins That Will Make Your WordPress Site Do Wonders!!

There are some essential plugins which will not only help in making your site superfast and easy but will also provide great features to your site. Below are some plugins, which will make your site do Wonders!

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is one of most used SEO Plugin for WordPress. Currently it has more than 1 Million downloads, which says a lot about this plugin that how widely this plugin is getting used. Yoast SEO helps in making your site appear in search engines. It optimizes your site so that load times can be decrease, it provides and suggests different parameters, through which the content on your site can be improved, which will increase your website’s traffic. This plugin helps a site in many ways. If used properly, this plugin can really help in boosting your site up.This way Yoast SEO makes your site fully optimized with its essential features.

This plugin is Free to use but can be upgraded to a Premium Version, which will provide some extra features. But the free version is not any less than the premium (Paid) version.

Features:

  1. Snippet Preview
  2. Page Analysis
  3. Technical WordPress Search Engine Optimization
  4. Meta and Link Elements
  5. XML Sitemaps
  6. RSS Optimization
  7. Breadcrumbs
  8. Edit your .htaccess and robots.txt file
  9. Social Integration
  10. Multi-Site Compatible
  11. Import and Export functionality

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 4.3 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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2. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

W3 Cache is really useful plugin in increasing the performance of your site. For an instance, think that you are a user and you are visiting a site. And if that site is really slow to load then you will automatically switch to another site. If a site is slow to load, then it loses lots of site visitors and I am sure you do not want that sort of negative point for your site. So in order to gain visitors on your site along with good content, your site needs to be optimized in order to perform fast.

This plugin provides Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support. This plugin is designed to improve user’s experience and page speed. W3 Total Cache increases user’s experience by increasing server performance, reducing load times and providing transparent content delivery network.

This plugin has been used by various top level companies like AT&T, stevesouders.com, mattcutts.com, mashable.com, smashingmagazine.com, makeuseof.com, yoast.com, kiss925.com, pearsonified.com, lockergnome.com, johnchow.com, ilovetypography.com, css-tricks.com and tens of thousands of others.

Features:

  1. Comaptible with shared hosting, virtual private and dedicated servers.
  2. Transparent Content Delivery Network
  3. Significant caching for, page, database, disks, mobile support , feeds etc.

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 3.5.0 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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3. Page Builder by SiteOrigin

Page Builder by SiteOrigin

Page Builder by SiteOrigin is a really important plugin for improving the look and feel of your site.It is the most popular page creation plugin for WordPress. It’s a really easy and convenient plugin to use and provides responsive layouts. People who are not really good with HTML or CSS , can use this plugin to make their website pages look really responsive and elegant. It provides lots of features, which makes it really easy to customize any page or build website using this plugin.

Features:

  1. It works with your Theme
  2. No Coding required
  3. Live Editing
  4. History Browser
  5. Row and Widgets Styles
  6. Its Free and always will be
  7. Actively Developed
  8. Available in 17 languages

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 4.0 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 900,000+

Please Use Below Code to embed video tutorial for page builder.

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/114529361" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreenmozallowfullscreenallowfullscreen></iframe>

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4. Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps is really important plugin for indexing of your blogs and websites in major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com. If you use Google XML Sitemaps, it’s easy for crawlers to see the full structure of your site and retrieve it efficiently. This plugin really helps in getting your site listed and indexed in major search engines and it will benefit you site. As this can improve traffic on your website. This plugin supports all kind of WordPress pages and Custom URLs. This plugin has functionality of notifying all search engine about the new content you add to your site.

Features:

  1. Helps in indexing blogs and sites to major search engines
  2. Notifies search engines about the changes.
  3. Supports WordPress Pages and Custom URLs.

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 3.3 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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5. Advanced Custom Fields

Advanced Custom Fields

Advanced Custom Fields Plugin is really useful for people who wants to make a website by them own and the one who are using developer for their site development then it makes the developer work really quick and easy. This plugin makes the work really easy if you are trying to build CMS. It is best solution for a WordPress site which need flexible data like other Content Management System.

This plugin also comes in a pro version.

Features:

  1. Visually create your Fields
  2. Select from multiple input types (text, textarea, wysiwyg, image, file, page link, post object, relationship, select, checkbox, radio buttons, date picker, true / false, repeater, flexible content, gallery and more to come!)
  3. Assign your fields to multiple edit pages (via custom location rules)
  4. Easily load data through a simple and friendly API
  5. Uses the native WordPress custom post type for ease of use and fast processing
  6. Uses the native WordPress metadata for ease of use and fast processing

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 3.2 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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6. Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security plugin is super useful plugin if you want to secure your site from spam, hacks and malwares. It protects your site from all sort of things that brings harm to your site, especially potential hacks and malwares. It is the most downloaded WordPress Plugin, which brings no doubt about this plugin, when it comes to reliability.

This plugin has constantly updated threat defense feed and its Web Application Firewall stops your site from getting hacked. It gives alerts if it finds that any kind of threats to your site. This plugin is 100% free and Open Source but it also comes in a premium version.

Features:

  1. WordPress Firewall
  2. Blocking Features
  3. Login Security
  4. Security Scanning
  5. Monitoring Feature
  6. Multi-Site Security
  7. Caching Feature
  8. IPv6 Compatible
  9. Major Themes and Plugins Supported

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 3.9 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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7. WP-PageNavi

WP-PageNavi

WP-PageNavi Plugin is very useful plugin if you want to improve the layout of your website and if you would like to design it in a fancy and fascinating way. Then this plugin will absolutely help you in doing so. It provides more advanced paging navigation interface. If you are bored with old page navigation and want to provide better user experience by improving your Page Navigation User Interface. Then WP-PageNavi is the best plugin for improving pagination interface.This plugin provides the wp_pagenavi() template tag which generates fancy pagination links.

Features:

  1. Fancy User Interface
  2. Advanced Paging Navigation Interface

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 3.2 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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8. TinyMCE Advanced

TinyMCE Advanced

TinyMCE Advanced is useful plugin for your site as it helps in enabling advanced features of TinyMCE, the WordPress WYSIWYG editor.This plugin allows you to add, remove and arrange buttons that are shown on Visual Editor Toolbar.This way you can customize your site according to your requirements and that too be without any hassle as it provides 15 plugins for TinyMCE that are automatically enabled and disabled depending on what buttons are choosen.With this plugin , you have the capability to manipulate your site with utmost ease from changing font size, colors to editing tables and various stuffs.This plugin is very useful for designing custom sites.

Features:

  1. Support for creating and editing tables.
  2. More options when inserting lists.
  3. Search and Replace in the editor.
  4. Ability to set Font Family and Font Size.
  5. And many others.

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 4.5 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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9. Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights is really useful plugin for getting insights of your site and those insights will help you improve and increase traffic on your site. If you have a site, then it’s really important to track down every single detail about your site like how many visitor visited your site ?what are the traffic channels? What are the demographics? Etc. etc. And this plugin will help you track down all the details and insights for your site.This plugin connects Google Analytics with WordPress by adding your Google Analytics tracking code and then it shows you statistics of all the required data.

Features:

  1. Simple installation through integration with Google Analytics API: authenticate, select the site you want to track and you’re done.
  2. This plugin uses the universal or the asynchronous Google Analytics tracking code, the fastest and most reliable tracking code Google Analytics offers.
  3. Gives you incredibly nice visitor metric dashboards right in your WordPress install.
  4. Option to enable demographics and interest reports.
  5. Outbound link & downloads tracking.

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 3.5 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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10. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is one of the widely used plugin for creating forms or contact forms for a website. It is really useful plugin for every site as there is a need of creating contact form in every site. It is a really flexible, simple and easy to use plugin and you can quickly create contact form or any other forms for your website using this plugin.

This plugin can manage multiple contact form and you can have as much number of contact forms as you want using this plugin on your website. If you create 20 forms on a single site, then Contact Form 7 will be able to manage all the 20 forms on your site. Forms created by Contact Form 7 plugin supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.

Features:

  1. Simple and Easy to Use
  2. Flexible in making changes

Essential Statistics:

  • WordPress Version Required: 4.3 or Higher
  • WordPress Version Compatible up to: 4.5.2
  • Active Install: 1+ Million

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Top 20 Must Have Tools For Freelancers

Being the freelancer means having the freedom to be your own boss, subordinate, cleaner and accountant. So for the price of having the freedom to decide when to wake up or when to take your vacation you must master many skills that you haven’t thought of before.

Top 20 Must Have Tools For Freelancers

Thankfully, there are many websites and software that can help you in the never-ending process of becoming better and more efficient.

As an experienced freelancer, I sincerely believe that these amazing tools will make you the most desired and productive professional in your field.

Write Like a Wall Street Journal Pro

Many of you have already realized that having the gift of writing well can pay off. But even if you aren’t making a living doing translations or writing content, working for yourself will most likely require a lot of writing anyway: presenting yourself and your services, crafting business proposals, compiling briefs – all this is something you will have to do daily.

So here are the tools that will help you master and perfect your writing skills:

1. DarkRoom for PC or Calmly Writer (online)

DarkRoom

One of the biggest challenges you face when writing is staying away from distractions and focusing solely on your text. These software creations virtually turn your computer into a typing machine and let nothing steal your mind from the fun of writing long sentences and endless amounts of letters.

A little personal hint: Even though these apps are quite more functional than their other counterparts, I still advise that you use Word or Pages to format the text to perfection.

2. Strict WorkFlow

Strict WorkFlow

Having a fresh brain is crucial for good quality writing. This add-on doesn’t only block all the distracting Internet websites that steal your focus, it also sets you on the right working cycle track: work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break (so-called Pomodoro productivity technique).

Working like this you a) break your task into tangible parts to constantly feel the progress achieved and b) develop a regular working schedule that becomes your habit.

3. Readability

Readability

Reading long articles like this one isn’t the only wordish thing you will have to consume on a daily basis. We all know that to stay wanted on the market and aggressively pursue new clients you will need to be up-to-date with modern trends and skills.

This software will make any big text (be it an encyclopedia or a client tender invitation) more pleasant to your eyes and attractive to your brain.

4. Controlled multi-tab browsing or TooManyTabs (Chrome)

TooManyTabs

Proper research is the basis of a good text, however, having too many tabs is a bad habit we all tend to give in to. These add-ons restrict the number of tabs you can open at one time (as in case with Controlled multi-tab browsing add-on) or allow you to review them all in one place and put the least relevant ones into the reading list for later.

Manage Your Projects Like Steve Jobs

The quality of your work and your reputation gave you the courage to try working on your own, but the more business you get (which I hope will happen to you sooner than you except), the more complicated it becomes to manage it. How to set pricing policy? How to manage subcontractors? How to position your services?

It will become a lot easier to deal with all these concerns thanks to these tools:

5. US Small Business Administration Learning Center

US Small Business Administration Learning Center

There is a long list of courses and study materials for freelancers that teach you how to run your business effectively. Why I personally like it is that it’s short enough to manage while working like crazy, yet only practical things and quick solutions can be found here.

Browsing these online materials you will learn how to pitch clients and have them pay you in desired amounts, how to fight competitors, find good contractors and many more useful self-employed management things.

6. Rescue Time

Rescue Time

The app allows you to analyze and improve your productivity. This is important if you want to know what “steals” your time from work and how many hours you spend on each project for smart invoicing.

Only a week after installing it, I was shocked at what websites took over 10% of my working day and had to give up the projects that cost me less than $5 per one invested hour. It can also serve as a good productivity control tool to monitor your contractors.

7. Telegram

Telegram

Telegram is a great solution for quick and effective communication between your team members. It allows you to chat, share files or raw program parts and synchronizes with all devices you use: phone, tablet and computer.

It is a great alternative to Skype, which can act out on the mobile devices and Viber or Whatsapp, that don’t work in all the countries.

8. Chrome to Phone (Chrome) or Site to Phone (Mozilla)

Site to Phone

Having the flexibility to work wherever and whenever you feel like is an unbeatable plus of freelancing. With these apps you can easily send all your working tabs to your mobile device and keep on reading it on the way to the meeting or in bed.

9. Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk

This is a truly smart to-do tool, which will never let you miss a thing. It synchronizes with your mail and all mobile devices and even comes up with a task-specific schedule for you.

When it comes to to-do lists, two things I suggest to keep in mind: 1) make sure the app synchronizes with all your devices and 2) insist that all the team members use the same software.

Keep Your Finances Under Close Control

When a couple of years ago I decided to quit a well-paying job, one of my friends told me “Congratulations! You are a freelancer now – you don’t have a paycheck to live to each month… that is if you have any income at all”. Relying on yourself only for monthly income can be a good and a bad thing at the same time. The bad thing is that your money is not only yours anymore – there are a bunch of bills and third-party services to pay, such as website subscriptions, web hosting and etc. Plus, even after executing the project with flying colors, you won’t get paid until you bill the client properly.

So unless you are willing to pay for the outsourcing, financial accounting should become your best friend from now on.

10. Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting

This software for small entrepreneurs is great in terms of invoicing your clients, keeping track of project expenses (and your personal expenditures as well!) and predicting profits. It is easy to use and has all the necessary functions to make you a fully functional business, yet not to overwhelm your mind with unnecessary accounting stuff.

11. Shake

Shake

This tool will make your introduction into contract drafting much easier and stress-free. The program works with both pre-existing contracts, as well as allows you draft a completely new text together with your team or clients.

12. LegalZoom

LegalZoom

I am assuming if you are reading this article, you already have some experience in freelancing and decided to keep going down this adventurous road. So at this point you will have to organize your affairs in official manner, and LegalZoom can clarify a lot of issues regarding that.

Become a Web Specialist for a Change

You might not be a web developer, but if you don’t have a website or a blog, you might as well don’t exist on the professional market at all. A simple WordPress website is quite easy and cheap to manage, provided you know how to do it right and avoid mistakes that take a lot of time and money to fix.

That is why I suggest you master the following tools:

13. Squarespace

Squarespace

You will never believe the kind of websites you can do here having zero programming background! It allows you to choose from thousands of predefined templates, set a special domain name, give you tips and suggestions on search engine optimization and much more.

14. AutoPilot

AutoPilot

Having a well-known Google Analytics tool integrated into your website allows you to track the users behavior on your platforms. Once you know that, Autopilot offers you a wide range of marketing tools to widen the audience, guide them all the way to the desired outcome (purchase or subscribe button) and get larger publicity.

If you are wondering how to unite your SEO, social media and blogging efforts into one big sale pitch, then Autopilot is the place for you to be.

15. Web Designer Depot

Web Designer Depot

This is an interesting blog that is full of useful materials on how to make your digital presence more functional and appealing. You can benefit from the most recent cases, inspiring themes and live chat with experienced (and not so) professionals in this area.

16. Google Voice

Google Voice

If you expect to be contacted by the phone, this tool lets you be connected to your customers anywhere. Easily set up a toll-free or local phone number, record custom greeting or automated message and receive calls directly to your existing mobile!

17. Google Alerts

Google Alerts

This tool is a powerful business helper when it comes to monitoring what other people (customers and competitors) are saying about you. Smart freelancers also use this tool to monitor their clients before submitting the proposal or to identify people who you want to be talking about you.

18. Mailer Lite

Mailer Lite

Once you have your website up and running, it’s high time to start hitting your potential clients with email marketing. Mailer Lite is a great alternative to well-known AWeber: it knows a lot about email marketing and can send out any kind of newsletter or special offer almost automatically.

Design Like the Best Ogilvy Minds Work for You

… Because appearances are everything, right?

19. Proppy

Proppy

Never underestimate the power of professional and attractive proposals. Even if it’s just for a $100 project. Even if it is going into the mail of a long-time client. Using this software having polished new business bids is pleasant and doesn’t take much time at all.

20. Rafal Tomal Design Blog

Rafal Tomal Design Blog

This blog of a practicing designer and web developer is an endless source of inspiration and practical solutions on how to convey a specific message with your design and convert your audience to desired action.

All these tools represent just a little bid of things that you can use in order to be more effective and demanded by clients. Not all of them are free, some require very little investment in terms of return you get and you know already that every sustainable business model must bring profits, right? And what are your secret tools that make your daily freelancing life easier and better?

Visit us at InstantShift.com

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[Freebie] Free Mobile UI Kit for iOS & Android

It’s been a while since mobile experiences are overtaking desktop usage greatly, which brings UI design to be a key element for any project.

[Freebie] Free Mobile UI Kit for iOS & Android

Sure, you can’t create good design elements for your daily projects, but nothing could be better than getting something for free, right? Here at InstantShift, we love to give away things for free.

Today, We have teamed up with the creative folks at VectorOpenStock to give you some amazing design freebies.

About Mobile UI Kit

This useful Mobile UI kit, designed by VectorOpenStock, offers four different styles of interfaces combining simple designs, trendy colors, and flat icons. Go for one of these options and you won’t fail! Enjoy trying different styles and decide which one works best for your project. The kit comes in a zip file including .ai and .jpg formats, fully customizable. Suitable for Android and iOS.

Creative minds at VectorOpenStock daily create loads of free graphics including icons, backgrounds, textures, mockups, logos, frames and groovy stuff in a wide array of styles and techniques. Visit them!

Download Mobile UI Kit for Free!

By downloading this UI kit, it is vital that you understood the following terms and conditions:

  • You can use this UI kit on as many domain names as you wish. You may use them for your clients’ projects/websites. Number of projects is not limited.
  • You may not claim intellectual and exclusive ownership to any of the design elements included in this UI kit. Also you may not sub-license the original UI kit and their individual files to and with anyone else, unless a specific license within the UI kit states otherwise.
  • You may modify them. However, you may not modify and then resell.
  • You must give appropriate credit. Do not provide the direct download link nor upload this UI kit onto other servers for your own share. If you want to share the UI kit, you can link back to this article page or location of this article.

Mobile UI Kit

 

More Freebies Resources!

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9 Newly Released Plugins That Boomed WordPress

It is so hard to stand out from the crowd nowadays. Whether you cook, dance, design clothes or create things around on the web, you have to be truly amazing to stand apart. The competition seems to be endless in every single aspect of our life and it takes a lot of guts and hard work to get where the others have failed to.

9 Newly Released Plugins That Boomed WordPress

The exact same principle applies to WordPress. There are thousands of plugins and themes out there in the WordPress directory, but only a few of them can be identified as absolute champions, which have gained popularity and build a solid community of users around them.

Sometimes, however, some newly-released plugins also manage to make a splash in the WordPress directory and generate an impressive number of installs within a short period of time. It is with high quality and advanced functionality that they are able to attract thousands of users.

I was consciously watching out for such plugins since the start of the year and the good news is that I have compiled a short list of some great ones that really boomed WordPress.org and skyrocketed the number of their installs shortly after being released. Here you have them!

Google Maps WD

Google Maps WD

Google Maps WD is a truly advanced WordPress plugin, which allows you to add unlimited responsive Google maps to your website. With such a great number of Google map plugins out there, this one stands out with its high customization options, unique and advanced features. Once you install the plugin the configuration wizard will take you through some of the basic settings to help you get started. The plugin supports Road, Traffic, Satellite, Terrain and Hybrid map styles and comes with the essential Google maps controls. You can add unlimited markers to the maps and spice them up with colorful overlays, skins, themes and various icons that you can custom create with the available icon builder.

Add bicycle, traffic and transit layers to the maps to show the situation on the roads in a particular area. One of its most advanced features is the store locator functionality, perfect for pinpointing several locations in within a specific area of interest. Want to suggest directions to the marked locations? Not a problem. Enable the directions feature in the settings and it will suggest driving, walking,bicycling or transit routes to the destination point. What sets this plugin apart is its live preview feature which allows you to see in real time what your maps look like before they go online. It saves much time and helps you create outstanding Google maps with ease.

Download Plugin

Duplicate page

Duplicate page

Want to cut the time on creating similar posts and pages? Meet Duplicate Page WordPress plugin, a super-fast and easy to use tool that allows you to duplicate your website posts and pages with literally a single click. Once you instal and activate the plugin a “duplicate this” feature appears below the post/page editing options.

The duplicated posts and pages preserve the preset options, such as status, visibility, categories and tags. The plugin also duplicates custom post types, such as calendar events, reviews, etc. Isn’t this cool? I know it is. That’s the reason the number of the installs of this plugin skyrocketed within a short period of time.

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Social Share

Social Share

With such a great number of social sharing plugins out there, one should really stand apart to capture the users’ interest. That’s exactly what Social Share plugin did, as it is a really cutting edge plugin worth giving a try. Within a short period of time it was able to generate a considerable number of installs. What it basically offers are responsive social sharing buttons with some awesome features, such as, various icon designs, over 15 icon themes, animations, placement options and live preview possibility.

You just select the social networks that you want your content to get shared on, and get down to configuring the buttons. Choose from the available skin options, select the icons position and alignment, create a call to action message with the preferred typography font and you’re good to go.

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WIP Custom Login

WIP Custom Login

Tired of boring login pages that look so much alike? Well, get distinguished! New WIP Custom Login plugin provides an easy way to transform the login page of your website and give it a unique look. Once you install the plugin you’ll get a great deal of customizing options. I managed to create a beautiful login page within a matter of a few minutes with a custom background color, image background, login form font, login box text color and width, and other settings that most fitted my website. It’s not surprising how this super cool plugin beat thousands of installs in literally a couple of weeks since it was released.

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WP Broken Links Status Checker

WP Broken Links Status Checker

Scan your website content, images, comments and custom fields for broken links, link redirections and no-follow warnings with WP Broken Links status Checker. It is a new, yet advanced tool, which allows you to perform full and thorough scans of your website and inspect links that are not working properly. The plugin crawls your website with the pre-configured scan settings that you’d defined and has tons of scan configuration options and filters to make the most out of it.

First you set the general scanning options, then you’re free to choose which content and post types you want to scan. You don’t have to wait until the scanning is complete to dive into the results as they are shown immediately. Are there any broken links detected ? Easily change the link URL or anchor text, replace/unlink the URL, insert no-follow attributes, etc, right from the results section. Judging from the number of its installs users found it truly useful.

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Tabs Responsive

Tabs Responsive

What new Tabs Responsive plugin is best at is letting you create unlimited responsive tabs with WYSIWYG editor. You can add image, music and videos to the tabs and spice them up with some cool animation effects. All the features of the tabs are highly customizable so that you can give them the coloring, style, alignment, animations, description font size that you’d like. You can also configure how the tabs are displayed on mobile devices, set margin space between two tabs, choose an icon for every single tab, etc.

With the available shortcodes you can insert the tabs anywhere on your website, and if you also want to feature the tabs on your sidebars just add the tabs widget to any of the widget areas. Maybe it is its simple use with drag and drop functionality that made the users like it.

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File Manager

File Manager

File Manager made quite a really big splash in the WordPress directory. Since the day it was added to the directory back in February, hundreds of users got to downloading it on a daily basis. It basically enables you to fully manage every single file on your website from the comfort of your dashboard. You can perform all types of operations with files and folders such as upload, download, delete files and folders, create/copy/edit/rename/archive/extract files.

The best thing about the plugin is that it supports user specific permissions and roles for the file/folder management, so that you can control who can access your files and perform any operations. The major drawback of the plugin, however, is that most of its features are available only in the paid version.

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Elementor Page Builder

Elementor Page Builder

As the developers claim, Elementor Page Builder provides the easiest way to turn your ideas and thoughts into a live website. With its intuitive and clean interface, instant drag and drop functionality and live frontend preview options building pages will be as simple as writing a blog post. The created pages are responsive, so you’ll not have to spend twice as much time on creating desktop and mobile versions of a single page.

You can add high-end design elements, such as, parallax scroll effect to the pages, and also create slide in forms, custom buttons and header, full-width background images, etc. Without any single HTML code or CSS you’ll be able to create cool pages that perform out of the box on any WordPress theme.

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Social Pug

Social Pug

Yet another new but truly advanced social sharing plugin that has generated an impressive number of installs shortly after it made its first appearance in WordPress.og. It enables you to add retina-ready social sharing buttons to your posts in various locations. The floating social bars will follow the users as they scroll up or down the page, and the share counts will give you valuable insight about which of your posts get the most shares and engagement.

Moreover, with the integrated Google analytics UTM you can track where your traffic comes from. The share buttons support custom coloring and shortcodes so that you can place them anywhere on your blog or website. However, the free version of the plugin is somewhat limited in its functionality and you’ll have to pay to get all of its cool features.

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It’s not easy to embrace the label of a “best” plugin at once. If you really want to stand out you’ll have to demonstrate an exceptional quality and super advanced functionality. These WordPress plugins are a great example of both and the number of their installs speaks from itself. If you have used or currently using any of these plugins on your website, please let us know which of their features you like the most and why you’ve chosen that one over the other available options.

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