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Get your website ready for Christmas

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Tis the season to be jolly, it’s also the season where your website could pick up a lot of extra traffic so here are a few tips to help you keep your website up and running over the festive period

Make sure your site is running quickly

People won’t hang around and wait for slow pages to load so make sure that your site is up to speed and running smoothly.

Look into compressing your files:

CSS Compression

Javascript Compression

Run a page speed test to see how long it’s taking your page to load:

Mobile Speed Checker from Google

Page Speed Insights from Google

Add some seasonal designs to your website

There’s a list of JQuery plugins and tutorials at JQueryRain.com so you can add falling snow to your website.

Sitepoint has a list of 10 JQuery Christmas Effects including Christmas Lights, Advent Calendar and a Santa Cursor.

You can also go down the simple route and add something like a Santa hat to your logo, or Christmas up your header (see my example in the image below).

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 02.16.24

Whatever you add though, make sure that it doesn’t detract from the content on your website. Falling snow can distract people from being able to read your content so you may want to keep it to a minimum!

Special Offers or Seasonal Promotions

If you’re running an e-commerce website, think about adding free gift wrapping to all orders over a certain size, or put together gift bundles for people to buy.

Don’t forget to do upsells and recommendations. At Christmas people will be more likely to upgrader product choices if it’s presented to them.

Be clear about delivery dates, and keep people informed

People won’t buy if they’re not sure the item will arrive before Christmas. Make sure you have an express delievry option that people can choose. Notify your customers by email when items are dispatched and what the extimated delivery date is. That will stop them clogging up customer support with simple queries.

Have a Customer Service Plan in Place

The last thing you want is for your customers to take to social media to publicly complain when they have a problem because no-one is available to help them over Christmas.

If you’re a small business you’re not going to be able to employ people to man customer support over the holidays while you take a (much needed) break.

Look at creating a section of your website for Frequently Asked Questions. Most queries tend to follow the same patterns (when will my item be delivered, how can I recover my password) so hopefully this will filter out the less than urgent enquiries.

For more serious issues you can provide a email address for people to use. If you use this option I’d recommed setting up an auto-responder so that your customer knows that their email had been received. Also let them know that you are operating on shorter working hours over the holidays but their query will be dealt with. You could also look into providing an online helpdesk system to assist you in managing support tickets.

If your website has quite an active community, think about adding a forum so that users can help each other. This fosters a further sense of community and also takes some of the pressure off of you to deal with all the enquiries.

Don’t forget your social media

Let all of your customers and visitors know via your Blog, facebook page, Twitter etc. what your special deals are, how to get hold of you over the festive period and when service will be back to normal. Being informed will often stop people flying off the handle if they have a problem with something.

Don’t forget to enjoy the festive period

Hopefully with the above in place, your websites will pretty much manage themselves barring the odd issue. Don’t sit staring at your email client or phone just in case a support email comes in. Check email at set times and enjoy the rest of the time with your family. Unless you’re looking for a reason to get away from them – but that’s probably a topic for a whole different blog post!

 

Have a Merry Christmas, and a prosperous and Happy 2015

What is a Dedicated Server?

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Unlike shared hosting where you have multiple users’ websites on one server, or a virtual private server (VPS) where you have multiple operating system instances for different customers running from one server, a dedicated server is for a single customer.

As with a VPS, you have root access to the operating system, can install any software you need, host multiple websites and configure the server to your specifications however as there are no other users this type of server is more secure and you also have the whole of the server’s bandwidth to yourself.

This is really useful for traffic intensive websites, gaming servers, or a business that needs to run bespoke software.

Also, as a dedicated server is used just for one customer, there is no issue with another website over-using resources or taking the whole server down and taking your site offline.

You can view more detailed information about the server types KWWD offers using the links below:

What are Virtual Private Servers (VPS)?

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When you host a website on a standard hosting setup, it’s usually on what is known as a shared server. This means that multiple websites are run from that web server and you share its resources with other website owners.

This provides great low-cost hosting if you’re running a site that doesn’t have a lot of traffic or use a lot of resources however if your site is a high traffic site – or is on a shared server with another site that gets a lot of traffic – this can really slow the response time of your site down.

Even with Cloud Hosting, each shared hosting package has limitations on CPU usage, RAM and bandwidth available.

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is half-way between a shared server and a dedicated server in that there are multiple websites hosted on the same server, but they’re in their own Virtual Environment using their own operating systems programs and resources.

The Benefits of VPS Hosting:

  • Your website is hosted separately from other sites so it’s private.
  • You can choose your own operating system and can customise the services and programs that run on the VPS
  • You can access your server directly at any time
  • You can restart your server when you need to without affecting any other websites
  • You have a dedicated about of RAM available to your server so you’re not sharing it with anyone else
  • Better up time. If another website on the VPS goes down it’s in its own environment so, unlike a shared server it’s won’t affect your site(s).
  • You can run multiple sites from one server

So, if you need more server resources and you don’t want the cost of running a dedicated server then a VPS is the best choice for you.

Check out our hosting packages using the links below:

What is cloud hosting?

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“The Cloud” seems to be the buzz word of the moment: if you’re not offering Cloud Services then you’re not operating in the 21st century.

The weird thing is, the cloud isn’t a newly invented technology, it’s been around for ages – almost since the start of the web. In fact one of the very first companies I worked for in 1999 offered what we’d now call “Cloud Hosting”, back then it was called something along the lines of “Multiple Redundancy Severs with automatic failover backup systems”. Not quite so catchy huh?

What is Cloud Hosting?

Simply put, all of your web services (hosting, ftp, email etc.) are spread across many different servers meaning that if one server goes down, your services are still available to use. These servers could be based in the same data centre, or situated in a different county or even country.

Additionally, resources are allocated as they are needed rather than being set at a particular level. So, if you have a blog post that gets featured on the front page of Reddit, additional servers can kick in to manage the extra traffic and bandwidth usage for the 24 hours that your article becomes super popular.

Below is a very basic graphic (click for a larger version) showing how cloud hosting works. The user’s request hits the hosting server, this request is then passed on to the appropriate server (and if required data centre):

cloud_hosting

What should I consider when buying Cloud Hosting?

When running websites in “The Cloud”, you’re essentially being allocated space on a server that could be hosting multiple websites. This makes a cloud hosting solution relatively cheap but limits what you are allowed to run on your server, and what access you have to it. If you need to run bespoke programs, or have command level access to the sever then you should be considering Dedicated Servers or a Virtual Private Server

Also, if you’re in the United Kingdom, server location can be a very important factor. According to UK Data protection rules, you are not allowed to transport personal data outside the European Economic Area. Just because a hosting provider is based in the UK, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their servers are based here.

At KWWD, all of our servers are based in the UK so you can be safe in the knowledge you won’t have any issues with the data protection act in terms of transmitting customer data outside the EEA.

Another important factor in whether cloud hosting is suitable for you is if you are required to run a PCI compliant website. If so, it may not be feasible to run your website or applicate on a shared server and you would need to look at a dedicated server instead.

How do I know what server is right for me?

If you’re running a simple website or blog, then our Cloud Hosting solution should be perfectly adequate for your needs. If you’re looking at running something a bit more complicated, please contact me for a no obligation chat and we’ll discuss your web hosting needs.

You can find out more information on the topics in this post using the links below:

 

Off- topic : Like my rubbishly drawn graphic above? You should check out my Badly Drawn Cartoons Website – they get worse!

KWWD Launches new website

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basic_cmsKWWD is pleased to announce the launch of its new website.

Fully rebuilt from the ground up, customers can now purchase domain names and hosting online, view and raise support tickets and view industry related content.

Katy Whitton is now offering website design and development, e-commerce development, training, social media management and maintenance.

Contact Me now for a free, no obligation quote or just a chat to discuss your website needs.

WordPress & MySQL – Query Database

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Here $wpdb->get_results will fetch associative array of values ... multiple values

either you need to loop through each of them using

$sql = "SELECT * FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type='video'";
$results = $wpdb->get_results($sql) or die(mysql_error());    
if (count($results) > 0) {
    $display_row = null;
    foreach ($results as $res) {
         echo "id - " . $res->id;
    }
} 
or if you're expecting only one row, then try this

$result = $wpdb->get_row($sql);
echo "id - "$result->id;

CSS – Add icons to links

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/* All Links */
 a[href $='.pdf'] { 
   padding-right: 18px;
   background: transparent url(icon_pdf.gif) no-repeat center right;
}

/* Specific Links */

.customPage li a[href $='.pdf'] { 
   margin: 3px 0px 3px -10px;
   background: transparent url(../templateimages/rebrand/pdf_icon.gif) no-repeat center left;
   
}