Announcing the winner of the Best WordPress theme award!

Announcing the winner of the Best WordPress theme award!

Ok so maybe there isn’t a best theme award, but at Northern Enterprise Solutions we think there should be! 

In the digital age, it is crucial for business, big or small, to have an informative and beautifully-designed website. The easiest way to do so is to use an attractive multipurpose WordPress theme. Among them, the king is Divi, powered by Divi Builder and regarded as a reliable front-end editor. While there is a lot of feature-rich WordPress templates out there, we think Divi is your pick of the litter because:

User-friendly interface

Unlike many premium WordPress themes, Divi doesn’t need any more WordPress plugins to operate. Don’t let the simplistic  Divi Builder appearance fool you, in fact, that’s part of the beauty of Divi, for as easy as it is to use, it’s also just as powerful and flexible. Also, Divi Builder has a customizable interface that enables you to adjust elements according to your needs (no other WordPress page builders offer this at the moment).

In terms of ease of use, few can rival Divi Builder for now. You can perform basic tasks such as adding a new row, importing/exporting layouts, dragging and dropping or inserting headers/footers more smoothly than ever before. So if you can play Solitaire on your computer you can use Divi.

 

Diverse layouts

Divi Builder offers up to 46 elements of contents. With powerful and diverse options like YouTube, audio player, blog, portfolio and so on. So you can build just about anything with the click of a few buttons with full control over how it all looks.

But if designing a website makes your head swim, Divi has you covered.  Currently boasting more than 140 appealing pre-designed layouts filled with original photos and illustrations that the Divi design team themselves created. Moreover, new layouts are added every week, offering customers a wide variety of choices.

But what is really wonderful is that Divi places all of those amazing photos and illustrations in the public domain, thus allowing users to apply them freely on commercial projects without any copyrights problems. Divi divides the layouts into complete website packs, each of which is tailor-made for a specific type of website. Therefore, your job is merely to search the perfect design within the builder, import it and input your content.

 

Advanced features

So Divi’s pretty cool yeah? Well, it keeps on delivering, even with the advanced stuff to help you get the most from your website. The Divi Builder offers a lot of professional features, notably split testing (reducing bounce rates and increase conversions by displaying multiple layout variations of your page track visitor’s reactions), real-time design (change is updated instantly), responsive editing (allowing you to make your website more compatible with mobile devices) and universal translation (full support for 32 languages). BOOM!

 

Superb security and performance

You can also rest assured that Divi is strong and secure. It works with Sucuri.net to rigorously test every single theme and updates and no issues have been found so far. Websites built with Divi Builder have impressive performance with low loading time even when performance optimization is not added, ensuring a pleasant user experience.

 

Great price – Great bargain

Did you know Northern Enterprise Solutions provides WordPress theme transfers? If you’re a small business owner with a WordPress website, we can transfer your content into a Divi theme for just $175! Get in contact today to arrange your theme transfer and access all of these features.

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Gutenberg: The Next Big Thing For WordPress

Gutenberg: The Next Big Thing For WordPress

Gutenberg is the next big thing for WordPress

WordPress has been the most popular content management system (CMS) for bloggers and website designers for the past 15 years. Despite its revolutionary status, WordPress hasn’t changed its visual editor much. Not anymore. The hotly-anticipated Gutenberg has arrived and here is everything you need to know.

What is the Gutenberg WordPress editor?

The editor is named after Johannes Gutenberg, whose invention of the printing press half a millennial ago revolutionised the way knowledge and information was stored and exchanged, just like WordPress now. Though Gutenberg is only available as a plugin, for the time being, it will be integrated with WordPress 5.0.

Gutenberg is a new visual editor for WordPress. It is intended to make it easier for users, especially WordPress beginners, to modify the visual presentation of the website content. Currently, WordPress layouts require you to use a lot of shortcodes, metaboxes and HTML, which is as tedious for many of us as History of Magic for Hogwarts students.

Therefore, Gutenberg’s embrace of building blocks simplifies the process and makes it look like Quidditch. It enables you to add contents in blocks of many types from the WordPress backend and easily create searchable flow.

Gutenberg is not yet a page builder as it doesn’t support properly important features like drag and drop or nested blocks. However, those features and many more advanced layout options may be included in subsequent versions. Once in effect, Gutenberg will supersede TinyMCE as the default content editor though TinyMCE will still be used in some respects.

 

Can I download and use it now?

To be clear first, Gutenberg is still under development and is not ready to be released yet. But you can contribute a little to its making trying out the demo and leave comments and feedback in the WordPress support forum or open an issue on GitHub or join the discussions in #core-editor on the core WordPress Slack.

WordPress version 4.8 is required to use Gutenberg. To download it, go to the WordPress repository or search in your WordPress dashboard under “Add New” plugins. Don’t forget to install this on a test site or use staging environment of your host as Gutenberg is still a beta version.

 

Why should I care about it?

Because Gutenberg has the following advantages:

–    Content blocks: The use of the structure makes the editor extremely easy to work with, especially for beginners. Building a website will be just like playing with LEGO sets. Gutenberg is better than LEGO, however, because you can create your content blocks.

–    Perfect compatibility with mobile phone platform: Gutenberg has excellent performance on mobile phones. Do you have a new idea for your website display and nothing else but a smartphone on hand? No problem.

–    Integrity: you can have a friendly divorce with Gutenberg because your site won’t break if you uninstall it.  You can also have a happy blended family as you can edit in Gutenberg content created by the classic editor and vice versa.

–    Formatting retainment: You can copy and paste while keeping formatting settings such as lists, headings, bold text, etc.

 

I am a website owner. What are the new things I can do?

–    Collaborative editing: If you ever have a group of writers contribute to the same post, you may experience the frustration that only one writer can work at the time because of the post locking feature. While this prevents overwriting, it causes a lot of job delays. Now it is a thing of the past as Gutenberg’s block structure enables you to lock individual blocks only, allowing multiple people to work on different parts of a post freely.

–    Block and embed discovery: You can look for content blocks of various kinds, such as Facebook embed or a custom template more easily. It is also possible to create custom content blocks.

–    A standardised approach to page building: Gutenberg will focus on site creation. As a result, there will be a standardised approach to native WordPress page building. You can use Field Manager, Advanced Custom Fields, or a customised solution to create page builders for section fronts or marketing pages.

–    High level of personalisation: Block structure allows you to deliver content according to your needs. For example, you can create suitable content blocks for different kind of site visitors.

 

But what is the catch?

There are not many.

–    Gutenberg is not complete, yet so you may face some performance issues like lack of support for metaboxes, shortcodes and content output using HTML 5 tags.

–    There can be backward compatibility problems, especially for TinyMCE – integrated themes and plugins.

–    The accessibility of Gutenberg is also a serious issue, but it will be indeed fixed in the official edition.

 

Last words

WordPress creators have decided that Gutenberg will become the official editor for WordPress. That means when Gutenberg is officially integrated with WordPress core, you won’t be able to turn it off. Therefore, it makes great sense to start learning about the new editor as soon as possible. So what are you waiting for?

Northern Enterprise Solutions are the official WordPress Community Coordinators. Our development team are on standby to help you with all of your WordPress and Gutenberg requirements. Get in contact to talk about 3 pages for $175.

 

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Cloud computing : what the heck is it & how does it impact on my business?

Cloud computing : what the heck is it & how does it impact on my business?

Is Cloud Computing right for your business? What about those Data Breach Changes? Considering cloud computing but you’re concerned about the pitfalls, like security and flexibility? Here’s the information you’re looking for!

What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a method of managing and storing data, in the same way, you would on your computer or local server but via the internet in a virtual environment called the cloud. You use the internet to connect your device to the cloud, but the internet is just the connection – the cloud is where your data lives.

What’s this about data breach changes?
The Australian Federal Government has made important changes to the National Privacy Act, which impact on many small businesses. From 22 February 2018, businesses with an annual turnover of more than $3 million are required to comply with the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme under the Privacy Act 1988. A data breach occurs when unauthorised personal information is accessed or released. If the breach is likely to cause serious harm to an individual, businesses are obligated to notify both the individual involved and the Office of Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
You can learn more about the changes here

What are the advantages and disadvantages of cloud platforms?
Lots of people use cloud platforms. You may already be using them and not be aware that they are ‘cloud-based’. Cloud-based software makes it easier to share work across multiple sites and rolls. Xero is a cloud-based program that enables you, your account and your bookkeeper to access and work on your business finances. Also, you don’t need to install it on your computer, you generally just pay a registration fee.

However, there has been much controversy surrounding the security and reliability of the public cloud. For example, Microsoft Office 365 users experienced a server outage on December 3rd 2015. Which meant that their cloud-based services were inaccessible. So is it safe? High-profile data breaches at Target, Home Depot and in the Apple iCloud received a lot of media attention. However, the media ignored that all three breaches were a result of human error, not shortcomings in the Cloud.

If you’d like more information on what you can do to increase your cloud security, the Australian Department of Defence gives you lots of useful information here.

The main concerns for many thinking about moving to the cloud are:
• Don’t I lose control of my data?
In most cases, you actually have more control over your data, since you can access, share and work with your info, anywhere, anytime, on any device. You also control who has access – which you can revoke in an instant. Just make sure you read these Terms and Conditions when you sign up to fully understand what they have access to.

• Aren’t you stuck if the internet goes down?
Well, yes. HOWEVER these days, the internet is a bit electricity – it’s very rare for it to go down and when it does you just have to wait a short time for it to be available again. In the meantime, all your data is safe in the cloud.

• Isn’t it possible to lose your data in the cloud?
Your data is actually much safer in the cloud than on your computer. Your computer can be stolen or corrupted quite easily, but cloud companies spend millions on systems and experts to protect your data.

The beauty of cloud software is the flexibility it gives you to run your business from work, home, or on the go. You can be confident that you have an up-to-date picture of how your business is doing, no matter where you are.

Software updates can be developed and delivered faster and more easily in the cloud. This means you don’t need to worry about installing the latest version and you’ll get access to new features instantly. With cloud accounting software, you have the option to run your business remotely, from anywhere in the world. And when data is fluid and accessible, the possibilities are endless.
In conclusion, the big benefit of cloud computing is that it lets you get at your data anytime, anywhere. The cloud breaks the chain between your office computer and your business information.

With the cloud, there’s no need to keep all your files and applications on a single computer – no need to worry about backups, theft, data loss, support and upgrades. It’s all taken care of by dedicated teams of technical people. You no longer have to worry about what’s happening behind the scenes.

The cloud takes the stress out of computing. It lets you use computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices to access all your business information – seamlessly, securely and in real time. Just log in and go, anytime and anywhere.

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5 Things to look for in WordPress Plugins

5 Things to look for in WordPress Plugins

There seems to be a WordPress Plugin to fit all needs. With over 55,000 on the WordPress site alone, it becomes a bit difficult sorting the good from the bad. Here are the things that we look for when choosing plugins (of course, if you’re ever in doubt you should contact your developer). There are always exceptions to the rule, so use this list as a guide to help you decide which puling might be best for your site.

1) Developer creditability

Good developers create good plugins. And WordPress gives you that information. If you scroll to the bottom of the page telling you about the plugin you’re about to install. You’ll see a list of developers who contributed to the plugin.
When you click through you’ll be able to have a look at the other plugins they’ve developed and how they score. If there are a number of plugins that score well, you’ve probably found a good developer.

2) Updates

Even if the developer seems great you want to find out how often it’s updated. Plugins should be updated regularly to keep up with other changes in the WordPress ‘ecosystem’. Be wary of plugins that haven’t been updated in the last year. They will probably be a bit buggy with all the changes to WordPress.

3) Ratings and Active Installs

Your plugin has a great developer who creates regular updates. Another way to check if you’ve got a quality plugin is by comparing the ratings and active installs. High numbers of both mean lots of people are using them, and they like the plugin. Be a bit wary of plugins with high numbers of active installs and relatively few reviews, and plugins that have low installs, and relatively high ratings.

4) Screen Shots and Demos

Apart from making sure the plugin isn’t going to break your website, you also want to make sure it works well for you. Demos are great to get the look and feel of plugins that are a bit interactive, and screenshots are an easy way to understand how it functions.

5) Support

Last but not least your plugin should have an active support forum. Make sure you check out the number of completed support tickets, compared to unresolved tickets. You want to make sure that if something goes wrong, you can go to the developers for advice.

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Free tools to help small business create killer content

Free tools to help small business create killer content

There are a lot of pressures on small business to create original, slick content for social media. But it can be exhausting, creating test, having to find photos and making sure you post as often as you can.

Luckily the internet has some great tools that can help Small Business owners out. We’re going to look over our favourites;

  • Canva
  • Unsplash
  • Freepik & flaticon
  • Pexels Video
  • Editing

Canva

We love Canva, and use it nearly every day. Canva is an incredibly powerful editing tool. With the help of the easy to use drag and drop functionality and thousands of templates, Small Business owners can easily create beautiful documents and images. The free version is great and functions perfectly for most small business needs.

Unsplash

If you’re looking for great images that are 100% free try unsplash. A massive collection of images that you can use for free. It’s great if you credit the artist, not needed. Check out over 25,000 contributing photographers and use beautiful images for free.

Freepik & Flaticon

Freepik is a great free source of vector images, so is perfect for the designers out there. Upload your images in Canva for the ultimate in image creation. Flaticon is subsidiary of Freepik, and is a great source of quirky and professional icons. You can download entire packs or single icons.

Pexels video

Of course, video gets a lot more traction on social media. Pexels video gives you access to royalty free stock footage that you can use on your website or in social media posts.

Survey Monkey

Finally, I wanted to mention Survey Monkey. The free pack is great for small business and is fantastic for building insights into your customer base. Best of all you can use the survey as a lead generating form and easily collect email addresses and contact details.

AgoraPulse

WordPress v Wix

WordPress v Wix

WordPress or Wix? What’s the difference and why should small business care?

Every small business needs a website. It can be the difference between making it and breaking it. But with the high costs of a lot of professional agencies and the increasing accessibility to self-build services, small business owners are often left wondering which option is best for them.

I get asked this question all the time. Literally every day. But what’s the difference between website builders and CMS websites? This article will go over the main differences between website builders and CMS to help you understand which may be better for your business.

And of course, if you ever get stuck Northern Enterprise Solutions have affordable casual tuition rates to help you take control of your website.

What are website builders?

Website builders are online services that help you easily build your website. They have drag and drop functionality, and you’re able to easily edit your website using a ‘front-end’ interface. So, no code required. Ever.

Often you start by choosing a template and then customise it to your needs. The most common website builders are Weebly, Wix, and SquareSpace.

What are CMS websites?

CMS websites, on the other hand, are Content Management Systems; software tools that help you manage, organise and publish information online.

They are created with user interfaces to make them easier to manage. You probably won’t need to understand code with WordPress, however, a little bit of knowledge in the area will go a long way if you’re using Joomla or Drupal.

What’s the difference between chalk and cheese?

Well, a lot. To make it a bit easier, let’s compare website builders & CMS across the most important areas for small business:

  • Ease setting up
  • Flexibility
  • On-going management
  • User support
  • Findability
  • Pricing
  • Difficulty setting up

 

  1. Easy to set-up

You’re in business or looking to start. The budget is tight, but you know you need an online presence to grow, fast.

Most website builders will get your website started with just an account login. You don’t necessarily need a domain or a hosting. Weebly, Wix and Squarespace all offer hosting services, so there’s not techy stuff to worry about. If you already have a hosting service arranged, you will just need to login to your hosting service provider and point your domain’s DNS (domain name server) to your website builder. Most have detailed instructions in the help desk.

On the other hand, if you want to use a CMS you have to organise a domain name and hosting service. You also need to install WordPress on your web server. You can do this yourself or ask a webmaster, like us, to do it for you.

 

2. Flexibility 

Of course, your website needs to be flexible as well. Say for example you want to add an online store to sell your goods, services or subscriptions, maybe you need your website to display rich media in different formats to showcase your portfolio or perhaps just a simple eNewsletter sign-up form.

You might not realise all of the things you need your website to do when you first build it, but your website needs to be flexible enough to accommodate these future changes.

Both Weebly & WordPress offer plugins that enable you to add in different functionality. The main difference is that WordPress is “opensource”, while website builders are not. This means anyone in the world can contribute to the growing bank of plugins you can add to customise the functionality of your website. WordPress has over 44,000 plugins to customise your website, compared to the handful available with Wix, Weebly & SquareSpace.

But bigger is not necessarily better. While there might be more options available in WordPress, the quality of the coding used to create them can be questionable. Whereas Wix may have fewer, those plugins (or extensions) are less likely to be buggy and don’t need to be “installed” because they’ve been integrated into the entire builder.

In terms of how easy it is to change your website; website builders are often drag and drop. Because they have a front end editing system, you can see how your changes will look in real time, and just press publish when you’re ready.

With WordPress however, it depends on the type of theme you’re using. Some themes like Divi offer front-end and back-end editing for ultimate control, whereas others don’t. If you’re looking for help picking your theme, get in contact with us for advice. WordPress is more difficult to learn, but once you’ve mastered the basics is more powerful. And yes we can help you learn WordPress, like a pro.

 

3. On-going management

Building your website may seem like a big task, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. All websites need to be maintained, updated and monitored for your security and that of your customers.

WordPress is constantly being updated as are individual themes and plugins. It’s really important to perform these updates in a timely manner to prevent your site being hacked. You can update them yourself or your web manager may do it for you.

On the other hand, any updates to your Wix website will be done in the background and automatically deployed to all of your websites, so you only have to worry about updating your content.

 

4. User support.

Unfortunately, things go wrong with websites. So, who do you turn to when it all goes pear-shaped?

With website builders, you can just go to the support team and lodge a ticket. Very often the technical team will provide answers or sometimes do the changes for you.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for assistance with WordPress you have 2 options; firstly, the WordPress community has developed incredibly extensive tutorials across a range of subjects. Finding the right tutorial is your biggest challenge here. Alternatively, you can hire a WordPress Developer to set-up and fix any issues that you might have. A good developer will take the time to explain what’s happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

 

5. Findability

You’ve gone to the trouble to learn how to build your website to help your business grow. So, you want people to find it easily, right?

The biggest factor which will determine where your website will rank is whether or not you have a Search Engine Optimisation strategy or not. Really.

Generally, most people will say that WordPress website rank higher than website builders. However, if you don’t do SEO on your WordPress website you won’t rank. If you have an active SEO strategy you’re using with your Wix, Weebly or SquareSpace site, you might have to work harder than you would with WordPress, but you’ll still do better than a WordPress site that doesn’t have an SEO strategy at all.

So why do people say you WordPress is so much better with ranking? Well it might have been the case when website builders first came out, but now the big players have implemented some pretty strong SEO capabilities to catch up to WordPress

6. Price

The bottom line is important and is one of the most important factors for small business. So, let’s look at the price structure of WordPress and website builders.

WordPress is free. Free to download. Free to install. No annual charges. No subscriptions. Ever (unless you go pro for your plugins). You will, however, need to purchase a domain and hosting. Some WordPress developers also include the first year of domain and hosting in their build price. Generally hosting shouldn’t be more than $130 a year, and normal domain registration no more than $30. You’ll also get access to emails as well.

On the other hand, most website builders have monthly fees, and these fees increase with the more demands you have, like online stores. These fees will differ depending on which website builder you use but typically range between $5-$75 per month. But you won’t get personalised emails.

 

Conclusions

I’m a bit of a control freak. I want to be able to customise and adjust websites to fit mine and my client’s needs. Because of that and its low cost, I will always go with WordPress.

For small business owners wanting to build their own site website builders are an excellent – if possibly costly – way to create an online presence. While historically they’ve been rubbished because of SEO, this isn’t as much of an issue anymore, and more important is having an active SEO strategy.

On the other hand, website builders have been considered the “noob friendly” option. Again this isn’t really the case anymore, with a number of WordPress themes having excellent front-end editors.

Website builders are easy to set up and don’t require any real tech knowledge. But you’ll need to organise a domain and hosting for your WordPress website or get someone to do this step for you.

Again, website builders require very little in terms of ongoing maintenance, but you’ll need to make sure you install updates for your WordPress site or ask a friendly web manager to look after this for you.

Call Northern Enterprise Solutions today and get your WordPress training 25% off, just by mentioning this article!

 

Divi WordPress Theme
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