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How Entrepreneurs Launch Ideas with WordPress

If you are an entrepreneur and you are looking to start spreading the word about your idea, WordPress is a great tool!  WordPress is used by many entreprenuers to help get their thoughts out to the world to read.

Below, I will show you how to launch your idea using WordPress.

Hosting your WordPress site

Sign up for WP Engine hosting.  Why? Most of the problems you can have with your website such as hacking, daily backups, WordPress upgrades, or issues with crazy plugins, WP Engine takes these issues away with their awesome plans.   Yes, it is more expensive than some WordPress hosting plans, but well worth it.  We promise.  If you would like to learn more about my thoughts on their hosting, check out this post on how to choose the right WordPress hosting or visit their website.

Also, you can read this post on how to sign up for WP Engine if you would like step by step instructions.

Customizing your WordPress Theme

Now that you have your hosting setup, let’s start customizing the theme.

For the sake of simplicity and since it will do 99% of the things you will need to start telling your idea, I’m going to use the default 2013 WordPress theme.  If you would like to learn more about the theme, visit the 2013 WordPress theme

WordPress Twenty Thirteen theme customization:

 

Choose appearance and customize and you will come to a screen like this:

2013 WordPress theme customization

Site title and tag line and press save in the top right hand corner.

Step 2: Add some color to the header

For the colors, use the color chooser to select the colors you would like in the header.

Color options 2013 wordpress theme

Step 3: Header Image

For the header image, the image must be 1600 pixels wide and 230 pixels high.  I find it easiest to change it in the header menu under appearance.  The cool thing is that it updates right after you upload the image so you can view everything at once!

2013 header menu customization

Step 4: Menu or Navigation

Next, let’s make the menu navigation for the site so your audience can read more than the blog page.  The first thing I like to do is to make a few pages of content.  For this example, I made a locations, pricing, and contact page.  Go to the menu section (appearance-menus) and follow the example below:

WordPress 2013 Menu Settings

Step 5: Plugins

After your menu is setup, your page is pretty much ready to go.  But, lets add a few plugins to optimize our site.

WordPress Plugins to add to your site:

  • Jetpack by WordPress: this will give you the ability to add contact forms, social sharing icons, latest blog post emails, powerful commenting software, twitter feeds, and images.
  • Yoast SEO: Will help you enter data for optimize your site for SEO
  • Google Analytics for WordPress: will help you optimize your site for SEO

You can also view my favorite plugins through my WordPress profile.

There are also a list of disallowed plugins by WPEngine you will want to check out.

Step 6: Change Permalinks

I would recommend changing your permalinks.  These can be found under settings->permalinks.  I usually use the /sample-post/ option like in the screenshot below.

WordPress Permalinks

 

Step 7: Modify Jetpack

Let’s modify the following components of Jetpack:

  • Publicize: I added Facebook, Email, LinkedIn, Google +, and Twitter
  • Jetpack comments: to help with spam
  • Subscriptions: users can be updated via email of new blog or page posts
  • Contact form: Easy to setup so people can contact you about your product.

Step 8: Setup sidebar

  • I would add the blog subscription from Jetpack

Step 9: Change other colors using CSS (not necessary)

    • You can use the Edit CSS (Appearance->Edit CSS) to change some of the colors.
    • Here is some code I used to make the header photo larger, change the color of the nav bar, and lower footer area

Header photo larger (to 500 px – must have an image of 500 pixels in your header :))
.site-header {background-size: 1600px 500px;
height: 500px;
}

Navigation bar to read and move down below larger header image

.navbar {
background-color: red;
margin: 260px auto 0;
}

Change color in footer

.site-footer .sidebar-container {
background-color: red;}

Step 10: Launch your site!

Please use the comments below to share links of sites that you have launched using the WordPress Twenty Thirteen Theme.

Lastly, here is a copy of my slideshare from my presentation on How Entrepreneurs Launch Ideas with WordPress

How to sign up for WP Engine

WPEngine is a great company who only hosts WordPress sites.  They do great things like backing up your site, give you a development site in case you make mistakes, and if you are hacked, they will fix it for free!  We love using them and use them to host our site.

 

 

How to sign up with WP Engine through AhSo to get 2 months free hosting if you pay for a year

 

Step 1:

Click here:

Or paste this URL into your browser

www.ahsodesigns.com/wpengine/

Step 2:

Click on “select hosting plan”

WP Engine hassle free WordPress hosting

 

Step 3:

Click on Personal Plan (29.00 a month)

Wp Engine Personal account

Step 4:

Fill in personal information

  • make sure to save your password

 

Step 5:

Fill in site information

  • For username: just use account name, or your name, something simple – doesn’t really matter
  • Put your domain name in
  • Hear about us: John Housholder
  • Company: your company name
  • Data Center : US

 

Step 6:

Receive emails with login information and start creating your new WordPress site!

We can also help you with your process, just contact us and we can help you start developing your WordPress site today!

How to choose the right WordPress hosting solution for your website – in the shower

Ah, the shower, what a great morning ritual.  It wakes me up, helps me get my singing voice ready to bang out some great code, and is a great way to talk to people about WordPress hosting.  Google “WordPress Hosting” and you’ll see results that span all sorts of price ranges and technical mumbo jumbo.  Google “favorite shower songs” and you can find way too many results for One Direction’s “What Makes you Beautiful” Either way, you’ll get a good laugh and will end up confused.

Good thing I used to work at Dell, have a few extra hours this afternoon and get a little too excited about showering and WordPress hosting.  I’m going to go through the choices that you have when you choose WordPress hosting, hopefully in laymen’s terms.  In the end, hopefully before the end of “What Makes you Beautiful” – you know you’re still listening to it – I’ll make a recommendation.

Let’s start with the 4 basic types of hosting accounts to choose from:

  • Shared Hosting
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server)
  • Dedicated Hosting
  • Managed Hosting

And 6 factors to consider when you’re choosing a host:

  • Support
  • Security
  • Scalability
  • Speed
  • Tools
  • Price

Knowing these various features, we can quickly cut through the clutter to prioritize which type of hosting will suit your needs the best.

Shared Hosting: “One Community Shower” plan

community-shower

Creative Commons permission from Flickr user rishibando

Welcome to your freshman year of college!  New friends, new experiences, and a community shower!!!!  Your community shower is your shared hosting experience where it’s most compelling feature is price. Shared hosting is cheap and we all do it when we start out.  For less than $10/ month you share a single server’s resources with a few hundred of your closest friend’s other small sites. It’s fun for a while because you meet a bunch of new people, but never fun before a football game and the 2 showers in the hall have a line out the door!

In hosting terms, the downsides are that pages will take several seconds to load, and you’ll be responsible for keeping your site secure and updated from all the Internet bad guys like hackers and malware. As anyone who this has ever happened to can attest, this is NOT fun and can be quite frustrating to the average WordPress user.  If you get a spike in traffic because your site goes viral, there is a high risk that the site may crash.  If price is the most important factor, shared hosting is the way to go.

Virtual Private Server: “Shower in Shared College Apartment” Plan

Whew, freshman year’s dorm experience was a blast, but you are glad it’s over.  This year, you are moving into an off campus apartment with your two closet friends.   Gone are the days of dirty showers and lines before gameday, at least you thought…  A virtual private server, or VPS,  gives you more control over your site for development, along with more server resources, since you’re only sharing the server with a few other sites and not hundreds. A VPS account can handle higher loads of traffic than a shared hosting account.

You’ll pay a bit more money for a VPS, $20-$100+ (depending on the storage) for the extra control and resources. And the server will be pretty beefy, so it can handle some significant traffic. However, scalability is limited to that server. Once the server runs out of processing power, either because of your traffic load, or maybe your neighbor suddenly got an influx of traffic, your site’s performance will drop as a result.

Since you’re running a VPS and because you’ve got more control over the server, please make sure you are performing your own security measures to prevent hacking. You’ll receive pretty good support, but the folks you call or email won’t be able to offer much help if you get hacked, or if your site goes down.  Also, most of these folks are not familiar with the WordPress platform.  So yes, better than having one community shower in the college dorm, but you are still relying on your roommates not wanting to shower the same time you do. Plus, let’s face it, our roommates are dirty and don’t ever clean the shower!

Dedicated Server: “I’ll build my own Shower” Plan

handyman

Creative Common permission from Flickr user planohandyman

Junior year.  Gone are the days of sleeping through intro classes and hello to the days of never sleeping to finish up the work for the classes in your major.  You also think that since you are a junior, now that you can build your own shower and keep out everyone who you don’t want out of your shower.  Have you ever built a shower before?  No, but you did see a guy do it on the Home Depot YouTube channel and it looked pretty easy!!

This is the solution you’ll want if you need absolute control over all the technical aspects of hosting your sites. But you, or your SysAdmin better know the difference between Apache and Nginx, and being familiar with object caching. And someone on your team needs to know their way around a MySQL database, as well as how to maintain your own security protocol and firewall.

Dedicated servers give you a whole server, or several, for you to work with. Depending on how you set things up, your site will be extremely scalable under high traffic loads, and you’ll be able to hand-tune the performance and scalability. Dedicated servers are more expensive than a VPS: right at $250-$300

to start. It’s a bit more expensive, but it’s a good solution for websites that you want complete control over.

Managed WordPress Hosting : “My shower is clean and mine” Plan

WordPress hosting shower

Creative Commons permission from Flickr user fyera

By your senior year, you have learned to focus on what you are good at and realize your major was not “Shower Community Building.”  You need an “elite” breed of hosting that is the top of the line for speed and scalability, and it also assumes that your site is running on WordPress. That’s a safe assumption, since about 20% of the Internet is built on WordPress. Managed WordPress Hosting means that a company like WP Engine or Synthesis takes care of all the technical details of the hosting and makes sure that your WordPress site is served quickly, usually under a second, and that speed scales with high traffic loads. So if (and when!) you get featured on the New York Times, you’ll be able to handle all the traffic.

WP Engine can also manage the security for you, and automatically update WordPress when the latest version is released. Knowing that your site is being cared for by WordPress hosting specialist means that you don’t have to worry about hackers or security. WP Engine even guarantees their security. No otherManaged Host that I found has this guarantee.

One of the biggest benefits is having expert support when it matters most. Managed hosts have support staff who know not only hosting, but they know WordPress as well, and can offer help in troubleshooting issues with plugins or themes.

What is my recommendation to get you out of the shower building awesome sites on WordPress with the least amount of hassle?  WPEngine!

Hopefully, I helped you choose a WordPress host that is best for you and gave you some great music to listen to in the process.  If not, my apologies, but ‘that’s what makes you beautiful’.  What experiences have you had with WordPress hosting?

Please use the comments below to tell your stories.

 

 

Changing Images in Ah So sliders

When WordPress 3.5 was announced, one of the big changes was within how WordPress handles the media gallery which Ah So uses to display sliders within our sites. Although the new user interface is a lot easier to use, we did have to make a few changes in how we handled images within our slider.

In the following video, we demonstrate how to:

  • add images to the slider
  • change the order of the images in the slider
  • link the image slider to interior pages
  • add a caption to the images
  • add alt text and title tags to the images

We hope that this tutorial will increase the ease of using your site, both now and in the future

Landing Pages – A Checklist

Ah, the old landing page.  Every website has then, but not everyone does them well.  At Ah So, we believe these pages should all do several things:

1. Clear and Emphasized Call To Action:

  • Should convert viewers into customers
  • Set offer copy and the call to action from rest of the page to make it special
  • The best call to actions are in plain English with no more than 7 – 12 words

2. Plenty of White Space

  • Visitors don’t read; they scan the text for relevancy to their goal(s).
  • Clean design helps emphasize key message.

3. Visually Engage the User

  •  Tell the story with impactful imagery rather than lengthy copy

4. Simplify the Design and Reduce Text

  • Don’t use a wide variety of fonts/colors on the page
  • Bland landing pages are often the ones offering the best conversion
  • Minimize distractions
  • Simple headlines and short bullet lists

5. Use Images Judiciously 

  1.   Should be visual candy & orient visitor to product or headline
  2.   Use a caption
  3.   Renders properly and is sized correctly

Great landing pages aren’t easy to come by, but a here are two examples of great landing pages we have created.

Passion Partners Landing Page

This is only part of the page, but through the slider, we showcase the main themes of the site, the projects of Passion Partners.  Underneath the slider, we enable users to quickly and effectively engage with Passion Partners social media channels, and then call attention to the main goals of the site: understanding the goals of Passion partners  getting involved, and donations.

Please view the entire Passion Partners site.

Another great landing page we created was for Jenner Designs.  Jenner is a local architect whose sole purpose is to show off his work.  The question then emerged if he needed all social integration and calls to action like we did on the Passion Partner’s site.  The answer was simple, no!  Let’s check the design on several screens and send it through our checklist:

 

Does the Jenner site incorporate:

A Clear and Emphasized Call To Action: Yes, see the latests projects

Plenty of White Space: No, but with a full width image background, it doesn’t need it

Visually Engage the User: Yes, tells how Jenner designs his projects

Simplify the Design and Reduce Text: Yes, the site is actually build so Jenner can not add a lot of text so that his pictures remain front and center of the design.

Use Images Judiciously : Yes, With great photography from Jenner’s projects, we were able to highlight the uniqueness of the projects they have worked on

View the Jenner Design site.

Are there things that we left off that you usually include in your landing page designs?  Please let us know in the comments below.