Tag: web design

How to choose a WordPress theme

wordpress

With WordPress being so popular nowadays, the demand for themes has grown in great scale and became a very profitable business for web developers.

Web developers have been working very hard to create fantastic themes and you probably will find hundreds of themes that accommodate your requirements whether you are a band, a blogger, school, club, travel agent and so on.

With so many options to choose from, how do you know that particular theme will be good for you? Let me help and give you some steps you can take:

  • Search for themes on trustworthy websites

It’s important to choose your theme from a trustworthy website once you will have to buy it and giving your credit card details to anyone on the internet is not a good idea. The most popular website for themes is Themeforest.net. There you will find thousands of themes and prices range from US$35 to $US60. Mojo-themes.com & ElegantThemes.com are also popular.

  • Choose a theme with a design near to what you want

When deciding on a theme is recommended that you choose one that already has some features you are after. For example if you are planning to build an ecommerce website, look for a theme that is compatible with Woo Commerce, if you are a band choose one with a nice music player and event & album features, for hotels and clubs find one with a booking system. Choosing a theme near to what you need, will save you time and money. With Themeforest is very easy to search for themes using keywords.

  • Find the theme you like and test it first before buying

Ok, now you already decided on one or two themes you like but keep in mind there are few things very important to consider apart from the design. Loading speed is very important considering the experience your visitor will have when at your website. The fast a website loads the better is the experience for your visitors – a website should not take more than 4 seconds to load completely. Google also appreciates a website that loads fast and your site will be more likely to rank better than if it is otherwise. To check the theme loading speed visit GTMetrix.com or Google Speed Test so you can compare and make a decision.

  • Premium plugins bundled with the theme

Another thing to consider when deciding on a theme is the amount of premium plugins that will come within.  Things like premium sliders, photo galleries, pop-ups & music players for example can cost you around US$20 if buying it alone. So if the theme already comes with some premium plugins it will be a good deal.

  • Support provided by the theme author

If you are not very experienced working with WordPress, I’m pretty sure you will come across some difficulties along the way with that particular theme – whether problems with installation, customizing design or even a problem with the code. Support from the theme author is very important at this case because he or she knows the theme inside and out and will be very easy for him or her to help you providing guidance for solving the problem. To find out how good the support provided by the author is, look at the reviews & comments section and see how often normally takes for the author to reply to others. One to two days for replies is considered as a good support.

  • Check reviews and comments from peers

Reviews and comments from people already using the theme can be helpful. Generally a theme with review scores over 4 out of 5 is considered a good one. With comments, check for how the author interacts with his/her customers.

 

Here are some of my favourite themes:

 

jarida

 

 

avada

 

 

bazar

 

 

tour package

 

 

rosa

 

 

story

 

 

red folio

 

 

metric

 

Article by Francis Silvestre – Founder of Pixely

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Most popular platforms for web design: Magento

Magento-Logo

meet-magento-logoMagento is an open-source content management system for e-commerce web sites. The software was originally developed by Varien Inc., a US private company headquartered in Los Angeles, with assistance from volunteers.

Varien published the first general-availability release of the software on March 31, 2008, under the name Bento. Roy Rubin, former CEO of Varien, later sold a substantial share of the company to eBay, which is now the sole owner.

In April 2014, W3Techs estimated that Magento was used by 1.0% of all websites. According to the research conducted by aheadWorks in April 2014, Magento’s market share among the 20 most popular e-commerce platforms is about 34%.

Magento employs the MySQL relational database management system, the PHP programming language, and elements of the Zend Framework. It applies the conventions of object-oriented programming and model-view-controller architecture. Magento also uses the entity–attribute–value model to store data.

History

Magento officially started development in early 2007. Seven months later, on August 31, 2007, the first public beta version was released.

Varien, the company owning Magento, formerly worked with osCommerce. It had originally planned to fork osCommerce but later decided to rewrite it as Bento. Due in part to a naming conflict with FileMaker Inc. who had already trademarked the name Bento, Varien and osCommerce renamed Bento to Magento, a mix of Bento and Mage. The term Mage is said to pay homage to the Mage or Wizard of traditional Dungeons & Dragons style role playing games.

In February 2011, eBay announced it had made an investment in Magento in 2010, worth a 49% ownership share of the company.

As of June 6, 2011 eBay owns 100% of Magento. eBay announced that Magento would join eBay’s new X.Commerce initiative. Magento’s CEO and co-founder Roy Rubin wrote on the Magento blog that “Magento will continue to operate out of Los Angeles, with Yoav Kutner and me as its leaders.”.

Yoav Kutner left Magento in April 2012 citing the vision for Magento having changed since the time of acquisition due to high level staff changes.

Overview

Magento provides three distinct platforms, Magento Community Edition, Magento Enterprise Edition, and Magento Go.

Magento Community Edition

Magento Community Edition is an open-source content-management system. Anyone can modify the core system. Developers can implement the core files and extend its functionality by adding new plug-in modules provided by other developers. Since the first public beta version was released in 2007, Community Edition has been developed and customized in order to provide a basic eCommerce platform. The latest version is 1.9.0.1 which was released on May 15, 2014.

Magento Enterprise Edition

Magento Enterprise Edition is derived from the Magento Community Edition and has the same core files. Unlike Community Edition, this is not free, but has more features and functionality. This edition is designed for large businesses that require technical support with installation, usage, configuration, and troubleshooting. Although Magento Enterprise has annual maintenance fees, neither Community nor Enterprise Editions include hosting. The Magento team develops Enterprise Edition by cooperating with users and third parties. The latest version is 1.14.0.1 which was released on May 13, 2014.

Magento Go

Magento Go is a cloud-based eCommerce solution, which also includes web hosting by Magento Inc. This was launched in February of 2011 in order to support small businesses as it has no need for software installation. Magento Go still has many built-in modules and can add Magento extensions for more functionality, but is also the least customizable platform. The latest version is 1.1.2.3 which was released on March 28, 2014. On July 1, 2014, Magento Inc. announced that they would be shutting down the Magento Go platform on February 1, 2015.

Magento Features

Magento supports a Web template system which generates multiple similar-looking pages and customizes them.

Themes

Magento provides a basic theme which sets up an ecommerce website. The theme is designed for customizing all pages by adding or editing the PHP, HTML and CSS. Magento users may install themes which change the display of the website or its functionality. Without loss of content or layout of pages, themes are interchangeable with Magento installations. Themes are installed by uploading theme folders via FTP or SSH and applying them using the backend admin system.

Modules

Magento developers have created Magento plugins which extend its basic built-in functionality. Magento users can install modules by downloading them, and uploading them to their server, or applying a module’s Extension Key through Magento Connect Manager.

Magento official website: www.magento.com

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Most popular platforms for web design: Prestashop

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prestashop-logo-largeA Family of Innovators

PrestaShop consists of 70 developers, designers, and professional e-commerce addicts. Headquartered in Paris and Miami, we are a leader in everything e-commerce and are committed to staying free and Open-source. As most developers know, inspiration begins with your customers. Each merchant and community member carries out projects large and small that contribute to not only their personal growth, but also the growth of PrestaShop. We continue to work hand-in-hand with the community and are passionate about creating features, modules, and templates according to their needs. The success of our software is thanks to countless hours by numerous contributors from around the world. We want to make sure every merchant is successful and in the process we ensure it is easy to sell online by providing over 310 features and an overall software that can be customized to each business’ needs.

Backed by the most celebrated partners:

We partner with technology enthusiasts and web agencies to provide more services to merchants. From logistics to marketing, our industry partners are strategically selected with the end user in mind. Web agencies are hand-picked and trained to develop and monitor PrestaShop stores. We match business owners with the best web agency based on their project’s needs.

How it all began…

Bruno Leveque and Igor Schlumberger were inspired by business owners who had a strong need for a free, powerful, and easy e-commerce solution. Bruno and Igor recognized this need and began to work on what is today known as PrestaShop, and the first public version was released in May 2007. Within the first month of PrestaShop’s official launch, the software received 1,000 downloads and was translated into 13 languages by the third month. Bruno continued to work on the software and created the first e-commerce solution with an exceptional open market place for community members to provide improvements, add-ons, templates, and other components for developers and e-business owners alike. Today, PrestaShop’s open-source software powers over 185,000 active stores worldwide, with a community of nearly 600,000 contributors and growing.

Prestashop official website: www.Prestashop.com

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Most Popular Platforms for web design: Drupal

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Drupal is a free software package that allows you to easily organize, manage and publish your content, with an endless variety of customization.

drupal-logo-primaryDrupal is Open Source

Drupal is open source software maintained and developed by a community of 630,000+ users and developers. It’s distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (or “GPL”), which means anyone is free to download it and share it with others. This open development model means that people are constantly working to make sure Drupal is a cutting-edge platform that supports the latest technologies that the Web has to offer. The Drupal project’s principles encourage modularity, standards, collaboration, ease-of-use, and more.

Drupal’s History

Dries Buytaert began the Drupal software as a message board in 1999. Within a year or so, more people became interested using and contributing to Drupal, so the project was made open source. Drupal.org came online in 2001, and the Drupal community gained momentum in 2005 with several code sprints and conferences. Read more about the full history of Drupal and Druplicon.

Who’s Using Drupal

From local businesses to global corporations, diverse organizations use Drupal.

News Publishing: NowPublic, Popular Science, Economist
Intranet/Corporate Websites: AOL Corporate, Dahon Bicycles
Education: San Jose State University, Harvard, MIT, Council on Writing Program Administrators
Art, Music, Multimedia: MTV UK, Sony Music, Warner Brothers Records
Community Portal Sites: Fast Company, Team Sugar, Ubuntu Brainstorm
Social Networking Sites: DrupalSN

About Drupal.org

Drupal.org is the home of the Drupal project. In addition to keeping track of all the Drupal code and contributed projects, Drupal.org publishes news, organization information, training resources, case studies and community spotlights. Drupal.org is run mostly by volunteers; learn how you can get involved. Read more about how we organize ourselves on Drupal.org

More examples can be found in Sites Made with Drupal.

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How to choose a web design company to build your website

tech6

So by now you have started your business, created your business plan, did the marketing research and the many other things required to have a successful business. Great! Now is the time to think about your website. If you don’t know how to design one you most certainly need to use the services of a web design company. But with so many companies around, how can you be sure what they offer is right for you?

The main purpose of this article is to show you some details about the technology available for building websites and its pros & cons.

Basically web design companies operate in two distinct platforms when building a website; Proprietary & Open Source.

Now let me explain both platforms and give you some important details and I hope you can then decide which one you should choose.

Proprietary:

Companies that have their own bespoke software (Developed by their own in-house staff or leased from a third party) are very common and offers very few pros and a lot of cons. Let me give you some more details: When a company design a website using their own bespoke software basically you are just leasing the website, you don’t actually own it. The company has the exclusive rights to the software so no one else can work on it apart from their own staff members. Let’s say you contracted a company to build the website with proprietary software, everything went well at the beginning but down the track the company start to let you down, their customer service is not that good anymore, they have increased their hourly rate for updates and hosting, basically there is no much you can do to fight these crazy increases in price. You can’t just go to a different company or to a freelancer because they own the platform where the website was built therefore no other company can help you with changes and updates.  There are some exceptions when a company uses third party software so in this case different companies can work with the same platform.

For the company it’s a very lucrative business model once you have to use them exclusively but for you it’s not so good. Imagine you having to stick to the same phone company to your entire life even tho there are few other companies that offer better services for a fraction of the price. It does not make sense at all. You should have the power to change and take your business to the best direction without relying in a third party provider.

Open Source:

Is a term used for free software available to anyone and any individual is free to add and edit it to any specific requirement. Companies that build websites using open source software like WordPress.org, Drupal, Joomla!, Prestashop, Magento, OpenCart, etc..are in my opinion the best choice and I will tell you why. In the opposite to the example given above where you don’t own your website but just lease it from the web design company, with open source software you actually own it. The website is yours, all the files belongs to you, if you are not happy with the company that first built your website you can easily ditch them and find another company to work on it or even a freelancer that can be based overseas. Think of it like freedom, you can go anywhere and you can do anything you wish with it. Millions of people and companies around the world have their websites built on open source software, especially WordPress that is by far the most popular.

Open source software follows a universal standard so people from around the world can work together and contribute to the same project when required. Anyone specialized in WordPress can work on a particular website even if there are based in a different country like India, Brazil, Canada or France.

You also have the freedom to decide about the hosting company for your website. There are so many good hosting companies around with excellent price according to your requirements so it pays off to do some research.

I hope this article can be of some help to you for when deciding on a web design company to build your website.

Here are few things you should ask them before signing the contract:

1)      Ask if they are open source or proprietary

2)      If open source, ask in which platform the website will be built at: WordPress, Joomla, Prestashop, etc…

3)      If proprietary, ask what are the limitations of the software like ecommerce capabilities, CMS (Content management system), etc…I might have big plans for the future but sometimes the software will not allow it due limitations.

4)      Ask for initial costs, incurring cost for updates, hosting, domain, backup, copy writing, etc…

5)      Check for timing for maintenance and future updates. You might need to do a urgent update and you don’t want to wait a week for them to apply the changes on the website

6)      Check if they will provide you with website analytics (Google Analytics is the best)

7)      Check if they design their websites with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind

8)      Have a look at the web design company portfolio and see if you like their style

9)      Check for referrals and testimonials

Let me know if you had any good or bad experience related to choosing a web design company, you can even list them on the comments section below. I would love to hear your experience.

 

Author: Francis Silvestre – Founder of Pixely

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