Developer and Client Transparency Presentation [VIDEO]

Developer and Client Transparency Presentation [VIDEO]

A couple of weeks ago I presented at WordPress Orlando on Client Transparency in Creative Development. For those of you who weren’t able to attend or wanted to watch the presentation below is the video. Be sure to watch all the way to the end as the Q&A session was also recorded at the end of the video, as well as some commentary from other members of the WP Orlando community. Of course if you have any questions please feel free to Contact Us and we help.

Featured Image Credit: WP Orlando

Client Transparency in Creative Development

Client Transparency in Creative Development

Earlier this week I did a presentation at my local WordPress Orlando MeetUp about Client Transparency. This talk was a really open look at what it’s like being a creative, dispelling some perceptions on the creative lifestyle, as well as some insight into the thought process of a designer or developer working with the average client. I’ll be honest and say that most of these views are my sole perception, however many other creatives have echoed the same emotions and feelings.

The purpose of this though was to bring some light and understanding to both sides of the table when it comes to working through creative projects. The better both creatives and clients understand and respect each other, the better the development process will be and increase working relationships for long terms.

If you were unable to attend the live presentation, it was recorded and will be shared soon.

WordPress Fix: Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance. Check Back In a Minute

Have you ever come across this error message after updating a few things in your WordPress Dashboard?

Briefly unavailableWell don’t panic, there is an easy way to clear this, and get your website back online.

First you need to launch your FTP application. Some use FileZilla or maybe even Dreamweaver. Either works fine, or you can use your hosting providers File Manager to access your server files. Once logged in and you can view your files on the remote server, you’ll need to navigate to the root directory of your website.

Once there scroll up and look for the .maintenance file. It won’t have an extension.


I highlighted the file in red. You’ll just need to click that and choose a delete option to remove it from your server. Once removed navigate back to your website and refresh your page. You should be able to get back to your WordPress Dashboard like normal.

The Incoming Storm Coming to Shared Hosting Megasites

Over the past few months we’ve been experiencing some issues with our current hosting company. Before I start throwing them under the bus, let me first say that we’ve used them for almost 10 years and didn’t start having issues until this year. What were those problems you ask? Let me explain.

Server Processes

Something I will admit that I really didn’t know much about. I’m not a server guy, and no one in our agency is either so this server technology really wasn’t a topic for our meetings. Well with some hosting companies they actually have a limit to how many processes can be running on a server at any given time. Our partner company 1and1 didn’t inform us of this until a solid month of random site performance issues. Our HTML sites were fine, but our WordPress sites where the ones creating these processes that at times would halt their server. In most cases it could have been from adding plugins, new pages, new posts, updating theme settings, etc. It really was random and no thanks to the language barrier of 1and1’s off-shore customer support that (by procedure) blames you first unless you request that they look at their system for errors.

Memory Usage

Here at Design Theory, we manage many websites. Since end of last year just about all of our new sites coming online have been in WordPress. WordPress runs on MySQL, and thus a new database is needed for each site. Each of those databases have an amount of memory usage depending on how much content the site has. So having upwards of 70+ databases and you’ve got a perfect storm just waiting to flood the server your sites are on. The amount of memory the hosting company allotted for your websites is limited. Each company may offer a different amount but it isn’t much when you’re on the economy hosting companies like 1and1, GoDaddy, Blue Host, and others. I suggest you either give them a call or do an extensive search through the fine print to find out what yours is.Host Gator 403 Error



I can’t stress enough how you get what you pay for. For those of you that pay for your own hosting for your one main site, for now you may be safe. But isn’t the idea of a business website that it will continue to grow? Aren’t we doing things to boost traffic to our sites to promote our products and services? Well if you’re doing it right you should notice an increasing number of visits each week and month. At some point you’ll need to make the decision to move away from the economy hosting options to either higher cost VPS (Virtual Private Servers) or to a hosting company that specializes in WordPress – Like Media Temple. (shameless plug)


If you’ve had your WordPress up for a good few months, you may start to notice things running a bit slower than it did when you first set things up. You’ve added a ton of great content, images, pages, posts, plugins, etc. Nothing wrong with that if you’re creating value for your visitors. Until it takes them more than a few extra seconds to pull up your site and pages. The decrease in performance could be due to your site or other sites on the same server (unbeknownst to you). A better hosting plan or company will have optimized servers that don’t:

  • Throttle your bandwidth
  • Force a site shut down (Error 403)
  • Service Temporarily Unavailable error

WordPress Security & Automatic Updates

There are are some hosting companies that actually offer automatic updates to WordPress while also taking preventative measures to keep their infrastructure secure from malware and attacks. If you think about it, it actually benefits those hosting companies a bit more than you as their customer; mainly because they can assure version control and scheduled updates for off-peak times. Some even vet the updates prior to making them live to all of their hosted WordPress sites.

What’s To Come

For a lot of those sites staying on economy $10/mo hosting run the risk of these types of errors above in the very near future. For the amount of websites currently online, 20% of them are WordPress sites according to w3techs. Looking at the chart below, you can see that in a year there’s been substantial growth. Imagine what percentage of site will be on WP by the end of next year and beyond if it keeps growing like this.

I actually had a client just recently had their website taken down for what the hosting company (Blue Host) said that she had used up too much of their server. Are hosting companies preparing for the increased stress on their servers? You have to wonder right? To most you’re just an account number that is being billed regardless of the level of service. There probably are hundreds of site owners that can may not even notice if their website goes down for a few hours or days. But for those of you that have frequent traffic to your site for your great content and resources, and those of you that are working to be the authority figure on your industry, you really can’t afford to have your website go down for something that could be easily avoided sans frivolous predetermined hosting restrictions.

As always your thoughts and point of views are appreciated. Lets continue the conversation below in the comments.

WordPress sites online

Image Credit: 2heads_Advertising (via RGB Stock)

How to add a custom sidebar (Widget Area) to your WordPress Website

Do you have a WordPress website where each page has the same content in your sidebar? Have you ever wanted to have different content from page to page, but not sure how to do it? Well this post is for you.

Woo Themes has a really simple plugin that will allow you to create your own custom sidebars or widget areas for your website. You’ll be able to name each widget area whatever you like, and even assign it to your already created pages. See the video for a quick walk-through on installing the plugin and configuring a widget area.

Want to get a copy of this plugin to download now; follow this link to the WordPress repository and get your copy today. Oh and be sure to give a shout out to the guys at Woo Themes for making our lives easier!

Measuring Your Web Content’s SEO Value

Most people are familiar with the term search engine optimization, or commonly termed, SEO.  This is a critical aspect in both design and success of your websites content and drawing people to it via search rankings. So consider it not the roof of the house but truly a part of the foundational structure of your website.  And there are great rewards if your website contains SEO rich keywording and proper tags.

“A website isn’t worth having, if no one can find it!

So if you really want to build traffic to your website or blog, you will be thinking of SEO as something paramount to your site’s developments. Majority of webmasters only do the things required to gain a good amount of search engine traffic, but very little actually measure their site’s SEO value.

You Are Being Out Ranked!
One of the best articles I’ve read about rankings comes for the industry gurus of HubSpot.  Rebecca Churt’s blog titled, “How to Conduct a Competitive SEO Audit to Outrank Industry Rivals” says it all.  In this article, she lists 5 Simple Steps to Perform Your Own Competitive SEO Analysis which include:
-articulate your buyer personas;
-identify key competitors;
-explore what the competition looks like; and more!

Measuring via Your Analytics

So much data is now available through the various analytics systems, and the one most commonly used (and respected) is Google Analytics.  The key to successful utilization of it is to focus on the data that matters most. By focusing on the reporting metrics, you can get a sense of the true ROI and the value of your SEO efforts.  Start your analysis by looking at the number of visitors to your site, where they came from, and most importantly, what search terms they used.  Just this preliminary information alone, will tell you is how well you are doing  at getting more people to visit your website while increasing the visibility of your business and/or service.

What’s the Hook in Link Building?

Within the SEO communities, you will often hear the term “links” and/ or link building.  What that really means is that a link from another website links to your company’s site.  SEO link building requires that the site linking to yours must indeed be trustworthy link and furthermore, related to your business. Valuable links come from trusted sites like:

  • Educational institutions that your company has a relationship with;
  • Local and national organizations you or your company has an affiliation to;
  • Any number of relatively unknown but reputable business and industry-related directories;
  • Similar industry online publications; and more!

The Key is Keywords

While considering the written content of your website, make a conscious selections of commonly used keywords and phrases to increase your chances of climbing the search engine ranks.  Think of yourself as the consumer and even consider looking up certain terms in a Thesaurus to determine commonly used words that most users in your industry might use.  A test run on your success at this would be search engine sites and paste them in the major search engine sites you want to be found on, then hit the search button. Whatever page your site is will determine how effective your SEO investments are.

Honk Your Horn For More Traffic!

Increased traffic for your website and if you’re not getting enough of traffic as evidenced by your analytics, it means you need to tweak your process (eg, keywording) and do more optimization. Try keeping a record (easy enough in an Excel spreadsheet) how much traffic your website increases after each new method is implemented.  Then move forward, scale back or consider a new method based on the data collected and analyzed.  This is a simple way to determine the true value of your SEO efforts.

The Sum of it All

SEO is instrumental to content builders whether you are a web designer or blogger.  We don’t have the luxury of ignoring the SEO value of our websites; investing time and resources into a zero-yielding ROI and a non-existent consumer base.