3 Question Interview: Carol Gann of Orlando Web Wizard

3 Question Interview: Carol Gann of Orlando Web Wizard

Carol Gann Head Shot Photo Shoot-10Over the years of networking and working in Orlando’s design community, I’ve met and befriended a lot of people. One of those is Carol Gann. She’s one of the sweetest people you’ll meet with a wealth of information for people in small businesses looking to create a web presence.

Question 1: In your option, what’s the biggest value a small business would appreciate with managed hosting? 

Managed website security and updates enable the small business owner to manage their online marketing. The Internet is not a stable environment. A WordPress website needs maintenance just like a home or car. Any number of things can go wrong in a hosting environment. The benefit of managed care is the small business owner doesn’t need to be concerned with their website getting hacked or becoming data corrupted. This saves them time and money.

Question 2: What do you do to educate your customers about their WordPress websites? 

We teach clients how to use their WordPress websites to get customers attention through inbound marketing by blogging and list management. We empower clients by teaching them to create their own lead and funnel pages. We’re in the process of developing MasteryWP an online education system with these goals. We turn WordPress into a CRM and teach them how to effectively use it. We create custom Google and Bing analytics to track marketing campaigns. We also give consultation to develop an online marketing plan.

Question 3: Whats the most challenging aspect of a firm that most of your clients wouldn’t know from the outside looking in? 

As an older woman in a predominately male industry and of small stature, with a soft voice, I think it is harder for me to gain trust and respect; until I talk with people to develop a relationship.  I think most people are surprised by my level of expertise and I work hard as a lifetime learner. I embrace the WordPress Community with open source principles and the code of conduct. This community has equal opportunity for everyone. Open Source Citizenship is friendly, safe, welcoming, and truly open for everyone. I wish the whole would value and follow Open Source Citizenship principles.


For more from Carol, be sure to visit her website Orlando Web Wizard and see all the services offered.  Stay tuned for more quick interviews with other business professionals.

The Real Threat of Your Expiring Domain

The Real Threat of Your Expiring Domain

I’ve been managing domains for over 9 years now. It’s not necessarily a hard job, even though hosting can be difficult. But for this article we’re going to stick to the business of domains. Acquiring a domain isn’t extremely challenging. There are apps from hosting providers you can use, or you can go the traditional route of creating an account with a hosting provider from your laptop 24/7 and buy domain names to your heart’s content.

Let’s Talk About Domain Registration

hosting serversYou can purchase a domain name anywhere from $5.99 to several thousand dollars. You scoff? Yes I typed that correct, several thousand. We’ll get to that in a just a few. The reason why you can purchase a domain for so cheap is usually because of the introductory prices offered when creating an account with a hosting provider. GoDaddy is probably the most well known, and at times infamous when it comes to domains.

Because the price of domains are so low for the most part, the recurring fee to renew your registration only happens on the anniversary of when your purchased it (or first registered it). Normally when it comes time to renew you’ll receive an email anywhere from 45 to the last few days leading up to your expiration. You may need to check your spam folder if you are missing these or if you previously opted out of receiving promotional emails from your provider.

Now on to the Good Part

When it’s time for your domain to renew, and you don’t renew it and it expires, it is released into the wild. Like the baby dolphin you helped raise from early childhood to an adult released back into the ocean. Because well, the internet is rather large like the ocean. I digress. So what happens when you want that domain back? Well if it is within the 30 days of expiration, your hosting provider still has it. They essentially “park” your domain hoping that you or your visitors will notice all the new banner ads that replaced your beautiful and well curated content and all your pages.

You can quickly contact your provider and pay the price for renewal (and possibly any lapse fees) and within moments your old website is back online and no more funky ads. But what do you do when it’s no longer in the hands of your provider? Well, you may be into some real trouble. There are people out there that scour the internet with apps and code waiting for domains to become newly available and buy them up for that same inexpensive low price like you did, but they place their own ads up along with a nice message on how if you’d like to purchase “this” domain you can have it for a price. In some cases the price is listed, and could be a couple hundred dollars. But if your website had high traffic, and continues to show a lot of visits from unsuspecting patrons, the resale value goes up. Oh and if you or other people submit that form to inquire about purchasing the domain, the price goes up. Almost like a catch-22 huh?

I’d like to say it’s not fair and there should be laws against this type of behavior in the market, but all of this could be avoided if hosting provider fees are taken care of on time.

This whole write up is to shed some light on a lesson for domain owners. It’s rather inexpensive to acquire and retain a domain name, or several of them at that. Think really hard if you no longer want to keep a domain. The headache of trying to get it back later could be way worse than just paying the $15 or $20 it is to renew it for the year.

Thoughts? Do you have a domain you’d like to get back from someone who bought it after it expired? Contact us and we’ll offer you some personal advice. Worse thing you can do is not to educate yourself on what options are available to you.



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)

Top 5 Reasons a Church Needs a Website

In the business world we understand that having a website enables your organization to reach a much larger audience at a marginal cost and in 2012 it’s a must. But what about God’s business? Many people don’t think the two are related (or maybe that they should be), but they are.  We are an iPad and Smartphone generation…and that’s just a fraction of the technology buzz this last year! Most of our kids have them right along with us! We want and often need accessibility to ease our busy lives, hearts and minds too. Since the goal of most church ministries is to evangelize the Word of God and promote biblical teachings and doctrine, a website is a wonderful and essential way to do just that.  In this blog, I submit the Top 5 Reasons why your church should not only consider having a website, but also the ways in which it can which it can contribute to the bigger goal & higher workings of it.

1st Stay in Touch ~ For most churches, they limit their “marketing” to handing out Sunday bulletins or posting newsletters on the bulletin board to keep members informed of and publicize events. However, many of your members may forget to pick up a bulletin or lose it sometime during service and miss out on key information. By having a website, you can post that information and so much more with just the click of a mouse day or night.  Therefore, a website is a great interactive way to stay touch with and inform your members whether within the walls of their own home or on vacation via their laptops or on any other on-the-go gadget or handheld device.

2nd   Casting a Larger Net & Being Fishers of Men ~ Reach out to impact the kingdom of God in any way you can and by any reasonable means to do so.  We see this in music, whether it’s traditional Christian Music, Gospel…even Gospel Rap. If His Word is not intended “to return to him void” then use all mediums to do so as well.  A website can also provide you with a wonderful opportunity to let others know what your church is all about, what you are up to in your community and what others can gain from attending your services.

3rd Championing the Cause ~ If there is a particular area of focus for your church, let’s say in eradicating homelessness or missionary work in other countries, a website is a great way to let the world know and solicit assistance.  Many large organizations (World Vision comes to mind) utilize their website to bring a greater awareness to the causes they champion, offer ways to support or even collect donations online to assist those efforts.

4th  The Lost Sheep and Those in Need ~ If one of primary purposes of the church is to help people, then a website is one of the best tools in the box to help on a more global scale.  There are many people who may be at a point in their lives where they need encouragement and may be in desperate straits. What a great testimony to kingdom work, by extending yourself beyond your physical address to someone who may just end up on your www for a solution they may have been “steered” your way for.  Additionally, if someone does not live in your geographic region, they can access great information, messages, videos, music and other helpful products.  Example: I was watching Joyce Meyers’ program this morning via TV because her church is in Fenton, MO.  But due to promotion of her materials at the end of her program and through her website, I was able to order a great teaching tool for a friend. And not from a store or calling her headquarters, but from my couch in Connecticut via my laptop.
5th Meant to be unique ~ Just like we are all created different, not all websites are built and/or look the same either. Although there may be some concern about joining the secular world in these efforts, you should now that you can be truly “set apart” even with the business of the church businesss.  Website companies now provide many templates, design layouts and stock photography/imagery to make your church’s website look professional whether you have a congregation of 100 or 1,000.  WordPress has really capitalized on creating templates for many professions and they have many designs specifically for churches and religious organizations with various layouts, colors and features.  It can be minimalistic or one with more capabilities such as flash media, video archiving, online stores and so much more!

The Laborers in the Vineyard ~ If you don’t have a church website already but are now convinced you need one, here are a few key starting point considerations:
Find a design company that you feel understands your church and gives comprehensible answers to your questions.

Make sure they can convey your hearts desires and message to the world with your vision in mind while using their talents to accomplish it.

On the business end, be aware that there will be costs for creation, annual hosting, website email linkage and updating.

At Design Theory, I have had the wonderful opportunity to assist in creating some dynamic websites for churches of various sizes and budgets.  (Check out some of our clientele at www.firstchurchclg.org or www.agapefellowshipct.org) But most rewarding, is that I have heard and seen the impact of these efforts locally and beyond as well as how it has grown their ministries.