Choosing a WordPress Hosting Provider for Your Business

For those who have websites, whether for business, blogs, or otherwise, you may find yourself asking the question, how do I choose a web hosting provider? Who is the best for hosting a small business and managing web hosting? If you have a WordPress website or plan to, then you will need a reliable hosting provider. 

At Rock Paper Simple, we have been using WPengine for many years, and we are thrilled with the service they provide. When choosing a hosting service for your WordPress website, not all hosting providers are created equal, and there are some providers like WPEngine cater specifically to WordPress hosting. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a WordPress hosting provider. 

  1. Security – This is probably the most significant thing to look for when choosing a hosting provider. Your information is sensitive and critical for your business. Some things to consider are daily backups, security software, and SSL certificates.
  2. Uptime – No hosting providers can guarantee 100% uptime, but some get close. Some of the best providers can offer uptime at or above 99.99%. So, choose a provider that can guarantee as much uptime as possible.
  3.  Customer Support – You will want a hosting provider to offer 24/7 support with a quick response time to your issues. IF you choose a provider that offers this, you will have some peace of mind knowing someone will be there around the clock to assist you. Your business is essential, and you deserve a provider who values your work as much as you do.
  4. Upgrade options – If you plan on growing your business in the future but do not need anything super robust when you are first starting, you will want to make sure your hosting provider can support growth. You may have a small business when you first join your hosting provider, but that can change in the future. It is important to talk with your potential providers about any long-term goals to ensure they are the right fit for you.
  5. WordPress Specific Service – Most hosting options that support PHP can host a WordPress website. However, there are services out there that offer WordPress-specific hosting options such as WordPress optimization, automatic plugin updates, software updates, and virus & malware removal, to name a few. With a bit of research, you can find a web host that offers WordPress-specific hosting. Your business is unique, and the services your host provides should reflect that. Make sure the hosting provider can give you access to the tools you need to help your website flourish.

Picking a good hosting provider will be essential to the success of your business, and using the five tips mentioned above can help you narrow down your choices, so choose a provider that meets your specific business goals. And Rock Paper Simple is happy to be your partner when selecting a hosting company. Our dedicated team of experts will work with you in WordPress to ensure that your website’s security, functionality, and services are always up to date and excelling. Contact us at Rock Paper Simple today and learn more about how we can partner with your business and reach success.

The Seven C’s of a Successful Social Strategy

Finding your roadmap for a successful social media marketing strategy can be largely beneficial to your business. It acts as a quick and convenient form of communication, a diverse platform to share information and interests, and a modern way of putting your image out into the world. As a business owner, your company website and office will always be the central places of contact with current and potential clients. However, social media presents an additional option.

Social media offers the opportunity to create a more personal and casual outlet for your audience while maintaining a professional atmosphere. And with multiple platforms readily available to customize to your business’s vision, you can make your social media into your ideal image. Rock Paper Simple is here to help you achieve that image, whether you work with a small business or a larger corporation. Whether you are unsure of how to start using social media for your business or you want to improve your presence on a current platform, Rock Paper Simple is ready to support you and has a few tips for a smart social media strategy to apply when creating your page:

1. Community: The best way to begin is to determine the target audience(s) you’re trying to reach. This will help you decide what social platforms to use and how to communicate with followers on each. How you interact with your audience and the tone you present yourself with can determine what kind of response you receive.

2. Content: Research what kind of content your followers will engage with on each channel. Be sure to highlight things that interest them, showcase your expertise, and provide thought leadership in your industry. You want to put out content that informs your audience of your business while keeping them engaged. 

3. Curation: Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way. Sharing helpful resources or tips provides value to your audience. It is important to know what and how much content to put out. You want to be informative and concise without overwhelming your audience. 

4. Creation: Creation is the act of creating content online, whether it be in the form of text, images, or video. According to Convince&Convert, the sweet spot of content curation to content creation is a 60/40 ratio: 60% curation and 40% creation.

5. Connection: Connection is about analyzing what your audience likes and dislikes about your content. The goal here is to gain a deeper understanding of your followers and appeal most to them. Depending on their engagement with your posts, your content strategy may need to change. 

6. Conversation: Conversation is the act of engaging back with your followers. This is key to building a strong, loyal community. Remember, social media is a way to build a more personal relationship with your present and future clients. Having an open communication channel can make all the difference for your business’s future. 

7. Conversion: Conversion is the ROI (return-on-investment). Here, it’s essential to analyze how many followers are taking action. Your social media strategy should connect to your business strategy, and as such, metrics like awareness, sales, and loyalty need to be measured.

Social media offers the opportunity for your business to strengthen and grow. The Social Media Marketing team at Rock Paper Simple is here and ready to help you achieve that goal. With our dedicated team of members working with advanced social media marketing strategies, we can benefit you in your financial services, nonprofits, content, and overall mission. We will help you succeed in expanding your business to new audiences and creating a more significant relationship with your clients. 

Meta Thoughts on Metadata

Akin to stagehands in theater productions, metadata is the seemingly invisible behind-the-scenes aspect of content creation. However, search engines see these hidden words as the absolute forefront of website copy

Tags, slugs, keywords, alt text, descriptions, and image files names all tell the search engines what to see. But, going without this metadata can drastically reduce your online visibility and search rankings. 

Like real estate’s almighty factor of worth based on location, location, location, metadata’s true value is about content, content, content. Word. But what exactly are these five elements of meta, why is each one important in its own right, and how do they boost your position on page results? Let’s explore each one further to find out. 

Tags

Much like the tag on your t-shirt, coded meta tags indicate what the published material (fabric content) is composed of. While there is contention as of late as to whether or not meta tags matter anymore, the consensus is yes, this snippet of HTML code (in conjunction with quality content) still plays a vital role in SEO.

Slugs

Slugs. They’re not just for gardens. Slugs make up the last portion of domain names and are meant to be an accurate glimpse into what can be expected from a particular page on a site. Instead of relying on auto-gen slugs, craft them yourself to customize them to mirror your sitemap and copy. 

Keywords

Are you all a-buzz just hearing the word keywords? Join the keyword-obsessed club. An SEO must-have, keywords are the simplified summary of all your web page’s content, allowing search engines a quick glimpse into what you are trying to convey. 

Alt Text

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, alt text is necessary for anyone using the internet that’s visually impaired. Alt-text is a written description of an image (no, it’s not worth 100 words, as the cliché says) that’s a short phrase to portray a picture, graphic, logo, video, or animation. 

Descriptions

Let’s talk length. Device width determines the visible character count of your site’s meta description. Most mobile devices topped out at 120 characters, while computers show up to 158 characters (both of these numbers include spaces).

Image File Names

Logically naming your image files to reflect what is represented in the image doesn’t just make a whole lot of sense to other humans. It also makes sense to the algorithms which control search engine results. Make it a best practice to name your images according to their content while avoiding long strings of auto-generated numbers. 

If your published website lacks complete metadata in the backend of your site, you are not alone. But, never fear. Our Content Writing Team and SEO experts are here! Contact Rock Paper Simple to see how we can boost your position through the awesome marketing power of meta.

What Does an SSL Certificate Do and Why Do You Need One?

SSL stands for secure sockets layer. If you are looking at your website URL and do not see https:// in front of it and only http://, then chances are you do not have an SSL certificate. So what is it and why do you need one?

An SSL certificate encrypts or scrambles your data to make it unreadable as it passes through the internet. When you send data like usernames and passwords or complete a webform online, the SSL certificate will encrypt the information you type as it passes through the internet from your computer to the destination server. As your inputted information makes its way through the internet, it may pass through several servers on its way to the destination server. 

Once your encrypted information arrives at the destination server, it is then unencrypted and read by humans. If you do not have an SSL certificate, the data can be read by anyone as it passes through the various servers on the way to the destination server. A  “man in the middle” could intercept the information you sent from your computer to the webserver and potentially lead to fraud and identity theft.

But how many types of SSL certificates are there, and what’s the difference between them? To date, three variants exist, Domain Validated (DV SSL), Extended Validation (EV SSL), and an Organization Validated (OV SSL). 

The lowest level of security for a website is DV SSL, which offers protection without the wait time and vetting of an OV SSL, which is the next rung-up in security. Both provide the Secure Sight Seal seen in website footers. An EV SSL certificate is the top-tier for optimal site security and is used primarily for businesses and government agencies. 

SSL can help by:

  1. Protecting your data
  2. SSL affirms your identity
  3. Better search engine rankings
  4. SSL enables you to satisfy PCI/DSS requirements
  5. SSL improves customer trust
  6. Preventing web browsers from displaying “not secure” warnings

So if you want visitors to trust your website and to feel safe, you must have an SSL certificate installed on your website. Not only will you give your website visitors some peace of mind, but you will also receive other perks such as those mentioned above by making sure your website has an active SSL certificate installed.

That being said, SSL certificates do not last forever. When an SSL expires, it needs to be updated. How is this accomplished? SSL certificates are purchased annually through online vendors. Be sure to renew your certificate once a year to keep it active!

The Importance of Multi-Purpose Logos

When you think of any well-known company, you immediately imagine that company’s logo. For example, when you think of McDonald’s, the first thing that comes to mind is the famous golden arches. The importance of a logo goes way beyond just one singular symbol or descriptive lettering. Put it like this — the face of your company is represented through your logo. It’s the first impression of your brand, and it’s what leaves a lasting impression on the consumer. 

You may think a logo is just one simple design, but there are many aspects to consider when creating one, including different formats. The idea of multiple logo variations is called a multi-purpose logo or a responsive logo. With today’s devices like tablets, mobile smartphones, and even smartwatches, the need for multi-purpose logos has increased. Logos need to impact your consumers, whether that be when scrolling through Facebook or looking at a billboard on your drive to work. 

What are Multi-Purpose Logos?

Multi-purpose logos are different variations of your brand’s primary logo. As stated above, you want your logo to apply to any format so that it can still leave a lasting impression, no matter the platform it’s being shown on. Multi-purpose logos need to fit the scale across all channels and devices. The smaller the scale, the more simple the logo variation needs to be. 

Why Multi-Purpose Logos?

The most impactful logos are simple. But while simplicity is key, you also want your logo to be functional. This means that it can be easily adjusted to fit across a multitude of platforms. Your logo also needs to work just as well in black and white as it does in full color. Having a primary logo, emblem, wordmark, and alternate logos will allow your brand the flexibility to create a strong identity. Multi-purpose logos are becoming more and more essential as technology advances and trends arise. They develop character, build brand identity, and allow consumers to interact with your brand in multiple ways. 

 

Benefits of Multi-Purpose Logos

If you aren’t already convinced, let’s talk about the benefits of multi-purpose logos. When your company has a multi-purpose logo, this creates consistency in your branding as a whole. We all want our brand to stand out, and having a solid multi-purpose logo will achieve that. Multi-purpose logos also build and maintain a visual for consumers across all channels, ultimately leaving a lasting impression on anyone who sees it. When your brand has a versatile logo, you build the freedom to engage with your consumers on a whole other level. Brand loyalty is essential, and multi-purpose logos will help your company culture shine through and become widely recognizable. 

Tips on Creating a Successful Multi-Purpose Logo

The steps to creating a successful multi-purpose logo are simple if you have the right mindset. When designing, you want to avoid intricate patterns and fine details to ensure the logo is versatile and effective. In this case, less is more! If you’re having trouble finding ways to simplify your logo, try brainstorming designs that involve removing images, lettering, and exchanging brand colors. Following these guidelines will allow your logo to work in any environment, on any platform. 

As you can see, the importance of multi-purpose logos is crucial in creating a lasting impression for your brand. Remember, multi-purpose logos are not different designs of your logo. They are simplified versions that include the same watermark, colors, and other elements of your main logo. Brand identity is essential in representing how your company is perceived, and having a strong multi-purpose logo will help achieve that. 

Are you looking to redesign your logo or build one from the ground up? At Rock Paper Simple, we’ve got you covered! Turn your brand into a tangible asset and make your business goals become a reality! Visit our branding services page to learn more. 

10 UX / UI Tools for Web Designers

When it comes to website design, there is always room to grow and learn. New tools are released rapidly, and as a designer, it’s important to be aware of them. Below are ten UX/UI tools that we believe will help any website designer maximize their capabilities, complete projects on time, and reach their business’s objectives! 

Layoutit Grid – Let’s face it; as a designer, you sometimes need to visualize the grid in your head. This tool does exactly that, allowing you to mock up your desired grid layout quickly. Layoutit Grid is an interactive grid generator that lets you draw your designs, with the perk of seeing the code as you go.

Neumorphism.io – This tool creates the characteristic soft shadows and edges that have made neumorphism so popular in the design industry. Use this code generator to help you with colors, gradients, and shadows to make your design stand out!

Compound Grid Generator – Nested or compound grids can be confusing. Help take the edge off with this handy compound grid generator. Just enter the number of columns for each of your grids, and it’ll automatically combine them into a compound grid, simple as that!

CSS Effects – Have you ever wanted to add or create image hover effects? With the help of this tool, you can make your project stand out! Here is a nice collection of subtle but supremely reusable animations for your next project or design.

zerodivs.com – Try this experimental UI editor for creating CSS-only illustrations. That’s right! No raster or vector graphics are actually created, only CSS! It may not be the best solution for scalable graphics, but this tool can be beneficial given the right project.

patternico – Patternico is an awesome web-based tool for creating seamless tiled patterns. It’s completely free and will elevate any project!

Gradihunt – Gradihunt is an automated gradient generator. Get inspired by user-created gradients, or create your own!

Motion – Want to add a creative icon to your next big project? With Motion, you can build animated SVG icons that are customizable to you, available for Mac OS and Windows.

Animockup – Want to show off your website or project on a device? Are you tired of the same old photoshop templates? Animockup enables you to create animated product mockups for free!

Multicolor CSS Gradients – Multicolor CSS Gradients is a creative tool that offers free, lightweight, colorful, and responsive backgrounds!

As you can see, there are multitudes of tools available online that will instantly take your projects to the next level. The UX/UI tools mentioned above are just a few on the market, but they’re a great starting place for all levels of expertise. Take time to dive deeper, and don’t be afraid to explore options until you discover which ones work best for you. In the end, it all comes down to your business’s needs and design style!

At Rock Paper Simple, the websites we build revolve around a strategy that reflects each client’s unique brand, offerings, and business goals. Our designers and web developers are experts in their fields and understand what it takes to generate results. If you need assistance building a marketing-focus website, contact us today!

 

Optimize Website Images to Improve Performance, Search Ranking

The Google Page Experience Algorithm [1] update launches this June, and with it, we will see the Core Web Vitals become part of the ranking signals that dictate how your site ranks on search results. Core Web Vitals measure how fast your website loads and affect other factors that impact the user’s experience on your website.  

How Do Images Impact Website Performance?

At Rock Paper Simple, our team comes across a variety of clients in need of quicker loading times on their website. We have discovered that one of the most impactful ways to increase performance score is to optimize your site images.

Often, the problems we encounter when reviewing a website include images that are too large, poorly compressed, or in the wrong format. Mobile phones are one culprit. Today, mobile phones are capable of producing large, high-quality images, making it easy to upload photos that are too large for the website unknowingly. 

A single photo from your mobile phone camera could measure five megabytes or more with a resolution in the thousands of pixels. The average size of a website today is between two to three megabytes, so having even just a few uncompressed images on your site could inflate your total website size to double, triple, or even higher. This is extra data that mobile users have to download on their mobile plans and can create a negative experience for mobile users with poor connections. 

Online Image Optimizers

If your website is small or only utilizes a small number of images, you can drop those photos into an online image optimizer and replace them on your site with the newly optimized ones. Here are a few online optimizers that do an excellent job of compressing your images using various algorithms.

WordPress Image Optimizers

Here at Rock Paper Simple, we build our websites on an awesome content publishing platform called WordPress. WordPress contains robust features that ensure users don’t upload unnecessarily large images. By default, every image uploaded to WordPress is compressed and served up in various thumbnail sizes running from small (150px) to large (1024px). While this is an excellent feature, our team takes optimization a step further.

This next step is where image optimization plugins and services come in handy. These plugins automatically compress the images you upload to the smallest possible file size when you upload them. Additionally, you can compress images that already exist in your WordPress media library, ensuring that older images also benefit.

Below are a few WordPress plugins with exceptional feature sets. Our developers particularly enjoy the ability to convert images to Webp format — the internet’s next-generation image format for greater performance gains. 

Image optimization is just one piece of the Core Web Vitals puzzle, with many other factors affecting the performance of your site and the resultant search placement. At Rock Paper Simple, our SEO optimization experts work hard to stay on top of the latest changes, trends, and technologies that help guide our clients to better-performing pages, higher-ranking websites, and happier customers. Contact us today or take a look at our web design services to see how we can help you realize your marketing goals, including your website performance and ranking. 

 

Resources:

[1] https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2021/04/more-details-page-experience

2020-2021 American Advertising Federation (AAF) Space Coast Awards

The American Advertising Federation (AAF) was founded in 1905 and is the world’s largest advertising trade association. Each year, the AFF hosts a nationwide competition through its local chapters to reward the spirit of creative excellence in advertising. 

This year, Rock Paper Simple entered into the 2020-2021 AFF Space Coast competition and was honored to take home eight coveted Addy awards — three gold and five silver! Not only do these awards speak to our team’s hard work, but also the work of the brilliant organizations we’re lucky to call our clients!

2020-2021 AFF Space Coast Gold Addy Awards

The first Gold Addy Award our team won was for New Life Mission’s rebrand project that included a new name, logo, brand guidelines, messaging, core values, collateral material, promotional videos, and more. It was critical to choose elements that would speak to the impact of the organization and the transformative process participating women go through. As a result, the main design element featured throughout New Life Mission’s brand materials is a butterfly with a celebrating woman as its body. 

Another Gold Addy Award we received this year was for our “Meet Jane” video. This video overviews Rock Paper Simple and the services we offer. 

The last Gold Addy Award our team won was for the Brevard Zoo’s Animal Guardian campaign. This campaign was a joint effort with Artemis and had the goal of raising enough funds to support the care of 4 animals at the zoo, including a cheetah, black bear, white rhino, and giraffe. In the end, we’re proud to say this campaign raised $3,410!

2020-2021 AFF Space Coast Silver Addy Awards

Rock Paper Simple also had the pleasure of working with Artemis on their new website build, which happened to be a 2021 Silver Addy Award winner! Artemis has a vast array of services and solutions that our team was able to organize and display purposefully to ensure a smooth user experience.

Another Silver Addy Award recipient was our “What is Story” video. This video explains the concept of storytelling and communicates the thought process behind each project completed by our in-house video production team.

The next 2021 Silver Addy Award recipient was the Melbourne Regional Chamber’s Space Coast Staycation campaign! This campaign’s goal was to drive the local economy by helping residents plan the perfect #SpaceCoastStaycation in support of our tourism-based businesses. 

In addition to winning a Gold Addy Award for their rebranding, New Life Mission’s website won a 2021 Silver Addy Award!

Our team wanted to provide the organization with a beautiful platform to enhance donor confidence and designed their website to clearly communicate the nonprofit’s mission. The butterfly was used as an animation element on the home page, adding a unique effect! 

The last 2021 Silver Addy Award was for our work with Carroll Distributing Company. Our team loved collaborating with this locally-focused, family-owned business to create a brand new website that showcased their services and love for the Space Coast.

Some important elements in the website build included the incorporation of hand-drawn elements into Carroll’s extensive history through an engaging timeline to show the birth of the company and its evolution over time. Our team also created a catalog system so that potential customers could see the selection of beverages Carroll has to offer. 

Thank you to the AFF Space Coast for hosting an incredible 2020-2021 Awards Show. And, thank you to our clients and marketing partners for placing your trust in us. While we’re honored to have received the recognition, the real win is providing value to those we serve! 

If you would like to learn more about each of these projects, navigate to our portfolio!

2020 GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree: Letter from Head Honcho

“We are officially a GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch honoree! Wow!

An organization like ours only exists and reaches forward to great things because of the people that are part of it. This honor speaks to our team (past and present!) that has put in so much hard work, the mentors who have spoken to us, the clients that have invested in us and the community that has embraced us. We couldn’t imagine doing this anywhere else… with anyone else!

I prayed every month for five months while I was working on getting Rock Paper Simple launched that the Lord would bless our path forward, or stop me from starting it altogether. Here we are, almost eight years later with a team I couldn’t be more proud of…those prayers were certainly answered. 

I am filled with gratitude to all those who have contributed to making Rock Paper Simple into not only what it is today, but what it will be tomorrow.

Ever Forward!”

Tips for Email Marketing Success

Creating a strong email marketing strategy for your business helps you to connect with your target audience in a personalized way and increases sales at an affordable cost. According to Statista, the global email user count is set to grow to 4.3 billion by 2023. [1] Further, DMA found that every dollar spent on email marketing creates an average return of $42. [2] Awesome, right? Below we’ve laid out a few key tips to consider when building your email marketing strategy to ensure its success! 

Build Relationships

When using email marketing for your business, it’s important to keep building relationships with subscribers at the forefront of your approach. People often join email lists not because they want to buy a product but because they want to learn more about a company. So, while increased sales might be a short term goal, engagement and a strong following is the key to driving success long term. 

Use CTA’s

In an email campaign, CTA’s (call to actions) are essential. If they aren’t crafted in a way that encourages subscribers to click on a company’s message, the campaign results might fall short. Three important questions to ask yourself when creating CTA’s are: “Is it descriptive?”, “Is it easy to act on?”, “Is it hard to miss?”. 

Maintain Contact List

The last critical email marketing tip is to keep your contact list up-to-date, especially if you’re using a service provider like SharpSpring or MailChimp. Inactive subscribers and email addresses that are no longer used negatively affect your deliverability rate, bounce rate, and overall sender reputation. To refresh your list, use a validation program like ZeroBounce. These types of programs will make sorting through your email list easy and efficient!

To wrap it up, here’s a short checklist of basic steps to take when creating your own email marketing campaign!

▢ Build a subscriber list (and keep it updated)

▢ Create a clean email layout

▢ Keep subject lines short and catchy

▢ Tailor emails to be mobile-friendly

▢ Include interesting CTA’s

▢ Test emails before they’re sent

▢ Track data

▢ Provide value! 

 

Resources:

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/

[2] https://dma.org.uk/uploads/misc/marketers-email-tracker-2019.pdf