How to Disable the Gutenberg WordPress Editor (Need More Time)

We are already in crunch time and a lot of the WordPress community simply isn’t ready for the new Gutenberg WordPress editor, which will be the default in WordPress 5.0. For a lot of you, the planned release date of November 19, 2018, along with the first fallback date (November 27, 2018), is smack dab in the middle of the holidays. This definitely isn’t ideal, and that is one reason why we are writing up this tutorial.

Don’t get us wrong, we are excited for Gutenberg and we think in the long run it could have a very positive impact on the CMS as a whole. We users to go try it out right now and test it in a staging environment. Depending on your site, you might have no issues at all. In fact, many, have fallen in love with the new editor. However, it can be ignored that there are a lot of you who simply aren’t ready.

Gutenberg poll

Gutenberg poll

Developers are still testing and updating their plugins, themes, and page builders (or worse, haven’t even started). Therefore, you may need to simply disable the Gutenberg WordPress editor until you have time to test everything properly. And usually, that’s not during one of the busiest online shopping periods of the year. Or perhaps you want to wait for a more stable version. Even we have to admit, this version seems very rushed.

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Disable the Gutenberg WordPress Editor

The Gutenberg WordPress editor is default in WordPress 5.0. But that doesn’t mean you can’t update to WordPress 5.0 when it’s released. It simply means you might want to disable the new editor functionality and retain the old one. Below are a couple easy options to disable the Gutenberg editor as to not interrupt your daily workflow. You can then keep using WordPress the way you have been for the past decade.

It’s important to note, these solutions will most likely not be a long-term solution. WordPress is pushing the Gutenberg editor and you’ll need to most likely adopt it at some point. Who knows how long the Classic Editor will be around.

Option 1 – Install the Classic Editor WordPress Plugin

The Classic Editor WordPress plugin isn’t a new plugin, it simply restores the previous WordPress editor you’ve been used to. It’s built by WordPress Contributors and is fully endorsed by the WordPress Core team as the current way to retain the old editor. It seems like even they know not everything is going to be running perfectly when WordPress 5.0 officially launches. But remember, this is also one of the biggest changes WordPress has had in many years.

Classic Editor WordPress plugin

Classic Editor WordPress plugin

The Classic Editor plugin currently has over 500,000 active installs with a 5 out of 5-star rating. Note: This plugin will also hide the “Try Gutenberg” dashboard widget you might have seen from 4.9.8.

You can download it from the WordPress repository or search for “classic editor” within your WordPress dashboard under “Plugins → Add New.” Then click on “Install Now” and activate the plugin.

Install Classic Editor WordPress plugin

Install Classic Editor WordPress plugin

The plugin has two different modes you can choose from under “Settings→ Writing.”

  • Replace the Gutenberg with the Classic Editor (Default).
  • Use the block editor by default and include optional links back to the Classic Editor.
Classic Editor modes

Classic Editor modes

We’ll show you an example of each below.

Mode 1 – Replace Gutenberg with Classic Editor (Default)

The default setting with the Classic Editor plugin is that it will revert back to the original editor that you’re already used to (as seen below).

Classic Editor default

Classic Editor default

Mode 2 – Use Gutenberg by Default and Make Classic Editor Optional

The other mode available in the Classic Editor plugin is to set the Gutenberg Editor as default, but still have the option to use the Classic Editor. It adds alternative “Edit” links to the Posts and Pages screens, on the toolbar at the top of the screen, and in the admin menu. Using these links will open the corresponding post or page in the Classic Editor.

Gutenberg and Classic Editor links

Gutenberg and Classic Editor links

Unless you click on the ones marked “(Classic)” it will open the posts and pages in the new Gutenberg Editor (as seen below).

Gutenberg Editor

Gutenberg Editor

If you have clients and you’re worried about the Classic Editor options showing up under the Writing and Plugin screens, you could also install the free Classic Editor Addon plugin. This hides all the settings. Or check out the alternative plugin below.

Option 2 – Install the Disable Gutenberg WordPress Plugin

While the Classic Editor plugin is the official recommended plugin to restore the old editor, you might also want to check out the Disable Gutenberg WordPress plugin. It essentially does the same thing, but it comes with a few additional bells and whistles, while still being very lightweight. If you’re working with clients, this might be a better solution. As the developer of the plugin, Jeff Star, puts it:

The all-in-one, COMPLETE solution handling Gutenberg. Hide ALL traces of Gutenberg and replace with the Classic Editor.

Disable Gutenberg WordPress plugin

Disable Gutenberg WordPress plugin

The Disable Gutenberg plugin currently has over 9,000 active installs with a 5 out of 5-star rating. Note: This doesn’t currently work with WordPress 5.0 Beta. But we are confident Jeff will have this fixed soon.

You can download it from the WordPress repository or search for “disable gutenberg” within your WordPress dashboard under “Plugins → Add New.” Then click on “Install Now” and activate the plugin.

Install the Disable Gutenberg WordPress plugin

Install the Disable Gutenberg WordPress plugin

One nice thing about this plugin is all the settings are located within its own menu in “Settings → Disable Gutenberg.” It doesn’t add options in the default Writing screen. This is nice because one of the options, as you can see below, is to hide the plugin menu itself. This essentially makes it essentially invisible to anyone.

And just like with the Classic Editor you also have the option to disable the “Try Gutenberg” widget callout in the dashboard.

Disable Gutenberg default settings

Disable Gutenberg default settings

The real power of this plugin is if you uncheck the “Complete Disable” option. It then allows you to disable Gutenberg for certain roles, post types, page templates, and post IDs.

Disable Gutenberg advanced options

Disable Gutenberg advanced options

Summary

There are a lot of reasons why you might want or need to disable the Gutenberg WordPress editor, even if it’s just temporarily:

  • The release dates of WordPress 5.0 for many is right around the holidays, so perhaps you just need more time to try it out.
  • You’re using a third-party plugin or theme that is still incompatible with the Gutenberg Editor.
  • You prefer to use your current page builder plugin and it hasn’t added support for Gutenberg yet.
  • You want to wait until Gutenberg is more stable and polished.
  • Perhaps you prefer the Classic Editor and want to roll with it for as long as it still works.

Whatever the case, restoring the previous WordPress editor is quick and easy. Have any thoughts? Are you going to be rolling with the new Gutenberg Editor or sticking with the Classic Editor?

What’s New in WordPress 5.0 (How to Prepare for Gutenberg)

The release date for WordPress 5.0 is quickly approaching. If you ignored all the other updates this year, now’s the time to buckle down and take notice as this will be the biggest update for 2018 (possibly 2019). WordPress is completely revamping how users and developers use the CMS with their new Gutenberg editor. It’s now all about blocks. We’re also getting a fresh Twenty Nineteen theme which will be the default on new installations.

As with any new version of WordPress, we always recommend testing. This might sound like a broken record, but because this release impacts everything from the editor, to third-party plugins, and even your theme, testing is not optional! If you don’t test, things could easily break. This is one release where you don’t want to wait to the last minute.

That being said, let’s dive into what all you can expect with the WordPress 5.0 release.

WordPress 5.0 Changes Everything (What’s New)

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With WordPress 4.8 (Evans) we got a multitude of new widgets and improvements, along with a handy improvement to how links work in the visual editor.

With WordPress 4.9 (Tipton) we saw a significant step toward a more user-centric way to customize and manage websites, with great improvements to the Customizer, new exciting functionalities to widgets, a powerful text editor for editing code.

Most of the past updates have been relatively minor and for a lot of us, didn’t impact us that much. WordPress 5.0 is different. Rather than adding minor improvements here and there, this release is entirely focused on the following two things:

  1. The new Gutenberg WordPress Editor
  2. Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme

Other than that, minor changes and bug fixes are only being looked at on a case-by-case basis. In reality, it’s all about Gutenberg. 📇

While at first, this might sound like there isn’t that much changing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Gutenberg is an attempt to push WordPress as a CMS forward in website building space. In fact, the WordPress team is planning on moving away from the old release cycle where we only get small updates to one where we’ll see bigger changes happening at once.

So what exactly is Gutenberg? The Gutenberg handbook does a great job at summarizing it:

Gutenberg began as a transformation of the WordPress editor — a new interface for adding, editing, and manipulating content. It seeks to make it easy for anyone to create rich, flexible content layouts with a block-based UI. All types of page components are represented as modular blocks, which means they can be accessed from a unified block menu, dropped anywhere on a page, and directly edited to create the custom presentation the user wants.

It is a fundamental modernization and transformation of how the WordPress experience works, creating new opportunities for both users and developers. Gutenberg introduces new frameworks, interaction patterns, functionality, and user experiences for WordPress…

In other words, in WordPress 5.0, you will no longer have the same classic WordPress editor or text editor that you’ve been used to using over the past decade. 😱 It’s now going to look like this:

Gutenberg Editor

Gutenberg Editor

In fact, you might have already seen a callout about it in your WordPress dashboard. This was added in the WordPress 4.9.8 minor release as a way to give users a heads up that this is really happening.

WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg callout

WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg callout

Gutenberg is the default and only editor on fresh WordPress 5.0 installations. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to install the Classic Editor plugin if you want. This will allow you to continue using it alongside the new Gutenberg editor. We’ll have another post later this week on a complete walkthrough on how to keep using the Classic Editor.

However, fair warning, the Classic Editor will probably not be supported forever. This is really a temporary solution. So we highly recommend diving into Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 sooner than later.

Why is this happening? There are a couple of reasons.

1. WordPress Has to Compete

The first is that even though the self-hosted version of WordPress is open source, Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com is still a business. It needs to compete with all of these other website building solutions such as Wix and Squarespace. If you take a look at the WordPress market share, from 2017 to 2018, year-on-year growth is at around 17.3%. While that seems great, take a look at some of the competitors. Squarespace grew by 180% and Wix grew by 233%.

And while the open source project and the business are technically separate, they go hand in hand with each other. In other words, WordPress needs to catch up! Why do you think all the fancy page builder plugins are growing at an unbelievable rate? It’s because people need easier ways to build their websites and write content. Even other publishing platforms such as Medium and Ghost frankly have a much better writing experience if you’re just wanting to blog.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, competition is what drives the product and community forward faster.

2. Needed a Rewrite

Second, Gutenberg is now built on React, a very popular JavaScript framework used and maintained by companies like Facebook and Instagram. Our developers at Kinsta love React, and in fact, we used it when we decided to roll our own affiliate system. Besides that Gutenberg takes advantage of a lot of other modern technologies such as the REST API, ESnext + JSX, WebPack, etc. Riad Benguella has a great post on how Gutenberg is changing WordPress development.

Because of how it is structured, it opens up a whole new world for developers in terms of “block development.” Remember, everything in Gutenberg is about blocks. So you’ll probably be hearing that term a lot.

But it can also complicate things as typically developers would need to learn new languages. However, thankfully, the WordPress community has come to rescue and there are great open source projects such as create-guten-block. Essentially this is a zero-configuration dev-toolkit (#0CJS) to develop WordPress Gutenberg blocks in a matter of minutes without configuring React, webpack, ES6/7/8/Next, ESLint, Babel, etc.

You’ll probably also want to check out Atomic Blocks and Stackable.

Atomic Blocks

Atomic Blocks

You would think that with all of this, the aim would be to improve performance? While we hope this is the case, a lot of reports so far are indicating slower performance.

Note: Some of these should be taken with a grain of salt as the Gutenberg team is pushing out updates non-stop and therefore the final product could vary quite a bit. Time will tell.

The other downside to this is that most (not all) WordPress theme and plugins have to be rewritten to work with Gutenberg. Mainly those that interact with the WordPress editor. Yoast SEO is a great example of a WordPress plugin developer that jumped on board really quick! They pushed out their first Gutenberg update back in July 2017, and have been releasing new ones ever since. Even though they were first worried about accessibility. The WordPress team has now issued a statement regarding accessibility in Gutenberg.

If you want to dive into all of the features of Gutenberg and really see how it works, check out our deep dive into the Gutenberg WordPress editor.

Twenty Nineteen Theme

WordPress 5.0 also includes the new minimal Twenty Nineteen theme. It is shipping with full Gutenberg support, both on the front and back-end. We’ll be covering this theme more in-depth in an upcoming post. 😉

Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme

Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme

What the Community Thinks of Gutenberg

With WordPress powering over 32% of all websites on the internet, any major change like this is bound to cause some controversy. After all, let’s be honest, the WordPress editor really hasn’t changed much at all in the past decade.

If you take a look at the Gutenberg WordPress plugin, with over 500,000 active installations, it has a rating of 2.3 out of 5-stars. With a whopping 800+ 1 -star ratings. While this doesn’t look good, it’s important to realize that people have been rating Gutenberg ever since it was in beta. Also, with such a huge change, there are bound to be some reviews from users who are simply resistant to change.

Gutenberg WordPress ratings

Gutenberg WordPress ratings

We are currently taking a poll on Twitter (we encourage you to vote) to see what users think of Gutenberg right now. With over 350 votes so far, 46% say they haven’t used it much and therefore don’t really have an opinion either way. With WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg quickly approaching this is kind of scary in itself. Another 23% say they hate it, 18% say they love it, and 13% say it’s growing on them.

Gutenberg poll

Gutenberg poll (Note: We’ll update these stats when the poll has finished.)

Ian from Declious Brains also has a very good post where he shares a lot of valid concerns for Gutenberg. No matter how you look it, due to the fact that WordPress is pushing all of these new languages and technologies, sites, when upgraded to WordPress 5.0, are simply going to break. There is no preventing it. Unless every single plugin and theme you’re using has been fully updated, which in most cases it hasn’t, you might be in for a world of hurt when it comes to troubleshooting.

And who does this impact the most? Agencies, freelancers, and developers. Which is why the release date for WordPress 5.0 (which we’ll get to further below) really concerns us.

If all that isn’t enough, ClassicPress has emerged. This is a hard fork of WordPress (without Gutenberg) that serves the CMS-based business website market. The concern here is are we going to start to fragment? Even their team doesn’t know yet how they will handle plugin and theme compatibility yet. Either way, this is definitely an interesting project to keep an eye on.

ClassicPress

ClassicPress

Official WordPress 5.0 Release Date

So now the question you probably all have, when is WordPress 5.0 coming out? The WordPress core team has set a target release date of November 19, 2018. However, this is a tentative date. If everything isn’t ready by this date, they’ve set two additional fallback release dates:

  • First fallback release: November 27, 2018
  • Second fallback release: January 22, 2019

For most of you, the first couple dates probably don’t look that great as they fall right around Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you’re working with clients running on WordPress this is something to keep in mind. You can, of course, install the Classic Editor or simply put off updating until later.

Either way, you should have a game plan for the holidays! The last thing you want is your client calling you up Thanksgiving day (if you’re in the states) complaining about their site being broken after they upgrade to WordPress 5.0. This is exactly why Kinsta doesn’t force major updates.

How to Get Ready and Update to WordPress 5.0

We can’t stress enough how important testing WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg is. You really need to make sure all of your plugins and theme are going to work properly. If you have a custom built solution, make sure to start reaching out to a WordPress developer to get it updated. This is not something your WordPress host will be able to fix for you.

1. Download the Gutenberg Plugin

Even though WordPress 5.0 isn’t out yet, it’s essentially made up of the Gutenberg plugin which you can install right now and start testing. Or if you want to test everything you can grab the WordPress 5.0 Beta 1. Just don’t run this on production.

Gutenberg WordPress plugin

Gutenberg WordPress plugin

You can download the latest version of Gutenberg from the WordPress repository or by searching for it within your WordPress dashboard under “Add New” plugins.

Install Gutenberg WordPress plugin

Install Gutenberg WordPress plugin

We highly recommend installing Gutenberg on a test site or utilize your host’s staging environment. This way you won’t affect your live site. If you’re a Kinsta client you can easily copy your live site to staging with a few simple clicks.

WordPress staging environment

WordPress staging environment

After installing Gutenberg, the “Edit” option under your pages and posts will automatically open in the new editor. If you have the classic editor plugin installed, you’ll also see an option for that as well.

Gutenberg edit

Gutenberg edit

What Happens to Current Content?

What happens to the content you created in the classic editor when opened in the new Gutenberg editor? Basically, the entire post will show up as one big TinyMCE editor box. They did this to preserve the content format of all of your posts and pages. To take advantage of the Gutenberg editor, you can select the option to “Convert to Blocks.”

Gutenberg convert to blocks

Gutenberg convert to blocks

Everything will then be automatically converted into the new Gutenberg blocks.

Converted Gutenberg blocks

Converted Gutenberg blocks

What Happens to Shortcodes?

The same goes for shortcodes. In this example, we had a NinjaForm contact form contact form already on our development site. It was placed in the classic editor using a shortcode. So in the Gutenberg editor, we again select the “Convert to Blocks.”

Gutenberg shortcode

Gutenberg shortcode

The shortcode is then turned into a Gutenberg shortcode block. The contact form still renders fine on the front-end.

Converted Gutenberg shortcode block

Converted Gutenberg shortcode block

2. Take a Backup of Your WordPress site

If you aren’t testing on a development or staging site (which you should be) make sure to take a complete backup of your WordPress site. There are a lot of great WordPress backup plugins you can utilize. If you’re a Kinsta client you have access to a staging site as well as four different types of backups, including automatic backups which are stored for 14 days.

However, due to the fact that WordPress 5.0 is such a huge change, we also recommend taking a downloadable backup of your entire site. This includes all of your files and your MySQL database. You never know, you might miss something after those 14 days have passed. It’s always handy to be able to launch a backup if needed. Kinsta clients can download a full backup with a simple click anytime in the MyKinsta dashboard.

Download full WordPress backup

Download full WordPress backup

3. Check Plugins and Themes (They are Impacted by Gutenberg)

As part of your testing with Gutenberg, you’ll want to make sure that all of your third-party plugins and theme work with Gutenberg. Anything that interacts with the WordPress editor will most likely be affected. Yoast SEO is a good example as it has custom meta boxes. Advance Custom Fields would be another one.

Check with the developers of your plugins and theme. Many have started announcing Gutenberg support or when they will have it. Many theme developers are also releasing their own Gutenberg blocks.

4. How to Update to WordPress 5.0 (Once It’s Released)

Once WordPress 5.0 is officially released it will be available via the WordPress admin dashboard. Simply click on the updates icon in the toolbar. Then click on the “Update Now” button. While your site is being updated, it will be in maintenance mode. As soon as your updates are complete, your site will return to normal.

Update to WordPress 5.0

Update to WordPress 5.0

As long as everything goes well with the update you should then see the “What’s New” screen. And that’s it! Quick and easy.

Troubleshoot Issues with WordPress Update

As with every new release of WordPress, there are always some that experience issues, and that is due to the thousands of different plugins and themes currently co-existing in the market. Here are a few ways to troubleshoot common issues.

  • Getting the white screen of death? This is commonly resolved by simply restarting PHP and deleting the full page cache on your WordPress site.
  • Seeing a “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute” screen that won’t go away? Your site might be stuck in maintenance mode.
  • Try deactivating all your plugins to see if that fixes your issue. Then reactivate them one by one until you find which plugin might need an update from the developer.
  • Try switching over to a default WordPress theme, such as Twenty Nineteen (once it’s available). If this fixes your problem, you might want to reach out to your theme developer.
  • Troubleshoot and diagnose JavaScript issues in your browser. This can be especially helpful if a crucial component like the Visual Editor (TinyMCE) breaks.

Summary

WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg is the biggest update to WordPress that we’ve had in a long time. It affects everyone, from how users interact with the editor and write content, to how developers code plugins and themes. Only time will tell how successful the Gutenberg project is. But no matter what, it’s best to start testing as soon as you can to ensure nothing breaks on your WordPress site.

Have any thoughts regarding WordPress 5.0 or Gutenberg? We’d love to hear what you think about it.

The post What’s New in WordPress 5.0 (How to Prepare for Gutenberg) appeared first on Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.

How to Choose a Domain Name (8 Tips to Stand Out)

Your domain is your digital street address. Even if you throw a fresh coat of design on it, get the wrong address in the spammy part of the neighborhood, and you could be losing customers before they ever see your website.

Get the right one, however, and your address opens the door for visitors to come in and stay a while. It instills a sense of professionalism and polish that starts at the address bar.

And with almost 2 billion websites in circulation, the competition for the perfect domain name is fiercer than ever. So how do you pick out the perfect name for your website? We’ve got eight tried-and-true tips for making sure your domain name is perfect for your goals.

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Startups should be focused on growth, not trying to fix WordPress issues. Kinsta’s hosting solution features 24×7 support, automatic backups, and tools that make management a breeze.

Here’s what we’re going to cover today:

Without further ado, let’s talk about what a domain name actually is and why a rose by any other name isn’t quite as sweet.

What’s in a Domain Name?

When we refer to a domain name, we’re referring specifically to the part between the “https” and extension (“.com”). I.e., our domain name is “Kinsta.” Here’s a visual layout to parse a domain name:

Domain name

Domain name (BrandYourself)

Now, let’s take a brief interlude into history to answer the Shakespearean question: what’s in a domain name?

In the (very) beginning of the internet, domain names weren’t initially used. Instead, users associated IP addresses with specific websites and typed in a string of numbers like 192.168.0.1.

This, obviously, became pretty impossible to manage once the internet started to grow.

Words, far easier to remember than that number string, came into circulation as a new method for reaching websites. And so domain names were born.

Keeping with our address analogy, your domain name is the address of your website, but the IP address — which the Domain Network System communicates with — is the GPS coordinates.

Both can take you to the same place, but one is much more effective at being found by humans. Take, for instance, this address: www.dogs.com.

PetSmart different domain name

PetSmart different domain name

If you clicked on it, you were probably pretty surprised to find PetSmart load. (And maybe a little envious.)

A strong domain name like the above example helps people find your website without any intervention. No complicated number strings or search engines necessary.

Unfortunately, you’re not likely to get much traction with this approach in the modern age with almost 332.4 million registered domains. Dogs.com was registered back in 1998.

But just because you can’t get one-word steals like the above doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a great domain name. Here are the eight strategies we’ve seen work.

1. Choose the Easiest to Remember Combination

Domain names came to be because humans have limits on their memory. While you can skip digging into the neuroscience, you should keep these limits in mind when choosing your domain name.

Specifically, the more stress you put on working memory, the more humans struggle to complete tasks. There’s a “buffer” limitation on the information the working-memory can retain.

Working-memory buffer

Working-memory buffer (Image source: Nielson Norman Group)

And while this seems like a pretty common sense limit, it’s not as clear-cut as it sounds. How “items” fall in human memory depends on the items themselves and whether they associate with any other memory systems.

Which means that, although a website address like “www.catsdogs.com” is significantly longer than “www.animalia.com,” it’s probably going to be easier to remember for most people.

Why? Because “cats” and “dogs” make up two items, while “animalia” will require most people to remember three distinct items:

  • The word “animal.”
  • The letter “i.”
  • The letter “a.”

Obviously, this example falls apart if someone has a background in biology, but it illustrates the point I mean to make.

What’s easy to remember isn’t always about concision, as recognition can trump concision. The more recognizable the elements of your domain name are, the easier — and therefore more usable — your address becomes.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep the elements involved limited to no more than seven.

Miller's Law

Miller’s Law (Image source: Prototypr)

Often referred to as “Miller’s magical number,” a multitude of studies conducted over the last few decades have found that the limits to short-term memory “chunks” (elements) is seven, plus or minus two.

(Note that working memory and short-term memory are, technically, separate entities, but for our context — and much of psychology — they’re safe to use interchangeably.)

But, given the “buffer” deterioration people experience when made to remember more items, if you can pare it down further than seven, that’s even better.

Especially for our next strategy.

2. Make Your Address Mobile-Friendly

Mobile devices drive 51.89% of internet traffic as of the second quarter of 2018.

Mobile website traffic

Mobile website traffic (Image source: Statista)

Interestingly, that number has declined from its height in Q3 2017, but the fact remains:

At least half of the people using your domain address are going to be using a mobile device to get there.

Which means you need to think about all the autocorrect-victims of the world and make your domain as memorable and concise as you can for them.

Examples of easy, mobile-friendly domain names that come to mind are Google and Bing, respectively. They’re short, simple, and everyone knows how to spell them.

Far less mobile-friendly examples include Martha Stewart’s website and the infamous Comic-Con’s homepage.

Although both of these domain names hit the mark for memorable, they lose points for being an easy typo, and in Comic-Con’s case, requiring users to switch between their digital keyboards to type.

Hyphen mobile domain name

Hyphen mobile domain name (Image source: GadgetHacks)

So, when you’re picking your domain name, try it out on your mobile phone first. How easy is it to type? If you’re an expert-level phone typer, have someone a little less savvy try it out on your phone.

(This is bare bones usability testing on your domain name, and a good idea before registering any name.)

Now, let’s change gears a little bit and talk SEO.

3. Add Keywords (When It Makes Sense)

Keywords in domain names are a lot like powdered sugar on waffles.

A nice bonus, but not a necessity. If you can, and it makes sense to use a keyword, you should. On average, 63% of top-performing domains have keywords in their URL.

Keywords in domain names

Keywords in domain names (HigherVisibility)

But, if you can’t work a keyword in, they provide a very minimal boost to your SEO, if at all, and should be carefully weighed when you’re considering reworking your strategy to include them.

Rand Fishkin, founder of SEO giant Moz (and now leader of Sparktoro), had this to say about keyword rich domain names:

They don’t carry the weight that they used to and have negative associations (with users and search engines) that you should avoid.

So, powdered sugar. Good to add in moderation, but unnecessary, and if abused, likely to end up with disappointing results at your next website physical.

As a note of interest, however, anyone looking to open a website in the gambling or gaming industry — specifically the Fortnite niche — will want to move fast. According to Verisign, these keywords are going like hotcakes in Q2 2018.

Trending keywords in domain names

Trending keywords in domain names (Image source: Verisign)

Otherwise, stick to what makes sense, and prioritize memorable, typable, and brandable (that’s our next tip) well above keywords.

4. Go for Brandable Domain Names

No domain name strategy list would be complete without talking about the importance of branding.

77% of customers make purchases based on the brand attached to the product. What’s even crazier is that 90% of those decisions are thought to be made subconsciously based on brand associations with positive feelings.

Examples of highly-branded domain names include Amazon, IBM, and Tesla.

Unfortunately, choosing a brandable domain name isn’t quite cut and dry as our other tips, but a good test is to say it out loud and see if it sounds like a brand. For example:

  • Does: lularoe.com
  • Does not: salmonroe.com
  • Does: doreimefashion.com
  • Does not: doreimefasolatido.com

But if you’re struggling, there are marketplaces for this, albeit at a pretty penny. Brandpa is one such marketplace. Its lowest ticket item will run you $1,000.

Brandpa

Brandpa

On the plus side, you get a logo with your purchase. Something users form an impression on within the first ten seconds of viewing. (And therefore, an impression of your brand.)

On the other hand, that price tag isn’t slim for a new website. For a slightly more cost-effective solution, you can check out BrandDo, whose marketplace offers more triple-digit entries.

BrandDo

BrandDo

So, we’ve covered the importance of memorability, mobile-friendliness, keywords, and brand-readiness for your domain name, but there’s one more factor to consider — ideally before you register.

The legality.

You’ve registered your domain name…but lo and behold, a few weeks later you receive a cease and desist letter from the law offices of someone who makes five times as much money as you every thirty seconds.

It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s not an uncommon one, either. Making sure your potential domain name isn’t trademarked is an absolute must if you want to avoid getting caught in unwanted litigation.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to check. For websites that will operate in the US, you can check for trademark status by searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website.

United States Patent and Trademark Office

United States Patent and Trademark Office

That said, it’s a good idea to check a secondary source, as well. Navigating the USPTO system isn’t as straightforward as alternative sources like Trademarks411 or WIPO.

WIPO

WIPO

And when it comes to legal bases, it never hurts to cover them twice, right? Especially when “faith” can be a deciding factor in domain name case law, as Bloomberg discovered.

Other things to keep in mind when considering trademarks is consumer confusion. If your domain name could reasonably be confused with another domain it competes with then you could have a losing arbitration on your hands.

What about a website all about WordPress? Here is what the WordPress team has to say about it:

For various reasons related to our WordPress trademark, we ask if you’re going to start a site about WordPress or related to it that you not use “WordPress” in the domain name. Try using “wp” instead, or another variation. We’re not lawyers, but very good ones tell us we have to do this to preserve our trademark. Also, many users have told us they find it confusing.

Simply put, don’t take the risk.

Additionally, if your website will operate outside of the US, now or in the future, you’ll want to get familiar and check trademarks in those respective countries, as well.

This brings us to our last strategy for choosing your domain name: figuring out what ends it.

6. Select the Right Extension

The great .com is still the king for domain extensions, for both SEO and memorability.

But there are a lot more domain extensions than there used to be, and if used strategically you shouldn’t have any problems.

They’ve got pretty explosive growth, actually. New, “non-traditional” extensions grew by 145% from 2016 to 2017.

Domain extensions growth

Domain extensions growth (Image source: The Domain Name Association)

So while .com claims the crown, for now, trends are changing in the extension world. And that’s good news for a new website.

Because the new domain suffixes — the .xyz, .tech, .nyc, etc. — are by far more affordable than the traditional top-level domains.

Price range domain extensions

Price range domain extensions (Image source: Name Ninja)

And affordability is a factor that, unless you’re a monster conglomeration, has to be balanced against the other elements.

If you can snag a .com for a decent price — it’s possible — you should go for it, as long as it meets all of the other requirements outlined here.

If not, you’re better off going with a new domain extension. Given the trend, the acceptability of it will only increase with time, similar to domestic wines.

Wondering where to register your new domain name? Check out places like Name.comGoogle DomainsNameCheap, and eNom.

Ultimately, the litmus test for an extension will depend on how closely your domain name adheres to the other factors outlined here like brandable, memorable, and typable.

If it’s not very typable on mobile or memorable, you really can’t afford to skip the .com, but if it is, .co is becoming increasingly popular in the commercial sectors and mid-level websites.

This wraps our strategies for choosing your domain name, though the next one could be considered a bonus strategy. If you’re having trouble coming up with a name, there are a variety of generators out there that can make it easier.

Let’s run through a few now.

7. Tools for Finding Domain Names

Trying to come up with a domain name that meets all of these requirements can definitely be easier said than done. Fortunately, you can put some of the responsibility on a generator if your creative team needs a break.

DomainWheel

DomainWheel is a simple and easy to use domain name generator created by the awesome team over at ThemeIsle. Just input a keyword and check out all of the available domains. It even outputs domains that sound like it, rhymes with, and random suggestions.

DomainWheel

DomainWheel

NameMesh

Offering multiple generators — including SEO-based suggestions, short names, common domains, and new domain extensions, NameMesh is a plug and play tool that takes a word and gives you every possibility you can think of.

NameMesh

NameMesh

Here’s a peep of the results that it generated for “music.”

NameMesh results

NameMesh results

If you’re in the music tech industry, you may want to snag that domain name ASAP.

Bust a Name

Including an enviable domain name of their own, Bust a Name is comparatively bare-bones in design when put up against NameMesh or DomainWheel, but the results are far faster and very creative.

Bust a Name

Bust a Name

You just type in a word, select your extensions, hit the button “Go,” and wait for the results to tab up.

Here’s an example with the search term “audio.”

Bust a Name results

Bust a Name results

What it lacks in design, it makes up for in clever suggestions and simplicity.

And remember, if you find a domain name that’s great with one of these tools or change your mind, you can always transfer your domain over without losing all of your SEO benefits.

8. Acquire Existing or Expired Domain to Jump Ahead

Last but not least, you might want to think about acquiring an existing domain. Why? Because an existing domain might already have some of the following:

  • Authority backlinks. Use a tool like Ahrefs to check existing backlinks.
  • High domain authority (Moz) and domain rating (Ahrefs).
  • High PageRank. Google still uses PageRank internally.
  • Existing traffic and brand.

Even a little boost can get you jump started and ranking faster. You can use a tool like Expired Domains or Flippa domains to find these.

However, you should also be very careful when going with this strategy. First off, make sure to check for any existing trademarks.

Second, if the domain is currently being used by an existing brand that you are trying to acquire, make sure to check out its traffic patterns. A constant downwards trend could possibly mean it was hit by a Google penalty at some point. Or it could simply mean that they stopped working on the domain.

Check traffic

Check traffic

Third, check out the domain’s current backlinks with Ahref’s Site Explorer tool. If a lot of the backlinks are from spammy sites this is not a good indicator. It could mean that the domain/website owner at some point paid for backlinks or even had a negative SEO attack against it.

Again, when it comes to acquiring an existing domain, make sure to check all aspects of it. If you don’t know how, there are plenty of great SEO experts in the community you can hire.

How to Choose a Domain Name: Summary

Domain names are your digital street address. They can significantly shape a visitor’s perception of your brand.

Unfortunately, most of the one-hit names like “Dogs.com” were taken up in the early days of the internet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great domain name for your new website.

Just use these eight tips when you’re creating a new domain:

  • Make it memorable.
  • Keep it mobile-typing friendly.
  • Add keywords… but only if it makes sense.
  • Go for a brandable domain name — they’re valuable and easier to land than broad terms.
  • Make sure you don’t step on anyone’s registered trademark in the process.
  • Choose the appropriate extension. While .com is still at the forefront, the newer — and far cheaper — extensions are becoming more popular by the day, so they may be worth considering, too.
  • Use a domain name tool generator if you’re stuck racking your brain for a name.
  • Think about jump-starting the process by acquiring an expired or existing domain.

Finding the perfect domain name is a lot like finding the perfect song. What works best for your business and resonates most with users will inevitably change. But following these eight tips, you’re sure to have a domain name that stands the test of time.

4 Best Incremental WordPress Backup Plugins (Save Space and Speed)

From recovering your website data after a breach to simply giving yourself peace of mind while growing your business, WordPress backups are essential in the security game. You have several options for logging backups and restoring the files if something goes wrong.

The first is choosing a hosting company that completes automated backups for you. The other is looking through some of the best WordPress backup plugins and deciding on the one that works for you. Or in some scenarios, you might want to use a combination of both.

In this article, we’ll outline both methods and go through the reasons you might choose each. In addition, we’ll expand on some of our favorite WordPress backup plugins and why you must go with a tool that offers incremental backups (hint: it’s for performance purposes).

Tired of bad plugin and theme updates breaking your WordPress site?

Kinsta’s one-click staging environment makes testing WordPress updates a breeze; without harming your live site. Make a mistake? No problem, easily restore it to a previous point in time.

What Do You Need for Backing Up Your WordPress Website?

A basic WordPress backup stores your website files and MySQL database in a separate location for you to restore later on. This means that if your site crashes, is attacked, modified, or damaged in any way, you’re able to check back on the list of backups and restore the site to its original state–or one of the most recent versions.

WordPress backup plugins have begun getting more user-friendly and advanced, adding more features and providing interfaces for users to easily make their backups and protect the files in the process. In addition, all site owners want a simple way to restore the files, so that has been a focus as well.

When you’re looking through the best WordPress backup plugins (or hosts that offer backup tools) which features should you keep an eye on?

  • Automated backups – Website owners shouldn’t have to worry about creating their own backups on a consistent basis. In fact, if a manual backup was the only way to do it, most companies would forget and never complete any backups
  • Storage in multiple locations – Backups are often stored on separate servers so that the files don’t get jeopardized if your site server has problems. Ideally, the more locations you have the better. Physical backups on your own devices are a good start. But you also want to know if your backup plugin or host is storing the files in the cloud or on other servers. A big part of this is access to your files as well.
  • Incremental backups – An incremental website backup is when the system only creates a backup when the site files and database tables have been changed. The reason for this is to improve your site performance and avoid dozens of unnecessary backup files on your server. Therefore, it’s best when your backup plugin scans that most recent file and skips the next backup if nothing has changed.
  • Manual backup options – Although automated backups are essential, manual backups should still be optional. This way, you can store your files if you notice a threat yourself. Or, you may want to complete a download of your own hard drive. This could be with your host, a plugin, or even creating a manual backup by downloading your files via SFTP and exporting your MySQL database via phpMyAdmin.
  • Settings for more specific backup scheduling – Some backup programs only allow for monthly or weekly backups. This is a wonderful start, but we’d prefer to see settings for more specific scheduling. For instance, your company might want to complete an hourly or daily backup. This is especially important for highly dynamic sites such as WooCommerce or membership sites.
  • Disaster recovery – What about a backup of your backups? Make sure your host or backup plugin company has a disaster recovery plan for retrieving your files in case something bad happens to on their end. The last thing you want to happen is your site encounters an issue and your backup solution has problems.
  • Downloadable backups – As mentioned earlier, it’s wise to store backups in several locations. You may prefer having an extra backup on a hard drive in your office or home. For this, downloadable backups are required.
  • A clean dashboard and simple interface for finding and managing backups – What’s the point of having your site backed up if the management and restore interfaces are too complicated? Most of the time if you need to restore a backup, it’s because of a time sensitive matter. We like to see a clean dashboard with instant buttons for restorations, deletions, and downloads. Once again, managed WordPress hosting helps with this.

Kinsta Hosting Provides Powerful Backups

What’s nice about backups is that some hosting companies provide them for you. In fact, one of them is Kinsta!

We strive to provide the best possible managed WordPress hosting platform for you and your business, and we feel that our feature-filled website backup system is the way to go.

Kinsta offers automatic daily backups, downloadable backups, manual backup restore points, and even system generated backups which are an automatic system backup created during certain events. And if that weren’t enough, we have an hourly backup add-on you can purchase to create backups every hour or every 6 hours.

Because of this, there is no need for a backup plugin if you host with Kinsta. 🤘 You can restore backups with a click of a button and even copy them to your staging environment.

WordPress automatic backups

WordPress automatic backups

You might be wondering, but what about backups of your backups at Kinsta? No need to worry, we have a full disaster recovery plan in place.

Besides automatic backups, we also create and store persistent disk snapshots of every machine in our infrastructure every 4 hours for 24 hours and then every 24 hours beyond for two weeks. Google Cloud Platform then automatically stores multiple copies of each snapshot redundantly across multiple locations with automatic checksums to ensure the integrity of your data. This means that snapshots (containing your backup) are stored in different data centers from the location where they were originally created.

Therefore, we highly suggest you consider a hosting provider, such as Kinsta that has these features. The overall value of the backups and hosting infrastructure will pay for itself–as opposed to piecing together another host and a backup plugin. In case you’re curious. Kinsta doesn’t include your backups in your total disk space usage. 👏

That said, we understand that some people are already running their sites on other hosts, so we’d like to offer some thoughts about the best WordPress backup plugins. Keep in mind that we only recommend incremental backups, where the backups are only made when changes have been made to a file or database tables. If a plugin doesn’t offer incremental backups, there’s a chance you will see performance issues. Not to mention they will take up an insane amount of your hosting disk space, costing you money. Therefore we don’t recommend using them.

Best WordPress Backup Plugins for Incremental Backups

As a reminder, incremental backups are the preferred way to obtain backups without losing disk space and site performance. You’ll find many positively reviewed plugins on the market, but we’re only recommending four of them, since they are the primary options that offer that coveted incremental backup feature.

Now it’s time to dive into their features.

1. VaultPress

The VaultPress plugin is one of the more popular and powerful WordPress backup plugins, focusing on a wide range of threats such as hackers, host failures, and malware. VaultPress is part of the Jetpack plugin, so you’re able to take advantage of several other tools in one package. For instance, Jetpack provides design tools, security measures, and even social media items.

VaultPress WordPress backup plugin

VaultPress WordPress backup plugin

The reason Jetpack is so appealing is because you’re not forced to install a myriad of other plugins. So, hopefully, you can stick with the one plugin to minimize the number of plugins weighing down your website. However, the opposite could also be said in terms of performance if you don’t need everything it offers.

VaultPress and the Jetpack package starts at just $39 per year. In terms of the backup features, you’re provided with automated daily backups and a 30-day backup archive. This is considered the Personal plan, but you can also upgrade to the Business plan for $90 per year. The backups are then improved so that you have an unlimited amount of storage. There’s even a Professional plan for $299. It provides an unlimited backup archive in addition to the other backup features.

Site migrations and one-click automated site restores also come with the VaultPress backup Personal plan, ensuring that you’re easily able to get your site back up and running after something happens. Overall, Jetpack is an excellent deal, especially for those who run their own web design businesses with numerous clients. You’re able to maintain several types of features by only installing one plugin, and the backup tools are incremental and paired with many other security and backup features.

Why is This One of the Best WordPress Backup Plugins?

  • VaultPress has incremental backups and a backup archive for you to check in and find the backups that will restore your website to a previous state.
  • The plugin is integrated with the Jetpack plugin, giving you other marketing, social media, and security options.
  • VaultPress starts at only $39 per year, so you’re in a situation where you receive lots of features for a fraction of the price of most premium plugins.
  • This yearly payment also means that priority support is provided by WordPress professionals.
  • Besides backups, VaultPress includes several security measures such as uptime monitoring and brute force attack protection.
  • The automated daily backups and easy site restorations are sure to make it easier for all webmasters. This way, you don’t have to do anything manually, and if your site goes down you can either talk to the WordPress support team for help or complete the process yourself, since it’s pretty easy.

2. WP Time Capsule

The WP Time Capsule plugin has a free, fully featured version for 30-days. After that, the Business version starts at $49 per year and provides real-time backups, test restores, and vulnerability notifications. The incremental backups are used to ensure that your website doesn’t experience any performance issues while also providing up to 30 days of restoration files. In addition to that, you can utilize the plugin on up to two sites in the Business version. You can also choose from the $99 per year Freelancer version or the $199 per year Agency version. All of the plans allow you to make a full-time payment to decrease the price in the long term.

WP Time Capsule WordPress plugin

WP Time Capsule WordPress plugin

Quite a few other features help to enhance the power of the WP Time Capsule plugin. For example, you receive one-click staging, test updates, and test restores in the staging area. In addition, you’re able to move your staging websites to live version in the WP Time Capsule plugin. The plugin takes incremental backups to a new level, with a process that involves cloud usage and a system that doesn’t zip files. Multiple files are never copied, and you can even take advantage of incremental restores, where you restore certain files and choose the times in which the restores should come from.

White-labeling is also provided in some plans, but you would have to upgrade in order to remove the branding from WP Time Capsule.

Why is This One of the Best WordPress Backup Plugins?

  • WP Time Capsule offers both incremental backups and restores. This means you’re able to improve your site performance and make your restores easier by never copying files during backups and only choosing the specific files needed for those restores.
  • The pricing for WP Time Capsule is quite reasonable, especially considering you get backup tools and much more.
  • Staging functionality is also provided, allowing you to push a site from staging to live and also test all of your updates in the staging module.
  • You’re asked to make a backup of your site whenever you update items like plugins or WordPress. In addition to this, you can set a staging area for these updates to see how your site would respond to such a change.
  • The plugin has a quick restore feature, along with the unique ability to restore your site in a staging area. This way, you know what the site looked like at that point in time and you don’t have to guess.
  • There are also many other features for protecting your site from hackers, keeping your eCommerce stores safe, and cutting down on your storage bill.

3. ManageWP

ManageWP is far more than a WordPress backup plugin, since it provides a full management workspace for all of your WordPress websites. Whether you’re running a multisite blog or have several websites on different WordPress installations, ManageWP is meant to bring all of your dashboards together in one location. This way, you’re able to make backups for all of them with no problems and complete other actions such as bulk updates, spam cleaning, and security checks.

ManageWP WordPress backup plugin

ManageWP WordPress backup plugin

The flexible pricing is something that everyone can get used to. This configuration means that you only pay for what you use, and upgrades and downgrades are available whenever you want. They offer free monthly backups. The premium backup (weekly to hourly) starts from $2 per site. You can choose to upload backups to your own external cloud storage for extra $0.13 per GB. They also offer a rate of $75/month for up to 100 websites with a bundle.

ManageWP does complete incremental backups, but it’s important to understand how these backups work related to which pricing package you go with. The free version only offers manual backups. The premium backup is where you receive scheduled backups to places like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3. This is what most companies are looking for since automated cloud backups are more reliable than manual ones.

Why is This One of the Best WordPress Backup Plugins?

  • The pricing starts at $0 and goes up on a flexible basis, all depending on how many sites you have on your network and the types of features you need. In general, the monthly pricing should remain pretty low for most brands.
  • Bulk actions are the main selling points for ManageWP, seeing as how you can not only look at all of your information for your multisite on one dashboard, but the fact that you can complete a bulk update, backup, or security check for all of your sites.
  • It all relies on your pricing plan, but you can expect to find the majority of backup features needed to keep you at ease. For example, you can back up to the cloud. All backups are incremental, and you have options for scheduling them on a weekly, daily, or hourly basis.
  • Manual downloads are possible, along with tools for storing your website files in off-site locations.
  • The one-click restoration button makes sure that nobody is confused when having to work through a problem with their site files.
  • You can choose from several other premium add-ons such as an uptime monitor, migration tools, SEO ranking module, and white labeling.

4. BlogVault

The BlogVault plugin is yet another premium solution with incremental backups and a full suite of other features such as one-click restores, free staging, and merging to a live site. This one is a bit more expensive because of the monthly pricing, but it starts at $7.40 per month and it does seem to offer more functionality than other plugins on this list. As for the majority of plans, BlogVault has daily, automated backups for keeping things simple and maintaining some peace of mind for all website owners. The backup history goes for 90 days, which should be plenty of time for you to find the right version of the site you want to restore. As mentioned, you’ll also be able to take advantage of incremental backups for speedier websites overall.

BlogVault WordPress backup plugin

BlogVault WordPress backup plugin

The multisite support is also worth mentioning, since not all backup plugins offer this. Pair a feature like multisite with the full website management and you have a clearer view of what’s going on with your lone site or network of sites. If you’d like to upgrade to a higher tiered pricing package, BlogVault does have a white label solution that lets you focus more on sharing the branding from your own company. The more advanced plans also include options for adding clients, adding team members, and running client reports. Finally, customer support is included with all of the packages, giving you options for connecting with a representative if something isn’t working right.

Why is This One of the Best WordPress Backup Plugins?

  • BlogVault is a good choice for WooCommerce websites, since it has plans for syncing WooCommerce orders in real time. A security plan is also offered, which combines all of the expected backup tools and features like malware scanning, IP blocking, and firewalls.
  • The incremental backups improve your site functionality and prevent multiple copies of your backups being created. This means that your server no longer has to store an almost infinite number of backups that are all the same.
  • Website management and multisite support is provided with BlogVault.
  • You receive easy access to your backups and a one-click restore button for bringing your website back to normal.
  • The staging setup is useful for understanding how your site is going to look after a backup is completed. However, you’re not creating any permanent changes just yet.
  • The backup history is extended to 90 days, which is longer than many of the other WordPress backup plugins with 30 or 60 days of backup history.
  • BlogVault migrates to thousands of web hosts, meaning that you don’t have to worry much about whether or not you can use the host of your choice.

Which WordPress Backup Plugins Should You Consider?

First thing is first: hosting is a big part of how your website is stored, presented, and optimized online. Therefore, it makes sense that some of the best hosts out there also take care of backups for you. So, we recommend first checking out our Kinsta’s plans see which one is right for your business. We have packages ready for all sizes of businesses, and are ready to show you the Kinsta difference!

However, if you still like the idea of incremental backups (where only modified files and database tales are backed up) the WordPress backup plugins we talked about are great. You really can’t go wrong with any of the four we’ve mentioned.

If you still need some guidance on which one to go with, here are some additional thoughts:

  • If you need a simple automated backup process with various other features from Jetpack – Think about installing VaultPress.
  • If you’d like multiple staging areas so that you don’t implement the wrong restoration file or damage something during an update – Consider the WP Time Capsule plugin.
  • If you need a plugin for running multisite and completing bulk backups and other updates – Consider the ManageWP WordPress plugin.
  • If you’d like incremental backups along with WooCommerce order syncing and other security tools  – Give BlogVault a try.

Overall, some WordPress backup plugins are bound to cause performance issues and eat up your disk space. That’s why we stuck to only recommending the best ones with incremental backups. If you have any further questions about the best WordPress backup plugins, let us know in the comments section below.

Welcome Tom Sepper as Kinsta’s New Director of Support

We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Tom Sepper, a hosting industry veteran, as Kinsta’s new Director of Support. He will be handling the daily operations of our support department to ensure as Kinsta continues to grow, that every client still receives the attention they deserve. Nothing is more important to us than the quality of our support and it’s what has set us apart from the competition.

Meet Kinsta’s new Director of Support, @twsepper. 👋 He is, as he puts it, ‘obsessed with customer experience.’ A great fit for our team! Click to Tweet

Meet Tom

Tom has over 16 years of experience working in the web hosting and IT industry, much of which was spent in a managerial type role working alongside remote teams. You could also consider him a “jack of all trades,” as he’s done a little bit of everything, including operations, customer service, project management, marketing, and HR.

Tom comes to us with a wealth of senior-level industry experience. Among the companies he’s worked for:

  • Chief Operating Officer at Site5.com, a web hosting provider in operation since 1998.
  • Chief of Staff at Pressed, a white label managed WordPress hosting platform, acquired by Envato in 2017.
  • Chief Operating Officer at HostPapa, a Canada-based hosting provider.
  • Community & Documentation Manager at PowWeb, a web hosting provider in operation since 1999.

Tom hails from the great state of Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth area). 🤠 He graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in management. He’s a family man, die-hard Cubs fan, and is a Texas Hold’em aficionado.

Customer experience has always been a passion of mine, and as I was discussing the opportunity with Kinsta executives, it became quite clear that our ideals around the customer experience and culture were in complete alignment. I am excited to bring my experience and ideas to the Kinsta team to help build on the amazing foundation already in place! – Tom

No matter what problem you might have, you can pretty much bet that Tom has encountered it before. We are excited about the breadth of expertise and experience he is adding to our team.

Want to say hi? You can connect with Tom on LinkedIn or Twitter. Or feel free to leave him a welcome below.

Join Kinsta’s Make Money with WordPress Facebook Group

We want all of you to be successful with WordPress as a platform, whether you’re a Kinsta client or not. Many of you run affiliate niche sites, high-traffic blogs, and manage large ecommerce (WooCommerce and EDD) stores. Regardless of what you’re doing, WordPress probably plays a pivotal role in your income.

Figuring out additional ways to make money or increase your earnings is something that’s probably always on your mind. 🤑 The frustrating part is many new strategies and approaches take time to test, and time is something a lot of you don’t have.

Therefore, we decided to launch the Make Money with WordPress Facebook group focused entirely on how to increase your income with the best CMS on the planet! Learn affiliate marketing techniques and chat with others who have seen success and get applicable shortcuts to higher earnings.

Still looking for that perfect WordPress host?

At Kinsta, we do hosting different than the rest. We’ve combined the fastest platform in the world (Google Cloud) with the best support team in the industry. Ready to take your site the next level?

Make money with WordPress Facebook group

Make money with WordPress Facebook group

Why You Should Join the Facebook Group

We’ll be the first to admit that most Facebook groups are simply a waste of time. They are either full of spam or completely useless information. However, we can promise you that this one is different. Let’s go over a few reasons why.

  1. Chat with the Kinsta Marketing Team
  2. Learn About Profitable WordPress Sites and Businesses for Sale
  3. Discuss Strategies with Other Successful WordPress Bloggers
  4. No Spam Guarantee

1. Chat with the Kinsta Marketing Team

First off, members of the Facebook group can chat directly with the Kinsta marketing team. Really! Ask the three of us (as seen below) anything you want.

While our expertise, of course, is in WordPress hosting, the three of us combined have decades of experience working with WordPress sites and blogs. Some of us run Amazon niche sites, Google AdSense-based blogs, flip websites, and even build/sell premium WordPress plugins.

Not only that, but we’ve also helped bootstrap Kinsta from $0 to 7-figures in revenue. So we would like to think, through trial and error, we know a thing or two about how to build a successful WordPress business; whether it be with a SaaS product, content marketing, or strategic advertising partnerships.

Take advantage of the things we have learned over the years to jumpstart your success.

Let’s support each other by sharing knowledge and experience to earn more money with WordPress. 🤘 Click to Tweet

2. Learn About Profitable WordPress Sites and Businesses for Sale

We are always on the lookout for new profitable WordPress sites (blogs, plugin shops, theme shops, etc) that are going up for sale on the market. You might be surprised at how many times some of the large sites you visit on a daily basis actually exchange hands behind the scenes. For some of you, these can be a great investment or perhaps an instant start to a full-time career in the WordPress industry that you’ve always wanted. Or maybe, you just want the content. 😏

WordPress site for sale

WordPress business for sale

In the Facebook group, you can chat about a website’s potential or how changes in traffic might impact what you should pay for it on Flippa.

WordPress blog for sale

WordPress blog for sale

3. Discuss Strategies with Other Successful WordPress Bloggers

With over 250 new members in less than a month, there are a lot of great discussions already happening in the group. Many successful WordPress bloggers and business owners are sharing their own tips and strategies. Here are just a couple of the many topics you can expect to see in the group:

  • How can I increase my affiliate marketing income?
  • What are some good WordPress affiliate programs I should join?
  • I’m looking to jumpstart my affiliate career, where can I buy a WordPress business?
  • If my WordPress site only has a little traffic, what is the best thing to focus on to increase earnings?
  • How can I increase my Google AdSense earnings?
  • Are there better alternatives to Google AdSense?
  • What is better for an affiliate program: recurring commissions or one-time commissions?
  • What WordPress plugin is the best for redirecting and masking affiliate links?
  • How can I outsource content creating to ramp up affiliate earnings?
  • I’m selling my WordPress site, where should I sell it and for how much?
  • What type of traffic converts better?
  • Should I diversify affiliate programs or stick with one or two in a niche?
  • How are Ad Blockers impacting the affiliate industry?
  • What can I do to increase affiliate conversions?
  • Does my website’s speed impact my earnings?

The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. 😉 Click to Tweet

4. No Spam Guarantee

We can promise you that nobody hates spam more than we do! While we always encourage productive discussions that are on-topic, you never have to worry about spam in our Facebook group. Just like with our Kinsta blog, we want every member to walk away from the Facebook conversations having learned something. The best Facebook groups are those where members share applicable tips that everyone can apply to their own WordPress site.

Summary

Are you ready to join one of the best and fastest growing Facebook groups? Click here to join. We’d love to chat with you more about what is and isn’t working when it comes to making money on your WordPress site. Don’t be shy. Jump in on a conversation or ask a question to the group.

Have any thoughts? We would love to hear what you think about our new Facebook group or any suggestions on how we can help. And don’t forget to check out Kinsta’s affiliate program. You can earn up to $500 for every referral + 10% monthly recurring lifetime commissions.

5 Tips for Unbelievably Awesome Customer Retention

Picture this: It’s a rainy, muggy night. Neither you nor your significant other feels like cooking, so you begin the time-honored tradition of debating where to pick up dinner. After some back-and-forth, you agree on driving across town to your favorite restaurant. It’s not the most convenient restaurant to reach in the rain – it’s not even the cheapest – but you’re still willing to go out of your way to eat there.

Why? Because that restaurant has done something to transform you from a garden variety consumer to a loyal, churn-resistant customer. And that makes them brilliant because customer retention is a gold-mine of low-effort profitability.

You’ve probably already heard repeat customers are five times cheaper to keep than it is to acquire a single new one, but here’s something you might not know. On average, repeat customers are responsible for 40% of a business’s revenue (source).

Still looking for that perfect WordPress host?

At Kinsta, we do hosting different than the rest. We’ve combined the fastest platform in the world (Google Cloud) with the best support team in the industry. Ready to take your site the next level?

Boosting your retention rate by a mere 5% can increase your profits anywhere from 25% to a whopping 95%. So, if you’re not making efforts to keep your customers, you’re missing out on some serious opportunity. But just in case you need more convincing, consider these following two stories.

With the help of Cognizant, a consultancy and professional services powerhouse, one insurance company netted a 180% ROI by deploying targeted customer retention programs.

This one is even more staggering: Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt saw a 5300% ROI through a customer retention campaign.

How do you replicate their success? While every consumer base is different, I’ll show you five proven ways to boost your customer retention rate in this guide.

On average, repeat customers are responsible for 40% of a business’s revenue. 🤑 Click to Tweet

  1. Rock Your Returns or Refund Policy
  2. React to Their Feedback
  3. Automate Your CRM
  4. Build Killer Rewards Programs
  5. Elevate Their Experience

1. Rock Your Returns or Refund Policy

First up, you need a rockstar-ready return policy. 63% of shoppers online will check out your return policy before they ever make a purchase.

But a great return policy isn’t just necessary to acquire customers. It’s also crucial for keeping them coming back for more. According to a study from CommerceHub, 48% of those same shoppers say they would buy more online if the retailer offered easy returns.

Return policy - customer retention

Return policy – customer retention (Image source: CommerceHub)

A friendly return policy means happier customers. It also means better sales and lower churn rate.

Studies find stores with unyielding return policies have an almost 9% reduction in net sales, and their shoppers are three times more likely to churn.

Return process facts

Return process facts (Image source: Narvar)

But it isn’t just good for improving customer satisfaction. An awesome return policy and hassle-free process contribute to your overall customer experience and retention.

Chubbies, an online apparel retailer, saw this in action when they cut their return timelines by 50% and saw an immediate improvement in the customer experience. The fulfillment manager, James “Tater” Hargett, explains:

This effortless return experience is key to maintaining customer loyalty and repeat customer purchases.

Since the most important factor for building customer loyalty is to reduce customer effort, James hit it on the nose.

So, how do you create a great return policy? First, let’s look at some examples of customer-beloved policies and see how the big dogs are doing it.

Example 1 – ULTA

Ulta

Ulta

This beauty powerhouse sticks by their word, too: if a customer orders a foundation that isn’t right for them, the return process is easy and straightforward. Offering consumers multiple avenues of return, the brilliance of Ulta’s return policy isn’t just how generous and flexible it is.

It’s also how readable it is. Take a look at a quick analysis:

Return policy readability

Return policy readability

Organized with clear visual hierarchy and written at a user-friendly “Grade 9” level, it’s no wonder that Ulta’s return policy frequently makes the rounds as one of the best in the beauty industry, current controversy notwithstanding.

Let’s look at another list-topper.

Example 2 – Lands’ End

Land's End

Land’s End

Concise and no-fuss, Lands’ End is another retailer whose return policy frequently nets some serious accolades. Like Ulta, Lands’ End gives consumers multiple routes of return and presents their policies in an easy-to-read format.

But they take readable to a whole new level. Check this out.

Return policy readability

Return policy readability

Short, scan-friendly, and written for ultra-readability, Lands’ End is the return policy consumers want and deserve.

Example 3 – Kinsta

Kinsta refunds

Kinsta refunds

If you’re a SaaS, the same thing should apply to your refund policy. Take Kinsta’s refund policy for example. We try to keep it short, simple, and to the point. We want customers to know that we stand behind our service and there are no long-term contracts involved.

Refund policy readability

Refund policy readability

OK, how do you apply this to your return policies?

Try following the “KISS” rule: “keep it simple, stupid.”

  • The shorter your return or refund policy, the better. Look at Lands’ End for proof.
  • The quicker your returns, the happier your customers. Check out Chubbies’s results.
  • Be flexible: the more options consumers have for returns, the better an option your business becomes.
  • Make it reader-friendly. If it reads like a dissertation on microeconomics, toss it.
  • Use apps like Hemingway Editor to check your readability level.
  • Your return and refund policy will most likely be seen by thousands of customers, so never forget to proofread it.

It’s that easy. But our next customer retention strategy is even easier. Want to keep your customers? Respond and react to them.

2. React To Their Feedback

70% of top customer experience deliverers use feedback.

Customer feedback

Customer feedback

Providing great customer experience by listening to feedback doesn’t just make your customers happier. It also makes them less like to churn. Terminix used customer feedback to recover lost revenue to the sum of $20,000,000 and reduce their turnover rate by 33%.

Along with leagues of others who’ve discovered the power of feedback, Terminix knows that it’s not just about responding to customer feedback. You have to react to it, too.

That’s why we did more than just give Kinsta a fresh new look: we heard our customers say they wanted more entry-level plans, so we delivered.

Kinsta plans

Kinsta plans

Users also asked for multi-user permissions and roles, and so we’ve now built that into our MyKinsta dashboard. In fact, if you look at Kinsta’s feature updates, almost everything we release is based on user feedback. Our hosting platform wouldn’t be the same without it.

In addition to lowering churn rate, using feedback to tailor the customer’s experience can also help increase their spending power. Check this out.

70% of consumers are more loyal to great customer service, and 40% say they would spend more money as the result of that service.

Great customer service

Great customer service (Image source: WalkMe)

But if you need more proof, consider the story of Greats. This shoe company built a repurchase rate of as much as 50% through listening and responding to customer feedback. You can see their team in action.

As well as responding to feedback and providing stellar service on social channels, they also rolled out surveys early-on so they could get to the heart of their business-to-consumer relationship. It’s a simple philosophy, but it’s a powerful one.

And, it’s one you can easily replicate. Think getting feedback from your customers is hard? It’s actually really easy, as long as you make it convenient for your customers to provide. 46% will leave feedback if solicited as long as it’s convenient.

Feedback follow-through

Feedback follow-through (Image source: Customer Thermometer)

Plus, with tons of free platforms available, it’s easy to create your survey to start bringing in customer feedback. Let’s check out one of these platforms now.

First, head over to SurveyMonkey. Click the green “Sign Up Free” button.

You’ll be asked to fill out some information about how you want to use SurveyMonkey. For now, skip those steps to get to your dashboard.

SurveyMonkey signup

SurveyMonkey signup

Click the “Create Survey” button in the middle of the screen.

Create survey

Create a survey

You can name and create a survey from scratch at this stage, but there’s an easier way. Keep scrolling down until you see this. Select the first option, “Customer Satisfaction Survey Template.”

Customer satisfaction template

Customer satisfaction template

Go ahead and select “Use This Template.”

Use template

Use template

This is what your default view will look like: it’s already loaded with easy questions to find out how likely customers are to recommend your business to a friend and their overall satisfaction. Select “Recommended Questions” to get a look at other questions typically used on this survey.

Recommended questions

Recommended questions

Neat, right?

Question examples

Question examples

By the way, if you want to edit or duplicate a question, hover your mouse over the question, and you’ll see these options pop-up.

Survey question options

Survey question options

OK, once you’re all set with your questions, hit the “next” button up at the top right of your survey to get to the review screen. Since this survey is their template, it’s pretty much perfect.

You’ll see your results on the right-hand side of the screen along with helpful information about projected completion rate (how many users will finish your survey completely) and the time it takes to complete. Given that we’re more likely to get feedback if our survey is convenient and quick, a two-minute timeline is great.

After you’ve finished reviewing and made any changes, hit “next” one more time to figure out your response collection method.

Survey example finished

Survey example finished

SurveyMonkey gives you lots of options: you can send it via email to your previous customers, post it on your social media, or even embed it on your website.

Survey collect responses

Survey collect responses

After you send your survey out, remember our cardinal rule. Don’t just get feedback: act on feedback. Your churn rate will go down, and your customers will be happier.

Next, let’s look at a surprisingly easy way to boost your customer retention rate and cut down on your data entry.

3. Automate Your CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) software isn’t just for managing your leads, it’s also an excellent resource for keeping your customers satisfied and reducing turnover.  According to data from IBM, 74% of businesses improve customer relationships through the use of a CRM.

CRM ROI

CRM ROI (Image source: IBM)

And that’s not all. CRMs are also linked to increasing customer retention rate by as much as 27%.

CRM retention rate

CRM retention rate (Image source: LinkedIn)

What makes CRM great for customer retention is the same thing that makes feedback great for it: because it helps you provide better customer experience. Specifically, it gives you a 360-degree view of customer information, past and present.

Customer information

Customer information (Image source: Hitachi)

By doing so, it also provides you with the capacity to re-engage inactive customers and automate segmented email lists for reconnecting with them. You can see how meal delivery service company HelloFresh does this here:

HelloFresh

HelloFresh

Renderosity, a digital art marketplace, uses similar re-engagement techniques, as seen in this email:

Renderosity

Renderosity

Not every inactive customer will re-engage, but if we follow the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, the ones that do respond? Those will hit your bottom line.

Let’s take a look at how using CRM software has helped improve retention. Freshly, a meal delivery provider similar to HelloFresh, turned to automated CRM to manage their booming consumer base and saw some phenomenal results. The customer lifetime value increased by 19% and their monthly churn rate went down by 22%.

Decrease churn rate

Decrease churn rate

Here’s another.

Good Salon Guide turned to Workbooks CRM, an automated CRM suite, to support its distributed sales team. The results? Happier customers. Stronger sales. Better retention.

But don’t take my word for it. Gareth Penn, Managing Director, explains their experience well:

I genuinely believe this will lead to both a growth in new business and improvement in customer retention.

Here’s the best news: although you can find a number of premium CRM options, like SalesForce, Insightly, and Pipedrive, there are a ton of great, free opportunities that offer just as much functionality. Let’s take a quick rundown of them now.

HubSpot

Offering up to 1,000,000 contacts, an unlimited number of users, and self-hosting capable, HubSpot kicks off our list of free CRM suites that can transform your customer relationships.

HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM

Capsule

Cloud-based and email marketing ready, Capsule can support up to 250 contacts and two users, making it ideal for smaller organizations.

Capsule CRM

Capsule CRM

Bitrix24

Rounding out our list, Bitrix24 supports an unlimited number of contacts, is cloud-based, and supports self-hosting. And it’s free for up to three users with five gigabytes of storage.

Bitrix24 CRM

Bitrix24 CRM

Alternatively, if you use a WordPress site and aren’t ready to commit to third-party CRM suite, you can also integrate a number of CRM plugins directly into your site. Many of these can turn your WordPress site into a fully functional CRM behind the scenes.

In either case, automating your CRM is a no-brainer if you’re trying to reduce customer churn. Up next, let’s check out your secret weapon for keeping your loyal customers happy: an awesome rewards program.

4. Build Killer Rewards Programs

Customers who take part in a loyalty program generate anywhere from 12% to 18% more revenue than customers who aren’t enrolled. But loyalty and reward programs are more than just about encouraging higher spending. They’re also about showing your customers they’re appreciated.

And that means keeping them. 68% of consumers cite leaving a business because they felt the company didn’t care about them.

Customer leaving

Customer leaving (Image source: SuperOffice)

Furthermore, 69% of consumers say that their choice of retailer is influenced by whether or not they can enroll in a loyalty or rewards program. Here’s one more stat: 54% of customers will consider dropping your business if they aren’t provided with engaging content and relevant coupons.

So, all in all, a great rewards program will attract customers and help you keep them with you. Let’s look at some examples of rewards programs that crush it.

Budget, the car rental company, has increased their sales and seen a significant uptick in sign-ups and point redemptions (repeat purchases) thanks to their rewards program.

Rewards example

Rewards example

How did they make their rewards program so successful? In addition to a serious redesign, they used interviews and customer data to get at the heart of what people wanted out of a loyalty program.

Starbucks is another company whose loyalty program inspires. Often touted as one of the most successful loyalty programs ever, it’s easy to see why members love it:

Starbucks rewards

Starbucks rewards

Offering free birthday rewards and exclusive events, the Starbucks program is customer-driven from start to finish, providing both care and convenience. It’s also available to any smart-phone owner, allowing users to order their favorite frappuccino from the palm of their hand.

It even takes it a step further by providing some of the most essential elements of a loyalty program, including loyalty currency, enhanced customer service, mobile coupons, and the ability to earn a special status. All of which half or more of consumers rank as important for a loyalty program to have.

Loyalty program survey

Loyalty program survey (Image source: Oracle)

So, how can you build a loyalty program that keeps customers from churning and makes users excited to join? It’s easier than you think. Consider the following six elements of an effective loyalty program:

Effective loyalty program

Effective loyalty program (Image source: Womply)

Just as we learned in the first section, anything that reduces friction and lowers customer effort is an absolute must for a great rewards program. The rest is just about making it compelling, repeatable, exclusive, and mutually beneficial. Keep these pillars in mind, and you’ll have a killer rewards program on your hands and in your customers’ wallets in no time.

Don’t have the ability to do a rewards program? Depending on the type of business you have an affiliate program might work better. This is what we’ve done at Kinsta. We even built our entire affiliate system and dashboard from scratch! We offer affiliates $500 for every referral and 10% monthly recurring lifetime commissions.

Affiliate program

Affiliate program

This brings us to our final tip, but it’s our most important one. If you want to keep your customers, do more than give them great service. Give them an experience that’s well above the competition.

5. Elevate Their Experience

All of the last four tips have been building into one big aspect: the customers’ experience with your brand and business. If any pillar sticks with you, let it be this last one: your customer experience (CX) is your foundation for customer retention.

Improving customer retention is why 42% of businesses invest in customer experience.

Improve customer experience

Improve customer experience

Go beyond just providing great service. Create a great experience that fosters a real, human connection between your consumers and you. You’ll have to in order to keep your customers. By the year 2020, CX is expected to stand out as the differentiator between brands, not price or product.

What’s more, 66% of people say they’re likely to change brands entirely if they’re treated like a data entry line and not a human. So, the stakes are high. But here’s the saving grace: you can elevate your customers’ experience (and thereby keep their loyalty) without spending a lot of dough.

Check out how HelpScout does it:

Improving customer experience example

Improving customer experience example

These little touches don’t cost much to add, but they create a sense of camaraderie and elevate the overall experience for users.

At Kinsta we send out anniversary messages to all of our clients. While this is small, it helps remind clients that we appreciate them.

Kinsta improving customer experience

Kinsta improving customer experience

There are tons of examples of companies that have discovered a little can go a long way. MailChimp has a similar approach.

They add their thoughtful touches when their users need them most, helping offset the stress of launching a new email campaign by featuring a quick note of encouragement. Take a gander at this:

MailChimp customer experience

MailChimp customer experience

Although this interaction is barely two seconds long and likely only took a designer a few hours to put together, it brings levity and joy to a stressful moment. By doing so, it enhances the customers’ experience. Just look at the reception.

Plus, small touches like this have brought in some big rewards for businesses. Hallmark created a simple platform for one-on-one interactions where bank employees could send personalized cards to their customers. Small and quick like MailChimp’s “high five,” the results were nonetheless astounding. Look at this.

Increased loyalty

Increased loyalty (Image source: Hallmark)

As you might recall, reducing churn rate by just 5% can have major results, so increasing loyalty by a whole 10%? That’s huge. They’re not the only ones who’ve used small moments of delight to elevate the customer’s experience – and encourage repeat purchases – either.

EasyJet turned to this tactic when they sent out nearly 13,000,000 unique emails and provided customers with a snapshot of their previous travels. The reception was overwhelming.

Social reaction

Social reaction (Image source: CampaignLive)

But they didn’t just warm their customers’ hearts. They also saw a huge increase in sales and total retention. Across all markets, 7.5% of those who received a unique email booked another trip within the following 30 days.

Webinars are another easy way to elevate your long-term customers’ experience. These help your customers stay engaged with your product and excited about using it. 31% of all webinars are aimed at improving the onboarding process and increasing customer retention.

By optimizing the customer experience with webinars, you can cultivate a sense of “true loyalty” from your customers, creating a relationship which goes beyond just your product.

Loyalty framework

Loyalty framework (Image source: Annex Cloud)

Potential webinar offerings for your long-term customers include “tips and tricks” for making the most of your product and insider secrets. You can see how Pipefy, a workflow management tool, uses this strategy here:

Pipefy webinar

Pipefy webinar

And the same for Hawk Ridge Systems, a design and manufacturing firm:

Hawk Ridge Systems webinar

Hawk Ridge Systems webinar

Basically, anything that can spark your customers’ commitment to your product is a strong subject for a webinar.

Here’s what it boils down to. Customer experience is your ultimate bedrock for customer retention. So, elevate it. But don’t think that means you have to sink massive money into it.

You could embed a quick quiz on your WordPress site – who doesn’t want to know what kind of cheeseburger they are? Alternatively, personalized emails, cards, or just thoughtful moments of reassurance can go a long way, too. Create moments of delight for your customers’ experience, and they’ll reward you by staying your customers.

The customer experience is your ultimate bedrock for customer retention. So, elevate it. 🙌 Click to Tweet

Summary

If customer retention isn’t one of your key goals, it should be. It’s cheaper than acquiring new customers and probably a lot easier than you realize. One way to improve customer retention is by rocking out your return or refund policy. Make it quick, flexible, and readable.

Another important tactic is reacting to customer feedback. Just responding isn’t enough: if you want to reduce your churn rate, put that feedback in action and keep your customers happy. This one might surprise you: automating your CRM can improve your customer retention rate as much as 27%. And, best of all, there are a ton of free, fully-featured CRM suites out there.

Reward your customers – literally. Creating a great rewards program helps retain customers and increases their average spend by as much as 18%. Finally, and most importantly, if you want to keep customers coming back, elevate their experience. Take it further than providing great customer service and create moments of delight for your customers.

While some customer churn is natural, follow these five tips to control the tide and keep your favorite people – your loyal customers – where they belong: With you.

Got any more great customer retention tips? We would love to hear them below in the comments.

WordPress Activity Log – 7 Things You Should Be Tracking

When your WordPress website is small, it’s easy to keep tabs on everything that happens within it. However, as it grows in size and complexity it can become a lot harder to keep up. This is particularly true if you enable users to register on your site, run a membership site, or have multiple contributors on it.

Regardless, it’s vital to know what’s happening on your site at all times. You can do this by tracking user activity such as changes to content, profile updates, failed logins, and more. When you have information like this at your fingertips, you can quickly track down the source of any problems and maintain tight security.

In this post, we’re going to briefly talk about why you’d want to track your WordPress site’s activity. Then we’ll help you figure out what types of activity it’s most important to keep an eye on. Let’s jump right in!

Regardless of the size, it’s important to know what is happening on your WordPress site at all times. 🔍 Click to Tweet

Why It’s Crucial to Use a WordPress Activity Log

An activity log can help you keep tabs on important changes to your site.

If your website has only a single user – you – there should be no surprises. Unless your site has been hacked (which we’ll talk more about later), every change and update will have been made by you.

WordPress track user activity

WordPress track user activity

However, many sites permit a lot more than a single user to register. You might encourage your visitors to sign up for subscriber accounts, for example. Alternately, you may have an entire team of writers, developers, editors, and third-party contractors who help you create and manage content.

Either way, having so many people accessing your site can lead to a lot of uncertainty. It’s not always easy to figure out who deleted a post, or to make sense of why a user profile was altered. If you’re worried that a particular change was malicious, or you simply want to know why it occurred, you may not have a good way to proceed.

This is why tracking activity on your WordPress site is so important. Having an activity log of every significant change, along with details about when it happened and which users were involved, makes it simpler to deal with unexpected events. Even if you’re the only user on your site, this type of log can help you track down the source of changes that are the result of successful hacking attempts.

Of course, you cannot maintain an activity log manually. Fortunately, you can use a WordPress activity log plugin to handle this job automatically. All you’ll need to do is check out your log whenever you need the information it contains.

WP Security Audit Log

One of the best plugins on the market for this is WP Security Audit Log. You can download the free version on the WordPress repository. As of writing this, it has over 70,000 active installs with an impressive 4.5 out of 5-star rating. It’s also actively updated on a regular basis by the developers.

WP Security Audit Log plugin

WP Security Audit Log plugin

There is also a premium version (starting at $89 a year) which gives you additional features such as reports, instant email alerts, and search.  But all logging functionality is completely free.

Configuring WP Security Audit Log

We are using the free version of WP Security Audit log in this post. After installing it the first thing you’ll see after activation is the configuration wizard.

Step 1

Click on “Start Configuring the Plugin” to get started.

Configure WP Security Audit Log plugin

Configure WP Security Audit Log plugin

Step 2

Select “Basic” or “Geek.”

  • Basic: Choose this option if you only want basic logging data.
  • Geek: Choose this option if you want all the data the plugin has to offer.

You can change these settings anytime later, but for this example, we’ll do the “Geek” option to show you more of the WP Security Audit Log plugin.

WP Security Audit Log geek settings

WP Security Audit Log geek settings

Step 3

Next, you’ll want to choose how long you want to keep the WP Security Audit Log data. For this example, we’ll choose 6 months.

  • 6 months (data older than 6 months will be deleted)
  • 12 months (data older than 12 months will be deleted)
  • Keep all data.

You can change this later on. But it’s important to note that the data is stored in your WordPress database. And while it’s done in an efficient manner, you should never store more data than you think you’ll use. For most, 6 months should be fine, especially if you’re pretty proactive about fixing problems as they arise.

WP Security Audit Log data retention

WP Security Audit Log data retention

If you purchase the premium version of WP Security Audit log you can retain data even longer and even store it an external database.

Step 4

The next step is to configure additional access if needed. By default, only administrators will be able to access the WordPress activity logs.

WP Security Audit Log access

WP Security Audit Log access

Step 5

On the next screen, you can exclude objects (usernames, roles, IP addresses) from being logged. Perhaps you’re the single admin on a WordPress site and only want to see changes that authors and editors make. Or perhaps you simply want to monitor logins and account registrations. Regardless of the reason, you can easily exclude yourself from the data.

WP Security Audit Log exclude objects

WP Security Audit Log exclude objects

And that’s it! All changes on your WordPress site are now being logged for safe keeping. The data and settings for WP Security Audit Log can be seen in the “Audit Log” menu in your WordPress dashboard. To really dive deep into all the settings, we recommend checking out their getting started documentation.

Audit log in WordPress dashboard

Audit log in WordPress dashboard

The rest of this post will highlight some of the various types of activities you’ll want to be included in your log.

7 Types of Changes Your WordPress Activity Log Plugin Should Keep a Log Of

There’s a lot going on within even the simplest WordPress website. Some of these changes and events are more important than others (and are more likely to indicate potential problems or security breaches).

Throughout the rest of this post, we’re going to discuss the seven most crucial activities to track on your site. While not an exhaustive list, these are the items you’ll absolutely want to be included in WordPress activity log.

  1. Changes to Content
  2. New and Removed Users
  3. Failed Login Attempts
  4. Changes to Themes or Plugins
  5. WordPress Core and Settings Changes
  6. User Profile Tweaks
  7. Changes to Websites and Users on Multisite Setups

1. Changes to Content

Content is the heart of any successful website. At the very least, your site will be made up of one or more pages, which should be updated periodically with new or revised information if you want them to remain relevant.

In addition, many WordPress sites frequently put out new content in the form of posts. You may use your site to run a blog, post news articles about your business, or something else entirely. Once your site has been around for a while, the number of posts can skyrocket quickly.

The quality and accuracy of all that content is key for providing value to your visitors, enhancing your authority, and making sure your audience trusts what you have to say. This all means that keeping a close eye on your content is vital. You’ll want to ensure both new content and changes to existing content reflect well on your site and/or company.

That’s why you’ll want to track all content-related changes within WordPress. This includes:

  • The creation of new pages, posts, or other content types.
  • Alterations to an existing page or post’s title, date, URL, custom fields, or other key variables.
  • Modified content within existing content – whether something has been added, edited, or removed.
  • Status changes, such as a post that’s been published or returned to draft form.
WP Security Audit Log content changes

WP Security Audit Log content changes

SEO is another big reason to always keep an eye on changing content. For example, if a URL changes on a popular post with traffic and backlinks, and you don’t know about it, this could be disastrous. While WordPress has built-in redirects and will do its best to try and redirect to the updated content, this doesn’t always work. You should always add 301 redirects, at the server-level if possible for performance reasons. Kinsta’s redirect tool makes this super easy!

All of the above changes happen fairly regularly on an active WordPress site, and are usually not an issue. However, you should always be prepared for the unexpected to happen. A post might be published too soon, for example, or a section within a page may be removed. In these scenarios, if you’ve been tracking content changes on your site, you’ll know exactly who made the alteration and when (and be well-placed to find out why).

2. New and Removed Users

As we mentioned earlier, many WordPress sites end up adding a number of users to their ranks. This is generally a sign of a thriving site, as you have more people engaging with and working on it.

However, you’ll want to keep some level of control over your site’s user base. Even if you enable open registrations, you’ll need to know who holds each user account and why. At the very least, therefore, you’ll want to be aware of it when users are added to or removed from your site.

WP Security Audit Log user registrations

WP Security Audit Log user registrations

Tracking both of these activities matters. If a new user registers unexpectedly on your site, you’ll want to know about it right away. If you don’t enable open registrations, this can be a sign of a hacking attempt. The same goes for deleted users – again, this isn’t the type of thing you want happening unexpectedly.

3. Failed Login Attempts

Everyone has to log in before they can access your WordPress admin pages – even you. In fact, your login screen forms a crucial first line of defense when it comes to protecting your site dashboard or ‘customer-reserved’ pages. While there are a variety of ways to try and force access to your site, most attackers will focus their efforts on trying to get in through the login screen.

Generally, these attempts won’t succeed on a first try. Hackers write programs that will try thousands of login combinations, until they hit on one that works. Therefore, keeping track of failed login attempts can give you a warning when someone is trying to brute force your site this way.

Every site will occasionally have failed logins, of course. Most users forget their passwords from time to time, or misspell their credentials. What you’ll want to look for is repeated failed attempts coming from the same IP address. If someone from one location has tried and failed to log in more than a handful of times in a row, they may not have your best interests at heart.

Fortunately, if you are tracking failed logins through your activity log, you’ll know how many attempts were made, when, and where they came from. This can assist you in tracking down the source, and finding out whether it’s a hacking attempt or simply a persistent user. You can also temporarily block the IP address in question, just to be safe.

WP Security Audit Log failed login

WP Security Audit Log failed login

Of course, you’ll also want to take other measures to protect your WordPress login screen. Changing your WordPress login URL is an easy one. The more you can do to tighten up your site’s ‘front door’, the less you’ll need to worry about malicious users forcing their way in.

4. Changes to Themes or Plugins

At this point, let’s take a moment to talk about WordPress user roles. Every person permitted access to your site is given a particular role. While there are plugins that add extra options, the default roles in WordPress are Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber (and Super Admin on multisite installations).

Each role has its own set of permissions – in other words, actions the user is allowed to take. Administrators can do just about anything they like, for example, while subscribers can only manage their personal profiles. The other roles fall somewhere in between.

This matters because there are certain actions only top-level users should be able to perform. For example, on a regular (non-multi) site, only an administrator can install, remove, or update plugins and themes.

Since administrators can make such key changes to your site, it’s recommended that you have only one user with this level of access (you, most likely). The ability to install or remove add-ons from your site gives a user the ability to make huge changes to its functionality, or even break the site entirely if they aren’t careful.

This means if someone else is making changes to plugins and themes, something is probably wrong. Either a malicious user is performing these actions (for instance, they’re trying to install something of their own on your site), or an approved user has a permissions level that’s too high.

WP Security Audit Log change to theme

WP Security Audit Log change to theme

Either way, these are problems you’ll want to deal with immediately. If you ever spot a change to your site’s plugins or themes in your WordPress activity log that you didn’t make yourself, you’ll be able to track down the source right away. Plus, you’ll see exactly what changes were made, so you can reverse them if necessary.

5. WordPress Core and Settings Changes

In a way, these types of activities are very similar to those in the last section. There are various other things that only administrators can do, along with installing plugins and themes. In fact, just about any administrator-only privileges are worth tracking on your site.

Most crucial, however, are any changes to the core WordPress platform and to your site’s overall settings. It should be fairly clear why these two categories are so vital. Both can affect your site as a whole in a very dramatic way.

Alterations to WordPress core, for instance, can cause incompatibility with plugins, themes, and other parts of your site. As for settings, there are a lot that can create problems if not used carefully. Changing your site’s permalinks can play havoc with its Search Engine Optimization (SEO), for one thing. There are also settings that alter your site’s home page, enable or disable comments, and a lot more.

WP Security Audit Log WordPress core settings

WP Security Audit Log WordPress core settings

In other words, changes should only be made to WordPress core and your settings with great care. So you’ll absolutely want to know right away if these elements of your site are being altered by someone else. As in the previous section, this likely means either your site is under attack, or someone has more permissions than they need.

6. User Profile Tweaks

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We’ve already discussed users in a broad sense – new and deleted users are something you’ll want to know about right away. However, staying abreast of changes to existing user profiles is just as vital.

Everyone with a user account on your site is able to make at least some basic changes to their own profiles. However, user roles determine what kinds of activities each person can perform. Most users won’t be able to edit someone else’s account, for example. What’s more, only administrators can change a user’s role.

It’s not uncommon to see fairly frequent changes to user details on a busy WordPress site. However, there are still some activities to watch out for, including:

  • Password, email, and display name changes. While it’s normal for a user to alter this information from time to time (and smart in the case of passwords), an unusual amount of changes in a short period of time might indicate a problem.
  • User role changes. This is the number-one activity to track when it comes to user profiles. As an administrator, no one’s user role should be altered on your site without your knowledge.
WP Security Audit Log user profile tweaks

WP Security Audit Log user profile tweaks

If you permit open registration on your site, you’ll particularly want to be aware of unusual activity levels on new accounts. This can be a sign that the owner of the account isn’t a legitimate user.

7. Changes to Websites and Users on Multisite Setups

Earlier, we briefly mentioned multisite installations. This is one of WordPress’ lesser-known but most useful features. Using the multisite functionality, you can run several individual but connected websites in an organized network.

When you’re running a multisite setup, each site is its own entity. At the same time, all of them can be managed through a central dashboard. One or more super admins oversee the entire network, making large-scale decisions about users, settings, plugins, and themes. Then, each website has its own administrator, who can only make changes to that particular site.

Multisite setups can be particularly challenging to keep organized and secure. After all, you now have multiple sites to worry about, each with its own set of users. This means tracking activities on every site (along with the network as a whole) is more important than ever.

Here are a few of the activities you’ll want to pay special attention to if you run a Multisite network:

  • Added or deleted sites. This is the big one. As a super admin, you’re the only one who should be able to create or remove sites – no other user should be performing such a key action.
  • Adding or deleting users from sites. For the same reasons discussed earlier, keeping track of the users registered to each site on the network is a smart idea.
  • Changes to network settings. On a multisite setup, you’ll get access to a special screen with network-specific options. These settings have far-ranging effects, and shouldn’t be modified lightly.

Using an activity log for WordPress Multisite networks enables you to track activities from all possible directions. This lets you keep an eye on user behaviors on each individual site, as well as changes made to the network as a whole.

Don’t Forget About Your Hosting Account

Besides your WordPress sites, it’s also advisable to keep track of what’s happening on your WordPress hosting account. This is of course what is powering everything behind the scenes.

If you’re a Kinsta client you can easily see changes from the Activity Log screen in the MyKinsta dashboard. Everything from site creations, deletions, domain changes, redirects, etc. If you have multiple users on your account, it’s logged globally so you can see who did what action.

MyKinsta activity log

MyKinsta activity log

Summary

The smallest changes made to a WordPress website can have dramatic results. A simple settings tweak can alter the way your site works, and the installation of a plugin or theme that isn’t compatible with your other tools can break important functionality. That’s why, especially if you have a lot of users, you’ll want to keep track of everything that happens on your site.

One of the best ways to do this is to get a WordPress activity log plugin that compiles information about each change made to your site into one handy log. This log should track all of the most important (and potentially problematic) changes, such as:

  1. Changes to content.
  2. New and removed users.
  3. Failed login attempts.
  4. Changes to themes or plugins.
  5. WordPress core and settings changes.
  6. User profile tweaks.
  7. Changes to websites and users on multisite setups.

Do you have any questions about how to track user activity on your WordPress website? Ask away in the comments section below!

Mind-Blowing LinkedIn Statistics and Facts (2018)

Facebook may be the largest social networking site in the world today, but LinkedIn has been supporting its users for a longer time period. And more importantly for those looking to network and develop business connections, LinkedIn users know the platform as the “professional social networking site.”

In a world where technology is rapidly changing, the longevity of the tech company, which was founded in 2002, is a tribute to its utility and dominance within its niche in social media.

In fact, the search intent of the term “LinkedIn” has more than doubled in the last 10 years. And, when it comes to interesting LinkedIn statistics and LinkedIn facts, there is a surprising abundance.

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Google Search Trends - LinkedIn

Google Search Trends – LinkedIn

Digging into LinkedIn Demographics

LinkedIn has over 575+ million users, with more than 260 million monthly active users.

LinkedIn registered users

LinkedIn registered users

Of those LinkedIn users who are engaging with the platform monthly, 40% access it on a daily basis. However, LinkedIn is used sparingly, so you only have a few minutes to make an impact. Users only spend about 17 minutes on LinkedIn per month.

According to the Pew Research Center 2018 Social Media Use study, LinkedIn remains popular with college students. Further research into these LinkedIn statistics revealed that 50% of college graduates in the US are LinkedIn users, while the site engages with only 9% of people whose education doesn’t surpass high school.

Additionally, 44% of LinkedIn users take home more than $75,000 per year, which is above the national median in the US.

Although the US has the most LinkedIn users at 133 million, 70% of LinkedIn users are from outside of the US.

Along gender lines, LinkedIn is more popular with men, who comprise 57% of its users base. And, interestingly, millennials make up 38% of LinkedIn’s user base, with 11 million of the 87 million millennials in decision-making positions.

LinkedIn Revenue: The Financial Facts

Microsoft, recognizing the value of LinkedIn, acquired the company for $26.2 billion in 2016. However, unlike many other social media platforms, which rely on advertisements, LinkedIn’s services are something for which users are willing to pay.

A total of 39% of LinkedIn users pay for LinkedIn Premium, which has four price tiers:

  • Premium Career: $29.99/month
  • Premium Business: $59.99/month
  • Sales Navigator Pro: $79.99/month
  • Recruiter Lite (Hiring): $119.95/month
LinkedIn plans

LinkedIn plans

Premium Career is best for those looking for jobs. It gives you access to five InMail messages per month and in-demand videos, as well as the ability to see who viewed your profile, how many searches you’ve appeared in, and additional information on posted jobs (including salary).

The other tiers include essentially the same basic features but then go a step or two further. Premium Business gives you additional information about businesses and unlimited people searches; Sales Navigator Pro gives you advanced search filters, access to different sales tools, and the ability to make notes on user profiles; and Recruiter Lite gives you guided search smart suggestions and more recruiter-focused tools.

No matter which Premium account you buy, you’ll have access to improved metrics and various ways to achieve LinkedIn growth.

Generating Leads on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an especially good source for discovering leads. Hubspot found that LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook and Twitter.

Linkedin lead generation

Linkedin lead generation (Image source: HubSpot)

Given this, it’s no surprise that 79% of marketers see LinkedIn as a very good source of leads, with 43% of marketers saying they have sourced at least one customer from LinkedIn. That number increases for B2B marketers, who report that 80% of their social media leads come from LinkedIn.

B2B LinkedIn leads

B2B LinkedIn leads (Image source: LinkedIn)

Racking up Points for Recruitment

The other primary reason LinkedIn users are active on the platforms is for job recruitment efforts. With more than 20 million companies listed on the site and 14 million open jobs, it’s no surprise to find out that 90% of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn.

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In fact, a study found that 122 million people received an interview through LinkedIn, with 35.5 million having been hired by a person they connected with on the site.

One good LinkedIn stat for recruiters is that employees sourced through the site are 40% less likely to leave the company within the first 6 months.

A Primer on LinkedIn Profile Optimization

Because of LinkedIn’s ability to recognize boolean operators and filter results according to metrics such as company, number of years of experience, function, and seniority level, the platform easily tops its competitors for helping people make essential business connections.

However, despite the advanced search capabilities, you will still want to optimize your LinkedIn profile. The first step for doing this is adding a professional photo, which on average will get a user 14 times more views than other types of profile pictures.

To boost your connection requests by fivefold, make sure you list your current position. And, don’t forget to list at least five relevant skills, as doing so increases the chance that your profile will be discovered and someone will message you by more than 31 times what you would get if you didn’t.

Fun LinkedIn Statistics About New Features

After Microsoft stepped in, LinkedIn introduced several new features, such as Showcase pages. This extension of business pages is designed to highlight your company’s business unit or initiative.

LinkedIn also introduced a calendar chatbot, which syncs the calendars of two LinkedIn users so they can meet up. This is especially helpful for people wanting to connect with others in different time zones. Although a chatbot feature has yet to be implemented on LinkedIn, AI technology has already made its way to the platform in the form of smart replies, or suggested responses.

LinkedIn Scheduler

LinkedIn Scheduler (Image source: LinkedIn)

Additionally, LinkedIn also rolled out messaging, which allows users to send InMail in the form of chats, rather than with the email formatting, which cuts down on excessive clicking. This feature also includes sponsored messages.

Content Creators Make Use of LinkedIn

LinkedIn allows you to share different types of content. Articles, which can be posted on your profile or on LinkedIn Pulse, links to your website, slideshows, and video are among the most popular types of content LinkedIn users post.

Content on the LinkedIn feed receives about 9 billion impressions per week, but only 3 million users (out of the more than 500 million) share content on a weekly basis. This means that only about 1% of LinkedIn’s 260 million monthly users share posts, and those 3 million or so users net the 9 billion impressions.

LinkedIn drives more than 50% of social traffic to B2B sites and is considered the most credible source of content. So, it is no surprise that 98% of content marketers use LinkedIn for content marketing, especially for B2B marketing and lead generation.

LinkedIn statistics

LinkedIn statistics

A study by OkDork, which analyzed more than 3,000 LinkedIn posts, found that “how-to” and list posts performed best, especially those with titles that had 40-49 characters. Additionally, it found that posts with five headings had the most views. It also revealed that long-form content (1,900-2,000 words) performed the best, as well as content with eight images.

Just don’t get us started on the LinkedIn stats behind using “broetry”—multiple one line sentences that are probably as annoying to write as they are to read.

LinkedIn broetry

LinkedIn broetry

Supporting the idea that images improve your posts’ popularity is the fact that including photos increases the comment rate by 98 percent. Time and time again, we see that a visual content strategy just works.

Now, one interesting fact that you might not be able to tease out of your own posting results is that content published on Thursday tends to perform the best.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a LinkedIn influencer to have your content perform well. Of the 10,000 most shared posts on LinkedIn between 2012 and 2016, only 6% were written by LinkedIn influencers.

Most shared authors on LinkedIn

Most shared authors on LinkedIn (Image source: Content Marketing Institute)

LinkedIn Video is a Victory

Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed video as ‘the next megatrend’, with platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat making it easier for users to upload video content.

LinkedIn wasn’t about to be left behind, especially because it was discovered that if the content was found in both video and written format, 59% of executives said they would choose to consume it via video.

Video consumption on LinkedIn

Video consumption on LinkedIn (Image source: MWP Digital Media)

At one point, LinkedIn users could only embed video content from other sources. However, LinkedIn has now made it possible to upload native videos through the mobile app. This move allows LinkedIn users to see a more “human” side of businesses, making the brands behind them more approachable.

In fact, LinkedIn Video was named one of the most effective platforms for video marketing, though only 28% of marketers agree. That 28% might seem weak, but given that LinkedIn Video was only rolled out for users in August 2017, it’s actually pretty impressive that so many agree already.

LinkedIn statistics on video

LinkedIn statistics on video (Image source: eMarketer)

Since then, LinkedIn has introduced filters for videos, as well as native video ads as part of sponsored content offerings. This enables businesses to share their own video content. Prior to this, video content was only available for individual member user accounts.

What differentiates video ads from others is that you can choose from a number of targeting options, such as job title, location, and company size. You can also apply advanced features, such as remarketing and matched audience integration.

Since the beta launch of Sponsored Content, LinkedIn reports that users spent three times more time watching videos than viewing static content. During the limited or beta release of LinkedIn Video, it was found that videos were shared 20 times more than any other type of content.

Final Thoughts: Mind-Blowing LinkedIn Statistics and Facts

Have your facts straight when it comes to some of the wild LinkedIn stats that support the idea that the social media platform will continue to dominate?

From about 3 million users banking in on the 9 billion impressions per month, to the realization that even LinkedIn statistics support Zuckerberg’s proclamation that video is the next megatrend, it’s clear that there is a lot to know about who is using the platform and why they’re doing so.

Have any of your own interesting LinkedIn statistics to share? Post them in the comments below!

New Theme: Photos

Today we’re happy to introduce Photos, an image-centric theme with a clean layout and a design that showcases your favorite snapshots.

When we designed Photos, we put extra care into making it look and feel great on mobile devices. But that’s only one of the theme’s highlights — here are a few others.

Photos first: Photos features a familiar three-column grid to display your photos on your blog’s homepage, archive pages, and search results. The full-width grid appears on smartphones and tablets. It scales up to a fixed-width grid on desktop and laptop displays.

Mobile navigation: When visitors view your site on a mobile device, the menu button is fixed at the bottom of the page, closer to your thumbs. The menu then slides up from the bottom, keeping your site-navigation items within easy reach.

Standard fonts: Photos uses system fonts — fonts that are already available on mobile devices and computers — rather than loading its own custom fonts. This reduces page-load time, and benefits people browsing your site on mobile devices or slower internet connections. Like in any other WordPress.com theme, you can always change the font using the Customizer.

No sidebar: For a more consistent experience between desktop and mobile screens, Photos has a single-column, no-sidebar layout. This helps sites retain the same look and feel regardless of the device your visitors use to view it.

You can learn more about Photos by checking out the Showcase page or the theme’s demo site!