Secure Your WordPress Website From Hackers

Being hacked is what every website owner dreads to even think about.  However safe and secure you think your site might be, taking those extra steps to make sure your site remains up to date with the latest plugins and security features can go a long way to keeping those unwanted nasties out.

There are certain things to consider and actions that can be taken to help secure your website.

The Strength of Your Password
The most vulnerable area of a website is the front door key. A password will allow people in due to the simplicity (easy for hackers to guess) or shut people out due the complexity of a password.  Brute force attacks and guessing are commonly used to break and enter into a site. Make your password unique adding a combination and variation of upper case, lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

If you easily forget passwords think of something that has meaning to you and if you can’t think of anything WordPress has a password generator that gives out unique and secure passwords.

Use Name – Use Your Email
Using your email instead of a user name is easy to remember.

Consider using a two-factor authentication
in April 2013 WordPress introduced two-factor authentication for added security. There are many plugins available to help secure the login process. Make sure you keep your mobile phone handy and remember the email address you used to sign in with.

Do Regular WordPress Backups
Regular backups can help restore your site to a latest version should something go wrong with it. Having a Dropbox account or another external storage account for these is a good idea.

Keep your plugins up to date
Regularly updating your plugins at a 2 week interval will keep your site running smoothly. Note: Plugins which haven’t been updated by the creator for over six months may have become obsolete. They may have also been hacked so I recommend not downloading those while also making sure that the new plugins you download are also compatible with your version of WP.

Use a Security Plugin with a Firewall and Malware Detection Scanner
Securing your site in this way is the most important of all.  A firewall protects against hackers and brute force attacks by protecting from vulnerabilities on your site.

Disable comments on your site for less spam.
There’s a plugin called just that, ‘Disable Comments.’ which I use on all my websites with the exception of my blog website.

By Sandra Ciminelli – ACT Websites

3 Powerful WordPress Themes For Business Websites

Pump up your business website with one of these powerful WordPress themes.  Heaps of features are available allowing the customization and flexibility to create amazing websites.  Loaded with features to give your website functionality you’ll find any one of the themes on on Themeforest on the Envato Market for purchase & download after registering for free on the site.  Note: Prices are displayed in $USD.

Listed in order of preference:

  1. Avada by Themefusion – Labelled the “Swiss army knife of WordPress themes,” this theme is loaded with so many extras to make your website do just about anything.
  2. Enfold by Kriesi – Best selling theme with loads of functionality and options.  Multipurpose theme- responsive & woocommerce ready.
  3. Wedding Suite by Webnus – Loads of options and functionality with this premium theme.

At ACT Websites I only like to use the best themes for my clients when designing and developing their sites.

What you need to get started:

  1. Register a domain name. ie. Crazy Domains
  2. Purchase web hosting. ie. Crazy Domains
  3. Purchase the theme of your choice.  See recommended themes or search for more on Themeforest
  4. Let me take care of, setup, design and development. If you’re after a website that stands out from the rest to represent your business branding then contact Sandra on 0413 305 967 or use the contact form to send me an email.

WannaCry Ransomware – Why The Most Vulnerable Websites Are Hacked

It’s become a common occurrence to hear on the news that even top notch websites with the most expensive security systems are being targeted by hackers.  Recently we’ve had the WannaCry Ransomware (also called WannaCrypt) making headlines affecting computers the globe.  It’s spreading on machines that are unsupported or updated with the latest windows security patches.  In the UK Medical health services were among the first to be affected having their ambulance services redirected.

Ransomware uses a worm to spread itself through networks. The way Ransomware works is that once it infects a computer it scrambles the data or encrypts it, then a popup screen appears with a message demanding money to get access to your data.  Over time the price increases and eventually the files are destroyed if the ransom is not paid.

Malwaretech have created a BotNet Tracker mapping the spread of WannaCrypt – WannaCry Ransomware.  You Can view it here.

Any website can be hacked by malicious code.  However WordPress is constantly working on improving security to making it more difficult for hackers to ‘break and enter.’  Unsupported Windows versions are really vulnerable as windows have stopped making security patches for them. So make sure that you’re using the supported versions if you’re not using the latest.

You might think, “why would anyone want to hack my small website? The vast majority of hackers are after the use of your server to send spam emails.

You can protect your WordPress website with security plugins that offer free and paid premium protection. Run scans and keep your website up to date with the latest security updates.

Most widely used for business sites is Securi  a paid plugin for premium protection.

Bullet Proof and Wordfence are among the top rating plugins for WordPress websites.

These offer a website firewall, security scans and good range of services.

If you site is currently infected/hacked you might want to run detection scans

CNET – Everything you want to know about WannaCry Ransomware

Maintain Health & Functionality of WordPress Sites

Some people opt to maintain their own website to save costs. However that doesn’t work for everyone as most people don’t have the technical skills or free time to take the extra tasks on.

These tasks may include:

  1. Website files and database – backed up
  2. Security Checks & Regular Checks for Malware
  3. WordPress Version Core Updates
  4. Plugin Updates
  5. Delete inactive plugins
  6. Check Hyperlinks
  7. Search Engine Optimisation
  8. Optimise Databases & Images
  9. Conduct a technical Audit to make sure your site ranks well and runs smoothly on the internet.

It takes time to properly take care of your site doing things regular plugin updates, backups and security checks. So if you’d rather let someone else take good care of your website then contact ACT Websites.

Or have a look out our WordPress Maintenance and Support Services page.

What A New Website Can Do For My Business

If you own a business but don’t have a website there are valid reasons why an online presence is essential. We live in a technologically advanced working society where computers and mobile phones are frequently used by people who mostly do their research and shopping for goods and services online for convenience.

A modern, crisp and great looking website is a justifiable business investment with accessible information about your business online. A good website will not only create more revenue by increasing positive conversation around your product and services, it’s social media integration makes your website a highly shareable and marketable product to launch your advertising campaigns from with a view to generating more business leads.

Do you have an outdated website?

Why you need to update – Business owners who keep an outdated website run the risk of losing potential customers by having the following features on their current site:

  • poor layout
  • restricted navigation
  • poor functionality
  • slow loading pages and images
  • not visually appealing.

All of these factors can contribute to make a business look unprofessional online.  The average time spent on a website is anywhere between 3-5 minutes.  If the audience’s attention can’t be grabbed immediately to entice them to navigate through your site to buy your products and services, they will move on fast to the next company who can.

ACT Websites develops beautiful WordPress websites.

WordPress has evolved to be the most flexible and versatile Content Management System with its vast array of available plugins to add complex business features and security to your website. The sky is the limit to your design imagination. There are literally thousands of professionally designed WordPress themes available as the skeleton which to fill with your business branding and content to present your products and services for attracting the right audience.  See our recent work page for a visual on what we have done for our satisfied clients.

Invest in your business future with a beautiful web presence or a buzzing online store.

WordPress is search engine friendly.  “WordPress automatically solves a ton of SEO issues.” Google Engineer Matt Cutts.

The free Yoast SEO plugin makes your website even more search engine friendly.

WordPress is mobile web ready with responsive theme designs that will work on tablets.

Contact ACT Websites for a quote

 

 

 

Who Do I Call First When My Website Is Down?

Lets face it, from time to time a website will crash.  It’s technology after all.  As business owners we can become panicked about losing clients and money by not knowing who to call.  In that panic quite often the new website owner will contact their web designer. However, here’s what to do to save time, frustration and money.

1.What do you do when that help isn’t available immediately?

Call your web host tech support.  Good web host services will usually have 24/7 support available.   Some problems may be able to be resolved over the phone for free by their tech support team. It might very well be a hosting or server problem.  So check that out first.

When there’s a problem with the website most people will call their webmaster.  The web master will investigate and then call the web host if needed.   This costs the business owner money.  Save money by calling your host first as mentioned above.

Note: We don’t all have time or knowledge to be resolving issues over the phone with the web host, in such cases hiring a webmaster’s help will be the better option.  Consider a monthly website maintenance plan to keep your website running smoothly with backups, updates, link check etc.

2. The Webmaster

Things happen when you least expect them, during and outside of business hours.  The webmaster’s flexibility will ultimately be their best asset.  However, they aren’t always available after hours and this calls for understanding and a backup plan on the part of the client.

What to do when something goes wrong.

  1. Check to see if your website is up and running on another device or computer.
  2. Write down any error messages or codes you receive.
  3. Contact your web host tech support team to notify them that you can’t access your website.  The number can be found on their website.
  4. Contact the webmaster if the tech support can’t help.
  5. Tell the webmaster what tech support has said.
  6. Permissions need to have already been set in place with the web host to allow the webmaster to contact your tech support if need be.
  7. Your Webmaster will need your website login details, web hosting login details and also have access to the back end of the site by being added as a user with admin rights on the WordPress website.  The web host can send this information to the webmaster at your written request.

Note: Notify the webmaster when they’ll be out of town so that they can monitor your website while you’re way.  Very important for keeping up with necessary plugin updates while you’re away.

Regular maintenance, plugin updates and backups are important to keep your website healthy.

By Sandra Ciminelli – ACT Websites.

TOO BUSY TO MANAGE YOUR OWN SITE?  Enquire here about a our monthly Website Maintenance plan.

5 Basic Qualities Of A Winning Team

All leaders start out with a dream to succeed in what they do.  In my experience a driven, talented and passionate leader is quite different from a successful leader who can motivate his or her team to work together toward a common vision and company goals.

Team Work Quotes

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

We are all required to do our part in our job.  There are certain aspects of being part of a team that will elevate work performance and keep your workers happy.  But what does it take to motivate the team to become more productive and efficient?

1. Allow For Mistakes

In my experience a work environment that allows you to say, “I made a mistake” makes a happier and better work place.  Mistakes are a natural part of the growing process. Lets face it, sometimes we just get it wrong.

2. Encouragement

We don’t always get a pat on the back when we deserve it.  A kind word, or a comment like, “Well done” goes a long way in raising employee morale. These little verbal rewards make people feel noticed and appreciated.  In large organisations it’s easy to feel like a you’re just a number.  Those who are encouraged will automatically want to do well at work. Better still, honouring your workers for both the huge projects and for the little things they get done is equally as important.  I’ve heard a person use the term, “payment is its own reward,” while trying to do away with verbal gratitude.  But that’s the wrong attitude simply because encouragement has been proven to have a huge ROI that doesn’t cost anything in monetary terms, with improved quality of work and increased production.

3. Support

There’s nothing better than being able to have a quick word to someone when we aren’t sure about how something works.  All it takes is a few minutes to get that helping hand.  Being supported in this away is crucial to some positions.   It’s nice to know that your co-workers and employer have your back.   Some workers have disabilities or mental health issues who require extra support.  A workplace that promotes, team work,  good mental health and equality for all encourages excellence.

4. Ongoing Training  & Personal Development

When an employer invests in their employees’ skills and personal development will add value to them  The outcome will be a raised level of professionalism within a company which keeps up with current trend, industry knowledge and technology helping the company gain trust with others.

“You add value to people when you value them.” John C Maxwell.

5. Communication

Being able to talk to each other about work related issues with the ability to ask questions of one another is crucial for the team to stay in touch with important information.  Team leaders need to communicate the goals, values, mission and vision of the company, but also be friendly and approachable.  Technology allows for several methods of communication within organisations; that can be done by email, phone, on chat apps, in person and at a team meeting. We use Skype and other methods of visual communication to enable us to chat face to face across the globe. Conferences are a great way for larger companies to bring employees together to present company information on a larger scale to the team at one place. Even the little chats that take place over the coffee machine are all good for company morale.

By Sandra Ciminelli

Valued employees have been proven to be more productive and efficient when happy in the workplace.

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Some Excellent WordPress Plugins

Here’s a list of WordPress Plugins that I have found very useful in helping me to to add more features and functionality to my website and other sites I’ve worked on.  While some of these are free,  there are the paid Pro/Premium versions that enable more features.

Yoast SEO – A free plugin that is probably the best out there for Search Engine Optimisation. Feature packed, team Yoast have done a great job to make sure that users are able to take full control of their site’s search engine optimisation. They’ve even provided full instructions on ‘How To Use WordPress SEO by Yoast.

Slider Revolution – This slider is by far the best on the market. Paid version for single use is just $19 it’s jam packed with features. Developer license for unlimited sites is at $99.

Gallery by Supsystic – A fairly easy to use plugin to add images and make your website stand out. Free or Pro version.

Gmedia Gallery – Free and paid versions have loads of options and features. I have found this one easy to use.

Pricing Table by Supsystic – Easy to use free and or version with many custom design options. I’ve used the free version on my website.

WordFence – A free security plugin that offers a firewall, malware scanner, and many other tools.  A paid premium version is available.

Social Media Feather – Great for adding social media icons to a website to improve your sharing and marketing power.  Follow & Share features.

WooCommerce – Comes with a set up wizard to help you get started with your eCommerce site.  Follow the prompts!

WP Super Cache – A very fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static html files.

Disable CommentsGlobally disable comments on a WordPress website. Comments can be disabled according to post type. Particularly useful for business sites.  Multi site friendly.

Black Studio TinyMCE Widget – A visual editor that allows you to edit in WYSIWIG Style.

MailPoet Newsletters –  A free newsletter plugin to send newsletters, post notifications or autoresponders from WordPress easily capture subscribers.

WEN Responsive ColumnsCreate columns easily with this easy to use free plugin.

By Sandra Ciminelli

 

 

Does My Website Need An Upgrade?

Website design is as vital to present day business owners to compete in an overcrowded market. What a visitor takes away when they visit your website is vital to the success of your business.  Any website that causes confusion can undermine credibility and trust.  The site can invite and entice people or, by being too difficult to navigate, confusing. poorly designed or simply because it might not be work on digital technology can repel potential clients. For whatever reason, the goal of any business is to draw more people in, not to turn them away as opinions are quickly formed, taken away and often shared with others.   By providing others with a good experience online they are more likely to return.

Questions to ask yourself when considering redesigning your website

  • Do my pages take a long time to load?
  • Is my website responsive?
  • Are there features that could be added?
  • Are there features that are no longer used?
  • What do I want my site to look like?
  • Does my site represent my brand online?

What is a good website?

Any growth driven business has to stay competitive.  Staying competitive in today’s market means keeping up with internet and other technological changes.

A good website is a constantly changing platform to launch business campaigns from.  If marketed effectively it can used attract more leads and create opportunities.  A WordPress website has an easy to use and easy to learn CMS – Content Management System that allows you to make changes, publish content and keep up with technological demands to help your business stay competitive.

Mobile friendly sites are also ranked higher by Google.

A good website will integrate Social Media. Social media gives you opportunities galore when showcasing your goods and services.  Having your business on Social media can drive traffic to your website, generate leads and create a loyal customer following.  Social Networking has become a popular, is used globally as a sharing point for word of mouth advocates.  Today Word of mouth referrals have become high tech.  Social Media Integration will allow others to share your posts, pages, memes, blogs, videos and more while doing the advertising for you.

Fast loading pages are a must if you want to keep visitors interested. If they can’t access the information in a timely manner they will become frustrated and leave.

Traffic to your website should be measured to help you understand what you’re doing right and where you can make improvements.  Using Google Analytics you can clearly see what social media drives traffic to your website and where your leads are coming from.  Driving traffic to your website will help to improve your Google ranking.

A New Business Website

A good way to start a business website is by knowing your business first.  Doing some research in your niche market and then set clear goals will give you insight.  Then draw up a business plan to give you direction.  A website should be designed based on those goals and your business plan to present concise and clear content with optimum functionality to others online.

Compare a website to a restaurant

You’re compelled to look at what’s on offer because you’re hungry and need to eat.  Initially you’re enticed by the menu posted at the door but as you walk though the doors there’s so much more to look at.  As you look around and notice cleanliness of the place, the clientele, the quality of service, the decor, the atmosphere, the food, the grooming of the staff and all of this detail helps you get a feel for their attitude. If it’s a good place with a good feel service that delivers what you’re after,  your appetite is likely to increase.  On a return visit you will bring friends and family along.  The network of people that come on your recommendation will continually increase to visit that restaurant as they all bring others with them.  

In the same way, a website that’s easy to navigate through, is modern, provides clear and concise information, has images. functions the way it should and is easy to use can keep a person reading, searching and wanting to know more.  They tell their family and friends about their good find.  A good website is great marketing investment!

Sites are built to your specifications and your business needs in mind.  We keep your existing branding or can help with re-branding at a low cost.  Enquire about our services today to help your business come alive and be noticed online.

make an appointment   request a quote

Before You Hire A Web Designer in Australia

Before you start planning for your website there are some key elements that you will need to have set in place.  Start by deciding on a catchy business name that is marketable to suit what you specialise in, set up your ABN and register your unique business name.  Below are the links to help you get started.

Setting up a business first…

  1. If you haven’t already started your business but are thinking about starting one you will have to do some research.  If you cant decide have a look at the Australian Goverment’s Business Page. It has a lot of useful information.
  2. Before you can own a business website in Australia be sure to have an ABN.  If you don’t have one already you can register an ABN number here. 
  3. Decide on your business name.
  4. The next step is to register your business name and check that you’re not trespassing on someone else’s trademark.

…Now you’re ready what’s next?

If you’ve already done all the things mentioned above, then proceed.

  1. Now you can purchase a domain name which will be your unique website web address. e.g.  www.yourdomain.com.au or www.yourdomain.net,au or www.yourdomain.org.au.  Many other extensions can be used for your website depending on your business type and location. Then you’ll need to purchase web hosting.
  2. ACT Websites provides affordable Domain Name Registration and Web Hosting Packages.   Domain name registrations are renewed every two years.  The Web hosting packages come in 1 year, 2 year, 3 year and 5 year registrations.  The longer the term, the cheaper the monthly fee.
  3. If you’re not comfortable setting them up yourself,  I will be happy set those up for you.  All you have to do is have your ABN number & credit card with you at the time of appointment.  For ACT residents only.
  4. Now you need someone to put your website together for you.  I can provide affordable WordPress web design and development.  View the full list of Services here.  Contact ACT Websites using the Contact form or call Sandra on:  0413 305 967.