11 Highly Underrated Plugins for WordPress

When it comes to creating a user friendly WordPress site, you aren’t exactly stuck doing all the work yourself. In fact, there’s a plethora of great plugins out there that not only make users’ lives easier, they’ll make yours a bit easier, too. Most designers and developers are familiar with the basics and must-haves, but in an open-source community of over 20,000 free plugins, some will inevitably fly under the radar.

Before you start on your next project, take a look at some of these great tools for UX-oriented designers. More →


Freelance tips

10 Things Every Web Developer Should Do to Woo High-Paying Clients

Every freelancer dreams of a land flowing with milk and honey where the perfect web development clients are ready and waiting to spend big bucks for a rocking website. A land where prospects understand the intricacies of the art and respect the skill and expertise of you, the developer, without giving you a 6 for a 9 or heavily discount your work. We’ve all heard stories of clients from hell and there are some developers I know who seem to have a platinum subscription to the hell clients express.

As developers, we tend to complain a lot about these clients from hell without realizing that we possess the power to up the ante in our favor, in large part, by approaching our business in a manner that demands admiration and respect.

Web Development is an Art and is Big Business

People in general tend to think of the term “freelancer” as someone who is doing work to simply get by. It’s less respected and not a legitimate profession. In fact, I personally know a developer who had a difficult time receiving payment for work because the client thought “freelancer” meant free work. I place the blame on him in that case though.

The point is that your mindset as a practitioner and business owner has to be serious. You may be a one-man army but you have to think and present yourself like a major brand to be reckoned. This can be achieved and is evident through making simple changes in your business. Let’s discuss some.

1. Don’t Give in to the Temptation to Under-Quote

Particularly for new developers, it may be tempting to offer quotes much lower than average market rates simply to undercut other players, with the hope of attracting clients and winning bids. Don’t do it. This practice can only devalue the market on a whole and in the long-term forces the market of developers to yield to lower expectations from clients. Know what your work is worth, be aware of the market and align your quote.

For instance, if you know you’re worth $100 per hour, do not quote $20 solely for the sake of winning that client. If you find that most of the clients you’re getting are continuously whining about your cost and worth then you may need to reevaluate how you’re acquiring those prospects.

In another case, my bid has been rejected in the past because I simply under-quoted. The prospect doubted the value of the work I was able to present because of the low rate and went with a developer who quoted 2x my rate. Cheaper isn’t always better.

web developer contract

2. Embrace Public Speaking

Many hardcore developers are introverts and thus like to sit quietly and do their work. We avoid confrontation and like to keep things simple. These are great qualities which make up the best of us. However, the ability to sell and present will take you a long way.

Look for conference opportunities to make powerful, impressive presentations on your unique approach and expertise on a particular subject or market. Events that attract CEOs, managers and other decision makers are vital and will expose you to a flurry of businesses looking to make a bigger impact online and finding ways of connect with the ever-evolving digital world. Inject yourself into that environment, start a few conversations, acquire some names and contacts then keep the conversations flowing after the conference.

Trust me, this approach can score you huge contracts.

3. Make the Decision to Specialize

Being a Jack of all Trades may seem impressive but your ability to own and conquer a set of very specific tasks or solve rare and peculiar problems, will be more attractive to businesses and big spenders. There are so many people trying to do everything that they end up entirely failing. If you are in love or have a somewhat special relationship with Java, for example, then hone those skills and be known for it. If you have a special love for UX Design then master that before moving to something else.

Specialists are able to offer more targeted and quality work than the full house developer. In addition, specialists are simply sexier :)

4. Kickstart Your Portfolio

Whether you’re a new or seasoned developer you need to have a personal project under your wing worth admiring. Think of a problem you’d like to solve through your coding skills and develop something so rare, so powerful that it cannot be ignored. Make the project around solving a problem that your target audience has and do it beautifully. That project could sell for millions or be the trump card you need to close a deal with a potential client.

Prospects love to see work completed that they can relate to. It validates your abilities and gives them a sense of confidence that you can handle the job.

5. Produce Beautifully Designed Invoices & Quotations

Spend time to create clear, original and elegantly designed quotations, proposals, invoices and other stationery. Don’t take your expertise for granted, thinking that your ability can convince a client to work with you. You’ve got to play the game. As prospects shop around for the best developer to complete their work, many of them in fact cross developers off their list who present bland, colorless proposals and quotes.

If you’re not willing to spend time to present yourself well then it is assumed that this attitude will pour into your work.

6. Don’t Abandon Traditional Brick & Mortar

Believe it or not, we still live in a world that responds to good old-fashioned presentations. Schedule meetings with prospects, get some proposals and material printing and get out of your home or office to engage them face to face. There are still many big spenders who prefer seeing things presented on paper and in person; and I agree with them. It’s more personal and they get an opportunity to evaluate who they’ll be doing business with. It means a lot for many prospects and many developers ignore and take this for granted. This is an opportunity to stand out and clients will appreciate it.

7. Be Transparent & Use a Contract

developer contract

Big business demands the use of contracts. It shows that you’re fair, serious about your work and are not afraid to be accountable. High paying clients especially need to be reassured of your accountability and diligence towards getting the job done. Invest a bit of time to draft an effective contract / agreement that outlines every aspect of your projects and addresses all potential concerns.

Remember, you mean business.

8. Take a Risk, Present a Prototype

Without risk, there is no great success. If you’ve been eyeing a prospect for some time now and see where they would do well with a complete redesign of a website or approach to a product, do the work before approaching them. Create a working mock-up and request an audience to present it. This not only shows you’ve got the chops to do the work but is also an opportunity to showcase your unique talents while showing some bravado in your risky venture. This helps your prospect better visualize the possibilities and creates a powerful connection with you.

Of course, you should do your due diligence to determine whether your end product is useful for the prospect or not. Also, I don’t recommend doing this for every prospect but should certainly be attempted for the account that is worth acquiring. Choose wisely. Even if this does not land you a contract immediately, they will be impressed and will refer to you when the time comes.

9. Answer Questions

Yeah, this sounds very simple but 80% of my web development clients, upon first speaking with them, lamented on the fact that they could not reach a developer to answer their questions. They suffered many unanswered emails and calling design houses only to be blocked by a receptionist or assistant. Be accessible and the right clients will find you.

Also, remember that you’re the humble expert. Taking the time to educate your prospects and clients not only builds trust but places them under a certain amount of obligation to use your services. Be generous.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Collaborate

If you realize you may not have the skillset required to tackle certain prospects or take on particular jobs, then collaboration might be a solution. There are some clients who tend to prefer or are more comfortable knowing that they are working with a team of professionals versus a one-man show. Take the time out to build your network of capable developers and designers who complement your skills. Come together, make an arrangement which allows each of you to pull on team resources when necessary. Depending on your comfort levels with each other, you could formulate a separate brand or partnership used when working with larger clients. This offers the flexibility and leverage of pulling on resources only found within a team to acquire larger, more demanding and rewarding projects.

Work smarter, not harder.

Acquiring valuable high-paying clients is not a far fetched goal but is attainable for the developer who dares to think and do things differently.


Freelance tips

How to Choose a VPN Service for Your Own Business

top vpn services 2014Freelance developers are not a rarity anymore these days, and more and more, freelancers are having to consider what they do as a business. While freelancing is rather different from having a day job, if you want to go legit and actually make a profit, treating what you do as a business is the route to go.

If you’re actually in that stage already, you know that there are so many things to consider. Having your own freelancing business is cool and all, but you always have to make sure that you have a good return at the end of the month. One of the things that you always bear in mind then is how to save on operating expenses. You are probably always on the lookout for money-saving tips for freelancers already.

Guess what? Using a VPN service gives you that advantage – and then some. More →


Freelance tips

How To Go It Alone In The Freelance World


If you’re looking to start a new chapter in your career – whether you’re dissatisfied with your current

employer or feel that you’re able and ready to tackle some tough challenges on your own – then

going freelance might be the booster to your confidence and CV that you need.

There are a number of things to consider when you’re ready to make the leap from employee to

being your own boss, so be sure to have the following in mind before you start writing that epic

resignation speech.

The Paperwork

If going freelance you’ll need to set up your financial status as such – this will mean registering

as self-employed, if the bulk of how you pay your bills comes through acquiring your own work.

You’ll need to visit the HMRC website to set yourself up for income tax and national insurance

payments, as well as a VAT registration if you’re turning over £79,000 or more per year. Fill in your

self-assessment form and – this is very important – keep hold of every scrap of paper you’ve got

involving payments, receipts and the like. You’ll need them as evidence to keep the taxman happy.

The Client Base

Once you’re settled on what it is you’ll offer that separates you from other companies – whether

it’s a fresh approach to copywriting or some edgy web design that’s got people talking – you’ll have

the basis to start approaching prospective new clients for their business. In the short term it might

be advisable to offer to work for free or a low rate on smaller projects to give your contacts an idea

of what you can do with a proper budget and more turnaround time. Once you’ve established a

portfolio of projects and figured out what you can achieve on a full-scale project, start dialling and


Getting Work

You’re going to need plenty of clients to do work for, a freelance writers job board is a perfect place for getting writing gis.


Be sure to take out the right forms of insurance in order to retain your sense of professionalism –

clients in high-risk fields won’t work with anyone who doesn’t have professional indemnity insurance

to protect them from giving erroneous data or communicating fraudulent information on the client’s

behalf. Any mistakes you made are just that – mistakes – but they could end up costing your client a

significant financial or reputational hit, which means you could be liable for thousands. Having this

protection will give you and the client peace of mind that you take your duties very seriously.

Time Management

Now that you’ve got the calls coming in on a regular basis you need to find out which projects you

can afford to turn down and which will keep you ticking along nicely. Just like a proper business

you should think about having some ‘opening hours’ if only to keep the work/life balance properly

adjusted – but that doesn’t mean you need to live the 9-5 life. Plan some milestones with your client

so they’ll know when they can expect to see a finished product, and stick to a schedule; a more

urgent job might get in the way but keep on top of what your priorities are and make sure to keep

them at the top of your list

Image source



Web Hosting Meets the Cloud – How Will This Affect the Industry?


A 2013 report by Parallels showed that 22 percent of small to mid-sized businesses use cloud-based services and infrastructure tools to manage their business. As a result, it’s more important than ever that web hosting and web development companies be aware of how to integrate the functionality of the cloud into their designs. As companies rely more on the cloud, the distinction between web hosting and cloud services will become less obvious. More →



The Technical Side of Blogging

Views about blogging differ depending on who is looking. Many see it as some form of online diary where they are free to write anything, at any time, at any place. While this is essentially true, it is not accurate to say that bloggers are free as well from the technical challenges of maintaining a site. Whether a site is for personal or commercial use, owners will realize soon enough that there is the technical side of blogging to think of.

blogging1Image Source

There are actually many resources for writers easily available online. The subject of blogging is very much tackled by experts and newbies in the field mostly about the hits and misses that could help make professional bloggers out of aspiring writers. A blogger does not only write. He or she is expected to have reasonable basic technical skills and hopefully progress from there through time.

If you are seriously looking into long-term blogging, it would be advantageous to have a working knowledge of the following:

Human Language

Writing to express thoughts or provide information in a blog requires some technical knowledge of the language being used. Technical knowledge in a human language such as English would pertain to grammar, syntax, structure, and the rules observed for its effective use. There is not much problem with this as the study of a language starts very early at childhood. Challenges may present themselves though if the language being used is not the mother language of the author. The remaining thing to do is to study for specific requirements such as in creative or highly technical writing, when it is necessary.

bloggingImage Source

Computer Language

Computer language is an all-together different thing. Most would need to learn and understand this. Fortunately, most blogging platforms have made it possible for the least techie people to create and manage their own blogs. There are ready made templates to choose from. If a blogger is pretty set on what kind of blog to come up with, then everything can be set in a matter of hours.

Web Designing

Knowledge in web designing is a must for bloggers except if there is someone else paid to do it. The use of CSS and HTML as well as the ability to create graphic images are musts for those seeking to be professional bloggers. Other knowledge areas that should be considered include search engine optimization, social media participation and networking, and attracting traffic. There is so much to be learned about blogging especially because of its continually evolving nature. Experience is still the best teacher. It is impossible to blog without getting a trace of techiness in you.



App vs. Mobile Website: What Will Help Your Audience The Most?

app vs mobile

Many businesses that offer services online struggle with this decision eventually – should your organization offer a proprietary app or build a website optimized for mobile devices. There are many nuances to both options, when it comes to access, connectivity, and sharing capabilities. There’s no fast and easy answer to this question. You’ll need to look over the following considerations and see if your organization will benefit the most from an app or a website optimized for mobile devices. More →



4 Tips to Personalize E-Commerce Websites


It takes a lot of work and an aesthetic eye to create a well-designed Web site. It also takes expertise to present your e-Commerce story in a way that will attract customers and traffic to your website. With quality images, a simple but transparent check-out process, customer service options and a user-friendly navigation mechanism, personalizing e-Commerce sites with today’s tips is a way to become more competitive in your field of business.

First impressions

For a new e-Commerce site, it’s important to put your best foot forward. This means that everything you do in design should not only be pleasing to the eye, but functional. Web designer have to constantly code a brand’s website with the customer in mind. The site should be hassle-free. Any confusion caused by an ill-thought-out design could cause you to lose customers. There are too many options and too much competition to even lose one customer. It’s the Web designer’s obligation to never create any doubt in the customer’s mind as to how to navigate properly, or, more importantly, how to complete a transaction.

Social integration

By adding the brand’s social network icons to the page, you’re telling customers that you are not only current with today’s Web 2.0 technology, but also that you would like to engage them. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest are mainstays for customers who want to provide brands with feedback on an ongoing basis. Additionally if the e-Commerce site also features a blog page, it shows they are thought-leaders in their field.

Search Engine Optimization

If an e-Commerce site has a large number of products that frequently change, it’s important that the Web designers adhere to the “white hat” search engine optimization rules. These include targeted page titles and meta descriptions. According to SEO experts, “One of the fundamental rules of SEO for an e-Commerce site is you should treat every page on your website as a landing page focused around performing for a single SEO search term and converting the resulting traffic.”
Fastest route between two points

Everyone knows that the fastest route between two points is a straight line. This applies to e-Commerce sites as well. It’s a fact that the quicker a website can get the customer from the landing page to a completed order, the more likely it is to keep the customer. Well-designed e-Commerce Web sites always have that goal in mind.

Personalized e-Commerce

Personalized gift shops are a sub-set of e-Commerce websites. While some of the products these sites sell can be purchased elsewhere, their unique advantage to the customer is that they can personalize all orders in accordance with the customer’s preferences. Personalised Gifts Shop in the UK is well-designed website that provided their web designers with a lot inspiration to not only create an aesthetically pleasing design but one that prompts buyers to proceed through the personalization process in a quick and efficient manner. More →



4 Ways to Make Sure Your Web Development Goes Smoothly

Web development can be one of the most stressful types of projects to manage, and if you’re not careful, such projects can lead to some of the costliest mistakes of your career. Recently, a massive failure to launch a government-sponsored healthcare site in America demonstrated the folly that can follow when you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Web development and still don’t achieve a successful result.

So how can you make sure that your project is a success, not a costly disaster? Here are a few guidelines for framing and executing solid projects.
More →



The Only 3 Things You Need to Get Started with Your Blog

One would think that everyone knows all about blogging these days. After all, it seems that everyone and their mom has his own blog! Even grandparents are occupying the blogosphere. You might be surprised, though, that there are still people who are new to blogging and can use a quick and easy guide to starting a blog.


If you can relate, or you know someone who might need the right push, then you’re in the right place. There are many factors that come into play, of course, but if all you need is a barebones guide just to get started, here are the only 3 things you need to know. More →



5 Ways to Use Social Media to Make Money

Social media is here to stay, and it has changed the world as we know it. On the one hand, spending too much time socializing on sites like Facebook and Twitter can be an enormous waste of time and productivity.

But on the other, these connective technologies and communities can absolutely help you accomplish the things you’ve wanted to do this year.
And if making money is one of those things, you’re in luck, because we’ve organized five solid ways we’ve seen people using social media to make money! More →



Running Windows? … the Case for Investing in a Server Cluster Solution

Windows software is prevalent in the world of business. Employees are likely to be familiar with it from previous jobs and/or in their personal life. Microsoft has developed a number of business application software solutions that fit most, if not all, of a company’s technology needs.

Beyond email, word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, Microsoft has also provided companies with a highly popular platform of business servers. Since it’s designed to streamline IT infrastructure and is based on a platform that practically all software applications are designed to work on, IT admins appreciate the streamlined approach for ease of management.
For security and performance purposes, it’s also best practice for companies to cluster those servers. More →