Understanding Conversion Rates

By | Insight, Startups, Website | One Comment

Conversion rate is a discussion I have with my startup clients on a regular basis.  It’s the rate at which a customer/user performs an activity you want them to perform.  It is often a telltale sign to answering whether or not what you’re offering is what customers are interested in using/buying. Read More

Free Website Usability Testing

By | Software, Startups, Technology, Website | No Comments

Was reading up on blog posts in Pulse today and stumbled across a site that offers free usability testing with real feedback, from a real person.  Cool.

The site is called Peek and it offers free usability testing of 3 sites each month.  You put in a URL, click Start! and then enter your email address.  That’s it!  The site is in Beta currently so no news on price options in the future.  I have to assume they’ll offer pricing if you want more than 3 sites per month.  This is a great tool for freelancers and entrepreneurs like myself that are constantly launching new sites, but don’t really have anyone (or the money) to do some usability testing.

I’ll let you know how it goes once I get feedback on my 3 sites:, and

500px Prime

By | Photography, Website | No Comments

I’ve long been using 500px as a way to post some of my favorite images to see what other photographers think about them. Sort of a weak peer review. I’d love to see more criticism to see how I can improve my photography, but I’ll take what I can get. What I really love about the site is seeing what really good photographers are doing from around the world. If you want to look at good photography, head to this site. Lastly, the site design is really nice. It’s clean, simple and looks great.

This brings me to 500px Prime. It’s 500px’s new stock photography site. For $250 you get complete access to the image for use on anything. Additionally, these images aren’t your average stock photos, with a side toward very artistic. The price is certainly a premium; however, the quality is there and the licensing is super simple. Best of all, they give the photographers a 70% cut where other sites are not nearly as generous. The site is currently in Beta so you’ll need to wait until you get an invitation code or the site to go live.

One of my photos was selected for the site and here is what it looks like. Nice interface.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 8.10.20 AM


By | Software, Technology, Website | No Comments

I recently wrote on Kikai Mining’s blog about the value of search engines in our society and about two of the major players, Google and Bing.  I tried using Bing for a bit and honestly didn’t find any value of using it over Google.

Enter today.  I read about DuckDuckGo on The Next Web using my favorite RSS reader Pulse.  It promises an anonymous and instant search result.  I personally don’t care much about privacy, but it appears with the huge NSA backlash that their marketshare has really begun to tick upward to the tune of 1 billion searches in 2013.

Privacy focused startups should have a solid year in 2014 as more and more people look to shroud themselves from the watchful eye of governments.  I’m pretty sure they don’t care about your searches of dogs wearing pantyhose (which is cruel and very odd), but whatever floats your boat.

Check out DuckDuckGo.

You can read more about why to use the service at

LM Design Group Website Live!

By | Website, Wordpress | No Comments

Today we launched LM Design Group’s website at

LM Design Group is an interior design partnership between Lori Sowder and Megan Carfagno located in Oakwood, OH. I’ve had the pleasure of working with these two the past couple of months to build their website and photograph their residential and commercial interior design work.

We still have some further work to do to help them boost their social media presence, but the website will always be the main star.

Please check out their site and please leave some feedback about the site as I’d love to know what your experience is with this site.

The site was built on WordPress with the Lounge Theme.

Having “File Permission” Issues with WordPress on your VPS?

By | How To, I'm a Nerd, Website, Wordpress | 5 Comments

When I first installed WordPress on my new VPS server I wasn’t able to upload photos. All I saw was this.

‘An error occurred in the upload. Please try again later.’ Ok.

I did a lot of reading, but couldn’t really find anything. I knew that if I set my folder permissions to 777 that it would do the trick, but I also knew this wasn’t the right solution as this effectively makes it so anyone can access that folder.

End of the day I contact the service folks at my service provider Knownhost who gave me an excellently easy solution in their response. Their service team is awesome.

This is actually a known issue with WordPress using mod_php (DSO) as the PHP handler; in essence, your files (owned by your account) have limited permissions to the webserver (the account “nobody” on a cPanel server) which actually executes PHP code. The better solution (not 777 permissions) is to change the PHP handler to SuPHP, which causes PHP scripts to be run as your account (not as nobody) and thus prevent this issue. You can find an overview of the various common PHP handlers at which does specifically address the problem of uploads via PHP script while using DSO.

In shared hosting environments (like DreamHost, who I gather you recently left), SuPHP is by far more common as it prevents certain potential server compromises (related to the fact that under DSO PHP scripts are executed using an account other than your own; especially coupled with 777 permissions, it’s possible for an attacker to modify or inject a PHP script to run arbitrary code, and then gain access to every file which the webserver user can access). We default to DSO on our VPS’s simply because it’s much faster (when used appropriately).

There you have it. I flipped one setting in WHM and everything was working beautifully again.


To do this: Access WHM > Go to Service Configuration > Configure PHP and suEXEC > Change your PHP handler to suphp. Save.

Play the Original Super Mario Bros. in Your Browser

By | Games, Technology, Website | No Comments

HTML5 has brought about some awesome web functionality that doesn’t kill your computer like Flash once did. Together with CSS3 and javascript, it’s a potent combination that is sure to stick around for some time.

Which brings me to my point. Some genius was able to put the entire Super Mario Bros. NES game into a website and make it playable using HTML5! I really like the fact that it’s super widescreen too. Check it out here.

[Image created from screen grab]

Moving from a Shared Host to a VPS

By | I'm a Nerd, Technology, Website, Wordpress | No Comments

This past weekend marked a change that was long overdue. I had been struggling with my web host, Dreamhost, for about a month trying to figure out why my sites were performing so sluggishly. I have been a longtime Dreamhost advocate and customer (since 2004). I contacted them multiple times and was informed that ‘everything was behaving normally.’ I disagreed.

Then it happened. A week ago, the server hosting my sites (note: this is my and my client sites) had a catastrophic hardware failure. My sites were dead. Things had gone from bad to worse.

Initially their support was responsive and helpful. They said that they would be restoring files from their backups and things should be running normally soon. I gave it a couple of days and things weren’t working. Sites were taking 30-45 seconds to load; if at all. I don’t really consider that working for my clients and decided to pursue the support route. This time they weren’t responsive. In fact, they still have not responded to my direct requests and it has been 5 days.

I started looking to other hosts. I considered Bluehost, Hostgator and some others due to their favorable reviews. I looked into best WordPress hosts now that I’m developing wordpress sites for my clients. I also started looking at VPS hosting. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting promised me dedicated CPU, RAM and HD space at a moderate price increase above shared hosting. Reliving the sluggishness of my sites even before the hardware failure, I was sold.

A weekend of configuration and installation later. I’m loving it. It wasn’t easy, but my new host was awesome and very fast to respond. If you’re looking for a speed boost and more control definitely look into VPS. I can recommend Knownhost.


Working with WordPress Themes

By | Insight, Website, Wordpress | No Comments

I’ve recently taken a liking to developing websites using WordPress themes. I can ensure mobile-ready, responsive designs with modern styling and plenty of freedom to make it unique for each customer. They usually run between $30 – $60, offering a low-cost alternative to custom design work that I used to focus on 100%.

So what is it like to work with WordPress themes as a designer? I love it … once I figure it all out.

As a disclaimer, I’m not a programing guy. I know my way around HTML and CSS pretty well, but any further and my brain ninja chops the back of my eyeballs. I’d love to learn, but so far I’ve been able to get away without it. Enter themes.  This is a brief impression of my working with WordPress themes:

What I love about WordPress themes:

  • Responsive design > works on any device
  • Layout design is done > …for the most part
  • No coding > cross-browser CSS was just annoying and I get less headaches.
  • Saves Time > I can support more clients now and rapidly create sites.
  • Great Set of Plugins > This is more a wordpress thing, but this makes life much easier.  These often come with the themes.

What I don’t love about WordPress themes:

  • Creativity Reduced > I’ve outsourced the most creative part
  • Inconsistencies > The headache of figuring out a new theme. Different developer means different approach and tools
  • It’s Not Drag-and-Drop > I don’t mind this actually, but you need to know your way around WordPress/HTML/CSS
  • Relatively Heavy > Meaning that the code isn’t the most efficient and can easily slow things down

Testing Paypal Payments in WooCommerce

By | Client Work, Website, Wordpress | 2 Comments

I’ve been setting up an E-Commerce WordPress site for a client and learning the ropes of WooCommerce. First off, it’s great! But I’m definitely winging it on this one and one aspect is enabling Paypal payments for my client.

Fortunately, I ran into this great tutorial here to help get your sandbox account setup and running. Won’t take you more than 5 minutes to configure, but saved me some time of having to learn it on my own.