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What We Use and Suggest

Recommended Tools2018-10-18T12:46:20+00:00

Webmaster and Home Internet Tools We Use

Domain Name Registration

What We Use:
Namecheap

Search and buy domains from Namecheap
Click to Visit Namecheap

Why We Use Them

Namecheap’s website is straightforward and consistent to use. They don’t try to up-sell you every time you click from page to page.

Moreover, their prices are very competitive. They often offer the first year of registration for a very small price, especially if the Top Level Domain (TLD) is one of the newer ones like .website. More importantly, their price for mainstream registrations for .com and .org  site is usually less than $11. This is a reasonable price.

In spring of 2018 they began offering free “privacy protection” for your domain. This means people looking up the owner of your domain will be told that WHOISGUARD, inc. of Panama is the owner’s contact. Privacy guard keeps you from getting spam emails, and for sensitive sites, it keeps your name and address from being associated with the domain. Some of my clients are women living alone or defense attorneys whose clients have interesting associates. These clients have been paying $10/year for privacy guard elsewhere, but now they can get it free at Namecheap.

Hosting Services

What We Use:
GreenGeeks and Others!

Why We Use Them

We use several hosting services for our clients.  We use more than one so that our sites have different IP addresses. That means if we make several sites for one client and link them together, search engines (especially Google) won’t discount the links as being from the same source. In addition, we want to have different hosting options in case one of the providers falters — it happens!

The beefy, reasonably priced hosting service we currently like best is GreenGeeks. Their basic service — which is perfectly wonderful for most of our clients — is priced at only $9.95 a month when you pay a year in advance (and after any special first-year prices currently — they are offering $3.99 a month for the first year).

We keep reviewing our selections to make sure that the companies are offering competitive and quality service, and our recommendations are updated as we encounter great new providers or discover people we have recommended have slipped.

Ozdachs also resells hosting services and provides low-cost hosting for clients whose websites are not mission critical. (We do not want the responsibility of hosting ecommerce sites or other sites that have to be up 24 x 7 or money is definitely lost!)

GreenGeeks Hosting Service logo

Our first-choice hosting service is GreenGeeks.
Check them out!

Creating Web Pages
Code Management Systems

What We Use:
WordPress

Why We Use Them

WordPress is a free, wildly popular, regularly updated tool for creating and maintaining websites. WordPress claims that over 30% of “web users” employ its software to display their sites.

Most hosting services have free scripts that will automatically install the WordPress base, and finding a WordPress consultant to do your bidding is a trivial task.

Importantly, WordPress requires no special software on your computer. You can update WordPress sites anywhere using a web browser, and there are apps that support updates from tablets and smart phones.

There are downsides: you need a beefier hosting service, you need to regularly apply maintenance updates to make sure security holes are patched, and WordPress sites are targeted by bad guys because the system is so popular. But, the advantages are awesome and overwhelm the caveats. We use WordPress in almost all our new sites.

More on WordPress
(But remember, you don’t need to download it manually… your hosting service should have a free installation script).

Creating Web Pages
Website Themes

What We Use:
Avada WordPress Theme

Why We Use Them

Avada is one of the most popular WordPress templates, and we use it for most of our new websites.  This website itself is build using Avada!

A WordPress template provides  layouts, color schemes, and tools to build and maintain your site. Avada allows you to build boxed or wide sides using any color scheme. The template also includes a good number of design toys: the roll-over boxes on the home page’s sample client screens, the different icons in checkboxes, the slideshows at the top of pages that add text to pictures, and even more features that haven’t worked their way into this site including countdown-timers, testimonial slide show, tabbed information, and…!

Avada comes with many example pages for different industries which you can use and customize.  You get six-months’ support with the initial license fee (currently $60).

Avada Theme

Photo Editing

What We Use:
Adobe Lightroom

Why We Use Them

Adobe Lightroom focuses (if you’ll pardon the pun) on improving the quality of images.

Its features deal with all the common flaws: lightness, darkness, too bright highlights, too dark shadows, bad coloring (white balance), photobombing and other issues solved by cropping, keystoning, and other problems that would make your photos scream “amateur!” if you simply uploaded them to your website.

In addition, Lightroom has an easily accessed and easily understood set of functions that add a professional or artistic look to your pictures. They let you vingnett the outsides of your pictures to highlight the center, tint, apply High Dynamic Range (HDR) filters, and stitch together both panorama views and also combine shots with different exposures into a truer HDR image.

As important as tuning up your photos is Lightroom’s ability to organize the photos spread over your hard drives. Lightroom will search disks and disks to create an thumbnail index of your photo libraries. Then you can search by words that are in the file name or are in keywords that you’ve added by Lightroom or another photo application. The ability to search all your photographs for photographs of, say a “lighthouse”, is a powerful help when you’re looking for a particular object to illustrate an article on your website or blog.

Advanced Graphics Editing

What We Use:
Adobe Photoshop

Why We Use Them

For pure cleaning up and editing of photographs, Adobe’s Lightroom (see the column on the left) is ideal. You can clean up images, crop, fix many flaws, and even apply some artistic filters.

But, if you want to do create art from photographs, the industry leading software for you is Adobe’s Photoshop.

Photoshop lets you do all the fixes that Lightroom has (although Lightroom’s user interface is simpler, clearer = better).  But, Photoshop also gives you much more creative power. You can warp, bend, and finely control the lighting, coloring, and special effects. You can create layers to apply changes to your work. You can select/mask bits and parts of your image for special treatment (like sharpening, darkening, or whatever). And you can save resources to apply to other images.

Photoshop lets you add gradient colors, drop shadows, strokes, and other artistic touches to text. And, you can have multiple lines of text in a graphic with different effects, and you can play with layering and opacity for both texts, photographs, and other components.

Photoshop also lets you clone, replace parts of an image with parts of another. We’ve all heard of “Photoshopping” someone’s head on someone else’s body. This is the program that gave world the name for this editing technique!

If you think you might want to do more to an image than just fix errors in it or apply a filter, then give Photoshop a try. Buy a monthly subscription and use it for a few months. You may find out that it’s worth it!

Email Marketing Service

What We Use:
MailChimp

MailChimp Chimp logo

Why We Use Them

It’s good to remind customers and potential customers that you’re around to meet their needs. Periodic helpful or newsy email messages are a great way of keeping in touch. (We use email more for marketing than sales… we can talk more about that!)

We have used several different mailing services over the years and currently use and recommend MailChimp. MailChimp is relatively easy to use and its message-building tools are flexible and reasonably customizable.

A strong point is that they are focused on delivering quality email. Their templates are straightforward and they work. Mail sent by them is responsive — it reformats to fit on the screen of the recipient. So, people using desktops, tablets, and phones will all get good-looking versions of your message, but each platform will see a differently formatted message so that the users’ screens are filled but scrolling is not required.

For years we used Constant Contact. They were a ground-breaking service when they started. But, about the time they went public, their templates started having technical bugs which they never really addressed. Then they started focusing on growing — meaning they try to upsell you whenever you log on.  Constant Contact now wants to manage your events and who knows what else that isn’t sending mail.  And, they fill your inbox with come-ons. Ugh. We moved away.

About these recommendations…

Ozdachs uses all of the services and products listed on this page. We recommend them based on our experience.

We have signed up as “affiliates” for some of the products so that we can link to images and prices that will be updated automatically. If you visit the sites we have signed up with using the links on this page, we may receive compensation if you buy from them.

The possibility of making money is not why we made any of our recommendations. In a typical year, we earn less than $100 for all commissions we receive from our recommended goods and services.