Get Help with Color Picking from these Five Websites

Coming up with color choices for a website can be difficult. If you’ve ever worked on a project (for yourself or a customer), you’ve probably found yourself spending a lot of time on the color scheme. We’ve compiled a list of 5 web sites to help break through the creative block and pick colors that not only work well, but work together.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe’s Color Wheel is one of our favorite tools. You are provided a color wheel with several swatches. Each one can be dragged around the wheel to different shares of colors. As you do this, other color swatches will move around the wheel to the colors that best match the one being moved, based on a color rule you select. If you prefer not to have your colors automatically adjust, you can set the color rule to Custom. This will prevent the other swatches from moving.

Each color is presented in RGBA and HEX, for use in Photoshop or CSS using the method you choose.

Color Schemer

Color Schemer is not just a website with color pallets that members share, but is also a full application that allows you to select and build your color pallet. The application is $49.99 but the gallery of pallets created is free to browse. Since each color in the pallet displays itself as two shades, you are presented a nice range of colors. The gallery is a great place to find inspiration, with over 6,000 member generated color schemes.

Color Scheme Designer

Color Scheme Designer is much like Adobe’s Color Wheel. It features a large draggable wheel and “color rules” at the top which change how your complementing colors are chosen. It builds the colors for you in a large square to the right, but breaks up sections of this square to show you how the colors visually work together in close proximity. This can be especially useful when using background color on website body and div backgrounds that may touch or overlap.

Colourlovers

At first glance, Colourlovers is similar to Color Schemer. Members create color pallets, share, comment on and rate them. When Colourlovers differs by offering color inspiration and sharing in more than just a simple pallet. The site focuses on colors, palettes, and patterns. It provides links to various tools (including Color Schemer) to allow you to generate your ideas. It also features images to help show how websites and other products are using color. With over 3 million color pallets, Colourlovers provides a large library of inspiration.

HGTV

Sometimes you have to leave the regular spots to find what you’re looking for. When it comes to visually appealing, HGTV does it best. Using their website, you can find enough inspiration to last a life time. They offer everything from paint colors to furniture to layout ideas. It’s certainly worth taking the time to see what their creative minds have put together. It may spark a few ideas in yours.

Do you know of a site that offers a great way to find color inspiration? Let us know in the comments below!

The Trouble With Addon Domains

Many web hosts offer a feature called addon domains. This feature allows you to use more than one domain on a single hosting account, essentially providing hosting for multiple websites. While this may sound like a great idea, it can quickly become a nightmare.

Addon domains are added to your web hosting control panel. They tell the web server where to send traffic from that domain. When someone visits that domain, the web server directs the person to your account. Your account sends them to the directory you’ve created for your addon domain. As far as the visitor knows, the domain they are visiting is being hosted on it’s own account.

httpMany people use addon domains to avoid paying for additional hosting accounts or a reseller account. It’s easy to see why when your account allows you to freely add additional domains with no additional cost. So where do the problems come in?

Imagine you have ten websites that you would like to host. For our example, we’ll break them down further. In this example, you have:

2 storefronts using Prestashop
4 community forums using phpBB
3 business websites using Drupal
1 marketing blog using WordPress

Each website is running under the same control panel. This makes it easy to access them all because they are in the same general area. However, the hidden problems and dangers will soon creep up.

The Pool is Only So Big

Your web host provides a set allotment of server resources beyond the storage and data transfer rate that you focused on when signing up. You also have a set amount of CPU, RAM, Entry Processes, I/O, and Inode count. This allotment is the same for every account on the server, regardless of how many addon domains are being used.

Each addon domain will pull from this resource pool. While this won’t be a problem for low traffic sites with sufficient optimization, it will become an issue when your viewership increases. As more people view your web sites and the complexity of them is put to the test, the resource pool will soon begin to dwindle away. Soon you will notice speed and loading issues for multiple sites. You new wave of visitors will be meet with slow loading pages and error messages stating “Resource Unavailable” or perhaps database connection error messages.

Security Issues

frustrated-surfing-smallerAddon domains can also present a major threat to all of the web sites on your account. Imagine that one of the web sites on your account has a security hole that has not yet been patched. Perhaps you’re running an outdated plugin or theme which has a vulnerability you are unaware of. This vulnerability can become the doorway to all of your websites.

If a malicious attacker is able to access the filesystem of one of your websites, they will potentially have access to the rest of your web sites. This will allow them to deface and destroy files for every website under your single account, possibly harming the reputation of your web sites in the process. They may also use your account to send spam from, which can get the web server blacklisted by email providers and affect everyone on the server.

To make matters worse, an attacker could use this intrusion to gain access to your database and leak the information within to the world. One hole can lead to a lot of damage and headache for you.

Tons of Clutter

As you add more addon domains, the filesystem can become cluttered. I’ve worked with accounts in which people have hosted 50 addon domains under a single CPanel account. This can be bothersome as it takes longer to find things if they aren’t properly organized. Even when you do have sites neatly placed in various directories, you still have to find what you’re looking for.

Additionally, you have to face another issue known as inode usage. Inodes are a way for the operating system to keep track of files and directories. Each inode represents a single file or directory. Your web host will have a limit on the number of files you can have on your hosting space, even if they say the storage space is unlimited. As you add more web sites to your account, you will naturally be reducing your available inodes. Once you hit your limit your account can no longer accept files, and this includes receiving email.

Addon Domains are NOT for Reselling Hosting

Some people will use the addon domain feature to run a hosting business. This is simply a terrible idea on every level. In the case of CPanel, there is no way to provide CPanel access for your customers without giving them the master account login. If you give them that, they have access to everything, including other web sites you host.

You are also exposing every customer’s web site to the issues above. One malicious attack on a security vulnerability in a customer’s web site can effectively bring an end to the web sites for each customer you have.

In short, don’t try to build a hosting business off of addon domains. It can quickly lead to headaches.

Host Multiple Domains the Correct Way

woman-small-businessThe best way to host multiple domains is by using a reseller hosting account. A reseller hosting account provides a way to create single hosting accounts which you can use for your additional domains. This means that each domain can have it’s own control panel and allotment of resources. No more sharing CPU and RAM since each domain will have it’s own to pull from.

Using a reseller account will also help prevent malicious attacks from spreading to your other domains. If one web site is defaced, the others won’t be in the same filesystem to be discovered and suffer the same fate. This can save you hours of times since you will only need to repair one site instead of ten.

Hosting multiple websites under a reseller account also makes it easier to move a popular website when it outgrows a shared environment. Since the website will be inside of it’s own control panel account, your web host will have an easier time migrating it to a Managed VPS or Managed Dedicated Server. If it was an addon domain, it would be more difficult to move. In some cases the move would be your responsibility since the host may not offer migration services for addon domains.

Avoiding the Headaches

freaking-outI understand why some people choose to use the addon domain option. When you’re unable to afford additional hosting accounts or your web host does not offer reseller hosting, using the addon domain feature is your only option. However, keep in mind the issues that can arise. I’ve seen first hand how multiple addon domains can dissolve a shared hosting account’s resources like they were water. I’ve also helped repair the damage done to the web sites of dozens of addon domains when a single web site in the group was hacked.

If you can avoid the headaches, do so. Go with a reseller hosting plan if you need to host multiple domains. If your web host does not offer a reseller plan, find one that does.

Deny Access to Your .htaccess File

There is a file inside your hosting account known as a .htaccess file. This file, which is named as an extension only (notice the dot before the name), can affect the way the web server handles your website. It can power webpage redirects and rewrites, password protected directories, IP address blocking, and much more.

Some commands that are run in your .htaccess file use the absolute path to the file system of your account. That means that instead of using the relative path (your URL), it uses something like this:

/home/username/public_html/

That is the path on the server, to your account and files.

Some web server configurations will not deny access to this file. This can be a problem. If your .htaccess file is accessible to a browser, anyone can viewit. Depending on what you have in the file, you could be showing the world your control panel username, as well as paths leading to hidden files and directories. So how do you stop that from happening?

Protect Your .htaccess file

Open your .htaccess file. At the top of the file, add this code:

[box]<files .htaccess>
order allow,deny
deny from all
</files>[/box]

Save the file and you’re done.

The code you’ve added will prevent access to your .htaccess from anyone trying to view it. The server can still interpret the file as it normally would, but now the outside world is unable to view it. This is a good thing, as there is no reason for someone to need to view your .htaccess file.

If the file exists. Try loading it in your browser. If you can’t load it, you’re good to go. If you can load it, add the code above to stop access. You can also change the permissions of the file to 0644 to prevent anyone from writing over the file.

10 Hosting Terms You Should Know

If you are just getting started as a webmaster, there are a few terms you’ll come across that you may not understand. To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a short list of 10 common web hosting terms that you should know.

Data Transfer (Bandwidth)

Each time a file is uploaded to or downloaded from your hosting account, you are using a resource called data transfer (some hosts refer to it as bandwidth). This transfer of data is often unlimited on shared hosting and may only count for outgoing traffic (downloading).

Storage

Each file of every website takes up space. The space used comes from an allotment of storage space on a disk drive on the host server. The amount of storage space is often unlimited on shared hosting, but this does not mean it is limitless.

Inode Count

One often overlooked limit in web hosting is the inode limit. Each file and directory represents one inode. If you have 20 files and 3 directories, you are using 23 inodes. The inode limit varies between web hosts, but it’s common to have a limit over 150,000. You should check with your web host to find out what your inode limit is.

CPanel

One of the most popular web hosting control panels is CPanel. It has been an industry leader for over a decade. This control panel provides a large list of features to manage nearly every aspect of your hosting environment. CPanel offers email setup, file management, DNS configuration, IP blocking, statistics software, error log viewing, easy redirects, and much more.

WHM

If you need more than one CPanel account, you need WHM. WHM (Web Host Manager) is a control panel that manages your web hosting environment. It provides many configuration options and makes it easy to create unlimited CPanel accounts. Many people use WHM to resell hosting services using the built in Package feature.

FTP

FTP is a method of transferring files from your computer to your web hosting account. Using software called an FTP Client, you can upload files to and download files from your web hosting account. You can also mass delete files and directories. For a list of FTP Clients, check out our article Getting Started with Building a Website.

SSH

If you need to interact with your hosting account and file system on a command line level, using SSH is the way to go. SSH creates a secure connection to the server so you can run various commands in the server shell.

Addon Domains, Sub Domains and Parked Domains

If you want to use multiple domains on the same hosting account, you will use the Addon Domain feature of your control panel. Each domain will appear to be on their own hosting account to anyone who views them, but they will each run from the same hosting account. Keep in mind that this means each domain will pull from the same pool of resources. You must own the additional domain that you would like to use as an addon.

If you would like to direct an additional domain to the same site the primary domain is showing, use the Parked Domain feature. You must own the additional domain to park it.

The easiest explanation for a sub domain is this: sub.domain.com. The domain itself is domain.com. The sub. is the sub domain. This feature is often used by web sites which want to separate areas of their website, such as blog.domain.com. Sub domains do not require additional domains to be purchased.

Softaculous

When you want to install a popular piece of web software, look into Softaculous. Softaculous is a one click installer that boasts a massive library of more than 300 applications and scripts. You can quickly install WordPressJoomlaPrestashopMagento, CodeIgniter, phpBB, Dolphin and many more.

Unlimited

Contrary to what it sounds like, this typically does not mean you have an endless amount of resources. Storage space, one of the primary unlimited features, has a limit. Disk drives only have so much space, and the more drives and files there are, the harder it is on the server. If you are considering a web host that offers unlimited resources, ask the host for more specific information. If you plan to host 50GB of content and serve it out to 30,000 people a month, make sure your host allows that on the plan you’re considering.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of common terms, these are things you should get to know well. They will help you understand your hosting plan better and how to interact with it.

Getting Started with Building a Website

If you’re about to build your first web site, you may not know what to use. With so many ways to build a site, the possibilities may seem endless. This can be very overwhelming for some. Fortunately, there are several tools available for free to use.

Let’s assume you’ve already found a web host. If you are not sure what that is, take a look at this article first. It explains what a web host is and why you need one. We also cover the pros and cons of Free vs Paid web hosting.

We will also assume that you know what you want on your site, or at least have a good idea of what it will have. If not, start planning out what you’d like on your site. You don’t need to have the complete blueprints for the site, but a rough idea will help.

Get an Editor

To start with, get a code editor. There are plenty of free code editors around to provide an environment for you to write code in. Most of them offer many of the the same features, so you’ll want to find one that works best for you. Below is a short list of many free code editors available.

A code editor will allow you to write and edit popular web code, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, JAVA and more. Many will have the ability to upload files directly to the server through FTP.

Get an FTP Client

Though your code editor may have an FTP client built into it, it’s a good idea to have a stand alone FTP client as well. An FTP client allows you to upload, download, rename, and delete files and directories. It also allows you to change file and directory permissions, something not commonly found in the built in FTP feature of code editors. Below is a short list of free FTP clients:

Using a stand alone FTP client makes it easy to upload, download and delete files in bulk. It’s a great tool to have.

Use a Content Management System

For those who are less code savvy or do not want to spend the time it takes to learn to write web code, using a content management system is the way to go. A content management system (CMS) provides a lightning fast method to have a website up and running in a matter of minutes. Typical features of a CMS include:

  • User Registration and Management
  • Pages and blog posts created in an administration dashboard
  • Plugins and modules to extend your website functions and features
  • High availability of Themes and Templates to change the look of your website immediately
  • Developer friendly with a large community of users

There are several content management systems to choose from. Below is a short list of some of the most popular free systems available today:

The choice is yours, depending on your website needs. The biggest three in the list are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Each one has a massive community behind them, but the others in the list are certainly worth the time it takes to look into them.

Sell Things Online

If your aim is to sell items or services online, there are several tools available to do so. If you are using a content management system, you may be able to find an ecommerce tool for your particular system. WooCommerce and MarketPress dominate in WordPress, while Virtuemart is often the tool of choice for Joomla webmasters who want to add ecommerce to their website.

In many cases, a stand alone ecommerce tool is best. Below is a list of very popular free ways to sell online:

Each shopping cart system offers many of the same key features, but what I’ve found most useful is how well the cart operates. Prestashop and Magento can quickly grow heavy for shared hosting, but both are highly useful and powerful systems. They also have large communities to back you up when you need help, so it’s easy to see why they come out on top for most online sellers.

Softaculous

If you would like to get a website online in less time than it took to read this article, Softaculous is the tool for you. It doesn’t let you build websites, but it contains a massive library of tools that make it possible. Many of the content management and ecommerce systems I mentioned above are found in Softaculous. Each one can be installed in less than a minute (two minutes if the network or server is slow). That means that with very little effort, you can rapidly get a website up and running.

Most web hosts that use CPanel will offer Softaculous for free (or very cheap if using a Managed VPS or Managed Dedicated Server). It is a tool that makes it easy to get your site up so you can focus on the content, management of the site and your business.
If you’ve had success with any of the tools listed above, or any that aren’t listed, let us know in the comments section below.

What is a VPS?

Many web hosts offer a product called VPS (virtual private server). You may have seen it on their service listing, or perhaps received a recommendation from your web host to upgrade to this option. In this article, we’ll explain what a VPS is and why you should consider one.

A VPS is the middle ground between a shared hosting account and a dedicated server. It acts like a dedicated server, running it’s own copy of the operating system a container. It comes with a specific amount of RAM and CPU power for your hosting environment for your operating system, server software and website to utilize.

Typically, you are allowed to run various software that the OS can support, including those not allowed on shared hosting (such as chat and other resource intensive applications). This doesn’t mean you can run everything ever created, but you are usually allowed to run applications that are banned from a shared environment.

data-center-2

A VPS usually comes in two flavors: user managed and host managed. While each company will have their own definition of user and host managed, this is the typical meaning of each:

User Managed VPS (also called ‘unmanaged VPS’ or simply ‘VPS’) is a blank install of the OS of your choice, with no control panel and little support from the hosting company. In fact, the support is usually limited to network and hardware issues. In many cases, you can reinstall your OS at any time with only a few clicks. The service comes with root access so that you may handle installation, configuration and maintenance of your hosting environment. At least one dedicated IP address is provided.

Host Managed VPS (also called ‘Managed VPS’) includes a control panel and full support from the hosting company for network, hardware, and the server environment configuration. It may or may not come with root access. A Host Managed VPS is usually very similar to a Shared hosting account, but with less chance of neighbors on the server causing problems and more flexibility in terms of configuration. At least one dedicated IP address is provided.

Why should you choose a VPS

There are a few reasons why you should choose a VPS. Below is a short list of several common instances when you should opt for a VPS.

Your site has outgrown a shared host

Does your website need to move to a VPS?
Does your website need to move to a VPS?

As a website grows in popularity and/or complexity, it will naturally consume more resources. When this happens, your site will eventually reach a point where it needs to move beyond a shared hosting environment. Moving to a VPS will allow your site to grow into the new pool of resources provided by the plan you choose.

You need root access

Some webmasters require root access. It may be for configuration of the website and software or for access to logs when something goes wrong. Since a web host is never going to provide root access for a shared server, you will need to go with at least a User Managed VPS. This will allow you to log in as root and do anything to your operating system and server software that you need.

You need to run software which is banned on shared hosting, is resource intensive, or requires an OS different than that of a shared plan.

chat-smaller-smushitSome software is banned from shared hosting for good reason. Software which is resource intensive or may otherwise cause problems for other shared accounts will not be allowed to run on a shared environment. You can usually find a list of such software in your web host’s Terms of Service or Acceptable Use Policy. In many cases, much of this software can be used on a VPS, though you should double check with your host prior to purchasing a plan.

Some software is OS specific. With many web hosts using CentOS Linux, running software that is made for Debian would require a different OS. With a User Managed VPS, you can typically choose from a list of available operating systems in which to use.

You need to send bulk email

Shared servers will usually have an hourly email sending limit which will stop email from being sent once you reach that threshold. This is to prevent mass spamming and bulk emailing. If the limitation is not network wide, you may be able to avoid the limit by using a VPS. If you need to send bulk email, check with your service provider about sending bulk email via VPS, and if there are any hourly sending limits that you may face.

You want to store large files

Software like ownCloud allows you to backup files to your hosting space to store and share with others. Your web host may have rules against storing files that are unrelated to your website. These rules don’t always apply to VPS and higher. If you need to store files, in particular large files, a VPS is usually the place to do it.

You want to reduce the risk of issues from other customers who share your server.

A VPS is a shared environment of sorts. There are other people on the server with you, but each account is privatized within it’s own operating system container. This reduces the chances for others on the server to cause headaches for you. On a standard shared hosting plan, your server neighbors have a much greater chance of breaking things for everyone on the server.

You Need Additional Configuration Changes

Some websites require changes to various settings in the hosting environment. While your hosting provider may allow you to change PHP.ini settings, they are unlikely to allow you to modify how many concurrent connections can be made to your site (how many people can be on your site at a single instance). Limitations on entry processes and MySQL connections are among some of the most common ceilings that people hit. With a VPS, these can be modified to a higher value.

When to Move to a VPS

WorkingIf your web hosting provider is suggesting an upgrade, don’t just brush it off as a greedy attempt to get more money out of you. Evaluate the reasons behind the request. If your site is breaking a Terms of Service rule for Shared Hosting, there is likely little you can do other than remove the cause for the infringement or upgrade. If the reason is because of resource usage, you may be able to hold off moving to a VPS.

Your website should be as tightly optimized as possible. Make sure your code is strong and well written. If you are working with a system like WordPress, use thoroughly vetted optimization plugins and remove any outdated or unused/deactivated plugins. It is also a good idea to utilize services such as Cloudflare to deliver cached versions of your content, thereby reducing the resource usage on the server. Cloudflare also filters incoming traffic to help prevent malicious users and comment spam.

If optimizing your website isn’t enough, moving to a VPS is going to be the best next step. If you are moving to a Host Managed VPS, the upgrade is relatively painless. A good web host will take care of migrating your account for you. All you will need to do is update the nameservers for your domain.

Using a VPS has several advantages for a website, but make sure you get the correct product. If you are not comfortable working with a user managed product, one which requires you to handle everything about the OS and server software, get a Host Managed VPS. You will pay more for it, but the peace of mind is worth it.