Why All Websites Need Monthly Maintenance in 2020

As information and website security gets even more important in 2020, what are you doing on your site to keep it secure, up to date, and functioning at a high level?

You need to update core plugins, theme files, and php software on a regular basis by an experienced web developer.

It's like any car or appliance you buy for your home. You spend money on the purchase and need to ensure the quality of your car or appliance by scheduling routine maintenance by a licensed professional to make sure all is running smoothly. You can't wait until something goes wrong to action. Like for example, if a developer is dangerous enough to locate out of date plugins on your Wordpress site, theres a pretty good chance they can also install malware on your site and set up redirects to their own site to boost SEO cache with search engine. I've seen it too many times.

These are a few steps that your developer can take to ensure the hard earned dollars you spent to have your new site built in the first place, is safe, secure, and efficient:

1. Outdated files put your site at an enormous security risk

Seems easy enough right? Login to your Wordpress dashboard and click "Update" for each plugin that needs it. But what happens when your dashboard returns an error such as "Your plugin is not available for automatic updates". You need an experienced developer to verify all premium plugins with purchase codes and make sure any updates that were made to a given plugin is in harmony with the latest Wordpress update. Also, another huge risk to your site is having inactive plugins present in your dashboard. You'll need to remove those for sure. Overall, less is more with plugins but keeping them up to date is paramount.

2. Your site can break completely and require a total rebuild

Most hosting companies like WP Engine, Godaddy, and Kinsta allow customers with Wordpress hosting accounts to create up to 30 days of full site backups that can be restored at anytime if there was ever an attack on your site or loss of functionality for anything that could go wrong. In some cases, I've seen business owners try to make these files updates themselves when they login into their site and see the "Update Available" note near their plugin or site core files. This can lead to your site going down temporarily and the need for a restore from backup provided by a good hosting company. These backups should be included in all maintenance plans by experienced developers. It's the ultimate safety net if anything were to go wrong on your site. These backups allows business owners to rest easy at night!

3. Keep site visitors and Google happy and interacting with your business

One thing most companies offer with ongoing maintenance is SEO fixes, in conjunction with your routine updates. SEO based fixes are updates such as improved page speeds, Google now indexes site based on a mobile first strategy and how fast your site loads for users on their device before they leave to find what they are looking for elsewhere. Good developers include monthly page speed tests and includes a list of recommendations on top of what they are already doing form an update standpoint. Google will penalize your site if you have a high bounce rate due to a slow site.

On top of site speed fixes, monthly maintenance should take care of any UX (user experience) fixes that a business owner requires. Your site imagery, your navigation, your homepage layouts should be updated REGULARLY to keep things fresh and most importantly, built for your customers. You can gather this kind of data through web page heat mapping from companies like Hotjar and Mouseflow. These reports provide massively important data like where users are clicking, time on site/page, and how far down a typical users scrolls to get to your contact form at the bottom of your homepage. Over time, your website should be gathering data and mKing improvements that cater to the navigation patterns of your target audience.

Below are a few of the plans I currently offer that cover all of the bases to keep your site secure and running at peak performance:

  1. Monthly update of all Wordpress files, theme, plugins, and php software | $100/month

  2. Monthly update of all Wordpress files, theme, plugins, and php software, plus an hour (per month) of layout adjustments on the site, or custom design work to be used on the site (new banner images, branding refresh, etc.) | $200

  3. All of #2 plus a monthly check of hosting and domain services to ensure nothing expires unexpectedly. | $250

  4. All of #3 plus monthly site speed testing and improvement implementation, and monthly malware scans of your site to prevent any attacks | $300

Let me know any questions you have and contact me to take care of all this stuff for you so you can sleep soundly at night knowing the investment you made in your businesses site is safe!

Barrasse Foundation Logo Refresh

As you know, in 2017 The Barrasse Foundation, in which I serve as a committee board member, needed a new logo and brand identity. I designed a new foundation logo, as well as logos for the memorial basketball tournament and evening event, respectively. Since then, I feel like we’ve really gone from a grassroots organization, to a full 501c, Non-Profit organization with national reach. We’ve been lucky enough to generate such positive support from organization all across the Northeast, that we’ve been able to grant 4 full scholarships to Scranton Prep, the high school Cody attended, as well as issue grants to over 20 patients awaiting organ transplantation to offset logistical expenses like lodging and food as they tackle the process of receiving a new organ.

With the growth of our organization comes a need for our visual identity to grow with it. Below is what I’m working on!

First, let’s talk about the tournament logo. My though process here was to create something that is much more legible on marketing material such as billboards, booklets, etc for instant readability. In small spaces like a web page on mobile device or even when surrounded by event details on large billboard, I felt the “Cody Barrasse Memorial Tournament” was getting lost in the noise.

Secondly, our Continue Cody’s Commitment event event was also getting tough to read when scaled. The new logo called for a modern mark or icon that summed up our cause and represented what we do with this event; raise money for organ donation patients in Codys memory. The “C” is a 3 part ribbon design that symbolizes the three aspects our our event, Continuing Cody’s Commitment to serving others. From there, I used a modern typeface for instant readability.

5 Podcasts I'm Listening To

Like most people in 2019, I listen to a handful of podcasts religiously.

I commute each morning to a gym I workout at, VIVE Fitness in Kingston, PA, and the drive gives me about 60 minutes total to listen and digest content in an easy, conversational form. When I'm not in the car, I have my wireless Beats headphones on while I work.  This is what I'm tuned into at the moment:

  1. The Joe Rogan Experience - Yea. I get it. Everyone listen's to JRE. It's cliche but the guests he brings on is what keeps it interesting and new to me. I can refresh my Apple Music Podcast feed every few days and get a totally different experience out of this podcast each time. One day it's Chris Kresser talking about the flaws in the vegetarian documentary "The Game Changers", and next it's Tulsi Gabbard talking about her 2020 presidential campaign. Total long-form content that give me a totally different perspective on health, politics, entertainment, that I would otherwise not be exposed to simply reading the paper or watching the news. Effortless in my opinion and a much needed dose of out of the box thinking.
  2. The Recruiting Hour - Two Nebraska Football sportswriters, MIke Schafer and Conner Happer, produce a recruiting podcast everyday that runs through the latest news as it relates to the team and potential recruiting targets. I honestly pay more attention to recruiting anymore, as the actual results on the field are less than desired at the moment. The majority of the Nebraska Football media world are tough to take (won't name anyone specifically) but these two keep things pretty light. The "we're two guys that never played sports and we know it" approach is the best part about it. Easy listen when I'm trying to literally turn off the brain at the end of a long work day and see who the Big Red are in on.
  3. Barstool Radio - Barstool is a brand that I've been following since college and their podcast, Barstool Radio, is the brand in a nutshell. The show is hosted by someone different almost everyday, and they dive into the previous week's events at the Barstool offices and everything that ensues. They take calls from Stoolies and generally talk sports. And when I say talk sports I mean El Pres berating employee's sports teams in favor of his Boston allegiances. Normally El Pres would be a guy I can't stand, but he's self aware enough to be funnier than most all others that would try to perform his shtick. I've honestly never seen someone who likes exposing his company's haters more and my seatbelts buckled for the endless entertainment.
  4. Making Sense with Sam Harris - This podcast is certainly "out there" as they say. Sam is an author, neuroscientist, and philosopher who brings guests on to discuss ethics, free will, politics, the mind, AI, and anything associated with deep thinking. The majority of the guests he brings on the show dive into topics that are far above my pay grade but I feel smarter and more curious about the mind with each Making Sense episode that appears in my "Previously Played" feed. Sam was a guest on the Joe Rogan Podcast a few years ago back and kind of opened me up to his world. Thinking about thinking is the best way I'd describe it, and I feel like that is the most underwhelming way I could possibly put it.
  5. BrandBeats - Self described as "An agency podcast with views on design, technology, art, and culture.", BrandBeats is produced by the design agency, Basic. I don't listen to this one as much as some of the others, but it's always a great change of pace when I'm looking to hear about what's new in the design world. Basic is a brand that I hold in high regard as agency that does things the right way as far as the work they put out and the way they look at things. They offer key insights into some of their in-house professionals and how they view design's impact on people and their communities.

Like I've said, podcasts are a great use of longform content and without a doubt, the most popular, rising form mass content digestion. Wether its CEO, stand-up comedian, sports journalist, or neuroscientist, everyone has an interesting take on the world and it's important to change your perspective on things as much as you possibly can.

Nebraska Football Recruiting Early Signing Period: 3 Thoughts

If you know me personally, I’m obviously a huge Nebraska Football fan.

Ever since I was 5 years old, I’ve been locked into a tv for 3 hours every Saturday in the fall. Wether it’s on ABC, FOX, BTN more recently, or the old ESPN College Gameplan package on the Dish, Husker football has both been a source of extreme peaks and incredibly low valleys. That may actually be a little dramatic since if Nebraska failing to reach a bowl for the third straight season is considered a low point in my life, things elsewhere a pretty good.

But with any real knowledge of the college football landscape, one would have to acknowledge a season, some would say just as important as the games played during the fall; recruiting. And even more specifically the early signing period which happens between December 18-20.

Who can come in and contribute immediately? Who was the biggest win on the recruiting trail? Who was the biggest sleeper in this year’s class?

Here’s how I think this year’s class shook out when all was said and done:

1. Most likely to contribute in 2020: 

Omar Manning, WR

4 Star via Rivals, 247 Sports

Omar Manning, to me, was Scott Frost’s biggest recruiting win of the cycle at a position of massive need. A former Army All American and TCU bounce-back, Manning was considered by 247 Sports and Rivals, the #1 JUCO prospect in the country. From KIlgore, TX, Manning is the prototypical, “big_bodied WR Nebraska’s offense was desperate for this season. Manning should be able to come in this January as an early enrollee and battle for a starting role immediately, alongside Senior JD Spielman and Freshman All-American Wandale Robinson. Manning’s size and productivity at the JUCO level should add another immediate dangerous weapon for the offense this fall.

2. Biggest recruiting trail win:

Keyshawn Greene, OLB

4 Star via Rivals, 247 Sports

I think this one goes without saying. Keyshawn Greene from Crawfordville, FL was easily the most unlikely of targets on Nebraska’s radar that ended up signing on Wednesday. A one time Florida State commit, Greene was a guythat was offered early in the 2019 cycle with the hope of somehow pulling him away from the usual suspects, local schools like Miami, FSU, and Florida. But they were able to do just that. After decomitting from FSU following Willie Taggert’s eventual firing as head coach, the Husker staff went in-home with Keyshawn to gage their chances at getting him to campus before signing day. It seemed like a total longshot, but Keyshawn, and his mom, took a visit and fell in love with Lincoln. He committed shortly after giving them their 6th linebacker for the class.

Green provides elite athleticism at another position of need for the Huskers with a verified 4.4 40, which is totally ridiculous for a kid that’s 6-3, nearing 210. Greene should be primed to push for early playing time as their linebacking core is razor thin, and to be honest, not al that explosive. Green changes that room immediately.

3. Biggest sleeper of this year’s class:

Logan Smothers, QB

4 Star via Rivals, 247 Sports

Hard to believe that a kid who was one of the best player in the state of Alabama (14th in the state, 314th in the nation) would be considered a sleeper, but people forget about Smothers since he has been committed to this staff since before they coached their first game at Memorial Stadium. A freak athlete, who also has verified track speed as he pushed for state titles in the Alabama state 100 and 200 meters, Smothers comes into an already stable QB room on Lincoln. I think that says alot about the confidence and toughness this kid has as he expects to come in and challenge this winter. Frost’s version of the Oregon offense relies heavily on a playmaking QB that can both beat with his legs and his arm, and Smothers may be the guy. He’ll have to outperform starter Adrian Martinez after his less than stellar Sophomore season and Redshirt Freshman Luke McCaffrey who’s the youngest son of literal football royalty.

New Site Launch

So this being my first post on the new site please bear with me as far as grammar, punctuation, and overall coherency.

As a freelance designer, I think it's super important to keep your portfolio and work you're proud of up to date and presented as it's own "project". That's kind of how I looked at this new site. Presenting who I am effectively is a project in it of its self. I've been in the digital marketing space (more specifically SEO) for over 5 years and have learned a wealth of knowledge, best practices, and more importantly, bad practices.  From how to properly construct a site's navigation for optimal usability, to making sure all code, css, and javascript is minified properly to ensure a site is performing at warp speed, and everything in between.

These are ready made solutions for business to crush it online that weren't necessarily even on my radar as I graduated from design school and begin building sites pro-bono for non profit foundations like the Cody Barrasse and Jude Zayac Foundations, respectively. Those were two of my first real projects and knew I had to showcase my skills to the masses before I became a true, professional designer.

But design is so much more than simply making things "look good". It's about presenting information in an easy to use format that engages and informs a user of a product, business, or service. In the holy grail of UI/UX usability books, "Don't Make Me Think" author Steve Krug says a user " should be able to "get it' -what it is and how to use it-without expending any effort thinking about it". I try to apply this methodology with all of the sites I design and develop. I shouldn't have to tell visitors to "look here because x,y, and z', the visual hierarchy, or presentation of elements in a way that implies importance, should be self explanatory.

So with that being said, hopefully navigating my new site and checking out my is as seamless and intuitive as it should be. I'd love to team up on a project in 2020 and be your go-to design and digital marketing partner.

And please, I sincerely mean this, if you have any issues or reasons for concern, please reach out to me at my personal email, patmineo815@gmail.com, and let me know your thoughts. I consider all my work wet clay and would appreciate the constructive feedback.