Welcoming the Gutenberg Editor

Of Mountains & Printing Presses

The goal of this new editor is to make adding rich content to WordPress simple and enjoyable. This whole post is composed of pieces of content—somewhat similar to LEGO bricks—that you can move around and interact with. Move your cursor around and you’ll notice the different blocks light up with outlines and arrows. Press the arrows to reposition blocks quickly, without fearing about losing things in the process of copying and pasting.

What you are reading now is a text block, the most basic block of all. The text block has its own controls to be moved freely around the post…

… like this one, which is right aligned.

Headings are separate blocks as well, which helps with the outline and organization of your content.

A Picture is worth a Thousand Words

Handling images and media with the utmost care is a primary focus of the new editor. Hopefully, you’ll find aspects of adding captions or going full-width with your pictures much easier and robust than before.

Beautiful landscape
If your theme supports it, you’ll see the “wide” button on the image toolbar. Give it a try.

Try selecting and removing or editing the caption, now you don’t have to be careful about selecting the image or other text by mistake and ruining the presentation.

The Inserter Tool

Imagine everything that WordPress can do is available to you quickly and in the same place on the interface. No need to figure out HTML tags, classes, or remember complicated shortcode syntax. That’s the spirit behind the inserter—the (+) button you’ll see around the editor—which allows you to browse all available content blocks and add them into your post. Plugins and themes are able to register their own, opening up all sort of possibilities for rich editing and publishing.

Go give it a try, you may discover things WordPress can already add into your posts that you didn’t know about. Here’s a short list of what you can currently find there:

  • Text & Headings
  • Images & Videos
  • Galleries
  • Embeds, like YouTube, Tweets, or other WordPress posts.
  • Layout blocks, like Buttons, Hero Images, Separators, etc.
  • And Lists like this one of course :)

Visual Editing

A huge benefit of blocks is that you can edit them in place and manipulate your content directly. Instead of having fields for editing things like the source of a quote, or the text of a button, you can directly change the content. Try editing the following quote:

The editor will endeavour to create a new page and post building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless, and has “blocks” to make it easy what today might take shortcodes, custom HTML, or “mystery meat” embed discovery.

Matt Mullenweg, 2017

The information corresponding to the source of the quote is a separate text field, similar to captions under images, so the structure of the quote is protected even if you select, modify, or remove the source. It’s always easy to add it back.

Blocks can be anything you need. For instance, you may want to add a subdued quote as part of the composition of your text, or you may prefer to display a giant stylized one. All of these options are available in the inserter.

You can change the amount of columns in your galleries by dragging a slider in the block inspector in the sidebar.

Media Rich

If you combine the new wide and full-wide alignments with galleries, you can create a very media rich layout, very quickly:

Accessibility is important don't forget image alt attribute

Sure, the full-wide image can be pretty big. But sometimes the image is worth it.

The above is a gallery with just two images. It’s an easier way to create visually appealing layouts, without having to deal with floats. You can also easily convert the gallery back to individual images again, by using the block switcher.

Any block can opt into these alignments. The embed block has them also, and is responsive out of the box:

You can build any block you like, static or dynamic, decorative or plain. Here’s a pullquote block:

Code is Poetry

The WordPress community

If you want to learn more about how to build additional blocks, or if you are interested in helping with the project, head over to the GitHub repository.


Thanks for testing Gutenberg!

👋

How to Setup a Professional Email Address with Gmail and G Suite

After creating a website, the first thing every business owner needs is a professional email address with their business name in it.

A professional email address will help you win trust when dealing with other businesses and customers.

G Suite is Google’s productivity suite that allows you to use Gmail with your own professional email address. In this article, we will show you how to setup a professional custom branded email address with Gmail and G Suite.

Setting up professional email address with G Suite and Gmail

What is a Professional Email Address?

A professional email address is the one that has your business name in it. For example, john@myphotostudio.com is a professional email address.

Email accounts on free email services like john.photographer@gmail.com are not good for business because they do not look professional. Your customers and other businesses will find a professional email address more trustworthy.

For a professional email address, you will need a domain name and a website. We have step by step guides on how to choose a domain name and how to quickly make a website.

If you already have a domain name and a website, then you are all set to have your own professional email address.

Why Use G Suite for Professional Branded Email Address?

You might be thinking why use G Suite when most WordPress hostingcompanies offer unlimited email accounts with your own domain name?

Email is one of the most important communication tool for business owners. If you miss an important email, then it can hurt your business.

Most web hosting email servers are unreliable, restrictive, isolated, and less secure. You wouldn’t even know if the email you sent was actually delivered.

This is where G Suite and Gmail comes in.

Gmail is the industry leader in email with 1.5 billion monthly active users. G Suite is Google’s productivity app suite for business owners which includes Gmail and is already used by over 4 million businesses and 80 million students / educators.

G Suite works with your own domain name, which allows you to use Gmail to create your professional branded email address.

Here are some of the benefits of using G Suite and Gmail for a professional email address:

  • Professional business email address on your own domain.
  • Gmail’s rock solid security and spam filters.
  • 30 GB – Double the storage of a free Gmail Account.
  • Manage email even when offline using Gmail app on mobile devices.
  • Works anywhere web, mobile, tablet, you name it.
  • Works great with Outlook and can even sync old Outlook accounts.
  • Each user can have up to 30 email aliases.
  • Use Google Calendar, Google Hangouts for chat, video, and voice calls on your own business email address.
  • No advertisements and 24/7 professional support whenever you need help.
  • Works seamlessly with your WordPress site.
  • Most important of all, high deliverability, no delays, no ending up in spam folder.

Now that you know why using G Suite for professional emails is important, let’s take a look at how to set up a branded professional email address with G Suite.

Editor’s Note: We use G Suite for all of our professional email addresses and can honestly say it’s the best.

Setting up a Professional Email Address with Gmail (G Suite)

First you will need to signup for a G Suite account.

It costs around $5/month for each user. If you pay annually, then you get 2 months free ($50/year per user).

G Suite also offers a free 14-day trial, which allows you to test drive everything before you make up your mind. Basically its all the powerful features you’re used to of Gmail, Drive, Calendar, etc (but now it’s for your business).

Simply visit the G Suite website and click on the Get Started button for the plan you want to use.

Get started with G Suite

Next, you need to enter your business name, the number of employees, and the country where you are located. You can choose just yourself for 1 user account, or choose the number of employees.

Choose users

Click on the next button to continue.

On the next step, you will be asked to enter your personal contact information including name and email address.

Enter contact info

After that, you will be asked to choose a domain name. If you already have a domain name, then click on ‘Yes I have one I can use’. Otherwise, click on ‘No, I need one’ to register a domain name.

Choose domain name

If you need to register a new domain name, then you will be charged separately for registering a new domain name (tip: here’s how to register a domain name for free).

If you are using an existing domain name, then you will need to verify ownership of the domain name. We’ll show you how to do that later in this article.

In the next step, you will be asked to create your G Suite user account by entering a username and password.

This username will also be your first professional email address, so you need to choose a username that you want to use as your professional email address.

Create your first G Suite user account

You have successfully created your G Suite account. You can now click on the ‘Go to Setup’ button

G Suite account setup completed

On the setup screen, you will be asked to add more people to your account. If you want to create more accounts for your employees or departments, then you can do that here.

You can also just click on ‘I have added all user email addresses’ and click on the next button.

Remember, you can always add more users to your account and create their email addresses later when needed.

Successfully added users

If you registered your domain name elsewhere, then you will now be asked to verify your ownership of the domain name.

After that you will see a HTML code snippet that you need to add to your website.

Copy meta tag to verify your ownership of domain name

There are other ways to verify your website ownership as well. You can upload a HTML file to your website using an FTP client or file manager app in your hosting account dashboard.

If you don’t have a website, then you can use also use the MX Record method. You will see step by step instructions to do that once you choose this method.

For the sake of this tutorial, we are assuming that you already have a WordPress blog, and we will show you how to add the verification HTML code snippet in WordPress.

Switch to the WordPress admin area in a new browser tab to install and activate the Insert Headers and Footer plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, go to Settings » Insert Headers and Footer page and paste the HTML code you copied from G Suite under the ‘Scripts in Header’ section.

Site verification code for G Suite and Gmail

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save’ button to store your settings.

Now switch back to your G Suite setup screen and click on the checkbox that says ‘I added the meta tag to my homepage’.

Domain verified for professional email address with G Suite and Gmail

Next, you will be asked to enter MX record entries for your domain name.

Note: You only need to add MX records if you have an existing domain name and website. Users who registered their domain names via Google, don’t need to add MX records.

Since your domain name is not registered with Google, your emails will reach your domain name, but not to the Google servers.

You will need to set up the right MX records on your domain name settings, so Google’s servers can send and receive emails for your business.

To do that, you will need to login to your web hosting account, or your domain registrars account.

We will show you how to add MX records in Bluehost, but the basic concept is the same on all hosts and domain registrars. Basically, you will be looking for DNS settings under your domain name.

Login to your Bluehost hosting dashboard and click on ‘Domains’. On the next page, select your domain name and then click on the ‘Manage’ link next to DNS Zone Editor option.

Domain settings

Bluehost will now open your DNS zone editor. You need to switch back to your G Suite setup screen and check the box that says ‘I have opened the control panel of my domain name’.

It will now show you the MX records that you need to enter. You will also see a link to the documentation which shows you how to add these records to dozens of hosting and domain services provider.

Here is how you will add this information to your Bluehost DNS settings:

Adding MX records to your domain name

Click on ‘Add Record’ button to save it. After that, repeat the process to add all five lines as MX records.

Once you are finished, switch back to G Suite setup and check the box next to ‘I created the new MX records’.

MX records created

You will be asked to delete any existing MX records still pointing to your website hosting or domain name registrar.

To do this, you need to switch back to your DNS zone editor and scroll down to the MX records section. You will see the MX records you created earlier along with an older MX record still pointing to your website.

Delete old MX record

Click on the delete button next to the old MX record to delete it.

After that, switch back to the G Suite setup screen and check the box that says ‘I deleted existing MX records’.

Save MX records

You will now be asked to save your MX records. For some providers, once you add MX records they are already saved, for others you may need to manually save MX records.

Once you have saved MX records, check the box that says ‘I have saved MX records’ in G Suite setup.

Verify domain setup

After that, you need to click on ‘Verify domain and setup email’ button to exit the setup wizard.

Using Your Professional Email with G Suite and Gmail

Your email account works like any other Gmail account. You can access it by visiting Gmail Website and sign in with your email address, e.g. john@yourdomain.com.

You can also manage your G Suite account by visiting the admin console.

G Suite admin control panel

This is where you can add/remove new users to your domain name. Each of your users will have 30 GB storage and all the same features, but they will not have access to the admin console. You can remove those users at any time you want.

Troubleshooting G Suite Domain Setup

It is likely that your web host may not be using a dashboard like we have shown in the screenshots above.

G Suite has detailed documentation for many of the popular web hosting and domain registration service providers. Visit, set up MX records (Hosts specific steps) page and then locate your domain registrar or web host from the list.

If you do not find your service provider in the list, then you can ask them directly to help you setup G Suite for your domain name.

We hope this article helped you setup a professional email address with G Suite and Gmail. You may also want to see our list of 19+ free Google tools every WordPress blogger should use.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 


FULL CREDIT TO WPBEGINNER

Article shared under the following terms:
WPBeginner was created to help WordPress users on all levels to make the most out of WordPress. We have tons of amazing WordPress tutorials on our site. You are welcome to use any and all tricks shared on this site in your free or commercial projects. You are also welcome to reference our snippets and hacks on your own blogs/sites as long as you give us full credit from that article.
You are NOT allowed to plagiarize our content and/or translate full tutorials on your site.
Original: https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-setup-a-professional-email-address-with-gmail-and-google-apps/

South Africa Economic Update: Increasing South Africa’s Tertiary Enrollment Requires Rebalancing Resources

Image

Student at the University of Pretoria.

Photo: Courtesy of University of Pretoria.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The latest economic update for South Africa says increasing equitable access to higher education in a weak economic environment requires improving the Post School Education and Training system
  • To significantly increasing tertiary enrollment by 2030, the report says the government will have to make budget trade-offs between providing support to more students, expanding admissions capacity and improving the quality of education
  • The report recommends spreading enrollment across a variety of tertiary institutions, both public and private, to achieve higher enrollment in a financially-manageable way

JOHANNESBURGJanuary 22, 2019 – While South Africa’s new education policy aims to equip poor and working-class citizens with the skills needed for today’s job market, the latest economic update for the country shows that its implementation could negatively affect the national budget.

Announced in December 2017, the policy offers free tertiary education to 90% of academically eligible students, to meet the national goal of doubling Post School Education and Training (PSET) enrollment by 2030. However, the 12th edition of the South Africa Economic Update: Tertiary Education Enrollments Must Rise, asserts that this will put a strain on the budget, and examines how it can be achieved without compromising education quality and fiscal sustainability.

“There is general consensus in South Africa on the need for a skills revolution, which will enable its youth to participate in a skills-hungry economy and make the country’s economy more competitive in a world that is constantly being reshaped by technological progress,” said Paul Noumba Um, World Bank Country Director for South Africa. “Notwithstanding the long term need to fundamentally improve the basic education system, investing in human capital by enrolling more students in universities, TVET and community colleges as well as improving the quality of educations is a major imperative.”

The report reviews the impact of the new National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), a plan to provide grants instead of loans to pay for education and all associated costs, such as accommodations, transportation and books. With nine out of 10 prospective students eligible for support, the report notes the tertiary education plan will exert pressure on an already stretched fiscus, limiting South Africa’s ability to both expand enrollment in institutions of higher learning and improve the quality of education.

As South Africa strives towards fostering economic growth, and addressing its most pressing development challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, the update predicts South Africa’s growth to accelerate to 1.3% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020, driven by the implementation of the structural reforms announced in 2018. For the country to grow sustainably faster, it will be key to address its skills gap, which perpetuates inequality and fuels policy uncertainty, according to the report. This requires enrolling more students in PSET, the report says, as well as raising graduation rates and improving the relevance of skills taught to labor markets’ needs.

The study finds that the previous student financial aid system was insufficient to cover the financial risks and costs faced by many students pursuing PSET studies, especially Technical Vocation Education and Training (TVET), discouraging enrollments and academic performance. Under the new policy, the report notes that the demand for PSET and TVET could increase the demand for university studies by 23% and for TVET by 88%.

“We see that more than 90% of potential PSET students could benefit from the new National Student Financial Aid Scheme, making it progressive as it would reduce income inequality but would also put a huge strain on the fiscus, equivalent to about one  percentage point of GDP, leaving fewer public resources to increase admission capacity without compromising education quality, said Sébastien Dessus, World Bank South Africa Program Leader. “Nonetheless this constraint should not deter this objective if difficult but necessary trade-offs are made.”

The report suggests that South Africa could increase enrollments more rapidly and reduce inequality faster by rebalancing budgetary resources and policy reform attention towards interventions that improve the quality of education, while simultaneously expanding PSET admissions capacity. It also suggests comprehensively improving South Africa’s PSET system by strengthening the quality of education in TVET, community colleges, distance education institutions and historically disadvantaged universities.

The report offers internationally-tested policy options that have sustainably increased PSET enrollments through:

  • Diversifying the PSET sector from a mostly government funded, university-centric model
  • Encouraging private sector participation
  • Strengthening quality assurance mechanisms
  • Improving resource mobilization and
  • Ensuring greater equity in supporting students

Implementing such options would be fiscally possible, the report says, by progressively targeting financial support to the poorest students, while extending income contingent loans to more affluent students. As the quality of TVET and community college education improves, the report notes that the high private rate of return to PSET would make such proposal equitable, sustainable, rewarding and safe for new students’ cohorts to enroll in universities, TVET and community colleges.

 


Policy hackathon explained: How an all-society approach can engage entrepreneurs and governments to develop better policy in West Africa

Brainstorming session at the Bamako Policy Hackathon
Brainstorming session at the Bamako Policy Hackathon. Photo: World Bank

What would happen if you put all the relevant players for the entrepreneurial ecosystem — startup founders, policymakers, developers, students, investors — into one room and facilitated an open dialogue on improving the business environment? This is exactly what is taking place in West Africa through a series of policy hackathons supported by the World Bank.

We all have a stake in development and this multifaceted process – local, top-down, bottom-up – is a great example of African innovation. Civic engagement in policymaking is not happening elsewhere so it’s not just about importing knowledge and best practice but generating lessons we can export to the rest of the world,” said Sebastian Molineus, World Bank Director of the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation (FCI) Global Practice about policy hackathons taking place in West Africa, at a recent World Bank Brown-Bag Lunch in January.

So what is a policy hackathon?

Typically, a hackathon is an event where computer programmers and other experts collaborate to develop new software and applications. A policy hackathon works in much the same way. A mix of stakeholders are invited to a facilitated, user-driven policy workshop to harness their collective intelligence and design solutions for identified problems. During these hackathons, policy-users are asked to adopt a policymaker’s perspective to create and propose legislation that can dismantle barriers to innovative entrepreneurship.

Most recently, Senegal’s new Presidential Commission for Rapid Entrepreneurship (DER) initiated an innovation for policy process. The Dakar Policy Hackathon brought together more than sixty actors from Senegal’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to brainstorm ideas on how to improve the business environment, particularly for startups.

Senegal President Macky Sall at the DER townhall Startup Act
Senegal President Macky Sall at the DER townhall Startup Act. Photo: World Bank

It’s important for political authorities to better understand the difficulties and expectations of entrepreneurs. And of course, it is essential for civil society to have a better idea of where the reforms are and where the entrepreneurial ecosystem is going,” said Abdoul Aziz Sy, CEO of Impact Dakar which hosted the Dakar Policy Hackathon in partnership with Kinaya Ventures, Jokkolabs Dakar, Gainde 2000Concree and the Women’s Investment Club.

Interactive, participatory and dynamic, the Dakar policy hackathon concluded at 4am with a draft proposal from the entrepreneurial ecosystem for a new Startup Act Senegal. The drafted legislation was refined with the DER, debated by the wider population during an online consultation that leveraged an AI-based chatbot, revised through multi-stakeholder co-creation sessions, reviewed by local legal experts and finally presented to the Senegalese President in a televised public meeting. It must now enter the legislative agenda to be officially adopted within the first half of 2019.

Across Africa, governments are seeking to harness digital technologies and entrepreneurship to transform their societies and job markets. Such an ambitious goal, however, requires engagement with local software developers, accountants, engineers, students, entrepreneurs and other experts. Seeing citizens as a resource and relying on them for local knowledge, rather than a blanket strategy of seeking best practices from elsewhere, therefore allows for homegrown experimentation and gives citizens a stake in public policy.

It’s time to innovate on economic policy in Africa. We aren’t asking our governments to listen to us, rather we want to work with them to co-create policies that work for the innovation community,” Markos Lemma of IceAddis.

The policy hackathon idea was born in 2016 out of an initiative launched with community innovation hubs across Africa, called i4Policy. More than 128 hubs convening communities of 700,000 entrepreneurs and innovators across the continent have so far co-created and signed the Africa Innovation Policy Manifesto.

The first i4Policy hackathon took place at Impact Hub Kigali in 2017 in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Commerce, DfID and the Swiss Government. The local entrepreneurial community worked with the government to draft Rwanda’s national strategy for private sector development and youth employment.

We are now witnessing a real momentum in policy innovation. Many West African governments and beyond are seeking to host their own policy hackathons to foster effective private sector development and youth employment reform. Similar events have taken place in NigeriaMali and Côte d’Ivoire. Together with the World Bank (thanks to a trust fund financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, AICS) and by mobilizing other donors, i4Policy hubs plan to launch policy hackathons in the remaining WAEMU countries in 2019, including in Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin.

We live at a time when technology is multiplying the opportunities available to populations, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Policy hackathons are a unique way of bringing all players to the table to discuss how governments can leverage technology and entrepreneurial approaches to optimize public policy solutions.


Source: http://blogs.worldbank.org/psd/policy-hackathon-explained-how-all-society-approach-can-engage-entrepreneurs-and-governments-develop

24 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Business Websites in 2019

Looking for the best WordPress plugins to take your business to the next level in 2019?

There are over 54,226 WordPress plugins that you can choose from. This makes it extremely overwhelming for new users to find the right plugin for their website.

We are often asked by readers for the best WordPress plugin suggestions for SEO, social media, backups, speed, etc.

Being the largest WordPress resource site, our experts test over thousand free and premium WordPress plugins every year, so we can make it easy for our users (you) to find the best solutions.

Having the right set of WordPress plugins and tools can help you grow your online business. In this article, we have shared our expert pick of the must-have WordPress plugins for business websites in 2019.

Must have WordPress plugin for business websites

Note: these are the plugins that our team installs when we start a new blog or make a new website for our own businesses.

1. WPForms

WPForms

Every website needs a contact form because it makes it easy for your visitors to get in touch with you. WPForms is the most user-friendly contact form plugin for WordPress.

This drag & drop online form builder allows you to easily create contact forms, email subscription forms, online order forms, payment forms,
surveys, polls, and basically all other types of online forms with just a few clicks.

WPForms integrates with all popular marketing and payment platforms, so you can build powerful forms in less than 5 minutes.

It even comes with options to help you create custom WordPress user registration form and login page.

We use WPForms on the WPBeginner website and all of our other websites. But we’re not alone. Over 1 million websites use WPForms, and they have consistently maintained a 4.9 out of 5 star rating average for over 2 years now.

There’s a free WPForms Lite version available for those who are looking for a simple solution.

If you are a seriously looking to grow your business, then we recommend getting the Pro version because it comes with all the powerful features you need to boost your lead generation efforts. Use this WPForms coupon to get 50% off your purchase.

2. MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It allows you to “properly” connect your website with Google Analytics, so you can see exactly how people find and use your website.

The best part is that it shows you all the important stats that matter right inside your WordPress dashboard.

You can then optimize your website accordingly to increase your traffic, subscribers, and revenue. We have detailed guides on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress, how to use Google Analytics to enable eCommerce tracking, and how to track user engagement.

MonsterInsights has a free version, but the true power of it only unlocks when you upgrade to the Pro version.

You can use our MonsterInsights coupon to get 50% off your purchase.

MonsterInsights is used by over 2 million websites.

3. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

SEO helps you get more visitors from search engines to your website. While WordPress is SEO friendly out of the box, there is so much more you can do to increase your website traffic using SEO best practices.

Yoast SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugin of all time. Out of all the WordPress SEO plugins, Yoast offers the most comprehensive solution with all the features and tools that you need to improve your on-page SEO.

It helps you add meta tags, generate sitemaps, connect your site to Google Search Console, optimize it for social media, and more.

Yoast comes with a powerful Redirect feature that lets you easily create 301 redirects which is extremely helpful. It also detects change of URLs and create auto-redirects, so you don’t have any broken links on your website.

For complete SEO setup on your website, follow our ultimate WordPress SEO tutorial for beginners with step by step instructions.

4. Constant Contact

Constant Contact

Email is the most effective and most reliable marketing tool at your disposal as a business owner. It allows you to stay in touch with your users even after they leave your website. This is why we recommend every business owner to start building an email list right away.

Constant Contact is one of the most popular email marketing service providersin the world.

Their platform allows you to build an email lists and send beautiful email newsletters to your subscribers.

It is quick and easy setup for non techy users. It also works well with popular lead generation plugins for WordPress like OptinMonster and WPForms.

Alternatives: Drip and ConvertKit are good alternatives if you want something more advanced, but they are more pricey.

5. OptinMonster

OptinMonster

OptinMonster is the most popular conversion rate optimization software in the market. It allows you to convert abandoning website visitors into email subscribers and customers.

This WordPress plugin and application helps you get more email subscribers, fast.

OptinMonster comes with pre-made high-converting opt-in forms that you can easily customize with their drag & drop builder. Their powerful display targeting features allow you to personalize the campaigns for each user, so you can show the right message at the right time.

It’s a great solution for bloggers, business websites, and eCommerce websites. Basically if you want to make more money from your website traffic, then you need OptinMonster.

It helps you recover abandoned cart sales, convert website visitors, and grow your email list. Read these case studies to see how much success other businesses are having by using OptinMonster.

We use OptinMonster on WPBeginner and our other websites.

6. Sucuri

Sucuri

Security should be a top priority for all online business owners. Sucuri offers a WordPress security plugin and web application firewall that is probably one of the best protection you can get for your site.

They monitor and protect your site from DDoS, malware threats, XSS attacks, brute force attacks, and basically every other type of attack. If you don’t have a firewall on your website, then you need to add one today.

To learn more on how to strengthen the security of your website and protect your business, see our ultimate WordPress security guide with step by step instructions for beginners.

Sucuri help us block hundreds of thousands of attacks every month on WPBeginner.

7. UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus is the most popular WordPress backup plugin on the market. It allows you to set up automatic backups and safely store them on a remote location like Google Drive, Dropbox, S3, Rackspace, FTP, email, and more.

It also makes it super easy to restore your website from a backup. Their base plugin is free, but they also have a paid plan with extra features and priority support.

Alternative: BackupBuddy and VaultPress (Jetpack Backups) are also excellent solutions, but they are paid only.

8. WP Rocket

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is the best WordPress caching plugin on the market. It allows you to instantly improve your WordPress website speed and performance with no technical skills required.

It automatically turns on recommended WordPress caching settings like gzip compression, page cache, and cache pre-loading. You can also turn on optional features like lazy loading images, CDN support, DNS pre-fetching, minification, and more to further improve page load times.

WP-Rocket also offer Imagify which is a free image optimization service to help you speed up your website even further.

This is by far the easiest and most beginner friendly caching plugin. The only downside is that it’s paid only.

Alternative: WP Super Cache is free, but it’s not as powerful or easy.

9. Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder is the best drag and drop page builder for WordPress. It allows you to easily customize your website design and create custom page layouts without writing any code.

Business owners love it because it lets them create completely custom landing pages within minutes without having to hire a developer.

Alternative: Divi plugin is a great alternative.

10. MemberPress

MemberPress

MemberPress allows you to build online communities and membership sites using WordPress. It is the best WordPress membership plugin in the market.

You can create subscriptions and restrict content to users based on their subscription plans. It works with all popular payment solutions and plays nicely with online stores using WooCommerce. For detailed instructions, see our guide on how to make a membership website in WordPress.

11. CSS Hero

CSS Hero

WordPress themes rely on CSS for the visual appearance of your website. If you want to make customization to your theme, then you will have to learn CSS. This can be time-consuming for a business owner.

CSS Hero is a WordPress plugin that allows you to customize any WordPress theme without writing a single line of code. Check out our review of how CSS Hero makes WordPress customization easy for more information.

It’s not a drag & drop page builder like BeaverBuilder that helps you build custom layouts. Rather it helps you customize any WordPress theme available in the market within minutes to match your needs.

12. SeedProd

SeedProd

SeedProd is the best WordPress maintenance mode and coming soon page plugin that helps you collect leads and grow your followers even when your website is not available.

If your site is under construction, then you can use it to create beautiful coming soon landing pages. It includes features like integration with your email marketing services, countdown timer, social media integration, and dozens of templates to choose from.

13. LearnDash

LearnDash

LearnDash is the best WordPress LMS plugin to create and sell online courses from your WordPress website. It has a drag and drop course builder that allows you to quickly add lessons, quizzes, and assignments to build your course.

For detailed step by step instructions, see our guide on how to create online courses in WordPress using LearnDash.

14. G Suite

G Suite

G Suite is a suite of web applications like email, docs, spreadsheets, etc. Created by Google, this powerful set of office applications is cheaper, easy to deploy, and hassle free.

It allows you to save costs on software licenses, hardware, hiring IT staff, managing backups, and more. Most importantly it allows you to use professional email addresses with your own business domain name right inside Gmail.

15. SEMRush

SEMRush

SEMRush is an all-in-one marketing toolkit for digital marketing professionals and business owners. It comes with powerful tools to help you improve your SEO, paid traffic strategy, social media, and content & PR strategy.

It also helps you gather competitive intelligence on your competitors, so you can outrank them and dominate your industry.

It helps you do keyword research, backlink audit, track brand mentions, spy on competitors, discover best-performing posts on social media, ad strategy analysis, and more.

These short paragraphs are not enough to describe the true power of SEMRush. It’s a must have tool in our list for serious business owners.

Alternative: Ahrefs is an excellent alternative.

16. LiveChat

LiveChat

LiveChat Inc is the best live chat support software for businesses and e-commerce websites. It is super easy to use and allows you to quickly add live chat on your WordPress website.

It has tons of customization options, and it comes with a mobile app, so you can stay connected while on the go.

It integrates with your existing support software, CRM, email marketing, and other tools. Most importantly, it loads fast and offers a great user experience.

17. Pretty Links Pro

Pretty Links Pro

Pretty Links Pro is one of the best link management plugins for WordPress. It allows you to easily manage affiliate links while making it easy make your affiliate links short and memorable for sharing.

It is the perfect tool for affiliate marketers, podcasters, business owners, and others who want to easily create short URLs in WordPress.

18. Shared Counts

Shared Counts

Shared Counts is the best WordPress social media plugin that allows you to easily add beautiful social sharing buttons on your website.

It also shows share counts, which helps you add social proof to your website.

While there are many paid solutions available, this free plugin beats them all in code quality and performance.

We use SharedCount on a lot of our website because it offers an easy out of the box solution for both beginners and developers.

19. WP Mail SMTP

WP Mail SMTP

By default, WordPress uses the PHP mail function to send emails. The problem is that either WordPress hosting companies don’t have this feature setup properly, or they block it to prevent abuse.

This basically means that you and your users may not receive important email notifications from your WordPress site.

WP Mail SMTP solves this problem by sending WordPress emails using a proper SMTP mail server. To learn more, see our article on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

20. Insert Headers and Footers

Insert Headers and Footers

While managing your WordPress site, you may sometimes need to add code snippets to your WordPress header or footer for verification, inserting ad retargeting scripts, etc.

Insert Headers and Footer allows you to easily add code snippets to your WordPress site without editing your theme files. Take a look at our tutorial on how to add header and footer code in WordPress.

This free plugin is extremely handy for business owners.

21. TablePress

TablePress

For a long time WordPress editor didn’t have an option to create tables in your posts or pages. The new WordPress block editor comes with a table block, but it lacks many features.

TablePress solves this problem by allowing you to add beautiful tables to your website. It keeps your table data separate from your posts and pages which means you can embed the table anywhere and update it from one single location.

Most importantly, you don’t have to write any HTML or CSS. See our guide on how to easily create tables in WordPress.

22. WPML

WPML

By default, WordPress does not allow you to easily create a multilingual website. This is a challenge for businesses who cater to a multi-lingual customer base in different geographic locations.

This is where you’ll need WPML. It is a WordPress multi-lingual plugin that allows you to easily create multi-lingual websites with WordPress.

It is very easy to use, SEO friendly, and helps you easily create content in different languages.

23. WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress used by over 4 million websites.

It comes with all the powerful features that you need to create an online store.

Over the last few years, WooCommerce has established itself as the most dominant eCommerce plugin for WordPress. There’s even a WooCommerce ecosystem now with dedicated WooCommerce hostingWooCommerce themes, and WooCommerce plugins available.

24. Grammarly

Grammarly

Grammarly is a popular online grammar checker tool available as a browser addon for Google Chrome, Firefox, and even Microsoft Edge. It checks for spelling, grammar, and contextual errors as you write your posts.

The free version is sufficient for most people. However you can always update to the premium version to unlock plagiarism detector, vocabulary enhancement suggestions, and more advanced features.

This concludes our list of the best WordPress plugins for business websites.

Depending on your business, you may not need to use all plugins mentioned in our list, but it’s pretty common for our readers to end up using at least 18 out of 24 solutions that we have mentioned.

Now that you have the best WordPress plugins, you may also want to see our article on how to increase your website traffic (27 proven tips).

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

 


Full Credit: WPBeginner

Source URL: https://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/24-must-have-wordpress-plugins-for-business-websites/

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost, and without needing to ask permission. Unlike copyrighted resources, OER have been authored or created by an individual or organization that chooses to retain few, if any, ownership rights.

In some cases, that means you can download a resource and share it with colleagues and students. In other cases, you may be able to download a resource, edit it in some way, and then re-post it as a remixed work. How do you know your options? OER often have a Creative Commons license or other permission to let you know how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared.

From a single point of access in OER Commons, you can search, browse, and evaluate resources in OER Commons’ growing collection of over 50,000 high-quality OER. Here are some curated collections to start exploring:

 

The worldwide OER movement is rooted in the human right to access high-quality education. This shift in educational practice is not just about cost savings and easy access to openly licensed content; it’s about participation and co-creation. Open Educational Resources (OER) offer opportunities for systemic change in teaching and learning content through engaging educators in new participatory processes and effective technologies for engaging with learning.

 

 

 

Open Education Practice

The move to open education practice (OEP) is more than a shift in content, it is an immersive experience in collaborative teaching and learning. OEP leverages open education resources (OER) to expand the role of educators, allowing teachers to become curators, curriculum designers, and content creators. In sharing teaching tools and strategies, educators network their strengths and improve the quality of education for their students. 

With an open practice, educators are able to adjust their content, pedagogies, and approach based on their learners, without the limitations of “all rights reserved”.

Let’s talk business & technology

The Small to Medium Enterprise sector in South Africa is under a lot of pressure; the stubbornly high rate of unemployment requires that businesses become economically and societally successful in order to contribute to the country’s GDP and to create job opportunities.

Entrepreneurs are not exempt from this pressure. As a matter of opinion, it appears that the responsibility to convert the astounding failure of government(s) to create jobs and create scalable businesses into opportunities sits squarely on the very shoulders of aspiring and already achieved business men and women.

 

Of course, the conditions to achieve this economical and societal success aren’t the easiest to overcome (and perhaps they aren’t supposed to be), otherwise everyone would pursue entrepreneurship and the world would be an oyster.

Here are some of these conditions that I’m referring to:

  • Job seekers still prefer corporate careers;
  • The second recession since ’94 has dropped confidence in the economy;
  • For many reasons (risk, society, etc) there’s a low tolerance for failure of entrepreneurs;
  • There are expected discrepancies between funding mandates & entrepreneur’s eligibility;
  • The oversupply of entrepreneurs in saturated markets is not showing signs of decline;
  • Overwhelming failures by Enterprise Development initiatives to realize real transformation;
  • The easily accessible forms of capital require security and collateral that entrepreneurs lack;
  • Attracting & retaining top talent is increasingly difficult within small business; and
  • Priority sectors getting government support are capital intensive and often monopolized.

 

South African businesses, small and large, that have garnered an appreciation for these conditions understand the value of the competitive advantage offered by technology. The result of this is seen in industry leaders across various sectors such as insurance and financial services; over the past few years, they demonstrated how the power of digitalisation can directly drive positive over-all growth and impact a business’ bottom-line.

It goes without saying that entrepreneurs, managers and customers respectively recognize technology as a tool for growth, to operate effectively and engaging businesses.

However, I’m not purporting that technology/digitalisation will soon be an answer to everything. We must recognize that accessing markets, networks and the necessary early stage financial support is as important to empowering businesses in a way that guarantees that is aligned and desirable to the nation’s 2030 ambitions.

I’m not the first, but I’m purporting that we adopt the aggressive mindset that says we’re to take advantage of the tools and opportunities that are near us, economically exploit these opportunities in a way that ensures meaningful economic participation & positive societal impact and build an ecosystem of financial & high moral value exchange.

What are your thoughts? Let’s talk business & technology…

@TsholoSehume on popular social platforms

By: Tsholo Sehume (MaruAfrica, CEO) – 19 January 2019


Image Src: The Real Estate of South African Entrepreneurship (www.seedengine.co.za)

Number Porting Process

PORTING TO US
A letter if it’s a personal number or letterhead if for a company stating that Owner / Company Authorises EOH to port their numbers and they also need to state which numbers,  we will also need to add your ID number / Company Registration number and need to confirm on the letter that your account is paid up with current service provider (Telkom, Neotel etc) also on the letter add the account number for service providers like Telkom or Neotel’s account number.
Please find attached an example of a number porting letterhead.
We will also need 3 months of your account history, from your provider and a copy of your ID.

Blockly

Blockly is a library for building block programming apps. It includes everything you need for defining and rendering blocks in a drag-n-drop editor. Each block represents a chunk of code that can be easily stacked and translated into code. It’s helpful for allowing apps to easily customize components and write code.

Blockly is a client-side JavaScript library for creating visual block programming languages and editors. It is a project of Google and is open-source under the Apache 2.0 License. It typically runs in a web browser, and visually resembles Scratch.

Blockly is also being implemented for Android and iOS; not all web browser based features are available for Android/iOS. It uses visual blocks that link together to make writing code easier, and can generate JavaScript, Python, PHP or Dart code. It can also be customised to generate code in any textual computer language.

You can basically go online and learn:

  • How to add Blockly to a sample iOS app.
  • How to set up a Blockly workspace.
  • How to create a new block in Blockly.
  • How to generate and run JavaScript code from blocks.

Google provides a “codelab” that is focused purely on Blockly. Non-relevant concepts and code blocks are glossed over and are provided for you to simply copy and paste. One could say the codelab has the A-Z of blockly. Try it out and let us know how your experience was: https://codelabs.developers.google.com/codelabs/blockly-ios/#0


Blockly VS Scratch?

I came across a good article on www.robotlab.com, here are the details:

 

Learning to code can sometimes seem overwhelming.  I remember when I was making the leap from learning vocabulary and syntax to creating an entire program I experienced some writers block.  I had all the tools I needed, but I didn’t know where to begin.

Enter Scratch and Blockly: two programming environments that use a graphical interface of interlocking blocks to make coding easier for new programmers.

Blockly 1.jpgBlockly 2.jpg

But other than the appearance of their interfaces, these IDEs (integrated development environments) have very little in common.  In this post, I will briefly describe each, compare and contrast them, and finish off with ways to use each in your next project.  Let’s get to it!

 

Scratch Summary

Scratch is a development environment designed especially for programmers aged 8 to 16 (but it’s fun and useful for beginners of all ages).  It’s an all-inclusive environment that contains any block you need to manipulate this cute cast of characters through an environment of your creation.  More experienced scratcher’s can branch out and create games and animations all their own using Scratch’s extensive library of blocks.

Blockly Summary

Blockly is more at home in a business than a classroom.  It utilizes a somewhat limited, open-ended collection of blocks to allow users to code real-world tools.  Blockly blocks can be translated directly into such languages as Javascript, PHP, Dart, and Python.

Compare and contrast

Compare.jpg

 

Scratch in your next project

 Would you like to make a cool game or animation for your webpage?  Or maybe a online art show of student Scratch projects?  Just click the “Share to” button below the project window, and this dialog box will pop up:

pop up.jpg

Copy-paste the code into the HTML editor of your website, and voilà!

 

Blockly in your next project

 I have been working on a project to make a Blockly programming environment for controlling NAO robots.  The project requires specialized blocks not available in the standard Blockly library, so I had some make some myself.  Luckily for me, Blockly offers a tool for that exact purpose called Block Factory!

Blockly 3.jpg

If you’d like your code blocks to control a tool you have (like a NAO or arduino) Blockly is perfect for your project!

There are many more examples of exciting Blockly projects here:

https://developers.google.com/blockly/about/showcase

And Scratch projects (with code included) here:

https://scratch.mit.edu/starter_projects/

I hope this post has helped you find the right IDE for your project!

10 ‘Must Have’ Tools for African Startups & Small/Medium Business to remain competitive (PART 2)

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to break the bank on great systems for your small business to get started.
You simply need to find relevant technology to creatively and efficiently help you get your hustle on! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s that easy for a startup or small/medium business to thrive in Africa. I’ll do my best to keep this short and informative.

This is PART 2. You can read part 1 here

So, here we go:

6. File Storage & Synchronisation (Google Drive)

Storing documents to allow for easy collaboration has always been a bit tricky for teams working together on a project, but no longer with Google Drive, Google’s cloud based office suite. Drive includes a word processor (Google Docs), spreadsheets (Google Sheets), a presentation program (Google Slides), and a form builder (Google Forms). We’ve compiled a list of a few of the reasons we love Google Drive and some tools that can make it even more powerful.

The nicest thing so far as I’m concerned, about Google Drive, is that it is FREE and comes with:

  • Document processing capabilities for (‘Word’, ‘Excel’ and ‘Powerpoint’)
  • A familiar and easy to use interface
  • 15GB disk space
  • Collaboration capabilities
  • Forms and surveys

This means you can get started writing proposals, presenting presentations, recording numbers of a spreadsheet, and much much more without having to spend a single cent on Licenses. Learn more about Google Drive

7. MailChimp

MailChimp is a marketing automation platform and an email marketing service. It provides marketing automation for e-commerce businesses. Send beautiful emails, connect your e-commerce store, advertise, and build your brand.

It is an incredible and free tool that can help you reach many clients through periodic e-newsletters. We always recommend MailChimp for this purpose, and here are some compelling reasons for doing so.
  •  It’s easy to see who has opened your e-mail and how many times. This means you can quickly see who’s engaging with you the most and prioritise them for follow up through your sales pipeline.
  • It’ll help you write more interesting content. By checking the “click rate” on articles you can see what’s appealing to your readers – and what’s not.
  • It can help you to track the performance of your newsletter i.e. How many customers opened it, etc. If you link your Woo Commerce to MailChimp you can use advanced e-commerce responders to monitor your customers’ progress. If they abandon their shopping cart, you can send them an autoresponder to help close the deal.

8. VoIP (Make Calls using Data & cheaper airtime)

Competitiveness

VoIP services are generally more price competitive than the incumbent fixed line providers. Savings can be achieved through more cost effective line rentals, as well as discounted call rates. VoIP providers also offer a substantial discount when calling between branches or other users on their network (known as On-Network). It is becoming clear that traditional telco providers cannot compete with Voice over IP (VoIP ).

Complete Portability

The beauty of Voice over IP is that you can take the service with you, make and receive calls from anywhere provided you have internet connection.

Flexibility and Scalability

You are able to have more than one phone number on a single internet broadband line, and adding additional lines only requires increasing the size of the internet line – allowing superior scalability on the fly.

You have the option of incorporating extra features into your service – quickly and easily! These extras include features such as Hunting Facility, Direct line numbers, Caller ID, etc which are often standard features with a VoIP service.

Location independence

For Incoming Calls, your VoIP number could be Non-Geographic (i.e. 087) it is not tied to a specific area or line – you could appear to be a national company and can keep the same number wherever you go. You do however also have the option for other numbers such as 010, 020, etc – just enquire with your provider.

 

 

9. Sage One Accounting (The simplest and most cost effective way to get a handle on your finances)

Sage One empowers South Africa’s small businesses. Free yourself from admin with clever, easy features, built around you.

 

Everything you need to take care of business.
From sales and purchases to cashflow, VAT and reporting, Sage One’s features support every step in your business process.
Your business, at your fingertips.
Take care of invoicing on the road, banking at the office and leave from home. Works with PCs, Macs, iOS, Android, and Windows.

From sales and purchases to cash flow, VAT and reporting, Sage One’s features support every step in your business process. Create quotes, and invoices in seconds, send them to your customers and track what they owe. Use budgets to keep track of your company’s performance against targets you have set.

 

 

aaannnddddd number

10. Others

Since there are so many tools out there that can help you handle your business better, I thought it best to just list other things to consider. So here goes:

  • Online Backup – because laptops get stolen, ‘smash and grab’ is a thing, disaster occur. We can offer you a solution that backs up your laptops, desktops, servers, etc. Consult online for free 
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – for example; do you have something in place to remind you of your best paying client’s birthday? I’ve oversimplified the use of a CRM here but it’s small things like following up on emails, knowing the stage you are on your sales process, setting reminders to make calls, etc.
  • Virtual Meetings – You need a combination of Visuals and Audio to host or participate in meetings that take place without you physically being there. The internet allows us to now collaborate from anywhere in the world, so long as we’re connected. Yes! If you are thinking Skype, it’s one such a tool. But there are others with more features and better suited for team collaboration.

Hey,

Thanks for reading, let’s continue this another time

 

10 ‘Must Have’ Tools for African Startups & Small/Medium Business to remain competitive (PART 1)

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to break the bank on great systems for your small business to get started.
You simply need to find relevant technology to creatively and efficiently help you get your hustle on! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s that easy for a startup or small/medium business to thrive in Africa. I’ll do my best to keep this short and informative.

I will share 2 lists: the 10 tools and another list from SARS (just as a reminder)…

So, here we go:

1. Have Online Presence (Website)

If you don’t have a website, your chance of ending up in customer online searches is significantly reduced. Most of us Google a company when we’re preparing for an interview or looking for products to buy or even checking if a company is ‘legitimate’. Today, there are more reasons for you to invest in online presence than ever before. A website is a TOOL  you can use to market and promote your business, products, yourself, and even use to trade. Here are some facts:

  • A website increases your credibility & it’s your online “first impression”
  • 46% of the world’s population (3,42 bn) has internet access
  • Your competitors probably already have a website
  • Your website will promote you 24 hours 7 days a week

Learn how your website is found on Google and how you can get an amazing website, packed with features, from as little as R1500 a year

2. Tawk.To

tawk.to is jam packed with all the features you need to provide winning customer support – it is lightning fast, reliable and scalable.

If you already use live chat on your site, there really is no reason to keep paying per agent! This sweet tool allows you to message your customers in Real Time.

Tawk to is a free messaging app that lets you monitor and chat with visitors on your website, mobile app or from a free customizable page. We use it on a daily basis.

 

3. eCommerce Plugin (Use your website to sell your products)

If you’re a small business owner looking for an e-commerce solution, look no further than WooCommerce by WooThemes, one of the most versatile WordPress plugins, and one of the most popular.  Since its launch in 2011, more than 1.6 million businesses in the U.S., the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China and India have downloaded Woocommerce, a testament to the many Woocommerce benefits for small business.  From its user-friendly experience to its flexibility and customisation options, Woocommerce continues to be the smart choice for smart designers—and smart businesses. Understand WooCoomerce in 2,5 minutes (Check the Video)

 

Some of the benefits include:

  • Well, for one, it’s free & easy to use
  • It Includes an Intuitive, Built-in Analytics System
  • It Offers A lot of Flexibility
  • Integrating with Multiple Payment Gateways

Which brings me to the next point

4. Accepting Online Payments (Payment Gateways)

A payment gateway is a merchant service provided by an e-commerce application service provider that authorizes credit card or direct payments processing for e-businesses, online retailers, bricks and clicks, or traditional brick and mortar.

A payment gateway facilitates the transfer of information between a payment portal (such as a website, mobile phone) and the Front End Processor or acquiring bank

Choosing your payment gateway is an important part of the process of setting up your ecommerce store. As the payment gateways have different pricing models, it is important to pick one that suits your business, and provides the features and security that will ensure that users can easily and securely transact with your store.

We have successfully intergrate multiple gateways onto our own and clients’ websites, these include:

 

5. Messaging for Teams (Slack)

 

Since the advent of the World Wide Web, the opportunity for collaboration has been one of its most touted features. Enter Slack! The innovative “team communication” solution offers groundbreaking functionality that is just too useful to pass up.

So, if you’re asking yourself, “What is Slack and how do I use it for my team?” 

As a simple instant messaging system, Slack has all the collaboration features you need in place. It’s when you throw in integration that things really get exciting. It’s the foundation for teamwork.

  • It simplifies communication
  • It helps everyone find the answers they need
  • It streamlines your workflows

 


Alright, the end… But one last thing….

Remember that there are basics that you also need to take care of. For example SARS put this on their website

  • Register with CIPC
  • Register for Income Tax
  • Register and do eFiling
  • Do your income tax as an individual
  • Do your payroll taxes as a business
  • Do Record Keeping
  • Categorise your business
  • Managing your Tax Compliance Status with SARS
  • Be a Representative for your tax matters
  • Do Turn-over Tax & Do Value-added Tax (VAT)
  • Check if your Tax Practitioner is registered and more.

 

We’ll add part 2 next week

How Blockchain is changing the way we do business?

Blockchain technology is gradually transforming peer-to-peer interactions in the digital world, disrupting traditional processes across almost all industries. Corporations including IBM, WalMart and Nestlé now look toward this new technology to improve on current systems.

Blockchain for business

Blockchain technology is a distributed ledger that eliminates information and data manipulation, while providing unparalleled transparency over an individual trade by making the accounting in any given transaction reviewable, and therefore public.

All parties involved can access the blockchain, which updates at specified intervals, for instance, the Bitcoin blockchain updates every ten minutes. This minimizes data or clerical issues usually encountered in manual processes. Blockchain technology, via automation of processes and protocols, removes the middleman or trusted third-parties. Companies and businesses are then afforded lower costs in reduced transaction fees and assurance that the most efficient track between end-user and end-user is achieved.

Blockchain platforms typically, if not allow, have their own Graphical User Interface in the form of a wallet application. Consumers use wallets in order to purchase items and exchange cryptocurrency, perhaps in exchange of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Complexities of Blockchain technology

There are currently hundreds of applications using blockchain technology. The blockchain can be a massive system wherein applications can unfold, or execute. To build software, developers must have knowledge and understanding of mathematics, coding, specifically in the Solidity language as well as cryptography.

However, the technology is now developing hurdles to these barriers of entry, especially in the realm of smart contract technology, an application for Blockchain.

Ethereum

Lately, Ethereum is easily associated with blockchain technology capabilities. Ethereum is, at its core, a software-as-a-service blockchain platform. Ethereum allows developers to create decentralized applications on top of its framework like GnosisAlice.SiBitNation, and more.

Miners work to gain Ether, which is the native cryptocurrency that fuels the entire Ethereum network. It is used by developers to pay transaction fees and for services on the Ethereum network.

The Ethereum blockchain concentrates on running or executing the programming of a decentralized application. Ethereum runs these programs, or scripts, via smart contracts.

A smart contract is a virtual asset that defines the check and balances in a particular transaction. They can add functionalities or itself create specific applications on top of the blockchain they are executed on. With Ethereum, the program runs on how it is programmed and there is no chance of failure.

Benefits of Ethereum Blockchain

Ethereum’s decentralized platform is cryptographically-secure, which enables protection against fraudulent acts and hacking. Ethereum applications operate under the trustless principle of consensus. Involved parties in a particular transaction are not able to change or edit data. In addition, there is no down time as turning off the application would require the entire network failing, which is near to impossible under the current strength of the international system. There are nodes operating around the globe.

Smart Contracts

A smart contract is computer code, pure and simple. It is the foundation of a transaction on the blockchain, like the exchange of currency or property. If designed and programmed properly, a user can rest assure the transaction will run smooth and much more efficient than status quo, human-performed alternatives.

When Blockchain is running, the smart contract works as a self-operating program. People refer to the smart contract as a digital contract, a blockchain-based contract, or self-executing agreement wherein it converts the deal into computer code, stored in the system, and run by an international network of computers.

The result is the elimination of middlemen in the process of a financial transaction, exchange of assets, physical or digital, or any contractual agreement which contains a set of verifiable parameters.

Traditionally, people go to a lawyer to have contract papers notarized, but with a smart contract, you can drop your contractual agreement in the ledger. In its simplest form, smart contracts are instructions added to transactions on the blockchain.

Etherparty, touted as an easy-to-use smart contract creator, is striving to remove the high barriers of entry into the world of blockchain technology and its most powerful application to date, the smart contract.

Described as a contract wizard, the platform eliminates the intricacy in coding or programming a smart contract. Etherparty offers a template library wherein users can create a customized contract. The contract wizard will guide the user through the process of creating the agreement and can choose from data sources or contract clauses. It has a contract builder wherein the user can enjoy the interface and have access to the custom contract.

The platform offers a full suite of tools to properly manage and create a custom smart contract. A user is able to create and execute a custom smart contract or choose one from the Library. In addition, security testing, managing transaction fees, and monitoring tools are available to users to manage their smart contracts throughout the whole process.

Etherparty and Blockchain

With Ethereum, developers can create any number of applications all on a single platform, operated globally. The platform can serve all industries, public or private, with tailored applications which are programmed to handle bank loans, title registry, voting systems and more.

Credit: Public Domain

Unfortunately, only Ethereum programmers are able to leverage this kind of technology at current, this is due to the complex nature of the system and requirement to have an understanding of computer programming. Etherparty addresses this by making Blockchain and Smart Contracts easy to use through the web and later on a mobile app. Etherparty provides Smart Contracts that have been battle-tested and independently verified in addition to monitoring tools to make it easier for users to check on the status of their contracts.

With the recent announcement of the Rootstock-Etherparty integration, Etherparty will also integrate smart contracts on Bitcoin so users can decide which Blockchain they want to launch on, rather than managing different servers, waiting to sync the blockchain, and then using a command line to execute.

The main advantage: business entities that follow the paradigm shift will be able to save money and build trust through digital. Users will be able to create digital agreements that are safely stored in a transparent yet secure system, unlike traditional means, in other words, contracts written on paper — which is open to destruction, discarding, and misplacement.

The combination of blockchain technology, smart contract technology, and digital currency will make the principle of trade and governmental processes efficient, safe, fast, and scalable for the online environment of now and for future generations. Projects like Etherparty will serve as one of those early pioneers that paved the way towards a blockchain connected economy, powered by smart contract automation. No programming required.

Image Credit: Wikimedia / Public Domain  / Pixabay

Article source: https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/09/07/blockchain-changing-way-business/#.tnw_BSM0dpCp