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Must-Have Tech that Can Save Your Small Business Money

The evolution of technology doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. More and more tech that once was relegated to larger enterprises is becoming readily available to small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Some of that tech may not be necessary for small businesses, but some of it can improve business operations so much — and save companies enough money in the process — that it can’t be ignored. If you’re a small business owner, here are some of the most critical tech options to consider for your company.

Security Software

First of all, with more technology becoming available, it means that companies are at greater risk of falling victim to cybercrime, which can prove financially crippling to a small business. One of the most important things your company can do is invest in security software.

Some of the things to look for are:

You can find much of the security tech you need — and a plethora of other important tech and electronic products — at various retailers. Also, you can save some serious dough by looking on their websites for daily deals and checking for coupons before you shop.

In addition to purchasing the right kinds of software, there are physical steps you can implement to protect your company from cybercrime, such as:

  • Limiting employee access to certain information and resources
  • Requiring employees to change all work-related passwords every three months
  • Making backup copies of essential company data and information each week
  • Developing a security policy and training employees to follow security practices

New and Improved Smartphone

Getting a new phone might not seem like a good money-saving option at first, but it can benefit your business and help you save money on resources and equipment in the long run. You’ll likely want to keep up with emails and video calls at times when you’re not at your desk, as well as utilize the apps that are necessary for your business. With the right smartphone, you’ll be able to stay on top of all your tasks on the go. When shopping for a phone, stick with necessities like reliability and an easy-to-navigate screen, and avoid the bells and whistles to save money. There are always a variety of current models available with different features at different price points, so do some comparison shopping before making a final decision.

Telecommuting Tools

These days, a lot of people work from home at least part of the time. In fact, companies can save on office space and other expenses by hiring remote workers. To make your operations efficient with remote workers, however, you need the right tools in place. Be sure to get all the video conferencing software and collaboration tools for your business to run effectively.

Customer Relationship Management Software

Another important tech option to implement as a business owner is customer relationship management (CRM) software. This includes applications that do anything from analyzing data to automating customer interactions to observing customer behavior and recommending certain products/services to them. CRM software can help your company build and manage customer relationships, thus ultimately improving sales.

Point-of-Sale System

Customers now expect a faster and more seamless checkout experience than ever before. Actually, many people will lose patience and decide to look elsewhere for an item if they have to stand in line for too long or fill out a lot of information before their purchase goes through. Investing in a quality point-of-sale (POS) system can help to simplify and speed up the checkout process for your customers. Additionally, a POS system can even make it easier for you to keep up with sales and manage inventory.

Along with getting a good POS system, make sure your customers don’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops when buying a product. Have you ever gone to buy something on a website only to be met with pages of questions and requirements before you can pay? It can be frustrating, and it defeats the purpose of shopping online. Don’t require users to create an account before purchasing something, and you’ll lower your shopping cart abandonment rates.

Web Developers

Having the right team to back your web presence can boost your business and prevent frustration down the line. Building a website yourself can be easy with the right tools and templates, but a stellar website is what’s going to drive traffic to your business. The best way to achieve this is by hiring outside freelancers who know how to do the job well. For example, HTML5 freelancers specialize in utilizing the latest HTML language to design your website and deliver content (including audio and video) on your website or mobile app. Hourly pay varies for HTML5 developers, but you’ll likely find a pay range of $20 to $125.

Not all the tech that’s out there can help your small business right now, but some of it is downright essential. So, do your research and consider investing in security software, telecommuting tools, CRM software, a POS system, and a new smartphone. These tech options will help your business move forward in a rapidly changing environment.

Photo Credit: Burst

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What You Need To Know About WordPress Image File Size And Compression

Here are a few tips for you about using/uploading images to your WordPress site.

First, web browsers do not render 300 dpi, so for all you photo fanatics out there, stop uploading uncompressed 300 dpi images to your media library. A browser renders only 72 dpi regardless of the resolution of your images. Yep, I know it reduces image quality, but only to you! Remember, your perception is your reality. The person viewing your image online doesn’t care whether it’s 300 or 72. They just want to see the image. Sure, that doesn’t help photographers or art galleries much, so you’ll just need to go old school and FedEx your printed books instead, if you want your intended audience to see the full resolution image.

Second, reducing the dpi also reduces the file size. If you have 300 dots per in, then reducing it to 72 dpi is only going to help your website visitors download your images faster, especially over mobile phones. Remember that we all have finite mobile bandwidth, except those who pay for unlimited. That means you are burning up your website visitors mobile bandwidth allotment (if not on wifi) by not compressing your images. If I were looking at your photos, then waiting for them to download on my phone and it’s not fast, I would leave your site and go somewhere else. No one wants to wait for your huge images to download on their phone.

Third, you can certainly reduce the dpi and that will compress an image, but remember the physical landscape of the image itself should only be sized to what you need to display on the web. That’s probably around 1800 pixels. I’ve seen some clients upload photos that are over 3000 pixles wide! Resizing your images BEFORE you upload to your media library is important. Fortunately, WordPress now provides a resizing tool inside the Edit feature of your WordPress Media Library, so you can resize photos down. Note: Never resize photos up or you will literally be stretching the photo like a rubber band. That will stretch the pixels in the image and your image will look like crap. You always downsize. Never upsize!

Fourth, you can use a tool like WP Smush, which is a freemium plugin, to compress your images to the best possible size and resolution. When you install WP Smush, you can compresses up to 50 images at a time with the free version. You’ll have to keep clicking if you have more images to compress. It will also not compress images over 1MB, so to process all images and images over 1MB, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version.

Fifth (and maybe it should have been first), under Settings > Media, you can set the sizes for Large, Small, and Thumbnail images when you upload them. WordPress will retain the original file, but also copy and store resized versions to select for posts/pages. While this does not “compress” the image, it does help with managing the sizes you want to set for your site.

Sixth, remember that PNG is for transparency. You might use PNG for a logo, a small icon, or some other small graphic that may have a special use case, like a drop shadow. Don’t use PNG for large photographic images. It adds data to the image and therefore increases the file size. If you have a photo, always used JPG. There’s no reason to use PNG for any photo.

Lastly, use a CDN (content delivery network) to speed up the delivery of images on your website. With plugins like W3 Total Cache or Super Cache, you can send your website’s image to servers around the globe for storage and retrieval at the “edge” of major cities, so that they are served quickly to your intended audience. If you’re using JetPack by Automattic, you can turn on Photon, which is powered by Automattic. Photo is the CDN employed by WordPress.com, so you can leverage Automattic resources to store your photos on servers around the world. The caveat here is that it most likely only store and serve images uploaded to your media library. If you have images in your theme’s folder, they may be ignored by whatever solution you use. You want to choose a theme that doesn’t store images in the theme folder, or they’ll just be forgotten. The’ll then show up on a Google Page Speed Insights report telling you they need to be compressed, but WP Smush only compresses images in your media library and not extraneous images in theme folders.

If you need additional custom image sizes, you can use a plugin like Simple Image Sizes to create additional settings for you to select when publishing posts/pages: https://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-image-sizes/

Here’s the link to download WP Smush:
https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/

Note: The Featured Image above is set to  624 KB and 1800 × 916. That means, it will size for most large screens and will automatically resize in mobile responsive for smaller screens. Compression will help the image load quickly on mobile devices.