I’ve gotten some questions from people asking exactly what tech is used on the Expat website, so I thought it would make an interesting blog post to cover what we use and why.
The Expat website runs on a WordPress CMS with the Genesis theme. I wanted a WordPress website because I wanted something that I can add to, make some changes to and not need to know HTML code, or have my web developer do everything for me. WordPress is super simple and with the different plugins and themes there is a lot of customization possible. Also because of all the themes and plugins already made, I don’t need to re-invent the wheel since there are already so many things out there that can just be used with the website that don’t need to be coded from scratch.
One of the biggest used plugins for the site is something called Shortpixel. What short pixel does is it takes the images I upload and compresses them to the smallest size possible without losing any noticeable image quality. Already with only the few images a new website has its already saved me 144mb in size. That compression does 2 things. First it greatly reduces the amount of hard drive space needed, and second it takes a lot less time to load the pages when people visit this site. Some of the original images used were as much as 6.5mb, and often after size adjustments and compression I see a 90-95% reduction in file size. They also have a content delivery network (CDN) which pushes out the images to you faster by having these images on servers all over the world. This means that if you are not accessing this website from Europe where it is hosted the CDN shaves further time off the load times of the web pages by having it on a server closer to where you are in the world.
Keeping with images, I do most of the sizing of the images with a website called get stencil. They’re fantastic at letting me import images, make changes to them with filters, or adding text, or any number of things as well as having pre-set sizes for different applications. Blog images need a specific size, as do Facebook or Instagram images. With this tool I can create an image for 1 size and when its perfect I can save it. Then I select another size and make a change if needed, then save it again. In a very short time I can create multiple sized images that I can use for a number of different things. Its a huge time saver.
I can get royalty free images to use from get stencil, but they don’t have a lot of great ones. I’m able to get the bulk of my royalty free images from another website called unsplash. They have a ton of great ones. Usually I find what I need pretty quickly, then download it and make any sizing or alterations with get stencil and I’m all set.
There are some occasions where royalty free images just wont cut it and I need to actually pay for an image or 2. For this I use another image site called depositphotos. They have pretty reasonable prices, but they run a sale on another website a few times a year so you can get all the images you need for only about 50 cents each. Its really a lot more reasonable than many of the other image sites, and they have a fairly easy to understand license, which is hands down why I use them over another site like shutterstock. I don’t have time to get a law degree to figure out the legalese of there license.
For website automation we use something called Gist. Its not really doing anything at the moment because there isn’t really much traffic now. Eventually what it will be used for is to send out automated emails when I get content funnels set up. Currently it only adds people to an email list and sends them a welcome aboard email. It can also be used to sent out a newsletter as often as I have something interesting to tell people about. What this can do is really a lot of cool things that I just have not had the time to figure out and set up yet. It will be heavily used someday as the site grows to help manage lists and other tasks.
Another tool I use that most people are not even aware is on the site is on called Influence. This lets people know how many others have been on the same page as they are within the past 7 days, or how many have signed up for the newsletter or whatever we specify it to do. Its really only active when people use the site, and since we’re growing it hasn’t seen much use yet. Someday.
This is a basic overview of the things that I use most often now, or things that were at the top of my head. In the next post where I cover the tools used I’ll cover the tools that will be used for social media.