How to Evaluate a New Logo Design

Your logo is one of the most important elements of your brand communication. Choosing the right logo that best represents your brand can be confusing and frustrating. It’s always sad when I meet business owners who are having difficulty because their logos weren’t created well.

Poorly designed logos can be the result of two things: 1) the graphic designer didn’t have the knowledge to design a professional logo, or 2) the business owners insisted on a concept without fully understanding the impact. This article is for the business owner who hopefully has hired a professional logo designer. Read more

What You Need to Know About Hosts

In the past twenty years, I’ve seen good web hosts and bad web hosts. At some point, even the best of web hosts can have problems. After all, they are computers (problem #1) being managed by humans (problem #2). The key difference between a good and a bad web host boils down to two main issues: ease of use and customer support.

Some interfaces may seem obvious to geeks, but the rest of us are fumbling around trying to understand the vocabulary and find the right button to click. In addition, if I do need help because a website is having issues or I can’t figure out how to do “X”, I want support to be available quickly. Maybe I have high standards, but I also want my support to be friendly, easy-to-understand, and extra helpful. Oh, and honest. Yes, I’ve had hosting company support staff actually lie to me. More than once, sadly. Read more

What You Need to Know About Domains

Many people have questions about domain names and web hosts. Today I start a series of posts to answer the questions most often asked.

Domains

Your domain name is what people type into their browser to find your website. It is not your actual website but rather points people to the location where your website files are stored. Your domain name can also be used for your email accounts.

Because domain names are so important, you must register your domain name through an approved domain name registrar, like GoDaddy. Each year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will ask you to confirm the contact information in your domain registration is accurate and up-to-date. Read more

Hacked! Prevention & Recovery

If you own a website, the chances of being hacked are real. It happens to big companies as well as small, and most likely you’ve already been affected by a hack. As they say, there are two types of consumers: those who’ve been hacked and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.

As a website owner, a hacked website means lost revenue and even worse, loss of customer trust. This article will help you know how to protect your site from hackers and if you do get hacked, critical steps you’ll need to take to recover. Read more

Who *Really* Owns Your Website?

You’re way too busy running your business and in a rush to get your website up. Since you’re not very tech savvy and you’re preoccupied with your own work, you trust your developer to get your domain registered and get your site set up on a good host. It’s a very normal to leave it to your web tech to handle these tasks. I’ve done it myself for many of my clients. Perhaps I even did it for you.

In the early days of the web (I remember them well), it might have made sense. The internet was as ethereal as space exploration and only a few people knew how to navigate. I remember creating websites for business owners who had never used email. I even helped a couple people learn how to use a mouse.

These days, we’re much more comfortable with computers and most have at least a fair idea of how the internet works. Still, many still don’t understand the basics of website ownership. If you’re one of them, I’m about to enlighten you. Why is it important that you learn a bit of geek? Because you may be in a highly vulnerable position and not actually own your website. Read more

Top 10 Email Marketing Platforms

Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective tactics in digital marketing. There are a number of platforms to select from (and new ones popping up every day), making it difficult to figure out which platform is best for you.  While all platforms have pre-made templates so you won’t need to hire a developer to create a custom HTML template, but beyond that, their features can widely differ. Some of these options include free accounts, drip campaigns, integration with CRMs, drag and drop, etc. We’ve curated the top ten email marketing platforms for you to help you find the best fit for your needs and strategy. Read more

Proper Care & Feeding of Your WordPress Website

Your website is like your pet—it needs continued care and maintenance. Website content updates (the new posts, text, photos, events, etc, that you do regularly) will help keep site visitors and search engines happy. Yet content updates aren’t the same as technical care and updates. Technical updates are essential for a healthy, fully functioning website. Your website is built on thousands (and thousands and thousands) of lines of code. Even with regular maintenance and updates, you may still experience glitches.

Even if you’re a technophobe, I beg you not to glaze over the following information. If you own a website, you need to be a responsible website owner.

Read more

New Security Fixes

I don’t understand why people intentionally hurt other people. I watch the news and simply shake my head at the culture of terror and harm. It’s not something I like to dwell on.

Yet the nature of my work forces me to daily consider protection for my clients. Like many web companies, we love WordPress for is ease of use and great search engine optimization. Unfortunately, so do hackers. A couple of weeks ago, a new virus began moving through the web specifically targetting WordPress websites.

In an effort to provide the highest level of service to you, our great partners, we are now including improved security procedures and functions to every new website. This includes:

  • Changing the default User ID from “admin”
  • Installation of Password Encryption – This will encrypt the password dynamically each time you login. You will not be able to use your browser to save your login information. We apologize for the inconvenience but it’s a small matter compared to having your website hacked, yes?
  • Installation of Login Lockdown – This function will lock down any brute force attacks that occur by locking down the admin area after 5 failed login attempts. The admin area will remain locked for 1 hour for the offending IP address. If for any reason you do get locked out and need in quickly, contact us and we’ll attempt to reset the password or wait the designated hour.
  • Installation of back end security software – This software is installed to protect key files that are targeted by hackers.

Yes, it’s extra work but I don’t want you or me to wake up to a website hack. WordPress is a great website solution but requires perpetual vigilance to keep secure.

As a website owner, please be sure to install any updates available as these usually pertain to security. I also recommend you make regular backups of your site so if the unseemly event happens, you’ll be able to restore your website based on the most recent backup.

 

Better than 1,000 Words

We’ve all heard it before but it’s true: a picture is worth 1,000 words. While search engines can’t read pictures (that’s an article for another day), your site visitors can be magnetized by them. Or not. Bad pictures have just as many words attached as good pictures.

Here are some low-cost photo resources you may find helpful:

  • Flickr. These may or may not be free to use. Be sure to abide by the Creative Commons licensing for the photo you have selected.
  • FreeStockPhoto. Not the prettiest website but if you’re not too picky, you may find just what you’re looking for. Just be sure to give credit and abide by the licensing.
  • Dreamstime. You’ll buy credits to apply to photo purchases. Depending on the photo and number of credits you have, some photos can cost as low as $ 0.20. Crazy, but true.
  • iStockphoto. Like Dreamstime, you’ll need to buy credits to apply to photo purchases. iStockphoto has been around longer so has a bigger selection and their prices are a bit higher, but still extremely reasonable.

Your Message Needs Focus

Have you ever been to a website that had so much information on it you were lost before you could even get started? I’ve yet to hear a user say “I love cluttered websites”. However, website owners often feel that if they don’t put everything important on the home page, they will lose opportunity. And when I say feel, I mean driven. And when I say driven, I mean obsessed. And when I say obsessed, I mean maniacal. Get the picture? Now you tell me, how many maniacal people make healthy decisions for good communication?

If you’re a website owner, slow down and focus. Pick ONE thing–yes, I said ONE–that you want your site visitor to do as a result of coming to your site. Then drive 80% of your content messaging with that goal in mind. Make it easy for your visitor to do that ONE thing.

That leaves you with 20% of your messaging to address other website goals. It may be hard to believe but you’ll actually get more results by limiting your message.

Think of it this way. You walk into a room with a wall lined with shelves filled with shiny balls. Hidden somewhere in those shelves is the ball that will bring you the most sales. What is the likelihood that people will find the ball easily or perhaps at all? You’ve given them too many shiny balls to chase.

Now, walk into the room again. This time you see the wall lined with shelves but only 3 shiny balls are there, and one of those balls is really huge and has sparkles. Which ball will get the most attention?

Cha-ching!

Thanks to VideoHive for the photo. They’re a great low-cost resource for stock footage.