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Shopping Online Safely

November means turkey, fall leaves and family for some people and for others is means (insert scary music here) the start of holiday shopping. Even with a list, a budget and the store circulars, holiday shopping can be daunting which is why millions of Americans choose to shop online instead. If you’re one of the millions then these tips are for you.

Use a secure website. When checking out of the shopping cart, look at the URL or address bar to make sure that there is an ‘s’ at the end of the ‘https’. This means it is a secure website that encrypts your information when processing it.
Check out as a guest rather than open an account so that your personal information isn’t saved. But if you do have to open an account with a password then remember the password rules – use eight or more characters with upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols to make it a strong password.

Check for coupons. Lots of online retailers will have percentage off or free shipping or more with a coupon code. This website lists hundreds of them

Check social media for information about sales, products and reviews.

Check the return policy so that your gift recipients aren’t hassled if the gift doesn’t work out.

Create a paper trail. Print a copy of the product description, the receipt and any emails the retailer sends you.

Be sure to sign out of you’ve signed into the website and close the website down when you’re finished. It’s also a good idea to close the browser after that.

To make things even easier and to definitely get free shipping, consider digital gifts. Send your loved ones gifts cards for music, books, restaurants, movies and more, purchased online to be spent online.

Enjoy shopping from the comfort of your home or office!

Tending To Your Website Like It’s A Garden

Flower on LaptopEveryone likes a well-tended, fresh looking garden. Most people don’t care for gardens full of weeds, dead flowers and old junk strewn around. If you think of your website like a garden and keep it fresh, then you’re more likely to reap the benefits. If your website has old or out-of-date content and hasn’t been touched since you built it, then your business will not benefit.

One of the major benefits of having a well-tended, up to date website is that you are helping the search engines to find your site. The search engines like websites that are changed often because it stands to reason that the changes in content will be what is relevant now and search engines want to put the relevant websites in the higher rankings. Neglected websites may fall in search engine rankings.

Another benefit to changing your website content regularly, especially with something interesting, is that you can link it to your social media campaign which leads to more chances for it to be discussed by others and for your website to get noticed. Links to your website from outside sources are called “inbound links” and these also get noticed by the search engines.

You can build your credibility by showing your customers that while you’re busy, you’re not too busy to care for your website and you are staying active in your industry because you continually add relevant content to the website.

Keeping your website content fresh isn’t difficult. Just like you check your garden regularly for weeds, check the content of your website regularly for key words that are out of date. Updating them, again, helps the search engines to find your website.
Also, create a blog – it doesn’t need to be posted every week, but it should include those important key words and links back to your website menu pages.

Add a news section. You may not have news to report regularly, but your industry might and it is just as relevant to your customers. Also, change pictures often. It makes things look fresher visually. Better yet, add videos! Short clips of your work, before and after shots or interviews with your staff make the website much more interesting.

Testimonials! Testimonials! Every website should have testimonials from satisfied customers. Testimonials add credibility and make for interesting content. Add a photo of the customer (if he/she is willing) or a video testimonial which will keep the user on your website for that little bit longer.

The more pages you have on your website increases the chances for the search engines to find you, but don’t just add for the sake of it. Add pages that are relevant to your business, your clients and your industry. Doing so will get visitors to come back, hopefully on a regular basis, to check for new content and updates. And don’t forget a call-to-action on every page!

A little tender loving care for a garden helps it grow. A little tender loving care for a website helps the business grow. Call us today 941.870.5343 or email us for a free consultation to help you look after your website.

Password Safety

Everything is hackable, it’s just a matter of time say the experts. Hackers now use ‘brute force’ meaning that they systematically check all possible passwords and keys until the right one is found.

Picture this scenario; Susie leaves her purse on the front seat of her car while she runs into the preschool to pick up her child. Mary takes her purse with her into the preschool. Opportunist Purse Thief is looking in the windows of the cars in the parking lot and he breaks Susie’s window and steals her purse because she made it easy for him whereas Mary did not. In cyberspace if Susie has an easy password like her child’s name and Mary has a hard one that she got from a password generator, then Hacker is going to hack Susie’s account because she made it easy for him.

Why make it easy for the hackers to get into your accounts?

It is recommended that you periodically change your passwords to your various accounts and to make them strong passwords to avoid being the victim of hacking.
Microsoft’s recommendations for creating a strong password are;
o Make it at least eight characters long, but longer is better.
o Do not use your real name or company name.
o It shouldn’t contain a complete word.
o Make sure it is completely different from previous passwords.
o Use characters that include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols found on the keyboard such as #$^*, etc..

Another recommendation is to use the first letters of a phrase and make small changes. For example, if you insist on using your child’s name and birth date then think of it this way; “my son Bobby’s birthday is August 3, 1998″. The password would then be msBbiA31998, but make small changes such as making the i an exclamation point and the eight a dollar sign so that it now looks like msBb!A3199$.

It’s not so easy to make them up yourself so there are a few password generators out there that do it for you such as Axantum, and it’s free!

It’s also recommended that you make all of your passwords different. In other words, don’t use the same one for each of your accounts. If someone hacks into one of your accounts then they can assume that that password may work in your other accounts because they know that we think it’s a lot of work to make up different passwords for different accounts. If you use the same password for your email that you use for your bank account, for example, then you’re just making it easy for the hacker to move onto all of your accounts.

Keeping track of all of the different passwords is a job in itself and probably the issue that we worry about more. Some of the members of Women with CLASS use a recipe box to hold written passwords. Others use a flash drive and still others use secure password keepers which are great because then you only have to remember one password to get to all of the others. A couple of those recommended are Keeper and Robo Form

Change your passwords and keep your information safe!

Responsive Design on Mobile Devices

Website Magazine (September 2014) recently published an article titles ‘Mobile Madness’. In it they quoted a number of interesting statistics such as….

  • The average person looks at their phone 110 times a day as well as up to every 6 seconds in the evening. (Daily Mail, Oct. 2013)
  • This year, the number of mobile devices in circulation (expected to be 7.7 billion) will outnumber the total world population of 7.1 billion. (PennyStockslab, Apr. 2014)
  • Apple’s total mobile e-commerce sales from 2013 amounted to $8.4 billion in the U.S.    (E-consultancy, Jan.2014)
  • Mobile has hit its tipping point as 58 percent of American now own a smartphone and 42 percent own a tablet. (Pew Research, Jan 2014)
  • Nearly one-third of all eBay purchases in the world included some type of interaction from a mobile device at some point in the transaction. (E-consultancy, Jan. 2014)

Need I say more in favor of all websites having a responsive design?



What-Not-To-Do on a Website – Part 1

“How-to” tips and hints are usually valuable to anyone working on any particular activity, but so are tips about what not to do. Here are some of our recommendations with regard to your website:


Forget your contact information! I’m not talking just about the ‘Contact Us’ page, but on your home page and every page make sure your phone number and email address is there. I’ve seen countless websites with no contact information on the home page so the user has to hunt around for it.

Require registration or filling out of a form to get information. Just like your website should tell the user what it’s about within 10 seconds of them getting on it, the information they’re looking for should be there too. Don’t make them ask for it or have to hunt around your website to find it.

Use tiny or fancy fonts.

Use animated ads, blinking text or sounds. Not only does it date your website but they are distracting. If you must have some music because that is your industry for example, make sure the user can stop it at any time and it doesn’t start up again when they click on another page.

Have ads and not enough content. Your user is looking for information. Even if you only have a small website for credibility/marketing reasons, give the user some information about you, your profession, the industry, etc., which brings me to…….

Have poor content. If you aren’t willing and able to write good content for your website then hire someone to do it – it’s worth it! Which leads to…..

Make spelling or grammatical mistakes if you do write it yourself. PROOFREAD!

Forget keywords! The search engines can’t find your site without those words in your content.