Is your website professional?

The World of Web Design

A website has become the bread and butter of most companies.  Of course, social media helps out, but the optimum tool for business is the company website. 

A Website represents who you are, what you are and where you’re going.  You may have a physical office in a high rise, or on your grandmother’s kitchen table, the real work place of today takes place at the keyboard and what is presented on the internet; the real workplace is your website.

As a business your website is your lifeblood as it represents your identity, your public image and the company philosophy.  This is done with a well written, well presented Website:  informative with easy navigation having just the right number of pages, colors and images and all digital device friendly. 

To attract and keep your visitors, and all device friendly Website must:

Have a great design.  Themes are very useful to make this happen; they can be a good start to a great ending.  The best way to assist your designer is with good communication and a written plan.  Great websites take time to capture the look and feel you want to express, have patience.

Be Easy to Navigate; Looks are just part of it.  It’s essential that your visitor can find the information you’re giving them.  Some websites are so complicated and chock full of information it may take several minutes of reading and clicking links to even figure out what they are offering.  Great websites have everything the visitor needs; only a click away.

Include a search bar.  It’s always a plus when someone can search quickly.

Be Responsive:  Your website needs to be responsive to the device it’s being viewed on.  In other words, you must be able to view your site as intended on any device your visitor is using.

Include a Contact Page and all the ways you would like someone to contact you for sales, information, and support.

Have clear and relevant images and maybe some animation.  Images add to the story you’re telling; the right image can send the right message.  Moreover, a bit of animation can exalt your visitor interest.  Your designer must keep in mind the loading times; the designer knows to optimized everything. 

Use good integration with other tools you might be using.  If you take money by PayPal, use a shopping cart, update your inventory or issued support tickets, everything must work together.  And how do you manage all those customer interactions, have a CRM management tool.

Offer a mailing list that complements the business you’re in.  A mailing listwill create customer loyalty.

Include Social Media, share your posts automatically on your website to links to your social media pages..

Be secure, with an installed SSL certificate.  This is something your web designer or hosting company can do. Https is the current website security standard between a web server and an Internet browser.

A great website should not have:

A poor loading speed:  Everyone is always it a hurry, there’s a lack of patience.  No one wants to wait for information, and a slow loading website is no exception.  Test the loading speed of your website (i.e. https://gtmetrix.com).  A good rule of thumb, your site shouldn’t take more than 3-4 seconds to load.

Errors or broken links.  As with anything else your website should be tested for broken links and verified that the links take your visitor where they should go.  You can use https://www.brokenlinkcheck.com to check.

A Great Website might consider adding

A Chatbot: it’s always nice to be immediately addressed.

Breadcrumbs so your visitor can easily backtrack their steps or jump directly to a place they want to be.
Google analytics and a heatmap so you can see the pages most visitors read and interact with first, last and in-between.  They help you understand your users better.

Animations 

SEO, aka Search Engine Optimization, allows people to easily find your website.  A good set of keywords and optimized images and content.

A good place to transform your website into a Great Website: Dundee’s Digital Web Leprechaun!

Secure your website in 2 easy steps

Keys to Security

Install SSL

  • Currently, website security, the standard security technology between a web server (and/or website) and an Internet Browser is an encrypted link established by SSL. When an SSL certificate is installed on a domain it is visible by the HTTPS:// instead of HTTP.  The added S indicates that the website is using something called Secure Socket Layer or SSL.
  • SSL in simple terms is a digital travel permit that guarantees the confidentially, authentication and integrity of website communication with any web browser.
  • SSL creates a secure encrypted connection between the browser you’re using and the web server your domain lives on.
  • SSL provides an element of security for your web site visitors as it encrypts entered data so it can be shared securely with other websites.

Besides encryption over the web, SSl establishes a trust between you and your customers.  When a web owner purchases an SSL security certificate the issuing agent verifies who you are.  And then there’s the browser police who will tell a visitor if the site is secure or not secure. 

Speaking of browsers, did you know not having an SSL certificate affects your SEO ranking. If you site is ranking not secure, give us a call.

Use Strong Passwords:

Do you login the back end of your website to update pictures and text?

Keep Passwords Secret

Do you login to your phone, your tablet and computer? 

And then there’s individual applications you might use, iTunes, your bank, grocery shopping, you doctor…  What do they all have in common? the transfer of information over the internet.

Make this connection more secure by using passwords that matter, passwords that are complicated and not easy to discern.   Some pointers on passwords:

  • Don’t reuse passwords
  • A different password for everything.
  • Don’t use patterns, like 1234
  • Use phrase passwords, not one word.  Turn this into a password like:  T@rnThi$288s
  • Size matters, make your passwords at least 12 characters, like my above example
  • Change your passwords every 3 months or so
  • Don’t write them down in plain sight or put them on an excel spread sheet on your computer.

And finally, make sure your web hoster scans your site for malware and viruses.   Verify there is a recovery process if your website is attacked and brought down.

And it doesn’t hurt to be proactive.  Make sure your plugin’s, if using WordPress, are up to date, check your website often for broken links and other issues.

Best Practices to Follow to Assist the Visually Impaired Website Experience

Websites are designed to be aesthetically pleasing.

A Website is created with an idea and comes alive with color and content. Websites are planned, from the font to footer, navigation, links, and images. The content pulls everything together, followed by search engine optimization. SEO collects website analytics and can be used to determine who visited, from where and when.

You hope all your website visitors enjoy the colors, images, and content that took many hours to create. But alas, not everyone will have the same experience. Some visitors will be visually impaired in one form or another, which may limit their enjoyment of visiting your site.

How then, can you develop a website that is appealing to everyone? Is easy to navigate and considers the physical impairments that some web visitors may have?

Design for the worst-case scenario.

We all realize not everyone is blessed with good eyesight. Even with the aid of glasses, contacts, and surgery. With different degrees of eyesight affliction, it may be difficult to consider all of them. Therefore we will consider the most common low vision.

Low Vision:

as defined by medicineweb  “A visual impairment, not corrected by standard glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, that interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities.”

The nature of low vision may change the way your website is perceived because of different visual acuities. People with low vision will have a more comfortable time on your website if you consider:

  1. The Contrast ration, as defined by Wikipedia as the ratio of the luminance of the brightest color (white) to that of the darkest color (black) that the system is capable of producing. Accordingly, a good contrast ratio is 4:5:1. When the background color and letters vary its best to select solid colored letters. Gradients with the top being lighter than the bottom. Is difficult for the reader to see unless a thin black outline is placed to keep the contrast between the letter and the background color.
  2. The scale of text. Consider using bigger sized letters without going off the scale of the screen at 100%
  3. Link color for people with low vision or colorblind uses a link symbol (or underline) to indicate a link.

Other visual issues which may affect your website visitors experience;

  1. Tunnel Vision. Only certain elements are visible to the visitor, as their peripheral vision is limited.
  2. Blurred Vision, images and text will be fuzzy.

Keeping the visually impaired in mind, monitor settings and browsers include settings to change the visual presentation so the elements of your website are more usable and enjoyable.  Changes can include text size and contrast.

You can change the settings, but should you:

Even with these settings available, it may not be feasible to change settings, therefore there are best practices to follow to assist the visually impaired:

  1. Start with the layout of your website by having structure This includes a layout that provides spacing between the website elements. W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium) is an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C states “developers must ensure that their code provides a structure that is independent of presentation.”  This would include tags and separators for the headers and paragraphs so varying devices will understand the information. Therefore causing it to display in a different way than the actual webpage.
  2. Did you ever put an image in a website without alternative text?  For those who have vision issues images may not be clear or seen at all.  To interpret the image in lieu of seeing it, alternative text attributes describe the image to the visitor.  The detail of which is left to the web designer.
  3. Do not exchange color for information.  For example, a link in red to a color-blind person will go unnoticed.  Use visual cues instead, such as an underline or icon.
  4. Stay away from using shades of a single hue.
  5. Contrast is important, if not used with the recommended ratio (at least 4:5:1) some people will not be able to see a text from the background it is on.
  6. Navigating around your site will be easier if you use a navigation menu.  Browsers for the most part offer one-click keyboard functionality Combine the two with a keyboard shortcut legend

On the internet, you will find hundreds of tips for designing a website for the visually impaired, including plugins for WordPress,

Have a question or comment?

The Continual Evolution of WordPress

At one time the WordPress (WP) platform was synonymous with blogging.

That was a while ago. With the continual evolution of WordPress, this simple blogging platform has become a versatile content management system. Blogging continues to be a big part of the WordPress platform, but WordPress website development and WP mobile applications are taking over the lead.

WordPress is naturally easy to use, flexible and friendly. Its popularity continues to grow, and it does just about anything you would need it to do. With that in mind, look around the Internet, you will find more and more web developers turning to WP as their platform of choice. Websites from the BBC to Variety and everything in between has opted for a WordPress site.

The WordPress advantages:

  • WordPress is free. Its open source, there are no restrictions or licensing issues using or modifying it.
  • Free WordPress themes can be found to develop any type of business or venture you can think of.
  • Supported by 100’s of free WordPress plugins (apps), your site should do anything you want it to do.
  • To run a WordPress site all you need is a website hosting company like DWLI.
  • Its community software, no one owns it but several people contribute to it. Support for themes and plugin’s is free.
  • Did I mention it’s very easy to use.
  • Free tutorials and videos.
  • Search engine friendly.
  • Safe and secure.
  • Supports a variety of media: audio, video, images.
  • You can embed files, such as Instagram and YouTube.
  • Manage files and documents.
  • And there’s so much more…

WordPress continues to grow day by day.  It’s user-friendly, with the ability to be all that it could be.  Each update to the WordPress platform improves its performance.  It’s becoming the most popular feature-rich hosting platform around:  Sign up today to experience the most versatile web platform available.  And check out our free themes too.

Does WordPress work for Gutenberg?

To Gutenberg or not?

The WordPress update 5.0 promises major changes on the horizon with the introduction of the new WordPress editor, Gutenberg. The release date is soon, but unknown.  We all wait in anticipation for the new WordPress 5.0.

The WordPress 5.0 update will change the current style editor to a content block editor. An editor with a name, Gutenberg. Chances are if you are a WordPress user you have heard rumblings and complaints about Gutenberg, but what is it? Are your sites ready for the new update?

As it stands right now the content editor most commonly used in WordPress is the Tiny MCE editor.   The Gutenberg editor not only expands upon the current editor but it also fundamentally changes the way content is made.  Both post and pages will be made using a block format, meaning content can be added one block at a time. Creating content in this way reduces the difference between the way content looks when it is being made versus when it is live on your website.  It also expands the current editor’s functions:

For example, there will be a content block for tables. No longer will you need Tablepress or other plugins to fill in the void left by the previous editor.

The current blocks available are:

The tables below are an overview of the current blocks available as well as possible embeds.

COMMON BLOCKS FORMATTING BLOCKS LAYOUT BLOCKS WIDGETS
Paragraph Pull Quote Separator Latest Posts
Image Table More Categories
Gallery Preformatted Button Shortcode
Heading Code Text Columns
Quote Custom HTML
List Custom Test
Cover Image Verse
Video
Audio

The embeds available are: 

Embeds
Twitter Animoto Meetup.com SmugMug
YouTube Cloudup Mixcloud Speaker
Facebook CollegeHumor Photobucket TED
Instagram Dailymotion Polldaddy Tumblr
WordPress Funny or Die Reddit VideoPress
SoundCloud Hulu ReverbNation Vine
Spotify Imgur Screencast WordPress.tv
Flickr Issuu Scribd
Vimeo Kickstarter Slideshare

Are you ready for Gutenberg?

As with most things the theory is often better than the reality. Currently, it’s been found that Gutenberg will introduce some complications to WordPress, causing some current content, content from plugins, customized editors or page builders, and themes to break.  The best way to determine if anything on your site is going to break during the new update is to try out the Gutenberg editor before the update occurs.

Currently, the Gutenberg editor is available as a plugin on the WordPress 4.9.8 update. Once downloaded, you will see a callout to try Gutenberg. I recommend creating a staging site that is an exact copy of your live site to try it.  This, of course, will prevent any issues to your website if something breaks.

Once a test site is created and Gutenberg plugin is installed, spot check the front end of your site. Make sure the theme has not broken, and all the content using plugins are still present.

Next, is where the fun part comes in, create a new post or page using the new editor. Test any and all of the current blocks and embeds. This will let you know what works and what doesn’t. This also gives you a glimpse into the block style content builder. After you have familiarized yourself with the editor you should attempt to edit a previous post.

Gutenberg in action:

Gutenberg claims to be backward compatible, however, in my personal experience this is where most of my sites have broken instances and find it best to recreate the old content then try to edit them.

Currently, Gutenberg is in the second stage of development and welcomes all feedback. Once you have tested your site and documented everything with screenshots, you can offer feedback to the development team. This is crucial for them to know so they can address the problems before the release of WordPress 5.0.

You can access the Gutenberg support page here:

https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/gutenberg/

What can you do once WordPress 5.0 is released?

If you find that the update breaks your site it will be possible to disable the Gutenberg editor by adding a plugin called “disable Gutenberg” this will restore the familiar editor. However, this will only be a temporary solution: eventually, the Gutenberg editor will be standard for WordPress.

You can find the above-mentioned plugin here:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/disable-gutenberg/

Remember Change is (suppose to be) good.

We Will We Will Secure You!

Website Security With Digital Web Leprechauns Advantage:

Keeping your private information private in the internet age is extremely important. As a website owner, you want your customers to feel confident that the information they provide to you is kept secure.  That being the case, the best way to offer your customers this is the addition of an SSL Certificate.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL Certificate also is known as a “Secure Socket Layer” is used to:

  • Confirm the identity of a website.
  • Encrypt information sent to the server.

To work properly an SSL Certificate authenticates the

  • Name of the holder of the cert
  • A unique serial number
  • The expiration date (certs need to be renewed)
  • A copy of the holder’s public key
  • The digital signature of the issuing authority.

Once an SSL Certificate is successfully added to the website the URL will reflect this in the prefix, the Http will become an Https. As a result of this authentication process, the data being sent from the website to the server cannot be intercepted by an improper server.

Who needs an SSL Certificate?

Probably every website since there has been a significant change by the browser “police” in how a non-secure website connection is treated.  As a consequence of this browser “policing”, the current version of Firefox returns a warning if that you are not connected over a secure connection. (HTTPS) in the web site’s URL, in fact, does not have SSL installed.

So, you need an SSL. Should You get a shared dedicated one?

Different SSL certificates are available, shared and dedicated. A Shared SSL is added to a server and can be used globally on that server to secure any sites. In fact, it is generated for the hostname of the server and may cause a certificate warning message pop up on your site when used as it won’t matching the domain name(s).

Shared SSL Certificates maybe
  • Low cost.
  • Must be renewed frequently.
  • May reduce website loading speed.
  • May not be as safe as you would like.
  • Should never be used for a payment website.
Dedicated SSL

A dedicated SSL, on the other hand, is added directly to your website and is not available for other sites to use.

  • Costs can vary from $10’s of dollars to over $100.
  • Allows you to maintain your website URL.

To some this change of URL is acceptable,  however, if you have a large following changing your URL in any way will affect the way you conduct business. If the change of URL is unacceptable for your business, you may require a dedicated SSL.  In contrast, this will allow you to maintain your websites URL, however, there can be a large cost associated with a dedicated SSL. In addition to the increase in cost for a dedicated SSL, your site may also require a dedicated IP address. these are the most secure choice when dealing with an e-commerce site that requires credit card information be exchanged.

Should you update your own WordPress site?

WordPress is cool!

It was developed by a group of developers. They made it free and open sourced. WordPress seems to be in a constant state of change. Each time the program is updated with a new release, things happen. Bugs get fixed. New Features are added, and overall performance is improved. In the meantime, the bad people of the world are busy writing bots and code to break into WordPress sites. Only to be stopped by a new release which fixed a vulnerability – if you didn’t update your WordPress site, well you might be hacked and of course, you’ll be missing out on any nifty new features.

You might think, “gee my site is working great, I’m going to skip the new release”. Think of updating anyway, as WordPress grows in popularity, it has become a popular target for hackers, malicious code writers, data thieves and those who dare to make a name for themselves on the dark web. With this in mind, don’t give them the playground they need, leaving your WordPress site open without the latest updates.

Open Sourced doesn’t mean safe:

Remember this platform is open source, therefore, anyone can see and use the source code. Subsequently, this can be to your advantage, by creating a new feature or your disadvantage, by creating a new hack.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of good hackers out there too, which means security updates are totally necessary as new hacks are routinely discovered. More importantly, it’s not just WordPress that’s exploited, it’s the plugins too.

This means, yes you must, update those plugins too.  In fact, this may need to be done daily. Once in a while a plugin and theme will not agree, and something will stop working.   This happens if you updated the plugin and not the theme, or the plugin developer wasn’t following safe coding, so back up your site before you do anything.

Backup, plugin’s updates, theme updates, it doesn’t end.  And all that time.  Check out our WordPress Maintenance package, we take the Worry out of WordPress.

How to Choose a Domain Name

What’s in a Domain?

Your domain name is going to be the front door to anyone searching for your products and services on the Web.

The key to any online presence is the domain name. Choosing the right name that meets your company’s overall business and marketing needs typically requires some time and research. Here’s a list of a few things you should consider when choosing your domain name:

Choose the Right Top-level Domain (TLD)

The extension you see to the right of the dot (welovecats.com) is just as important to what’s to the left of it (welovecats.com). Learn more about TLDs to help you choose the right one for your business – Verisign powers several reputable extensions like .com and .net:

With more than 15 years of reliability, .com is the foremost trusted domain and where customers want to do business online.

An established domain with a strong legacy, .net validates your online business.

You can engage the world with your .tv domain and let them know it’s your channel, your passions, your stories.

Establish your online presence in a creative and memorable way with a .cc domain name.
Make it easy for others to learn more about you with a .name domain name and create the perfect place for promoting your personal profile, your interest, your links.

Be Creative

Your domain name should be memorable! Try creating your own word by compounding two whole words (YouTube), blending parts of two words together (Microsoft), tweaking a word (Tumblr) or using a phrase (ImLovinIt). Also, remember you don’t have to use your company name as a domain name, try your slogan or product name!

Know Your Audience

When it comes to choosing a domain name, consider what tone is appropriate and will resonate with your target audience. For instance, will using slang words be advantageous or disadvantageous to your business?

Length

Don’t be afraid to have a longer domain name. In fact, the average domain name is 13 characters long. Descriptive names that are naturally longer in length can be memorable and great for branding. Some businesses even add in location or other words that help to describe their business in their domain names.

Hyphens

Domain names with hyphens can open the possibilities of what is available to you. Though you should take into consideration where you place the hyphen. It is best practice to place them at natural word breaks, as it will make it easier for a user to remember your domain name.

Ex. We-love-cats.com vs. w-elovec-at.com

Don’t Forget to Check Trademark Issues

To avoid infringing on a trademark, double check the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and do an online search of your proposed name to avoid legal issues in the future.

Consider Alternate Spellings of Your Domain Name

When registering a domain name that has more than one possible spelling, try to register all variations of the word to help ensure your customers can easily find your business online.

Consider Registering with Other TLD Extensions

Once you determine the domain name you like is available (welovecats.com), consider purchasing the same name but with other top-level domains (welovecats.net, welovecats.cc, etc). Then redirect those extensions to the original domain name to help protect your brand in the future.

Using the tips provided above, brainstorm a list of possible domain names you want to secure for your business. Then check the availability with our register a domain name tool.

Online Presence

Hello, are you there?

True or False? Having an “online presence” means your company has a website.

Surprisingly to many, the answer is false. “Online presence” simply means the different ways you represent your business on the Web. That’s right – there’s more than one way to create your company’s online identity besides a website. And they range from free to low-cost options that require little to no technical expertise.

But before you can employ an option, you’ll need to make an important decision first. The first step to creating your own online presence is the domain name. Determining the right domain name that your current and prospective customers can trust is vital – learn more in the article How to Choose a Domain Name.

Once you’ve chosen and registered your domain name, it can be leveraged in one of the three following ways. And these options are not inclusive to one another and can be set up in any order. That’s a great benefit of registering a domain name – it gives you the control to scale your web presence as you grow without the risk of losing customers.

Domain Forwarding

Setting your domain name to redirect to your social media business page, an e-commerce site, or an online directory listing.

With over a billion people using social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, and e-commerce sites like amazon.com, etsy.com, and ebay.com, redirecting your domain to your company’s social media or e-commerce site is a great way to initiate an online presence. Best of all, this simple technique requires little to no investment, easy set-up and enables you to see the benefits immediately because of the built-in base of potential customers.

Using your domain name as your company’s email address.

This inexpensive yet effective option is a great way to build your brand and look more professional to the outside world. Using a company branded email address like yourname@yourcompany.com bodes well – 90% of consumers surveyed said that they felt more comfortable dealing with a small business using a company branded email than with those using a generic email account like Yahoo or Gmail.

Company Website

Creating your company website with your domain name.

This option offers the most control of how to market your business and enables more marketing opportunities. In a recent survey of millions of consumers, 56% said that they would not trust a business without a website.

And in a poll of small business owners worldwide,

72% of small business owners choose their company’s site as their primary online presence.

Four out of five would recommend a website to other companies in their industry.

Three out of five agree that a website is critical for success.

And contrary to popular belief, creating a website can be simple, relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain.

Eventually, we would recommend you to support all three options in the future, but getting started with at least one is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, the most important outcome is that your company is represented online in the way you want.

Just remember: whether you’re looking to build your brand or bring in more revenue, having an online presence will help you achieve your goal

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