The “power of partnership,” a main theme at this year’s Inspire, Microsoft’s annual partner conference, transformed the event from a series of lectures and presentations into a unique opportunity for partners to collaborate and build solutions together. Traditionally, Inspire focuses on enabling partners and sellers to speak to the latest and greatest in Microsoft’s developments. […]
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Have you always wondered how to start a blog, but couldn’t get around it? Chances are you’re confused as to which blogging platform you should use for your blog. While there are many blogging platforms like Tumblr, Blogger, Medium, etc., our recommendation is WordPress. Started in the year 2003, WordPress is a free blogging platform […]
Building customer trust or obtaining customers’ confidence in your business website is a must. The best way to accomplish this trust is to install a SSL certificate. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are used to secure website pages when submitting necessary sensitive information. Sensitive information can be in the form of payment methods, online services such online banking, and account login websites. SSL certificates can also be used to gain an end user’s trust. Google has incentives for website owners to install SSL certificates for search engine rank benefits. When the SSL certificate is installed to a website, the URL will change from http to https. A padlock will appear in the URL address bar. This builds immediate trust with those visiting your site.
A Certificate Authority (CA), a trusted third party, generates and issues SSL certificates for websites. There are a variety of types of SSL validation levels. It’s important to be familiar with them to know which to install.
Below is a list of the different types of SSL certificates that can be purchased.
Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL)
Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL)
Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL)
Wildcard SSL Certificate
Multi-Domain SSL Certificate (MDC)
Unified Communications Certificate (UCC)
Let’s dive into each.
Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL)
The highest ranking and most expensive SSL certificate is an Extended Validation Certificate. This type of SSL certificate, when installed, will display on the browser address bar, the padlock, HTTPS, name of the business, and the country. Displaying the website owner’s information in the address bar will help distinguish the site from malicious sites. To receive this type of SSL certificate, the website owner will need to go through a standardized identity verification process to confirm the website owner is authorized legally to the exclusive rights to their domain. EV SSL certificates are used, in high profile websites, for applications that require identity assurance such as collecting data, processing logins or online payments.
Types of Browser Views with EV SSL Certificates
Chrome will show a padlock, HTTPS, the name of the business, and the country code in green font.
Firefox will show a padlock, the name of the business, and the country code in green font and HTTPS.
Microsoft Edge will show a padlock, the name of the business, and the country code in green font and HTTPS.
Safari will show the green padlock and the name of the business.
Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL)
Organization Validation SSL certificates’ main purpose is to encrypt user’s sensitive information during transactions. This version of the SSL certificates has a high assurance similar to the EV SSL certificate which is used to validate a business’ creditably. This SSL certificate type also displays the website owner’s information in the address bar to help distinguish from malicious sites. OV SSL certificates are the second highest in price. Commercial or public facing websites have a requirement to install an OV SSL certificate to assure that any customer information shared remains confidential. To obtain an OV SSL certificate, the website owner will need to complete a substantial validation process. A Certification Authority (CA) will investigate the website owner to see if they have the right to their specific domain name. Once the SSL certificate is installed, the business information will be displayed in the browser address bar.
Types of Browser Views with OV SSL Certificates
Chrome shows padlock, business name, country code and HTTPS in green font.
Firefox shows a green padlock, business name and country code in green font, and HTTPS.
Microsoft Edge shows a green padlock, business name and country code in green font, and HTTPS.
Safari will show the green padlock and the name of the business.
Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL)
Domain Validation SSL Certificate has a low assurance and basic encryption typically for blogs or informational websites. The validation process to obtain this SSL certificate is minimal. The process only requires for website owners to prove domain ownership by responding to an email or phone call. This SSL certificate type is one of the least expensive and fastest to obtain. The browser address bar will only display HTTPS and a padlock. The business name will not be included. If you do not need extra assurance for your website visitors, then you would install a Domain Validation SSL certificate.
Types of Browser Views with DV SSL Certificates
All browsers will only show a green padlock and HTTPS.
Wildcard SSL Certificates
Wildcard SSL certificates are used to secure a base domain and unlimited subdomains. Purchasing a wildcard SSL certificate is cheaper than purchasing several single domain SSL certificates. OV Wildcard SSL certificates or DV Wildcard SSL certificates are available for purchase. Wildcard SSL certificates will have an asterisk * as part of the common name. The asterisk * will represent any valid subdomain that has the same base domain. For example, the common name can be *.example.com. This SSL certificate can be installed for install.example.com, list.example.com, etc.
Multi-Domain SSL Certificates
Multi-Domain certificates can secure up to 100 different domain names and subdomains using a single certificate which helps save time and money. You have control of the Subject Alternative Name (SAN) field to add, change, and delete any of the SANs as needed. Domain Validated, Organization Validated, Extended Validated, and Wildcard SSL types are available as well. Here are some domain name examples that can be secured with just one Multi-Domain SSL certificate:
Unified Communications Certificates (UCC)
Unified Communications Certificates (UCC) are also considered Multi-domain SSL certificates. UCCs were originally designed to secure Microsoft Exchange and Live Communications servers. Today, these certificates can be used by website owners. This type of SSL certificate allows multiple domain names to be secured on a single certificate. UCC Certificates are organizationally validated and display a padlock on a browser. UCCs can be used as EV SSL certificates to give website visitors the highest assurance through the green address bar.
There is a great importance to having SSL certificates securing websites. Giving website visitors’ confidence in their safety is key to having a successfully website.
If a website has HTTP instead of HTTPS, then the browser will send all the information as plain text to the web server. If anyone is watching the web traffic, they will be able to see that information.
If the website has a SSL certificate installed and using HTTPS, then the web traffic will be encrypted. This is of great importance for collecting any customer’s sensitive information.
Lastly, Google has incentives for websites that have SSL certificates installed. And helping Google to rank your website higher should be at the top of your list.
Need Help Securing Your Site?
The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting at Liquid Web can help setup SSL Certificates on all of your sites and make sure you are secure. Check out all of our Security Essentials.
The post 6 Options for SSL Certificates to Secure Your Website appeared first on Liquid Web.
Redesigning is a big effort. The intent of redesign could be to improve content, design, product offerings, etc. to make your website more user-friendly, all in the effort to encourage more hits. However, while the purpose of redesign is to improve traffic or user experience or both, your website could actually see a decline in traffic right after the redesign. Although traffic drops after redesign is a general trend, a drop greater than 10% is worrisome.
Why does redesign cause a traffic drop?
In order to serve the new version of your webpages, Google needs to crawl and index them so a temporary drop in traffic is expected. However, if the drop in traffic is significant, it could need some fixing.
Redirects: Unless your URLs are exactly the same as before, failure to redirect old URLs to new ones can be the biggest cause of a traffic drop. This is because redirects inform search engines and browsers where the new page is and failure to do so will indicate to the search engine that the page has been removed or doesn’t exist.
The fix: Ensure your changed URL structure or your old pages are all moved to the new locations with proper redirects in place. You can log into Google’s Search Console, select Crawl > Crawl Errors and click the “Not Found” tab.
Pages without redirects will show up here.
Then, implement 301 redirects for your old web pages. 301 redirects tell search engine bots that your old URLs have been moved to new ones. With this, your traffic should be back to normal in a couple of weeks.
Site Structure/ Sitemap: Another aspect Google considers during indexing is your sitemap. If your redesign is extensive, such that your sitemap also changes, you’ll probably need a new / updated site structure to prevent traffic drops. A sitemap is a basic listing of all your web pages. Again, the Search Console can help speed up the crawling and indexing to restore traffic.
The fix: Create a new site structure with all the important pages in place. Try and keep the limit of pages to a maximum of 100. If you overshoot that limit, crawlers will consider a general overview rather than a complete listing.
Content: Redesign could mean improvements to content as well. However, the problem could arise when you forget to include content and keywords that either were on the old website or which bring traffic to your site. This again leads to a drop in traffic.
The fix: Give SEO priority. At ResellerClub, even though our website has undergone a couple of redesigns, we always ensure our SEO specialists are always included in the redesign process right from the start. An SEO specialist will help you identify keywords and advise on how to increase traffic.
Robots.txt file blocking: The robots.txt file lets search engines know which pages to index and which ones not to. It’s a good practice to disable the indexing when your site is under development / being redesigned. However, it’s important to update the Robots.txt file once your new site is live. Failure to do so will continue to restrict search engines from indexing.
The fix: Ensure your Robots.txt files are always updated before you launch your redesigned site. Keep a tab on which pages are allowed to be indexed and which ones are disabled by checking your files in a browser. In the address bar, enter your website domain name followed by /robots.txt. Once here, you will be able to view your files. Here’s what it looks like:
Keep these best practices in mind and you will see the traffic to your website restored. If you’re still seeing a drop in traffic, keep a check on Google Analytics which can give you some insight about where you’re seeing drop-offs. Check out these articles for more:
Getting the most out of Google Analytics – Part I
Getting the most out of Google Analytics – Part II
Getting the most out of Google Analytics – Part III
Comment & let us know if this helped!
Cardiff-based digital agency, Illustrate Digital, is a digital agency that specialises in WordPress development and user experience design. They chose WordPress for its simplicity and flexibility. During their eight-year journey, they’ve acquired clients such as National Theatre Wales, Admiral Insurance, Penguin Random House, Welsh Government, and more. As they’ve grown, they’ve come to realize the value…
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5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses
The summer is a slow time of year for most businesses, with many customers and clients out enjoying the longer days and extended vacations.
This makes summer the perfect time to implement new technology. With your business and employees less stressed by pressing deadlines and client demands, you can finally tackle some of those technology projects or updates that have been put on the back burner.
Bolster your tech before this season ends with these tech initiatives.
1. Digital Security
Big, high-profile business aren’t the only ones being attacked by cyber criminals. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses represent 58 percent of data breach victims.
Per the report, the majority of breaches (73 percent) came from outsider threats, while 50 percent came from organized criminal groups and 12 percent involved nation-state or state-affiliated actors.
To protect your business from expensive and damaging cyber attacks, it’s important to implement improved digital security. For example, if you don’t have an IT team, consider hiring consultants who can mitigate threats and monitor regularly for you.
Use the summer months to educate your employees as well. You may even want to start a cyber security series, sharing a new digital security tip for employees to learn and then follow each week.
2. Mobile Responsive Website
More and more consumers are accessing information and purchasing goods via their mobile device. According to eMarketer’s estimates, smartphone retail mcommerce sales in the U.S. increased more than 50 percent in 2017, to total $102.14 billion.
In order to successfully compete, it’s important for small business owners to have a mobile responsive website. This makes it easy for customers to find and purchase your products or services, or simply read about what you have to offer—which is, of course, step one in the buying process.
To do so, start with your development team. Is your website already mobile responsive? If so, head online and test it with a number of mobile browsers. What’s showing up wrong? What’s not working properly?
Better yet: do what the big tech companies do and “eat your own dog food.” In this case, that means requiring employees to only use your app or website via mobile for an entire week. You’ll be sure to come up with a long list of issues that need to be addressed.
3. Better Developer Training
Employee training is valuable for all employees, but especially those in tech-focused roles, like your development team. With technology changing at what feels like the speed of light, and more and more tasks on their plate each day, it’s crucial that they stay up-to-date.
As you look to improve your online training for this team, start by asking them what they want to learn about.
“If you haven’t asked your technical talent what they want to learn, you could be missing an opportunity to customize your learning strategy, and more importantly, to build your business. Your technical talent is often closest to problems that will produce cost savings and or increase sales, service or efficiency if solved. Therefore, they often know what they need to learn—so ask,” suggests DeveloperAcademy.io.
Use their answers, in addition to tech leadership preferences, to start searching for a better tool to implement the training they requested. Look for platforms that allow for customized lessons, dedicated implementation and ongoing development support, and gamification. All of these features make it more valuable for your employees, and easier to manage from your end.
4. Collaboration Tools
With so many companies choosing to hire remote employees, it’s become imperative to implement better collaboration and communication tools. This is the only way for teams to work together without being in the same office, and luckily, technology makes it easy to facilitate.
There are likely a number of collaboration and communication needs between your various employees. Consider onboarding a variety of the following tools to mitigate those woes:
Project management: Asana
Team communication: Hubgets
Organization of tasks and roles: Trello
Conferencing: High Five
Chatbots are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to converse with with customers or website visitors. They’re becoming increasingly popular within the small businesses community because they can help you save both time and money.
The experts at BusinessTown explain:
“Hiring a developer to build a basic bot is remarkably easy and affordable … Chatbots are [also] an affordable means of providing a better customer experience. They don’t take time away from otherwise busy employees and don’t cost much money to use.”
With chatbots, your business can run 24/7 without ever having to pay an employee overtime. What’s more, chatbots can help improve customer engagement and satisfaction as their needs and questions are being answered any time, day or night. Check out Impact’s list of chat bots to check out in 2018 to find the best one for your needs.
It’s Time for Tech Initiatives
Now’s the time to get started on the projects that make the most sense for your business. Pick the tech initiatives that will help you work faster and more efficiently, while mitigating issues you’re currently experiencing.
When your busy season comes around, you’ll be glad you took the time to make these updates now—and your employees will thank you too.
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The post 15 Creative Website Design Ideas appeared first on HostGator Blog.
15 Creative Website Design Ideas
Have you ever clicked through to a website and immediately clicked away because you didn’t like what you saw?
Maybe the website was too cluttered and it made the experience overwhelming. Maybe it looked like a website built in the 90’s and you worried the information would be out of date because the website design was.
Like it or not, website design matters.
Your website’s the primary face of your brand online and its design plays a key role in how your visitors experience the site. Incorporating smart and creative website design ideas gives you a way to stand out and provide a unique, positive experience for your visitors.
If you’ve been considering a web design makeover, but you haven’t decided yet what you really want, these creative website design ideas can provide some inspiration.
1. Make It Interactive.
Ideally, you don’t want a visit to your business website to be a passive experience. You want visitors to be engaged with the information on your pages. One way you can pretty much ensure that will happen is by adding interactive elements to your website.
This can include anything that gives the visitor the power to change their experience on a page by scrolling and clicking certain parts of it. One good example of this is the Nurture Digital homepage:
Instead of a typical menu, their different services are labeled alongside a cute animation. Scrolling over each option changes the animation slightly, and clicking opens up a page within the page that provides more information.
Even though the page is different than what people are used to on a homepage, it’s intuitive to figure out and still makes it easy to find all the information a visitor needs.
2. Use Original Illustrations.
An interactive site won’t make sense for every brand, but there’s a much simpler step you can take to make sure your website shows a unique brand personality. Hiring a graphic designer to create original illustrations for your website and content can help you develop a unified visual experience for your brand.
Illustrations that are in the same style and color scheme across the website will tie all the different pages of your website together visually and tell visitors something about your brand personality without them even realizing it’s happening.
This is a web design tactic we use here at HostGator. You can see a unified style between the images used on our homepage, our product pages, and our blog. Each one is relevant to the context on the page, but also fits in with the larger visual whole of the site.
3. Use Animation.
While it’s a bit more difficult (and costly) to achieve, animation can be another alluring way to create a memorable website experience. Adding some movement to the image on the page can draw people’s eyes and make them more interested in what they’re seeing.
The Rollpark website uses a mix of animation that’s constant when you’re on the page and some that’s triggered by scrolling. In both cases, it adds something visually arresting to your experience of the page while helping draw attention to the messaging the brand wants to get across.
You do want to be careful if you choose to use animation on your website that it supports the larger message you’re trying to communicate to visitors, rather than serving as a distraction away from it.
4. Incorporate Product Photos.
Let’s be honest, product photography often isn’t particularly beautiful or interesting. But it can be.
And if you take an approach to your product photography that makes it more artsy or attractive, you could make photos of your product the center of your web design.
People Footwear does a good job of this. By positioning their shoes in visually aesthetic and creative ways, they create images that both serve as good backgrounds for their homepage and communicate something about the products – and not just how they look, you can tell right away from the images that they’re good for activities like walking and tennis.
5. Use a Unique Font.
Most of us that aren’t web designers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fonts, but they have an effect on how we interact with different websites we visit. Choosing a unique font is a small way you can add some additional personality to your website and create a design experience that feels original.
There are a lot of resources online for finding new fonts and if you want to mix things up by using different fonts on one page, Font Combinations is a useful tool for helping you pick out fonts that look good together.
Caava Design uses a mix of different fonts to create a visually compelling homepage that tells you something about their style as a brand and as designers. The design all works together naturally enough that you might not notice the different fonts if you’re not looking for it, but once you notice you can see how well they all work off each other.
6. Make Your Content the Star.
If you’re putting a lot of work into creating high-quality content, then you want people to find it. One option for making your content more visible is to build your website around it.
Content-centric websites, sometimes called content hubs, put your valuable content front and center. They’re designed to make sure people easily notice the content options they’re most interested in.
Websites that are built to center content make the most sense for media companies that have a business model based on content or for brands that want to give high priority to their content marketing programs.
Makeup.com from L’oréal falls into the latter category. The entire website is focused on drawing attention to the content the brand has created around makeup subjects. People can also find the company’s products by scrolling down some, but they’re not the main focus of the website. The website clearly follows the content marketing principle of providing value first and promoting products later.
7. Leave Visitors Wanting More.
Sometimes less is more when it comes to great web design. If you can keep your main landing page simple but intriguing, it can make your visitors want to keep scrolling or clicking to figure out what the site is all about.
The restaurant Maaemo uses this principle. At first, the only thing you see on the website is the name (in interesting font, see tip #5) with a beautiful moving landscape in the background. The only clue at this point as to what the site is for is the “Book a table” in the top left corner.
You have to scroll down to learn that the website is for a restaurant that specializes in using natural, local produce as a way to help people better understand the local landscape and culture through food (which makes the initial image relevant to the brand’s positioning).
It’s beautiful and interesting enough to catch your attention from the first moment, but it makes you do just a little but of work to engage with the website and learn more.
8. Dare to Be Colorful.
While a minimalist style can be just right for some brands, for others your personality will be better represented by a burst of color.
Wistia’s website is full of vibrant colors, which makes perfect sense for an artsy brand that presents a playful personality.
You don’t have to limit yourself to a basic color scheme that just uses a small part of the color palette, as long as you choose your colors wisely so they all look good together, you can make your website stand out and make its mark by using vibrant colors.
9. Use (Silent) Video.
To start, let me be very clear that I don’t mean using loud autoplay videos. That creates a bad user experience and will inspire many visitors to quickly x out of the window and find another site to visit instead. But you can use silent video as a way to make the background image on your website do more by showing more.
Mediaboom does this by having a video in the background of their homepage that shows people working and browsing the web. It’s subtle enough not to distract from the positioning or CTA on the page in text (the most important font and CTA button are in yellow, while the video’s in black and white), but it does some extra work to humanize the brand and provide visual information about what the business does.
10. Make Your CTA Bold.
A lot of the web design ideas on this list are about providing an experience that’s visually interesting or unique. But it’s important that whatever else you do with your website’s design, you also make sure it does the main job you need it to: communicating what your brand is and what makes it special.
For that reason, you should make sure that your web design centers your main positioning. You want everyone that comes to your website to quickly learn what makes your business valuable.
Freshbooks does a pretty good job of this on their homepage. The first thing you notice when you visit is the big blue writing that tells you they provide “Small Business Accounting Software that Makes Billing Painless.” You know what their product is, who it’s for, and why people should use it.
11. Use Parallax Scrolling.
Parallax scrolling is when the website changes as you scroll down. Sometimes it’s the background that changes and sometimes your scrolling triggers animations. Either way, it makes for a memorable experience that gives the visitor a lot to look at as they navigate the page.
The Make Your Money Matter site uses parallax scrolling to let you control the pace of an animated story that makes the case for choosing credit unions over banks. It’s an intuitive and entertaining way to take people through an argument that might have sounded dry and boring if delivered in another way.
13. Make Your Navigation Fun.
Remember the “choose your own adventure” books you read as a kid? Getting to pick where the story went next was exciting. You can design your website to provide your visitor a similar experience by letting them pick the version of your website they want to see as they go.
This can be as simple as letting them choose which persona they fall into before delivering up the correct version of the website for them. Or it can be something more fun like the “choose your own adventure” experience provided by Lower Junction.
The site lets you choose between options like “Follow the Smell of Java” or take a “Tour of Moca.” Each option takes you on a different path of learning about the Lower Junction community in Toronto. It’s an innovative way to introduce people to an apartment community.
13. Use Gamification.
While this option won’t be a fit for every type of website, in some cases incorporating gamification into the design of your website can be a smart way to get your visitors more engaged and drive the kind of actions you want them to take.
Gamification involves providing a system of rewards in exchange for the actions you want your visitors to take – like in a video game. For example, you could devise a points system that adds up to discounts or upgrades.
Dropbox uses gamification to encourage users to start using the program more actively, and to share the program with other friends. In exchange, users get more space for free rather than having to pay to upgrade.
Gamification plays on the human desire for competition – even if it’s not against someone else. Feeling like you’re earning new levels and winning feels good. If you can create that feeling, you can get people to take action.
14. Pack More In With Mouseover Text.
We’ve established that clutter is a bad thing on a webpage, but sometimes you have a lot to say. Figuring out how to get all the most important points onto the page without making the page look too crowded is a challenge. One handy design feature you can use to solve this issue is mouseover text.
Stink Studio provides a collection of images with basic textual information over them on their homepage, but when you scroll over each, you get more detail on what you’ll see if you click.
That allows them to keep the website more visual, while still saying everything they need to.
15. Provide a Virtual Tour.
If your business has a physical location you want to give visitors a taste of, you can use a 360 virtual tour to provide a feel for what a visit will be like. Even if you don’t have a storefront, it can be a way to humanize your brand and staff for your visitors by bringing them into the headquarters where you work every day.
Virtual tours are a neat way to allow visitors a new way to interact with your brand and get more out of visiting your website.
Agora Gallery uses virtual tours to give website visitors a view of the art that’s likely to entice them to want to see it in person. For someone on the fence about making a visit, a glimpse of what they’ll see when they get there could be enough to tip them toward coming in.
What’s the Right Design for Your Website?
Providing a unique or cool experience is nice, but it should never be at the expense of your site being easy to navigate and clearly communicating what you do. Balance creativity with function.
Whatever creative web design ideas, or website builder tools you decide to use, make sure you always make it clear what your business does, why visitors should care about your brand and products, and what you want them to do next.
If you know you want to take your website design to the next level, but you don’t really know how to make that happen, HostGator’s web design services could be the solution you’re looking for. We can help you put together a website that’s optimized for search, looks great on mobile, and represents your brand effectively. Get in touch to learn more.
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We know you use LinkedIn Messaging to have a variety of professional conversations, whether it’s chatting with a teammate about work, discussing a job opportunity with a recruiter, asking a mutual connection for career advice, or sharing ideas with someone in your industry. These conversations can take a number of formats -- some more formal, others more chat-like in real-time, or in a group. To help make it easier for you to communicate the way you want, when you want, we’ve made some updates...
Productivity—it’s much sought after in the business world. But with our hectic working lives in full flow, how can you go about your day more efficiently? To help you along, here are 20 productivity-boosting tips you might have missed out on. #1 Limit your time in meetings Software development innovator Atlassian produced a unique infographic to
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Last December, Cloudflare announced the Athenian Project to help protect U.S. state and local election websites from cyber attack.
Since then, the need to protect our electoral systems has become increasingly urgent. As described by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the “digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.” Just last week, we learned new details about how state election systems were targeted for cyberattack during the 2016 election. The U.S. government’s indictment of twelve Russian military intelligence officers describes the scanning of state election-related websites for vulnerabilities and theft of personal information related to approximately 500,000 voters.
This direct attack on the U.S. election systems using common Internet vulnerabilities reinforces the need to ensure democratic institutions are protected from attack in the future. The Athenian Project is Cloudflare’s attempt to do our part to secure our democracy.
Engaging with Elections Officials
Since announcing the Athenian Project, we’ve talked to state, county, and municipal officials around the country about protecting their election and voter registration websites. Today, we’re proud to report that we have Athenian Project participants in 19 states, and are in talks with many more. We have also strategized with civil society organizations, government associations, and federal government officials who share the goal of ensuring state and local officials have the tools they need to protect their institutions from cyberattack.
Working with state and local election officials has given us new appreciation for the dedication of those who serve as election officials, and how difficult it can be for those officials to identify and get the resources they need.
Local election officials — like ordinary voters — are the foundation of democracy. They guard the infrastructure of our constitutional system. Many officials juggle multiple roles within local government. They may manage multiple election websites, with limited information technology staff. Yet they know that their community, and sometimes the entire country, is relying on them to protect election integrity from countless global threats against it. The Athenian Project is about giving these dedicated professionals the tools they need to fight back and secure their systems.
A county Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, who is responsible for a number of election-related websites, told us that election officials worry about drawing attention to themselves, for fear they may be targeted for attack. Although cybersecurity is only one of the many responsibilities on her plate, this official is determined protect the county, using all the resources at her disposal. But without dedicated information technology staff, she has had difficulty identifying how best to protect county infrastructure.
Cloudflare can help, with both tools and know how.
Benefits of Cloudflare services
Given the current threats, we think it’s important to provide more details about what our services do, and how they can help election officials. We’ve understood since the beginning that election websites would benefit from Cloudflare’s security features, including our DDoS mitigation, Web Application Firewall (WAF), IP reputation database, and ability to block traffic by country or IP address. In fact, reports of DDoS attacks on state and local government websites often get the most coverage because the impact — loss of service to the site — is visible to the public. Until our conversations, however, we did not fully appreciate how our services could solve other common problems for state and local government officials.
For election officials, the last day of voter registration and election day are often nerve-wracking events. Their websites can see more traffic in an hour than they’ve seen all year. For example, when the Special Election in Alabama in 2017 drew traffic from around the country, Alabama needed a distributed network and a CDN to ensure that the nearly 5 million Alabamians and everyone else in the U.S. could follow along.
Cloudflare’s other features can also help state and local election websites. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence summary of the 2016 election hacking attempts concluded that the majority of malicious access attempts on voting-related websites were perpetrated using SQL injection. Cloudflare’s WAF protects against SQL injection, as well as other forms of attack.
Recently, one of the states whose election websites are part of the Athenian Project was attacked and two non-election related websites were defaced. Website defacement occurs when someone who is not authorized to make website changes alters the content on the site, often changing the home page to display the hacker’s logo or other material. Although the state’s election websites saw a 100-fold increase in threat traffic, our WAF helped prevent a similar defacement on those sites.
For election websites that are not already running on HTTPS, Cloudflare can also simplify the process of transitioning to use of SSL. With Google Chrome’s new initiative to mark non-HTTPS sites as insecure, potential voters visiting non-encrypted voter registration websites will be warned not to enter sensitive information on the site “because it could be stolen by attackers.” That is not the message officials want to send to a public nervous about cyberattacks on election infrastructure. Adding a security certificate can be a daunting task for local officials without IT resources, but for Athenian Project participants, it’s available at the click of a button. Athenian Project participants who need help with certificate management are given dedicated, auto-renewed certificates to improve the security of their sites. Cloudflare page rules can then direct all traffic to the HTTPS site.
Lessons learned and new tools
We’ve also tailored the Athenian Project to better address the needs of those we are serving. So what have we done?
More tools: We wanted to provide more tools for those who want to learn about and set up our service. We’ve therefore revamped our website to be more intuitive to navigate and to provide more information. We’ve created a new, interactive guide discussing website protection and a short video sharing the experience of current Athenian Project participants.
How-to videos: There are videos to not only walk new participants through creating an account and transitioning their DNS servers, but also to provide best practices so that new participants can identify and turn on important features.
Support help: We have found that state and local election officials often have challenges at the onboarding stage that are best addressed through personal attention. We’ve therefore added support features — including Athenian-specific support — to increase the personal interaction we have with officials and to provide them an opportunity to describe their own situation and needs.
Set up flexibility: We’ve learned to be flexible with how we set up our service. While some counties were eager to leverage as much of the service as possible, including using full DNS delegation and dedicated certificates, others preferred to pick and choose between options. Depending on the circumstances for a given jurisdiction, we customize protection so they can use Cloudflare without needing to change the IT system for the whole state or county.
Athenian Project-specific terms of service: To address common government contracting restrictions, we’ve drafted an Athenian Project-specific terms of service.
We hope these new details will make it even easier for election officials to get access to tools that can help them fulfill their critical responsibility to protect our elections.
In November, every state and district in the country will hold congressional elections. Election officials — and all of us — want to make sure that voter information remains secure and that websites stay online as voters seek out information on polling places and voting requirements, and anxiously refresh results pages on election night.
The entire American experiment is built on a simple act: a vote. To work as designed, citizens must trust the electoral system, its strength, integrity, and the people who protect it. Cloudflare is proud to support local officials on the front lines of election security.
And we, like election officials, know that building a resilient system requires long-term commitment. We are committed to continuing to do our part to keep U.S. election websites secure in this election and beyond.
If you would like more information about the Athenian Project, please visit our website cloudflare.com/athenian.
One of the things we admire most about WooCommerce is its rich out-of-the-box functionality. A new eCommerce retailer can start selling in next to no time. They can focus on adding products and configuring their store without needing to install an array of extensions to add essential features. But including every possible feature would result… Continue reading →
SAN ANTONIO – July 19, 2018 – Rackspace today announced a strategic agreement with Delmar International Inc., a global leader in customs brokerage, freight forwarding warehousing, distribution and supply chain management solutions. Rackspace is focused on delivering true transformation as a service across applications, data, security and infrastructure. The company will spearhead Delmar’s digital transformation […]
The post Rackspace Drives Digital Transformation for Delmar International Inc. appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.
I’ve worked in federal IT for 10 years, and enterprise IT for nearly 20. In that time, IT has always been expensive; therefore, finding value has always been critical. But a strange thing happened when cloud became mainstream: cost savings became the de facto justification and impetus for cloud adoption. This is odd and ironic […]
The post Chasing Those Elusive Cloud Cost Savings appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.
Photo by chuttersnap / Unsplash
At the end of 2017, Xinhua reported that there will be 200 Million IPv6 users inside Mainland China by the end of this year. Halfway into the year, we’re seeing a rapid growth in IPv6 users and traffic originating from Mainland China.
Why does this matter?
IPv6 is often referred to the next generation of IP addressing. The reality is, IPv6 is what is needed for addressing today. Taking the largest mobile network in China today, China Mobile has over 900 Million mobile subscribers and over 670 Million 4G/LTE subscribers. To be able to provide service to their users, they need to provide an IP address to each subscriber’s device. This means close to a billion IP addresses would be required, which is far more than what is available in IPv4, especially as the available IP address pools have been exhausted.
What is the solution?
To solve the addressability of clients, many networks, especially mobile networks, will use Carrier Grade NAT (CGN). This allows thousands, possibly up to hundreds of thousands, of devices to be shared behind a single internet IP address. The CGN equipment can be very expensive to scale and further, given the scale of the networks, they might need to layer CGNs behind other CGNs. This increases costs per subscriber, can reduce performance and makes scaling very challenging. A further solution, NAT64, allows IPv6 addresses to be given to subscribers, but then translated to IPv4 addresses similar to other NATs. This allows networks and ISPs to begin deploying IPv6 to subscribers, a first step in transition to IPv6.
IPv6 IPv6 IPv6!
Announcements IPv6 address blocks from China Mobile. Source: Hurricane Electric
On June 7, China Mobile started to announce IPv6 address blocks to the Internet at large. At the same time, Cloudflare started seeing traffic being exchanged with China Mobile users over IPv6 connections.
IPv4 to IPv6 percentage of traffic as seen from Cloudflare to AS9808 China Mobile’s Guangdong network.
Throughout the past 45 days, we’ve seen more and more IPv6 address blocks being announced to the internet, along with very aggressive usage. Interestingly this all started on-or-around June 8th 2018 (seven years to the day from World IPv6 Day)
It’s natural to see traffic graphs like this go up; then down after a while. This could indicate there’s some testing still going on with the deployment. We fully expect that the traffic percentage will climb back up once this is fully rolled out.
It’s fantastic to see the IPv6 enablement! We congratulate China Mobile on their successful enablement going forward.
Sharing ideas, asking for advice, or showing what you do for work are just a few ways our members start conversations on LinkedIn every day. Having these types of conversations with your professional community is one of the best ways to give and get help, make new connections, and strengthen existing ones. We want to make this as easy as possible to help you reach other professionals who have similar interests. Here’s a look at some of the latest features and improvements: Add video captions to...
We’ve spent the last two posts looking at how you identify the real buyer of a project and then four ways you can woo the gatekeeper to talk to the buyer. Even with this information, sometimes you’re still going to get stuck talking to the gatekeeper. The thing is, that without talking to the buyer, you can never produce a winning proposal. If you can’t produce that proposal, you’re wasting your time.
Today we’re going to look at a few of the reasons you may not be able to convince the gatekeeper that you won’t provide more value by talking to the buyer. I’ll give you some tactics to use so that you can increase your chances of talking to the proper buyer on a project.
Need more help getting new business? Check out our Web Professional Community Resources.
They’re Not Impressed With Your Work
There is only one skill that a consultant must have to stick around for the long term. They need to know how to help their clients make smart business decisions. Are you equipped for that?
Do you know the difference between tactics and strategy? Do you know which one the buyer will want to talk about with a good consultant?
A buyer that takes you seriously as an expert will want to talk strategy with a consultant they respect. They’ll want to talk to you about their end goals and make sure that the tactics they are planning on using will fit with their end goal as far as you’re concerned.
Examples of Strategy vs Tactics
Strategy: Become the market leader of sales in the low end for our goods or services
Tactics: Offer discounts on products repeatedly. Offer reduced cost without reduced services for the first 3 years of a sales contract.
Yes, the project that you’re doing is often going to be a tactical one, but discussing the specific implementation details is not what you should be talking about with a buyer. You should be talking about how your work will fit in to their overall strategy.
Great consultants will even have extra ideas for a prospect that will help fulfill their strategic goals. Tactics and technical implementation specifics are what gatekeepers worry about because that’s what they deal with in the business.
One large company I worked for was building an intranet to share information across departments. When I talked to the buyer, we talked about how the data should be shared as far as the users were concerned. At no point did we talk about any technology, it was all strategy and goals. All they wanted to talk about was how the collaboration should work for the engineers using the system. Later on I talked to their IT department about the specific technical details. The IT department was interested in the specific tactics I’d use.
Make sure as you are producing a winning proposal that you focus around strategy.
It was Just a Fishing Expedition
It’s also possible that the whole reason they talked to you was so that they could pad out their proposal count for the purchasing department. When I worked at a non-profit we did this. We knew who we wanted to work with, but the board said that we needed three proposals to make a decision.
I sent out RFP’s to companies until I had two other proposals on the table. We glanced through them, but we were sitting down with the preferred company in our strategy meetings before we ever saw a proposal from them or their competitors.
If you talk to the buyer and they very politely send you back to the gatekeeper without engaging further in discussion, it’s highly likely that they aren’t going to choose you as their service provider. It’s quite possible that they are already talking to someone at a deeper level about the project. Hopefully this happens early in your conversations with them so that you don’t waste too much time.
Eight Questions to Always Ask to Produce a Winning Proposal
I try to weed these out before I even get on the phone by replying to every single request for work with the same 8 questions.
Why do you need X feature now and why is it more important than something else you could be building?
Have clients or internal staff been asking for X feature?
What would happen if we didn’t do X feature? What opportunities would be lost?
What will happen to your business when we finish X feature? How will it move your business to the ‘next level’?
How are we going to measure success of X feature? (time saved, more conversions to email, more sales…)
What is your time frame for completion?
What is the budget you have allotted for the project?
Who are the decision makers that will decide if this project moves forward?
If I don’t get decent answers to these questions, I don’t book a call with the prospect. Many of your prospects aren’t going to answer the questions and you should pass on working with them because they’re likely not your ideal client.
Don’t be Afraid of Setting Boundaries
Maybe you had a decent conversation with the buyer, and you even did a decent job of talking strategy with the buyer but you still got sent back to talk to the gatekeeper. Like I’ve said, this isn’t a bad thing if you’re working out a few tactical details, the problem comes when you’re sent to the gatekeeper for evaluating your proposal. It is difficult to produce a winning proposal with limited information.
As we’ve already talked about, the gatekeeper usually doesn’t have a deep enough knowledge of the business to understand if the proposal is high value. They can judge the technical details that the buyer may not know about, but the technical details are rarely what produce a winning proposal.
To build a truly valuable proposal you need to talk to the buyer. You need them invested in the project fully. You need them te spend their time and attention with you. For me this means that I always ensure that I get to present my proposals to the buyer of the project.
This may seem like a bold ask if you’re starting out in your career, but it’s crucial to make sure that you have the highest likelihood of winning the work. You build a process and set boundaries because they work. They help you produce the maximum value you can to your clients. Don’t be afraid of telling a client that you won’t produce a winning proposal unless you get to follow your process.
I take it as far as requiring that after I write the first draft of a proposal, we both work on it in a Google Doc. We collaborate to get it all right, and if they’re not willing to dig in with me on the proposal, I don’t go any further with the project. That means I never write a proposal if the prospect isn’t invested enough to collaborate.
By sticking to my process, I win 99% of the proposals that get written.
You Let Them Set the Agenda
Just like you need to have a process to build a great proposal, you need to take control of the calls that you have with your prospects. Top notch consultants have goals they want to accomplish in a call and they communicate them with their prospects.
Sample Email to Prospects
Before every call with a client I send them an email that looks something like this:
Hey Bob I just wanted you to know that at the end of this meeting I need these 3 things answered so that I can evaluate if we’re a good fit for doing business together.
My favorite clients are ones that are invested in the outcomes of a project. Ones that devote the needed resources. I’ll be looking to confirm that we’re on the same page here.
I always feel discouraged when my clients don’t get a good ROI on their projects. I’ll be wanting to confirm with you that there is a good ROI for you before we go any further.
I need to know that we’re on the same page strategically and can work together to get this project landed with success.
Do you have any questions you need answered by the end?
That email is what my prospects get a few days before our first call, after I’ve had them answer the eight questions above, and any other questions that came from their answers.
If you want to be taken seriously, you need to take yourself seriously and have a process you follow to build good proposals. That process includes how you treat every contact point you have with a prospect.
If You Can’t Get Buy In From The Buyer
The final question is, do you put in a proposal if you can’t get buy in from the buyer? My advice is, no. I put down a hard fast rule that I won’t provide a proposal unless I can get the buyer involved. Without their involvement I’ll never be able to produce a proposal that is highly valuable to their business, and I am unlikely to produce a winning proposal.
What You Can Do Instead
Instead of using your time on a proposal that’s unlikely to win, do these things to make sure that you’re positioned properly as an expert next time.
Dig deeper into understanding the difference between strategy and tactics so you can talk to buyers with more authority.
Build a client vetting process so you can make sure you’re working with people that fit you best
Build your brand so that you are the expert prospects are looking for.
If you can start talking strategy and have a solid process to use to weed out prospects and produce a winning proposal, you’ll start turning more prospects in to clients.
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Check out our Web Professional Community Resources. Or, you can subscribe to the Liquid Web Blog or follow us on Twitter.
The post Strategies to Produce a Winning Proposal when Stuck at the Gatekeeper appeared first on Liquid Web.
While WordPress offers users thousands of themes to use to launch a website as quickly and easily as possible, it does not disappoint those who would love to use an existing theme and still stand out from the crowd. This is exactly what most web professionals who want to set up their own website do through tweaking the CSS of their WordPress theme or template. Not to mention that custom WordPress themes are a great way for WordPress developers and designers to earn some extra income. If you’re looking for a way to break into this opportunity or just put your own stamp on your WordPress theme, this blog is for you. Let’s explore how to use custom CSS in WordPress.
How to use custom CSS in WordPress:
Directly in your WordPress admin panel:
WordPress lets you add your own CSS in WordPress to an existing theme to customize its appearance and layout in the following way:
Log into the admin area of your WordPress website
Go to ‘Appearances’ > ‘Customize’ > ‘Additional CSS ’
TIP : When you use the custom CSS option in WordPress, your modifications are preserved in the event that you decide to switch to another theme and revert again.
2. Modify your CSS in WordPress through plugins:
The main attraction of SiteOrigin CSS is the visual controls it provides while editing the CSS of your website. With a 5 star rating from 100+ users and 200,000+ active installations, the plugin seems very well-received by most users.
Cost : None.
2.WP Add Custom CSS:
This plugin lets you add custom CSS in WordPress selectively to individual parts of your website (such as posts,web pages, etc) or of course to all of it.
3. Absolutely Glamorous Custom Admin:
Want to customize your WordPress admin dashboard? Use this plugin to tweak that CSS code.
Use this plugin to tweak your admin area including the login page, menu, backend colours, add custom content like images and text and also the tweak the CSS.
If you look at nothing but the resources offered on these 2 pages, you’re good to go !
Know your sources
Site Design and Layout
CSS Generators: Resources to make web design a lot easier!
If you think you need a little more help, check out this CSS tutorial from W3 Schools.
We hope you found this blog on ‘how to use custom CSS in WordPress’ informative. Did you find using a plugin easier or the custom CSS feature in the WordPress admin dashboard? Let us know! Also, if you’re looking for a WordPress Hosting package, check out our WordPress hosting built on the cloud that is designed to deliver the maximum performance for your WordPress website.
User-friendly is a phrase we use to describe well-made, impressionable websites. At its core, user-friendly is an all-encompassing phrase that declares features within a website easy to use. A website that is user-friendly is intuitive, leading the user on a journey that is absent of friction and requires very little thought from its visitors. The…
The post 4 Easy Ways To Make Your Site More User-Friendly appeared first on WP Engine.
As of the beginning of July 2018, cPanel introduced a new update that added an extra layer of security to its users’ hosting accounts. When accessing SFTP, you are now required to enter an SSH key in addition to your username and password. If you are having trouble with your secure FTP access, and have […]
The post How to generate a SSH key in cPanel appeared first on Name.com Blog.
The post How Do Search Engines Work? appeared first on HostGator Blog.
SEO 101: How Search Engines Work
So much of your business depends on being visible in the search engines. You’d like to try to understand this thing that has so much power over your success.
But figuring out how search engines work can be really confusing. And it’s not just you.
There’s a whole industry based around trying to understand which sites rank for which reasons, and even the information we do know is changing all the time.
We can’t provide an extensive rundown of how the Google algorithm works for you (no one can), but we can provide some basic information on how search engines work that may help remove some of the mystery. Here are a few of the main things you should know.
The Search Engine’s Goals
The first thing to understand about how search engines work is that their priority is providing the best possible results for what the searcher is looking for.
When it comes to the natural results, the search engine is not concerned about how much a particular website owner might want to grab those top spots or think you deserve it – they only care about the people searching.
By providing the information people need, a search engine can ensure those people keep coming back to use the site again. We know how well that’s worked for Google – many of us use it every day.
That primary goal leads into the secondary goal that generates the company’s profits: making money on ads. Businesses pay to advertise on search engines in large part because they know a huge number of people use them every day. As long as Google keeps its users satisfied and coming back, advertisers will continue to keep the company profitable.
So the search engine’s main concern is therefore how to make sure the results it delivers provide the most useful information for the consumer’s query. That’s where things start to get complicated.
Search Engine Index
For a search engine to be able to identify the right web page for every possible query (or come as close as possible to such a lofty goal), it has to have a record of all the possible web pages online, along with some understanding of what’s on each of them. To do that, search engines create a massive index of web pages.
This index attempts to identify and organize every website and web page on the web in a way that allows it to draw connections between the keywords people search for and the content included on each page.
On top of all that, it needs to be able to assign relative quality to different web pages that cover the same topic. This is tricky since all of this is happening with machines. People have a hard enough time agreeing on what constitutes “quality” content, but search engines have to determine it based on factors that machines can measure objectively.
The first challenge of creating a search engine index is identifying all the web pages out there.
This part of the job is up to website crawlers. Each time a website crawler discovers a page, it crawls the page, collecting all the relevant information on it needed for the search engine index. With that page added to the index, it then uses every link on that page to find new pages to crawl.
Website owners can speed up the process of getting a website crawled by the search engines by submitting a sitemap and using internal linking. This is the easy part.
Search Engine Algorithms
The second challenge of the search engine index is the much more complicated one: attributing relative value to all of the web pages.
If the website crawler finds 100,000 pages that include content on them it deems relevant to a specific term, how does the search engine decide what order to deliver those results in?
That’s where the search engine algorithm comes into play. Engineers at each of the big search engine companies have spent untold hours developing a complicated algorithm that uses a number of factors to assign relative value to websites and web pages.
While there are many different factors that go into determining exactly why one page will rank over another – many more than we can summarize here, and more even than the greatest SEO expert knows – we have an idea of some of the most important search engine ranking factors Google and the other search engines take into account:
Links – Links are the most important ranking factor, especially external links (those that point from one site to another) because every time another website links to yours, it signals to Google that there’s something authoritative or valuable on the page being linked to. When a web page that has a lot of other websites linking to it links to another site, that link is even more valuable because of the high authority the website already has. While everything else on this list matters, a LOT of determining rankings is based on the number and quality of links that point to a website.
Website age – Older websites are generally seen as being more trustworthy and authoritative than new ones.
Keywords – Search engines are always trying to provide the most relevant results, so they look for terms on the page related to the query of the person searching. The more you use related keywords, the more it signals to the search engine that your content is relevant.
Mobile usability – Google has been upfront about using mobile usability as a ranking factor. If your website looks awesome on desktop, but has never been optimized for mobile use, then it could hurt you in the rankings.
Page speed – People are impatient and therefore so are the search engines. A slow-loading page will rank lower because of it.
Behavior data – Google tracks what people do once they get to the search engine results page (SERP). If someone clicks on a page and immediately backtracks – that’s a signal that the page didn’t provide what they were looking for. If instead they spend time on the page or even click through to different pages on the site once they get there, then it shows Google that the site provides value.
Google and the other search engines have provided some information about the ranking factors they use, but they generally keep pretty quiet about how their search engine algorithms work. They don’t want people trying to manipulate the results – something that’s long been a problem with black-hat SEO practitioners.
Search Engine Optimization
While there’s definitely a lot we don’t know about how search algorithms work, everything we do know has come to form the basis of the whole field of search engine optimization. SEO is competitive and you’re limited in what you can do to grab the rankings you most want for the keywords relevant to your business, but there’s still a lot you can control and do.
Our series on SEO basics will dive deeper into some of the ranking factors you can control and how to optimize your website to perform better in the search engines. Check back soon for the rest of the series.
Don’t miss the rest of the articles in our SEO 101 series!
How to Write Compelling Title Tags
Writing the Best Meta Descriptions
What’s the Best URL Structure?
Website Architecture Best Practices
Want to boost your website rankings? Get expert help with HostGator’s SEO services.
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