Why and How to Prepare Your Website for Holiday Traffic

holiday traffic

Would you go into the holiday season without preparing if you ran a physical store?

No, of course you wouldn’t.

It’s just as important to get set for the holidays when you’re selling online.

In November and December 2016, online sales hit over $110 billion.

If you want a share of that cash, then you need to make sure that your website is optimized for the increase in visitors.

Don’t let increased holiday traffic be your downfall.

Why is it so important to prepare for holiday traffic?

A website that isn’t properly prepared for the increase in hits during the holiday season could face all sorts of problems.

You might deal with:

  • Too many visitors causing your site to crash
  • Pages loading slowly and putting customers off
  • Slow checkout processes causing customers to abandon their carts

That’s not what you want during one of the most crucial sales periods, right?

Right. So here’s how to stop it from happening.

Check your current speeds

Before you start making changes or assessing the effects of increased holiday traffic, you’ll want to get an idea of where your site currently stands.

There are a few methods for this:

  • Test the site yourself, and ask yourself if it’s fast enough. Use multiple devices, including PCs, mobile phones, and tablets.
  • Use free site speed testing tools – just Google ‘site speed checker’ and take your pick.
  • Pay for user testing. This is valuable for assessing user experience on your site, as well as loading times. A trained tester will record themselves while browsing your site.
  • Sign up for a service that notifies you when your site is down and gives tips on a resolution.

If any issues come up, take these actions before moving on.

Boost your hosting plan

Most eCommerce stores start off on the most basic hosting plan.

That’s understandable, since it’s the cheapest and might work fine most of the time.

However, as your business grows, and during busy periods, you might find that you need to upgrade.

Check your current usage with your hosting provider, and upgrade to the next level if you’re worried about hitting your limits during the holidays.

This ensures your customers won’t be hit with a pesky ‘site unavailable’ notice at a crucial moment during their purchase.

Update your theme and plugins

If you’re using WordPress, make sure all themes and plugins are 100% updated, and keep checking back regularly for new versions.

Out of date plugins can slow down your site, create errors for visitors, and may pose a security risk, making you vulnerable to hackers.

That’s not what you want during the holidays.

No matter which provider you’re using for your site, it’s crucial to keep everything up to date.

Cache your content

What’s caching, you ask?

Well, in simple terms, it means that when customers browse pages they’ve already visited before, they won’t have to wait as long for content to load.

Cached images will show up immediately, leading to faster speeds overall.

Add caching plugins to your WordPress site and they’ll do all the work for you – all you have to do it sit back and enjoy your speedy site.

This step is really important if you have lots of images per page or use very large images.

The holiday season could be the most profitable period for your online store.

Don’t let a poorly optimized website lose you valuable holiday traffic.

Start preparing today.

How to Fix Slow-Loading Images to Boost Performance

loading time

To keep your website attractive to consumers and up to date, it needs to be easy to use. Not only should the interface make sense, but your design should also be appealing and interactive.

For sites who have those two things, that’s great!

But what if even a well-designed site isn’t loading fast enough to make users stay on it? If the design doesn’t load quickly, it doesn’t matter if it’s high quality. No one will wait around to see it.

If your site is having this issue, don’t lose hope. Here, you’ll explore what can be done to fix slow loading images and boost your site’s overall performance.

Test your Site

If there has been an unexplained drop in web traffic lately, it’s worth running a few tests on the site.

These are available for free and will help identify if there’s an issue and what it is. Checking a site often is worth doing even if it’s experiencing great web traffic. If any problems were to arise, it’s best to catch them before they start affecting consumers.

Quick Fixes

There are still lots of ways to fix this issue. Their difficulty and pay-off will all vary. Quick fixes are easier since they don’t change anything in your website code.

Is this Image Necessary?

It’s worth noting that your website needs images. They catch people’s attention and provide information without taking up valuable word space. That being said, not every image needs to be displayed on your site.

The first and easiest solution to slow loading images is to get rid of some. The fewer pictures a site has, the lighter the page will be. This means it will load quickly. Use data from your website to determine what images are worth keeping and which aren’t.

For example, is there a specific page that customers leave quickly or don’t stay on as long? It might be because it has trouble loading. See what on that page can be taken off without sacrificing key information.

For those who are attached to these images, you don’t have to get rid of them for good! An easy solution is to take those pictures and use them as Instagram or Facebook content.

Consumers like to see different images than the ones they see on your site. Plus, this way you’ll have that much less content you need to produce. Customers also like it when websites keep them safe from hackers. Don’t know how? Check it out here.

If you don’t feel like getting rid of or re-purposing your images, don’t lose hope. Resizing pictures is another option.

Resizing Pictures

The quality of pictures can make a big dent on web page weight. The better quality it is, the heavier it will be. Downgrading picture quality sounds like something that will lower your overall web experience — but it’s not.

Keep in mind that when consumers load the site, it’s very unlikely that everything is displayed exactly as it was designed. Differences in computer processing and display change the way websites are presented to their audiences.

Additionally, over 50% of people are now accessing websites from mobile devices, which are less capable of loading high-res images. When we consider these facts, resizing your site’s photos seems like a worthwhile sacrifice.

At first, try going down one or two resolution levels then checking the results on both a computer and a mobile device. Since this image is familiar, it may be hard to see the difference.

To stay objective, show someone who is not aware of the downgrade in resolution the changes. If they can’t tell you’ve made a change, then you’re on the right track.

Then, test the speed of the site at the new resolution level. Hopefully, it will have made an obvious difference. If not, you may need to go down another level or consider a more complex solution.

Code-Based Fixes

If the fixes we looked at before weren’t enough to make a difference, then you may need to edit your site code. There are changes you can make to your code that will help with your image loading.

Not all of these coding changes will make your images load more quickly, but they will provide some improvement.

Simple Image Lazy Load and Fade

Simple Image Lazy Load and Fade is a JavaScript technique that was developed by David Walsh. This coding change changes the way that images load. Instead of the image being white until it’s fully loaded, it will have a fade-in effect.

With this change, consumers are able to see what the image will be — or at least know that the site’s design isn’t broken.

Progressively Enhanced Lazy Loading

If the site having issues has a lot of photos that are necessary for its functionality, there is this coding solution from Robin Osbourne. It works by loading the images at the top of the page first. Then, it will only load the later images if the user scrolls through.

This method tricks browsers into thinking that the images are on separate pages, so the page weight is dispersed.

Blurred Image Effect

Similar to the fade in effect, this coding change shows a blurred version of images to consumers as they load. Many sites are now using this method. This is because it gives the consumer confidence that there will eventually be something to look at.

However, this solution will take some serious code changing. It will have to be built into your code and developed for your specific site. The other two are coding add-ons. This means that you might need the services of a professional in order to get it to work correctly.

Many large and successful sites are using this method and it seems to be working for their customers. Don’t let the cost or workload of this method be frightening if it seems like the right choice for your site.

Well, functioning and well-designed websites are the most important things for keeping traffic steady. The second most important thing? Keeping customers safe from hackers.

 

Laugh Out Loud: 5 Writing Tips for a Humor Site

man and woman laughing over phone

So you’d like to write a funny blog, or at the very least, spice up the blog you’ve already got with a little more humor. After all, blogs are not just there to inform but also to entertain.

The only problem is, you’re not sure how to get started. Maybe you consider yourself a funny guy, based on others’ reactions. Or maybe you’ve been told you’re not that funny and you’d like to get some help.

Well, no problem! Here are some tips that can help you decide what to write about in a humor blog, or how to punch up a serious blog with a little levity.

1. The Unusual and Unexpected

A lot of people mistake shock comedy for the funniest type of comedy but all humor does tend to be based in eliciting some sort of surprise reaction from people. Think of slapstick.

Modern humor is a little more complicated than that, especially when it comes to the written word. But we’ve all had absurd “wtf” moments enter our lives out of nowhere.

Think of something that happened to you or someone you know, some anecdote that seemed really bizarre but still ended up okay. Cultivate a taste for the weird and learn how to spot it in everyday life.

2. Metaphors and Similes

A great way to punch up your writing with humor is to draw exaggerated, absurd comparisons between one set of circumstances and another.

Metaphors and similes often get confused: When you make a direct comparison between two things, that’s a metaphor, but when you say one thing is “like” another or “as” another, that’s a simile.

Wordplay, in general, is a great idea, but try to be witty about it: you shouldn’t use puns, for example, unless they fit the situation and the word perfectly. Bad puns are called “groaners” for a reason.

3. Sarcasm and Irony

These are two concepts that often get confused as well. Sarcasm occurs when you feel one way but pretend to feel the exact opposite; irony is what happens to all of us when life decides to reveal something we didn’t previously know.

Rain on your wedding day is not ironic, unless you’re marrying a meteorologist who insisted on having the wedding outside. If you sing “You Are My Sunshine” to her at the reception, that’s sarcasm.

4. Parody and Satire

Also confused at times, even though they form the backbone of a lot of today’s comedy. The “Family Guy” Star Wars episodes, for example, are parody: they take a sometimes loving, sometimes biting approach to something everyone loves.

Satire usually has a larger point to make about society itself. Think of the hilarious fake news site “The Onion” and all its many terrible imitators.

5. Quotes and Anecdotes

Finally, if you’re out of ideas, or you want to lighten the seriousness of your original ideas with some humor, you can always try funny quotes and anecdotes. Both work best when the subject is something people take pretty seriously: for example, football quotes or political anecdotes.

Again, you’re looking for an unusual or out of the ordinary situation or reaction.

So there you go!

Five pairs of ideas that can jumpstart your comedy blog or improve your serious one. Your tone can be as absurd or deadpan as you want it to be, but it’s your tone and you need to set it.

Laughs make your content memorable… and no matter what your blog is about, it’ll keep folks coming back!

What You Need To Know About Managing Your Digital Marketing Budget

digital marketing budget

In this day and age, marketing is all about dominating the digital space. According to Forbes, over the next five years, businesses in the United States will spend 120 billion on digital marketing alone.

Yes, you read that right. 120 Billion. With a “B.”

This spending shows the direction marketing trends are taking. With all that money swirling around, it’s important that businesses employ sound strategies to manage their marketing budgets.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best strategies your company should be using to manage your budget smartly.

Budget, Plan, Forecast, and Actual

It may seem obvious, but many businesses overlook this essential, yet ever important step.

Using a three-pronged approach to managing your budget is a surefire way to ensure you spend your money wisely and that you’re on track with expectations.

Your budget dictates where to allocate funds over an extended period, such as a year. It should be directly inline with your goals. Once you set your budget, it should remain untouched. Knowing that priorities change, you now introduce the planning portion.

The planning stage is where you can make changes and indicate where you need to spend more or fewer funds. Planning allows you the flexibility to grow with the changing business environment. This part of your budget is perfect for quarterly planning.

The “Forecast” portion is where you input what you actually spend on each area. You should update this mid-month, and when the month ends, you change this over to “actual.”

Using this strategy helps keep a clear focus on spending and your needs as they change.

Diversify Your Budget

Diversifying a marketing budget is an excellent way to make sure you’re hitting all the vital areas for growth.

A good rule of thumb to start with is the 70/20/10 rule.

This rule dictates that 70% of your marketing budget is devoted to tried and true methods. This area would include strategies or products that have a proven ROI time and time again.

20% of the budget should be allocated to safer bets, perhaps products that are newer on the scene but shows real growth potential.

10% is devoted to experimental channels, ones that with some risk, may lead to significant payoffs.

By employing this strategy, you are making sure you’ll hit your marks monthly, quarterly, etc. but also leave room for expanding and getting in on new and profitable trends.

Feel free to change the percentages around, as this is just a general guideline. Do what works for your business and risk tolerance.

Check In Often

Any successful business will tell you a budget should not only help manage your money but provide important insight as well.

To fully utilize the knowledge your budget can give you, you need to check in often. Experts suggest checking in on your spending middle of the month, end of the month, mid-quarter, end of each quarter and yearly.

By taking full stock of your corporate accounting, you can avoid surprises and adjust accordingly.

It’s also important is to analyze your ROI by employing services such as Google Analytics to make sure your methods are working, and that you’re on target.

While just one of the strategies can help you better spend your marketing money, using them in conjunction with each other is an excellent way to maximize your ROI potential.

Use these three strategies for managing your digital marketing budget, and you’ll be sure to have wisely spent your portion of that 120 billion over the next five years.

 

How to Merge Animation With UX Workflow

motion design

The goal of any business is to make the customer experience as seamless as possible. Understanding the customer’s wants and needs is necessary to create this seamless experience.

Did you know that incorporating animation can help the user experience? When do you know the right time to use animation in your UX workflow?

We’re here to help. Read on to learn how to integrate animation to improve your workflow.

What are some of the benefits of animation?

You may be wondering how the use of animation can help users have a better experience. The first key is to understand what the user needs help with understanding. Any type of animation that you incorporate should be valuable to your customer.

Here are some ways that animation functions:

  • Clarify information for the user
  • Direct the customer to the appropriate place
  • Easily help the user navigate through a system
  • Communicate the brand’s message

In order to better incorporate animation, you’ll need to know exactly what issues the users are facing. You’ll need to do some research to clarify the most important user needs. For this, you have to speak directly with users through interviews and tests.

Ask questions such as:

  • Are you having trouble focusing on the platform?
  • Do you understand what the data is telling you?
  • Do you know what to do next?
  • Are you aware of the most important pieces?
  • Do you like to use this tool?

You may also need to use a CRM system that will provide you a better understanding of the customer.

Integrate Motion Design into UX Workflow

Now that you’ve done a bit of research and understand how animation can help, you need to learn how to place animation into your UX workflow.

Align

You already know what your users need in your design. So now you need to make sure that you’re incorporating them in a way that will be useful for the user.

Think of how it will help the customer as you go through your design workflow.

Design

Whether you’re using a storyboard or a sketch pad, you’ll need to start designing your animation. You can then share this information with your team to get feedback.

Prototype

Before your final product, you and your team members will want to see how the animation will play out in real time. Creating a prototype allows you to showcase your ideas before you spend the time and money on the final product.

There are a few approaches to your prototype. The one you decide on depends on the type of animation and your time schedule. Either you can use a fully coded prototype or a simple prototype that won’t take much time or effort.

Test

While your prototype is important, you’ll also need to make sure that your users, the ones who will actually be using the design, will be satisfied.

Choose a group of testers who will be aligned with your target audience. You’ll then conduct a test run through and have the users provide feedback. This feedback will be used to adjust in areas that users don’t find valuable.

Conclusion

Understanding a customer’s needs is imperative when you’re adding animation to UX design workflow. It requires a lot of research and testing in order to get everything right.

While it may be a process, providing your customers with the best possible experience is the most important result.

How have you incorporated animation into UX design? Let us know in the comments.

5 Web Design Tactics to Help Your Business Thrive

web design tactics

Did you know that there are around 8.4 billion connected devices in use today?

Known as the Internet of Things, this phenomenon means that at any given moment, it’s not difficult to find someone on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop — or even all three at once.

As such, the online, e-commerce marketplace is thriving. Businesses around the world are clamoring for as many clicks and conversions as they can get.

Standing out in this competitive landscape can be difficult without a dynamic and engaging web presence. Today, we’re taking a look at five web design tactics that can help companies stand out and get noticed.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

1. Responsive Design for Any Screen

Nothing turns a customer away like a website that looks great on a widescreen laptop but is clunky and difficult to maneuver on a mobile device.

One of the most important steps a company can take to optimize its web design is to use a responsive layout. This is one that adjusts to the device it’s on, so users have a consistent browsing experience every time.

Achieving this design requires utilizing CSS and HTML to adjust the page so it’s viewable on any screen. Navigation should be simple, scrolling and resizing should be minimal, and all content should be easily viewable.

2. A Focus on Search Engine Optimization

Showing up in search engine queries is a valuable way that companies can build their online presence. It can also help draw more relevant visitors to their website.

The practice of strategically designing a website and other online deliverables to boost a company’s search ranking is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

To boost SEO, web designers should focus on ensuring all website content caters to and enhances the user experience.

Images should be dynamic and engaging and should load quickly. In addition, images can be affixed with meta tags to make them more searchable.

3. Intuitive Site Navigation

Studies show that consumers now have an eight-second attention span, shorter than that of a goldfish.

One of the reasons why? Thanks to the digital age, they have access to virtually any data they want, when they want it, and they don’t have to wait. This desire for this instant access is the reason

This desire for this instant access is the reason tech stocks are booming, automation is on the rise, and smart devices are smarter than ever before. Customers demand fast-paced access and industries around the world are responding.

So, if they hop onto your website and find it difficult to locate the information they need, they know that a similar offering is only one click away.

Thus, it’s vital to ensure that any user can quickly and easily figure out where to go on your site to find the information they need.

Pages should be clearly marked and categorized. In addition, search capabilities should be highlighted, and sidebar menus should be strategically located.

4. Social Media Linkage

A website is only one element in a company’s overall online marketing strategy.

Many are also opting to incorporate social media platforms as well. This allows them to engage with consumers and prospects in different, interactive ways.

As such, it’s important to include social media links or plugins in your web design and to make them prominent on the page. This is especially important if you have an active presence on these sites.

After all, three out of four consumers consult social media before making a purchase decision. Also, 60% interact via social media with the companies they patronize. Making sure your accounts are visible is the first step toward building that essential relationship.

5. Adding Navigational Capabilities

More than 65% of consumers now use their smartphone for step-by-step navigational directions, relying on it as a GPS system.

If your company has a brick-and-mortar presence, consider adding navigational tools such as Google Maps to your web design. This can help prospective customers find and reach you more easily.

It can also help your company rank higher on search results within location-based searches such as Google+Local.

Design that Converts: A Customer Focus

There are many ways to optimize your website to attract customers, convert prospects, and encourage loyalty.

Successful brands will be those that strategically leverage technology to make their company shine brightly — and their customers brighter.

5 Reasons Logo Design Is Important For Your Brand

You aren’t sure if your business needs a logo?

You might think that you do not have the budget to pay for a logo either.

However, one of the most recognizable logos did not cost the company a fortune, and it should not cost you either.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that you always have to pay a lot for logo design. Fortunately, there are free resources that allow you to give logo design a try.

Why should anyone spend their valuable time making or buying a logo?

The answer is pretty simple: images tend to hit us harder than business statements or mottos.

Think about your favorite brands

Now think about their value proposition.You probably do not have a clue about it. Now try to remember their logo.

That was easy!

It is easy for your potential clients to think of you when you show them a strong image to associate you with.

A logo is what makes you stand out and be remembered. Many companies use logos as the central element of their marketing strategy.

Think about MacDonalds and Apple. How often have you seen their logos in their marketing campaigns?

The swoosh from Nike is iconic.

People think of the swoosh more than they think of the name Nike, simply because their logo encapsulated all their values in one picture.

It is almost hypnotizing how one swoosh can already make you picture success. The big “Just Do It” is empathetic with all of us who find so hard to leave the couch and trade it for jogging in the park.

Having a poorly designed logo can make you look unprofessional. However, not having one at all is worse.

Without a logo, you are practically invisible.

You make it harder for your prospects to think about you, and to associate a certain service or product with you. Additionally, since most people are looking for convenience, they will choose your competitor.

It is not convenient for the human brain to remember something that did not leave a particularly big impression.

What isn’t a logo

You probably think that learning a little bit about logo design can push your brand forward. And it can, in the right context.

However, your brand and your logo are not identical. Your logo is a visual representation of your brand.

For example, color, font, and overall design send a message about your intentions.

Like your wardrobe, the way you present your brand trough a logo sends a certain message to your audience.

Deciding how you should portray your company is a strategic move based on a number of factors, such as what feelings you want to convey when your prospects see you, what are their pain points, who is your audience, etc.

Your logo design strategy should be focused not on making the logo the most visually appealing, but on making it strike a chord with your audience.

For instance, let us take Nike’s logo as an example again.

The logo itself is fairly plain looking. There is nothing special about its design.

However, it can make people think of getting things done, by “just doing it”, as if they would swoosh trough all the obstacles that stop them from reaching their goal.

Make sure your logo is indeed the representation of your business’s core values.

If you want to find out more about how logo design can positively impact your business, read on.

1. Make them feel like they know you

If you are running a business, you know how hard it is to convince your prospects that you hold the solution to their problems.

You can use logo design to leverage your competitions by making your audience think of you first.

As I stated previously, companies without logos are invisible. A good logo design can make you stick in your audience’s mind if you strike the right chord.

A lot of businesses do not place a lot of a value on their logos to help get them clients. There are a lot of investments in the sales team, in copywriters, customer service, etc.

All of these are important. However, a logo is like a salesman that never stops talking.

Your logo will always be there, in people’s minds. This is the case if they are the right audience for your business.

It is hard to make people remember you, especially after an extended period of time with an ad or with an email in their inbox.

On the other hand, the mind enjoys shortcuts. A visual image is more easy to remember than a name or a value proposition.

2. Get your message across and build trust

You can trigger certain emotional responses by using the perfect combination of shapes and colors in your logo design process.

For example, if your services are quite pricey, you could use blue. This color evokes trust and serenity. It is like telling your customers to trust you because their hard-earned money will be used wisely.

Yellow, on the other hand, might make some people anxious, but it also recommended if you have a younger demographic as your buyer persona. When you include your logo in your marketing campaign, you also add some personality to your business.

Nobody likes unfriendly, cold looking people, and that applies to businesses too.

You can get your message across by using the right logo design. Whether you want to evoke trust or let people know you are fun to be around, a great logo can help you do both.

3. Show your audience why you are better than your competition

Not many people think about logo design in these terms.

How can a logo help me show the key benefit of people buying from me?

Just think about all the brands that use grandmas as their images, or hard working mothers, or friendly looking grandfather in their logo.

A baking company that has a logo with a grandmother translates into cakes that are made with love and care as your grandma would bake them.

By using that strategy, you are using a logo to associate yourself with something familiar to your audience: a loving grandmother that baked them cakes as a child.

These can be translated into virtually any industry. Some companies that sell toothpaste use a happy tooth as their logo or companies who sell skin care products show a dermatologist.

4. Create an emotional connection between your brand and your audience

One of the most important functions a logo has is to attract attention by using emotions.

A logo is like your clothes during an interview. It is not the deciding factor, but it says enough for the interviewer to either like or dislike you the moment you enter the room.

This could change after you exchange a few words, but the first impression can stick around. It has a lingering effect.

A playful looking logo for an institution that deals with legal issues, for example, can drive away many clients.

Your audience can even feel “amused” by seeing your brand being represented by something that has nothing to do with the solutions you are providing.

Make sure you know your audience before you start crafting a logo.

If you skip this step, you might end up creating a logo that appeals to baby boomers when your audience is actually millennials.

5. Show them what you are doing

The right logo design can quickly draw attention and send a complete message to your audience.

If you see a logo with a puppy, you are probably thinking of products and services linked to dogs.

It is easier to be remembered if you also show what you are doing and present yourself as someone who is an expert in your field.

Many make the mistake of using their name for a business, in an industry, where names do not mean much. Then they use their names in a logo design.

There are industries where names are predominant, such as the fashion industry, where everyone is familiar with Chanel and Versace.

Usually, the service provider focuses on showing you what they are doing instead of using their initials in a logo.

Logo design does not have to be expensive or complicated

Logos can be found anywhere. They help you stand out on social media, be remembered by your audience easily, establish an emotional connect, and get a message across.

You can probably remember the logos of all your favorite brands. This tells you everything you need to know.

Logo design is quite a powerful marketing tool that is used in every industry to attract more clients and represent the brand.

Creating your logo should not be a chore, especially if you are on a budget and you probably do not have the skills to use professional software.

If you read our 5 reasons why logo design is important for your brand, you probably know by now how many companies use logos in their marketing strategies.

If you are looking for a quick, easy way to create the perfect logo that will represent your company, give our online logo maker a try.

The Importance of Selecting the Right Web Hosting Business

If you have a website storefront, your website speed might be affecting your bottom line.

When people access the internet, they expect to find things fast. We’ve been trained over the years to expect instant gratification in our online experiences.

And we tend to wander away from anything that takes too long to access.

The statistics back this up. In fact, over 40% of users will abandon a site that takes more than four seconds to load and 47% of user expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less.

Despite the fact we’ve forgotten what the early days of the internet were like, users expect speed. They expect reliability.

And the only place you’re going to get those things for your website is through the right web hosting business.

But how do you know what the right web hosting business is? We’re going to give you a few pointers and hope that by the end of this article you too can know.

Bad Things Happen If You Choose the Wrong Web Hosting Business

Sometimes, choosing what looks good takes knowing what looks bad.

Here are a few things that the wrong web host will do for you.

Make You Lose Revenue

We already talked about what happens with slow speeds. But downtime also affects your revenue in various ways.

If a site goes down and you try to access it, you get an error message of some sort.

This makes people go ack! And then it makes them go somewhere else.

If Google goes down, where do you turn to? Bing? Yahoo?

On average, small businesses lose $55,000 due to downtime every year.

And if you choose the wrong web hosting business, this number could be a lot worse for you.

Bad Security

The wrong web hosting business could get you in trouble by opening you up to data loss.

If your site is hacked and the information irreparably corrupted or deleted or changed, then you need a backup from which to restore.

But if don’t have a good web hosting service behind you, they might not have a backup option.

You want someone who cares about your data security and you want someone who will be there for your 24/7.

SEO Impact

We spend a lot of time and money making sure our websites are at the top of the SERPs.

But what if your website suddenly becomes unreliable? Do you think Google will notice?

They absolutely will. And your website will not go unpunished.

In fact, Google recently started tracking speed as one of their ranking signals.

And, while it’s only a small percentage of the signals tracked, it can affect your rankings.

What Do I Consider When Selecting the Right Web Hosting Business?

It might be a little overwhelming thinking of all the factors that go into website operation.

But there are only a few select things that you should look out for when it comes to choosing a web hosting service.

Here are the things you should consider:

Price

You get what you pay for most of the time in this world.

You buy a McDonald’s dollar menu burger, you don’t get grass-fed, local beef. You get McDonald’s factory-farmed beef.

So, you probably don’t want to run to the cheapest option right away.

If you rely on your website to make money, you want the best value for your money.

And you really do want to check out reviews before you sign on for a web hosting business to help you out.

There are a few price comparison websites out there. HostMonk and WHReviews are two reliable shopping guides.

Area of Focus

Some web hosting businesses host very specific niches. And if the hosting site doesn’t do you niche, you should probably find out why.

Make sure you go with a company that is reputable in your field. Find out what your competitors are using. And if there is a majority that uses one service, find out why.

Tech Support

Becuase you don’t want downtime to happen, you need that sweet, sweet 24/7 support service.

A good web hosting business will deliver on this one. And will offer multiple channels for contact.

Look at reviews and make sure their support centers deliver excellent service.

Are the call center staff knowledgeable? Are they clear and succinct in their instructions?

These are important things. You need to be able to rely on this company at 3 AM when your customers on the other side of the world are trying to purchase your product.

Hardware

If you don’t understand server hardware, you’re going to have to do some digging and research.

If they run the best hardware, you won’t have to worry much about downtime and server issues.

But if they used spit and duct tape and a prayer to build their server facility, then you’re looking at some major downtime coming your way.

Also, if they won’t tell you about their servers, or their representatives say they don’t know, that’s a red flag.

Turn hide and run. That’s not a good web hosting business.

A good web hosting business will know their hardware inside and out.

Email Features

Spam seems like a fact of life. But it’s also dangerous.

If you have a Spam problem, there might be a support group for that.

But if you have an e-mail spam problem, then it might be your web hosting company’s fault.

A good web hosting business has great spam solutions and a great email service.

UI/Control Panel

We expect a lot in the tech world to be user-friendly now. And really, there is no excuse for a user interface not to be these days.

What kinds of control panel options do they offer?

How is their interface? Is it easy to use? Or would you have to call customer support just to learn how to use it?

A good web hosting service will have a control panel/UI that’s usable right out of the box.

Use a Great API on Your Current or Future Website

Whatever service you go with, make sure you use an API that keeps them accountable.

If you want a great API to monitor your website, check out SiteUptime.

How to Use Popups to Engage Your Customers and Grow

popup

Gunbroker auctions marketers and e-tailers are sometimes wary in recent years at the very thought of integrating popups into the mix in order to engage customers, but they need not be. There is a lot of opportunities for growth to be had!

Make First Time Visitors Opt-In

As soon as visitors arrive on your page, serve them a pop up asking them to sign up for special offers. After all, 98% of buyers won’t purchase from your site the first time they visit. You have to give them a reason to come back.

If you can get them to say yes the first time, you’re more likely to get them to say yes the next time. However, if you don’t get their information, they may not come back. They may not even remember how they got to your site.

Lead them to the water you want them to drink. Email marketing is still the way to go and once you have their information you can send them valuable information, deals, and updates to engage further.

Pulling The Trigger With Popups

Timing is everything when it comes to popups. If you want to pull it as soon as they arrive, try a time driven popup. You can time it to where it shows up for them after a determined amount of time and adjust as necessary to see what works.

Alternately, you can hit your target with the popup once they make a move, like scrolling down the page 70% of the way or click through a certain number of pages. This is a little sneakier, but it probably doesn’t feel that way to those who are truly interested in purchasing from your website.

The exit intent popup is also a tried and true sales popup — when they’re about to leave, offer them something. They don’t really want to leave, do they?

Ok, maybe they do, but if you give them a reason to come back later, they just might. It’s worth a shot.

Tips For Not Being Spammy With Popups

While you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, you don’t want to misfire too many times and alienate a potential customer. Don’t go overkill with popups that won’t go away after they’re closed out. You probably won’t hear from that person again.

The subtle approach with popups can be the best one because popups in and of themselves are right in front of your audience. Use smaller popups and limit the number of popups that show up to new visitors. You don’t want to come off as desperate.

Entice Shoppers With Free Shipping Popups

47% of shoppers indicated in a recent study that they did not abandon their purchase because of the promise of free shipping. It’s a tried-and-true way to entice shoppers through pop-ups.

Use Popups For Gunbroker Auctions

Increase your gunbroker auctions sales with customizable auction templates and seller tools for an affordable price. Save time, money, and look professional. It’s worth the investment to do things right the first time.

Our Top Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017

cypersecurity predictions

Cybersecurity is topping news feeds, and for good reason.

Last year was hailed as the year that hackers stole the show, and experts at Kaspersky Labs have said that this year is going to be no exception.

Security specialists at Mcafee are predicting a rise in the number of consumer security breaches, threats to the Internet of Things and cloud-based attacks.

With so many exciting new innovations in technology we are handing over more of our businesses and lives than we may be aware of.

As exciting as new tech is, it also brings the possibility of new and more creative threats.

So what do these new threats look like? What are big companies doing and is there any way for us to protect ourselves?

Let’s take a look at our top cybersecurity predictions for 2017.

Ransomware

A recent rise in ransomware attacks has been damaging hospitals, schools, businesses and law enforcement organizations. Many agree that ransomware is going to peak in 2017, with a 25% growth predicted until a plateau takes place.

Unfortunately, it has also been suggested that the methods being used to gain access to files are diversifying. Ransomware is extremely lucrative for hackers, especially when they target larger organizations.

Defending against it

Businesses are upping the education they give their staff regarding opening email attachments. And They’re creating more sophisticated passwords for work accounts.

Hacking Meets Home Appliances

The Internet of Things is an incredibly exciting innovation, but it also opens up opportunities for hacking to enter the home in ways it hasn’t before.

Until recently, such small devices haven’t warranted cybersecurity software or checks. But a recent DoS attack on a french company was conducted through mobile smart devices, proving that more diligence is needed.

The biggest danger here is not so much monetary, but more about the theft of personal information and private security. These devices are in our homes, privy to our everyday lives, so the risk for infiltration is very real.

Defending against it

People have started calling for more stringent cybersecurity regulations on mobile smart home appliances and a greater consumer awareness of the risks.

Or Predictions

Smart devices will be subject to the gradual introduction of integrated security software. This will help identify any devices that are performing unauthorized actions.

Mobile Security Will Still Be At Risk

Our cybersecurity predictions aren’t limited to large companies.

The humble mobile phone is also at risk, with many experts predicting a rise in mobile malware.

By using downloadable apps, users are putting their personal information at risk. Mcafee Labs detected 9 million malware apps in Apple and Google app stores, affecting 3 million devices over a 6 month period.

Defending against it

The best way to prevent mobile attacks is to avoid opening messages from strange numbers and to turn off MMS auto retrieval wherever possible.

Our Cybersecurity Predictions

Mobile security software will become increasingly important over the next year to maintain personal safety.

Threats to The Cloud

As trust in the cloud increases, more information is migrated, making it an incredibly tempting place for hackers.

Protecting the cloud is difficult due to the vast nature of it.

The first point of call for hackers is simple credentials to gain access to accounts. They’ve also started changing the way they mine the stacks for weak points, no longer just moving up and down them.

Defending Against It

Pay close attention to administration accounts and the activity on them–these are the accounts that hackers are most likely to target with credential theft.

Our Predictions

It’s been suggested that biometrics and behavioral analytics will help protect users in a way that’s even more personal to them.

Machine learning can also be used to prevent cybersecurity attacks to the cloud and will be able to predict attacks before they occur.

Apple and Adobe Weaknesses Will Be Uncovered

Until very recently, Adobe and Apple have enjoyed a relatively high degree of protection, with Microsoft taking the brunt of the infiltrations and security compromisations.

One of the cybersecurity predictions for 2017 is the ease with which malicious online perpetrators will be able to find weaknesses in Apple software.

This is partly down to Microsoft being well practiced at defending against attacks. Their ‘antiquated’ hardware is also less attractive to hackers.

They’re typically drawn to the software and platforms that experience higher engagement and more users because that’s where they stand to gain more.

Defending Against It

This is hard to defend against until you know the nature of the compromisation. Always keep your software updated and stay smart and vigilant when using your tech.

Our Cybersecurity Predictions

Apple and Adobe will up their encryption game and try to plug any holes with regular software updates.

What Do These Cybersecurity Predictions Teach Us?

This list of cybersecurity predictions is just the start of the story when it comes to protecting businesses and software this year.

Here are some simple ways you can protect yourself:

Get Smart

Teaching your team or yourself about security is a good way to make sure you stay ahead of the hackers. The rules and practices are changing all the time, so staying in touch with best practice is key here.

Consider everything: from basic things like choosing a more secure password and installing security on your phone (especially if you access cloud-based services for business, like Dropbox, for example) to sharing documents over unsecured email.

Ask Questions

Is your site hosted on a cloud-based server? Make sure you know about the security benefits offered to you by your hosting service and what they’re doing in the face of new threats.

Have a Plan

In the unfortunate event that your site does get taken down in a DoS attack, having an effective downtime strategy can help repair the damage that a non-functional website causes.

Hopefully, these cybersecurity predictions have given you plenty of warning when it comes to your own site, household technology, and everyday work essentials.

Ensure you have good security software across all your devices and that you’re installing software updates regularly.