Design Ideas to Make and Keep Your Business Relevant

web design ideas

Technology is charging forward at a breakneck pace, and the world can only try to keep up.

This is true in the tech sphere, in terms of social interactions, and, perhaps not as obviously, in the world of design.

Businesses must fight to remain relevant in a social atmosphere that relies heavily on web presence and connectivity.

This is made possible through social media, but should also be a consideration for your website and mobile platforms.

Design options are limitless, and more new and exciting options are popping up all the time.

But how do you know what to use and what to avoid?

Here are four key tips for incorporating a web and mobile design that will be a hit with your client base.

Keep it Simple

This applies to websites, banner ads, and mobile platforms.

Clean, simple lines and an uncluttered landing page are going to engage your audience quickly and keep them on your site longer.

This is not to say that using new, flashy design elements is a bad idea. GIFs, video backgrounds, and fun textures are all great things to consider.

But think of design elements the way you think of salt in the main dish. You need it to enhance the flavor, but too much and the entire meal is ruined.

Pick one key design element, but don’t feel like you need to use every single one you come across.

Don’t Try to Sell Anything

Yes, even if you are actually trying to sell something.

This isn’t to say don’t market your products. Just keep in mind that the modern consumer is wary of the “used car salesman”-type pitch.

This means go back to step one. Keep it simple. Highlight your products without bells and whistles and gimmicks.

When you are designing your marketing materials, it’s probable that you’ll want to create a banner ad. This is a great idea, with tons of applications and outlets for use.

Keep in mind, though, that you are using banner ads and other advertising materials to communicate your message in the quickest, most visually appealing way possible. So avoid clutter!

Focus on Mobile

Mobile has never been as powerful a sales tool as it is today.

Consumers are able to shop online, compare prices, and look for deals, all without ever leaving their couch.

Your mobile presence should not be an afterthought. Take the time to make the experience user-friendly and seamless.

In fact, it isn’t a bad idea to design with mobile in mind from the start, rather than trying to adapt it later.

Your functionality on mobile should be seamless and comparable to your browser or brick-and-mortar experience.

Strive for Authenticity

Modern consumers can sniff out ingenuousness at a hundred paces, and they don’t like feeling like they are being given a canned pitch.

This comes across in the language you use on your site and the voice you use in your content. Consumers want to do business with a person, not a business.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but you’ll find much better results if you make an effort to project your business as its people, rather than its products.

Keeping your business relevant in quickly changing times is a challenge. There is constantly new material to learn and discover.

Remember to keep learning, and constantly be reevaluating your digital game to bring the very best to your consumers.

What You Need to Know about Shared IP Addresses

shared ip address

If you’re serious about web hosting you’ve probably done some research on IP addresses, SEO, and other things pertaining to your website.

During this research it’s likely you’ve found conflicting information on how to maximize your website visibility and performance.

This is normal and expected when you’re dealing with anything online related. The magnitude of the Internet gives users many solutions to the same problem.

One question website owners often bring up is the viability of shared hosting. Is shared hosting safe? Will it effect my SEO? Why is it so much cheaper than a dedicated IP address?

All of those questions are important and easily answered with a little background knowledge on exactly how shared hosting works.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about having a shared IP address.

Shared IP Address – The Basics

Let’s start with the absolute basics. An IP address is the real web address of a website or server.

Domain names like “apple.com” don’t actually tell your browser where to access information. Instead, IP addresses formatted like 222.222.22.2 designate the correct server.

In shared hosting, your website is still assigned an IP address, but that address is also assigned to many other websites hosted on the same server.

This means that the actions of one bad seed can affect things like your SEO and inclusion on email blacklists.

However, because you’re giving up a dedicated IP, you monthly bills are much cheaper with shared hosting.

It forms something of a risk/reward scenario. Are you willing to take the plunge into shared security and reputation? Is the risk reward worth it?

These are all questions that require their own scenario based on your specific needs.

Email

Emails sent from your website, “yourwebsitehere.com,” use your IP address to assign a location to your email.

It works sort of like a return mailing address. Your unique (or shared) IP lets incoming servers know where the message is coming from.

This can cause issues when sharing an IP with other users.

People sometimes abuse emails as marketing technique and send out what is commonly known as “spam.” As we’re sure you’re aware, everyone hates spam.

This includes email hosting companies such as Google. What Google does to avoid spam is blacklist (block) email from known spamming addresses (IPs).

Sometimes this inadvertently causes your emails to get caught in the blacklist. What’s worse, the blacklist is gmail wide; meaning no emails you send to any gmail address get through.

However, this doesn’t mean that all shared IP addresses are bad. Good shared hosts will monitor for email spam and terminate the contract of those responsible.

Website owners can also use a third party mail hosting provider to send email through a dedicated “email IP” address.

Your new dedicated IP is linked only to your reputation and thus isn’t in danger of blacklisting.

Security

Many people worry about security issues when sharing an IP address. While these concerns are valid, they’re probably a little overblown.

Quality web hosts don’t have many security issues. Why? Because most of the Internet utilizes shared IP addresses.

If you’re worried about security, ask your potential host these things.

  • Are users isolated from other users on the server? That is, can anyone access my root files?
  • Is your web structure such that addresses aren’t open to manipulation to access other user’s files?
  • Do you regularly update, monitor, and fix your server when problems arise?
  • How are my usernames and passwords stored on the server?
  • Who’s allowed to access my database or change user permissions?

Any reputable web host will answer these questions without hesitation.

If they pass this little test, you’re no more secure with a dedicated IP address than with their shared IP.

The only people who need a dedicated IP for security purposes are large corporations with valuable data at stake.

If you fall into this category, you can’t take any risk if an unexpected security breach does occur.

It’s smarter to just pay for the dedicated IP address and mitigate any and all security risk that might arise.

Search Engine Optimization

The entire point of maintaining a website is to draw in visitors, views, clicks; whatever you’d like to call the people who view your pages.

You’re probably inclined to believe that SEO is extremely important to businesses large and small, and you’re correct.

Search engine optimization is an enormous market consisting of digital marketers who spend their days dissecting Google’s algorithms and creating relevant content.

Website owners need SEO marketers just as much as the SEO marketers need website owners.

You might wonder, what’s the have to do with my share IP address? Well, there’s a persistent myth that shared IP addresses negatively affect SEO.

We’re here to tell you that myth is entirely false. All other things notwithstanding, dedicated IP address do no more for your SEO than a shared IP.

However, there are some things available only to dedicated IP users that can help your SEO.

For instance, SSL certificates are used to provide security over e-commerce transactions. Google has publicly stated that SSL certificates do increase SEO.

Turns out, these certificates are only available to websites with a dedicated IP address.

Dedicated IP address also help websites load faster. Less server data means an easier time returning browser requests.

This might not seem significant because load times don’t vary too much, but Google also factors web page load speed as an SEO metric.

So while in a vacuum dedicated vs. shared hosting doesn’t affect your SEO, certain elements that go along with these options might.

Looking at all of the factors involved in a dedicated IP address versus a shared IP address, it becomes clear that shared hosting doesn’t have many drawbacks.

If you pick reputable hosting companies there’s no reason shared hosting will cause you any detriment, nor will dedicated hosting bring you any benefits (unless you’re running an e-commerce store).

Ultimately the choice is yours, but feel free to refer back to our recommendation if you can’t decide.

How DoS Protection Can Reduce Website Downtime

DoS and Website Downtime

What do you think is the biggest threat to your business right now?

Some business owners may be worried about their money. They may only trust themselves to handle payroll or bank deposits. A few would never let other employees touch the company card.

Other people may be worried about their own employees. They don’t just hire for culture or talent, they want someone they can trust.

If you’re worried about the safety and stability of your business, you should be looking online. DoS protection has become an essential part of cybersecurity for a lot of businesses. And after you learn about how disruptive DoS attacks can be you’ll understand why it’s a priority.

DoS Danger

When most people think of online security issues data breeches and stolen information usually comes to mind. Your data and other sensitive information are important, but there are more pressing matters at hand.

A denial of service (DoS) attack is exactly what it sounds like. Attackers render websites and other important online resources unavailable to its intended users.

A denial of service attack is relatively simple to execute, you may have even been a part of one without knowing it. It’s simple for hackers to send out emails, messages, or social media posts with embedded links that can overwhelm a server.

A simple DoS attack is troublesome enough, and a DDoS attack can be just as troublesome. When a DDoS attack occurs, a hacker uses your system to attack another computer.

Types of Dos attacks

If you want to have good DoS protection, you need to understand the different kinds of DoS attacks.

  • Volume attacks (connectionless attacks): Also known a “flood”. The main purpose of this DoS attack is to overwhelm the bandwidth of the site and cause congestion by sending as many “people” to it as possible. They’re commonly executed with botnets, computers infected with malicious software and code that’s controlled by the hacker
  • Application layer attacks: Also known as “7 layer attacks”. These attacks target weaknesses in servers and applications. They establish a connection and overwhelm it by taking over transactions and processes. They can be difficult to detect because they don’t require a lot of computers.
  • TCP state exhaustion attack: This kind of attack is unique and focuses on attacking firewalls, web servers, and load balancers. Their goal is to disrupt connections which will overload their finite number of concurrent connections the device can support.

As you can see, a DoS attack is much more complex than a website simply going down. If you’re new to the world of cyber security you may not see why a DoS attack can be so serious.

After you learn about businesses and brands were affected by DoS attacks, you’ll see why you should be concerned.

The hacks heard round the world

Where were you on December 31st, 2015? If you were like many people you were probably celebrating New Year’s Eve, but if you worked in IT for the BBC or Donald Trump you were working overtime.

A group called New World Hacking executed a devastating DoS attack that day. The BBC’s main website and their multimedia tool iPlayer were down for at least three hours.

Trump was only campaigning at the time, but his website was also hit and was inaccessible for hours.

An attack that can cripple one of the biggest media empires in the world and the website of the future President of the United States is no laughing matter.

The same group went on to perform another massive DoS attack. In October 2016 several popular websites like Twitter, GrubHub, and Spotify were crippled by a DoS attack by the same group.

Iconic multinational brands are still vulnerable to DoS attacks in 2017. These attacks cause problems for millions of people, and also embarrassed some brands.

Why you need DoS protection

As you can see, DoS attacks can affect businesses of all sizes and cause a variety of problems. The cost to businesses DoS attacks can cause can be devastating.

Once your website is affected by a DoS attack, you need to employ IT professionals to fix it. You miss out on online sales. You lose a connection to potential customers.

The average business owner simply doesn’t have the time or money to deal with the ramifications of a DoS attack. That’s why the best way to deal with DoS threats is to try to prevent them from happening.

Aside from having a plan to deal with downtime, you need to plan for DoS attacks.

Have a strong ISP

A lot of businesses find that it’s easiest to lean on their internet service providers (ISP) for their initial DoS protection. ISPs have far more bandwidth than a standard enterprise would.

That extra amount of bandwidth could make it difficult to target your site.

Don’t think blocking will fix it

Some amateur IT professionals will try to stop a DoS attack by simply banning offending IP addresses from accessing the targetted site or server.

This method will seem like it’ll work at first, but as the attack goes on it’ll become nearly impossible to keep up with the flood of visitors. The purpose of a DoS attack is to overwhelm servers and the people trying to fix them.

Eventually, you won’t be able to individually block them all.

Once it’s clear that an attack is occurring, your DoS protection resources would be better focused on finding solutions and not blocking individual IP addresses.

Watch out for secondary attacks

Sometimes a DoS attack is just a distraction from something bigger. While your IT team is scrambling to stop the source of the DoS issue, someone could be stealing data or other sensitive information.

It’s tempting to put all of your IT resources on fixing the DoS attack. But you should always have someone checking other things to ensure that there aren’t more problems.

Hackers are always looking for ways to disrupt businesses and websites. Are there other cyber security concerns you have? Let us know so we can help you protect your business.

How to Create a Website Downtime Strategy that Works

Downtime Strategy

We can’t control everything in our lives and that’s a fact. But, as business owners, we’d all like to be able to control when our company is available for customers.

Websites can go down for many different reasons, including planned maintenance or malicious attacks. It can be unavoidable at times– but no matter what, downtime can cost your business money until everything is back online.

So, what can you do? Develop a website downtime strategy to have on the backburner.

SiteUpTime is dedicated to helping businesses understand what goes on when their website goes down and how much time the business is actually functional online.

And with many businesses averaging $1,000 lost per minute of website downtime, having your website go offline throughout the month can really add up.

If you want to learn how to create a website downtime strategy that works to keep your business safe from downtime losses, be sure to keep reading!

Why downtime should be monitored

Downtime strategies are only important if you understand why downtime can be so hazardous to your business!

Here’s a quick breakdown of why this problem should be taken seriously.

Loss of business

This one is pretty clear: if your website isn’t working, customers can’t access it.

Studies have found that people are quick to leave a website if it doesn’t load fast enough. If your site isn’t working at all, potential customers are unlikely to come back and see if it’s working again at a later point.

Remember that time is money and even Amazon feels the blows of downtime– they lost 1.6 billion dollars in sales by being down for one second!

Make sure your service is working for you

If you are working with a company that is hosting your site, you will want to monitor your downtime to make sure that they’re actually working for you.

Meeting your ROI baseline is important and spending money on a network that is leaving you with nine hours of downtime a month doesn’t help.

You will want to know what’s going on so that you can make informed decisions on what direction to take your business and its online presence.

How to come up with a website downtime strategy that works

In the case that something does happen, you’ll want to be prepared and have a good downtime strategy to make the most of the time you have.

SiteUpTime can help you monitor your site to know when you’ll have to spring into action, so consider our competitive prices and contact us if you need more information!

Have valid data backups

When your website is offline, there’s no telling what caused it to go down.

It can be as simple as your service company being down for maintenance or as catastrophic as a complete wipe out of the entire network and data.

That’s why you’ll want to have up-to-date backups of all of your information. This means saving documents and client information and transaction information.

It’s recommended that companies back up their data at least once a week. The goal? You should be backing up your information once a day to prevent data loss or having to deal with piecing together information that’s a week outdated.

Once you do that, you’ll want to make sure your backups are working properly so that they can be accessed later.

It turns out that 48% of companies who have backed up their data experienced a secondary loss because the backup didn’t function properly.

Contact your IT support

If your website is down, make sure that contacting your IT support team is high on your downtime strategy list.

You will want to contact them to alert them that your website is down, if they don’t already know, and put together a plan of how to get it back online.

IT support teams can locate the reason for a website going down and find ways to re-route your network to bring everything back up.

But this won’t be a process that can happen in a few minutes. You’ll want to check in with them regularly until everything is back to normal, but don’t flood them or panic in the meantime.

Review your web monitoring logs

As a part of your downtime strategy, you should be reviewing your web monitoring logs to see if your site being down is part of a larger trend.

Your web monitoring logs could also let you know if your website is more likely to go down from one server than another, depending on the level of detail you get.

Gathering information such as when your website went down can be useful for your IT support team as well. Knowing how long a site has been down can give them an idea of how large the problem is or could be.

So make sure you get to look through this information as soon as possible!

Notify your users

Here’s a major step that’s often overlooked in downtime strategies.

You have to notify your users that your website is down.

Some people may think not acknowledging the site is down is the best plan of action, since maybe some customers won’t notice.

But facing the issue head-on is one way to ensure that customers who did notice are aware of what’s going on.

You may want to send out a tweet or mass-email to your clients letting them know that the problem is being worked on. From there, you can send out updates and a notification once your site is back up.

The benefit? You’ll have customers feeling valued that they’re kept in the loop. And you could avoid a flood of customer service calls full of people demanding to now why they can’t access their account!

Want more information?

If you want to learn more about how having a website downtime strategy can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or check out our other blog posts.

SiteUpTime provides services that check your website from multiple points in the world to make sure people from anywhere can work with your company.

Slow WordPress Site? Here’s How to Speed Things Up

Slow Wordpress Site?

People are all about their self-expression, and that’s why we seek website hosts that let us customize them to our heart’s content.

There really are WordPress plugins for everything these days, meaning you can represent your services in many great ways. That’s why keeps customers coming back and what makes WordPress so popular.

But what happens if you notice you have a slow WordPress site on your hands?

SiteUpTime specializes in monitoring how well websites are working all the time and how stable their connection is.

We know that many people are used to websites loading extremely fast these days. The internet’s technology has improved so much that we can have expectations like that.

But when a website loads slowly, people are likely to click out after just 40 seconds– and that’s being generous. Most leave after just a few seconds of waiting for a site to load.

So if you are dealing with a slow WordPress site, you’ll want to take action fast if you want to preserve your user base!

How to handle your slow WordPress site

If you use the internet pretty frequently, chances are you’ve come across another WordPress site while you’ve browsed!

It turns out that 22% of new domains are linked to WordPress accounts, making it a force to be reckoned with in the digital world.

WordPress can also boast hosting 14% of the world’s most successful sites.

The point? We know that WordPress can host businesses successfully and let you enjoy your custom website without too much legwork.

So here’s what you can do if you notice your slow WordPress site isn’t pulling its weight.

Remove unnecessary plugins

One of the greatest things about WordPress is that it has so many plugins. There are over 47 thousand if you want to get technical.

But they could also be one cause to your website being slow.

Making use of plugins should be something that you do. After all, they’re there to support you but make sure that you aren’t using too many of them at once.

When someone visits your website, their network will have to download everything on that page instantaneously. This means that the more minimalized your site is as far as plugins go, the faster it will load.

So if your website is loading slowly, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I added a new plugin lately?

If you have, experiment by removing it and seeing if it was the direct cause of your slow WordPress site. This is a quick way of troubleshooting and saving yourself some time.

  • Are there any plugins that I can do without?

Many people use more than one plugin on their site, but you may want to take some time to reflect on each one.

Does each plugin you’re using add to the quality and usage of your website? Do people come to your website and make great use of what you’ve added? If not, you’ll want to remove these plugins.

Trimming down excess plugins can clear up your site and allow it to load at faster speeds once all the bulk is gone!

Reduce image sizes

If your WordPress site has many photos on it, you may want to take a second look at the way you’ve set everything up.

Similarly to plugins, having a bunch of photos on your website could slow loading down.

Do you remember the times of dialup? And how we had to wait for an image to load by watching it come up (usually blurry) piece by piece?

Your WordPress site may not get slow enough to take us back all those years, but loading photos does take a lot of time and power.

Help your site work faster by reducing image sizes when you can or creating a separate page for your images by linking to a gallery with a simple “Click to see more” button.

That way you won’t lose your photos and you can speed up your slow WordPress site all at once.

Enable caching

This may be a slightly more technical tip to speed up a slow WordPress site, but it really works.

To help your load times, you will want to enable caching.

Essentially, caching saves your website as a series of files that are much easier for a user’s network to download. In the future, when that same person opens your website again, the “files” will already be saved and easy to open.

WordPress offers a few options to help you cache and optimize your website, as well as some great instructions to help you through the process.

Take steps to help out your homepage

It seems like minimalism is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Dozens of books and articles have been published about how we should declutter our home and make our lives better. The same goes for our websites and that’s a good thing if you want to speed things up.

If you have a blog, you can speed up your site by only showing small excerpts and linking to the rest of the post with a cut. That way your users can still view everything, just like that photo gallery, without having to load everything all at once.

This can also make your site look more streamlined and approachable once people aren’t greeted with a huge wall of text right off the bat.

You can also remove extra widgets from your landing page by asking yourself if that “visit count” widget is really doing much for you.

Remember, the goal of “minimalism” with your website is to only keep what’s working for you.

Trim down the excess and enjoy faster loading times as a result.

Want to know more?

If you want to learn about other topics that can really help you boost the way your company is online, take a look at the rest of our blog posts!

Our job is may seem simple but it’s essential and that’s why over 125,000 companies choose to work with us!

And if you have any questions, we are always here to help you! Contact us anytime and we’ll get to work changing the amount of time your site spends earning you money online.