Filter: Web Design

secure socket layer

Securing Your Website With SSL Certificate

The Internet has made sending and receiving information online a breeze. But there is also the threat of unauthorized viewing, data tampering, and phoney messages. Surprisingly, a lot of business owners do not fully understand how to use security tools at their disposal to keep cybercriminals and hackers at bay. It can be a real challenge to know where to start, when you are defending against malicious code that can damage your system and against cyberthieves on the lookout for sensitive data to sell on the black market. One thing every business can do to protect their website and customers is to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, particularly if they run an e-commerce site or collect personal customer information through their site.

What Is SSL?

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the most widely used Internet security protocol used today. This encryption technology protects your sensitive information as it travels between the visitors’ web browser and the web server of the website they are interacting with. This secure link ensures that all data is transmitted without being intercepted by prying hackers.

SSL encrypts all data before it is sent so that no one besides you and the website you’re submitting the information to, can see and access what you type into your browser. Random characters are inserted into the original information to make it incomprehensible for anyone without the proper encryption key. Therefore, if it does fall into the wrong hands there is nothing to worry about since the information is unreadable.

SSL Certificate Basics

When you visit a website that has an SSL certificate issued by a trustworthy authority, your browser (i.e. Internet Explorer®, Firefox® and Chrome™) will form a connection with the webserver, recognize the SSL certificate, and then connect your browser and the server so that confidential information can be exchanged.

To enable SSL on your site, you need to get an SSL Certificate that identifies you and install it on your web server. The SSL certificate must also be digitally signed by another trusted root certificate to prove that the SSL certificate provider can be trusted. Business owners can get standard and extended certificates along with tools to manage multiple certificates or security challenges.

Steps For Getting A SSL Certificate

Once you have selected Certification Authority vendor, send a request for certification and pay for the certificate.

Every CA will provide a Certification Practice Statement (CPS) with more specific information about their verification process and how long it will take to receive approval, depending on the complexity of your organization and the type of certification applied for. Business owners then have to go through various stages of vetting before they can install the certificate on their site and connect to a secure server on the web.

When the SSL Certificate is installed properly, you can access a site instantly by changing the URL from http:// to https://. The secure connection happens instantly and technically.

How Can Consumers Tell if a Website is Certified?

SSL is a transparent protocol which requires no interaction from the end user. Users can verify whether the web address in their browser displays a padlock, or, in the case of Extended Validation SSL, if there is both a padlock and a green bar. This assures visitors that the site is SSL certified and that your connection is automatically secured.

How Can SSL Be Used For Business?   

The most common applications of SSL are to secure payment transactions, system logins, email, data transfer, and any other sensitive data exchanged online.

If your organization has to comply with regional, national or international regulations, such as Payment Card Industry compliance, on data privacy and security then you will need an SSL certificate with the proper encryption. EV SSL provides advanced security measures to deal with the bigger risks that come with e-commerce today.

SSL is critical for protecting sensitive information such as customer names, phone numbers, addresses and credit card numbers. It also defends your site from malware and prevents malvertising from eating into your resources.

SSL secures webmail and helps establish secure connection between an email client such as Microsoft Outlook and an email server such as Microsoft Exchange.

SSL can also be used to secure intranet based traffic such as internal networks, extranets, and database connections. It also helps transfer of files over https and FTP(s) services safely.

Future-Proof Your Site With SSL Certificate

Online businesses can gain and retain their customer’s trust by getting SSL certification.  Lunarpages offers the shared SSL certificate that comes for free with your hosting plan or you can get a Dedicated SSL certificate on your account. Shared SSL certificate will function only with HTML, and cgi/perl based documents/scripts/carts but it will not work with ASP, JSP or PHP pages because of security restrictions on the servers. For that you will need to purchase a Dedicated SSL Certificate and Dedicated IP. If you’re still unsure about how SSL will affect your website, contact Lunarpages at 1-877-586-7207 (US/Canada) to know more.

website banner ideas

Ideas For Designing Website Banner Ads

We come across banner ads everywhere, so much so that they have become intrinsically linked with our web experience. Banner ad clicks may be dropping but we can’t afford to ignore the power of this prolific online advertising format in spreading the brand message to a large audience. Just seeing a web banner ad creates recall and user preference for that product or service. But our senses get assaulted every day with some really obnoxious examples of banner ad designs so it is time to turn the tide. Lunarpages would like to arm you with some basic design guidelines so that you can create web banners that will make a favorable impression and bring in clicks.

Apply Standard Banner Sizes

Banner ads work within the specs of the site where you plan to advertise. And since most sites use a set of common sizes, it is advisable to design in the size you will use the most. Google AdWords, lists the most popular standard banner ad sizes on the web as –

  • 728 by 90 pixels for leaderboard at the tops or bottoms of pages
  • 300 by 250 pixels medium rectangle, either embedded in text elements or floating on the right
  • 336 by 280 pixels large rectangle
  • 300 by 600 pixels half page
  • 320 by 100 pixels mobile banner

You can take elements from the design in your most preferred banner size and reflect it in other sizes too. When you don’t take the time to resize or recreate your ad specific to the networks specs, your creatives become distorted and displeasing to the eyes of your target market.  Check out the banner ad for FatCow to see how your layout can work for a number of different banner sizes.banner sizes

Create Hierarchy

All banner ads need to have a brand logo, clear message within 2-10 words about your offer  (High quality, Free Signup, Limited Time Only) and encouragement to click (Watch Now, Click Here, etc). The real challenge lies in the fact that there is not much room to do this so there has to be a right balance between these elements. Create a simple hierarchy of elements using size, space and color to draw attention to each.jumpcloud

This banner ad from JumpCloud showcases the company logo first, followed by the value proposition which calls attention to itself and the CTA button is smartly placed right at the bottom inviting clicks.

Pair Stylistic Typography With Images

Banner ads only have small spaces to play around with so make the most of it by using strong, easy to read typefaces with striking images. Make sure to use tight images and detail shots as there is a lot of competition for eyeballs. This banner ad by Cavender’s pairs playful text, handwritten type and great photography to effectively announce the brand and product.

Use Colors And Texture Appropriately

Color is generally the first thing we notice in banner ads. Different colors have distinct associations, and your choice of color will depend on the kind of emotions you want to evoke in your audience. Look up this great resource on color theory to know how best to use color in ads. Banner ads do not always have to be subtle so feel free to use contrasting and bold colors to draw the eye in. In this banner ad, the bright yellow rectangle ties in with the National Geographic logo and is highlighted even more against a black or blue background. The yellow CTA reinforces the brand and also invites quick action.nationalgeographic

Incorporating texture within a banner ad can also create interesting dimensions, movement and depth to drive home the brand image. Check out the unique geometric polygon pattern in the limes of this ad for Corona by Vasiliy Yusov. The angularity of the fruit adds in dimension and edge to the product being advertised that you just wouldn’t get from a simple image or illustration.

Incorporate Stylized Illustration

Adding in illustration to your web banner ads can be simple or detailed depending on the message you are trying to deliver. Illustration can often speak volumes, especially if you add in animation to it. Illustration can be edgy and modern or fun and playful. Adidas ran a Line Runner sidebar ad campaign where the viewer was provided a black pen and prompted to draw a line which became a course for the runner with trees, buildings, hills, lamp posts popping up for an interactive digital adventure.

Focus On The Product

The ultimate goal of an ad is to sell so it helps to shine the light on the product. Tell your story using the product. Ikea is known for its space-conscious furniture and it highlighted this point by making the most of banner ad real estate too. Hovering over the ad would bring a product into focus and a click would send the person to the site to purchase.

Better Banners

Banner ad placements can certainly help users connect with your brand. And following some of these design guidelines will definitely improve your click-through rate and help you achieve your campaign goals.

wordpress seo

Top WordPress SEO Tips To Stay Ahead Of The Competition In 2017

What is the point of having a beautifully designed WordPress website without any traffic? It is possible to skyrocket traffic on your site and dominate your competition through search engine optimization. If you believe that “SEO is dead,” then you may have already lost the SERPs game. With the Google Panda update, Google may have brought down the hammer on black-hat methods and loopholes but white-hate SEO practices are still encouraged. The SEO landscape is constantly evolving and the goalposts may have changed but it certainly is not dead. Organic search is alive and well. Knowing what notable search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing care more about can help your business take unique approaches to ensure a perfect search-engine optimized website that is focused on; clean code, keywords, alt tags, XML sitemaps, links, good content and more. If you’re running a WordPress-based site, you do not have to scratch your head anymore about what to do from an SEO standpoint. In this post we are going to share the top trends in WordPress SEO to help improve your visibility in search engines page results for a winning play in 2017.

WordPress Search Engine Optimization Trends In 2017

Avoid cutting corners and taking back alleys for better and faster ranking. Also remember that search engine optimization is more than a plugin; it is a continuous process. So, even though you can use popular WordPress SEO plugins like, WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin or All-In-One SEO Pack to get the work done, you also need to put in effort to analyze and improve the optimization of your WordPress site. The aim of all SEO strategies is to deliver a high-quality web experience with interesting and relevant content. Here are some of the SEO trends that you can use to come out on top in the New Year.

SEO HTTPS For WordPress

From 2017, Google has made HTTPS mandatory for all websites, including WordPress powered websites. Because of the aggressive push from Google in the direction of secured websites, it may be more work for website developers but it will ensure better security for users. If you are building a new WordPress site in 2017, you should implement HTTPS for your WordPress site before launching because switching from HTTP to secure versions or HTTPS is not easy.

Setup Pretty Permalinks

Permalinks are the unique addresses of your website pages, blog posts, images, etc. For SEO purposes, your permalink structure should be readable so that crawlers can easily access your website’s content. By default, WordPress creates permalinks (URL structure) that are not efficiently set up for SEO. It currently inserts the day and name into the URL by default, which makes it seem dated to Google. There is a need to adjust the URL to post name manually to maximize the potential of your website for SEO. Google prefers URLs that contain your title and or keywords in the post, and shorter URLs fare better. Although (Post Name) is an ideal option, some prefer using (Category Name) though there may be issues with optimization of contents of categories in the latter case. The “Post name” permalink setting is both clean and you can reap the benefit of using the title or your keyword in the URL If you are changing the permalink structure after your posts go live, all your previous links will be useless so make sure to redirect previous URLs to the new permalink by editing the .htaccess file or through a third party plugin like Change Permalink Helper.

Links Help

Search engines rank authoritative domains higher and the best way of building this authority is through quality organic links. This will remain highly important through 2017 and you must work hard on building your links strategy.

· Canonical URL

Canonical links are important in building smart link hierarchy for search engines indexing the same content that is available under different URLs.

· Affiliate Links

Affiliate links help track a commission or referral of product/services or signup between websites. Since Google generally frowns upon affiliate links, they should always be nofollow. Nofollow links do not give your website any link juice, but can still generate natural traffic. Use a WordPress affiliate plugin such as Pretty Links to track your affiliate links and make sure they are nofollow.

· Interlinks

Work on adding more internal links between one page of blog post, or even a product page to another on the same site. This will ensure that you keep the users within your site for longer thus spreading link juice throughout your site. It helps to establish hierarchy of information and structure within your site. Moreover the Google spiders should have a clear way to reach the internal links so make sure to reline all possible related pages.

· High Domain Authority External Links

Work on adding some external links to high domain authority sites within your content to improve your WordPress SEO. This helps Google know that you are linking to an external high quality content to provide users with additional information. You can make the link open in a new tab or window so that people can come back and browse your site later on if needed.

Evergreen Quality Content

Even in 2017, content will still be king. Search engines and users love high-quality content and longer-form content. To be able to rank high on the search engine pages, you need to ensure that your top articles are detailed and contain the right keywords, including long-tail keyword variations. Check out Neil Patel’s article on how long-form content can boost your SERPs. But there is a place for short posts like reviews and other brief articles too, as long as the content is well-researched and appealing. It is hard to overestimate the importance of evergreen content for the website SEO as it stays relevant for a longer period of time and keeps delivering new traffic and social shares. WordPress offers plenty of resources to help improve your content and make it more optimized for the search engines, such as the Readability option of the Yoast SEO plugin.

Website Speed

Website speed is hugely important when it comes to WordPress SEO. Page speed matters to visitors and search engines alike. Website owners have less than 5 seconds to engage visitors before they abandon the site and over 74% of users accessing the mobile site will click out if it takes longer than 5 seconds to load. The best way to fix this is by using a fast such as Lunarpages, implementing a Content Delivery Network like MaxCDN or Photon option from Jetpack , and optimizing your site to boost page speed accordingly. For example, by using cache plugins for a WordPress powered site, such as W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.

WordPress- The Only Way Up

SEO trends keep growing quickly but you do not have to spread your resources for everything all at once. Just keep up with the current trends, and filter out the rest to build your SEO strategy slowly. Follow simple steps like embracing Google Analytics for tracking your performance, changing the default media settings, focusing on updating and enhancing the quality of your content to make your WordPress site rank high in search engines.

Most web hosts offer some form of optimized or managed WordPress services with site-friendly features, including automatic data backups, page caching, and automatic CMS updates. You can get online support 24/7/365 via the Lunarpages Help Desk or check out our WordPress tutorial guide for beginners.

WordPress Design Trends

WordPress Design Trends For 2017

WordPress is an incredible Content Management System for website content creation and design, cornering over 59% of the market share. WordPress-based websites are more dynamic with built-in blogging features, news feeds, sliders, ability to re-design ‘on the fly’ and easy interactive social media integration. Design choices are a vital part of every web development project and your layout is just as important as elegant code, so be sure to have an outstanding WordPress web design expert to maximize returns on your investments. In 2016, new web trends such as hamburger menus and one-page themes relegated old styles such as sidebars and sliders to obscurity. While some of the most popular WordPress design trends of last year will still influence web fashion in 2017—including mobile-friendly designs, vertical split screen, custom illustrations, extraordinary navigation, bold typography and more—it is time to embrace the latest design trends too. WordPress is only getting better with fantastic new features and improvements. Following some simple design rules can turbo-charge the overall design sensibility of your WordPress website in 2017 to make your website discernible from the competition.

Get To Know Current Design Trends

Research and analyze major design trends to stay current and create visual engagement. There is the effective motion design technique of parallax scrolling for added depth and infinite scrolling which have become popular because of the scroll-heavy design trend in favor at the moment. Instead of flipping from page to page, readers can scroll through the site, reducing the number of clicks needed for the user to get the information they need. Parallax creates visual interest in the page design. Another trend that is gaining popularity is material design, which is an effort by Google focused on a mobile-first approach. The idea is to provide a seamless design experience across platforms, products and services. Then there is the card-based design which emphasizes the eye-catching visual display of condensed information to draw in readers.

Importance Of Stylized Fonts

The days of limited fonts are thankfully gone and improved browser support for web fonts means that the focus is firmly on fonts, font sizes and font styles. The ideal stylized fonts and font sizes should draw attention to the content itself and it should suit the overall design of your site. No more safe and boring Comic Sans, Times New Roman and Georgia. Designers are flexing those design muscles to find the perfect font that will make the text in your site more interesting. The way we view text on the web is changing with easily accessible web fonts from Google Fonts, FontArk or Typekit. The coming year will be about making a strong statement with dramatic fonts such as Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers.

Mobile Usability

Mobile is the future, with more people already using mobile devices to browse the web than desktop devices makes mobile optimization no longer optional, but rather required. Even Google just announced testing of mobile-first websites in November 2016. Google algorithms will soon be indexing content primarily using the mobile version of a site to rank pages. So having a responsive site design is of utmost importance. Check to see if your WordPress site passes the test using Google’s mobile-friendly tool. Mobile-first WordPress themes that are fully responsive and optimized for all mobile devices will be popular in 2017.

Vibrant Hand-drawn Iconography and Illustrations

Icon trends this year will directly impact web design especially WordPress design trends. So, put your sketching skills to use in website design framework—from the site’s background to hand-drawn icons or other web design elements. Vibrant and bold illustrations can be really effective as contrast against clean and simple typography. How about adding a touch of whimsy to your otherwise formal site with illustrated outline icons? Designers also prefer using hand-drawn illustration for Call to Action pointers such as ‘Contact Us’ as a contrasting visual lead-on to increase conversions. This style works seamlessly with almost any design.

Video Headers

WordPress recently introduced Twenty Seventeen in 4.7 or “Vaughan,” as the first default theme for business websites. This new theme has four customizable panels on the front page for displaying content, custom logo upload and extends the Custom Header feature to introduce core support for video headers. Video headers are decorative header images with motion. They play automatically and loop by default. Video headers and video backgrounds have been around in the web design industry but it was rarely seen on WordPress themes. But WordPress developers are now looking to adopt this new WordPress design trends to attract the attention of visitors. Locally hosted mp4 and mov files, as well as YouTube videos, can be used for video headers by default, but it is possible to create custom video handlers for additional sources as well. 2017 will see more WordPress themes with video headers for an enhanced visual experience.

Multipurpose WordPress Themes

Multipurpose themes are going to get even more popular among WordPress users and developers in 2017. Multipurpose themes are extremely customizable and offer more freedom for users to build a more personalized theme for their websites no matter what type of brand, company, organization or cause it may be. WordPress theme frameworks, such as Genesis are set to become trendy. Check out some of the most popular multipurpose WordPress themes including Uncode, Impreze, Brooklyn, Kallyas or Kalium for unparalleled ease of use, flexibility and robust creative power.

What Else?

Designers continue to develop visually captivating and bold styles to convey the brand message, while improving ease of use for the visitor. These are just a few of the WordPress design trends that can help you build a modern and trendy personal or business website also there are may web builders available as plugins for WordPress such as Beaver Builder and Page Builder by SiteOrigin. If you think that there are other WordPress design trends or web design techniques that should have been mentioned in this post, please Tweet your reflections with us using @Lunarpages

digital marketing

Modify Your Digital Marketing to Fit the User Experience

Prior to the 1900s, when it was mostly based on the concept of supply and demand, marketing was considered to be more of an economic issue. Marketers did not give customers’ purchase behavior much – if any – thought.

By the mid-50s, relationships with consumers became more of a focus. Now look! Today, everything revolves around the consumer (or user) experience (UX). Our challenge has become much more in how to keep up with and respond to the ever-evolving UX.

User Experience – Then and Now

In 2005, Investopedia stated: “The ultimate goal of marketing is to match a company’s products and services to the people who need and want them, thereby ensuring profitability.”  That’s still how we view the act of marketing in context with UX.

Our main challenge is that people change – as do their behaviors. Technology changes, too. And, we must continually keep informed in both arenas if we’re to reach customers effectively and maintain dialogue.

In the past, our main goal was to sell more. Now, we want people to buy more. Though that may sound like it’s the same thing, it’s not. Now, we really must focus on garnering and maintaining a deep understanding of exactly who our customers are – what they want, and the path they travel to get it. And then, modify our digital marketing efforts in order to meet them where they are. Today, that’s the best marketing course of action to take in order to boost sales and increase the bottom line.

How to Increase User Experience

Let’s talk about approaches to modify your marketing efforts to fit the UX.

As we, at GlobalDirective, have mentioned in our blogs from time-to-time, customers today are much savvier. They start their research much earlier in the buying process. That’s why we need to make contact sooner. We can’t wait until they’re actually ready to make the purchase to reach out.

To do this, we have to focus on the right things at the right time. We can’t solve a non-existent problem. What we need to do is identify a potential problem and then construct a good solution for that particular problem or need.

Take these steps for success:

  1. Foster recognition: No two ways about it, you have competition. And, you have to work hard to stand out from among them. We know your website is your brand’s showcase. That’s where you proclaim to the world just how great you are. But, how are you going to get prospects to it so they, too, can learn all about you and find out just how wonderful you are?

 

First thing – amazing SEO. Prospects must be able to find you easily in their organic search. A few well-thought-out and well-placed paid ads will also help.

 

Other methods to get them to your site include creating a presence on a few unique social media platforms and channels where you know you can engage with your target audience. Remember: your plan is to have them recognize you long before they realize their need or pain. And, you want to begin building trust by having them consider you an expert in your field.

 

  1. Familiarization: Once prospects come to your social media platform or to your website, you need to engage them. As with any new acquaintance, you want to build a rapport where they become familiar with who you are. To accomplish that goal, write all your content in a way that is clear, confident and comfortable.

 

  1. Consideration: As mentioned, communication between your brand and the consumer goes back and forth. It is a two-way communication. With that in mind, how can you facilitate good communication, and make it easy for them to explore your product or service? Three good ideas that come to mind are: test and prioritize your objectives; optimize your calls to action (CTAs); and use pricing variances as filters.

 

  1. Continue to learn: As you tweak your onboarding processes, consider these actions: schedule drip emails; communicate promptly and regularly on your social media channels and whatever you do or however you do it, continue to learn about your target market and their behaviors. This is key to modifying your efforts.

Tip: Google has a myriad of free tools you can use to accomplish your goals. Search ‘Google Tools’. You will be surprised at what they have available to help you.

A Few Planning Caveats

Please keep in mind that you don’t want to create a marketing program, plan or campaign of any kind without doing your due diligence. You could easily waste valuable time and resources if you don’t execute comprehensive research.

  • You need to know, for instance: who, specifically, is your target audience? And, what marketing mediums would work best to reach them?
  • Of course, budget planning is critical and your timeframe matters.
  • Finally, you must track each campaign. Was it successful? Maybe not. Knowing this is vital to your later planning.

These planning details could make or break all of your marketing efforts. You’ve heard the adage ‘measure twice and cut once’? Remember always: planning before execution.

The Benefits of Working to Fit Your UX

If there is one thing we know for certain. People are different. Demographics are distinctive. Generations are unique. Their particular life experiences mold them and differentiate them. It is up to us to never stop learning and evolving with them. And, it is imperative to keep up with technology changes, too.

Yes, all of this takes quite a bit of effort. But, in order to understand your audience and to reach them, the legwork must be undertaken. We’ll be the first to admit, this is a lot to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  We have been placed in the 97% percentile of Google partners.  That means that we’re not just doing some things right, we’re doing a lot of things right.  And we can help you with those “things” too.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

Taxonomy for design & Why Use It on Your Site?

What is taxonomy? It is vital if you are in the middle of a site design or redesign, and provides a method of organization so there is no frustration when organizing it.

You want your visitors to not only find what they are looking for quickly, but you want them to linger a while and explore your site. And, if you have a lot of content, you’ll want to be able to find it easily. Your site’s success – or lack thereof – sits on the foundation of its organization.

Taxonomy: An Organizational Method

So, what is taxonomy and how can it help get you better organized?

Taxonomy is a hierarchical structure for the classification or organization of data that enables websites to be categorized according to topics and types, enabling easy information retrieval.

To me, the most beneficial aspect of taxonomy is that is reduces manual content management. It allows you to dynamically retrieve and display anything on a page based on enabled tags or structured fields within your content. Taxonomy gives you the opportunity to balance the page’s content with other relevant information.

How Does Taxonomy Work?

Logistically, the way it works is that you are making content load dynamically when a page is accessed by programming a search on any number of taxonomy tags or other fields within your content block or page.

No doubt, you’ve seen this, but haven’t recognized what was going on behind the scenes. Amazon’s site includes taxonomy-driven content publishing. Whenever you log in and go to a page of interest, notice how when you scroll down a little you’ll see a section telling you other customers who bought this bought that, too. Or, it will show you what you should buy today based on what you bought yesterday.

Another example can be found at online news services, such as Reuters. If you’ve ever signed up with one, you’ve been given the opportunity to personalize your experience by your unique interests. That way, you don’t have to waste your time scrolling through hours of news you’re not interested in. As soon as you log in, you get to see what matters to you.

Some taxonomy sites allow the visitor to interact and filter in ways I just mentioned. But, other sites don’t require user interaction at all. You can also develop a site with only a little user interaction.

 Taxonomy Considerations

If your site has proper taxonomy, you will be able to bridge across subjects, and better manage and often reuse your content – at scale. Of course, it will assist with effective navigation and will, ultimately, provide a better product and brand alignment. At the end of the day, it will improve SEO and findability, and even support social sharing.

When creating a sound taxonomy, the first few things to consider is its projected longevity and flexibility. This means thinking ahead to what your site might become – what additions might occur down the road. You’ll also want to think from the perspective of what terms your visitors might use and what structure will help support your business goals and help your content perform optimally. And, don’t forget to understand the scope of your project. Taxonomies can easily get out of hand.

To develop the scope of your taxonomy, imagine a Venn Diagram. The taxonomy lies at the intersection of your business context (or purpose), content and users – which are your target audience.

The Benefits of Structuring Your Own Taxonomy

Taxonomy can be a huge boon for your website. However, equally clear is that this is not something that can be built overnight. It requires strong input from both your multi-disciplined team and from your users. You have to thoroughly understand your target audience and have a good grasp on how they think. After all, you’re creating something that should be almost intuitive.

Taxonomy requires vision and commitment to plan and execute. Many companies don’t bother to standardize data definitions. Yes, it takes real time to properly define your data. But, the many benefits of having a taxonomy structure under your site are huge. Not only for your users but for your team. The many, many ways you can utilize such a structure are endless.

As you can understand, developing a taxonomy can be quite daunting.  GlobalDirective can assist your team to structure your data.  Because we have been placed in the 97-percentile of Google partners, we’re not just doing a few things right, we’re doing most everything right. Allow us to show you how to achieve real success.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

Start Your Dream Blog In 5 Easy Steps

Blogging is a hugely popular means of communicating and disseminating information and news nowadays. There are millions of blogs online as more people are taking to it to express their ideas and creativity. Your blog can be exactly what you want it to be from a simple web log, or a public journal to even a collaborative space for people with similar interests. The only roadblock in the way of aspiring bloggers is not having adequate knowledge about the technical basics of how to go about getting their first blog up and running. We have put together a simple Blogging 101 guide to help you get started right away.

Guide To Create a Dream Blog

Here’s a quick look at the few simple steps you will need to run through in order to start your dream blog:

  • Choose your blogging platform
  • Get a domain name and set up your own webhosting
  • Configure and design your blog
  • Start producing content for your readers
  • Marketing your blog

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of each step in the guide to help you start your first dream blog.

Step 1- Choose Your Blogging Platform
You first need to select a blogging platform so that you can get your content up onto the web. There are many open source platforms around for building your blog and they are supported by most web hosting companies. The main blogging platforms you can choose from are:

WordPress – is a massively popular blogging platform with countless plugins/add-ons and customizable content management system (CMS) offering superior features built for bloggers so that they have complete control over how their blog looks

Ghost – is the new kid on the blogging block and it has created a lot of buzz in the blogosphere

Drupal – is a popular blogging platform but it is difficult for novices

Joomla – has a great CMS but there is a steep learning curve involved
For those who want to avoid paying for a blogging platform – however small the cost—you can grab one for free from Blogger, WordPress.com or Tumblr. But before you take a decision, know that free blogs have downsides too, including:

  • You won’t be able to get a custom domain name with many of the free blogging platforms, which can seem unprofessional to potential subscribers and customers.
  • There are many limits to free blogs such as level of customization or available bandwidth for uploads. Moreover you will not be able to fully monetize your blog.
  • With Blogger or Tumblr or the free version of WordPress you don’t actually own your blog and they can shut you down anytime without any prior warning. All your site content can be deleted with no way to recover it for even minor indiscretions such as using copyrighted images by mistake.

Step 2- Get a domain name and Set up Webhosting
Next you will need a domain name, which is the URL or the site address for your blog online. Every blog should have its own domain but it can be hard to find a domain name that isn’t taken! For your blog, choose a short name that can be easily remembered. Also consider its uniqueness and what the domain says about your brand. Do remember to take into consideration copyright and trademark factors when selecting your domain name.  Once you have a domain for your blog, you need to think of where your blog will be stored online. Selecting a reliable webhost is essential because this company will be responsible for putting your website up on the internet so that anyone online can see it. All the content for your blog will be saved on there. Investing a little money on domain registration and a good webhost will ensure that your site gets backed up regularly and you can recover your website for any reason. It is wise to get your domain registered from the same place that you get your blog hosted to save you from future headaches.

You can get your dream blog up and running with the Starter Blog Hosting package from Lunarpages at a super affordable rate of $3.95/mo. Lunarpages offers fast and easy setup for WordPress installation, intuitive control panel for easy website file management and 24/7 technical support.  If you already have a domain registered, Lunarpages will provide you with the necessary information to easily transfer your domain. You can install WordPress on your blog in just a few clicks through Lunarpages and then make changes from the WordPress administrator area.

Step 3- Configure and Design Your Blog
Take your time to configure WordPress themes as it controls the look and feel of your blog. You do not need coding expertise or design knowledge to design your dream blog. WordPress theme is a pre-designed template for you to customize your blog exactly how you want it to look. There are two aspects to every theme: the framework and the design element. To make your blog standout in the crowded blogosphere, first impressions with an impressive design theme count for a lot. You may select from thousands of free themes available online, but investing in a premium theme can help improve your brand image. Additionally, they are secure, fast, easy to navigate, and responsive designed for both mobile and desktop. You will find that they are also easy to customize and install. You can find themes for your blog at Themeforest, StudioPress or the WordPress Library.

Installing your theme is even easier as it comes in a .zip file format and you can upload it direct to your WordPress Dashboard by logging into your WordPress blog. If it is a free theme, you can click Install on the preview screen of your WordPress dashboard. WordPress also allows you to switch themes or go back to your old theme with just a few clicks and without fear of losing any precious content or images.

WordPress allows you to install and use plugins through its dashboard to make your blog feature rich and more functional. Do keep your added plugins to a minimum and install just the best ones you need.

Step 4- Start Producing Content For Your Readers
The soul of a successful blog is in its writing. If no one wants to read your content then your blog will not get too many subscribers. The two main types of content that you can create for your blog in WordPress are ‘Pages’ and ‘Posts’. Pages are static pages that will not see much change and it helps link to and from your navigation area/menus on your blog, such as the ‘About Page.’ Regular posts are what appear on the front page of your blog, with comments and the date of publishing.

The aim of a blog is to ultimately provide valuable content that people actually want to read and share with their friends. To create great content, you need to put thought into more than just words. Blogs should not be huge block of text without any visual breaks (such as bulleted lists). Posts should include images or videos and you can use stylized fonts and colors to make your content stand apart from the rest.

Step 5- Marketing Your Blog
You may have setup your blog properly and published great content but this is no guarantee of anyone ever discovering it online. For your blog to grab more eyeballs, you need to promote your blog correctly. There are several methods you can utilize to properly market your blog including:

  • Social networks– When you publish your blog post do make sure to post a link on your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account. Promoting your post on social media platforms improves your chances of getting more shares and you may also see an increase in traffic to your blog.
  • Commenting on other blogs– You can access people with similar interest areas by leaving a comment on other related blogs with a link back to your own blog. Make sure not to abuse this method and only submit a useful comment to get people interested in wanting to learn more from your blog.
  • Guest posting– You can also get readers of other blogs to hear about your blog by writing guest posts. Get in touch with other blog owners and offer to write a post for their site with a link to your blog.
  • Online forums– Make sure you join popular online forums related to your topic to make helpful posts on the site. Most forums do allow you to post a link to your site in the signature at the bottom of every post you write. If your forum posts are high quality and informative, people will surely want to click on your blog to read more.

Now that you know the technical side of setting up your blog, let the fun times roll. There will be a lot of learning along the way but don’t let that overwhelm you. Welcome to the blogosphere and enjoy expressing yourself in your new blog.

How to Effectively Manage Your Website

When investing in a new website, many people mistakenly believe that designing and launching a site is all the work that is needed to maintain a presence on the Internet. Unfortunately a website is never a finished product because it needs to be constantly evolving in order to keep up with advances in the fast-paced digital world. Visitors will click out of your website disgruntled, if there are broken links, pages load slowly, or content on it is not updated regularly. The lack of proper web management also gives the impression of a business not paying attention to its customer experience. On a security point, hackers too are regularly trying to exploit sites by stealing data.  The fallout from a website hack can be huge.  The costs of a hacked or broken website far outweigh the investment on regular site management to stay secure within its operating environment. Therefore, websites cannot work flawlessly without regular maintenance to keep everything up-to-date and secure.

Whether you do the tasks yourself or hire out the work for website maintenance, it still needs to get done. To effectively manage your site, you need to consider five key areas:

  • Content
  • Code
  • Performance
  • Backups
  • Security

1. Managing Your Site Content

It is so important to keep creating fresh and relevant content for your site—which can include text, product information, images, videos, free giveaways and more—to draw in new visitors and engage existing customers to read, share and comment. It will benefit you to publish regularly, support content sharing, and manage comments on your site to encourage people to check back often because it will give you a boost in your search engine rankings. To stay on track, decide on a publishing schedule and the types of content to publish. Consider the following types of content for your site-

  • Product updates– Announcements for launch or discontinuation of products and price changes. You will need to update navigation and create a new page for the product or remove the pages of discontinued offerings.
  • Company News – Update all information about your company and employees, whether it is media mentions, news articles related to your site or products, new staff announcements, etc as social proof to build trust among visitors.
  • Feature Addition– Go over your site and make improvements to features as and when necessary, such as adding a blog or buttons/links to social profiles, FAQ section, etc.
  • Giveaways – Consider including free downloads, giveaways or running a contest periodically to create buzz around your site.

To get your content noticed by visitors and search engines, you need to get the word out using available tools discussed below.

  • Subscription – You can lure subscribers to your site with free offers of downloadable e-book or whitepapers.
  • RSS Feeds – Create an RSS feed for your regular readers and use a widget to make subscribing easy.
  • Social media – Identify the right social media platforms for your target audience and build your presence on these networks by scheduling regular posts.  Use available social media plugins like WP to Twitter, Postcron and Share This to post new content and prompt readers to share it through their own social media accounts.

If you are running a blog or a community site then it is absolutely essential to enable comments so your readers feel more engaged with your content. Even though you want your readers to voice their opinions, you still have to moderate comments before they are published and decide on how to respond to them.

2. Managing Your Site’s Code

None of the content will be displayed in browsers without some code to power your site. All websites, particularly those with databases and built on Content Management Systems, depend on complicated lines of code and specific software on your web host. Third party software, like WordPress and Joomla are always updating their software for bug fixes, security patches or feature enhancements. Your website may quickly become outdated if the code, database tables, or software is not upgraded regularly with the latest patches and security releases. The plugins, extensions and themes on your site should also have code that is efficient, reliable, and compatible.

3. Managing Your Site Performance

For a high-performing site, you have to identify areas of improvement in your website ranging from design, user interface, and content. You have to constantly manage the performance of your site against its specific goals—such as generating more traffic, increasing conversions, etc.—to encourage visitors to return. To maximize your website performance, you also need to manage the following tasks:

  • Search Engine Optimization to help your site appear on the first page of the search results for the keywords/phrase your target audience may be using to look for content.
  • Conversion optimization to encourage visitors to take action such as consuming your content, joining your community, making a purchase, subscribing, or calling your business.
  • Gain a better understanding of your site, stats and conversions, and how people behave on it using plugins such as Google Analytics.
  • Track in-site activity like bounce rates, referring sites, geo-location of visitors to your site, etc. through your web hosting account.

Optimize your site through responsive design for all platforms your visitors may use, including mobile and touch devices as well as desktop PCs. Not only should the site’s layout automatically resize on smaller screens, navigation should be easy too. Alternatively use an adaptive theme to ensure responsiveness for layout across platforms, through the use of CSS and also server side techniques with the use of PHP.  You also have to ensure fast page load times by testing site speed regularly so that it does not impact traffic adversely.

4. Managing Your Site Back-Up

You can avoid potential headaches by backing up your website regularly. Even if your web host provides backup services for your site on their servers, it is wise to take a few minutes to create and store back-ups as soon as you make changes or edits to your site. Do not rely on doing this job manually.  If you do, Murphy’s Law says that you will forget to back-up your site the day before it goes down or is hacked. Rather install and configure a plugin to take regular automatic back-ups of your site and store them securely. Consider the times and days when you do most of the work on your site, and schedule backups accordingly.

5. Managing Your Site Security

People with malicious intent often trawl sites to discover vulnerabilities in code and backdoors to gain access to your site.  Therefore, it is vital to manage the security of your server and website software by implementing the latest patches and new security releases. It would be wise to take some additional steps to guard against hackers and spammers on your site, as outlined below:

  • Have secure site administration
  • Ensure correct configurations for added security
  • Use SFTP instead of FTP when editing or loading site files
  • Use strong passwords for access to admin directory
  • Only use plugins and themes from trusted sources.
  • Lock down parts of your site or restrict access by including Restrict access by IP address

If you’re running an e-commerce site or multisite installation, use SSL for added protection to encrypt data between the browser and the server.

Be sure to monitor your site for attacks so you can take action as quickly as possible. Once an exploit has taken place, hackers often leave depository code to continue manipulating your system for their benefits, so you also need to address the source of the hack and fix any damage it has caused, and then upgrade the website code.

Website Management Made Easy

For a high-performing and secure site that engages successfully with its audience, you will have to actively manage the following major tasks on an ongoing basis:

  • Creating content to engage with readers
  • Keeping your code and software up to date
  • Monitoring your site’s performance to improve reliability and page speed
  • Improving search engine optimization and conversion optimization to make your site valuable to visitors
  • Setting up regular automated back-ups so that you can restore your site anytime and anywhere
  • Enhancing your site’s security to protect from hackers and spammers

Your web designer should provide you with a bug & glitch-free, professional website and your web host should ensure a secure and reliable hosting environment with updated software, security patches, and backups of your website. But ultimately it is your responsibility as the site owner to ensure regular attention and maintenance for your website.

Rise and Fall of Web Browsers

The landscape of web browser usage has been ever-changing since the advent of the internet.  Over the years we have had  an array of options to choose from, namely Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Remember Netscape Navigator?  They dominated the web browsing world in the 1990’s and were  overtaken by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer around 2002. Internet Explorer (IE) went on to become the undisputed king among web browsers and made its way onto most computers. IE remained dominant in the web browser sphere even amidst the threat posed by new challengers Firefox and Safari. It eventually lost its crown of ‘the internet browser of choice’, in 2008, when Google launched Chrome. In the age of high speed internet other browsers raced ahead with improved functionality and performance. Here is a brief look at some of the web browsers around today.

Google Chrome

Chrome has a light footprint in its basic form that runs well on the low-price/low-spec consumer PCs but it can also run seamlessly across multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets. Chrome was created by Google specifically to quickly load web pages and interact with diverse applications on the web.  Iit therefore has a built-in Flash and PDF reader.  The clean, simple and well organized layout of Chrome works well, without the clutter of menus and tools. The browser enables shortcuts to your preferred web apps for quick access. Using your Google account, Chrome can make synchronization between your smartphone and your desktop browser easier.  Iit can help seamlessly sync bookmarks, browser preferences and extensions so that it is accessible on any computer. Chrome has advanced tab browsing with a single click, which allows users to create new tabs, rearrange them, drag tabs to open them in a new window, and also to check tabs recently visited. The Chrome architecture runs each tab independently so when a tab crashes it doesn’t cause the entire browser to crash. 

One of the main drawbacks for Chrome when it initially launched was the absence of add-ons and extensions.  To address this, Google introduced an extension gallery for more flexibility in January 2010. Chrome has been designed for a more secure experience on the web with built-in malware and phishing protection, auto updates for the latest security fixes, and it even vets websites for phishing and malware to display a warning. It also uses sandboxing to prevent malware activities from one tab affecting others and installing itself on your computer. Chrome also has privacy browsing in incognito mode, wherein it deletes all cookies and passwords from that session once closed.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is a free cross-platform web site browser available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Firefox web browser has many useful features such as tabbed browsing, integrated download manager, internal search, form auto-fill, a pop-up blocker, parental control, and source code viewing facility. Firefox’s most recent updates has given the browser a much needed fillip, with a new three bar button menu tab design called Australis. Firefox’s main menu focuses on simplicity, ease of use and improved speed of navigation. It is easy to open private windows, find add-ons, and set up Adblock Plus. Firefox interface is intuitive and stocked with essential and powerful features, such as a fully integrated spell-checker to correct your work directly on the web, virtual sticky notes, and an automatic session restore. Firefox makes it easy to access saved bookmarks, archived browsing history, and frequently visited sites as pinned apps. The browser’s Smart Location Bar makes it easy to locate sites and adapt according to the user preferences. But the main reason for Firefox’s popularity, especially among developers, is its plugin capability. Mozilla has a dedicated site for plugins, organized according to type and popularity. Plugin installation in Firefox is pretty easy and as simple as clicking through a few notifications, then restarting your browser. Firefox browser is much safer and more secure than Internet Explorer as it also renders websites more correctly. Mozilla Firefox has automatic updates for security fixes to protect against viruses, spyware, malware, phishing sites and pop-ups. It also provides customized security settings for cookies, downloads, passwords and add-ons.

Microsoft Edge

As of January 12th, 2016, Microsoft no longer supports Internet Explorer (IE) 8, 9 or 10. Version 11 may stick around for a little longer with security updates, fixes, and technical support on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. Older versions of Internet Explorer before version 7 had serious security flaws and CSS rendering. If you want to remain loyal to Microsoft, turn to its new offering Edge, which has been launched as the default browser with Windows 10. Edge stands out among the known but niche web browsers such as Dolphin, Silk, Opera and Vivaldi.

While the look may be similar to IE, Edge has a minimalistic interface and a well-designed ‘New Tab’ page, with a light footprint on memory resources which helps cut down on page load time. Edge makes for a better user experience with faster surfing and no jerky stop-motion scrolling. IE supported Active X and legacy technologies but Edge does not. Edge is also well integrated with other parts of the Microsoft ecosystem such as Cortana and One Drive. It also has a distraction free reading mode, which allows you to edit and download pages to read them at your convenience. With Edge you can also make notes, or doodle directly on the web to share with friends, family or colleagues. Edge also includes web extensions and needs only minor code alterations for existing extensions on Firefox and Chrome. Windows 10 and Edge has enhanced Smart Screen and Windows Defender, with integrated Microsoft account functionality, improving productivity and security.

Safari

Safari web browser, built by Apple Computers, is included in Mac OS X operating system and it is also the default web browser on your iPhone. Safari is well integrated with iOS and is specifically optimized to run on your iPhone. Recently the Safari web browser has been produced for the Windows operating system too. Safari offers a remarkably fast browsing experience, with an additional feature of the Reader button on the right side of the search bar, which helps cut all the advertisements and visual distractions in any article for easy reading. The browser features include tabbed browsing, true integration with QuickTime technology, spell check, password manager, and image blocker. While it also boasts private browsing mode, quick access to bookmarks and favorites, as well as multiple webpage sharing ability, it sorely lacks the customization features. The browser does provide protection from all types of malware and phishing websites and allows you to delete private data such as your browsing history.

Opera

Opera started back in 1995, with its software running on a Google Chromium system. It is a very flexible free web browser, which is compatible across all platforms like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Smartphones, Nintendo DS, Wii.  Opera is a complete internet suite with a new integrated mail client and chat. Opera browser is feature rich with tabbed & speed-dial browsing, multimodal interaction, privacy control, and comprehensive user support., It also enables tab stacking vertically and one-click bookmarking. Opera has security features to check websites for malware and phishingand allows the option of erasing private data from browsing history and cookies.  The browser also uses advanced encryption when you visit a secure website.

Vivaldi

The latest web browser we are going to review is Vivaldi.  Vivaldi has a simple interface for users who want a fast online browsing experience but it also has just enough advanced customization settings available for the discerning users. Surfers can stack and tile tabs and use shortcuts including those which can be controlled by swiping a finger or a mouse. Vivaldi has a panel placed on the left side of the browser, which gives users one-click access to features such as bookmarks, mail, downloads, etc. Vivaldi is fast making a name for its speed and ease of use, but the choice for a cleaner or cluttered UI is left to the user discretion, with the option to toggle panels on and off. Vivaldi is beta testing features like syncing across desktops and built-in access to your web client of choice.

Finding the Right Browser For You

The best browsers are flexible, easy to set up & install, intuitive, and can load real-world webpages quickly. They are extensible and tie in other devices & services into a unified ecosystem.  Besides surfing the web, browsers today come with a number of plugins and addons offering intangible benefits and functionality in the app itself.  Any of the browsers discussed above will meet these criteria. 

website design

Freshen Up Your Website- 5 Trending Website Design Tips

In the dynamic web design industry, trends are forever changing with advances in technology, tools and web platforms. Though some ongoing trends may prevail for longer, many keep changing to align with expectations of the target audience. But good web design, either when conforming or challenging current norms, will always incorporate principles of visual design, perception, and the human-computer interaction. Last year was all about user experience, responsive design and minimalist approach in websites but with developments in the most popular web frameworks, you can expect exciting and cutting-edge trends & styles in web design for 2016. Read on to know how you can use current web design trends in vogue to liven up your website.

1. Color Trends – Bold is Beautiful

To make your website stand out among similar looking sites, with the same WordPress themes and borrowed UI elements like buttons and menus, it is imperative to bring in variation. Use bold colors! The use of color is the most powerful and engaging design practice to easily grab the attention of the user. Breathe new life into the design of your site with vibrant, bright pastel color tones. Do not ignore the rich color palette any longer. Replace dull, understated and overused tones such as metallic chrome or muted blue with solid bold accent color shades like lilac, web green, cherry red. Do not be shy of using happy, rich colors to define your brand and help enrich the user’s journey online.

2. Make a Statement with Graphic Text

Typography has always been a vital component of great web design and branding.  The creative integration of texts and other graphic elements of images, textures and patterns can have a massive impact on the visitor’s perception of the overall site look. The way we view text online is changing with the focus on fonts, font sizes and styles moving from safe, plain and boring to bold, large fonts. It has become easier to make a design stand out with use of different web fonts due to its easy accessibility, thanks to Google Fonts and Typekit. It is possible for designers to make customizable changes by tweaking default designs from stroke thickness, character width, and serif typefaces, using Prototypo, and FontArk. Be adventurous and harness the power of artistic and dramatic fonts to make a strong statement.

3. Design Around the Customer Journey

Designers and site owners should preferably be guided by the customers’ journey through the website. Customer-centric web design does just that, with its emphasis on structuring and optimizing the site in order to make that journey better. Instead of focusing just on promotional offers and sales, concentrate on implementing a web design to attract your ideal buyer to further support them, speak to them and provide solutions to them as they go through your site. The goal is to allow the content on your site to speak to your audience in order to effectively convert visitors to valuable leads and sales. The customer-centric website design elements have to be in tune with the prospective customers. Most importantly, keep in mind Google’s algorithmic changes and customer behavior data. Your website has to load fast, be clearly organized & easy to navigate, have well-defined product/services, and contact information can never be more than a click away.

4. Layout Design- Centered Content or Split Content

Be goal-centric when choosing your layout design. Centered content layout is a powerful style, ideal for content-light pages, that is fast becoming an established practice on homepage designs. Centered content places the main message of the page right at the center of the screen with eye-catching visuals or smooth textures around it for a spectacular effect.  But if your pages are content- heavy, offering many products, services or categories, the preferred design layout is split-screen. Split content divides the content into wide sections, sometimes with a distinct look for each. Designers have more room for creativity, without endangering the clarity of content hierarchies. Split content gives users the choice of immediately heading where they want to, bringing them to the correct landing pages, thereby increasing the chance of converting.

5. Get Clever with Hidden Menus

There are many users that hate the omnipresent Hamburger Menu or navicon.  Help is at hand with the more intuitive navigation of clever menus. You can latch onto this new trend of using clever menus as it makes the user interaction simple and efficient through a clean design and by removing distracting menu objects. Hidden navigations only appear when the user is ready to move on and take action by clicking on the appropriate icon. Hidden menus work really well for responsive web design too, which is the standard for small screens. It may soon be fully responsive to even multi-directional scrolling.

Go From Drab to Fab!

These major web design trends along with essentials of flat design, material design, card layout, grid pattern and symmetrical sites are all going to change our web experience. Businesses should not shy away from updating their online presence to keep up with the demands of the modern, younger and more mobile consumer. Make sure your website is still hip and relevant in 2016. Incorporate these 5 hot design tips and your website will be sure to go from drab to fab!