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Ecommerce Website

10 Inspirational Ecommerce Website Designs

10 Inspirational Ecommerce Website Designs

Every business entrepreneur with products and services to sell online relies on an ecommerce website. A successful ecommerce website gives customers a better buying experience, where they can choose products, scroll and checkout easily, and this can potentially lead to more sales. Whereas bad site design and poor navigation has been found to be a major reason for abandoning a cart or deciding not to check out with an individual retailer. Moreover in the current digital retail environment, independent online stores are losing out on mindshare by not creating unique online shopping experiences. Besides acting as your brand’s digital checkout, your ecommerce site also has to sell the value and essence of the brand.

First Impression Is A Lasting Impression

Most people judge your business by the design and layout of your website. And you only get one chance to make a first impression, so it better be good. Turns out you have about two seconds to make a favorable impression, according to Malcolm Gladwell in his bestselling book “Blink.”  So it goes without saying that the design of your ecommerce site has to be spectacular and visually appealing to visitors at the very first glance for it to gain popularity. Using high-resolution, quality photos and good graphics can help grab eyeballs.

  1. Paul Valentine

The site opens with minimal text and hero image of a striking model drawing attention to their new collection of watches and prompting the shopper to scroll. The ecommerce design choices work to enhance the visuals of the product and enhance the quality of the stylish, high-end fashion brand.

  1. Mollusk Surf Shop

Mollusk showcases the best of what a surf company / brand represents through the high quality imagery of their chillout style of clothing line. The imagery catalog display of the ecommerce site draws the attention of shoppers to the items and clicking on any product opens up a full-scale image, along with a simple choice to change size and buy right away.

  1. Homer Hudson

Besides images, motion graphic demos, 360 videos of products and animations can be used to spellbind visitors. In the Homer Hudson site, animations and cinemagraphs have been used to good effect to highlight the different product choices, without being boring.

User Experience Design

Would you like to hang around a store with a messy, disorganized shop floor? Probably not! The same goes for an online store. If customers land on your webpage and are left confused by the cluttered layout and poor navigation, they will not know where they are going. The design of an ecommerce website should flow naturally so that everything is accessible and easy to find, simple navigate, CTAs to guide a customer, clear links for FAQs and contact page, and above all else easy to purchase. So keep this in mind when laying things out in web design.

  1. Lunet Eyewear

The ecommerce store for Lunet Eyewear consists of a clean navigation header and product placements with clear product descriptions of their latest version of sunglasses and simple call to action buttons, which makes the UX of the website so much better

  1. Shun Cutlery

The Shun Cutlery ecommerce site incorporates old school design patterns in a new and unique way. The Home page displays a full-screen photo carousel against a white background, along with a minimalist navigation menu which gives it a modern appearance. But the design elements such as the horizontal navigation menu are classic with familiar functionality.

Search Functionality

You want to make sure that customers browsing your store can refine and search for products on your site through a search feature, which is traditionally displayed prominently in the header section of the page. Laying the search feature in a clean and professional way, allows a customer to go on your website and search for anything they want.

  1. Bouguessa 

The Bouguessa site offers a modern twist on the search function by using the more relaxed mad-lib UI pattern. The customer gets to choose their preferred category from a drop-down in the context of the mad lib phrase around it. This search feature cues shoppers and helps them figure out how to navigate the site. But once on the product page, the layout is pretty traditional and familiar.

Mobile-friendly Design Elements

Most users browse websites on their mobile and tablet devices, so it must look good on a smaller screen. A mobile-friendly design with easy to click large CTAs, clear type, and condensed menu to save space (hamburger menu) and recognizable icons for cart and account pages go a long way in improving usability.

  1. Bill Blass

This trendy website incorporates beautiful product images, and a neat product menu on top center and a shopping cart and search icon on the top right corner, all of which makes it easy for mobile users to navigate the site.

  1. The Soap Co. 

This soap brand uses minimal design all the way to list the actual products right away and get the visitors shopping. It places the hamburger menu to the left corner to ensure that it is the first thing a user finds on the page and also to save space on a relatively small mobile screen.

  1. Whitmans New York 

Whitmans uses long page scroll design to give you more information about the restaurant site in a single product page. The navigation sticks to the top right and can be used to jump to different sections of the page to quickly access any information. Users certainly don’t want to keep clicking when browsing through mobile devices.

Stand Out From The Rest

Your ecommerce store should aim to look unique and stand out from your competition. This can be achieved by experimenting with different design elements like a playful color scheme, a fun logo or cool videos; anything that improves recall factor among your customers.

  1. Fotonaut

The design choices in this site from the bright yellow color scheme to the astronaut imagery and the creative copy work wonderfully well to present the product (party photo booth) as progressive.

Avoid every day, run-of-the-mill ecommerce website designs and embed high-quality content around the traditional shopping cart experience to keep your brand top of mind. We hope the above-mentioned list of ecommerce sites can inspire the design and marketing of your website.

animated gifs

How To Create Awesome Animated GIFs

Animated GIFs may not be a new digital trend as they have been around since 1987, but they are on the rise as they seem to have pervaded everything from popular culture to news to marketing campaigns. Anyone browsing the web will most definitely run into funny animated animal images, video clips of celebrities with funny quotes and jaw-dropping moments caught on tape. Some things do look better in motion. Think of an animated GIF as a hybrid between a still image and a video. They are soundless micro video clips that loop without a play button. In fact, GIFs have evolved into something of an art now because of their ability to convey emotion and information in an entertaining way. No wonder GIFs have become one of the most widely shared image formats via social network sites, messaging applications, and even text messages.

What Is A GIF?

A GIF is an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, which is essentially a digital image format that supports both static and animated images. You can create GIFs from a series of images that run on a loop, which makes it seem like a moving image. It is possible to create the images separately and then combine them together into the GIF.

GIF also lets you play a short video clip stripped of sound, in a far more condensed image format.

The trick to an eye-catching GIF is to create a dynamic visual that matches the mood of the message. The best thing about GIFs is that with a few minutes to spare, you can easily create an amazing animated GIF.

How To Create An Animated GIF In Photoshop

Most designers prefer using Photoshop for making their own GIFs. Learn how to make an animated GIF in Photoshop in just one-minute with this video tutorial from Adobe.

Sites and Software Tools to Create Animated GIFs

Create Animated GIFs With Image

There are tons of free online software tools available that allow users to create a GIF by customizing picture size and GIF speed. Check out Gickr, Makeagif, or GIPHY GIF Maker (free).

You can even produce a GIF using free software, such as The GIMP or Pixlr and Unfreez by simply selecting your images in their desired order of appearance and specifying the frame rate you’d like to apply. Then you can save your image using the .gif extension.

Create Animated GIFs With Video

You can create GIFs from video clips in Bloggif, ImgFlip and Gifsoup, either by importing videos or even from a YouTube URL. You can also use programs like Format Factory or QGifer to create video GIFs.  You will need to import or enter the URL of the desired video, set the beginning and end of your sequence, and then toggle your size, color, and loop option settings before clicking ‘Save.’

Experiment With Animated GIFs

For more complex GIFs, After Effects is the preferred choice of designers because it allows greater control over movement and timing functions. Check out the GIF making masterclass by James Curran.

GIFs resonate with many people because they are easy to consume and are a fun way to communicate. Animated GIFs have immense potential as they are limited only by your own imagination. Get creating and implementing GIFs!

cascading style sheets

Web Design with CSS3: The Next Generation

Cascading Style Sheets, commonly referred to as CSS, is a design language intended to simplify the process of designing web pages. Simply put, its a mechanism for adding style (e.g., fonts, colors, spacing) to Web documents. CSS3 is the latest version creating a buzz with web developers and designers and its important for business owners to understand the basics of Web Design with CSS3 and how it impacts their website.

The term cascading in Cascading Style Sheets refers to how browsers determine which styles to apply to a specific part of a web page. As web applications and technologies used to enhance websites advanced, users of the first two CSS generations found that the mark-up language couldn’t handle the complex requirements of more intricate websites.

To fix this problem CSS3 works in a module system, allowing separate components to be updated and edited gradually and individually, instead of all at once. Some of the most important CSS3 modules are:

  • Selectors
  • Box Model
  • Backgrounds and Borders
  • Text Effects
  • 2D/3D Transformations
  • Animations
  • Multiple Column Layout
  • User Interface

Web designers can build content-rich pages while using relatively lightweight coding requirements for things such as making 3D objects, rotating objects, maximize minimize with the help of hover, active links, and much more. Such an update can save a lot of time and energy, particularly for overworked designers and developers using Web Design with CSS3.

Using Web Design with CSS3, developers can now use impressive visual effects while building interfaces that are user-friendlier. As important, using CSS3 allows for cleaner, more professional looking sites that load faster, even with multiple effects and plugins. Not only is that important to keeping visitors on your website, but site speed is a ranking factor that major search engines take into account when indexing a page.

If you are considering building a new website make sure your web development team is using all the latest and greatest optimization techniques and technologies, including CSS3. By using modern standards like Web Design with CSS3 and HTML5, you can dramatically reduce the cost of building and maintaining a website when compared to legacy HTML-only pages. You can also greatly reduce the amount of physical bandwidth and hard disk space required, resulting in immediate long-term benefits for business.

Web Design with CSS3 is the way to go get started today pick your domain name and get online today with a real responsive design!

google search console

Getting Started with Google Search Console

Most website owners have heard of Google Webmaster Tools, which was renamed Google Search Console (GSC) in May 2015 but many still don’t use it. With most of the organic traffic coming from this search giant, Google Search Console has become ever more important in providing a wealth of search performance data about websites and mobile applications to webmasters, site owners, internet marketers and search engine optimization professionals. Let’s take a deeper look into what Google Search Console can do for you and how do you get started on it.

Importance Of Google Search Console

According to Google, there are best practices you can follow to improve how your site is indexed and ranked in search results. For anyone interested in monitoring and maintaining high rankings in the SERPs, Google Search Console is what you should be reviewing regularly. Along with Google Analytics, adding Google Search Console is one of the first things to do when starting a new site in order to optimize your website for search engines so that you can get an insight into how web visitors found you and other useful details about user behavior on your site.

GSC provides information about your sites performance for specific search phrases and queries. You can find out which of your posts get the most visitors from search or monitor the sites linking to you. It is also possible to detect any page not found errors, other HTML, or security issues that Google has discovered on your site. These are key indicators of the overall indexability of your site.

How to Start Using Google Search Console

Setting up GSC is fairly simple, once you have a Google account. Go to the Google Search Console page and sign in.

Step 1: Add a Property

Google Search Console needs you to add something to track, which it calls a property, and it can be a website or an Android app. For today example, we are going to proceed as though we are working with websites.

Once you have logged in, you will see an Add Property button on the homepage. Type in the name of the property and click the Add button.

Step 2: Verify Your Site

To prove ownership of your site, you get a number of verification options. Choose one. When the verification process is complete, you will see a big green check mark. Google recommends that you use more than one verification method for more resilient ownership.

Step 3: Link Google Analytics

You need to link your Google Search Console to your Google Analytics account so that they can seamlessly share information to provide you with even more meaningful data and reports to analyze your site performance. To do this, go into the site you want to link in the search console dashboard and from the drop-down menu click on the Settings icon to select Google Analytics property. Opt for the appropriate Google Analytics profile on the next screen, and click save.

Step 4: Generate a Sitemap

To ensure that Google is crawling your site properly and indexing all the relevant pages, you need to add a sitemap in any format supported by Google. Whatever method you choose, the end result will be a sitemap where you can point at the file (eg yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml) in Google Search Console.

Step 5: Submit Your Site to Google

You may already have submitted your site to Google when you set it up so that search bots can crawl your site but Google Search Console offers you another way to do this. To register a sitemap in Google Search Console, go to the Crawl menu on the left hand side of the main dashboard and Fetch as Google, then select the Fetch button. When complete, click on the Submit to Index button. Once done, you will get a report that the URL and linked pages have been submitted to Googles index.

The first time you add your website to the Google Search Console account, you will receive a notification from Google with a checklist of actions to Improve the search presence of yourdomain.com and links to other help resources within Google.

Exploring Google Search Console

The dashboard of the Search Console gives you a quick overview of any significant or critical messages that Google has sent you. You can get to know the current status of your site regarding Crawl Errors, Search Queries, and Sitemaps. You will also be notified via email.

The Search Console can be segregated into 6 main sections:

1. Messages – You will get mostly automated messages about your site to alert you to things such as an increase in the number of page not found  occurrences or a drop in rankings. You may also find information regarding manual penalties or other actions too.

2. Search Appearance– You get access to details on how your site and pages appear in the search results, including information about Structured Data (your schema.org data), Data Highlighter, Sitelinks, HTML Improvements (specifically titles and tags of your pages) and errors regarding Accelerated Mobile Pages, which allows you to easily fix any outstanding issues.

3. Search Traffic– Search Analytics allows you to sort and filter information about how well your site is performing in the search results based on queries, pages, countries, devices, search type and dates. You can view clicks, impressions, click-through rate and average position details for each query. You can also find information on backlinks and anchor texts, internal links and mobile-usability issues within the Search Traffic tab.

4. Google index– It provides information on how many of your pages are indexed and what keywords you are using the most. You can also remove URLs from Googles index in here, if you don’t want them to display any longer.

5. Crawl  This section gives you details on Errors (such as 404 page not found) found on your site. You can fix or redirect missing pages to improve the user experience on your site. You will also find Crawl stats on how frequently Googlebot crawls your content

6. Security Issues– If Google detects any suspicious activity within your site, such as malware infection or hacking, you will get a report in this section. It works as a potential warning system and is not a foolproof security system.

Final Thoughts

This brief introduction to the Google Search Console will hopefully have given you an idea about how you can access many powerful tools built into this console to monitor your sites performance in search results and improve content accessibility, detect malware and spam issues too. Google Search Console may lack the flash of Google Analytics, with no nifty charts or real-time data but a little quality time with GSC can vastly improve how your site performs in Googles index.

For a novice, this can be a bit overwhelming. Let us help. At DirectiveGroup we can help you set up and manage your Google Search Console so that you get the most out of it.

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

The Best Blogging Sites On The Internet

Internet-powered blogs first made its appearance in the late 1990s as a platform to share knowledge, ideas, thoughts, opinions or experiences. What used to be an online journal or diary, with a few followers is now the biggest innovation in the digital publishing industry. Blogging today is a social phenomenon successfully used by millions of individuals and businesses the world over. There are established companies, entrepreneurs, marketers and millionaires all in the blogging business, primarily to boost business growth and make money. Everyone knows that a company blog can improve your sites search engine optimization and herd swarms of traffic to your site through inbound links. But blogging really shines when it is used to promote your brand and also when garnering feedback and opinions through comments within the blog. Besides being a great customer service tool, blogging sites also create advertising revenue, promotes services and helps generate sales.

But first you must identify a blogging platform that is easy to use and has the required customization tools for your needs. Ultimately the goal is for your audience to be able to read and interact with your blog effortlessly.

Popular Blogging Sites

The choice of your blogging platform will ultimately depend on the focus of your blog and whether you want to make money from the blog itself. Here are four of the best blogging sites that you can turn to for creating winning blogs of your own.

Blogger.com

Googles blogger.com is one of the most trustworthy and reliable free blogging platforms in the blogosphere, with tons of features. Blogger supports drag-and-drop template editing, dynamic updating and geo-tagging too. This blogging site has an easy to use control interface and it takes you step-by-step through creating your site within minutes, which is why it is highly recommended for all beginners. You can create multi user blogs (supports up to 100 users), private blogs and blog posts with images and videos easily and can even monetize your blog with Google Adsense, Amazon and other monetization programs. Since Google runs this service, Blogger supported blogs are by default search engine friendly too and very secure. The only downside is limited support.

WordPress.com And WordPress.org

WordPress is a massively popular open source blogging site for hosting and running your blog. Blogs that are part of the WordPress network publish an astounding 2.13 million posts per day. With WordPress.org it is possible to either setup up a WordPress blog on your own server (you will need to sign up with a WordPress hosting provider) or create a WordPress-hosted blog at WordPress.com for free. WordPress is widely supported by most hosting companies. Though it isnt as simple to set up and configure, there are a variety of customizations and options available on this blogging site. WordPress.org has added extra features such as forums, online store, and membership options that can help grow your blog. Besides being highly flexible, there are limitless tools, over 45,000 free plug-ins and thousands of themes to help create a standout website. It boasts of unique features, such as the ability to customize your permalinks. You can use WordPress to manage a single person personal blog, online portfolios to multiple user blogs managed by an administrator or even large eCommerce sites. Thanks to its army of developers, WordPress is constantly improving and being updated. The limitation with WordPress.com is that users are not allowed to add java Script or PHP code into their blog so they cannot use Google Adsense, Amazon or other programs to monetize their blogs. If you wish to place ads and sell affiliate products, then look beyond WordPress.com.

Tumblr

Out of all the blogging sites, Tumblr is the most popular with younger audiences and visual bloggers, hosting over 339.5 million blogs currently. The platform is rather simple to use and focuses on creating a clutter free site based on photos, GIFs and videos, instead of text content. Tumblr supports its community of bloggers through a variety of options for sharing, reposting and reblogging content. You can gain more Tumblr followers and exposure, without spending as much time on original content creation. Bloggers prefer Tumblr because it has hundreds of ready to use themes and lots of ready to use third-party apps. You can even create your own theme and use your own custom domain. It is possible to schedule your blog posts or even post on your blog directly from your email box. You can also publish automatic updates on Twitter and Facebook about your latest blog posts. There is no limit to the number of people who can contribute to your blog on this micro blogging site. Find out more about why you should choose Tumblr over other blogging platforms. Tumblr is not a good choice for those who want complete control over copyright.

SquareSpace

Squarespace has a built-in mobile website, easy to use style editor, free Typekit fonts and appealing templates. It is possible to change everything from colors, to font, to spacing and sidebar width, without knowing how to code. You can add custom CSS on this platform for everything except theme and plugins. It lets you expand your services easily, which is awesome if you are using your blog for your business. Among all the other blogging sites, it is the preferred choice for photographers, online retail store owners, and musicians because their templates can make a site look professional and exclusive.

Your Blog Is Your Home On The Net

Not all blogging platforms are built equal and all of them have their unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you post a lot of images then Tumblr should be your pick, whereas for a small business owner, WordPress may be the ideal choice, as you will get full control over your site and also be able to increase your website visibility in search engines. Now that you know more about the best blogging sites available online, you can choose any one according to your blogging needs and embark on your blogging journey.

Best Background Ideas For Your Website

Along with ever increasing Internet speed and advancements in browser technology, the rules for website design also keep changing to be more effective and user-friendly. Today we consume things visually first and then by the content. It is the same for websites too. To get many clicks and visitors, your website design has to be simple, effective and responsive for every device (personal computer, mobile phone or tablet).

But when developing websites, most of the focus remains concentrated on the content and layout, whereas the website background is largely ignored. A background is the first impression that the visitor gets of your website and is the real differentiator between a boring and an interesting site. Choosing the right background patterns, colors, tones, and fonts does not just improve the aesthetics of your site but it can also help grab the audience attention to keep them interested in browsing for longer.

In this article we look at some latest website background trends that can give your website a quick refresh.

Images

Emotional branding through the use of high quality images as website background can help visitors make an emotional connection or positive associations with your brand.  Using background images associated with your brand, products or web content can add visual appeal to your website and also leave a lasting impression on visitors.

For instance, in the menu section of the French restaurant, Le Duc, a large hero background image is used to create a fun parallax effect and to deliver their brand message more effectively.

You can choose any type of image for your website background such as a photograph, painting, vectors, abstract art, etc, as long as it is coherent with other design elements.

You can opt for a full width image or pick a tiled layout. Just make sure that the image is not too busy and does not distract the visitors from the main message you are trying to convey.

For best results, make sure the image you added to your site is responsive and that it takes up 100% of the containing element.

Preferably you should be using your own images on your website, but if not make sure to always use copyright free high-quality stock photos.

Geometric Elements

Cool geometric patterns from swirls, lines, circles to polygons and rectangles are now preferred by designers for creating more tactile website backgrounds. Layering full width photos with basic shapes can give the website an awesome and creative feeling.

Shapes similar to your logo can also be used to establish brand identity.  Geometric elements should be used with a purpose to catch the eye of the visitor or to lead them to perform a certain action.

Colors

Designers are making bright website background color choices to add visual interest to a dull space in the website and to draw users into the design. Whether you use single color blocks or a combination of multiple colors the effect is for a fun and loud statement.

Besides solid colors, you can also try out gradients, textures and color fades.

Depending on the theme of your site and the impression you want to create about your business, you can even opt for a plain white or light gray background or a subtle color, as long as the colors match your industry. Whatever you do, the website background color should not match your text color as it will be difficult for your visitors to read the site content.

Asymmetry

Website background elements or patterns do not have to line up perfectly. It most certainly does not have to be a solid color or image. All of these elements can come together to create perfect balance that is far from cookie-cutter and certainly cannot be cut right down the middle. Designers can use asymmetry to create bold and visually interesting balance and harmony even though two sides of the design do not mirror one another. Using asymmetrical patterns as background is an interesting and thought provoking technique.

For instance, asymmetrical balance can be achieved using asymmetrical color blocks or the use of a hero image with large call-to-action that forces you to look at the text.

Video

With the increasing speed of internet and larger support systems now, you can now use video backgrounds to pique interest and prolong audience visits. Whether it is an introductory video of your business or motion video clips relevant to your business, adding video backgrounds can definitely make your overall website design look impressive and help in website branding. Backnegative’s website uses clean and engaging video backgrounds really well to tell brand stories.

Push the Boundaries with Your Website Background

Hope this article helps you find inspiration to try something different. Sometimes it pays to take an unorthodox approach with background designs for your website. Are you ready to push some website background boundaries with bright colors, cool geometry, minimal styles, asymmetrical patterns, motion background and abstract art?

automated ssl

The Importance Of Automated SSL Encryption

When you put your credit card number into a website for an online transaction, surely you know to look for signs of a secure website such as the padlock icon in the web browser or the green address bar.  This is one way to protect yourself from others breaking in to your data. Google, Mozilla, and other major browsers are on a mission to make insecure HTTP a thing of the past. Google has made HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and website loading speeds major ranking factors.  HTTPS uses a connection encrypted by transport-layer security to protect transmitted data from eavesdropping. Most browsers like Firefox and Chrome now prominently show ‘Not Secure’ warnings in the address bar and warnings also appear directly below form fields on pages using HTTP. These changes show that HTTPS is now a necessity for all sites, because of its privacy and security benefits.

Businesses depend upon SSL certificates to encrypt data and authenticate both internal and external systems and applications to ensure appropriate access. By having websites and endpoints on the Web configured with a SSL certificate, users are assured that the endpoint has been authenticated and any communication with these sites over the HTTPS protocol is encrypted. Complete encryption of data transfer with Secure Socket Layer certificates (SSL certificates) is quickly becoming the norm throughout the Internet.

The Need For Automated SSL Encryption

SSL certificates are used not just for browser-based security but also for secure server-to-server communication for applications and data exchange. The implementation of SSL certificates is rarely automated which means trying to recall special commands, going over steps to renew and deploy a certificate and then tackling complicated installation processes, which can be tricky even for experienced website administrators. The consequences of improperly configured or expired certificate can be disastrous for an organization amounting to financial losses, fines for non-compliance, and lower productivity.

All SSL digital certificates have a lifecycle anywhere between one and three years and upon expiration are not considered valid. SSL certificates need to be renewed at the end of their life to avoid outages, service disruption and security concerns. Sometimes certificates may also need to be replaced earlier (e.g., bugs, end-of-life of SHA-1 hashing, change in company policy). Keeping certificates up to date, especially when maintaining a multitude of servers can be really annoying. Moving to an automated SSL certificate lifecycle processes takes out the need to rely on manual processes; it takes the guesswork out to improve efficiency and reduce security risks for your business. cPanel addresses the pain point of SSL installation and renewal through the AutoSSL feature.

Fully Automated SSL Encryption With AutoSSL

cPanel, Inc., has recently added a feature called AutoSSL (automated SSL) to automatically provision, issue, configure and install validated SSL certificates to its web hosting partners’ websites. Automated SSL also enables SSL on admin-based logins, email and internally running services in cPanel. AutoSSL is now available to all cPanel web hosting accounts and those running WHM version 60 or later. It is possible to view the logs for AutoSSL right from the WHM interface. AutoSSL automatically includes corresponding www. domains for each domain and subdomain in the certificate. But AutoSSL only includes domains and subdomains that pass a Domain Control Validation (DCV) test as proof of ownership of the domain.

Take The Hard Work Out With Automated SSL Encryption

With AutoSSL enabled, there is no need to fill out lengthy forms and no more having to manually copy certificates into place.  Your websites are automatically secured and encrypted with free Domain Validated SSL certificate and your coverage never lapses. A cronjob handles the request, download and installation of new SSL certificates around expiration time for all of your hosted domains.

Secure Your Website With Automated SSL Encryption

Users will enjoy a more streamlined experience, with fully automatic issuance, renewal, validation and setup of SSL certificates for all websites, logins and endpoints on the server. An automated SSL encryption system eliminates common human errors in the process, which may be caused by the system admin or anyone installing the certificate. Automated SSL encryption improves the privacy, security and trust of websites for the end users because there will be no lapse in a valid certificate.

end of flash

The Beginning Of The End For Flash

Adobe made an announcement that it will stop updating and distributing the once -ubiquitous multimedia plugin- Flash Player– by the end of 2020. The two-decade long reign of Flash will finally come to an end three years from now. Until that time, Adobe will continue to partner with Apple, Mozilla, Microsoft and Google to offer security updates for Flash in their browsers, including security patches. But beyond that, Adobe will not offer any new Flash features. According to Govind Balakrishnan, the VP of Product Development, Adobe will also be more aggressive in ending support for Flash in places “where unlicensed and outdated versions of Flash Player are being distributed.”  This move is hardly surprising given that Flash and its outdated versions quickly became a prime target for hackers because of its wide distribution, and security vulnerabilities, which allowed easy access into their target’s machines. Flash today is considered a security risk and major source of browser crashes.

The Legacy Of Flash

Flash emerged in the late 1990s, and its popularity rose shortly after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer became the default browser in the world’s most widely used operating system. Flash creator Macromedia, was acquired by Adobe in 2006. At a time when all you could find on a webpage was low resolution GIFs or blinking text, Flash allowed designers and developers to make web-based video, animated, and interactive content that would work on any computer or browser. Quirky Flash-based cartoons (Homestar Runner) and video games (QWOP) were a far cry from the traditional media seen so far. In fact the gaming site Kongregate still has more than 100,000 Flash games  Flash has been a website workhorse, making it easy to play online games, stream radio station music and watch YouTube videos. It also allowed people to build features like photo galleries, use webcams for video chat and a whole array of multimedia features. The legacy of Flash is its profound and positive impact on advancing creative content on the web in the internet era.

The Long Road To The End For Flash

The Flash Player loads Flash content in a web browser and ensures that the content looks and behaves the same way for anyone who loads it, regardless of the type of browser or computer being used. But advancing technologies are now capable of running natively in web browsers which has made that same plugin requirement a liability.

The earliest signal of the big fall for Flash came in 2004, when three browser makers — Mozilla, Apple and Opera Software, launched a group to advance core technologies for HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) to build websites. Instead of proprietary softwares they wanted industry standards. But the World Wide Web Consortium, wasn’t interested in their proposal and thus Flash continued its successful run.

But the first nail in the coffin was struck in 2007, when Apple decided not to support it in the newly introduced iPhone. Keeping mobile web in mind and the emergence of the fifth version of HTML that promised to replace some of the functionality Flash provided, developers began moving away from Flash and toward HTML5 and JavaScript. Steve Jobs published his thoughts on Flash in 2010 to further cement HTML5 as the new standard. Rather than use Flash, Apple adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript—all open standards that web browsers could build on. But Flash still remained integral to the web and was used to create native apps for iOS.  But now even video streaming sites such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo have made HTML5 the default video player.

Countdown to 2020- What To Expect?

Chrome: began asking permission to run Flash on some websites since 2015, and it’ll do so more often now.  Since end of 2016, Flash is allowed by default only on 10 websites including its own YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.  It will disable Flash by default by 2019.

Firefox: will ask you the sites you want to enable Flash on and it’ll disable Flash altogether by default in 2019. There will be lingering support in Firefox’s Extended Support Release through the end of 2020.

Edge: This Microsoft’s browser uses a click-to-play option for when you want to run Flash on a website, which will continue through mid-2018. After that Edge will be more aggressive about requiring you to authorize Flash. And in 2019, Microsoft will disable Flash by default, and by the end of 2020, Flash will be disabled completely.

Safari:  Apple’s Safari has blocked Flash from running since 2016 but you can re-enable it on websites that offer to download Flash.

Facebook: Facebook hosts a lot of Flash based games, including FarmVille and Words with Friends, which will run on Facebook until the end of 2020. But in a blog post it has urged developers to follow the timelines set by browsers.

Adobe meanwhile has renamed the software for making Flash, Flash Professional CC to Animate CC, which will be its “premier web animation tool for developing HTML5 content. Adobe is also pushing developers to migrate their content to open formats like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly. HTML5 has slowly and surely replaced Flash Player as a viable alternative for delivering content on the web.  Most browser vendors have integrated functionalities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and since HTML5 is built into most of the big name browsers already, there is no need to install anything to use it.

There is no need to spill tears over the demise of the pioneering software. Rather it is more appropriate to rejoice that Adobe is finally ready to help usher in the next era of digital content creation.

Web Applications

Understanding Web Applications

Without even knowing it, most of us are using web applications on a daily basis.  In fact, Gmail and Yahoo email, Twitter, Facebook, and eBay are used by most of us daily—and they are web applications. We generally confuse these web applications tools for websites.  So, what is a web application and how is it different from a website? What are some different types of web applications?  We will help you decipher which is best for the business functions you want to achieve- a website or a web application.

Website vs. Web Application

The best way to elucidate the difference between websites and web applications is to think in terms of purpose.  Do you want to provide information or do you want to get it?

Websites are simple, static, single page sites or marketing websites for distributing information. Websites generally feature and promote products, services, and organizations through articles, images, video, and files. A site informs the world about who you are and what you offer. For instance, you can check your local Italian restaurant website as a customer to check out the ‘Day’s Special,’ or hours of operation without giving away any information about yourself.

Web applications on the other hand are less focused on marketing and more on functionality to fulfill specific business purpose (submitting, storing, searching, and retrieving data). Web applications are software that runs on the web to provide some kind of service or to improve efficiency. Web applications generally always use databases, and are therefore called dynamic. It requires user interaction, as in the user has to provide information in order for the application to work. The big advantage of a web application is that it does not need the developer to build a client for a specific type of computer or a specific operating system because it runs in a web browser. Users can even be using Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox, though some web applications may require a specific Web browser.

An Example:

Think of the website of your bank, which promotes the brand and provides customers vital information about their services, and security features. Any member of the public can view the bank’s website but for account holders, the bank also offers web application tools focused on providing specific functionalities. For instance, to help check the balance on their account, submit an online loan application form, or pay bills online.

Technical Foundation

Websites and web applications both are collections of programming code for delivery of content and functionality on the web. The software run on web servers and is accessed through web browsers on a variety of devices.  Both use the same coding languages and tools (HTML, JavaScript, CSS and others) to develop the software. Web applications commonly use a combination of server-side script (ASP, PHP, or Python etc) to deal with databases, storing and retrieving information and client-side script (HTML, Javascript, CSS and others etc.) to present that information, along with frameworks like Rails, Django, etc. to develop and maintain the application.

Types Of Web Applications

There are three different types of web-based applications depending on the roles performed and logic placed and distributed by the server and the client browser.

Server-side HTML Web Application- In this type of web development architecture, the server generates HTML content and sends it to the client as a full-fledged HTML-page.

JS Generation Widgets (AJAX)- The page displayed in the browser shows widgets, where data is uploaded through AJAX query from the server into the content of the page. Any updates from the server show up only for the part of the page requested by the client.

Service-oriented Single-page Web Apps– An HTML-page is downloaded from the server, which acts as a container for JavaScript code to address a particular web service and retrieve business data only. The data is used by the self-sufficient JavaScript application, which generates the HTML content of the page.

It’s also possible to implement hybrid architecture to meet specific business requirements. The architecture of this collection of logically related interactive functions can consist of a number of components, including-

  • Business application functionality
  • Security
  • Browsers such as Internet Explorer
  • E-Mail functionality
  • Forums or bulletin boards
  • Custom-built Advertising

Web Applications Are The Future

Web apps can be customized and tailored for business purposes, like accounting software, reminder systems, order forms, and sales tracking for time saving efficiencies. Web applications can also be designed to strengthen both internal and external communication and improve data delivery and distribution. Advanced web applications are now available as online portals and eCommerce, which delivers content and the functionality of searching, adding to cart, and online financial transaction.

Most business owners understand the value of websites in their marketing plan but not many know the benefits of web applications and how they can offer stronger products and services, improve SEO, reduce cost significantly and help expand their business. Ultimately, whether you choose a website or a web application depends on your assessment of what you want to achieve.

mobile marketing

7 Phenomenal Mobile Marketing Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind

With the prevalence of smartphones and tablets in today’s digital market, there are endless opportunities for businesses to reach out to their target audiences. To cash in on the huge mobile market, the focus for every business should firmly be on implementing a well-documented mobile marketing strategy. If you are unsure of what impact mobile is having on your business today and will continue to have well into the future, all you need to do is look at the statistics in this article. Savvy marketers should be monitoring the changes behind how much mobile media is consumed daily, the proliferation of mobile apps, how users behave in digital media, and their response to commercial advertisements. Get ready for a record growth year for the mobile market!

  1. 80% Of Internet Users Own A Smartphone Gadget (Smart Insights)

The smartphone has now become an extension of us and our lives. Voice calling and texting are passé; users prefer to check out videos, consume media, shop online, use mobile apps, reply to emails and browse the net on smartphones. According to StatCounter, for the first time in October 2016, more users globally accessed the internet through mobile devices than via desktops. Smartphones and tablets accounted for 51.3 percent of internet usage worldwide in comparison to 48.7 percent for the desktop. This is good news for businesses with mobile friendly sites and content.

  1. Mobile Devices Will Drive 80% Of Global Internet Usage and 60% of Digital Ad Spend Will Be On Mobile By 2018 (Zenith)

Advertising effectively communicates the brand’s message to its audience. Today, most advertisements happen online and most companies are spending more on digital mediums than traditional platforms such as print media, television, and outdoor advertising. Forecasts from Zenith confirm that 75% of global internet usage will be on mobile this year, which will grow to nearly 80% by next year. Global internet ad expenditures will reach $134 billion in 2018, and mobile advertising will overtake desktop advertising too. Mobile advertising has been the biggest growth driver in the U.S. in 2016, mopping up nearly half of all digital ad revenues. Mobile advertising will account for 72% of the entire US digital spending by 2019, which is way more than newspaper, magazine, cinema, and outdoor advertising put together. If this trend continues, and we have no reason to believe that it won’t, desktops may soon be relegated to being an old tactic soon.

  1. Mobile-influenced Offline Spending Already Over $1 trillion (Forrester)

According to U.S. government estimates, the offline retail spending is well over $4.5 trillion, whereas e-commerce sales stands at $354 billion in 2016  But in-store spending influenced by digital media stands between $1 and $2+ trillion. And it is projected that by 2021, mobile devices alone will power $1.4 trillion in local sales. People do heavy mobile research before indulging in offline purchasing in almost all categories. Data from Marketing Land show that 90% of smartphone owners use their phones while making purchasing decisions in a brick and mortar store.

  1. 48% Of The Buyers Use Smartphones To Start Searching With a Search Engine (Google Research)

A large number of consumers browse the web and search on multiple devices daily but mobile remains the dominant platform for searches. In fact, 39% of users perform search only on a mobile device and 32% search only on a PC. This is what makes Google’s cross-device retargeting capabilities so important for advertisers. 48% of mobile consumers begin their search at the search engine to compare different brands in the product line. And, Icebreaker Consulting found that almost 40% of searchers will click on another website almost immediately, if your site is not mobile friendly. In order for users to find your brand in search results, you need to think about how best to optimize your content for search engines and your target audience alike, as it can have a huge impact on your sales.

  1. 68% Of Digital Media Time Is Now Spent On Mobile (comScore)

The comScore Mobile App report shows that over 68% of our digital media time is spent on mobile, which is up from 44% roughly a year ago and half of all that digital media time is spent on mobile apps. The desktop only gets 32% of our online attention. It is obvious that even in our cross-platform world, mobile is without a doubt No.1, with mobile devices more often being used at the “top of the funnel.” With the shift in digital media time from desktop to mobile devices, it will no longer do to treat mobile as a supplement to the PC experience. Businesses now have to deliver a good mobile experience for propagating positive brand perceptions.

  1. Apps Get 89% Of Mobile Media Time While 11% Of The Time Is Spent On Websites. (Smart Insights)

Consumers spend most of their mobile time with a limited number of heavily used apps. Consumers love mobile apps that provide engaging media and interaction. It seems like shoppers prefer apps to websites when getting information about products.  The information on mobile apps has to be concise and relevant to what the buyers need. It is now possible to publish an app at an affordable price therefore businesses are keen on creating a mobile app experience for their customers to deliver a fulfilling brand experience to them so they keep coming back. The business website can be focused on marketing while the app on user interaction.

  1. By 2018, 80% Of Email Users Will Use A Mobile Device To Access Their Email Accounts (Email Monday)

Email provides businesses a personal and direct communication channel. By 2018 more than 80% of users will read and send emails using smartphones so it important to make sure all emails are optimized for mobile platforms. Your emails should be clearly readable and display your brand effectively. Most people check their email, read newsletters, and go over the latest news in apps. In their 2014 study, ExpressPigeon noted that half of all mobile owners check push notifications and email first thing in the morning after turning off the alarm. Marketers can use email marketing in line with client behavior patterns, as a valuable tool to reach out to mobile users. According to statistics by Email Monday email open rates on a mobile device has increased by 180% in the last three years. Email marketing can help initiate engagement to guide your customer’s next course of action.  All you need to do is give them a reason to open your emails. And that means never sending spammy emails.

Go Mobile

Consumers love the convenience of a mobile marketplace. To capture user interest, it is obvious that your business needs to position your brand better on mobile platforms. Really there is no excuse to ignore mobile marketing any longer! If you need help developing a mobile marketing plan for 2017, why not reach out to Global Directive today? We turn opportunities into success stories.

 

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

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 free dedicated  SSL certificate  and dedicated IP’s with all of our business plans 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.