Chrome’s New Change

The purpose of SSL(Secure Sockets Layer), is to guarantee visitors they are on secure site. It is an encrypted connection between the web server and the visitors’ web browser. It helps prevent any attack or intrusive companies like ISPs from tampering with the data that is sent between websites and your own browser. Not only is it important to protect from sensitive information, but it also helps protect your site from any malware as well as preventing others from injecting advertisements in your resources.

There are three different forms of SSL:

  • Single –  secures one fully-qualified domain or subdomain name.
  • Wildcard – covers one domain name and unlimited number of its subdomains.
  • Multi-domain – secures multiple domain names.

The benefits provided by an SSL are not simply limited to security of data the consumer inputs into the site. Instead, it provides the consumer with the ability to identify the security and legitimacy of a website by verifying if the information on a website will remain secure and will not be intercepted on its way from point A to B. There are several advantages to SSL Certificates:

Authentication –  Online users always want to be sure their information or the content on a website, goes to a correct server without it being intercepted. Having an SSL certificate adds another type of protection called a server certificate. The server certificate purpose is to act as a mediator between browsers and SSL servers to show it is and can be trusted.

Encrypts Information –  Encryption helps to keep information read and used between two intended parties. When information has more “stops” to make, the higher chance a third party could access that information. When users are visiting your site, it’ll know that you have encryption in place in several different ways such as ‘http’ with ‘https’. This change shows the site is secure and is backed up by a lock image.

Critical for Payments – To meet with Payment Card Industry compliance regulations, online businesses need an SSL certificate with proper encryption of a least 128-bit. PCI have specific standards such as the SSL certificate is from a trusted source, has the right strength of encryption and provides a private connection for every page that personal information that is used. These standards are then verified, which then allow them to take credit card payments.

Business Proofing – Companies and business are prompted to have advanced security. As companies implement SSL, they are taking a step forward in future-proofing.

IT Market Watch

The technology available to us in recent months have continued to increase and make users lives that much easier. It has given many small business the opportunity to be creative and expand their business idea on new technological platforms that can appeal to their customers. There’s always something new every month. This month, however, we’ll take a look at the major tech trends and devices of 2017!

  • Smart Home Tech – Devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Echo Show and newer additions from Google and Apple have made these innovations possible through their collaborations. With Amazon Echo and Echo Show, this easy to use home speaker has everything your phone has in the comfort of your home. With hands-free text messaging and phone calls to anyone on your contacts, to already integrated music apps at your fingers disposal, the Amazon Echo is a fun IT tech that every home should have.
  • Daydream VR – The much anticipated new Lenovo and HTC VR platform/devices will have better tracking capabilities, a handful of new smartphones such as the Samsung S8 work with the Daydream platform.
  • Chatbots – Chatbots, computer programs that use artificial intelligence to facilitate human conversations, continues to help customer services when it comes to smaller businesses. Chatbots have been helpful to big and small companies in finding products, providing shipping information, to even pinpointing business locations. Companies are able to build connect bots with users on Facebook Messenger, Office 365 mail, Skype, Text/SMS, etc.
  • Collaboration tools – Emails are long gone now that there are several different tools that make collaboration that much easier in the workplace. Tools such as Google Hangouts, Slack, Skype for Business have continued to help business work to their advantage. It is said that later in the year, Facebook Workplace and Spark by Cisco Systems will also be added in the collaboration market.

Amazon Cloud Features

 Amazon cloud has created more exciting features that are providing business with incredible benefits that further engage them with their customers. Along with these features, they have also provided an easier way to organize, maintain and grow their data, and maintain all their business within one simple place.

Amazon Simple Storage Service is a scalable, high-speed, low-cost, web-based cloud storage service designed for online backup and archiving of data and different application programs. Amazon S3 provides two set of storage classes – S3 Standard and S3 Infrequent Access. Standard is set for frequently accessed data that is mainly delivered with low latency and high throughout. S3 Infrequent Access, however, offers a low storage prices for backups and long-term data storage.

One of its feature is the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, otherwise known as EC2. EC2 is a pay-as-you-go cloud platform which includes compute power, storage and database services as its core components. THE EC2 provides a multitude of virtual server deployment services and options, as well as computing, networking and security upgrades.

The use of EC2 reduces the time needed to boot and obtain new server instances to minutes, allowing the user to quickly scale capacity.
Within the cloud, it also features:

  • Unlimited data and object storage of most data types in various formats. A stored data set can range from 1 B to 5 TB.
  • Provides Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS), which reduces latency by storing data in regionally segregated buckets, helping save resources.
  • Strong authentication ensures security of regionally stored data.

With Amazon Cloud features, your business is able to excel within its customer service, and even within the business itself. It is an easier way to gather all information needed and maintain it in a secure place that is also easily accessible to you and your workers.

Tagline vs. Positioning Statement

When you think “tagline” what comes to mind? What about when you hear “positioning statement”? Do you know the difference between the two? If you don’t quite know what the difference between a tagline and positioning statement is, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many people tend to get the two confused all the time. Today, we will clear up some of the difference between the two and their soul purpose. Follow along to get a better understanding.

Taglines:

Chances are that when you think “positioning statement” you may actually be thinking about the tagline. A tagline is made to express the value of a product or service to help improve the appearance and position of a brand. Its duty is to help portray what the company does and who they are.

When creating a tagline, you want to make sure that you can answer the following questions:

  • What do we do for our customers?
  • How do we better our customers’ lives?
  • What is our unique selling proposition?

Once you are able to answer these questions, it’s time to put it all together into a clever statement. A tagline should be clever and witty, so don’t be afraid to use a play on words. It should definitely convey your company’s personality, as well. How else will you make your business memorable?

Positioning Statement:

A positioning statement is much more complicated than a tagline. It requires more information in just as a memorable way as a tagline. The components of such statement are:

  • Target audience
  • The solutions it offers
  • Comparison to competitors
  • Unique selling proposition (USP)

Here is a template to help get you started:

“[Brand’s name] is for [target audience] looking to [explain the services] unlike others [related industry]. [Explain why your business is unique in, at least, 3 points].”

Are you having trouble coming figuring out how to position your brand? Contact Sperling Interactive for a consultation.

Plugins We Like: Events Calendar by Modern Tribe

The latest version of the Events Calendar by Modern Tribe is Sperling Interactive’s go-to calendar plugin for our clients’ website. When researching the features of this calendar you may find a lot of great aspects including: its saved venues and organizers, its inclusion of Google map, the list of upcoming events, the option to export events into Google Calendar and iCal, its responsiveness from mobile devices to desktop, and its availability to internationalize and translate the descriptions.

Of course, when researching anything you may come across many positive and negative reviews, so I decided to ask one of our developers, Andrew, what he thought about the plugin to get more information.

When I asked Andrew how he felt about it, he said it was the best calendar plugin out of the other free options. He also said that aside from reviews claiming that it is a highly customizable option, it isn’t as customizable as one would think. “It works well as a template and it’s customizable in the way you view the events and the different templates options,” he said, “but making small changes to the templates can be a difficult.” According to Andrew, in order to make changes to those templates many other plugins need to be incorporated.

When I asked Andrew what were some things he liked about the events calendar he mentioned how once the plugin is installed it immediately incorporates the existing theme or color of the website. He also likes how the pieces to customize the calendar are all there, even though “getting them to where you need them takes more work.”

Overall, Andrew said he would recommend this calendar plugin to others because “for a free plugin it’s extensive” but to “be weary that needing super extensive things might be a little more challenging.”

Unconventional Tips for Content Creation

When creating content, whether it’s for a blog, social media, or anything in relation, we may get stumped or get writer’s block more often than we’d like. Many times, when it happens, we tend to just write down anything we can come up with and end up creating content of  lower quality than we’d like. Because of this we have searched and come up with some tips to help free our minds and make space for more creative ideas. If interested in these unconventional tips, continue reading.

Tip 1: Recite what you want to write before writing it.

Many times, when we recite the next sentence we want to write down in our heads we end up forgetting or “losing our spot” in between. By vocally narrating before writing we can keep track of what we are writing and get our complete thoughts down. Using a recording device or app can help with this tip.

Tip 2: Notice what sparks ideas throughout the day.

When doing regular day activities there are times when certain ideas strike us at random. Paying attention to what actions or things trigger those ideas can be helpful; it may help spark future ideas.

Tip 3: Save the editing for the very end.

When you’re on a writing streak, stopping in the middle of it to go back and edit something can make you lose focus on what you are writing and take too much time switching back and forth from editing mode to writing mode. Writing down everything that comes to mind first and saving the editing for the very end is a more efficient way of getting the job done.

Tip 4: Get on a writing schedule.

Focusing on your daily rhythm and the point of the day where you are more energized and focused can help you create a writing schedule that is more efficient for you. This can also help you create quality content!

Tip 5: Take short breaks while working.

When working for long periods of time we can get bored and lose focus or concentration on what we’re working on. This is why taking few minute breaks throughout the day can help improving your productivity and help you creating quality content.

Tip 6: Create an outline.

Create an outline and work backwards on it. Start with the point of your post and develop an outline from that point. This way the content you come up with can connect to the overall purpose of your post.

Importance of Wireframing

Wireframing is essentially a blue print that represents the framework of a website in black and white. It shows the layout of what a website will look like and how the web user will navigate through the site. As time goes on, many believe that wireframing is not of importance in the web designing steps anymore but today we’re here to tell you all the reasons why wireframing should still be practiced.

Focus on the important:
By wireframing a website before jumping into creating/redesigning one can help keep the focus on the important elements of the website first, like determining how users would navigate though the site and how to simplify the navigation process for them.

Allows changes before designing:
Wireframing allows you to explore different options for your site ahead of time before jumping into creating the site and having to go through major changes later. You would be able to determine the features you would like to add to the site and where.

Prevents future conflicts:
When working with clients, creating a wireframe can help you and the client stay on the same page when it comes to the website’s design. By doing this, you could save a lot of time and conflicting issues in the long run.

Plan out best way to deliver service:
Going back to the navigation part of the website’s design, by planning out an effective navigation strategy ahead of time, users would be able to fully utilize the website the way you wish them to. You could share with them everything you think is important and relevant.

Wireframing may seem like a long and tedious process, but if done correctly, it could save you a lot of time in the long run when creating the website you, or your clients desire.

How to Build a PR Distribution List

So, you have your press release ready to send out but to whom do you send them? Here are some tips on creating a press release distribution list so that you never have to wonder again.

Your best starting point would be to prepare a distribution list on a spreadsheet program, like Excel. The next step would be to get on an online search engine, like Google, and begin searching all the local mediums available for you to send the releases to. Here is where you should search for local daily newspapers, magazines, newsletters, websites, and radio and T.V. stations.

Once you have all the local mediums listed in your spreadsheet, along with the best way to get in contact with them, the next step is to search for any national and/or international (depending on your target audience) mediums to send the release to. Here you should research other magazines, newspapers, websites, and radio and T.V. stations. When doing this, make sure that the media outlets are all in relation to what your press news is about.

By considering the theme of your news release, you could also search for any blogs that are relative to the content of your news.

Another option for press release distribution is press portals like www.free-press-release.com, www.prnewswire.com, or www.prlog.org. These will distribute your news throughout the Internet for you for free, or with a fee.

(Source: Stars for Europe)

Although online portals may seem like a better alternative, creating your own distribution list and distributing your press release on your own can better guarantee that your news will actually get posted in a news medium.

Finally, make sure to keep your distribution list updated as time goes on.

Remember to make your list according to the audience you are trying to target, and make sure you are personalizing your release according to the journalist or news medium you are sending it to.

New Year Resolutions for Small Businesses

 

Happy New Year everyone! With every New Year comes a new, sometimes recycled, resolution. We have come up with some New Year’s resolutions for small businesses, like us, that we’d like to share.

Focus on employees:

Building relationships within the company should always be a goal. By building relationships, the work environment becomes a more positive and profitable one. Planning more company outings and activities can help create new relationships and keep the ones that have already been made.

Stay in contact with customers:

Like building relationships within the company are important, so is building relationships with your customers. Make sure to check in with them to make sure everything is going well and that they are satisfied with the work your company is providing for them. This could also make it easier to follow up with any business concerns that may come about on either side.

Plan Ahead:

This is such a simple goal, yet somehow we find it difficult to keep up with. Planning ahead for any crisis or event is so important. It can save a company a lot of time and money.

Think about digital security:

Digital security has been a major concern for everyone individually and business wise in the entire nation. This year, take charge by getting better digital security for your company and say “out of the way” to hackers.

Create better marketing strategies:

A major way to help create a better marketing strategy is by improving specific geotargeting, especially online. This will help raise more awareness of your company wherever you want there to be.

Stay Present outside of the business:

It is very easy to bring home your work identity since it is such a great part of your life, but learning to separate your work identity from your personal identity is important. Try to leave all business work at the door of the office and mainly focus on your family and home when you clock out.

Say no:

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to say no to things you don’t believe are right for your business to your employees or customers. This year, make it a goal to get more comfortable with the word ‘no’ and stick up for what you believe is right.

Give up control:

Many times you may find that you are constantly trying to take control of everything going on in the business and end up becoming overwhelmed easily. Place more trust into your employees by letting them figure out things on their own, first, instead of trying to fix things yourself.

 

 

Benefits of a Project Manager

Coordinating the many facets of small businesses can be incredibly difficult for many owners.  In fact, entrepreneurs are expected to juggle marketing campaigns, customer service, financing, production and all sorts of office minutia.  One way to help your business stay on track is to hire a project manager.  This person can not only be a leader in your company but will help keep things organized and on schedule. Let’s take a look at project management and how your company could benefit from the addition of this crucial position.

What is a Project Manager?

Typically a project manager is a professional who excels at both the technical and organizational sides of a specific field of work.  Take for example web design – a project manager would be well versed in the back end design component while also being a whiz at handling customer relations and being a bridge for employees to those customers.  A project manager has the responsibility of planning, executing, and closing projects.  A key component of being a project manager is to understand the steps to completing a project and knows how to handle the needs of the client and create attainable timeline and organization goals for the production team.  In short, this person is great at juggling!

Benefits of Hiring a Project Manager –

  1. Efficiency in delivering products and services – A PM with a clear set of goals and timetable can keep a team going in the right direction in an efficient manner.
  2. Better communication – When a client is given updates during a project and feels as though their input was valued it leads to improved customer satisfaction.
  3. Better Teamwork – Successful project management gets the most out of each worker and fosters an environment of cooperation and mutual responsibility that can remain long after the project is completed.