Category Archives: Website Tips

Site Security

We are all hearing more and more news stories about cyber-security breaches, criminals stealing data, hacking websites, identity theft, etc. The Internet is simply not that safe and it is scary.

That’s why several clients have recently asked me about adding server security (SSL) to their websites. This is the feature some of you may already be familiar with where you see the little ‘s’ in the website URL protocol. That is, instead of the commonly seen ‘http,’ you would see ‘https’ at the start of the web address in the browser. What that little ‘s’ after ‘http’ means is you have a wall between your website files and the Internet. The result is that it is much more difficult for hackers to get into your website files.

To get technical for a moment, an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private. It is not foolproof, but it goes a long way toward protecting sites from cyber attacks.

This level of security is especially important for anyone conducting financial transactions of any kind over the Internet. For example if you have a form for your customers to register for a class and pay for it online, you are conducting a financial transaction in cyberspace. But even simple text forms are at risk. Transmission of any data on an unsecured site (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) can be stolen. SSL encrypts the data, so thieves can’t use it. Almost all large vendors selling almost anything online or collecting text data online now use a secure server. And lately, we are seeing smaller sites add this feature as well.

Another important reason to add that little ‘s’ is we know that Google will start flagging interactive sites without an SSL certificate, as soon as the end of 2017. Visitors going to such sites from Google can expect to see a message in the URL bar that says ‘Not Secure.’ Also, Google will likely accord more value and thus a higher search ranking to sites that have this security feature.

An SSL certificate is not free. Depending on the site and the hosting company, they can cost from $50-to-$150 per year. And for larger, more complex sites, they can be as much as $600/yr. But for most of my clients, the cost will be under $100 annually. Although not an absolute requirement for everyone (at least not yet), we recommend that all our clients make this change, if they have not already done so. Just call or write us and we’ll take care of it for you.

Email Tip

Don’t Use Subject Lines that Resemble Spam

Instead of coming across as an unsolicited mass marketer, business and sales emails need to seem like one-on-one communications, even if they are mass mailings. If you ever hope to get a positive response, strive to have your emails resemble personalized notes that feel like one-on-one conversations.

When you see an email in your inbox that looks like a sleazy marketing offer, the first thing you do  is to delete it (or mark it as spam). That’s why one of the worst things you can do is write a subject line that looks like an aggressive sales pitch to the world.

Instead, try to make it friendly, personal and relevant to the recipient. For example, rather than saying “Get a FREE White Paper!!” try something more like “Here’s an article on racial injustice that I thought you might find interesting.”

Some common indicators of mass marketing emails include capitalizing the first letter of every word (or even all capital letters), using trigger words like free, save, click, and offer, along with ending subject lines with one or more exclamation points.

Remember, the biggest barrier to getting your message across with email is the subject line. If you can’t entice your reader to want to see what’s inside, they will never open your email and receive your message.

Amazing Logos and Their Hidden Meanings

This is a reprint of an article I found interesting.

Designing logos can be very difficult. When designing a logo you want it to stand out from the crowd yet still be really simple. Sometimes the designer is really clever and makes a seemingly simple logo that includes a hidden message with a deeper meaning. In this article we have 15 logos with such messages, some of which you will have heard of before and some that may be new to you.


The Amazon logo is an extremely simple logo and while the arrow may just look like a smile it actually points from a to z. This represents the idea that Amazon sells everything from a to z and the smile is the one on the customer’s face when they bought a product.

Read more.

Gotta Go Mobile

In 2015, mobile traffic finally surpassed desktop traffic and Google released its so-called “Mobilegeddon” update to penalize any sites that weren’t optimized for mobile devices. 2015 was the year mobile became the dominant form of web traffic and 2016 is only continuing the rise of mobile.

So, if your website is not “mobile-friendly,” why exactly is Google’s “Mobilegeddon” a problem for you? Well first, you know Google is the #1 search engine with about two-thirds of all Internet searches conducted (the other two important ones are Bing and Yahoo.). The “Mobilegeddon” update means your site will not show well in Google search. They want you to have a mobile-friendly version of your website. Since April, 2015, a site that was not mobile-friendly has been severely penalized by getting lower search rankings.

True, for some websites, a good search ranking isn’t that important. These websites are not trying to generate traffic via searches, but for most others, a good ranking in the search results is important. Most site owners want their sites to come up when people search for their businesses. For those websites, a mobile version is essential now.

If your site is not yet mobile-friendly (also known as “responsive”), we can get you up and running with a mobile-friendly version quickly and easily. It does not have to require rebuilding your site from scratch, although that is an option. But a much faster and less expensive choice is for us to use a conversion program where your site is hosted by a third party. There is a yearly cost for it, but it is much less than you would pay for a complete re-do of your site and the results are great. Here’s a couple of examples of our clients who are currently using this tool:

If you are interested in moving forward with mobile (or if you’re nust not sure if your site is mobile-friendly), please contact us.

Cures Can Be Painful. Try Prevention.

The Internet is a treacherous place. It is full of evil, greedy people trying to steal your identity, your money or your website. Certainly the two most common places they attack are your website and your email. I want to discuss both briefly and give you some tips to protect yourself.

Your website

Recently, one of our new clients, an attorney, had her website hacked. It was taken over by a Chinese company using the site to sell cosmetics. Needless to say, that was a far cry from the dignified image she had been presenting. Google got wind of the hack and blocked the site so that a big red malware warning appeared when anyone went to her site.

Another client, a pet products company, had their site hijacked and every time you went there, you were redirected to a Brazilian pornography site. That’s even more embarrassing than cosmetics you aren’t selling.

WordPress sites, especially those with forms, are particularly vulnerable. Our lawyer client had a WordPress site that another firm had built for her. The pet products people had a lot of forms using PHP on their site. (We didn’t build that site either. We just rescued them.) Forms are very vulnerable to hacking if they are not protected. The above-mentioned lawyer had a contact form on her site and that was likely how the hacker got in.

What you can do

If your site gets hacked, first you have to clear up the problem. Then you can take steps to help insure that it doesn’t recur. When your site is hacked, bad files have been inserted and they must be removed. This can be simple or very difficult, depending on how good the hacker was. For the pet products company, the files were easy to find and delete. But for the lawyer, it was much harder. The offending files were placed in numerous locations, some of which were in “hidden” directories. Or they used innocuous file names and were included among very large sections of hundreds of good files. We had to run several analytic tools, working with the hosting company and Google, to try to identify and remove them. In the end we could not get them all. Nobody could.

Even if we had deleted all the offending files, Google still requires three weeks to remove the malware warning. So at best, the reality is the website will be down for over a month. But in this case, it was irreparable. We are now rebuilding her site from scratch. That’s what i mean by a “painful cure.” The new site of course will have many more protections in place than she had previously.

We have found in our fourteen years in this business that sites using the language PHP and those using WordPress are more vulnerable than a straight HTML site. So we recommend that if you have a WordPress site, get it encrypted. This is done by purchasing something called an SSL certificate from your hosting company. The certificate generally costs around $40/year and it makes it much more difficult for hackers to get in. Secondly, if you have online forms like a contact form on your site, another step you can take is to add a “capcha.” You’ve seen these graphics at the end of a form where you have to type letters or numbers to prove you aren’t a robot. That feature makes it harder for hackers to break in via the form.


Email is the other great source of cyber attacks. We are all subject to email scams that make it easy to click the wrong thing. These scams are pervasive and insidious. Lately, they often seem to come from someone you know or a company with which you do business. The threats they pose vary considerably. Their goal can be relatively benign (though still annoying), like trying to get you to buy drugs or other products. Or they can be much more dangerous, like getting into your bank account, stealing your identify or permanently crashing your computer. They can wreck lives and costs thousands of dollars.

What you can do

Watch out for links and attachments, especially any link that contains a “php” or “exe” extension. You can usually see these file types if you hover your mouse over a link in an email. Do not click on those links. They are programs that will run on your computer and they can be very destructive.

Another giveaway is poor English. Many of the email scams originate overseas. They are getting smarter, but they still often misuse English slightly, with odd phrasing or word choices, misspellings, etc. Also, legitimate organizations like your bank or the IRS will never ask you to send them your account information or social security number. If you think a request is genuine, you should always check with the institution. Don’t use the links or forms in the email. Finally, take advantage of the spam filtering that comes with most email systems. This is a setting you can choose to stop suspicious emails. It is well worth missing the occasional legitimate email to protect yourself from the hundreds of illegitimate ones.

Best Marketing Advice Ever

What should you say on the home page of your website? There is nothing more fundamental to a website than the immediate first impression, the message the visitor receives the instant they arrive at your site.

If they don’t connect emotionally in some way, they will be gone quicker than you can say “but I have something to show you.”

Your home page is the most important page on your website. It is that critical point where the visitor makes the stay or leave decision. They are not going to buy from you, look at what you have to offer, or contact you if they don’t feel engaged.

So, what is the crucial objective you want to achieve? You want to catch their attention and here’s how.

It is much easier to get someone to listen if you first indicate you understand their problem. You have to communicate that before you should tell them how you can help them. So here is the simplest advice I ever heard to achieve this:

On a home page, the words “you” and “your” should appear more often than “we” and “our.”

That’s it. Or at least that’s a good start. Make sure that the initial words on your site, the first thing your visitors see, is about them, not about you.

To Do or Not To Do

Clients often ask “Can I do my own updates to my website?”

This is a question best addressed before we build the site. At that time, we can choose to build the site using WordPress. There are trade-offs with the WordPress platform, but if doing your own updates is important, then it is the right choice. The trade-offs are typically that it is more difficult to customize the site to look exactly like you may want and when WordPress updates its versions, as it does periodically, it can be extra work for us to keep the site operating properly.

Probably of more relevance to my readers is the question “If I already have a (non-WordPress) website, can I do my own updates?”

The answer is still yes, but it is a lot more challenging. If you or someone on your staff is a bit of a computer nerd and has the time, you (or they) can learn to update your own site. It takes purchasing the Dreamweaver software from Adobe and learning to use it. Dreamweaver currently costs about $400 (or they offer a $30 monthly fee for using it “in the cloud.”) The problem is that without a lot of training in html, CSS, and other coding tools, you won’t be able to do everything and some things may not appear exactly the way you want them to. However for simple things like text changes and additions, you can usually manage those without difficulty.

An alternative that we’ve found works pretty well in some cases is to set up certain sections of a website with WordPress and leave the rest of the site as is. So for example, you might have a section where you post news items. That section could be in WordPress while we continue to handle changes to the rest of the site. Naturally, there is another trade-off. These WordPress sections will not look exactly like the rest of the site. We cannot exactly duplicate the appearance of menus, footers and other design features so they appear completely seamless with the rest of the website. But we can get pretty close.

In short, it is possible to do your own updates to some or all of your website. If you are interested in this option, please talk to us.

Client Communication


We have been so busy here at Nexxite lately that it is a challenge just to get this newsletter out the door. But I feel it is important to stay in touch with my clients this way. I think newsletters are well worth the effort. In fact, I strongly urge you to communicate regularly with your clients through a formal newsletter or if not that, then with less formal, but periodic eblasts.

Some of the benefits of regular email communication:

  • Build your relationship and make your clients feel special by providing something useful, or at least entertaining, that is not available to the general public, at no charge
  • Invite them to contact you if they need something
  • Cross promote your business – Show new products and services you are offering in a “soft sell” format
  • Help advertise some of your own clients, for example with case studies and link to their websites. I like to feature a special client in each issue of this newsletter.

Those are just a few of the benefits of a newsletter off the top of my head. I’m sure there are others. But if a newsletter is too much work (and I know it can feel like that), consider short eblasts. You can just offer an article you found of interest to your clients or tell them about a new service you are starting up. Remember to do something that helps or interests them. A newsletter is not a sales pitch.

There are many companies that facilitate newsletters and other eblasts. We use Mail Chimp which is reliable and free (up to 2000 subscribers). But many people use Constant Contact, iContact or Benchmark, to name a few. These services charge a fee, generally from $10-to-$30 per month, but if you have a large mailing list or have frequent announcements, it can be worthwhile to use a paid service.

All email programs take some work to set up because you need to get your mailing list entered and often you’ll want to design a standard template for your messages. But once the list is in place and your format is defined, the eblasts themselves can be sent easily. The challenge then, as I mentioned, is writing content. That can take time. As you can see from this and prior eblasts, I like to have one or two useful articles in my field, as well as something about a good client, a listing of some of the recent sites we’ve completed, and a dash of humor.

Another helpful tool offered by email programs like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact is a simple newsletter sign-up form you can have on your website. It automates the process of adding new subscribers to your mailing list. People see a short form on your website and sign up there. That’s all there is to it. They are then added to the list and automatically receive your next mailing.

So, in short, I am a great believer in newsletters and eblasts. If you are not doing them, consider adding these communication tools to your marketing mix.

Social Media – Overcoming Writer’s Block

Do you have a blog? Do you use Facebook or Twitter? Do you publish articles on line? If you are using any of these outlets to promote your business, good for you. But let’s face it. We know it is not always easy. And one of the biggest difficulties can be simply thinking of a topic.

Coming up with a compelling subject to write about is sometimes a bigger challenge than doing the actual writing. We are all stricken on occasion with writer’s block. To help you overcome this hurdle, here are ten subjects you may want to consider writing about:

1. Customer success stories.

One of the most effective types of blog posts is to highlight your customers and/or client success stories. Not only are you putting the spotlight on a customer, thus bringing them extra exposure and visibility, you are also providing social proof that your product or service works.

2. Industry tips and tutorials.

Your writing should provide your customers, clients and prospects with valuable tips and strategies that they can put to immediate use. For instance, if you are a dog-trainer and have a dog-training blog, then make sure to provide your audience with plenty of dog-training tricks and tips that will encourage them to keep coming back to your blog for the latest strategies. Of course, providing your audience with industry tips and tutorials also positions you as an expert.

3. Information about new products/services.

If your company launches a new product and/or service, use your social media outlets as an announcement service to give your loyal readers a sneak preview. In addition, you can generate additional buzz-builders by offering beta invites, focus groups and surveys that will help keep your readers engaged in the launch process.

4. Relevant news from your industry.

You can certainly position yourself as an industry leader by relating important and timely news stories from your particular industry. If you find any pieces of news that are interesting or would benefit your readers, then make sure to offer the news-story along with your own commentary and opinion.

5. Upcoming events about your small business.

If you’re having a huge, 1-day sale, then post it on your blog. If you’re hosting an online webinar, tweet about it. Whenever you plan to have an upcoming event, make sure to let your readers know.

6. Elicit feedback from customers.

As a small business owner, you will want to generate authentic feedback from your customers about your products and/or services.

The feedback that your customers provide can either be pulled straight from their comments or from blog polling services or plugins. This type of feedback can be an invaluable resource for your small business and help move it from good to great.

7. Educate Your Customers/Clients.

Many small business owners implicitly understand that in order to effectively sell a product or service, the customer needs to be educated. Oftentimes our prospects don’t even understand why they need our products or services.

Therefore, the appropriate education of your prospects is incredibly important. However, it also should be handled with care. You certainly don’t want to use a “hard-sell” approach and bully your prospects into making a purchase. On the other hand, if you help your prospects understand why your product and service is so valuable and what problems it will solve for them, your battle is half-won.

8. “Warning” Posts.

Every so often, it is appropriate to help your prospects understand “what they need to watch out for” in your particular industry. This again, positions you as an expert and helps build trust with your prospects. For instance, the dog trainer could write a Facebook post entitled, “Beware of the dog trainers who use physical punishment.” Of course, you would let your prospects know that you detest this type of dog training and why.

9. Related interests.

If you sell vitamins, you should blog about health. If you own a travel agency, you should blog about the great trips that you take. It’s important to reveal to your clients and customers that you are a real person with similar interests to theirs. As long as your personal blog posts are directly related to your product and/or service, you will find these posts to be an invaluable way to connect.

10. Product, service, or process explanations and stories.

If you own a product or service that needs further explanation, then share this explanation in a YouTube video lesson. Your customers will appreciate tutorials, stories and explanations about how to best use your product and services.

So, remember these tips next time you are struggling to come up with a topic to write about.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is all the rage these days. Everywhere you look people are sharing on Facebook, blogging, tweeting, posting photos on Pinterest, Stumbing Upon, Tumbling, and getting Linked In. Why? Is it just a way of socializing with the world? Or is there a practical, business application to all this Internet frenzy?

We think there is. Every business has a constituency, a community of interested parties, people who want to know about your field. It is at this group that social media marketing is aimed. This is the group in which you want to create a buzz about your business, your art, your law firm, or your picture frames. Whatever you are selling or showing, there is a group of people out there who want to talk about it. And who better to raise the subject and stimulate their interest than you? After all, nobody knows your field better than you do. You are the authority. You have interesting things to say that your constituents want to hear about and discuss.

We will talk in more depth about this subject in future mailings, but for now, it is enough to say we are doing it and we can help you grow this way.