Category Archives: Best Practices

Congratulations on your new Web Presence! Consider these thoughts.

Going from no Web Presence to a fully meshed site with blog and facebook / twitter feeds can feel like having a brain cramp.  But it can be very disruptive in your space.  We know how to help.
Going from no Web Presence to a fully meshed site with blog and facebook / twitter feeds can feel like having a brain cramp. But it can be very disruptive in your space. We know how to help.

An open letter based on dialogue with an agency we did some volunteer work for recently…

So! You registered a domain and directed traffic to a WordPress or Wix (wherever) website. Perhaps you’ve even built Facebook pages and are thinking about Twitter.

You’ve established a toe-hold in the process… consider these thoughts as you pursue development of your Web Presence.

If you’re an NGO/NPO — you’ll always need to design from the perspective of Succession Planning.  If you use personal tools, it will be clumsy to transition to the next volunteer or director.  Generic identities built upon email forwards and list management tools online like MailChimp.com or EventBrite.com are indispensable.

For an NGO / NPO – the identity of the franchise drives development of all of the web properties and this branding needs to be consistent across all aspects of internet tools.  NOT those of the leader — their personal style and character evaporate after they leave.

    • Facebook will require a bit of fitting before implementation and small bit of effort to connect, and then some instruction on publication / use.  There are some “agency” best practices operating for NGO/NPO — that helps answer the successor issue.  We shouldn’t be using personal page login credentials but be posting as the Page. — I know, confusing.
    • Learning the fundamentals of page and post attributes and using the media library, the CMS, and other page content / menu processes will require effort.
    • Content generation and refinement for the Static pages is not urgent, but it’s critical — long run. If your English isn’t excellent, you’ll want to find a good, fast copy editor.
    • If you’re considering a Twitter feed, same subset of issues as Facebook.
    • A weekly rhythm of posting should begin just prior to site “Launch”

In all these cases and others, the site needs to reflect your vision.

So, these Items require an investment of time.  Put in the hours that will result in a significantly disruptive change for you – something people will notice and be moved to follow.  Bear in mind, you’re moving from never operating a web presence to launching a really good one.

So what, in a nutshell, do you intend to accomplish with your site?  Begin with that clearly in view, and you’ll move the ball forward.

I know your schedule is cramped.  And as site owner, the initiative to push ahead / timeline is yours to manage.   A consultant can help!

Launch: At some point you’ll want to consider what kind of a “Launch” you want.

“soft launch” is normal — just go live (toggle out of sandbox mode) and circulate email.

But also, your launch could be optimized into a full-blown media blitz, with count-down clock culminating in cocktail hour and live event push with a tight focus on snagging followers / subscribers in the moment.  These can be really fun and generate buzz.

  • Embed an EventBrite widget sell tickets to fundraise — the app can be used to manage your email contacts list and capture new ones.
  • A couple of  months is a good planning horizon.

By the way, your launch method can be a combination / some measure of both.

Email campaigns – there is a whole range of list management and contact / relationship tools you should begin to incorporate – principally owing to your diligent consideration of successor planning in the NGO/NPO space.  Your personal contacts can’t be readily “handed off” — and retain any sense of history. This is an area you should find some time to address.  A consultant can help.

Conversely, it’s worth mentioning – by realizing these simple facts – that you haven’t spent a great deal of money, and very few even know you’ve begun. Therefore, if the bubble of work required to satisfactorily accomplish an attractive / professional presence isn’t feasible — you’re not harmed so much if you just let things go.

But you could be harmed if your site is launched and is full of errors (text, for instance – nothing is more off-putting to contributors and sponsors than poor use of English.)

In some cases – consultants are asked to use their experience / awareness of your context and best practices in your space to set things up.  Then folks live with it for a few seasons. A consult can be responsive to your needs and will / can continue to do so if you feed content to them, and help iterate improvements so that your vision is reflected.

We strongly suggest you find an intern / volunteer that can assume some or all of the content creation and maintenance aspects. Now is an excellent time to appoint that person into the role. Who within your membership has a son or daughter in HS or fresh out of college?

We hope you hit a home run with your effort.

Best $5 monthly fee we pay – just got better!

GHS - a suite of apps from email, to phone, calendar file share, webs, and multi-media.  Integrated. $5/mo.
GHS – a suite of apps from email, to phone, calendar file share, webs, and multi-media. Integrated. $5/mo.

Our solutions design process builds on free services. If needed we look at paying fees, we always aim for minimal expense.

So,we’ve had a policy — begin with Google Hosted services.

If for some reason clients can identify a legitimate reason the enterprise tools can’t work, or be extended… we’ll start looking at self-hosted or other combinations of services.

Well, in June Google announced that premium features will be added to basic accounts.  These new features go into effect in a few days.

This is the text of the “go live” announcement we received this morning:

Hello Administrators,

As we announced on June 16, the advanced capabilities and admin controls known as Google+ premium features will become standard for our existing business, government, and education customers. This change will take place the week of July 23.

After the change, these controls and capabilities will no longer be called premium features. The premium features setting will also be removed from the Admin console.

If you use Hangouts on Air (HOA), you might’ve noticed that enabling premium features disables HOA. To continue using HOA, just do one of the following:

Before July 23, proactively enable premium features for your domain, then re-enable HOA.

After premium features become the new default, enable HOA.
Visit the Google Apps Help Center to learn more about Google+ premium features.

The fees are minimal. $5/mo per account to start.  Amazing, right?

Okay but here’s something you should consider – Google is advancing the end-to-end messaging security thing.  Right now if you communicate within Google’s servers, your email is secure.  Our understanding is that it’s transparent — but message encryption/decryption is already in place.  That’s a big thing.

So if your enterprise is hosted at GHS, you’re starting from secure.   That’s step one.

Adwords. When & How.

Social Media not generating enough calls.  The old school idea of advertising -- applied in new media might be a good idea.  But you'll need "custom" landing pages -- so that your search terms for advertising can be narrow and targeted.
Social Media not generating enough calls? The old school idea of advertising — applied in new media might be a good idea. But you’ll need “custom” landing pages — so that your search terms for advertising can be narrow and targeted.

I always appreciate when my clients or others — take time to build pages in their websites that describe services, offers and products. For the rare (sometimes exceedingly rare) diligent site visitor,  the effort conveys quite a bit of information about you and your business.

So we appreciate the effort it took to generate all of the information, and the process you went through to develop each idea. And so there the value exists — that you’re organized and are telling a well-developed story.

Somehow you’ll have to remember to keep them “fresh”, but that’s another subject.

If the content had been produced as Posts, rather than static pages — and published over time, you’d have had incurred some benefit in Social Media. Followers, almost certainly. But also cross-links and the Search interplay among those channels. You can still do this — Post about these subjects and you should! — and link your posts back to each of the pages, etc. This is an excellent beginning … this method works well.

As static pages — the material has essentially no value on the internet.  Perhaps, though – as reference material for interested parties who you invite directly (like by giving a business card or directing to a url in a phone call) – they might find them compelling.

Eventually static pages will be crawled by search ‘bots, indexed and featured in results — but you’ll discover that they are so down-ranked as to never likely receive organic traffic.

Here’s the deal — After coming to the site via one landing page or another — people seldom visit more than 2 or three static pages in any given web. Among those: About, Contact & Services receive 75% of those clicks. With the emerging prevalence of mobile appliances this is exacerbated and time on-site further diminished.

Strong calls to action on each page are critical. Putting a phone number right up front isn’t a bad idea. I recently conceded this issue, myself. And this has mostly to do with an increasing volume of mobile visitors who’s attention is even more reduced.

What do you want the visitor to do? “Call” of course — but some of the other words (like I use on this site) — Learn, Get, Explore, Demystify (came from a friend, I recall) are helpful.

You’re to be commended in one very important area — that each of these pages is a natural “landing page” for narrowly defined pay per click advertising.

So: You’re well positioned to benefit from a certain level of sophistication in a Google Adwords marketing campaign. Google always has offers are available — often you can begin for free, to see what happens. Once recently Adwords gave away $300 for new accounts. That sum might generate 150 quality clicks — perhaps 5 of which might net you a phone call. A hurdle many face is that your space is full of big spenders. There are means of getting around this, that’s why I said “Sophisticated.”

An investment in advertising might be a vehicle you should consider.

Don’t attempt this on your own, unless you have budget to spend that you need to waste.

Free Workshop — Anatomy of a Web Presense

Any modern Web Presence is multi-dimensional, requiring a broad spectrum of expertise and fluencies.
Any modern Web Presence is multi-dimensional, requiring a broad spectrum of expertise and fluencies.

If  you’re vacationing on the S. Oregon coast, we’re giving a workshop on “How to accomplish an Engaging Web Presence integrating Social Media” on June 25th.

Register at this EventBrite.com link

The event is at the Bandon Public Library, 2-5PM.

Sponsored by Cyberlynx of Oregon.

Everyone Welcome.

Encryption — Email is next

Encryption
Fundamentals. Basic encryption entails injecting a random data string … to obfuscate the real contents of the message or packet.

Reading through my feeds, I see recent posts from various sources that Google, Facebook and others are beginning to realize that:

Server to Server encryption of Email messages is never going to be secure.

TLS (Transport Layer Security) – a minimal implementation that allows servers to converse and exchange messages more securely — is not adopted in a high percentage of email servers across the internet.  Something in excess of 40% of Email servers don’t answer this protocol.

250px-Public_key_shared_secret.svgWhat can be done?

For starters: Personal Encryption.

See this Wikipedia Article for some remedial reading — we all need to understand this layer of engineering language.  Relax, there’s lots of pictures.

I’m committed to bringing this topic to the blog on a regular basis.  We’ll try to keep track of what’s being done, and how to easily adopt the best practices.

My forecast is that Services — Google to Facebook, many others will adopt a paradigm that supports personal encryption in various layers — including service to service.  At least you’d know, if you’re sharing credentials and info between a Blog, Facebook and Google (as I do now) that those channels would be secure.   This is big iron taking seriously our privacy needs.

Go man, Go!

eBay password change? Now’s a good time.

Sophisticated passwords are a must.  Use no personally identifiable info.
Sophisticated passwords are a must. Use no personally identifiable info.

Change your password.  If you have an account, that is.

Here is a link to a walk-you-through the strokes to get it done:

BEFORE start any changes … Be sure to review all of your settings, especially your mobile telephone number.

I prefer receiving the secondary authentication by text, so if the number was wrong?  It’s difficult to say how much trouble that would cause.

A word on password security: Does yours look like this?

“H1gh.35t Est3me?”

Now write it down (no not literally.) I recommend storing credentials at http://PassPack.com for a storage tool.  Yes! Keep records, but do so securely!

PassWord Security

Encryption aside, where are your storing your credentials?
Encryption aside, where are your storing your credentials?

It’s no longer okay to share security credentials by email.

There, you have it.  A line in the sand.

Even if you go the extra distance: to send the UserID in one message and the Password in another, nope.

Here is a tool I recommend:  www.PassPack.com

Some excellent ingredients here…

  • Very secure
  • Available to you where ever there is a web browser
  • Ability to share records with other users
  • Ability to securely message other users

And a couple of words about how to use credentials

  • Don’t use the same credentials across multiple sites
  • Do use Chrome and iCloud services to “remember” credentials (it’s pretty secure)
  • Do use non-personally identifiable strings — no pet names, no nicknames, no cities, schools or other stuff like that
  • Do use upper & lower case, numbers and punctuation
  • A minimum of 10 characters

And change your passwords — I would recommend every 6th time you visit a third-party site … it’s easy, and in a moment you can change the password, update your storage tool and relax.

I don’t change passwords that frequently on sites I own and manage.  In these circumstances I alter the  credential strings perhaps every 6 months.

 

MS to patch IE for Windows XP.

MS IE Log
Microsoft to issue Internet Explorer fix for Windows XP — patching latest security hole

Another courtesy posts for followers … I appreciate your preference in hearing from me.  I’ll do my best to cut through the fog.

Just yesterday this popular online source said Microsoft Would not be patching IE for XP.

Then later in the morning yesterday, Microsoft announced on it’s Technet Blog it would — in fact — repair the hole.

I could have posted yesterday on this, but actually thought it wise to let things settle.  Somebody might change their mind again, you know?

Just to be certain: The issue exists with MS IE v6 through 11 browsers.  If you’re using this software, cease doing so.  Wait of the patches to come out.  Access the internet with Chrome, Firefox, Safari … until further news develops.

If any of this changes, I’ll repost.

Whew!

Seriously. Stop using M.S. Internet Explorer Browser.

A courtesy post .  If you’ve stopped using MS I.E. — move on, read no further.  I’ll post again when the flaw is fixed.

Windows XP is DOA for computer interconnection.  But it's use doesn't need to end.
Windows XP is DOA for computer interconnection. But it’s use doesn’t need to end.

But I was asked by a client to clarify the I.E. issue , and so evidently confusion remains.

Microsoft Internet Explorer Web Browser is seriously flawed.

The US and UK Governments have warned their citizens to not use the software.

See this article at CNet.com for more details.

You should be using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers until this is patched.

Rumors of patches being ready, are at present, untrue.

This is a different issue from a post I made to this site yesterday attempting to show where Windows XP might continue to be used.  A couple of points on that…

  • Stop using Internet Explorer browser — regardless of the OS you’re using.
  • Stop connecting XP to networks.  (You’ll give the rest of us bugs if you continue to do so.)

Respond / Comment on this post and I’ll answer your concerns.

XP and Explorer — New Security Flaws

Windows XP is DOA for computer interconnection.  But it's use doesn't need to end.
Windows XP is DOA for computer interconnection. But it’s use doesn’t need to end.

I’m asked time and again what owners can expect for continuing use of Windows XP.  My advice is mixed.  But on one point I think we’ve finally crossed the boarder of permissible use.

Over the weekend news emerged that the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser has a newly “Discovered” security flaw across several versions — I it exists in IE versions 8 to 11.

The Microsoft Website says:

“…technical assistance for Windows XP is no longer available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC.Microsoft has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP.”

Windows XP is no longer supported.  And updates for the issues with browsers for that OS — regardless of Maker or Date or Version will be inherently unsafe to use in any context.

  • Do not use XP for Browsing
  • Do not use XP for Emailing
  • Do not use XP for Word Processing (or any MS Office product)
  • Moving files to and from the machine by disk or thumb-drive is risky and requires security scanning of the files.

Things that you might consider using XP for — if it is completely off line:

  • Operating a bank of security cameras — that are cabled together.
  • Operating a range of electro / mechanical systems — gates, conveyors, window shades, indoor/outdoor lighting timers
  • Operating sensors — temperature and other environmental regulator equipment in a greenhouse for instance.

The bottom line — is that if you operate your XP machine you should go into the hardware profile and disable the ethernet ports — both physical (Category 5 cable) and wireless (WiFi and BlueTooth.)

If you’re forced to move files on an off the system by “sneaker net” — that is by physical media — scan files going on and scan them coming off.