Does your business need a boost?

1302118210From time to time businesses need a boost to generate more trade, whether it’s reminding previous customers of their products or attracting new customers. Whilst I can design, build, host and maintain websites, many businesses already have a site of their own.

Sometimes, however, that site has changed little since it was built, who maintains it? Has that contract ceased? Is a make-over needed? When was the last time you reviewed your own site? Do you even know how many visitors your website attracts or what the most (and least) popular pages are?

I can help here, whether it’s a critical eye freshening up the site or a complete redesign.

If the site is okay, how about your campaigning? There are a number of ‘free’ approaches:

  • Newspaper/Radio/TV editorial (via press release/interview)
  • Social media ‘advertising’/website promotion
  • Listing on other sites, linking to your site (trade associations? Chamber of Commerce?)
  • Improving your Google ranking

Getting any of these going however takes time, whether it’s writing press releases, preparing social media posts or emailing other site owners. I can help here by taking much of this work off your hands.

If photography is needed I can do this too.

What’s the cost?

For my services, £10/hour, although website maintenance can be an annual fee based on the size of the site and the work required.

So, is your business losing trade to competitors because they campaign better or because no-one knows where your company is or what it does? Word of mouth alone these days is not enough. It’s also worth noting that most people do not pick up Yellow Pages (or other coffee table listings) to search for a company or services, they turn to the internet.

Your Google ranking can affect your business more than a box advert that no-one will see. Talk to me about how to improve your ranking, or any other service.

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Using WordPress?

wordpress-logo-680x400If you’ve built a website using WordPress or are managing it, security is a real issue.

WordPress is the most-wildly used Content Management Software for webservers but this brings risks as most, if not all, of the WordPress files have been dissected carefully – all you need to do is download the package from www.wordpress.org and take a look for yourself.

Can it be made secure, even if all the back-doors are known? To be honest, back-doors are very rare in WordPress, otherwise it wouldn’t be a sensible choice. It’s the front door approach that should concern a WordPress admin. Continue reading

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Current project

A good friend of mine passed away recently and it was a simple decision to build a memorial website in his honour. The plan is well under way with submissions coming in. This is a different setting from most of the websites I build as we’re actively looking for user content/submissions. That means that the potential for spam is huge.

One approach is to use a commercial spam filter such as Askimet but simpler preventative methods such as Captcha are available. Having a good firewall is also essential, together with regular backups – even websites should be backed up!

The website is www.andyadams.org.uk

If you knew Captain Andy Adams, please contribute to the site.

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Keyboard shortcuts

computer_key_CtrlThe mouse rules? How often do you move the mouse, type something, move the mouse again, click on something ….. You are repeatedly going back to the mouse when you could do plenty straight from the keyboard:

 

 

In most programs:

  • Ctrl-A     Select All
  • Ctrl-C     Copy
  • Ctrl-X     Cut
  • Ctrl-V     Paste
  • Ctrl-F     Find (text)
  • Ctrl-O     Open (file)
  • Ctrk-S    Save (using current filename if one exists)
  • Shift-Ctrl-S    Save As
  • Ctrl-P     Print
  • Ctrl-Q    Quit
  • Ctrl-Z     Undo
  • Shift-Ctrl-Z    Redo
  • Escape    Exit/Close (usage varies)

In internet browsers:

  • Ctrl-R     Refresh Screen

In Wordprocessors/Email programs

  • Ctrl-B     Bold text
  • Ctrl-I      Italics
  • Ctrl-U     Underline
  • Ctrl-N     New document/Email

You can also use the Shift key to select text. Hold shift down and use the arrow keys. Don’t forget you can also use the arrow keys to fine-tune where the cursor is.

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Don’t let it happen to you!

I wrote some time ago about the dangers of letting the world know you were going away at Christmas.

Social media and Insurance

Click for full image

It now appears that insurance companies are checking social media accounts for mention of your holiday when you make a claim because of a break-in. It’s possible your claim could be rejected.

There was a time when the only people who would know you were going away on holiday would be your immediate family, next door neighbours and friends who would be likely to visit. Plus the newsagent and milkman, if you had deliveries from them.

In our connected environment, however, the entire planet can be told you’re away, even the occupants of the International Space Station are on the internet!

Having an open conversation on one of the many social media platforms, although Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the largest, has a potential audience of thousands. Even if you lock a Facebook discussion down to ‘Friends’ only, how many of those ‘friends’ do you actually know? On Twitter, unless you use the ‘Protected’ account setting, everything you post is visible to everyone – even those without a twitter account.

So, an apparently harmless “I’ll be in Rimini” or “I’ll be in Romford” is effectively the same as a poster in your front window saying you’re going away.

If you have children/teenagers at home then be very aware of what they are telling their friends. Most have Facebook accounts that broadcast messages to Friends and Friends-of-Friends; potentially a very large number. Can they vouch for the trust of every one? I doubt it!

So, a little common sense should prevail.

The risk is that an opportunist, unwelcome, visitor to your home will help themselves to your possessions with the knowledge that you’re not going to return that day, or the next.

As for my plans this year – I’m not saying!

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Backing Up

folder_icon_01When was your last backup? For most computer users the answer is probably “never” or “doesn’t it do it automatically?”

Desktop PCs usually come with a Cloud facility such as Dropbox or Apple’s iCloud that can be used to backup documents and photos. These facilities are usually free to start then charge once you reach a limit, for example Dropbox allocated 2Gb to start and this can be expanded.

How much is 2Gb? That’s two hours of video or 500ish high-definition photos.

There’s also the issue of transferring the data to the cloud provider, uploading files onto a website takes much longer than downloading.

What’s the alternative, particularly if you have alot of data or confidential information you don’t want to risk in someone else’s hands? One option is to backup locally, as done for decades before. Here it depends of the size of the backup media. Microsoft provide a backup program with Windows, although you might need to use the search facility to find it.

What can you back up onto? A USB stick/thumbdrive may be ideal, but their size varies and they do have a finite lifetime. A CD can hold 700Mb, a DVD 4.6Gb. Both will last indefinitely if stored correctly (cool, dry and in a scratch-free case).

What if you have more than 4.6Gb, lots more? Splitting data between discs is time consuming and beyond some backup programs. Where possible, keep everything together! Having just done a backup of all my documents & photos I needed 29Gb of space. For this it really means using a hard-drive. If you have more than one physical drive in the computer then this can be used but remember C: and D: drives (Windows) are usually on the same physical drive, if that drive fails you lose C and D!

You can buy relatively cheap external hard drives with capacities from 100Gb to 3Tb that allow you to backup everything in one place. Keep this drive in a cool/dry/safe environment and keep the backup up to date.

Doing a backup once only does not allow for newer documents/photos. Work out a schedule, be it weekly or monthly, and keep to it. For businesses, weekly is the minimum advisable, daily is better.

For mobile phones and tablets, Android (Google), Windows Phones (Microsoft) and iPhones/iPads (Apple) devices all have a backup facility for photos and much more. Check whether it’s enabled, and whether it automatically shares photos with your friends/non-friends? Open the app on the device or visit the relevant website on a PC:

If you’d like specific advice for your devices, whether a home-user or a business, please contact me.

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Hanover Inn

I was asked recently to build and host a website for a long-established Harwich business. The previous website had been taken down by the hosting company and was no longer accessible to the owner. The Hanover Inn is a B&B and needed a website in order to attract the summer visitors to Harwich.

Hanover Inn

That meant not only building a new site but also promoting it in Google’s search results so it appears on the first page, preferably near the top. It also means removing the redundant website from results.

I’m registered with Google as a webmaster so have made the requests to clean up the search results, however Google won’t promote your business unless you throw money at them!

This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in, knowing how to promote the business. After 24 hours the pub’s site is on page 3 of the results, hopefully it won’t take too long. Out of interest, if you search for me on Google I’m the top response on page 1, and the second response, and the third …..

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Dovercourt/Parkeston buses

The timetable is out for the revised route number 2 service between Harwich Town Railway Station and Parkeston. From my analysis it does not look good for most users and I can’t see it attracting many new passengers.

Continue reading

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