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Benefits of an SSL Certificate

6 November 2021

Over the past few years SSL Certificates have become a basic requirement for all websites. SSL Certificates protect your website visitors and customers from identity thieves and hackers. These identity thieves and hackers are looking to steal not only credit card information, but also the most basic information you submit through a website such as your name, email address, phone number, etc.

SSL Certificates protect this data being transmitted through your website through encryption. SSL Certificates verify ownership of a website, so customers can trust your website is legitimate. SSL Certificate encryption has become an essential component in having a reputable online presence.

What is SSL?

SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. SSL Certificates are used to protect the information website visitors enter and submit through your website. SSL Certificates protect your customers from identity thieves and hackers who are looking to steal sensitive date and use it to their own advantage.

On the flip-side, SSL Certificates verify ownership of a website so customers can trust your website is legitimate. As website visitors submit their information info a contact form, subscribe to your newsletter, and enter their credit card information as they make a purchase in your online shop, having an SSL Certificate in pace reassures your website visitors that their data is safe by providing a secure website.

How do SSL Certificates work?

The basic answer to this question is that an SSL Certificate encrypts information as it travels from a web browser to a web server. As the information travels from your web browser to the web server, an action commonly referred to as the SSL ‘handshake’ occurs. This is the point in which encryption keys (a public key and a private key) are exchanged to encrypt and decrypt data as it travels through a network.

An example we can use is a credit card number. We have all entered our credit card number into many websites over the years. As credit card information is entered into the site, the SSL Certificate protects the website user. For example say your credit card number is ‘5555 5555 5555 5555’. As this number travels through your website to the web server, the SSL Certificate codes your credit card number into a random string of characters (for example: t%uZ6Rp9$avyj4). A public key is used to create the encoded mu,ber and it can only be decoded using the private key stored within the website’s web server. Once the encrypted code reaches the web server, the number is decrypted so the order may be processed.

Do you need SSL?

In 2014 Google began to place emphasis on SSL Certificates, so much in fact that they rank websites using the SSL Certificate secured HTTPS protocol higher than website that use the non-encrypted HTTP protocol. Additionally, in 2018, Google’s Chrome web browser began to display scary ‘Website Not Secure’ warnings and messages to websites that do not have SSL Certificates installed. Other web browsers like FireFix soon followed Google’s lead. So, basically SSL has now become a requirement of every website, especially if you are accepting payments online. In order for your website to be Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliant, website owners must have SSL installed and functioning properly.

At Hazel Digital Media, we offer domain validated SSL Certificates with every website we build. SSL encryption has become an essential component of gaining the trust of your website visitors, as well as the Google’s trust that your website is up-to-date and compliant with current web standards.

Things That No Website Should Have, Ever.

1 October 2021

We all know how quickly the web changes. What seems like a good idea today can turn obsolete before you know it.

Here's a few general things you'll want to avoid in this day and age.

Email Links

If you have a direct link to your email address on your website, you are begging for trouble. It won't take the internet robots long to distribute that address to spam farmers around the globe, and before you know it, you'll be sludging through your inbox, waist-deep in spam emails.

We recommend having a Contact Form instead. Not only do these keep your address anonymous, these forms can be extremely versatile with the information they gather. You can even have different forms for different purposes, which can help streamline the process of wading through your emails.

Best of all, contact forms make it easier to give helpful auto-responses. An immediate reply that gives a 'thank-you,' as well as an estimate of when they can expect to actually hear back from you can be an effective gesture.

Vague Content

It's one thing to try to draw people in with mystique. However, your first goal should always be brand recognition. Unless you're Apple, you probably can't get away with cryptic headlines or obscure references.

Consider this: if a potential customer happens to make their way to your landing page, you've got about six seconds to grab their attention and keep them on your site before their attention runs out and they surf elsewhere.

Sadly, we see the opposite problem just as often: if your landing page is overstuffed with content, users might get overwhelmed by it, not knowing where to start. Aim for the sweet spot where you're able to identify exactly what you do in as few words as possible.

Stock Photos

Come on, everyone knows that's not your team!

Never underestimate the power of images. They can do tremendous work, either in your favor or against. If the photos and illustrations you use are powerful and compelling, it will often go a long way to reaching and retaining users.

However, if you're using images that you've clearly pilfered from the search engines, that's a big turn-off. Your typical user can spot insincerity from a mile away. If they don't trust your images, then they won't trust you. Strange to say, but the internet has an easily-offended sense of integrity when it comes to this.

If you take a little time and money to do it right, you'll notice the difference immediately. Even if all you can do at the moment is a selfie on your smartphone, that's better than an image that's obviously fake. Sincerity and quality are the name of the game.

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There are plenty of good practices when it comes to what you should and shouldn't do with your website, so keep your eyes on the Hazel Digital Media blog for tips on how to maximize your web presence.

If you have any specific questions or comments, we'd love to hear from you.

Happy surfing!

The Difference Between your Home Page and your About Page

7 September 2021

Along with pretty buttons and killer graphics, a Home Page and an About Page are two things you'll find on nearly every website. Yet, when drafting content, many folks tend to blur the line between what each should accomplish.

So... What Is The Difference?

Your Home Page is often the first impression people will have of your business. You have a short amount of time to convince the ever-fickle web-surfer that your website is worth sticking around for.

Solid Home Page content should quickly illustrate the core benefits of your business, whether it's a catchy tagline summarizing the rest of the site, or simply an overview of your key services.

You can also consider adding things like:

-Testimonials

-Quick Calls-To-Action

-Portfolio Snapshots

It's analogous to someone walking through the front doors of your shop for the first time: they're going to take an overview to see if they walked into the right store. If the first thing they see is your picture and your bio, they'll likely have no clue if they're in the right place or not.

If they like what they see, a visitor to your site will stick around for a look – and if they wander over to your About Page, it usually means they're ready to get to know the humans behind the scenes. If the Home Page is the what and how, then the About Page should be the why.

This is a good place for pictures of you, the history of the business, a list of charities you support – anything you want about yourself that reinforces your brand and builds trustworthiness. Potential customers are much more likely to fancy you if they know you're genuinely passionate about what you do.

A little bit of overlap in content between these two pages is natural. But as a rule of thumb, Home Page content is all about the broad, concise, and catchy overview of your business's special benefits, whereas the About Page gives you some room to get personal.

At the end of the day, always keep in mind that although your website is about you, it's really more about what you can do for your customers.

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Questions or comments? We'd love to hear from you. Feel free to Contact Us today!

Using Images To Increase Conversion Rates

1 August 2021

Believe it or not, images on your website are one of the most important factors toward closing on a call-to-action. When used correctly, images allow you to make a more human connection with your target audience. Images allow one to experience your website, rather than just browse it. At the end of the day, the research speaks for itself:

Images = Conversions.

This is true for the same reason that television commercials aren't just blocks of text. Whatever your product, you want to convey the emotion that using your product will provide – whether it's happiness, pride, or relaxation, images can make your audience feel in a way that words simply cannot.

We recommend images throughout every page of your site, but particularly on the call-to-action page. Images of people often have a particularly strong effect toward creating empathy and human connection with your business and product.

When in doubt, bigger is better. The simple act of increasing your image sizes could improve your conversion rates by almost 10%! A larger image with a description in the roll-over will almost always outperform the same image, smaller and crowded by the description text. Whether it's a picture of your product or someone using your product, you'll do well when you let it dominate their attention.

Finally, be very aware of stock images like this one.

Everyone knows that's not your team. Unless there's a professional photographer on the payroll, almost everybody uses stock images. This means that if you choose poorly, you'll end up with the same images as your competitors, or worse, your beautiful website will start to look tacky, cheap, and inhuman. Choose your photos intelligently – get the good ones, even if they cost a little extra.

For websites with a call-to-action, images are highly recommended. Let yourself have a little fun with it, and your potential customers with probably have fun, too.

Here at Hazel Digital Media, we can help you find the perfect pictures for your custom design website.Contact Us to get started growing your conversion rates today!

Improving Your Online Presence

7 July 2021

My old man used to rave about the efficacy of putting a full-color ad in the yellow pages. Before computers, it was that easy to get found, and then have folks driving down to your brick-and-mortar. Fast forward to 2016 where even the White House has its own YouTube channel.

The internet has definitely changed things, but the rules of the game are still pretty much the same. Staying relevant in the ever-changing tech world can be a little mystifying, but it's not as challenging as you might think. It's all about being active, and letting people know where to find you.

Custom Design Website

Welcome to the age of the millennial. Generation Y would do just about all of their shopping online if they could. In fact, a whopping 91% make a purchase on their smart phone every month, with 74% having compared competitor prices beforehand.

Whether you're trying to sell your products online with an e-commerce site, or simply want a place to pitch your services, a sleek, functional website will always be the foundation of your online presence. It is much more than an evolved yellow pages advertisement – it's the place where the call-to-action occurs. The fire of your marketing efforts will amount to little if you don't have a modern website for people to come back to.

We're not saying you have to try to be as hip as the kids, but nothing is less sexy and less effective than a website that still looks like this:

If you put some love into your website, people will know that you've put love into your company and your products as well. If you haven't updated your technology in a while, you should know that web designers are capable of some pretty amazing things these days. One such thing is called Responsive Design, which allows your site to morph itself depending on the device it's being viewed on. A custom website that looks beautiful on a smart phone is a website that youngsters will give their money to.

Always remember that nothing you do to promote yourself will be worth much without a great website to come back to at the end.

Social Media

This refers to any profile you or your company may have online. Facebook and Instagram are first to come to mind, but there are a lot of portals out there. In fact, there is likely an online community dedicated to your industry or niche, filled with people who are waiting to get to know you and your innovative business ideas.

Social media objectives can be intimidating, because they require more tenacity than simply posting up your website and calling it a day. It's an ever-shifting landscape of personalities and discussions, with all focus on the right now or the soon to be.

There are a lot of ways to approach social media, largely dependent on your audience and their reactions. Regardless, there's one imperative rule to live by: be genuine, and be cautious of over-selling yourself. It may sound counter-intuitive, but your website is the place to pitch, and your social media page is not. In the online world, most people simply want to have a conversation, and it's hard to have a conversation when someone has a hidden agenda.

Of course, if your business has a profile, social media can be a great way to spread the word about hot deals and new products. But you'll get the best reactions if you give people a reason to care: that is, be perpetually active and involved in the community.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the ribbon that ties the package together. For maximum results, you can hire a professional to launch an ongoing campaign that shifts alongside the search engines themselves. However, this isn't always necessary, and by simply implementing a few good practices, you can make it easier for people to find your sleek, custom website.

We have a lot to say about SEO, but the main thing you need to understand is that it's all about keywords. Try to come up with a list keywords that are relevant to you and your industry. The best keywords have high search volume and low competition. Google has tools that allow you to weigh the potency of each one.

Once you discover a few great keywords, use them everywhere. Put them in every paragraph of your website, in the page headers and navigation bars – put them in every Facebook post, and maybe even turn them into hashtags (i.e. #CustomWebDesign).

Boosting your online presence doesn't have to be as daunting as it seems. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have a website that's attractive, navigable, and friendly toward all the different devices out there. Here at Hazel Digital Media, we specialize in giving your business a home on the web, and leading people to it. Contact Us today to learn more.

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