SSL – What It Is and Why It’s Important

With SSL on rise we’ve recently had an uptick in questions about it. What does SSL stand for? What is it? Do I need it on my website? How come my website doesn’t show a “locked” icon in Chrome browser but other websites do? In this blog post we’ll answer your most basic questions about SSL and explain why it’s important for you to have.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for “secure sockets layer”, and according to SSL.com it is “the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser”. Have you ever wondered why some sites have http before them in the url bar and some have https? The s in httpstands for “secure” and to get it you need an SSL Certificate. So what does that actually mean? Here is a simple example:

When you’re sitting on the couch with your laptop and surfing products on amazon.com, information is being passed between your computer and the server that amazon’s website is hosted on. When you click a product, amazon sends the info about that product to your computer’s browser (like Chrome, Safari, or Internet Explorer). When you fill out your credit card info to purchase, your browser sends info back to amazon’s servers.

Now, imagine if a “hacker” could see that information going back and forth. If someone with malicious intent was able to “listen in” on your network activity, it wouldn’t be too difficult to recognize the numbers coming across in sequence as a credit card number.

SSL is what prevents that from happening by providing a secure connection that allows the data to be encrypted before being transmitted over the internet. Still confused? Using our amazon.com example – SSL allows your browser to scramble your credit card information before it gets passed on to amazon’s servers. That way any bad people who might be snooping only see a random jumble of indecipherable code instead of your credit card numbers! This is why SSL is a requirement for sites who sell goods and take credit card payments over the web.

Why is SSL important?

Adding SSL to your website is important because it adds a layer of security that keeps your data (and your customers’ data) private. It also gives your website viewers peace of mind, seeing the “lock” icon in your url bar (and the word “Secure” in certain browsers) always adds a bit more credibility to the browsing experience.

Though security is important, one of the biggest advantages is that Google is starting to give preference to sites with SSL in search results. They began lightly suggesting switching to https in late 2014 and some SEO experts predict that Google will actually begin penalizing sites without SSL in the near future as it becomes more important and accessible.

How can you get an SSL certificate for your website?

If you’re interested in switching to https, contact us today to chat with one of our web developers about getting set up! Or, if you’re interested in taking advantage of our current special, switch to Estland’s new and improved VPS hosting (starting at $14.99 a month) and get an SSL included for FREE – normally a $125 value!

Is Your Website Safe From Hackers?

Imagine for a moment that you’ve had a perfect start to your day. The sun’s out, you hit all green lights on the drive in, and even got to listen to your favorite song on the radio. Then you get a call from the office manager. He says a customer called and she was having problems with the website.

Responsive Web Design & Development: It’s a MUST!

Optimal Viewing On All Devices From Desktop to Mobile

Responsive Web Design is a way of building a site to create an optimal viewing experience on all screen sizes across all platforms from desktop computers to mobile phones and tablets. In our opinion, a responsive website development is a must! You may be thinking that your clients are baby boomers and they probably don’t surf the web on mobile devices or maybe you just don’t think that it’s common for the general public to search for businesses on their hand-held devices. Well unfortunately, that’s simply not the case. We have some clients who get as much as 80% of their website traffic from mobile devices also known as “hand-held” devices and across all target markets and all types of business you’ll see an average of 50% of your website traffic will come from hand-held devices. This means one thing, you need your site to look great and work well on mobile devices. Period. Nobody wants to zoom in and pan left to right to read your content, they want an easy to read, easy to navigate experience. Otherwise they’ll bounce off your site quicker than you can say “RESPONSIVE.”

Estland is the go-to web development company for responsive web designs in Harrisonburg. If you’d like an estimate for a responsive website design, fill out this Quick Estimate form and we’ll be in touch!

Quick Estimate

Better design = better marketing results

Studies show that as a nation we are consistently raising our standards of good design. We don’t settle for boring and out-dated; it doesn’t make us feel good. It doesn’t appeal to our emotions and if it’s not innovative, we don’t care as much about it.

Recently Adam Swan, advisor to Forbes and head of strategy at gyro New York, wrote an article for Forbes outlining the principles behind this new era of design. Please read it and consider your current business design. Is it up to snuff? If you aren’t proud of the quality of your product or service or if your corporate brand has an outdated look, chances are that’s what others are thinking too. Companies with poor design simply can’t compete. We don’t want to use a product if it doesn’t look good. How many times do you choose a bottle of wine based on the label? How many times do you go to Starbucks and spend $5 on a cup of coffee?

Bottom line: We buy products and services based on feelings. Good design and good brands make us feel good.

Successful, beautiful websites that get you more business!

Simply having a website isn’t enough. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I have a website, but it has never gotten me any business.” Your website has to be effective. It has to convey your image and your message at-a-glance. Studies show that viewers (surfers) decide whether to stay on a site or bounce back to the search results within 1.5 seconds. So, ask yourself, “if I landed on a page of my site, would I stay or would I go?”

The two most important factors in the “staying power” of a website are:

1. Great design.

2. Great content.

And because we process images 60,000 times faster than text, great design is the first reason to stay. Your site should communicate the personality of your business through it’s design sensibility. Part of the site design includes the navigation. Your site design should be well organized and easy to navigate. Once you have that down, it needs to contain great content that has to do with what the viewer is searching for.

Tips for effective website content:

1. Know what “key words” your audience is using in their online searches and use those words throughout the pages of your website. (Google Keyword Tool can help you with this.)

2. Dedicate a whole page to each of your services. If I am searching to learn more about life insurance online. Then I want to land on a page dedicated to life insurance… I don’t want to sift through all of the other insurance plans you offer only to read about the life insurance at the bottom of your page. I would probably “bounce” off of your site before getting to the item of my interest.

3. Update your site regularly. A good way to do this is to have a blog or news page. Sites that have regular updates are viewed more favorably by Google.

4. Increase your credibility by having reviews or testimonials throughout your site. People want to know how others liked your services.

5. Keep it simple. Less is more. Have catchy headings and bullet lists when you can. These days people only spend a minute or two on sites, scanning for useful information. Make your point quickly and invite them to call you.

Stay-tuned for more info on effective websites coming soon!

 

 

 

New website design and development for Mill Cabinet Shop!

Estland has been working on a new website design for Mill Cabinet Shop in Bridgewater, Virginia. I wanted to communicate that the cabinets are all hand-made, in house, by extremely skilled and experienced carpenters. Unlike some of my templated sites, this one has been built from the ground up. The photography was provided by one of our Accolade Image Group partners, Josh Gooden. I think he really captured the warmth and creative history of the shop. Here’s the final product, I think it turned out quite nicely.