Why Security Is More Important Than You Might Think | Header

Why Security Is More Important Than You Might Think3 min read

The past couple of years have seen people becoming more concerned with how secure their information is as their lives continue on an exponential trend toward digitization. We communicate, interact, share, work, plan, and unwind through the magic of the internet. Whether you’re binging the latest season of House of Cards on Netflix, or trying to finish up that spreadsheet for work, society is becoming more dependent on the internet for everyday life. As our lives leave our devices and venture out to connect with computers all over the globe, it is becoming vital that the information we send and receive stays secure in between.

Why does this matter?

a padlock over binary code Information is used by a variety of internet companies for a host of reasons. Google utilizes search history to target ads that are better suited for the user. Apple collects information about how their phones are used so they can figure out what people are doing or want to do, and improve upon those things. Data collection is everywhere and can include information people may not care about, or information people would rather stay private. Text messages, for example, should not be sent in an unencrypted format. Few people can say they would be OK with their entire texting history being posted online for the world to see. In an insecure digital age, that is entirely possible. Other sensitive information is vital to keep secure such as medical histories, financial data, fingerprint scans, and more, all of which are transmitted over the internet every day. All of this data jumps from computer to computer in its journey to find its way to the recipient, and there are ways to intercept it along the way. Even HTTPS, a secure version of HTTP, is becoming a standard among websites that do not even necessarily take credit card or other payment information. You can read more about HTTPS here. Confidentiality and security are important, but how are they guaranteed? Continue reading

Progressive Web Apps | A Great Mobile App Alternative | Header

Progressive Web Apps: A Great Mobile App Alternative5 min read

For those who look at this and wonder, what a Progressive Web App (PWA) is, here is the definition from Google:

Progressive Web Apps are experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps. They are useful to users from the very first visit in a browser tab, no install required. As the user progressively builds a relationship with the App over time, it becomes more and more powerful. It loads quickly, even on flaky networks, sends relevant push notifications, has an icon on the home screen and loads as top-level, full screen experience.

Before we look at this any further, let quick go over the layer of technology behind this called a “Service Worker” that works at the network level. Unlike traditional web code, a service worker will continue to run even when you are no longer on the website, waiting for either a command from your phone/computer, or a command from your network connection. This command will then trigger the service worker to run the relevant feature that is enabled on that Progressive Web App.

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How to Run a Successful Facebook Page For Your Business | Header

How to Run a Successful Facebook Page For Your Business4 min read

In today’s world, a successful internet marketing plan must include a social media presence. With the variety of different avenues people can take to find you, social media is one of the best ways to promote your brand.

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and LinkedIn all have their own unique audiences, and your goal is to find the best mix of platforms for your business. No matter which mix you end up choosing, it likely includes Facebook since it enjoys the highest adoption rate among internet users.

There are numerous tricks and tips that go into running a successful Facebook page for your business, and we wanted to put together a helpful list of some of our favorites. We implement these practices every day when we manage social media campaigns for our clients here at Sharp Innovations. Continue reading

Audit Your Website with These Free Google Tools | Header

Audit Your Website with These Free Google Tools2 min read

You wouldn’t believe how many free resources are available that offer suggestions on how to improve your business’s website and online presence. Even if your website just recently launched, chances are there are areas for improvement, especially if you aren’t utilizing a search engine optimization (SEO) service.

For those business owners who are looking for any type of edge over their competition, we’ve put together a list of some of the most useful free Google tools available to improve your website and, in turn, your placement in the search engines. We encourage you to use these on your own website today! Continue reading

5 Ways A Video Can Boost Your Search Rankings - Header

5 Ways A Video Can Boost Your Search Rankings2 min read

Waching a YouTube video on a mobile phone One of the most popular websites in the world, YouTube, is one of the web’s greatest ways to consume content.  YouTube boasts over 1 billion users and has an average viewing session of 40 minutes on mobile devices,  so you can clearly understand why video content is so important in today’s market.

Adding a video to your website has numerous benefits not only for your brand and your message, but for your website’s ranking capabilities as well. Whether you’re a small startup looking to get in front of more customers or a Fortune 500 company looking to improve the bottom line, videos are a great way to invest in your business. Continue reading

Let’s Make English The Official Language of Business - Header

Let’s Make English The Official Language of Business4 min read

We often hear discussions about making English the official language of all government business in the United States. Maybe we should also think about making plain, understandable English the official language of business websites and all business writing.

Businesses frequently write in jargon that’s specific to their industries, and if they’re selling to a general audience, that’s not good for sales. If I can’t understand your website’s writing, I won’t know how you can improve my life, so I probably won’t call you. With that in mind, take a look at this copy from a website and see if you know how the business will improve your life:

Unleash your team by releasing them from all the administrative functions that technology can now provide. We specialize in technology integration solutions in very large enterprise applications or small custom web solutions including the web design & dvelopment*, SDLC, process redesigns, contact center technologies, digital commerce, and social media.

*Yes, the “e” is missing on the website.

Huh? Even after reading this several times, I don’t have a clear understanding of what the business does. I can figure out the first sentence, although “performs” would be a more appropriate verb than “provides”. That second sentence, however, is a real mystery, and a writer who assumes that I know what SDLC means certainly doesn’t know me. Continue reading

Secure that site with LetsEncrypt - Header

Secure that site with LetsEncrypt4 min read

You have heard about someone offering free (as in beer) website certificates (aka SSL certificates) for your website. Whoever told you this was not lying. It’s actually quite true! With the revelations regarding shady dealings with intelligence agencies, law enforcement, ISP and black-hat crackers (i.e., your “cyber-thieves”), there’s been an industry-wide push to secure communications. Letsencrypt.org was founded to help address some of the issues in the web industry that led to the widespread failure of website owners and operators in obtaining secure certificates.

HTTPS/SSL in a nutshell

The average website you visit is typically accessed over HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol). Accessing a site over HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) is a different process from HTTP. Accessing a site over HTTP makes your traffic visible to everyone on the network. Using tools like WireShark, if you were to park yourself at the point where your network meets the internet, you’d be able to see all the traffic (URLs, content, form data) of people on your network. This is how people perform Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks. In a MITM attack, someone sits on the connection between two networks and just eavesdrops on the data going back and forth. Also, by being in the middle of the communication stream, the attacker could modify the contents going back and forth, sending you malicious data and changing what you are transmitting to the server. Continue reading

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – The Next Step In Mobile Web - Header

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – The Next Step In Mobile Web?3 min read

With more and more website visits coming from mobile devices, speed becomes a vital piece of your website’s efficiency, even more so than with a desktop computer. Google has recognized this need for speed as mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, and mobile usage continues to grow at a rapid rate.

That’s why popularity is building for a new web technology known as Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP HTML. Google announced the new initiative back in early October and has championed it heavily as we close out 2015 and head into 2016.

Google has recognized this fact as mobile searches surpassed desktop searches, and mobile usage continues to grow at a rapid rate. With more and more visits coming from mobile devices, speed becomes a vital piece of your website even more so than with a desktop computer.

Google's "Mobile-Friendly" Search Tag The growing use of mobile devices led Google to implement changes to their algorithm on April 21st, 2015 to use mobile-friendliness criteria as a ranking signal, and those who’ve made their website a positive experience for mobile visitors were awarded a “mobile-friendly” label in the search results. Bing followed shortly afterwards with their own “mobile-friendly” label, and this focus on mobile for both major search engines remains true today. Continue reading

Politeness Is Always A Virtue -- Especially For Websites - Header

Politeness Is Always A Virtue — Especially For Websites4 min read

Christmas is coming, and Christmas means gifts. People will be giving, and people will be receiving. Recently, I was discussing gift-giving etiquette with some business colleagues, and it turned out to be an interesting exchange, particularly when the conversation turned to the proper etiquette of receiving a gift.

gift giving Because of the hyper-sensitive attitudes of many people these days, one business owner asked how she can be sure that she won’t offend anyone with a gift that she gives. I said that my belief is that the person who should be concerned with not offending anyone is the person who receives the gift. It is, after all, a gift, and no one gives something with the intention of offending a person. Continue reading

Understanding DNS (Domain Name System) - Header

Understanding DNS (Domain Name System)3 min read

When transferring a website from one host to another or putting a brand new website live, there’s one step that tends to confuse people.  It’s called DNS which stands for Domain Name System. Explaining how DNS works can be a little complicated, but the concept by itself is fairly easy to understand.

For a website to be accessible on the internet a few things need to happen. The website files need to be hosted on a file server somewhere, usually accessed via FTP. The files then need to be accessed by means of a Domain Name which is the URL or address you type into your browser to get to that website. Google.com is a domain name, for example, as is sharpinnovations.com. But how exactly are these domain names linked to the servers that are hosting the website files? That’s where DNS comes in.

url

www.sharpinnovations.com is much easier for someone who wants to visit the Sharp Innovations website to remember than an IP such as 190.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1

The DNS is essentially an address book for domain names that your computer uses to convert a URL that is easy to remember to an IP address, which tells the computer where to go to access a particular website. Think of it like a latitude and longitude of a business taken from the street address. 3113 Main Street is much easier to remember than the latitude and longitude. The URL you type in, such as sharpinnovations.com, is the easy-to-remember street address. The DNS then tells the browser the exact place to go to access that website. Continue reading