Predatory Domain Registration

If you’re like most of us with more than one business website domain, you’ve no doubt received emails and or mailed letters with urgent wording that your domain name is about to expire.  They look official, exactly like a bill or invoice you might see for something like this.  The price is usually quite high, and there’s lot’s of scary wording about potentially losing that domain name if you don’t act right away.


These could all be legitimate, of it weren’t for the fact that the notices do not come from your actual domain name registrar, but from a predatory registrar who is trying to trick you into paying this bill, which if you do, will transfer your domain name to that company, which, depending on the company, may result in you losing control of your domain, and your website.


You may find some typos, or some grammar mistakes in the letters, but if you miss those, it’s not always easy to tell that they are fake.  The scammers are hoping that you, the legitimate domain name owner, may not remember who your actual domain name registrar is (ie. Network Solutions, GoDaddy, HostGator), and that since this looks like a legitimate notice, and you certainly don’t want to lose your domain name, you may very well think it’s the real thing, and send them payment.


If you stop to read the whole notice – especially the fine print – you’ll see something to the effect that this is a solicitation, not a bill, and that you will be transferring your domain name registration to them if you send payment.  That said, not all of the notices we’ve seen are completely clear on this, given that their goal is to convince you to pay the bill quickly without taking the time to read everything.


If you can’t remember who your registrar is, you can always do a “who is” lookup on your domain name to find that information.  The official ICANN website has that feature easily available on their home page: ICANN – WHOIS, and there are plenty of other websites that do the same thing.  So if you receive one of these notices, and you aren’t sure if it’s on the up and up, take a minute to check your domain, so you don’t fall victim to one of these scammers.  And if you still aren’t sure, or just have general business website questions, fee free to contact us any time, we’re happy to help.

Thanks for reading!


HTML5 vs. Flash

If you’ve been using the web for a while, you know how Flash – which originally started as a way to play audio and video for multimedia productions – became the standard for web animations, especially in the late ’90s / early ’00s.  This was even more true when YouTube chose to use Flash, which quickly put competing formats like Real Audio / RealVideo out to pasture.


But with the popularity of Flash, came the rise in malware attacks against it.  And that continues today, with numerous exploits found and taken advantage of, while Adobe puts out updates and patches to close the security holes.  And because of this, and the rapid way Flash became popular, there has been, and continues to be instability in the Flash platform – causing system crashes, slowdown and more.  This is a big reason why Apple dropped support of Flash in 2012, as well as Android later.


When it comes to websites, Flash is also not the most efficient way to animate.  It can often cause slow loading pages, incompatibilities with browsers, or incorrect formatting on different devices.  HTML 5 on the other hand, is much more streamlined, and has a rich feature set for mobile devices.  And if you want a responsive optimized website, HTML5, not Flash is the way to go forward.  There is much more consistency in formatting and presentation no matter what type of device you’re using to view the content.


Our websites take advantage of the rich feature set and stability of HTML5.  They load faster, look better, scale to format, and require less code to achieve the same results.  And a faster loading, better looking site means a happy customer.  And that’s really the bottom line.


So if you’re thinking of a website redo, and your developer is suggesting Flash, let him/her know that you’d rather go with the most reliable and contemporary HTML5.  If you don’t get the answer you’d like to hear, give us a call, and we’ll be happy to take over the project.

Thanks for reading!

More Website Annoyances!

Since we still see so many things that irk us with websites, we’ve decided to write another article on them.  You can read our first one here.

So this time, we’ve got another three that we’re sure you’ve all encountered (and have been just as annoyed by) in your web travels.  Being in website development, we may see more of these than the average computer user, but we’re sure you’ll be able to relate…


(1) Pages that seem to load, and as you start scrolling to read the content, the page suddenly loads more and jumps up or down another paragraph.  And it doesn’t just happen once.  We’ve seen it continue the entire time you’re on the site – which in our case isn’t very long, since it’s nearly impossible to read anything when you keep losing your place.  The only solution we’ve found is to highlight and copy all the text, then paste it into the word processor or text editor of your choice, to read it.  After that, close that tab, and don’t go back.  Seriously, how do the owners of these sites (many of them news and/or magazines) expect people to put up with that for long?  Just stop it already!


(2) Business websites that aren’t mobile friendly.  Nearly everyone has a smart phone or tablet these days, and a high percentage of web browsing is done on one of those devices.  Responsive website technology has been available for quite some time, and it doesn’t take much to add the additional formatting and scaling a mobile device requires to make the site user friendly.  We understand if it’s just a personal website or blog kind of thing, but if you’re running a business, and you want to reach and gain new customers, there’s no excuse to not support mobile devices.  We can’t speak for everyone, but when we encounter such a site, we’re done.  We’ll look for someone else who can provide that service or product.


(3) Multiple “download” buttons on the same page.  Unfortunately, we see this one all the time.  Go looking for a free or trial version of some software or other, and you’re going to encounter this problem.  You get to the page, only to be confronted with 5, 6 or maybe even 10 different download buttons!  how the heck are you supposed to know which one is the actual application you came here for, and which ones are dubious links to questionable Eastern European scammer websites where you’re likely to get an instant computer virus or scam popup telling you to call “Microsoft” (yeah, right) to get help cleaning it off.  It’s not only frustrating, but dangerous too.  Ransom-ware is out there, and trust us, you don’t want to get that on your computer!  Do these site really think they’ll get return visitors (to see the ads they’re running) if they give them a virus with a fake download button?  Fortunately, there are some good / trustworthy sites out there.  Our personal recommendation is – it’s where we get all our freeware tools.

That’s it for this installment.  We’re sure we’ll be back with more, as there just doesn’t seem to be an end to these badly designed and annoying websites.

Thanks for reading!


Is Your Website Helping or Hurting your Business?

Having a website for your business is an absolute requirement in this day and age.  Customers, and potential customers want a way to see what you’re all about, the products and services you offer, and learn about the company they may or may not do business with.  For a lot of people, your website is the first impression someone gets of your company.  And unfortunately, in many cases, it may be the last impression too.

ugly website 01

Even if your business is doing well, and when people meet you face to face they’re more than happy to do business with you, and recommend your company to others.  But if your website is a few years old – maybe some HTML you threw together yourself in the early 2,000s – you may be losing far more customers than you know; well before they even were customers.  And if it looks like the extreme example above, you need some serious help!

upset customer

We already touched on some good website design choices in a previous blog article, so give that a read if you haven’t already.  But the bottom line is, if your website doesn’t accurately reflect what your business is all about, then it needs to be changed.  Even if the design is good, if the content is lacking, or worse, out of date and incorrect, you’re really doing yourself and your business a disservice, and you need to remedy that situation as soon as possible.

happy customer

When you think about it, your business website very much like having a second store or business location.  It should be appealing, fun, fresh and interesting – in the same way that you would decorate the outside of your business to attract customers.  If your website isn’t doing that, or isn’t meeting your business goals and objectives, then it’s not helping your business.

If you aren’t sure whether or not your website suffers from some of these problems, have some of your existing customers whom you trust take a good look at it, and get their feedback on what works and what doesn’t.  Then take steps to resolve those problems, either via simple updates, or if your website is really outdated, do a redesign.  And we can help with that website redesign if you decide to go that route.

Your business and your customers will appreciate it!

Thanks for reading!




Website Annoyances!

OK, we all know there are plenty of things about the web that just aggravate, irritate and annoy us on a daily basis.  And we’re not just talking about spam, phishing, viruses and malware.  Nor are we grumbling about garish color palettes or bad design choices – although we have touched on some of those already in a previous blog article on business website mistakes.

No, today we want to touch on 3 things that we continue to see on business websites, that are easily fixed.  These are things that shouldn’t have been a part of the websites from the beginning.  We certainly don’t do things like this with websites we design, nor should you.

(1) Badly implemented online forms


We’ve all seen them… forms with fields that aren’t marked “required” or “optional”.  Drop-down menus that, when you attempt to scroll using your mouse wheel, the drop-down menu just closes.  Or forms that, when submitted, and a field is missing, you are presented with a failure / error message of some kind, and then joy of joys… your form is no BLANK, and you get to start all over.  Ugh!

(2) Immediate “sign up” prompts


Maybe you get an email with a link, or you see a news story you want to read posted on another website.  So you click, you arrive at the news site, and begin to read the article, when BOOM, up pops a full screen plea to sign up for email updates, or create a membership account!  Wait… I’ve never been here before, I haven’t even read a full sentence yet, have no idea if your article is even worth reading, but you want me to create an account and pay for you content?!  At that point you look for and if you’re lucky, find the tiny little X to close the window.  And if you’re anything like us, you’re done, and leave the site in disgust.

(3) Unwanted audio


Similar to the above example, let’s say you visit a website to read an article.  You’re a couple sentences in, and all of a sudden there’s sound screaming from your speakers.  “Buy this fantastic widget!”, or “You must watch this video of people doing stupid and/or amazing things on camera”.  And many times you can’t even mute them  And you know you don’t want to actually click them, because who knows where that will take you, or what kind of malware your computer will be infected with when you do.  Just like above, that’s it for us… close that window or tab, and move on.

We have plenty of other examples of this kind, but we’ll save them for another article.  After all, we don’t want to be accused of writing blog articles that are too long and aggravating our followers!

Thanks for reading!


A good website domain?

It’s a simple question… what domain name did you choose, or what domain name are you thinking of choosing, for your business website?


Is it short?  Is it memorable?  Does it convey your business philosophy or main focus?  These are all important points to consider when it comes to your domain name.  You want something that not only looks good (and fits!) on a business card, but also something that is either the actual name of your business, or at least relates to it in a recognizable way.

That said, an overly long name isn’t a good idea either.  For example, if the name of your business is Robert Rickenbocker’s A1 Professional California Wedding Photography and Videography LLC, not only have chosen an overly lengthy business name, but when it comes to a domain name, you’re going to have a difficult time coming up with something that works.


For example…

[] is a horrible domain name.  And don’t even think of hyphenating all the words.  Ugh!  Sure, you could do that, but no one will EVER remember the name of your website.

For the above business – assuming shortening the business name is not an option – something like [] would work.  The problem is that domain name is likely already taken.

A better idea would be [].  It’s more personal, likely to be available, and short enough to be remembered easily.


Once you’ve picked the name you like, that fits the above criteria, you’ll have to decide if you want to go with a .com, a .co, or perhaps something else.  There is some debate about which is better (a good article on .com vs .co can be found here), but the short and simple answer is it’s really up to you.  You’re more likely to find what you want with a .co domain, but you will pay a little more for it.

And if you’ve already chosen a bad domain name, and your site is up and running, you’re not stuck.  Purchase a simpler, better domain name, and have that one forward to your existing site (or vice versa).  Your customers (and potential customers) will appreciate it, and so will you, when you’re at a meeting or the airport and someone asks you for your website domain name.

For more tips on choosing domain names, take a look at this article.  And once you have that domain name, make sure you don’t make these mistakes with the actual website.

Thanks for reading!





Good website design choices?

Did you make good design choices with your current business website?  Was it something you did yourself, or did you hire a web development firm to handle it?  How much time did you spend considering the design – and not just the images?  Do you feel it represents your company as well as it should?  How could it be made better?


A lot of questions, we know.  But if you lie awake at night with some of these on your mind, worried about how clients, and more importantly, potential clients – perceive your site, and thus your business, read on.

Overall website design is a matter of taste, but when it comes to the elements that make up the site; like the navigation menus, images, user interface, and of course, the presentation of your content, there are many ways to go – and not all of them good ones.


Let’s start with colors.  We’re not all graphic artists, but if you decide to go it alone, get the opinions of others in the company, and try a few different combinations that work for your company, and with your company logo.  This may seem obvious to most, but since we continue to see examples of it, we’re going to mention it… avoid dark backgrounds and dark text (you do want people to actually be able to READ your content, right?).

Different color choices convey different emotions.  Some show stability or calm – like blues and grays, while others may impart a feeling of anger or stress – like reds.  Obviously it depends on what you are trying to do, or the nature of your business, but garish and mismatched colors certainly don’t portray an image of professionalism.


Next, layout.  Are the main page elements clearly visible and easy to reach?  Most people quickly scan a website from top left to top right first (like they’re reading a book).  Will they see an easy to use navigation menu, or a cluttered mess of images or text?  Simple is best.  Attentions spans are short, save the fancy stuff for other pages.  You website visitors will appreciate it, and likely stay longer to see more of what your company has to offer.


Finally, images.  Do the images you have represent your company well?  Do they tell a story of what your business is all about?  Are they high quality, but load quickly?  Don’t just use images to fill space.  Make them mean something.  Make them relevant to your business.  Original images are preferred over stock ones, but only if they are high quality.  Low quality original images may make your visitors run away.

So to summarize… clean designs, complimentary colors, quality images and easy navigation are the hallmarks of good web design.  If you feel like any of these are lacking in your business website, take the time to redesign.  Get help if you need it (our web design gallery is a good place to get ideas).  Your customers and future customers will notice.

Thanks for reading!