Blog

April 11th, 2014

Security_Apr11_BThe Internet is an amazing thing, but being so big and accessed by so many people, it is never really 100% secure. There are always security issues being uncovered that could put your business and systems at risk. One of the latest flaws is possibly one of the biggest to be uncovered in years and could affect nearly every person and company on the Internet. Codenamed Heartbleed, this bug makes stealing data and viewing secure communication incredibly easy.

Background info about secure transmission of information on the Web

Most sites on the Internet rely on Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to ensure that information is transmitted securely from a computer to server. SSL and the slightly older Transport Layer Security (TLS) are the main technology used to essentially verify that the site you are trying to access is indeed that site, and not a fake one which could contain malware or any other form of security threat. They essentially ensure that the keys needed to confirm that a site is legitimate and communication can be securely exchanged.

You can tell sites are using SSL/TLS by looking at the URL bar of your browser. If there is a padlock or HTTPS:// before the Web address, the site is likely using SSL or TLS verifications to help ensure that the site is legitimate and communication will be secure. These technologies work well and are an essential part of the modern Internet. The problem is not actually with this technology but with a software library called OpenSSL. This breach is called Heartbleed, and has apparently been open for a number of years now.

About Heartbleed

OpenSSL is an open-source version of SSL and TSL. This means that anyone can use it to gain SSL/TSL encryption for their site, and indeed a rather large percentage of sites on the Internet use this software library. The problem is, there was a small software glitch that can be exploited. This glitch is heartbleed.

Heartbleed is a bug/glitch that allows anyone on the Internet to access and read the memory of systems that are using certain versions of OpenSSL software. People who choose to exploit the bugs in the specific versions of OpenSSL can actually access or 'grab' bits of data that should be secured. This data is often related to the 'handshake' or key that is used to encrypt data which can then be observed and copied, allowing others to see what should be secure information.

The problem with Heartbleed

There are two major problems with this bug. The first being that if an attacker can uncover the SSL handshake used by your computer and the server that hosts the site when you login or transmit data they will be able to see this information. This information usually is made up of your login name, password, text messages, content and even your credit card numbers. In other words, anything that gets transmitted to the site using that version of SSL can be viewed.

Scary right? Well, the second problem is much, much bigger. The hacker won't only be able to see the data you transmit, but how the site receiving it employs the SSL code. If a hacker sees this, they can copy it and use it to create spoof sites that use the same handshake code, tricking your browser into thinking the site is legitimate. These sites could be made to look exactly same as the legitimate site, but may contain malware or even data capture software. It's kind of like a criminal getting the key to your house instead of breaking the window.

But wait, it gets worse. This bug has been present in certain versions of OpenSSL for almost two years which means the sites that have been using the version of OpenSSL may have led to exposure of your data and communication. And any attacks that were carried out can't usually be traced.

Am I affected by this?

What makes this so different from other security glitches is that OpenSSL is used by a large percentage of websites. What this means is that you are likely affected. In fact, a report published by Netcraft cited that 66% of active sites on the Internet used OpenSSL. This software is also used to secure chat systems, Virtual Private Networks, and even some email servers.

We have to make it clear here however: Just because OpenSSL is used by a vast percentage of the Internet, it doesn't mean every site is affected by the glitch.

The latest versions of OpenSSL have already patched this issue and any website using these versions will still be secure. The version with Heartbleed came out in 2011. The issue is while sites may not be using the 2011 version now, they likely did in the past meaning your data could have been at risk. On the other hand, there are still a wide number of sites using this version of OpenSSL.

What should I do?

This is a big issue, regardless of whether a website uses this version of OpenSSL or not. The absolute first thing you should do is go and change your passwords for everything. When we say everything, we mean everything. Make the passwords as different as possible from the old ones and ensure that they are strong.

It can be hard to tell whether your data or communications were or are actually exposed or not, but it is safe to assume that at some time or another it was. Changing your passwords should be the first step to ensuring that you are secure and that the SSL/TSL transmissions are secure. Another thing you should be aware of is what sites are actually using this version of OpenSSL. According to articles on the Web some of the most popular sites have used the version with the bug, or are as of the writing of this article, using it. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Gmail
  • Yahoo
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Amazon Web Services
  • GoDaddy
  • Intuit
It would be a good idea to visit the blogs of each service to see whether they have updated to a new version of OpenSSL. As of the writing of this article, most had actually done so but some were still looking into upgrading. For a full list of sites, check out this Mashable article.

If you have a website that uses SSL/TSL and OpenSSL you should update it to the latest version ASAP. This isn't a large update but it needs to be done properly, so it is best to contact an IT partner like us who can help ensure the upgrade goes smoothly and that all communication is infact secure.

Contact us today to see how we can help ensure that your company is secure.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 10th, 2014

BusinessValue_Apr07_BWhen it comes to Web design many business owners and managers work with a Web designer or developer. These Web experts often use terms that you may not be familiar with and which in essence sound like another language. This can make it difficult to communicate and to ultimately get your point across to achieve the website you want. To make dialogue easier, it might be helpful to learn some of the common Web design terms.

Here are 20 of the most used Web design terms that could help you communicate effectively with designers and developers about what you want from your website:

  • Alignment - The position of the various elements on your page. Alignment can be focused on the borders of the page, or positioning of elements based on other elements - e.g., aligning all images to the left side of the page, and making sure the text is aligned to the right of each image.
  • Banner - A form of advertising that is usually at the top of a page and goes from one side to the other. On many sites, the banner also contains links that can be clicked through to reach other pages.
  • Below the fold - The point on the page where viewers will begin to scroll after the page has loaded. Generally you put the most important information above the fold (what the visitor sees first) and supplement information below it.
  • Color wheel - A circle of colors that allows designers to easily pick out primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, as well as complimentary and contrasting colors - e.g., on most wheels red is opposite green because they complement one another.
  • CSS - Cascading Style Sheets allows designers to dictate the look and feel of a page. These are usually codes that dictate the font, color, and layout of a Web page.
  • DPI - Dots Per Inch is the resolution of an image or monitor. The higher the DPI, the higher the resolution or quality of the image.
  • Entry and Exit pages - This indicates where a viewer enters your page from an external source, and where a viewer will usually exit your site from. The vast majority of entry pages are the homepage, so these should be designed to capture and maintain interest. Exit pages can be the homepage, or perhaps a signup form.
  • GIF - Pronounced Jif, is an image format that is best suited for small images with few colors. These can also be animated.
  • Header - This is the absolute top of any page.
  • HTML - Hyper Text Markup Language, is the main language used to write webpages. For example, the bullet points in this article would be written as < ol><li>HTML - Hyper Text ...</li></ol>. Browsers read this code and translate the directions given.
  • JPEG - An image format best suited to pictures and images with a large number of colors. The vast majority of images on the Internet and websites are uploaded in the JPEG format.
  • Lorem Ipsum - Placeholder text is used by developers when creating mockups of pages or layout so they can see how the text will look when the page is finished. This can be any form of text and is usually nonsensical, like 'Lorem Ipsum Dolor'.
  • Orphan - A word or short sentence that appears by itself, below the text on a page. Generally these should be avoided, and can be easily 'adopted' by adjusting spacing between letters and words, or editing content.
  • Parent/Child elements - With HTML and other Web languages there is a relationship between elements (parts of code). Parents dictate elements that will be inherited by other codes (children) that are within the main parent group. For example, if you assign a headline a certain style this style becomes the parent. Any other elements like a bolded word within the headline will be a child. The child will take the same style as the headline and have the added bold format as well.
  • Pixel - The smallest element of any image and your monitor. It is essentially one dot of color. The resolution of images and monitors (how clear the image is) is often displayed in pixels. The higher the number of pixels, the higher the resolution and quality.
  • PNG - An image format that is most commonly used for images that have large amounts of uniform color or transparent backgrounds.
  • Script - A small bit of code that enables browsers to do more than just displaying text. If you've ever watched a video while on a website or downloaded something directly from a page, you have interacted with a script.
  • Watermark - A mark of ownership which is usually applied to the background of images or content. This is used to highlight ownership and deter theft of visual content. If you plan to post images on your site that you create, you might want to consider adding a watermark as protection.
  • White space - Space that surrounds text, images or other parts of the page. It is generally believed that the more white space there is, the easier it is to read content and draw attention to important aspects of a page.
  • Wireframe - A visual representation of a website's layout with directions for visuals, location of content, and style for each page. This is usually constructed before the site is built and is more or less a road map for developers.
Of course, these are just a few of the terms designers and developers use on a regular basis. If you want to understand how to get the best out of your website and technology then we're here to help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 9th, 2014

Windows_Apr07_BWindows 8.1 is the latest version of Microsoft's operating system from Microsoft, following Windows 8 which was released in 2012. Unlike the older Windows OS versions, the Windows 8 operating system set a new trend where users were not taken straight to the desktop. Instead, the Start screen was displayed with various application tiles which you clicked to launch. This style still stands and in early April, 2014 Microsoft released an update to Windows 8.1 - Windows 8.1.1 or Windows 8.1 Update 1.

Go directly to the desktop instead of the Start screen

The Start screen was introduced with the release of Windows 8 to make it more convenient for tablet users to navigate apps. However, this is something that many mouse users and those who are used to older versions of Windows have found difficult to use. With the first version of Windows 8, there was no way to change this setting before.

With the 8.1 update released last year, you were able to change your settings so that your computer booted directly to your desktop, instead of the Start screen. Now, with Windows 8.1.1 new computers that don't have a touch screen should automatically boot into the familiar desktop screen. Users who have the OS installed already can still set Windows to boot directly to the desktop.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to the Control Panel.
  2. Select Appearance and Personalization.
  3. Choose Taskbar and Navigation.
  4. Select the Navigation tab.
  5. Enable the option that says “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start” by clicking the checkbox next to it.
  6. Click the OK button to save the change you've made.
You should now go directly to the desktop screen once Windows is started or when you close an application, instead of being taken to the Start screen.

Updated Start screen interface

Aside from the applications that you see on the Start screen, you can easily view all available apps by clicking on the down arrow on the lower left of the screen. You will also see a search button on the upper right side, as well as a power button next to it that you can click to shutdown, restart or put the computer into sleep mode. Moving your mouse to the bottom part of the screen will also show you the taskbar with the Start button and other apps appearing on it.

When you right click an app on the Start screen it will no longer launch the application bar. Instead, you will be given various options, which is what would usually be the case when you right click. These options include turn live tile off, resize, uninstall, pin to taskbar, and unpin from start.

Photos and other media no longer open with apps on the Start screen

With the first version of Windows 8, photos and other media were opened by default using the Metro apps on the Start screen. With Windows 8.1.1, images are now automatically opened using Photo Viewer, while other media is opened using Windows Media. This is the same experience that the older Windows operating systems provided, which most users are familiar with.

Pin Metro apps to the taskbar

The taskbar is a popular Windows desktop feature, allowing you to pin your most used or open desktop apps to. However, with Windows 8 and 8.1 you couldn't pin Metro apps to the desktop taskbar. With the new update you can post Metro apps to the taskbar and even interact or launch them from the desktop.

A dedicated Settings tile

For those that prefer to use the Start screen there is a new Settings tile that has been added. This can really help customizing your computer far easier.

If you have any queries about the latest Windows update which is free to download, get in touch. We have the answers!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 8th, 2014

Office365_Apr07_BOneNote is a popular application developed by Microsoft as part of the Office suite. As a standalone version it is available for free on various platforms, including the iPad, Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS devices. It allows users to create notes and supports inserting images, photos, web clippings, audio files, and more into files. Accessing and sharing notes is more convenient with OneNote.

If you are looking for a powerful note program, OneNote has some great features.

Access and edit notes anywhere

Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone all support OneNote. Install the appropriate version and you can access your notebooks from any of these devices. Previous versions require that you manually sync your notebooks to make them accessible on all devices. However, with the latest version this is no longer required as your notes are automatically synced on your OneDrive. This means you can view and edit them anywhere where you have an Internet connection.

You can access notes on your mobile device that you originally created on your computer. If you have access to a computer that does not have OneNote installed you can easily find the application on the Web. If you go to OneNote’s page on the Web you can log in to the account linked with your installed versions of OneNote and use as you normally would.

Organize data in notebooks

OneNote is a great tool for organizing different data and files. You can create various notebooks that contain information on specific subjects. For instance, you could create a notebook for personal use, a notebook containing client information, etc. Each of these notebooks can then contain various sections with color coded tabs, making it easy to organize files.

This feature is helpful, especially if you are working with a large volume of data. Searching for specific information or data is also straightforward with a convenient search function. You can simply type your keyword in the search field and wait for the result. Click on your chosen result and you will be taken to that particular note.

Third party integration

The latest version of OneNote also has a new cloud API that allows third party applications to be used. This allows users to enjoy more features, as they are not just confined to the features that are native to OneNote. One of the apps that you can use is OneNote Clipper. Install this on your browser and use it to automatically save clippings from the Web in just one click.

Work on important tables

Tables are often used for creating databases or for comparing and listing data. Creating tables in OneNote 2013 is more convenient as it now allows you sort data within a table, designate header rows, as well as change the color of the cells. You can also insert an Excel spreadsheet into your notes.

Write handwritten notes

If you are using a touch capable device you can write notes or draw using a stylus or your fingers. This is especially helpful for jotting down quick notes or reminders about what to insert on a page. Circling or underlining a word or group of words is quick and easy to do.

Organized data and files are easy to access, which is vital when you need this information at your fingertips. OneNote keeps data in order so you can easily find what you need when you need it.

Find out how OneNote and other tech innovations and updates can support your business productivity. Get in touch today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 4th, 2014

iPad_March02_BSince the launch of the iPad one of the most commonly requested business oriented apps has been Microsoft Office. While there are apps that can open and edit various Office apps on the iPad they often lack the finish and overall functionality/formatting of official Office apps. Some users were starting to lose hope that they would ever see iPad specific Office apps. However, Microsoft has delivered their wish with recently released Office apps that are optimized specifically for the iPad.

Wait isn't that Microsoft Office Mobile?

Earlier last year Microsoft introduced Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers. With this app users could access, create, and edit Office documents on a mobile device. The only issue with this app is that it is optimized for smaller screens e.g., the iPhone. While it is possible to use it on your iPad, optimized apps specifically for the iPad have until now been lacking.

In late March this year, Microsoft finally released iPad specific versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote. Anyone with an iPad Mini, iPad 2,4, and Air can download the apps for free from the App Store and view any related Office documents on their device.

How Office for iPad works

The best way to think of these apps is that they are simply touch versions of the popular Office programs that have been developed specifically for the iPad. Here's four things you should know about the apps:
  • They're free - Currently the Word, Excel PowerPoint, and OneNote apps are available to download for free from iTunes. It is highly likely that more apps will be coming soon.
  • The program links closely with your OneDrive account - OneDrive was SkyDrive until Mid February when Microsoft renamed their cloud storage service, thus allowing you to create documents on the desktop version of Office and then save them to your OneDrive and work on them on your iPad.
  • Document formatting is supported - The iPad versions of the apps have the same formatting features as the desktop versions. Any formatting changes you make to documents on the desktop version can also be made on the iPad.
  • Excel has a unique number pad - Many iPad users don't have a keyboard, and the numbers on the stock iPad keyboard require a number of button hits to reach. To increase usability, Excel on iPad has a special numerical keyboard.

Two caveats

We noted above that the apps are available for free. While this is correct, you will only be able to open and view documents. If you want to edit you will need an Office 365 subscription. The following Office 365 plans will allow you to open, edit, and save documents:
  • Office 365 Home
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium
  • Office 365 Midsize Business
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E4
  • Office Education A3 and A4
  • Office 365 ProPlus
  • Office 365 University
  • Office 365 trial subscriptions
While the vast majority of features found on desktop apps can also be found on the iPad versions, there is one missing - for now: Printing. At this time, printing documents directly from the app is not supported. Microsoft notes that they are working on this and that this function will be introduced in a future update. For now however, your best option is to save files to OneDrive and then open these on your desktop and print from there.

Getting the apps set up on your iPad

If you have an Office 365 subscription getting the apps setup may be a little confusing. Here's how you can do it:
  1. Download the apps from the App Store. (Make sure you have enough free space on your device). You can find the apps by opening iTunes and searching for: Office for iPad. Note: You will need to download each app separately.
  2. Open the app and you should be asked to log in using your Microsoft account. If your business uses Office 365, or if you have an Office 365 account, enter your username and password as you usually do to access the Web and your email.
If you choose to log in using a free account to begin with, you can upgrade to an Office 365 account from the app. This can be achieved by opening the app, and clicking Activate which should be located at the bottom left of the main menu. You can then follow the app's steps to purchase an Office 365 subscription through iTunes. Alternatively, you can go to the Office 365 website and subscribe through here. Once you open the app, after your account has been updated, you should be able to access, edit, save, and share documents.

Should I get this app?

Office 365 is one of the most popular versions of Office for small to medium businesses, and many users are wondering if they should download the app to their iPad. The answer to that is that it depends on whether you want to use your iPad for work or not.

Generally speaking, business owners who have an iPad and Office 365 subscription will benefit from downloading this app. The main reason is because it offers another way to connect with the office and potentially increase productivity, especially when you are away from your desk, through greater flexibility.

If you don't have an Office 365 subscription but use Office in your business, the iPad versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint could be useful, especially if you only need to view documents. That being said, you might want to consider updating to Office 365 in order to gain full access.

Contact us today to learn more about the different plans available for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
April 4th, 2014

Security_March31_BA malware infection is an attack that you do not want invading your business systems. Malicious software can often make its way on computers without your knowledge, causing various disturbances. What’s even worse, is that vital information saved on your computer or data that you access online could be stolen. Computers must have proper protection. In the event that malware infection is detected an immediate response is required.

Signs of a malware infection

Before proceeding with the steps on how to respond to malware infections, we first need to learn about the signs and symptoms of a malware infection. These include:
  • Several pop-ups appear even when not browsing the Web.
  • Unusual slowness of the computer and Internet connection.
  • System hangs or freezes.
  • Corrupted programs.
  • Antivirus is disabled.
  • E-mails sent to or from your account which you did not send.
  • High network activity, even when not using large programs or accessing huge data.
  • Redirected access to some sites.

How to respond to a malware infection

In case you experience any of these symptoms, the first thing to do is to ensure that your antivirus and antispyware program is updated. This is to make sure that they detect the latest known threats on their database. You should then run scans to see if an infection is detected. If it is, the programs usually have a way to remove the infection. You then need to follow the steps the program recommends.

If this doesn't work, disconnect the infected computer from the network to prevent the spread of the malware. Furthermore, avoid accessing the Web and using vital information such as bank account and credit card information. Let the technical department or your IT partner handle the concern since they are trained in determining and eradicating system malware infections.

Once the problem has been pinpointed, a tech specialist will go through the process of eliminating the infection. This includes backing up data on the computer and restoring the system to its original state. Depending on the extent of the infection, the computer may need to be wiped clean, or reformatted before restoring backed-up files.

After the whole process, the computer must be tested to ensure that the infection has been totally removed. Moreover, further investigation and studies must also be done to determine where the problem started, as well as to create a strategy as to how to prevent this from happening in the future.

How to prevent a malware attack

Prevention is better than a cure and this definitely applies to malware infections. It’s best to arm yourself with knowledge on how to avoid malware attacks and prevent your systems from being infected.
  1. Ensure that security protection is always updated and that you run system scans on a regular basis.
  2. Avoid downloading attachments or clicking links from unknown sites or senders.
  3. Enable firewall protection.
Malware can hugely affect business operations and the security of private information. One of the best ways to prevent this is to work with an IT partner, like us, who can help recommend and install protection systems. You might want to think about getting help in managing these solutions too, to ensure that your systems are secure at all times.

If you have questions or concerns with regards to malware prevention and resolution, feel free to call us. Our support team is always ready to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 2nd, 2014

Productivity_Mar31_BThere is a common trend with businesses, especially small to medium businesses, of hiring remote workers and also of working with clients at greater distances than ever before. As a result, an increasing number of businesses are creating remote presentations, or using software to present to an audience over the Internet. However, this style of presentation can be a challenge, especially when it comes to engaging your audience.

If you are creating an online presentation to a remote audience there are a number of factors you should keep in mind if you want to grab your audience's attention and keep them following and paying attention. Here are five of the most important tips:

1. Make it visual

For the most part, visual presentations have a higher chance of success - that is, the message being grasped by the audience. This is especially true for online and remote presentations, largely because when more people are on a computer, partaking in a presentation, they will often be multi-tasking.

If you have a ton of text there is a good chance you will lose your audience within the first couple of slides. Instead aim for a presentation that is heavy on graphics and visually appealing. Using bright or contrasting colors will draw the eye and will increase the time you have your audience's attention.

If your presentation is about a product create picture slides with a minimal amount of text; let the product speak for itself. For presentations involving graphs and charts, include these graphics and a couple of key points. The rest you can fill in with spoken narrative.

2. Focus on the audience

Online presentations and those using meeting software should be audience-friendly. This means making it easy for them to join and partake in the presentation by sharing slides, and also asking if anyone has any points to add or even expand upon with an interactive presentation element.

While presenting, there will be slides and points that are more important than others. To highlight this you can 'sign-post' the salient points. Make these visually larger if they are text, and pause to point this out with the script by telling your audience: "This is the most important point"; essentially demanding they pay attention.

Finally, try to limit technical glitches. This can be the quickest way to lose engagement if your Internet cuts out or the computer crashes. Try to present at a time when you know connection will be strong and stable and have a backup in place in case something goes wrong.

3. Adapt to different audiences

Every person in the audience will have different expectations of your presentation. Some will want just the facts, while others might be looking to be convinced by an opinion or argument expressed in the presentation. You should take the time to get to know your audience and what they expect and then develop the presentation around this idea.

If you do your homework and know a bit about your audience, you can take steps to connect with them early in the presentation, if not before, and drive engagement.

4. Create, edit, practice, edit, practice, edit, practice, present

It may sound a bit redundant to edit and practice multiple times, but it really will help when leading an online presentation. First you should create your presentation, then edit it. You are looking to keep your slides as short as possible - no more than four points and two minutes spent talking for each slide.

Really the first edit should be about content, grammar and spelling. Once this is done, practice presenting as you would on the actual presentation day. Start with a blank desktop screen, log into the software/site you will be using, load the presentation, share it, and then actually present. Time yourself and note any issues.

Next, go back and edit the presentation some more, making sure you aren't spending too much time on one slide or that each of the slides does not have too many confusing points, etc. Keep practicing and editing until you are not only comfortable, but know the content inside and out.

You could also try recording your voice. This will allow you to hear where you need to work on inflection and overall style. If you find that you are tuning yourself out when you listen to the presentation, you may want to practice some more and try to inject some extra interest, whether through humor or engaging facts and ideas. This is really vital is you won't have that face-to-face contact with a physical presentation where you are present. If you sound engaging, the audience are more likely to connect with you.

5. Develop your own style

No one likes a dull presentation where you just talk about what's on the slides. Try to give your presentation a narrative arc and structure. Where possible include personal experiences or even tell a relevant joke from time to time. If you are passionate and show that you are trying to connect your audience will likely not click away from the presentation or drift off to other work or simply to surf the Internet and Facebook.

If you are looking to learn more about presentations and how to use software for expert presentations, or even how to conduct your next remote presentation, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
April 2nd, 2014

BusinessValue_Mar31_BHaving a website is one of the most important marketing and branding tools a business can utilize. This is largely because visitors will often judge whether they want to do business with you almost solely based off of your website. Therefore, your website needs to be designed properly and look professional. In order to achieve this you need to know about the common mistakes small businesses make when it comes to website designs.

The business value of a business website is that it creates a solid online presence and boosts your brand image and market reach. Even if your business is not Internet based, a website can be used to create a certain impression and ultimately contribute to your bottom line. The key is to make sure you create the best impression. Here are six of the most common mistakes businesses make with website design:

Mistake 1: Building for the sake of building

Websites are important and some businesses believe that they should have a website, so they go ahead and simply build one. You should first take steps to define your target market - who is it that you want and expect to visit your website.

Once you have a defined target market you can then take time to build your site for your market. For example, if the majority of your target market uses mobile devices to browse the Web you should take steps to design your site so that it is viewable on mobile devices.

You should also determine what you want visitors to do on your site. Some companies want them to click through to another site, while others want them to sign up. By defining how you want your visitors to interact you can then develop your content and design around this.

Mistake 2: Designing a website that is too busy

It can be tempting to put all of your information on one page or even have a ton of images and videos. The truth is, this can be distracting largely because once someone lands on your page, they won't know how to get around, find the information they want, or even to know what they should do next.

Busy or flashy websites with lots of animations or large amounts of text also usually don't scale all that well. So, when someone looks at your site on a mobile device they will likely find it too hard to navigate and leave, which is counter to what you are trying to achieve.

Instead, aim for a website that is simple and clean. Important information should be quick to find and read and it should be clear who you are, what you have to say, and what you want the visitor to do.

Mistake 3: Lacking call to actions

Most business related websites have a goal as to what they want visitors to do. Maybe it's download an app, call the company, or even sign make a purchase online. It is essential that you lead visitors toward what you want them to do in the most clear and concise way. The best way to do this is through a call to action. These are usually buttons at the bottom of sections or pages that motivate the user to click and follow the instructions on what to do next, be that sign up to something or get in touch.

The best calls to action stand out from the content, drawing the reader's eye and hopefully inspiring them to click. They should also be clearly written, simple, and direct. e.g., 'Call us today!' or 'Download now!'

Mistake 4: Misguided content

It may seem worthwhile to write in-depth content about your products or services but this isn't always the case. People skim read the basics on the Web and it's different than other mediums.

What you should do is condense down your content so that it only states the most important information. Tell the reader what your product or service does and provide a few of the most important benefits. What you are looking to do is develop enough interest so that visitors to your site will click on the call to action and connect with you.

If you have the time and profits, creating a more visual site where you showcase the products or show how you can help in a short video may lead to higher engagement and possibly higher customer conversions. Take a look at the popular software and service sites like Dropbox, Microsoft, and Google. The content is highly visible and simple, yet provides just enough information so the user knows what the service is and what they are expected to do.

Mistake 5: Static content

It can be tempting to invest the time to write a great website, get the content online then just leave it sitting there. The Internet changes and what might have been regarded as great website design and content a couple of years ago may not be seen in the same light today.

It is advisable to periodically update your site's design and content to reflect current trends; making it more modern. Another related aspect of your content is that you need to ensure that your content is up-to-date. If you are hosting a contest and put the information on your site, you should make sure to take it off of your site, or update it when the date passes. It looks a little unprofessional to have content that is still talking about 2012 or even 2013.

Mistake 6: Doing it yourself

The vast majority of small business owners and managers don't have in-depth Web design skills, yet are determined to build their company's website themselves. This can lead to unexpected problems or a website that doesn't meet your needs. We strongly recommend that you work with a qualified designer who can help ensure that your website is designed and built to high standards.

If you are looking to boost your website's design contact us today. We can help!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 30th, 2014

This month PCM was recognized in an industry list that annually ranks the top 501 managed service providers (MSPs) across the globe. And for a second time in a row we were further honoured by being ranked within the top 100 in the small business category! We’ve been working hard over the last couple of years refining our service offering and striving to give great support and expertise. Being recognized in a public list among your peers is certainly something we are proud of and a tribute to the dedication and hard work of our team.

2013 was the first year they added a Top 100 Small Business Edition list which is restricted to companies with 10 or fewer employees. This certainly levels the playing field a bit even though the participants are from various countries around the world. This year PCM moved up on that list and was ranked number 55, not bad considering there were only 3 Canadian companies that made the small business list.

To get the ranking, companies are measured against various criteria including revenue, number of devices managed, employee count, growth year over year, among various other related items. By participating in these surveys we also receive detailed information on industry trends that we can use to further refine our services. Now that the bar has been set we are working hard to see if we can climb the list a bit next year. For more details on the survey, see our press release posted here: www.pcm.ca

Of course none of this has any value if it weren’t for the continued trust and patronage of our many clients. While comparisons and industry reflection are great, finding ways to best help our clients get the most out of technology is what we really focus on. Have an idea on how we can improve our service? Feel free to drop by or send us a note with your ideas!

Topic Articles
March 28th, 2014

iPad_March24_BThere are many current trends when it comes to hardware and one of the most popular is touch. It really seems like almost every technical device is trying to integrate touch into how you use it. From phones and tablets, to computers and even fridges and car navigation, it's hard to not see touch screens these days. The main way you interact with these devices is through the use of gestures. If you have an iPad there are a number of important gestures you should know.

Every new iPad, and many of the older ones, run the latest version of iOS - Apple's mobile operating system. For those running iOS 7, gestures are the main way you interact with your device. While it may look weird to people who don't use them, waving your hands around, spreading your fingers, and even pinching are normal to you!

One of the greatest plus points about gestures is that when used properly, they make it simpler to interact with your device; speeding up your overall productivity. So, if you are looking to increase productivity while using your device, you should know and practice different gestures. Here are six of the most important:

1. Swipe one finger from the top

If you place your finger on the top bezel (above the viewable area of the screen) and swipe down onto the screen you will open, or slide down, the notifications center. From here you can action notifications. When you are finished slide up from the bottom of the screen to close the notifications.

2. Swipe one finger from the bottom

If you place your finger on the bezel (below the viewable area of the screen) and swipe up onto the screen you should bring up the Control Center where you can control the important settings on your iPad. To close simply swipe down.

3. Swipe one finger down

Place your finger anywhere on the viewable area of the screen and swipe down. This will open up the Search bar where you can search for almost anything on your iPad, including apps, emails, music, and more. To close this bar, simply tap the home button, or tap anywhere on the screen other than where the keyboard or search bar are.

4. Swipe four fingers up

If you place four fingers anywhere on the screen you will bring up thumbnails that represent the apps that you have open. If you swipe up on a thumbnail, you will close the app.

5. Swipe four fingers left or right

With apps open, you can place four fingers on the screen and swipe to the left or right. This will switch to other open apps. You can swipe the opposite direction with your fingers to go back to another app, if you sweep to the left again, you should bring up a list of recently used apps.

6. Grab with five fingers

If you are in an app and want to quickly get to the homescreen place all five fingers on the screen and pinch them together. This will shrink the app into your home screen. You can open it again by swiping four fingers up and selecting it.

If you are looking to learn more about using your iPad in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad