What Is The GDPR And What Should You Be Doing?

Many people and organizations are scrambling to understand what is the GDPR and what should you be doing?

What is the GDPR?

Basically, it is an approach to give control to individuals concerning their personal information and how it is shared with businesses. What personal information are we talking about? Any information that can be used to identify an individual. This includes:

  • Name
  • ID number
  • Location
  • IP addresses
  • Browser cookie
  • Mobile device IDs.
  • Any information that can physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity

The GDPR is the acronym for the General Data Protection Regulation that is required by the European Union (EU). This new regulation determines how personal data of European citizens can be used by businesses. It will go into affect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR has an increased territory scope, new penalties and a clear defined consent.

What is the territory scope of the GDPR?

“First of all, I don’t live or work within the EU so why should I care?”

One of the biggest misconceptions is that the GDPR only affects EU businesses. The truth is it not only covers European based business but anyone processing the personal data of EU citizens. So, this means if you use any personal data from contacts contacts that are citizens of the EU then you should be updating your privacy policy to include the GDPR.

What are the penalties for the GDPR?

The GDPR clearly identifies the penalties an organization can be held to if a breach of regulation is found. It is a tiered system with the maximum fine up to 4% of annual global turnover or 20 million Euros.

A clear defined consent

No longer can companies use drawn out legal terms and documentation to communicate their policies. They now must use a clear and concise method to inform individuals of their intent concerning any personal information. This consent can be through a simple form provided by the business to the individual.

What should you be doing?

Before you do anything, you should contact your legal authority and ask them to review your current policy. The rules laid out by the GDPR clearly identify that any business that has collected personal data in the past, currently or in the future will have to update their privacy policy. In addition to the policy it may be necessary to have a consent form available to individuals within the EU.

In addition to updating your privacy policy, it is encouraged that you reach out to any third-party company that you use to collect any data. This could be a database, credit card process or other resource that collects or houses personal information for you. Major companies have already updated their policies and you may have already seen these notifications. Regardless, it is still a benefit to you if you understand your role and whether or not you need to do anything else.

Available GDPR Resources

We realize that you may have questions or need direction in gathering more information. We’ve compiled a short list of resources to help you and your organization.

European Commission

The European Commission has provided a useful guide that outlines the GDPR and steps needed to be compliant.

Update to WordPress

The latest WordPress update has added 95 maintenance improvements including tools to enhance privacy and control over user data. It even contains a guide on how to write a privacy policy.

How to add a privacy policy

Privacy policies are required by law and its important to know what goes into one. This is a useful article that outlines how to add a privacy policy on your own.

MailChimp

MailChimp has outlined the GDPR and provided useful resources to help track and identify individuals that may fall within the required consent. They are also providing a useful consent form that can easily be embedded onto any website.

Google

If you currently use any Google resource you should have seen their policy update emails within the past few weeks. In addition to their policy changes, they are also modifying how certain data is retained. You have control to modify this as it reflects your internal policy.

Update to WordPress 4.9.6 With New Privacy Tools

We recommend that you update to WordPress 4.9.6 with new privacy tools. This new privacy and maintenance update contains important tools that enhance control over privacy and security.

Key features from the enhancements enhancements include:

  • Guidance for the new European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Comments enhancement to allow user control over browser cookie
  • New privacy policy page allowing site owners to create and maintain their site policy
  • Privacy policy guide on how to handle personal data
  • Enhanced data handling
  • 95 maintenance updates
Update to WordPress 4.9.6 With New Privacy Tools
Update to WordPress 4.9.6 With New Privacy Tools

Privacy

The new European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is an approach to give control to individuals concerning their personal information and how it is shared with businesses, will be enforced started May 25, 2018. The new WordPress tools will allow site owners to better understand how to protect user data.

Comments

Browser have the ability to save user’s form information through cookies, small files stored on your computer. WordPress websites that have commenting enabled will now provide users with a choice on whether personal data is saved in a cookie on their computer.

WordPress comments

Privacy Policy Page

Update to WordPress and have control over your site’s policy with the new privacy policy page that allows site owners to create and maintain their site policy. WordPress now provides tools to assign a privacy page which will be shown on default login and registration pages as well as any other page or menu. WordPress will also provide a guide with insights on they handle data and how to add this information to your site’s policy.

WordPress privacy page

Data Handling

With the new WordPress updates site owners can now export an individual or group of users’ personal data as well as WordPress and plugin data. In addition to this, site owners can erase the user’s personal data including data collected by WordPress plugins.

WordPress data handling

Update to WordPress

WordPress has added 95 maintenance improvements with this latest update. Whether you are a designer, developer, editor or contributor all will benefit with an update to WordPress. You can read about the complete updates over at WordPress.

Not sure how to Update WordPress? We are here to help answer your questions.

Update To WordPress Version 4.9 “Tipton”

We always recommend keeping WordPress updated for enhancements and security. WordPress Version 4.9 “Tipton” is the latest release, named after the jazz pianist Billy Tipton. This new version contains updates to improve WordPress usability.

Key features from the enhancements enhancements include:

  • Customizer improvements
  • Widget updates
  • Core improvements

WordPress Version 4.9 "Tipton"

WordPress Customizer Improvements

The new Customizer updates bring a much needed functionality allowing you to now preview, collaborate and schedule custom site updates. Have a widget that you need to go live tomorrow morning but don’t have time to deal with it at that time? Now you can schedule the widget prior to it being published. Making custom changes to the layout or design using the customizer used to mean making them to the live website. Now you can save your changes and send them to your team to review before publishing.

WordPress Customizer
WordPress Customizer allows scheduling and collaboration.

WordPress Widget Updates

WordPress Gallery Widget

WordPress Gallery Widget
The WordPress Gallery Widget

A lot of our clients ask, “How do I add a gallery?”. Often we recommend starting with WordPress’ simple gallery through the Media button. This gallery is now available as a Widget. This is great if you want to add a simple slideshow to your sidebar or feature images in your footer.

WordPress Media Button

WordPress Text Widget with Media Button
WordPress Text Widget with Media Button

Widget improvements from WordPress Version 4.8 Evans gave enhancements to the Text Widget allowing for simple, but desired visual content changes as well as HTML. Now WordPress has added the Media Button. The same Media Button found on the Post and Page edit screens can now be used within the Text Widget. This will allow you to add images, audio and other media files into any Widget area.

Update WordPress

WordPress has added several other improvements behind the scenes including: reliable theme switching, intuitive menu descriptions, coding improvements and more. Whether you are a designer, developer, editor or contributor all will benefit from these recent improvements. You can read about the complete updates over at WordPress.

Not sure how to Update WordPress? We are here to help answer your questions.

Top Three Search Engine Optimization Methods For Your Website

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of maintaining your website and its content so that it is accessible to search engines and visitors. Years ago this meant having to be aware of specific code that was flagged when a search engine tried to index your website. Although there is still code involved, the advancement of the internet as well as the support to encourage all website content to be user friendly and pertinent has made SEO easier to maintain today.

Search Engine Optimization

 

1. Search Engine Optimization starts with content

That’s true. You want the content of a page to reflect the subject matter that you are relaying to your visitors. A search engine knows this too and will not spend time on a page or will avoid indexing a page if the content is not relevant. So how do we make the page relevant? Start by adding at least 300 words of content related to that page, product or subject. Three hundred words may sound like a lot, but it’s important to understand why. A search engine will not consider content relevant if there is not enough words to completely relate this to a visitor. 300 has become the ‘magic number’ of words to start an index for a page on a website. More is better if its original; meaning do not repeat your content on the same page. If you find your are hitting over 900 words and still going, split that page into two separate pages. This will not only help the visitor but will show the search engine that you have two pages of supporting content that can be linked.

In addition to your page copy, be sure your page title directly supports your content. For example, don’t try to come up with a creative, gimmick for a title. Instead, clearly state what the page is about. Support your title and copy by providing links to relative content. This can be internal (other pages on your website) and external (other websites). A good rule is three links to relative and supporting content. This will allow a search engine to compare your content with other indexed content. It also helps rank your page to pages with similar subject matter. You can also use media such as videos and images as long as their “Alt” text and descriptions support the keyword.

2. Keywords still matter in Search Engine Optimization

Keywords have been a huge SEO term for many years. A keyword is a single word or short phrase that either defines or supports the content and subject of the page. For example, a keyword for this page is “search engine optimization”. Another keyword is, “seo”. And a third keyword is “page ranking”. You can define these keywords directly in the code of the page. We recommend using a plugin or tool such as Yoast SEO which avoids having to code anything and helps you measure individual keywords. Measuring not only your keyword’s value but also your page rankings is important.

3. Use Google’s Search Console

Thankfully there is a tool designed to help you monitor, maintain and update your website’s SEO and page rankings. Google’s Webmaster Search Console is free to use and will show you how your website is indexing according to Google. It’s helpful to see your website and page rankings. In addition to this information you can see what pages are not indexed and why. If there is an indexing error on your website or a specific page Google provides steps to resolve this error. It also allows you to manually submit a page for indexing. This can be important if a page has resolved errors or the content of the page was recently updated.

Need Help?

We are here to answer any questions you have about optimizing your website. SEO helps your website be a visible window to your visitors. If this article has sparked an idea or question that you need help answering let us know.

What Is A WordPress Theme And How Do I Choose One?

The WordPress theme is the heart of design for your website. The versatility of WordPress is that it allows you to choose any theme you want. Site builders like Google’s GoCentral or WIX provide a limited number of templates that allow for little to no customization or functionality. With a WordPress theme you have options to customize the look and feel of your website as well as control the functionality and scale of your website.

“Fundamentally, the WordPress Theme system is a way to “skin” your weblog. Yet, it is more than just a “skin.” Skinning your site implies that only the design is changed. WordPress Themes can provide much more control over the look and presentation of the material on your website.”

WordPress.org

How to choose a WordPress Theme

WordPress is proud of its themes, however you will find that there are a lot and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. If you do a simple internet search for “WordPress Themes” you will find there are hundreds of themes both free and premium. So, with all these options, how do you choose? And which is better, a free theme or premium theme?

Where to start

The best place to start is WordPress.org’s theme search. This will allow you to search and filter themes as well as provide ideas on design and layout. Browse through the ‘Feature Filter’ options which include features, layout and subject matter. Each theme will allow you to see a working demo. Be aware of themes that do not show a lot in the demo. This could be a red flag that the theme does not have much to offer. Another nice feature of this search is most of these themes are free to install and use without you submitting any personal or financial information.

A good theme will provide a free and premium version. The free version should allow you to use the theme and present your content in a clean layout. The premium upgrade will open up additional functions that enhance the design and provide support (access to support questions and future updates). The average cost for a premium theme is $40 with themes costing less than $20 and others more than $60.

Things to look out for when choosing a WordPress theme

You want your theme to be responsive. Meaning, the theme should be viewable on both desktop computers as well as portable devices (laptops, tablets and phones). If the theme feature does not clearly identify that it is responsive, avoid using this theme. All websites need to be fully functional and display a clean usable layout on any device. Avoid themes that state there is a “mobile” version. This often means the theme is dropped or switched to a minimal and limited website on small devices such as phones and tablets. A good theme will work on all devices without limiting content, functionality or design.

As previously stated, keep an eye out for themes that do not show a lot of features in the demo. In addition to presentation, read the theme description and be sure it provides everything that you are looking for. That said, look for theme documentation as well. A good theme will supply a user guide to help you style and customize it to your benefit. Look for key features that are specific to your needs. For example, if you are starting an online store look for themes that already have a shopping cart feature built in. It’s still possible to add a cart plugin later but a nice feature out of the box. A theme that gives you full control of layout, fonts, color and branding will also be a nice feature up front because you will be able to brand it to your needs.

If you decide to purchase a premium theme, be sure it comes with support. It’s not worth paying for a theme if its not fully supported by future updates. You will also want the freedom to contact the developer or company if you have questions and need help with your theme. Also, a premium theme may only offer updates and not unlock additional features that enhance the website. Review the theme and be sure that the cost reflects what the company is providing. It is silly to pay for a theme with no updates or one that gives you little to no support or added features.

Need help finding a WordPress theme

Locating the best WordPress theme can be overwhelming. If you find this is the case or you have questions specific to your existing theme let us know. We can walk you through finding a theme, installing it and customizing it to your brand and needs. Let us know if you have any questions.

 

 

 

Website Hosting And Domain Registration Explained

What is website hosting?

Simply put, website hosting is the physical location where all of the website files for a specific website are located. However, there is a lot that goes into hosting a website. Remember that last party you hosted. What went into it besides the location? Food, drinks, invites and that one friend who passed out drunk on your porch.

Just like your event location, website hosting has several components that make a happy hosting location. The important parts of website hosting include: servers, bandwidth, disk space, memory and security.

Website hosting domain registration

Servers

This is your website’s physical house. Don’t be confused to where this server sits. It could be in the cloud (look up), a dedicated building, halfway around the world or your neighbor’s basement. The more important things to consider are the physical and functional aspects of the server.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the term used for information that is transferred through your server. A hosting provider may put limits on the bandwidth in order to be fair to its clients (allowing all servers to have an equal playing field). Don’t be scared about limiting bandwidth. Hosting packages are designed for optimum experiences.

Disk Space

How small is your house? Or, how big do you want it to be? Disk space used to be a huge issue. Technology today has made file sizes a lot smaller so your website could actually take up less space than you think. So what does take up space (besides that large fern in the corner)? Images can take up space but more often it’s video or audio files that are taking up too much room. If this is the case, media hosting sites like YouTube or Soundcloud can help out while increasing visibility. A good hosting environment will provide enough space for your website to grow.

Memory

This is a term assigned to how well information can be provided. Does your website take a long time to load? This may be a memory issue. If there is an increase in traffic on your website does it affect how it functions? Again, this could be a memory issue. Hosting plans may limit memory just like bandwidth in order to spread it evenly across all websites.

Security

How locked down are your files? Sadly, reports of hacking, malware or malicious behavior are all too common. Sometimes these behaviors are so strong that it shuts a website or server completely off. Other times, it could be happening in the background and you have no clue. This could be worse than a website shutting down because you do not know what is going on. Although malicious activity will always be around, a good host will ensure that it is up to date with the latest security features to help protect your server and information.

What is domain registration?

Domain registration is the address of a specific website. Remember that party earlier? The event had an address. Your website has an address too. Sometimes, your website hosting and your domain registration are at the same place or have the same account. This is not required. Unlike your home address, a domain registration can be anywhere that provides the ability to link to your website hosting account.

Website hosting domain registration

If you are looking to register a new domain, we recommend NameSilo. Their prices are fair and you will spend an average of $10 a year. They also have a great platform that will walk you through how to configure your domain’s information.

Where do I find website hosting?

There are a lot of options when it comes to your website “home”. Its important that the cost and quality of the hosting are balanced. We have been providing website hosting for several years. When we first started building websites, we saw a concern for quality hosting. After spending a lot of time trying to work through other hosting providers we started providing hosting for our clients. This allows us to continue a positive relationship with our clients while providing them with a very reliable service.

If you have questions about any of the information on this page or would like to know more about our hosting options we will be glad to walk you through the answers.

The Best WordPress Plugins For Every Website

WordPress performance and customization is found through the theme and plugins. Each of these compliments the other while both having their own unique benefit to the website. While the theme focuses more on site design, plugins give you control on how information functions on the site. It doesn’t matter if you use a commercial or custom built theme, your site will utilize the versatility of plugins. Although each website will have plugins that are unique to that site, there are four that must be installed on every single WordPress website. The WordPress Plugins that we install from the start are: WP Rocket, Yoast SEO, Gravity Forms and JetPack.

Wordpress Plugins

WP Rocket

The first thing that we always make sure to cover when hosting a WordPress website is the website’s speed. Caching a website helps with page load times,  performance and overall function of your website. Some hosting platforms provide caching but often do not cache WordPress related content in a sufficient way. If you search for caching plugins you will find there are several. Early on, we found ourselves struggling to find the right plugin that will cache WordPress properly and provide a positive experience to both the visitor as well as site admins.

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is an affordable plugin that works from install. Probably their biggest deliverable is that you can install the plugin and it immediately starts working at increasing a site’s performance and speeding up load times. You don’t have to configure any settings to start benefiting from this plugin. However, if you want to take full control of the plugin, they do offer an easy to understand set of settings that will build on its default functionality. Some of these added benefits include:

  • Automatically caching from install
  • Disable caching for admin roles (great for editing)
  • Lazy load images and other media
  • Streamline scripts and CSS files as well as inline code

The beauty about this caching plugin is that WP Rocket takes full adavantage of making sure the plugin core is doing most of the work and the settings are for you to fine tune the job. Other plugins will not properly cache a site unless you first configure them and it often becomes a productivity crunch because you are fighting with the plugin to get it to properly work.

Yoast SEO

If you have a website then you need to know about Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Although some people let a marketing team worry about this, everyone who is actively involved with a website’s content should know and understand SEO. Yoast SEO was designed to help review your site and bring its SEO performance up as well as maintain that level when writing content.

Yoast SEO

Upon installation, the plugin will walk you through the initial setup and it takes less than five minutes. Once installed, you will have control on how search engines index your website and the content that they scan on individual posts. In addition to having control of how the site is properly indexed, Yoast SEO has a review process in place that will identify areas of improvement.

Gravity Forms

One thing that WordPress does not come with but I feel would benefit from the core software is a simple contact form. Now, I understand why they don’t feature this and its obvious that most websites need more than just a simple contact form and navigating email functionality is often a beast. This is why the third plugin we install is Gravity Forms.

Gravity Forms

With Gravity Forms you have the ability to build any number of contact forms through the easy to use “drag ‘n drop” interface. The plugin is extremely versatile and provides several form fields. Along with the plugin is a huge support network that provides add-ons allowing you to take forms from a simple contact form to purchase forms as well as user registration forms for the website.

JetPack

A common introduction to WordPress is often through their public blog platform found at wordpress.com. This is how WordPress originally got started, allowing individuals to create a blogging website without having to host it on their own. This comes with several features that you lose, or have the impression that you lose, after jumping from the blogging website to a self-hosted WordPress website on your one domain and hosting platform.

Jetpack

JetPack is a plugin that bundles a lot of those features that are not automatically installed when activating a new WordPress website. Although most of these features are extras and do not necessarily cover the “required” aspect, I find that the tools will help streamline how you use your WordPress site and provides features that other website creation sites claim to offer.

Connect

What Is WordPress?

It's Not A Website Builder!

What is WordPress? It is a software used to create and maintain websites through unique themes, custom functionality and a wide network of tools and support. It is not a "Website Builder". A website builder like WIX or GoDaddy's GoCentral often have rigid designs, limited to no customization and lack the ability to grow with you or your business.

Website Builder

"WordPress is open source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app."

WordPress.org

WordPress an open source tool; meaning anyone can use it and contribute to the its development. Its future is in the hands of those who use it. WordPress comes in two forms, a blogging site or an external installation on a website host.

With several popular website creation tools, why WordPress?

WordPress is not the only software that will help you create websites. Tools like Squarespace, Drupal and Joomla can each be used to build a website. Unlike its competitors, WordPress is the one tool designed with everyone in mind - contributor, developer and visitor. WordPress was designed with you in mind, from the beginning. In its beginning, it provided people an outlet on the web to share stories, facts and opinions through blogging. People quickly found that they could do more then just setup a simple blogging page and could establish a decent website.

Today, WordPress still provides a simple blogging solution. What people may not realize is that behind that solution is a robust structure that will let you create a custom website unique to your store, organization and company.

How Can I Use WordPress?

WordPress can be used to create a website with pages, blog posts, calendar of events, shopping cart and much more. It can be a personal or professional blog surrounded around your subject matter. It can be a web-based app on your computer, phone or tablet. You can use WordPress to create, engage and communicate to the the world.

We love WordPress so much that we use it for any new website that we build.

Take a look at our client's websites for ideas on what you could do.

Insider Louisville
Louisville Cardinal
The Pressbox
International Center
Community Working Group

For additional inspiration, here are other websites that are all built within WordPress.

Angry Birds
Vogue
Herald Sun
Houston Zoo
This Is Finland

If you have questions on how we can update your current website or create a new WordPress website for you, let us now.

Why You Should Update WordPress To Version 4.8 “Evans”

You should always update WordPress. This is not just for the creative enhancement but the security as well.  WordPress has released version 4.8 “Evans”, named after jazz pianist Bill Evans. There are several dynamic updates that improve how you use WordPress and streamlines creativity.

Improvements include:

  • New widgets (images, audio, video and rich text)
  • Dashboard section for upcoming WordPress events and more
  • Link improvements

New WordPress Widgets

Ever wanted to insert a bio image, audio clip or video in the sidebar but had to either install JetPack or another plugin for what should be a simple feature? WordPress now comes prepackaged so that you can add any of these and the ability to add rich text content. There is no more need to change any settings or install plugins.

Image Widget

Update WordPress Image WidgetThe new image widget allows the simple addition of any image. The widget uses the media library. This means there is no need to look up a URL of an existing media image beforehand.

Audio Widget

Update WordPress Audio WidgetLike the image widget, the new audio widget allows you to insert an audio file that does not require any setup. The audio file will even play directly from the sidebar so visitors can stream the media without leaving the current page or your website.

Video Widget

Update WordPress Video WidgetThe new video widget continues to provide the ability to embed media into the sidebar just like the image and audio widgets do. Insert a file from your media library or stream a URL from YouTube or another video streaming site. And yes, the video does play in the sidebar just like the audio widget.

Text Widget

Update WordPress Text WidgetWordPress has replaced the previous text widget with an updated, rich text editor. With the rich text editor widget you are now able to add simple, but desired visual content changes as well as HTML.

Dashboard Update

The dashboard within WordPress will now let you add a section to stay up to date with the latest WordPress events in your area. WordPress has always been a community driven project and now they have incorporated this directly in the dashboard by providing you with information on Meetups and WordCamp related events.

Link Improvements

Updating links within a post is at times annoying when the editor includes more than just the desired words into the link. For some, this was never an issue, but for those who use WordPress on a daily basis will love this little enhancement which no longer slows down the creative flow.

Update WordPress

WordPress has added several other improvements behind the scenes. Whether you are a developer, editor or contributor all will benefit from these changes. You can read about the complete updates over at WordPress.

Not sure how to Update WordPress? We are here to help answer your questions.

How To Insert A Google Map On Your Website

Adding a single Google Map or multiple locations is a great way to fully utilize your website.   The following steps will provide instructions to establish a map for your website.

Google Map With Single Location

First, go to Google Maps.
Enter the address and then click search to bring up the location.
Click “Share or Embed Map”

Google Map
In the box that will appear shortly after, select “Embed Map” at the top.
Choose the size of the map you desire.
An HMTL embed code will appear in the field to the right, copy that code and paste it into the source code of your website.

Google Map

Multiple Locations Using Google Map

If you have several locations that you would like to pinpoint on your map, google maps does have the options to make this happen.  The following steps will provide instructions to establish a map with multiple locations using Google’s Map Engine.

Sign in to your Google account or create one.
Go to the Map Engine and select “Create a new map”.
Select the “Untitled Map” option to list your title and description of your new map.

Google Map

Using the search field, enter the address or search for your first location.
Once the location pops up, click “Add to map”.

Google Map

Continue to add additional locations in the same way.
When you are done click “Share”.

Google Map

Under the option for “Who has access” click “Change…”
Select the first option for Public and then Save. You can then click Done to close the share window.
Click the menu icon to the right of the title.

Google Map

Select “Embed on my site”.
Copy and paste the embed code to your website.