Setting up an online store can be one of the more arduous tasks, and for those with little to no experience using web tools, it can also be outright frustrating.

The danger, though, is getting in too deep using tools that are eventually found to be the wrong ones for ones needs.

This makes it dually important to try software FIRST that offers the most flexibility for the needs of your store. And that’s where my favorite software shines too.

Shopsite is a package I tried for the first time back in 2002. Yes. 2002.

The feature I loved the most was that I could either choose a template and load the Shopsite Admin Platform with my products and prices OR I could create buttons for products and just add them to my site.

For those who have a site they like that feature alone is a boon. While many love the neat and tidy appeal of using a template, some site owners just want to add a couple buttons to some books or other products without redoing everything.
There in lies the beauty of the choice.

As one example I have my demonstration store of cosmetics to show you.

JOCOOL.com is a site I created to display the advantages of using one’s own layout and design.

This site has had individual buttons added to it rather than a template filled in at the Admin area. And for this product it’s a unique design that sets it apart from all other cosmetic stores.

Now to be clear, this site was not made in Shopsite. I used a little plugin I found, and it was wonderful! But that plugin is now no longer supported, which leaves me having to think fast and make change quickly.

Enter Shopsite.

I didn’t really want to upend the entire works and move to a cart. I want to keep the same look and feel. And with Shopsite I do have that option.

This is what I call the KILLER FEATURE of this platform and I have yet to find another that makes this process as simple (actually I have yet to find a platform that offers this feature at all).

Of course it has a litany of other features commonly found in Ecommerce Software but this one feature alone is why it will be my choice when I make the big change on this demonstration store website.

Take it for a Spin!

If you would like to try Shopsite by all means! Just log into your COOLCOM Hosting cPanel and look for the Shopsite Icon in the Software section. Play for 15 days free and walk away if you decide it’s not for you.

If you want to see the feature list, do that right here.

Not hosting yet? Pick a plan and get busy :) 

Everyone that starts up a business online has spent hours looking for the right name.

Since the internet took hold, those hours spent name searching have also included plenty of domain searches (looking up available domains to go with the business). 

In fact, the name MP3 (music file) was chosen because the URL was available and it certainly isn't the only product maker that chose a name this way. 

But there are times when what's "available" for $12.00 or $15.00 will cost more in the longer term than what's for sale at a higher price. 

Here are some points to ponder; questions to ask when deciding which way to go for your business. 

  • Is your business one that is already in motion and the site you add NEEDS to be an instant "branded" arm of that business?
  • Is your concept one that can't afford to be overtaken by a site that has the advantage of branding, history and traffic?
  • Are you entering a business arena already inundated and need an edge?
  • Is your current online business one that gets great sales but limited traffic?

Each one of these statements are strong reasons why investing in a Premium Domain makes sense.

What makes a URL premium consists of a few elements.

1. Potential for easy type in
2. Potential for branding
3. Potential for stick (return traffic)
4. Potential to earn confidence

In Canada the two most brandable, Sticky and Typed in TLDs are .com and .ca domains. 

As an example, a person who might advertise heavily for the URL Books.edu or Books.net will see 1000s of people type in Books.com (or in Canada Books.ca) first; out of sheer habit. 

The preference of users for these two TLDs limits the best of Premium Domains to those two extensions. Good chance anything else marketed will provide notable free traffic to these two.

So if your site is "part and parcel" of your brick and mortar business (if clients are going to have to use it to deal with you or to convenience dealing with you) then Premium Domains are an ill-spent product rather than an investment. 

But if you need to stick in people's minds; if your competitors are well established and you need to come in on the scene as a strong contender right off the bat - and if you want your traffic to return in part because you are easy to remember on second type in.. then you will want to consider the added expense of a Premium Domain. What it will save you in ongoing marketing is truly remarkable.

For those of you who believe a Premium Domain is best, take a look at those COOLCOM has available

A client recently purchased an entire online business, URL, Site and resulting income.

This reminded me of the importance of taking certain precautions and measures before and during such a transaction.

While in this case nothing went wrong, the potential for issues were a heaping pile of worry.

When buying a business, one of the most important things will be to ensure the keys are handed over at midnight and locks changed.

Even if the current management is to be retained for a transition period, that access can be added once all control is in the purchasers hands.

In this case a check for 20,000 was handed over and three weeks later the site and business are sitting on the original server with no access info handed to the purchaser. The URL is still in the name of the seller, and the seller is still running the business with the purchaser having NO idea as to what the income is or how, where, what will make it's way to him.

Again, the seller had no intention of making things difficult, and for that reason I was able to intervene and get these details sorted out as they should be. But what if the seller was less honorable? Having cashed that check leaves room for any number of underhanded maneuvers; even the possibility of outright refusal to change a darn thing.

So if you are buying or selling an online business, here are the steps (simplified) to expect or take:

1. Contact a company for the purpose of escrow services.

2. Give the funds to that company in trust.

3. Have the URL and site transferred to your name.

4. Get full root access to the server and any site access (IE Wordpress Login)

5. Log into all areas and resent the info for only your access.
Check for additional admin or publishing rights users and remove.

6. Re-add any users you deem necessary, using info you have chosen.

7. Have the domain record transferred to your own domain account

8. Have the domain record info updated to reflect you as owner.

9. Review any emails and forwards to reflect your needs.

10. Have the escrow firm release the funds to the seller.

The point of an esgrow firm is to mediate if there are any disputes. Funds are not returned to the purchaser if requested, but instead kept in trust and a legal format pursued should issues arise. Only if the funds are directed for release to the seller is all closed and transaction complete.

COOLCOM Premium has acted as Esgrow for many transfers of business and top shelf domain ownership transfers. Should you need services or advice on steps to take for selling or buying online business or URL assets, just ask our team.

So you found a place that has the best SEO Gurus and Google Wizards. They're expensive, but you're gonna be number one! I hate to be a buzz kill, but ...Not so much...

That companies make money on promising top spot in google is easily the most disappointing reality of the dedicated SEO professional.

Why?

The answer is both simple and complex.

The simple answer it that it can’t be promised. There are no gurus; no secrets and no secret sauces.

Over confident displays of uber-knowledge are lures designed to fool honest website owners into agreements that simply can not be backed up, but CAN be enforced to their agreed upon term, usually with long term low OR short term high monthly fees and no reference to success. 

Here is Googles own take on that.

"No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever." (see their fulll article here)

The long answer starts with the fact that a true SEO professional will admit the short answer to the clients’ face. SEO work is about learning, and then applying. It pains true SEO professionals to find out anyone paid dearly for hype and promises.

It’s a job. And like most jobs, experience and knowledge is required; Gurus are not.

Any person or company that promises number one, or even page one, is taking your money on a false pretense and hoping they can meet some small part of that promise after the fact. There is no refund if the position is not achieved, just excuses poised as reasons to add more payment to the kitty.

Google changes what it expects of a website almost monthly. What worked last year is not necessarily going to work this year. This makes learning one of the ongoing characteristics of a good SEO professional.

There are some basic concepts any website owner can consider and apply long before seeking help.

  • Does your site sell Hair Cuts in Mississauga? Then it better say “Hair cuts in Mississauga” a few times. How else is Google supposed to know what the site has or does?

  • Does your site offer a way to sign up, make an appointment or contact you easily via the net? It’s using the net to attract clients so, as Google sees things, it better allow people to make contact using the net rather than just a telephone.

  • Are your expectations realistic? Do you sell books in Queens County NS but are trying to be found under just "books" leaving the entire world (and it's millions of book sites) to contend with. 

There are also clear criteria Google themselves make known; a site should be Mobile Friendly. You may think your clients all use PC’s but your stats will show you otherwise. And SSL is now a must. A lack of SSL and Mobile Friendly coding will set you back.

But the rest of the bits that help move a site up are a large collection of small criteria that can be applied one particle at a time. Using all the tricks if only a couple are required can be a mistake; it leaves nothing to do if a site is overtaken by the competition.

Effective advertising will likely cost money and SEO is no exception; this is not usually a DIY thing. But it will also require a revisit from time to time. This is inescapable.

But when any site or person tells you that for a set fee you will be number one by way of Gurus, secrets, tricks, special knowledge or a better relationship with Google... back out. You are being set up for an ongoing overpayment.

 

In my line of work there is a lot of logging in going on. With over 260 sites saved to my list (real number; not exaggerating ;) of those needing a login, you can imagine there is no hope at all in trying to remember these all.

I know this is a common issue; even having a total of 7 or 8 can break one’s spirit when the info gets lost. 

The average person’s login list includes at least 2/3 of this list.

• Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail
• Computer Mail Software 
• Bank Management
• Domain Management
• ITunes or Google Play
• Amazon and eBay
• Skype, YouTube
• Facebook, Linked in and Twitter
• Firefox or Chrome
• Travel or Hotel site
• PayPal, Loyalty Club 
• Wordpress or other Site Admin


What’s more, often what passes as a login pair in one account is unacceptable in another. As an example, one place may allow the * or – symbol where others will allow letters and numbers only.

It’s bad to save these logins using your Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

This is not a secure method. If you're in the unfortunate position of your keystrokes being logged by an intruder, memorized access can still be read. This is just one example that amplifies that the convenience is not worth the risk. 

As well, when we get a new computer this information is lost unless we know how to migrate it. So the feeling of helplessness quickly becomes panic. 

By now most of us have lost  
access to at least one account
thanks to login issues.

So what does a professional suggest when it comes to this problem?

I’ve run the gamut.

Remember; I have over 260 login sets - and use them all in the course of an average week. Anything I consider using must be a fully secure system to-boot.

Enter - Sticky Password. 

As a (now 6-year) user of Sticky Password I can say without a doubt my life has been made simpler, wayyyyy less stressful as I've never since lost access to an account. 

My favorite features 

1. One login to rule them all.
Log into Sticky Password once. Then it uses your stored info until you log out. So when you leave your computer just log out of Sticky Password and no one can access any of your stored accounts.

2. Sticky Password is encrypted. Secure.
Your keystrokes can't be logged ...even if you’re being logged. 

3. Sticky Password lets you “peek” at your passwords.
Want to add your email account to your phone? You can peek at the password you have stored. No having to “guess” at it (or at what’s hidden behind those stars that appear when you login using your Outlook).

4. Sticky Password can save any number of logins to a site.
Why is this good? Let’s say you have two Facebook accounts. It will store both and ask you which you want to log in with when you arrive at Facebook.

5. Sticky Password let’s you store private notes.
For example, the combination to a safe, or PIN for your Hydro account. This note can only be read if you are logged into your Sticky Password software.

6. Install on several machines and sync.
Wohooo! Adding a new login using your PC will automatically update to your laptop or device.

Is Sticky Password expensive? 

Not when you consider the deal I
personally negotiated exclusively
for customers of COOLCOM. :)



If you gave Facebook your phone number .. this may be the only accurate and sellable info they have.

I took a quick poll of my 300 or so Facebook friends, looking at their profiles and in some cases asking for clarification.

- Many profiles say they went to the “school of hard knocks”
- Many say they work for “facebook” or haven't updated the info
- Who didn’t lie about their age when joining?
- Many click LIKE on almost everything they see 
- Many do post what cities they have visited in the past
- The city lived in is commonly public but isn't a privacy point
- Most enter their relationship status


Interestingly much of the info is outright false; the info you gave to Facebook or Twitter or Linked in is not vetted. Facebook data is unreliable at best. You can even mislead that data by LIKING things you hate and following people you can't stand (something many do so they can stay apprised of policy or other news items regardless of how they feel about the issue).

That much unvetted data is a tough sell when looking to get money in exchange for digits. I call shame on anyone who bought this info "off the facebook rack" thinking they had actual commercially usable data.

Only if you click those links that tempt you to “find out who you were in the 1800s” or “find out your IQ” is there a risk of more being scraped out of your account, and at that "good" info is only there to scrape if you fill in that ADDED info they request (and accurately). Sure they may scour your friends but again, in my list they will find a lot of people that went to the school of hard knocks and work at facebook.

If you have concerns about your data  the real two points to ponder are VISA and your Cell Phone Provider

Between the two they know:

• Your actual birthday
• Your full address
• That you got gas today at Shell and stopped at Starbucks for coffee
• What route you take to work daily
• Where you work and what your shifts are
• Where you shop for groceries and clothing
• That you booked a flight to Honolulu and have yet to book a hotel
• You own the home or rent the apartment you live in
• How much you spend on renovations annually
• How much you spend on gas annually
• How often you travel
• What dog and catfood you buy

The data these few companies have is vetted for accuracy by way of credit checks and expenditure data as well as GPS tracking. It's accurate and its virtually endless. 

And we sign off on them using it. We even pay them .... 

The fervor over data privacy is pointed in the wrong direction, and those with your actual valuable data are loving that.

This is not to say Facebook and other Social Platforms are not making a killing off your data but the data is extremely skewed, it’s not you. The real product is being shoved under the bus with you tied to it by other parties we don’t even question.

 

Free mail, even business level accounts at these suppliers was once a fabulous go-to for the guy who wants email but doesn't have a URL or hosted account to work with.

Some hosting companies even push you to email suppliers such as Outlook by offering a free year (there's good money in it for them, especially when you renew next year at hefty rates).

But did we really think this free stuff is out of the goodness of the hearts of conglomerates or have we recently learned something valuable from the Facebook scandal and other surfacing information about how it all works?

Some of the top pitfalls of free and conglomerate managed mail

  1. Mail is misfiltered and misfiled
  2. Mail is denied
  3. Personal info is collected and sold
  4. Next years fee is freaky
  5. No support

GMails threading feature ties email with similar subjects to each other regardless of the date.

In short, this months hydro bill ties to last months. As well, this years domain renewal notice ties to last years. No, you can't turn the feature off.

Personal email use systems are also designed to snoop out "business looking" mail and filter it out of the INBOX and over to the Spam bin or All Mail bin in order to allow the user a "personal mail experience" free from business approaches. Weather you are sending mail or waiting for it, that means your business too.

All systems have their own idea of spam.

If a mail sender has reached more than 1000 addresses in the same day at any of these, it's considered a spammer. For instance, 1000 addresses reached at hotmail automatically puts that sender on a block list.

So when that sender is sending out notices for hydro services, cell phone services and, yes, your website services - with enough clients on that list using hotmail.. notices will not get to the customers.

This has left many public services responsible for continuously filling out forms to remove themselves from spam lists when there was no spam disseminated to begin with. Those services that are unaware of the situation simply keep sending out your notices without a clue they are never received.

Facebook is not the only privacy threat. 

If missing and misfiled mail is not enough of an alarm bell, keep in mind that the only company currently under public lynching for data privacy is Facebook, but this does not leave those flying under the radar smelling like roses.

Alphabet (Google Parent) reported $32.3 billion in revenues for 2016.

One way it makes money from Your Gmail is by automatically scanning and indexing messages and using the data it mines to show relevant ads to you. It's not a coincidence that someone asked you about your car and suddenly you see a pile of car ads.

That Allmail folder .. it's not for your convenience, it's the value applied to your head.

At the same time, Gmail is facing multiple privacy lawsuits in the United States and Europe, some accusing the company of illegal wiretapping for scanning the content of e-mails.

It's not hard to trash these places for so many reasons, not the least of which is that they consider your mail trash unless they approved it. 

Is it the Banks problem if Canada post continually puts your mail in the wrong box? 

  • If mail doesn't arrive to your box that you believe should.. who do you contact?
  • If your mail isn't reaching your colleagues, who do you ask about that?

If not themselves, who is responsible for the poor quality work of the outfit you choose to manage your email services?  

If you do business, your mail must be clean without it being filed, read, scanned or judged on your behalf.

Most hosting firms, including COOLCOM at 18.00/y for a box, have email accounts very well priced. Most even include webmail with shared calendars, to-do lists and other features of free accounts, without the ads.

Most importantly .. you get your mail and you keep your privacy, all at a much smaller price than the potential cost of surrendering it for .. not so free stuff.

For the purpose of comparison, COOLCOM does not filter mail at all. Instead COOLCOM uses sender verification; the server makes sure your mail comes from a real address. That's it. Most spam comes from faked addresses, so this is a great way to catch much of it. If anything slips though the cracks.. clients let us know and we bypass the IP in question. It's a simple way to make sure mail gets to user without judging the mail itself. 

With both Google and The Chrome Browser now taking serious issue with sites not using SSL, site owners tell stories of losing traffic and SEO ranking due to these security measure policies.

"There is a significant change in the way it displays websites that are not using HTTPS, also known as SSL. This change may confuse your site visitors or surprise you if you are not expecting it," explains the article at Google.

In short, Google brands a site NOT SECURE, and will rank it lower on the Google Search unless SSL is in place.

Relax, if you already host at COOLCOM you're covered.

For sites hosting at COOLCOM SSL is free; it's included with all hosting accounts. No matter what kind of site or email you host your SSL certificate is already installed and working. Your site is secure.

What are others charging?

GoDaddy charges between 80 and 300.00 for the first year and 100.00 to 400.00 for subsequent years. Other providers show similar annual fees and some add it to the monthly bill making the hosting fee higher.

What exactly is SSL? And why is Google + Chrome doing this?

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layers. This is a layer of encryption that makes the transaction of information such as credit card numbers, your address or email address (any personal information) secure. While not all sites ask for credit cards, many do as for email addresses using newsletter signups and so on.

Now you have probably heard that if your site doesn't transact Credit Card info or personal info that this is a bit on the nasty side, but here is why Google sees differently.

Is your site built in Wordpress or Joomla? CMS Software runs almost all sites now and your login to the admin area is as sensative a bit of info as any credit card. Matter of fact it can be even more sensative. Hackers can use keystroke your info and once in, use your account for phishihng, spamming and all kinds of nefarious activity.

Why would hackers want to get at my site?

A questoin most people ask. The truth is hackers will take any Wordpress or other CMS site. It's not about you or your content, it's about hacker using the core software to their advantage. Any Wordpress will do. No, it's not the only way into your site but it's a very common one.

How can I take advantage of COOLCOM's free SSL?

Easy, if you are hosting at COOLCOM Premium then you have already got SSL.

Want to move here? Just open a COOLCOM SSL Hosting Account. We'll even help you move your site. SSL Hosting with an email box included is as low as 89.95 per year (that's just 7.40 per month). Yes, we include database access, cPanel admin with all the goodies and then some.

Want to get started now? Just fill in the Domain you want to host. We'll figure the rest out for you and contact you with any information you need to know. 

DOMAINNAME

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At COOLCOM group we hear the term "My IT" more than any other throughout the day at the Help Desk.

But as situations pan out, we find the "IT" most often referred to is the person currently assisting with a website or setting up an email account on a device or computer. 

Technically speaking, am IT looks after hardware in large networks. To your left is an example of what an IT Guy looks like in his own habitat. 

So, what are all these in between people then? Usually they are webmasters; often highly skilled. But to allow a merging of the terms opens the door for a lot of grief, developing an expectation of a Webmaster that is not realistic. 

Over time we migrated the term to Internet Tech, which has it's own skill set.

So let’s look at the skills required of an Internet Tech when hired by COOLCOM or any other firm with high standards for their internal client technical support services. 

  • A full understanding of how domains work
    • Propagation
    • DNS
    • Zone records (MX records, Pointing, HTTP and TXT etc)
    • Mitigation (entry of applicable TXT and other records)
    • Configuration

  • A full understanding of how servers work
    • Apache software
    • cPanel Software

  • A full understanding of how email works
    • MX entries
    • Delivery Tracking
    • Forwarding
    • Hardware setup

  • A Good understanding of internal software
    • MySQL
    • Some scripting

As you can see leaving this part of your livelihood to your webmaster (no matter how skilled at websites) is akin to leaving your Home Economics to your Interior Designer. They could be very skilled at design, but disaster can (and often does) ensue when left to negotiate your mortgage.

Check for qualifications before leaving work to one individual that may be better in the hands of another. Often, your webmaster really doesn’t want this responsibility and is unable to say so for fear of being replaced with one who claims they are able.

For a great example of how this can work against you check out my article last year about Bob and his Webmaster. It’s one of COOLCOM’s most read!

Sure, you have a nice simple site, you sell a book or a few bottles of vitamins. Nothing big, no monster site that should cost anyone a fortune to host.

But wait.. that site just got turned off? W.T.F.????

These are interesting times for designers. Tools like Wordpress make it much easier to create a relevant site with less effort than ten years ago.

But at what cost? Really? Must EVERY avenue paving the pursuit of simple... bring with it a cost?

Godaddy, 1 on 1, Hostgator and several other hosting firms have now posted “Blacklisted Wordpress Plugins” lists with varying degrees of reprimand. Lists of comments from angry clients are tethered to notices of their crimes committed and usually the site owner had NO IDEA they had done wrong.

Peppered among the other complaints are a number of arbitrary shutdowns. In the case of HostGator also complaints about being forced to buy "SiteLock" as what is described as a punitive measure. 

I would love to say GoDaddy is mean, but the truth is they’re right. Sure a bit too arbitrary for our liking, and I can't say what happened with Hostgator there, but turning off one site with bad or hacked software saves 100s from downtime. 

 

This Now a "thing" >> Many plugins suck, they really do suck. There, I said it.

A lot of crap is out there, and people are installing it without knowing it's crap. The list grows longer by the week; lists banning plugins that mean well but are either horribly resource inefficient or vulnerable to hacks. Either way the little innocent site becomes a massive risk to all sites on the shared server. Thanks to a counter? A form? Yes, it can be avoided. 

Resource intensive plugins have tick boxes that seem like dandy ideas to have “on” but use over 10 times the resources allocated to the average site. Do you know what you're ticking on and off?

Vulnerable plugins get hacked and are then used to spam.. which also sends resource allocation into a tail spin (nooooo your site probably doesn't need to send 34,000 emails per hour on Viagra).

This is exactly what starts the ball rolling. 

Why can’t sites just have more resources for their hacked or high plugin resource use? Why are resources allocated this way?

The price of the space dictates the resources allocated to it. 

Shared Hosting: Lower allocation. Works for 95% of all sites today. All you have to do is keep it clean. 
Enhanced or Pro hosting: Higher allocation. Better for high traffic, or high resource usage. A busy store for example.
Private Virtual Server: Very high allocation and expandable on the fly. Think successful auction sites for instance. 

But none of these higher resource programs should be the result of using poorly set up or poorly programmed software. That's just not right for you, the site owner. 

I’m going to be painfully clear. Wordpress is the worst offender. Bar none.

But there are ways to avoid having to shell out more funds for higher resources.

  1. Vet your plugins for resource requirements and potential allocation hogging
  2. Vet your plugins for quality of programming and support
  3. When configuring.. pay attention to what the features are. Often they either duplicate what your server is already doing or are simply in orbit with regard to poor programming. 

How can you be responsible for this as a site owner? What can you do? Here's a good start.

  1. Look at banned and blacklisted lists via google. So many lists are out there we don't even need to post one!
  2. Google plugins, looking for clues. "Plugin name you're considering, issues with resources" is a great search
  3. Go to the developer site, find out how old it is. 5 years is a tidy amount of time to be well rounded and reliable.
  4. Check for updates. Has it had any? If none, then this is a bad plugin. No one makes a plugin that's perfect for 5 years.
  5. Check the forums on the Developer site. See any issues there? 

These are just some of the skills we put in place to vet our own software and the very skills YOUR webmaster needs to take seriously in order to earn your trust (and pay). They cover vulnerable hackable software and resource heavy software. 

We're not as arbitrary as GoDaddy; we work with clients. But the inevitable is the inevitable, if nothing gets fixed. 

If there is time, we contact our client. We let them know the situation, we offer to help; even log in and update/configure the software. We outline what must be done if our help is not wanted.

If there is imminent danger, then the site poses a risk to everyone and allows for two choices on our part:

  • We can move the site to a Pro Account and bill accordingly
  • We can turn it off till the developer present and working on it while keeping us apprised.

We call our client first to let them make this choice (and in the case of a hack, higher resources is not really a good one).

Be it a hack or a resource runaway, the onus is always on the site owner to make sure these items are taken care of. A good webmaster already knows this stuff OR is more than willing to learn when the first instance arises. A bad webmaster will become defensive and suggest a move, and as you can see by GoDaddy’s rules.. that move could be right into a more heartless lions den.

If your site opens with a HUGE flower, a lovely hill of daisies, a massive building; you'd better be offering flowers, hills of daisies or big buildings because it's this impression; the Store Window, on which people ponder entry.  

Any retail store will confirm the front window display is what sets the tone for the rest of the clients visit; it tells customers before they even see the rest of the store - what’s on sale, what’s new and why you should go in.

Now, before we move on, take a short moment to check out your website visitor stats. At Coolcom, those are right in your cPanel. 

Is your home page getting 99.0% of all traffic and not much going onward to other pages of your website after that? If so, it’s time to rethink your presentation; your display window. 

The most common reason for loss of good traffic at the home page, is that the “store window” isn’t telling anyone what’s new, what’s on sale or what’s going on in that site. People have little patience when the next site is but a Google click away.

The main offender? Template slotting.

There is an all too common use of giant huge massive pictures that have little to tell the visitor, followed by three smaller pictures below it, squares that get filled in because they’re in the template.

 Templates can be a fabulous head start but also pose the danger of setting you up for some classic ways to give up traffic that came for a reason; often thanks to hard earned marketing dollars too.

Top Three unwanted results of slotting your message?

  • The visitor grows tired of waiting to load the page (templates are artistic but often not optimized)
  • The visitor doesn’t see what they came for (it's pretty but detached from the visitors expectation) 
  • The visitor has to scroll endlessly, often to find nothing they came for (too many metaphor or unrelated graphics) 

This is a tough one to avoid because most Online Site Builders are chalk full of this exact kind of template. But this is also a super vital point to dig at with your site, it will make the difference between traffic and no traffic. This is no time to be in a hurry.

Sure a few will find it a good opener; an actress will want her face seen larger than life, a director will want their latest film teaser filling the space. But a lawn care centre, a realtor, a cosmetics shop and a shoe store; these are far better off telling the landed visitor what’s new, what rocks and what’s on sale… well before making them scroll down never-ending visuals that often even have little to do with the site.

Bend the template to your needs – don’t let the template bend YOU to fit into it’s slots.

How can you avoid that even if html is not your forté? Easy.

Most Content Management tools, be they Weebly and Site Pad OR WordPress and Joomla, offer all kinds of templates. Think carefully about the one you choose, think about your customer and what you want to happen when they come to your site.

Pick one that lets you easily speak to THAT and speak to it quickly. 

Remove elements that get in the way of this message; never fill in elements because they are there. If you can’t get that message out then move to another template.. don’t bend to it because you are tired of trying. This is your business, be diligent. 

Header slides are hugely popular and can be VERY helpful. But there are rules to follow here too.

  1. Make sure it takes up less than half the top real-estate of your home page, if you can’t adjust that, pick a different template.
  2. That header should tell the visitor something important. A sale, The menu, New products, New policies. Just looking good is not enough in todays competitive online business market.

Your home page is your shot. Don’t miss the opportunity to say who you are and what you offer in trade for a lovely picture or clever metaphor.

The Pied Piper was famous for his ability to lead children, en masse, by giving them something notable to follow.

If the Pied Piper was around today he'd be "that guy" - the Social Media wiz sought after by every retail and service based corporation eager to harness the power of Social Media platforms.

The Pied Piper knew something we all want to know. 

Facebook is said (and for good reason) to be the online answer to word of mouth, but without cause to listen most words fall on deaf ears. This skill of leading through enticement, assembling via offer; it has been all but lost on Social Media and yet it’s the fundamental aspect to achieving any kind of measurable success.

Do you recognize these phrases?

“Follow us on Facebook”
“Follow us on Twitter”
“Like us on Facebook”

 

You see these messages 20 or more times per day. Every webpage and most signs or billboards now have this message, or the icon provide by Facebook and Twitter.

But do you ever do anything about it?

When the Pew Research Center recently surveyed thousands of Americans about their social media lives, they discovered that 44% of Facebook users “like” content posted by their friends, not pages by commercial entities looking for a nod.

As a result of so many of us are just not following Canadian Tire, Butler Buildings, Staples Office Supply, Royal Bank and Fabulous Flooring Warehouse. Why would we; why should we?

Few ads ever give us a reason to click that LIKE or FOLLOW button, and according to the research that’s just a no brainer in making commercial headway on a social platform.

“Follow us on Facebook for a chance to win weekly prizes”
“Follow us on Twitter for daily coupons and discounts”
“Like us on Facebook for daily tips on DIY Home Renovations”

Eureka! These add a purpose to the action; reasons for doing the deed. The more a visitor stands to gain from a click.. the better chances are they click.

This is the very first step, the city key, the holy grail to success when adding Social Media to your site. Having the button there means very little when there is no clear reason to click it.

What could your reason possibly be?

Photographers: Like us to join in on our next nature photo competition
Hardware Supply: Like us for daily tips on using your drills, saws and other equipment
Art Supplies: Follow us for design tips from our resident Paint, Sketch and Clay media experts
Taxi Company: Like our Page for a coupon on your next Cab Card order

There is absolutely NO business that can’t offer a good reason for potential clients to click that like or follow button, allowing you to stay top of mind by consumers choice.

Once you have a following, even your first 20 people, the next step is to remain good on your word. Be there, be informative, offer deals, trades, discounts, tricks and tips.. STAY in touch with those who said they wanted you to. It’s the kind of marketing money really can’t buy.

It’s always a wonderful start; a time of excitement and simpatico, of dreams and promises. But as with marriage, the relationship at times can become a frustrating parting of ways later.

At the COOLCOM group we’ve had almost 20 years to watch relationships both flourish and flounder. Over those years we’ve learned a few things about both sides of the coin.

A few questions at the outset amount to what is a great prenup for the marriage as it moves forward.

Of the divorces between business and webmaster the most common factor is a misunderstanding of services paid for or services intended to be included.

Webmasters need to be clear on your entire scope of expectation and you need to be clear on how much of that your project quote will include. Clarification helps both sides avoid conflict, hard feelings and on occasion pandemonium that occurs when the relationship hits the rocks.

 

The right webmaster for your project will be able to answer these questions, keeping your relationship clear and concise as to what the various roles are and what is not on the table. The right webmaster will not be afraid to tell you what areas they prefer taken to another party.

  1. Of these website-necessary functions, which are you skilled at and including in your quote?

    1. Layout and page design
    2. Graphics creation and / or supply of royalty paid graphics
    3. Search engine optimization
    4. Site and software security (SSL, anti hack provisions etc)
    5. Site updates (if content management software is involved)
    6. Site backup (and restoration if required)

  2. Please outline fees for any of the above not included in your quote.
  3. Please offer references for each skill and project component quoted.
  4. Please offer examples of performance in each skill and project component quoted
  5. How many site revisions may I request once the first draft is submitted
  6. What are your per hour fees once the site is in my hands?
  7. Should I need them, how long will standard changes take once the site is in my hands?
  8. What’s my learning curve to make simple changes (spelling, dates, add a post)
  9. Is the software you propose able to move to another hosting provider with ease?
  10. I insist my domain remain in my name (this is not a question but a clarification).

Number 10 is actually tops in importance as often we see loss of domains during a conflict because the domain was moved by (and sometimes put in the name of) the webmaster. The only time you need to move your domain to another registry is if your current one worries you. This is otherwise an expense on your part and usually amounts to loss of control or understanding of where one’s online assets are.

If you have a thriving website that looks great and does the job intended, then you likely had a relatively long road behind you. These questions give you the very information that will keep your head above water should anything go wrong with that website; they are the questions all site owners should ask and answers all webmasters should be prepared to give. 

1. Where is my site backup?
Most sites are made using CMS (content management) software. Joomla and Wordpress (most common) have many free backup options; Akeeba comes to mind. And an html site can be outright copied to a folder, then downloaded. Make sure you have a backup copy on your own computer and know what was used to make the backup. Write it all down. Never assume this is free though, if a backup system was not discussed then you may be required to pay an added fee. 

2. What software is my site made with?
This is helpful to know; you may one day find you need help beyond your webmaster. While that help will no doubt be able to figure this out, time is often of the essence when this topic comes up. Get to know your site specs before you are asked in a tense moment. This is your business; make sure you are fully informed.

 

3. Is my site software updated?
If your site uses any software, be that CMS or just a few hand scripted forms etc, that software will need continual updating. Old plugins and poorly developed plugins cause runaway resources. Hackers never stop trying and their tools improve with time. Eventually they find holes and software developers put out patches to protect your site integrity. Or perhaps you have a poorly chosen plugin that will cause your site to abuse resources. Your webmaster should be on the update email list for every software and plugin used for your site. Software should be well vetted. And you should have a list of each one installed on your site and why it's there. 

4. What is the login info for my site?
You likely don't want to access the admin of your website, but you still need the keys. Not knowing your sites access info is the same as not carrying a spare key for your car.

5. What's my hack plan?
Take a look at the number of pleas for help right here. This google search shows 3 million articles about hacks for just Wordpress alone. Some are about fixes and some are pleas for help. The bottom line is there are 3 million entries because it happens a LOT. Hacks are incredibly common; it's a a fact of CMS life, but doesn't have to be a scary one. Hacks can cause five minutes or five days downtime, it's up to you which.

See number 1, 2, 3 and 4 for your first steps towards a good hack plan.

Tip: If you host your site at the COOLCOM Group then you also have account wide backup in place at your cPanel. We still advise a site-only version but use this free feature at least monthly anyway. 

Should I Click and Build?

Back in the early days of COOLCOM we used a third-party contact system that was pretty darn stellar. We love it. It kept names and addresses for us, it kept notes and it let us schedule calls and contacts. But as years progressed this software became more and more expensive. What started out at 49.95 per month mushroomed into a $2000.00+ annual monkey on our backs.

We caught it fairly early; we managed to move to our own system over a period of six months and left the third-party system behind for good.

This is the same danger posed by all such systems be they accounting, website building, contact management or scheduling. If there is a chance you might grow, become successful and rely on your site then there is a super chance a system like this will bite you in the ass.

 

COOLCOM offers Weebly (as well as a very cool Landing Page Builder) and we stand behind it’s use for personal sites and landing pages. Any site that is more a post card or explanation of services can also benefit.

But if your site is growing, runs a business, sells products or collects and stores information etc. the downside can (and will) be that you become slave to what ever pricing and policy is thrown at you (and moving later is hard).

We found pricing at each system that bills as high as 360.00 per year USD or more for websites that mean business (WIX even charges 14.00 per month for better support).

When we compare, we find most hosting firms have reasonably good packages in the range of 130 to 150 per year for business use.

Add to that that you will find one cart, one form system, one calendar system etc. available to you rather than a choice (and it may not suit your needs; you may find you bend to suit its offering.

Yes you will need to build with something perhaps a bit more complicated to learn but you also have access to a plethora of extensions and can choose one that specifically matches your intentions.

Most importantly you can move your site should your hosting provider change, change hands, change attitude or abruptly double in fees etc.

In short, if you mean business then your first order of business might be to remain in control of it.

Wordpress and Joomla CMS

Joomla and Wordpress are by far the most common and popular website building tools today, and most webmasters, including our own, will recommend one of the two for yours.

How can you choose between the two?

is that you investigate the two thoroughly. Avoid media hype as that is driven by the developers. And your webmaster likely only knows how to use one of the two, but this does not mean it's best for your site and business in the end. 

Wordpress is Blogging Software first and Website Software Second.

Wordpress is great for the person who wants to keep it simple yet keep it pretty. Once your webmaster has set things up it's rather easy for you to add update the blog. You can add static pages (About us, Contact) but these are not quite as simple as the blogging aspect as this is where WordPress works around itself. None the less it's overall use is quite simple and by using a template you can really improve the bumps in the road. 

 

So this is a pretty good choice if your requirements will be consistently straight forward. Most webmasters lean toward this software because it's easy to use for them and conversely you. 

Joomla is for the more complex site; the site that might need a high membership base for instance.

Joomla is not much harder to update and maintain, but because it does more overall, there is certainly a little more to learn at the outset. Joomla is the software you would consider if you have a site where members should see material that regular visitors do not; sure both can do this but Joomla is made for it. Joomla is also the best choice for a complex shopping system if you prefer proprietary to hosted carts. Joomla has a blog component if you want one as part of your site, but the core design is for website systems.

Either choice can be a good one, but remember... 

... your software makes updating pages and information easy, but you still need to keep your site secure - and the most important step of all is in this direction to keep all the software (core and plugins) updated and then backed up. 

When CMS Costs Too Much

Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal these types of software were designed to let the site owner make updates to what can be very complex websites. without dependency on webmasters - and that has opened up a world of possibilities that just never were there before.

So what’s the problem?

Security, that’s what.

All Content Management Software is under fire. 100s of attempts per day are made on your site, not because they want your info, but because they will use core Wordpress or Joomla features to send out spam (or inject phishing pages that will be used in spam).

This is going to affect any site at some point that has not followed the rules of the day. Given that here is a brief list of rules that will help you avoid being that guy.

1. Update!

It’s been called a hassle. But not updating will be the cause of the ultimate grief. Software developers send out updates to your software to bring you new features or plug a vulnerability. When it’s the latter, waiting even a day is all the hacker needs to find you.

 

2. Be frugal with plugins

Yup they are cool and do neat things. But it’s vital to stick with what you need and remove the rest. Every plugin comes with its own holes, so having only the ones you need limits the holes. Remember that each of these will come out with their own updates and the rules apply the same way. This is a good reason to only keep plugins that you are using. Always remove the ones you have cast to the wayside, this includes themes, forms, any software you have added to the core (original) installation of your content management software.

3. Vet your plugins

The selection of Form or Video software alone is huge. So how do you pick the one that is right for your site? First thing is to make sure it’s secure. Some of the best ways to do that are to check when the last update was. If it was 5 years ago.. run away. No software is that secure so it means the developer has lost interest. As well check into their forums, most use those for support. See what people say and check how long it takes for support to answer calls for help. And feel free to plug the name into Google, often a bad reputation will show up there.

It has happened (more so in Wordpress than Joomla) that an update to the software had crippled a plugin or the theme. This also means the developer of that add on is not keeping up. There will be times when you need to be ready to shift or change.
One really good piece of advice is to have a professional set up your site, leavening you only with updates. You can then turn to that pro to do updates for you. Yes, they will charge a fee, but it will save you time and stress. In the long run it can save you a lot of money too. The cost of rebuilding can be horrendous depending on the sate of success you have achieved.

SEO and Your Google Rank

Ranking well in Google can be a mystery, after all they update their own algorithms and criteria almost monthly. It’s important to stay on top of things; what they found to be of great value in your site three years ago may very well be holding you back today. Here are some tips from our own SEO Team.

1. How content is written matters to Google.

Using an algorithm that is updated often, Google looks for natural speech patterns. Repeating words because you want them noticed will have the opposite effect when Google spiders your site. Instead take your time to write well thought out, unique content for each paragraph (and page) that will focus clearly on your product or service.

2. Google likes websites more than webpages.

Google prefers three or more pages; a single page will not be ignored, but sites that contain more will outrank it. This is because Google tries to dish up the sites that offer the most content for your search. Independent landing pages are more relevant when advertising. Google loves to see a good independent landing page when you use their Adwords services and while this may seem odd (you are paying for the ad) in reality Google still wants to show well thought out content.

 

3. Internal Landing pages are adored by Google.

A page is seen as a good internal landing page if it contains completely unique information from other pages; this matters if you want all pages well ranked rather than just the home page. Each page in your site should be completely unique and not carry over or repeat text from other pages. The exception is your contact information at the foot or sidebar.

4. Update your content often.

Using a blog can really help here as those are easy to update and loved by Google. But even regularly updating the static information in your site will go a long way. Think about some of your own searches. When Google returns a choice of sites, you prefer to view the most up to date site. Keep that in mind when trying to reach out via Google rankings.

5. When creating outbound links, say what you mean.

A link to “Blue Boats the Website” that says “Blue Boats” will make Google happier than "click here" and even though it's outbound, Google will follow your link to find out more, so the site matching the link matters. Google will regard your site as more worthy if small details such as this are respected.

Want to find out what it will take to move your site up that ladder?

A Free evaluation can be ordered by contacting our experts at the COOLCOM group Help Desk. The COOLCOM Desk is not outsourced, this is a team of dedicated experts that are waiting to hear from you.

Our team will take a look at your website’s current standings and evaluate the potential for change. We’ll then formulate a full report that lets you know what we can do to get more traffic to your website.

Is saving money the same as making money?


Meet Bob.

Bob has an incredible online business idea he is trying to get off the ground. It's a great service at an amazing price, there is just no question this should be a successful business.

Bob doesn't know much about computers though, and he saw this as a drawback. So he looked around to find someone that had a handle on the subject. Bob asked around and heard that Jake is a wiz on computers, and Bob is sure this is just what he needs to get things moving! Bob went ahead and hired him to be the new webmaster for his great idea.

Meet Jake.

Jake is Bob’s webmaster. Jake has built a bang up website for Bob. Jake also handled registering the Domain Name and finding a place to host this new business website. Jake chose a popular shop online to get this all done (afterall he sees ads all the time for them, they must be good because they seem to be really big).

 

So right now things are looking pretty good for Bob and Jake with this new business; at this point Bob has a computer wiz doing his webmaster work and it's all hosted with a really big outfit. 

Time passes and one day Bob asks Jake “Jake, why is there no response to my site?

  • I’m paying you
  • I paid for a domain
  • I pay monthly for hosting

"Everyone is making money but me.”

Jake says “Hmmmm, let me take a look and make some recommendations.

Jake returns to Bob and says hey Bob, I found a great new place to host your site. They are 3 dollars cheaper per month and the domain is only 5.95 per year! This is great news!

Bob's not sure he understands, but says “okay Jake, I don’t know much about computers so do what you have to do.”

And Jake goes about moving Bob’s site and domain; Bob is going to save money, Jake is doing a good job.

“While we’re at it Bob, lets update that logo, it’s not very “today” and people look for that. It says something about you. Again, Bob says he knows very little about computers so he agrees, gets a new logo... and waits for some action.

Six more months pass and Bob really wants some action now, after all this net thing is supposed to be a great extension of business and it’s doing absolutely nothing except cost money.

“Jake, it’s been a while now and there is still no action from my site, what gives?”

“OH, well Jake here’s the thing. The hosting outfit is not very good, they are unresponsive. We need to move. I did find a new place, it’s a little cheaper too.”

And so Bob once again waits while his site and domain are moved to a new home.

So far Bob has saved 19 dollars per year on hosting and 6 dollars per year on his domain. He has bought a new logo and paid a webmaster to oversee all this.

Has Bob made any money though? Nope. Not a dime.

Bob has made some classic mistakes.

  1. I don’t know anything about this stuff. I want it out of my hands.
    Truth is, when you start a business the first item of business is to learn, and this step was left out. It is common for people to confuse internet business with “computers” thus leaving it all up to someone else, even if the order of business has nothing to do with computers.

  2. Bob left all orders of business up to one person, the Webmaster. Now Jake may well be a brilliant designer but this does not make him a brilliant business person and if you reach back, the intention of the project was business not design.

    This would be much like having your new store's interior designed by the best interior design person in the industry, and then asking them to also make the thing make money. You have put a really good fish out of their water and they're doing their best, but in an industry they're likely not trained.

  3. The both of them confused saving money with making it for too long. Saving 6 dollars here and 9 dollars there will never make a business money. SURE if there is hundreds to be saved perhaps consider a move. Be darn sure to find out first what services and kind of support you will be leaving behind for yourself though, all providers are not created equally and Jake is not a businessman he is your designer.

  4. Bob needs to seek out professionals in marketing. Much the same as the brick and mortar business, getting advice in where is best to advertise and what to expect is the next intelligent move. The marketing team can evaluate your current site, check it over to make sure it asks for something, make suggestions that will cause conversions (and those suggestions can all be taken to your brilliant designer for implementation).

In actual fact “domain bouncing” and “site moving” is of no value at all, but is one of the most common moves taken when sites are not prosperous.

When seeking out internet business professionals forget how well they work with computers, instead ask for credentials just as any business would that is run from a building on the street. Ask about the education behind the person, about the successes and experience in the industry, and ask for referrals.

NO you can probably not DIY your way through to success. Amazon, EBay, ITunes; very few globally successful businesses are run on DIY sites, marketing and customer service platforms. This answer will depend on your goals and idea of success.

Ultimately, by surrounding yourself entirely with the right people your chances of success increase. Having a team to work with should please a professional webmaster not insult them, so make this a priority from the get go.

SSL More Secure than Waiters

Have you avoided purchasing items online out of fear of identity theft and credit card fraud?

According to a 2010 report from the US Better Business Bureau, online identity theft is less severe, is quicker to be detected, and on most occasions the amount of financial damage to the victim of offline identity theft is greater.

Last year only 15% of all credit card fraud was directly attributable to online activity. It’s time to take your head out of the sand.

While the media loves to take any sensational grave and rob it, this is one that has a lot of facts and a touch of reality checking that needs to be applied. In short, 128 bit encryption is FAR more secure than the kid you hand your card to when out for eats.

 

A cell phone camera shot of your credit card – both sides – is worth 85 cents. A waiter can do well selling 100+ of those a day. Think about that next time you hand it over to them yet repeat “I don’t shop online” like it’s a security mantra.

According to a recent consumer study, almost half of all identity theft occurred when personal information, kept on paper, landed in the wrong hands. Most came from tossed out phone bills, hydro bills and so on. Another large chunk of fraud was attributed to information being volunteered in street or phone surveys, the target is promised a prize.. all they need to do is give up their name, age, phone number and address… in case they win.

Employees of a Staples location in BC were busted just last year, for skimming debit and credit card info (taking a swipe and saving the info for sale later) right at the till.

I was at a golf course a couple years back and nearly passed out when I overhead a woman on her cell phone audibly giving up her credit card number to pay a bill.

How often have you been on your cordless phone, this year alone, repeating personal info to the bank or hydro company to prove it’s you? It’s infinitely easier to monitor a cordless phone than to take control of your ipad.

GRANTED, once credit card info has been obtained, the net is a festoon of easy pickens’ for verifying the card is still active. Any online business deals with issue of orders being placed purely to see if the thing works, but it’s not where the theft originates.

The same Better Business Bureau report indicated those who use online banking and purchasing regularly, are also likely to notice anomalies quicker, making capture and clean up much less hassle.

To let fear mongering force you to avoid the convenience and simplicity of using online shopping, banking and accounting tools is absurd when a bit of knowledge is all you need to make it safe.

Now I Wanted Their Money

The other day, I got an advertisement encouraging me to revisit an account I once created at Freshbooks. It was a pretty attractive invite too, nice looking and offered good visual incentive to get back with their program. This ad, and its distribution, was obviously costly.

I logged into the derelict account and took a look around. Much had improved and it was motivating me to click that upgrade button. Eventually I just had to review pricing, I was damn near sold and needed very little to push me to go ahead.

 

These days, in my internet world, any service in the area of 9.95 per month goes with fewer questions than those that rise above that number. This site was looking for a minimum of 19.95 per month though, so I did some slinking around …looking for some site hype to further justify the expenditure.

In that process I happened upon the employee page.

I don’t often shake my head at a webpage, but this one had me in full “for shame” motion. While trolling for my higher end dollar, the site was also looking for more staff. But their “pitch” for staffing was far more enticing than the pitch for clients.

The usual suspects were there, I expect to see these:
- Health benefits
- Parental leave
- Competitive wages

But these caught my eye
- Free pancakes, yogurt and other breakfast goodies
- Showers with towel services
- Free snacks and pop
- Paid Volunteer days
- Onsite Games and arcade machines

Is it volunteering if you’re paid?

Is this site trying to do too much? 

Okay so none of this seems too drastic financially, until you count the employees, which is 86 (and hiring more). Suddenly I wanted to take (earn) their money not give them mine. I was more interested in the only aspect of the site that doesn’t make money.

My first thought was … 86 x pancakes n yogurt x 200plus working days? That thought was followed by “86 x volunteer days paid at the animal shelter on my dime” and so on. The thought of paying 240 per year to sustain free pop and pancakes almost daily for 86+ people kind of pissed me off.

I don’t find fault with a company that offers neat amenities to staff. But it seems there might be a better way of getting it across; that info is too accessible, maybe even on the wrong site.

There’s something to be said for recognizing what leaving room for improvement can achieve in terms of revenue. Balancing information on your website to leverage confidence often involves paying attention to perception, and this holds true for cluing prospective customers, unnecessarily, into how their dough is spent (other than on customer services). Carrying on about spending, when asking for money, is just not wise. Free volunteer days, pancakes, games machines and yogurt sounds cute … until the client is being told it’s on their dime.

Freshbooks paid a lot of money for that ad to lure me back, it’s a pity they didn’t have a pro skate their site for marketing balance. Many companies do have their sites evaluated for spelling, grammar, technical reliability and more, but evaluating for “message” seems to be less of a concern.

Make a point in YOUR site proof reading schedule to ensure a balance of information. If you publish a page that conveys expenditure on the same site as the one that asks for substantial amounts of money (from existing or potential clients) consider the conflict of your overall message.

Social Site Privacy Reality

Privacy when found in the same sentence as Policy... 

That the word Privacy is used in a policy does not mean you have any; it only outlines what little you can expect in return for giving out your Name, Age, Marital Status, what you like, what you eat, drink, what you watch and what you wear, what banks and other institutions you “like”… and relieves Social Sites of responsibility when they sell the info to advertisers relabeled as demographics.

To believe you have privacy in Social Sites is to believe you can stand naked on the street, asking passers by not to peek.. while taking pictures of yourself and passing them out to “only your 386 carefully selected friends” and then asking them not to pass those shots around to anyone (cept the other 385 of your “carefully selected friends”… and depending on THEIR settings.. their 392 carefully selected friends).

 

Everything you say, do and post (and approve in tags) is fodder for pass along, and millions are made monthly by individuals taking advantage of those who click, fill in (and worst of all post) pretty much anything to get a freebie, a response, a compliment, a “like” but haven’t a clue of the ramifications.

Intelligent action to take and logic to prevail when filling in all the cool boxes of info, and uploading pics or video to that free space in any public site:

  • Read your agreement monthly, sites reserve the right to change policy and do so.
  • Don’t rely on someone’s interpretation (unless it’s a lawyer you PAID for the advice).
  • No one (other than the Social Site Policy page or lawyer you paid to review it) is obligated to be thorough.
  • If access to a Social Site is free, you and your volunteered info, are the commodity being marketed and sold

If you don’t like any of that, your recourse is not to demand privacy from the people who don’t owe it to you. Your recourse is to “unlike” all those Companies, Shows, Movies, Fast Food Chains, Books, Beers, Bras and Banks… and stick to the simple chatter that you are okay with the world seeing at some point – even if it was only meant for your 386 closest friends.

I Thought GMail Couldn't ...

For over a year now mail has been getting lost to the ALL MAIL folder.. the folder we never asked for but got anyway. Buried in there are most of the important messages that GMail thought better placed than my InBox.

Did we ever imagine they could make matters worse?

Enter.. threads.

Your mail, should you choose to continue to us it at GMail, is now threaded with no setting to undo that. Threading is based on the subject line, and to some master mind out there this seemed like a good idea to make mandatory.

It's the idea from hell for most of us.

Recently a client asked why they are not receiving their email money transfer notices. Now that the mail is only forwarding to GMail from the COOLCOM Premium server means .. really we have little to do with the issue. It's really between the bank and gmail. However, most customers also know they will never reach any support from either, but we are very approachable and want to help.

 

So I looked into it, and here is what I found.

The email money transfer from two months from the same sender.. had captured this new one and called it a thread. Yes, buried in two-month-old email was todays mail.

Bank transfers are hardly the only sender to use the same subject, in fact most important business notifications do. The more GMail tries to "manage" your experience the more they mess with your day to day information flow.

Using it because it installs easy on your phone? Stop that! When was easy ever the best way? I might add that setting up REAL mail on your phone takes only a couple steps more and most providers have great instructions (we even have pictoral step by step walk throughs to keep it super simple)

Do we use filters to catch spam for you? Absolutely not.

So how do we block those 1000s of spams every day?

Easy. We set our server to require mail is sent by an actual address. Not a made up "not working" address. Voila.. 90% of all spam comes from fakes. It's called Sender Verification and it's the industry standard.

The only catch in that ointment is that some places (like Kijiji for instance) likes to send mail from an address that doesn’t exist. Their "no-reply" really is a face account when it should be a real one. (if they don't want to read the mail that comes back they could dump it but this is easier for them and so the problems start)

How do we get around that? Why do you still get mail from Kijiji? Also easy! We find all those who play in the misconfigured sandbox and keep their IPs on bypass here at COOLCOM. :)

All clients of COOLCOM aslo have a very cool mail tracking feature.. it lets you check to see if you missed mail (and then we add that IP to our bypass too).

In a world of choice (and one where blocking spam is expected) the best choice is not to filter client mail but to expect all senders to send from a box.

Takes us right back to GMail, the myriad of roadblocks added annually are rarely designed to help you. AS an example, the ALL Mail box is not for you, its a nice convenient box that captures all activity and that is the box Google sends to the US Government each quarter. It conveniences them.. not more having to sift through your folders.. it’s all right there. I'm certainly not commenting on the practice of sending your mail for US Government review.. but I am dismayed at what they are happy to put you through. to make it easy for them.. even if using GMail is now harder for you.

WHY the threads?

Only GMail knows. But what ever your choice in provider, the time will eventually arrive when having your own mail at your own space with your own rules.. will be the move best made.

 

 

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