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Inspiring Your Workforce Through Digital Technology Can Improve Your Business Performance.

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Britain’s economy was almost on its knees as it suffered its biggest annual decline in 300 years in 2020 amid the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. A small crumb of comfort was that the UK somehow managed to steer clear of a double-dip recession.

The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 9.9% in 2020, as no sector of the economy was left unscathed by lockdowns and an unprecedented slump in demand during the pandemic. 

Although the economy has avoided a double-dip recession, analysts said it was probably shrinking at the start of the year, with the toughest Covid lockdown restrictions since the first wave weighing down activity.

But it’s not just the coronavirus crisis that impacts business and its ability to produce shareholder value, we live in an age where there has never been so much change. The world is full of disruptive influences, from technology to politics to climate issues.

Business leaders have been battling at the sharp end of this storm to keep the corporate ship afloat while others are drowning in a volatile world economy.

Those at the top are faced with a constant barrage of high-pressure situations from a potential merger or acquisition, upcoming regulatory upheaval, or overhauling the organisational structure to accommodate a new generation of employees.

But whatever specific changes your organisation is going through, you likely share a common aim with many peers, and that’s to deliver better customer experience

Because whether you’re operating in technical legal or accounting services or a new digital sales set-up, delivering better customer experience is a proven way to drive output, profitability, and growth.

We’ve all witnessed the CEO launching that exciting new change programme. 

Excited senior management roll out new sales and service training, inspiring workshops and presentations, a sense of excitement and renewed optimism runs through the company, and the early improvement in results gives the workforce a lift.

However, over the next few weeks and month, old habits creep back in, energy levels drop and before you know it, you’re back where you started.

The bigger issue is that yet another ‘transformation’ has failed to deliver leads to an even more depressed working environment than before.

Businesses need to get to grips with the fundamental issue that the quality of their customer experience, and the success of their business outcomes, is driven by the engagement of their workforce. 

Innovative new ways of instilling a positive culture of change are needed and the use of digital technology to deliver long term improvements are being seen as the way forward.

Even the most sceptical of boards have had to acknowledge that company culture is ultimately the deal breaker when it comes to change. 

Executives need to empower their leadership teams to constantly tweak and refine the way they engage with their staff to understand how they are reacting to change.

Digital tools are intuitive and even fun, but can engage people, and importantly allows businesses to continually monitor behaviours – in what is a volatile world, it’s a powerful and successful way of applying new technology to enable businesses to cope with whatever is thrown at it.

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What is encryption & how does it work? 

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The practice of protecting sensitive information with codes and ciphers is thousands of years old. Today, it’s a technical art form that secures digital data that is being sent, received or stored.

Better known as encryption, this protection method masks digital information so that only those with the correct encryption key can decipher it.

Understanding encryption is crucial as you manage your own website and develop or design websites and apps for your clients.

Types of encryption

There are several different encryption methods — the algorithms or ciphers used in scrambling data — that designers and developers can use. To encrypt data, you need a key to alter it. You could use a symmetric encryption key, which uses a single randomly generated private key that the sender shares with the receiver. Or you could use an asymmetric encryption key that uses a public key to encrypt the data or message and a private key to decrypt the message.

Which methods should you use in coding and designing? That will depend on the sensitivity of the information being sent or stored, the data file’s size, how the data will be sent (email, FTP), and the encryption standards your receiver prefers.

Encryption examples: When do you use it?

There are a number of encryption standards to understand, along with when it’s best to use them.

AES, or the Advanced Encryption Standard, is one of the most popular file encryption methods in the world. It’s a symmetric block cipher and offers protection of sensitive data shared in closed systems and stored in large databases. It is also a good choice for emailing information that is not extremely sensitive, like your new product catalogue and price list or sending a large ZIP file via email.

Open PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, uses a symmetric key to encrypt and an asymmetric key to decrypt data. The private keys can also verify the authenticity of the sender. This adds an additional layer of protection when sharing information across open networks. Open PGP is a good choice when sharing sensitive information like payroll deposit data with your financial institution.

SFTP or Secure File Transfer Protocol, communicates over a secure connection. It uses public key encryption and password authentication. SFTP encryption is most commonly used in server-to-server file transfers, such as information exchanged with healthcare providers.

FTPS, or file transfer protocol secure, uses two data connections. A public key encrypts the data, a public key certificate provides authenticity and a private key decrypts the data. Legal, government and financial services entities rely on the security of transferring files via FTPS.

Secure Mail uses asymmetric encryption. It protects personally identifiable information in the body of an email, such as proprietary business information or personal information like an account number.

AS2 or AS4, also known as applicability standard 2 or 4, use digital certificates and various encryption standards. With AS2 or AS4, you can request a message disposition notification or receipt that verifies that your recipient received and decrypted the message. You get legal proof that you sent the message and that it was received (also known as non-repudiation of receipt.) AS2 and AS4 are commonly used in EDI transfers for business information like invoices or purchase orders.

For web designers and developers who use WordPress as their platform of choice, WordPress Salt Keys help to secure your WordPress login information. These security keys help protect any information stored in cookies required by WordPress to log in. Instead of using PHP, WordPress saves your info so you don’t have to enter it every time you log in. While convenient, this can pose a security risk. Salts work to encrypt your password into a series of random characters that can be tough for hackers to crack without knowing your salts.

Why is data encryption important?

Businesses require secure websites and applications that will protect their data, their customers’ data, their systems and their brand. Keeping security in mind from the start of the design or development phase is important for many reasons:

  • Every industry mandates specific compliance regulations for data protection. Including encryption into the design and development process can help result in a final product that will not be subject to fines and sanctions.
  • Data breaches cause reputation damage. Encryption protects against breaches and resulting reputational damage.
  • Customers value privacy and want to be assured their data is secure. Encryption improves the security posture of applications and sites and delivers a valuable competitive edge.

How do you know if a website is secure?

Here are a few ways to tell, at a glance, if a website is secure:

  • Check the URL and look for the “S” after “HTTP.” This indicates the information passed from the browser to the website’s server is protected by a secure sockets layer (SSL) . This certificate ensures an encrypted connection. In addition to checking that the URL reads “HTTPS,” another quick way to tell if a website is secure is to look for a small padlock icon next to the URL in your browser’s navigation bar.
  • Scrutinize the domain. It’s not uncommon for fraudsters to cleverly mimic a trusted website address. For example, switching out the letter “o”and replacing it with a zero will make the word “micr0soft” look similar enough to the tech giant to fool you into sharing information on an unencrypted site.
  • Look for reputation assurance. When visiting a new website, check for examples of legitimacy such as a privacy policy, contact information and social media accounts. Without those signs, the site may be unencrypted.
  • Verify trust seals. Many sites, especially ecommerce sites, will feature a trust seal verifying that a third party has vetted its legitimacy. Take a moment to click on the seal. It should redirect you to a verification page from that third party. If it doesn’t, that may indicate a less-than-secure site.
  • Check for malware. A site with poor encryption may become infected with malware. You can tell this has happened if the site you are on issues suspicious pop-ups, features poor spelling, grammar and an unprofessional design, or promotes hard-to-believe offers.

Since most websites may look normal on the surface, but have hackers working in the background, an easy trick to check for malware is to search Google. Simply type “site:domainname” into the search bar and you can find SEO spam within any of the links indexed on Google. Be sure to swap in your website’s name for “domainname” and comb through the results to identify any instances of malware on your site.

Finding SSL website encryption

Security is a big deal for anyone doing business online, so it’s a big deal for developers and web designers. Protect your website, your customers’ data and the websites and apps you develop with an SSL certificate from GoDaddy. It safely encrypts information during transmission and builds trust in your brand.

Find the right SSL certificate to protect your site or your projects.

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4 must-abide-by Rules to Launching Your First E-commerce Website

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It’s not exactly another dot com bubble, but particularly following the events of the past twelve months, the internet has allowed some people to delve into their first forays of entrepreneurship.

However, contrary to some beliefs, this isn’t a case of “set and forget”. In other words, the motto of “build it and they will come” simply doesn’t exist. Once you have sourced your products and built your website, the journey has just begun.

While there are probably umpteen rules associated with a new e-commerce website launch, through today we will focus on four of the golden ones that can superpower your success.

Rule #1 – Know your target audience

This may seem like the most basic rule, but it is often the most overlooked. In fact, despite some people’s best efforts, even some of the biggest companies in the world fail to understand who their target audience is.

While it may be tempting to just build a website and see what happens, you will be more likely to succeed if you have a plan. The plan can be as simple as “selling products to people who live in a specific area”.

Once you have this information, you can create a marketing plan. For example, you may choose to target local schools and use social media platforms to inform parents. This may seem like a long shot, but it will certainly be more effective than simply shouting into the ether.

Rule #2 – Have a plan for delivery

This is a big one. After all, it’s not much use creating a website and waiting for customers to come to you. Again, the plan can be as simple as “shipping to customers in the same country”.

The key thing is to make sure that you have a plan for how you are going to get your product. Will you use courier services? Will you store goods in a warehouse and ship as needed?

Once you have figured out how you are going to ship your product, you can start to price your product. As you will probably be buying in bulk, you can often negotiate great rates with delivery companies. As you get bigger, you can negotiate even better rates.

Rule #3 – Have a plan for payment

The payment plan is really important because it can often be the thing that frustrates customers the most.

There are plenty of options for accepting payment, including Paypal, credit cards and even Bitcoin. If you are using Paypal, you can even get started with a basic account, which allows you to take payments without the need for a credit card merchant account.

Rule #4 – It’s not just about new customers

One of the worst mistakes we see when it comes to new websites is the obsession with new customers. Sure, these are going to be the bread and butter of your e-commerce offering as you get up and running, but you also shouldn’t neglect your existing ones.

Existing customers will eventually prove to be the building blocks of your business. It means that you should be using email marketing software to target them whenever possible, and also making sure that their experiences with your company are nothing but delightful. If you can perfect this, you’ll find that your list of new customers suddenly starts to grow as well. Nothing beats the power of recommendations.

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Website Terminology Glossary: Web Design, Vol. 2 

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When you’re hustling, time is money and that money comes in coins, not bills. It’s why we made our Website Terminology Glossary for web pros. This free resource for designers, developers, marketers or anyone else makes it easier explaining technical stuff to clients.

Rather than a lengthy back-and-forth, quickly find definitions that break it down in real terms. Start getting time back — and put more of those coins in the bank.

Website Terminology Glossary: Web Design, Vol. 2

Which content goes where, and why does it look that way? Ensuring clients can identify different aspects of a web design lets you more effectively explain your decisions. It also helps clients avoid feeling like they’re not involved in the process when it’s their money on the line.

Help them (and yourself) smoothy get through the build process with these basic terms related to web design.

Related: Website Terminology Glossary: Web Design, Vol. 1


Accessibility

Design decisions that make your website easier to use by anyone, regardless of impairments or disabilities, fall under the broader category of accessibility. For example, text might enlarge to be more easily read by people with visual impairments. Or that text could be broken into smaller sections and written in a simpler fashion to accommodate visitors with difficulty reading.

It’s kinda like

In some areas, buildings are required to have ramps and handrails to make them more accessible to disabled individuals. Those features are like brick-and-mortar versions of a website’s accessibility design elements.

You also might hear

ALT tag, user experience (UI), a11y


ALT Tag

To help the visually impaired experience a website, images can be tagged with descriptive text that a browser reads aloud. This text is referred to as an ALT tag, and not only helps visitors, but can also improve the website’s search engine ranking.

It’s kinda like

A personal assistant to the visually impaired might describe objects or situations to their client. ALT tags are those descriptions, delivered by a web browser instead of another person.

You also might hear

image description, image title, image search engine optimization (SEO)


Column

Containers on a web page that display content like text and images vertically, or one atop another, are columns. A wider column positioned in the center of the page might display important text. A narrower column placed on one side of that page might be used to conveniently place contact information, a map or a contact form.

It’s kinda like

Did you ever play the game Battleship as a kid? When you lined up that aircraft carrier vertically, it was like placing web content in a column on the page.

You also might hear

user experience (UI), row


CSS

The visual appearance of features on a web page is usually specified by a cascading style sheet (CSS). Your CSS can determine things like fonts, the drop shadow beneath an image or text, or animation effects. Once you set up CSS, it can be used across multiple pages of a website.

It’s kinda like

When you’re building a house, a general contractor takes care of stuff like framing and electricity. Once they’re done, an interior decorator handles finer details throughout the home like carpet and wallpaper. CSS is like the interior design of a home.

You also might hear

styles, user experience (UI), attribute, parent, child


Favicon

Have you every opened a website and seen on the tab of your browser the company logo or another small image? Those are called favicons and can be uploaded to your website so they display in visitors’ browsers. Many marketing experts today will insist that favicons are essential to building a brand online.

It’s kinda like

In an office building, individual businesses might place signs outside to help visitors know where they’re going. Amid a bunch of open browser tabs, favicons can provide the same experience.

You also might hear

browser, tab, logo


Hamburger

In streamlined web design, such as mobile layouts, visitors click on a stack of horizontal lines to open the website menu. This “hamburger” has become a universal symbol to let people know where to start navigating a website.

It’s kinda like

The unique shapes of stop and yield traffic signs let motorists know, at a glance, how to proceed on the road ahead. The hamburger gives website visitors the same kind of heads-up.

You also might hear

navigation, menu, mobile design, responsive design


Landing page

Online marketing content like emails or social media ads usually encourage the audience to click a button for more information. Those buttons take them to landing pages, which include content specific to the offer. Landing pages also let marketers measure the effectiveness of their ads, as they’re directly connected.

It’s kinda like

If you watch daytime TV, you’ll eventually see an infomercial urging you to call a toll-free number. It’s likely that number is dedicated to that ad campaign and not for general use — a verbal landing page of sorts.

You also might hear

call to action (CTA), email marketing, click-through rate (CTR), display advertising


Orphan

When text gets added to a web page, space limitations can cause the first sentence of a paragraph to break with only a single, longer word in it. These orphans — so called because they have a future but no past — make text difficult to read and clutter a design. If your page displays an orphan, it’s wise to choose a shorter word or adjust the overall length of text.

It’s kinda like

If you build a brick wall, chances are bricks on the ends will be too long and need to be cut to fit. Orphans are like those bricks.

You also might hear

user experience (UI), widow


Responsive design

Modern web design tools let designers create multiple versions of a page. They can detect a device used to view it, and then serve up the version of the design that best fits. It’s common to have responsive designs accommodating desktop view, as well as tablets and smartphones of various sizes.

It’s kinda like

Professional photographers usually carry several lenses to ensure an idea field of view for different types of images. Responsive design ensures your website is always viewed through the most appropriate lens.

You also might hear

user experience (UI), mobile view, desktop view, breakpoints


Row

Containers on a web page that display content like text and images horizontally, or side by side, are rows. In web design, placing rows above or below vertically placed content can enhance the layout by avoiding a sense of repetition.

It’s kinda like

Did you ever play the game Battleship as a kid? When you lined up that cruiser horizontally it was like placing web content in a row on the page.

You also might hear

user experience (UI), column

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