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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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Website Terminology Glossary: Ecommerce, Vol. 1 

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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: Ecommerce, Vol. 1

Ecommerce can be tough because it requires so much follow-up by clients. It’s key to make sure you’re using language everyone understands to avoid missteps. These basic ecommerce terms are a good start to smoother communication.


Average order value (AOV)

This key measurement represents the average amount of money customers spends after a visit to an online store. Several things can affect AOV, like pricing, the way products are presented, and the availability of related items. To calculate AOV, simply define a time period, and then divide total revenue by the number of orders during that time.

It’s kinda like

The manager of a grocery store probably looks at the amount each shopper spends during their visits. This figure might be increased by having more competitive pricing or by placing stuff like magazines and snacks in checkout lanes to encourage last-minute purchases.

You also might hear

cross-sell, upsell, abandonment rate


Brick-and-mortar

When an online store is an extension of a physical location, we refer to the physical location as the brick-and-mortar presence. Most brick-and-mortar retailers can benefit from establishing an ecommerce website, as it allows them to reach a larger audience.

It’s kinda like

While websites are built with materials including text, images and code, physical stores are often constructed with bricks and mortar (hence the name).

You also might hear

offline shopping, physical location


Bundling

Related products can be bundled together for a discounted price, compared with buying them individually. This encourages larger purchases and makes customers less likely to compare prices. When bundling products, it’s important to make sure there’s real value for customers and differentiation from competitors.

It’s kinda like

While you can buy spark plugs individually, a lot of engines use more than one. That’s why parts dealers bundle spark plugs depending on how many you need. It creates value for owners of different types of engines.

You also might hear

cross-sell, upsell, freemium


Business to business (B2B)

B2B describes a transaction made between businesses, like installing a computer network or providing business insurance. As such, B2B marketing involves messaging that’s mostly relevant to those running a business.

It’s kinda like

If you were a distributor selling produce to grocery stores, you might highlight your record of on-time deliveries or greater availability — not so much the perfect recipes for your produce.

You also might hear

B2B, business audience, targeted marketing


Business to consumer (B2C)

B2C describes a transaction made between businesses and consumers, like selling a computer or providing homeowner’s insurance. As such, B2C marketing involves messaging that’s mostly relevant to those consuming a final product.

It’s kinda like

If you were a grocer selling produce to consumers (B2C), you might highlight recipes for your offerings — not so much the transportation cost to get them in your store.

You also might hear

B2C, consumer audience, end user, targeted marketing


Checkout path

All the steps a customer must take to complete their purchase represent the checkout path. It can include shipping methods and inputting payment. While you can increase revenue by adding offers such as related products to your checkout path, it’s also important to keep the experience uncluttered so your shoppers don’t abandon their purchases due to frustration.

It’s kinda like

When you go to check out at the grocery store, lanes usually display products like chewing gum and magazines, but they don’t block your path to the register. You might grab something on a whim, but if it’s too hard to move through the lane you’ll likely find another one — or a different store.

You also might hear

cross-sell, upsell, checkout process, checkout flow, conversion rate optimization


Conversion

On a website, when a visitor performs a desired action like signing up for an email list or scheduling a consultation, it’s called a conversion. With online stores, a conversion is making a purchase.

It’s kinda like

In sports, a team tries to convert possessing the ball into a score. You should push your ecommerce team to convert visits into purchases.

You also might hear

conversion rate, bounce rate, visits, page views, event, action


Fulfillment

When you pack, ship and deliver an order, you’ve fulfilled it. While you might usually be the one handling fulfillment, some ecommerce merchants will partner with a third party to fulfill orders of certain products.

It’s kinda like

As seasons change, some agricultural commodities become scarce — but growers still have contracts to fulfill. If these growers can’t fulfill orders with their own crops, they purchase what they need from another grower, and then pack shipments using their own label. Same thing holds true with ecommerce.

You also might hear

drop shipping


Merchant account

A merchant account lets ecommerce merchants accept payments, typically in the form of credit or debit card transactions. While you enroll through a bank, these accounts often include a third party that processes payments. Due to the sensitive nature of date transferred via merchant accounts, enrollment requires you follow specific rules for privacy and security.

It’s kinda like

Banks have always offered accounts specifically for businesses. Early on, the advantages included more effective management of records and taxes. Today in the digital age, new types of accounts address the needs of online businesses.

You also might hear

payment gateway, payment processor


Product attributes

Product attributes are specific characteristics like the size and color of clothing, the type of operating system used by a phone or computer, or the logos that adorn sports gear. With an online store, defining product attributes lets shoppers more quickly find what they’re looking for. But it’s important to strike a balance — too many or irrelevant attributes will clutter a shopping experience, while too few makes searching difficult.

It’s kinda like

When you go to large department stores, you’ll see signs directing you to specific products like children’s swimwear or men’s shoes. Product attributes do the same thing, letting shoppers find their desired products at a glance.

You also might hear

configurable, filters, menus, categories


Shopping cart

In ecommerce, a shopping cart is the part of a website that lets visitors select and purchase products. On websites that aren’t solely focused on ecommerce, the term shopping cart can refer to an application that allows visitors to make purchases.

It’s kinda like

It’s pretty much like an analog shopping cart, actually. You push it around as you shop, drop stuff in it, and then pay for everything once you’re done.

You also might hear

shopping cart abandonment, cross sell, upsell, shipping methods

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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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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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