SSL Certificates

I was asked today by a client which SSL certificate they should buy for their website, so I thought I would use it as a basis for a blog post.

Every company that sells SSL certificates will have different ones you can buy, so before you buy one you need to understand what you need the certificate for. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you need to protect one site?
  • Do you need to protect more than one site?

Types of Certificates

There are two main types of certificates:

  1. Single Site – protects just a single site (ie www.yourdomain.com) and is perfect for a company with a single domain that might never change.
  2. Sub-Domain or Wildcard – protects all various of yourdomain.com and is perfect for a company which is going to do several things, for example:
    www.yourdomain.com(main site).
    staff.yourdomain.com (staff website).
    vip.yourdomain.com (something special for those special customers).
    This type of SSL is more expensive as it can be used for so many things.

You can always upgrade from a single SSL certificate to a wildcard SSL certificate at any time with suppliers.

Now that you have your certificate sorted, you need to consider how you want it to look to the user.

All SSL certificates enable communication between the browser and the server in an encrypted way so that intercepting data is much harder. Essentially it has to be intercepted at the start or at the end – not in the middle. However, there are different ways that it appears to the users. The more obvious that a site is secure usually means the more hoops the site has to go through for verification (passports, etc..at the highest level – but at the lowest level just having control of the domain is enough).

Variations of SSL certificates and how they look

The variations are usually online these lines (starting with the simplest:

  1. Simple cheapest SSL
    1. Has a padlock on the URL bar.
  2. Medium Level SSL
    1. Has a padlock on the URL bar.
    2. Provides a “site seal” indicating that the site identity has been verified (also advertises the certificate provider).
    3. Usually provides new certificates if required.
  3. High-Level SSL
    1. Has a padlock on the URL bar.
    2. Provides a “site seal” indicating that the site identity has been verified.
    3. Unlimited re-issues or even re-keying if a major change happens.
    4. The green bar on major browsers (indicates a much higher level of verification – (Ltd company verified, individual passports etc).
  4. E-commerce/Highest Level (many of these are usually issued alongside PCI programs) – usually used by very large companies with significant brand protection.
    1. Has a padlock on the URL bar.
    2. Provides a “site seal” indicating that the site identity has been verified (also advertises the certificate provider).
    3. Usually provides new certificates if required (moving servers, hack etc…lots can break a certificate and with the cheapest you often pay for them).
    4. The green bar on major browsers.
    5. Site security testing – penetration testing, daily seal of tests etc.

Each provider has various and deals for how many domains can be covered, Linux, windows etc, how long it might last for (multi-year) but the variations of SSL levels usually encountered are all listed above.

If you would like more information on SSL certificates, please contact us via the Contact Us Page, our Facebook Page, or on Twitter.

The Difference Between IMAP & POP3 E-mail

How you set up your e-mail will depend a bit on what you want and how you want to work. There are two ways to retrieve your e-mail from a server using an e-mail program. Both have their pros and cons which have been outlined below to help you decide which one is best for you.

POP3

  • computers & devices connect to the server and download e-mails
  • e-mails are removed from the server unless the program settings say otherwise
  • e-mails stored on any device separately
  • any new device that is configured will download all e-mails on the server and store them
  • takes up the most space on devices receiving e-mails
  • often tell the system to keep e-mails for a certain length of time, after which they are removed from the server
  • sent items are stored on the individual machines/devices

IMAP

  • all e-mails are held on the server and a copy is downloaded to all devices
  • when an e-mail is read on any device, all devices will update to record that e-mail as read (useful for one person’s e-mail, but not if multiple people need to read them)
  • once an e-mail is read it will not appear as unread again, even on a new device
  • if an e-mail is deleted from a device it is deleted from the server and all other devices
  • all e-mails are stored on the server which takes up more space; overtime e-mails either need archiving or deleting from the server
  • requires more bandwidth on a device to work because everything is on the server
  • the more common way of doing things now with smart phones etc.

With modern smartphones we recommend IMAP as the method of choice, IMAP enabled accounts mean that multiple devices can receive all emails and they keep in sync so users know which have been read.

If you would like more help and advice on understanding which e-mail method is best for you, please contact us via the Contact Us Page, our Facebook Page, or on Twitter.

Infographics

Today is Day 21 in the 30-Day Blogging challenge and we learned about infographics. I have never created an infographic, though I have got plans for a few to be created for using on the Facebook page, Twitter and the blog. I used a website called Visual.ly and had it create an infographic based on the Google Analytics for the website. I’ve created it, and it’s pretty depressing, but I can create the infographic at regular intervals and monitor the changes in how the website is doing.

So without further ado, here is the infographic based on the Google Analytics for Ihelm Enterprises Limited:
Google Analytics 143820122311ad630a 549b 4d81 aefb 18d897211b94

We’ve got a lot of work to do!

Come back at regular intervals to see what other infographics we have been busy creating!  Or better yet, keep an eye on our Facebook Page or our Twitter account!

Tips on How to Run A Small Business – Linkyparty

Day 22 of the 30-Day blog challenge is about Link-up parties and how bloggers can help each other.  We’ve thought quite hard about how we could “host” a link-up party and we have decided that there are so many great tips out there on how to run a small business, and wouldn’t it be great if people shared all of their tips in one place?

So, if you have any blog posts that share tips on how to run a small business, please click on the link below and share your tips!

There are some rules that need to be followed:

  1. Link your blog post only, not your homepage.
  2. Your post should be about tips on how to run a small business.
  3. Visit and comment on at least two other entries.  Please make sure you come back and see if any other entries have been made after you signed up.
  4. Follow me on your favourite social media network.
  5. Share your post with your social media followers and let them know you linked up here.

Have a great time sharing!

4 Things to Keep Your Computer Secure

Just about everyone has a computer (or a laptop) but does everyone keep them as secure as possible? Listed below are things 4 that you can do to help keep your computer as secure as possible.

  1. Keep your computer updatedIf you use Windows, you will have the option to have updates automatically install, for you to download and install them, or for the computer to download and you to install them. It is important that you install the updates as they will fix any security bugs that have been found.

    If you use Linux, you will still have updates to do, and for the very same reasons as above.

  2. Use a firewallIt is a good idea to have a firewall installed on your computer, and make sure it is up to date. The firewall will help to keep your computer protected from hack attempts when you visit websites that aren’t safe.
  3. Use an anti-virus programAn anti-virus program will scan your computer as often as you want it to, as well as scan all incoming e-mails and websites you visit. It will let you know if an e-mail has come in that has an attachment that contains a virus, and it will remove the threat.
  4. Keep software updatedIt is important that all software that you use on your computer is kept up to date. Manufacturers will release updates if any security bugs are found. Keeping programs updated will help to keep your computer safe from hack attempts and virii.

If you would like to talk with us about keeping your computer secure, please contact us via the Contact Us Page, our Facebook Page, or on Twitter or leave a comment below.

How to make sure your website validates

Why validate your website?

Validation basically helps you to ensure that everyone gets the same experience when viewing your website. Having a standards compliant site usually means it will work on most browsers (there are always some holdouts… yes IE 6 we are talking about you).

What do you use to check your site?

The best way is to use a variety of online services, some will check the HTML, others the CSS and some services can check both. It’s worth noting that sometimes sites just will not pass all validation – see the last section before you panic!

W3C Validator – https://validator.w3.org/– W3C is the standards authority, so nothing is better than to test your site on this. Just visit the link and submit a URL, if you want you can paste your HTML directly. With a variety of options, you can get more or less feedback as much as you require.

SilkTide Validator – http://www.silktide.com/ – Silktide is well respected online. Their validator not only checks your HTML against the standards but also gives you feedback on accessibility along with hints and tips to make your site more usable by everyone.

How about your CSS?

CSS controls the look and style of your site – there are not as many places to check this – so one choice is below:

W3 – http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/– W3.org’s validator allows your to check your CSS – this will pick out common issues (for example having the same background colour as other elements such as borders – or more obvious flaws within your CSS.

Hang on.. my site doesn’t validate??

Don’t Panic… If many people are honest a lot of sites don’t validate, and they do not have to validate! Validation lets you fix more obvious errors in your structure if your site passes great – but some sites will struggle just because of the layouts required. What’s your alternative?

Simply test it in many browsers – if it looks and works as you want it to – go with it, do fix any major errors – but otherwise don’t panic too much!

If you would like to talk to us about how we can help with getting your site validated, please contact us via the Contact Us Page, our Facebook Page, or on Twitter or leave a comment below.

Help Scout – A Review

We have tried many different options for making it so that anyone involved in the business could see all conversations with clients when they have support queries. I think we may have found the best product for us – Help Scout – a dedicated help desk! After 11 years in business, we have found a way that all of those involved with providing support to our website and hosting clients can see all communications with the client and can even add notes to each ticket.

A customer e-mails a dedicated e-mail address and this sets up a ticket. The ticket, along with the conversation, is e-mailed to the client and to our e-mail address. This allows all participants to respond directly to the ticket by replying to the e-mail.  This updates the ticket on the control panel for Help Scout. The ticket can be accessed by all support staff by logging onto the site. The ticket and all communications relating to the ticket (e-mail replies and notes as well) are able to be fully viewed. Not only does it help with ensuring all staff are able to help customers, but it can be easy to match ticket numbers to time sheets.

Tickets can also be assigned to particular staff members who may be better equipped to help with that particular client.

There is one major drawback of Help Scout, though, and that is that there doesn’t appear to be any app that can be used so in order to be able to use the full functionality of the product, you need to log directly onto the website. Apart from that, we have found it to be extremely helpful.

Have you used Help Scout or another dedicated help desk? ¬†Leave us a comment below and let us know what you like and don’t like about it.

30-Day Blogging Challenge

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Where am I at?

I haven’t written a proper blog in a very long time, and I must admit that getting back into it is something I have been putting off. I’ve been really nervous about writing posts and have had so many things going through my head:

  • What if people find it boring?
  • What if no one reads it?
  • and a bunch more what ifs.

That is all about to change.

What do I love?

I am so happy when a client gives me a bunch of receipts or invoices and asks me to make sense of it all. I LOVE taking all those little pieces of financial data and putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle.

What I want and where I would like to be?

  • to grow Ihelm Enterprises
  • I want to have more job satisfaction
  • more clients to interact with.

In order to be able to have clients to help though I need to get the business out there, to make people aware of the things I do, so if they have a question relating to accounts or websites they automatically think “Ihelm Enterprises”.

How am I going to get there?

So I’ve signed up to do a 30-Day Challenge where I will be required to write a blog post every day. I am hoping that by the end of the challenge I will have so many great ideas that I want to share with you, that blogging will have become a habit. I already have a list of wonderful ideas to write about, but if there is anything that you, my readers and clients, want to know about, just ask and I will happily add the question to my growing list!

Image is credited to https://www.flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/267060150

Blogging is a Minefield

So far I have managed to write 3 blog posts (this will be my fourth), and for someone who hasn’t written in a long time, I think they are pretty decent for just starting out. However, I know I am definitely out of my depth when it comes to proper blogging. There is so much more to it than just writing a blog post and publishing it.

You need to think about:

  • images
  • the title
  • keywords
  • meta descriptions
  • calls to action
  • the content
  • when to publish it, where to publish it
  • is it optimised
  • and loads more!

And that’s just to do with the actual post! Never mind sorting out the topics for future posts and when you will post them, or who will be responsible for the post for that day. The list is exhaustive.

Today, I am learning how to create an editorial calendar. I opened the e-mail for the challenge, read through it, read the corresponding blog posts, opened the calendar and my brain went into panic mode wondering how I am going to manage to sort this “thing” out when I’ve only just started writing again and I’m not even really sure I know what I am doing! Hence, the topic for my day 4 challenge.

Now I know that no one is good at everything when it comes to running their own business. The phrase “fingers in too many pies” comes to mind. If we were good at every single aspect of running a business – and there are many – we wouldn’t have a need for designers, marketing people, accountants, bookkeepers, etc. I know my strengths, and I’m learning about my weaknesses as well. I have received some very good advice from a fellow mum who runs her own business, Meg from Bringing Up Brits and has far more experience than I do when it comes to blogs and promoting themselves. I am grateful for her help and support, and once I am through with this challenge, and can afford to, I will be looking to outsource some of the work with regards to the blogs. Oh, I won’t be giving it up completely because I have found that I actually enjoy writing and thinking of topics. I love how the topics seem to come to me sometimes as a “spur of the moment” and I know I just need to write about them! However, I know the finer aspects – like the images, keywords, meta descriptions, and just having someone give the blog post a once over, will be so much more beneficial to myself, and to the business, that I will gladly pay someone to do this for me. I will also be looking to find some guest bloggers who would happily write a guest post for me, and I will, of course, do the same for them if they would like me to do.

I know that there is a lot more to blogging than people think. I know it is far more time consuming than people think it is as well. I also know that it is very important for a business that wants to have an online presence. I have only just started my journey with blogging, and it is a journey that is never going to end. By the end of the challenge, though, I am hoping that I will know a lot more about what it is I want from my business blog, and be able to explain that to anyone I have that helps me with it. I will always have a big part to play within my business blog – and I think it is very important that anyone who has a blog knows exactly what needs doing and what they want, even if they have outsourced the work.

7 Things I’ve Learned about Blogging in One Week

I started a 30-day blogging challenge created by Sarah Arrow of Sark e-Media. I signed up so that I could learn how to blog properly and to get plenty of help & tips along the way.

Today is Day 7, and I’ve hit a bit of writer’s block. Despite having a list of ideas to write about, the words refuse to flow. So, I am going to do a brief recap of the 7 things I have learned so far.

1. What I can write about

There are any number of things that a person could write a post about. It is handy to keep a list of ideas that you can add to whenever you think of them.

2. Keywords

This was a great exercise which enabled me to make a list of all of the keywords and phrases I want to be found for. I even added to my list of ideas from Day 1! The challenge was being able to use one of the keywords in a post properly.

3. Optimising the blog

This challenge was a bit difficult to start with as the Ihelm Enterprises website is not using WordPress, but Joomla, so I had to apply what the lesson taught to a different CMS system. Once I understood where all the right boxes were, it was easier to work at optimising the post.

4. Managing the editorial process

This challenge actually caused me to have a brief panic attack and realise just how much goes into creating and maintaining a successful blog. There is more to writing the posts – you need to plan what you will write about and when.

5. Creating an outline

A very useful technique that can be used over and over again. I used it to help me write the post for Day 5 & 6, and it really did speed up the process.

6. Length of the post

This lesson came at just the right time because I wasn’t sure if the posts I had written were too long or too short. I learned that the length of the post isn’t really an issue as long as there is quality content in it.

7. Headlines

Every post must have a headline that grabs the readers attention. If you can’t grab your reader with the headline, they won’t read the post.

I have learned a lot in the last 7 days and I know I have a lot more to learn from Sarah. I am very much looking forward to opening my e-mail every morning over the next 23 days and finding out even more about how to write better blog posts.