Happy Security Sunday! I found this article the other day on Network World, pointing out studies on the dreaded ‘password strength indicators’ that many websites use to nudge folks into using stronger passwords (and generally annoy most everyone).
“Overall, password strength gateways are inconsistent, with some allowing all letters and others requiring different character sets to gain approval, the researchers found. That sends a mixed message to online users accessing many different websites.”
I agree with the article that the overall intention of the strength indicators are good, but for some the execution falls short, and there are significantly easier ways to keep your passwords secure.
I’ve long been a supporter of password managers such as KeePassX (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux; Free) as one of the best ways to keep your online accounts secure. A 20-character long string of random letters, numbers and symbols is incredibly difficult to break, and password managers allow you generate and keep track of them. In addition:
Easy to install, free, and super secure. If you haven’t, give it a try.
With the folks over at WordPress getting ready to release the latest and greatest version, I’ve been taking it for a test drive to check out some of the new features.
There has been a lot of arguing back and forth about Focus Mode, but, personally, the improvement on ‘Distraction Free Writing’ is my favorite feature in the new release. I love distraction free in WordPress, but find it cumbersome to keep turning on and off. Now, you can set it to activate and deactivate automatically whenever you start typing or move the mouse. No need to turn it on and off.
Another nice new feature is the ‘Visual’ image mode. For new users, one of the least intuitive tasks to complete in WordPress was getting your images aligned the way you wanted them. With Visual Mode, clicking on an image will provide you with a floating menu that allows you to quickly change where the image is positioned in the post. You can also open up an edit dialog to change the image’s size, too. I thought that the previous method of aligning images was fine, and wasn’t initially excited when I heard about this change, but after having tried it out, I have to admit it’s handy.
One of the great things about WordPress is how many different languages it’s been translated into, but it’s always been a pain to install language packs. With WordPress 4.1, language packs can be installed directly from the settings page; all you need is the proper write permissions (which, chances are, you have), and installing a new language is a breeze.
Developers will find some new fun stuff, too, including improvements to the Query classes; the updates allow for nested queries based on date, metadata, or taxonomy. For example, if you had posts with ‘author’ and ‘genre’ metadata assigned to them, the following would grab all Horror by Stephen King and Tragedy by William Shakespeare:
$query = new WPQuery( array( 'metaquery' => array( 'relation' => 'OR', array('relation' => 'AND', array('key' => 'author', 'value' => 'Stephen King'), array('key' => 'genre', 'value' => 'Horror') ), ), array('relation' => 'AND', array('key' => 'author', 'value' => 'William Shakespeare'), array('key' => 'genre', 'value' => 'Tragedy') ) ) ) );
Also worth mentioning is the release of the latest default theme, Twenty Fifteen. It is a blog-first design, featuring Google’s Noto Serif font, which displays nicely with a variety of language and devices. Very nice and clean; screenshots can be found here.
And that’s about it. Overall, a nice release, but no doubt some will find more use for the changes than other. I especially like that there are good improvements for both new users and seasoned developers. The 4.1 release candidate was released on the 11th; WordPress 4.1 is expected to ship on Tuesday, December 16th.
There is one thing I don’t love about Twitter: It is really easy for someone to impersonate you, and there are just way too many accounts for Twitter to self-police.
So what do you do if, like me, you find out that someone is pretending to be your business?
First things first, you have to find out if someone is impersonating you. Use the Twitter search tool to do this:
If your business is the only ‘you’ there, you are in good shape; it doesn’t seem that anyone is impersonating you. If there are multiple ‘yous’ there, make note of their Twitter handles (i.e. @10TWebDesign), as you’ll need them later.
OK, I know what you are thinking: They are pretending to be me, of course there are rules being broken!
Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.
If the offending account doesn’t fall into these categories, you have a good chance of getting the account deactivated, especially if they are using your profile and header images.
Time to make the Head Twitter-birds aware of the copycat account. Twitter handles all impersonation complaints using this impersonation complaint form on their support pages. Some tips to make sure your complaint gets approved:
Give the good folks at Twitter time to work. Just because you filed the complaint at 8:32 AM doesn’t mean that the offending account will be down before your morning coffee break. Give it a few days, maybe a week. If you still haven’t heard back from them, shoot a tweet over to @Support and (politely) tell them that you had filed an impersonation complaint and ask (politely) if they have an update.
It’s a good idea to check every month or two just to see if anyone is pretending to be you. Hopefully you won’t find anyone. If you do, feel honored that you are being impersonated, follow these instructions, and you should have no problems. If you have any questions, just drop me a line.
OK, I don’t often link to other web design companies blog posts, but this one was too good to not share. It’s from a web design company over in London, England called Four to the 4. The company’s owner, Geoff, takes a look at how discount website builders don’t give you your money’s worth, even when they are free.
His major points include:
Anyway, it’s a good, quick read if you are considering going with a do-it-yourself type website, so head over and check it out.
10T Web Design is very happy to announce the relaunch of the Belmont County Recorder Office’s website. The site features a custom designed, fully responsive theme. It also has a CSS only slide show that displays correctly, even on mobile devices, not to mention links to the updated online deed lookup through the US Land Record’s website.
So, what are you waiting for? Head over and check it out now!
It never fails; when I tell people that my computer is filled with software that can be downloaded from the Internet, they assume that it’s all stolen. Then the open source software discussion begins.
I reassure them that, in fact, it is 100% legal and that people give their software away for free all the time. I tell them that, yes, I am serious. I explain that it is, in fact, very high quality, secure and, yes, legal. When all else fails, I tell them that, chances are, their web server is running open source software now; occasionally, they ask me if they should upgrade their web server.
If you didn’t know that there is software out there that you can use legally, free, you are not alone. And if you think that you’re not technologically savvy enough to use it, you are most likely wrong. We’re going to take a look at some open source alternatives with a series of posts spotlighting just a few of the ones that I use.
Today’s entry: Firefox Web Browser.
Firefox is probably one of the best known pieces of open source software around, so you may have already heard of it. Firefox is the second most used browser out there. It’s been around for a long time (its first release was way back in the Bronze Age of the Internet… 2002), and actually grew out of the old web browser Netscape Navigator, which was first released in 1994. If we consider that the true birthday, it pre-dates Internet Explorer by almost a year.
So, with almost three times as many people using Internet Explorer, why should you make the move to Firefox?
If you are ready to give it a try, you can download Firefox from their website. Give it a try, and let me know what you think.
For someone who makes a living helping companies and non-profit organizations build their small corner of the Internet, I spend a good bit of time thinking about people who don’t have access to the Internet.
In the United States, we often take access for granted. Our cell phones have access, our laptops have access, even our iPods can use the Internet at most any restaurant or hotel, usually for free. Even for those people who don’t have the means to buy a device, the entire world is at your fingertips at your local library. Let’s face it, we’re pretty connected here; the 81% of our population that uses the Internet makes up the second largest number of users for any country in the world.
It is easy to forget that there are countries where Internet access is too expensive (or too dangerous to the established government) to allow for widespread use. A full 72 countries have under 25% of their population using the Internet; that’s more than a third of this list.
The sad part is, that’s not even an exhaustive list, as North Korea, a country of 24.5 million people only known to own 1,278 heavily censored IP addresses, is noticeably absent. Even if each of those IP address gives access to 100 citizens, which I’m sure it doesn’t, that’s still only ½ of one percent of the population.
Globally, there simply isn’t enough people being able to find out what’s really going on in the world, take free on-line educational courses, or do the really important things, like look up cute pictures of cats wanting cheeseburgers.
So, how to you get all those crazy cats (and news and educational resources, too) delivered to those who can’t afford to, or are not allowed to, access it? You give it away for free from space, of course. At least, that’s what a newly formed non-profit Outernet plans to do. Their initial plan is to launch a set of low-orbit satellites that will broadcast a loop of information including local and international news, crop prices, online courses, all of Wikipedia, and emergency notifications. Long term, they want to turn the satellites into a full, free, two-way, global way to get access to the Internet, so everyone can enjoy all the cute cat pictures they can stand.
Three things make this non-profit amazing:
“How much does a website cost?”
It is the most confusing question for a client about web design, but ultimately one that everyone considering a website will eventually ask. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though: It’s a confusing question for web designers, too.
There isn’t just one type of website. I like to compare the question above to “How much does a car cost?” Websites come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of functionality. Simple, small, informational websites will naturally cost less than a new implementation of Facebook; more complex equals more expensive.
Quotes can vary greatly between designers. Ask three different web designers, and you are likely to get three (possibly drastically different) quotes. It might have to do with how comfortable the designer is fulfilling the goals you have for your website, or simply how busy the designer is.
Is the quote per hour, or for the entire project? Depending on the designer, they might give you a quote based on the entire project, or an hourly rate until the project is complete. While you might not flinch at paying a website designer $100 per hour, without knowing how many hours it takes to design a website, that number is really meaningless.
I know what you’re saying: You still haven’t told me how much a website costs. I’m getting there, I promise. Now that we have some general topics under our belts, let’s consider different options that you might want incorporated into your website. Whenever you are looking to have someone design you a website, these are usually some of the first things they consider before giving you a quote.
Who is going to register the domain name and set up the hosting? You have the option of registering the domain name and setting up hosting yourself to save yourself some money. Typically, domains cost somewhere in the range of $10 to $20 per year. Hosting costs start from $5 per month for bargain basement hosting, which is usually enough for most small businesses. As your website traffic grows, you might find out you need more later. You don’t have to be technologically savvy to set up your domain and hosting; most hosting companies are glad to set it up for you over the phone, provided the designer gives you the specifications your website will need, and usually the only important variable is “Linux or Windows.”
Who is going to manage the email? Just like with the domain name and hosting, if you want to have email added to your package, there will be more charge. If you are the only person in the business, this is one you can probably tackle on your own. If you have hundreds of employees that need to be set up, it might be best to leave it to the designer.
What do you want your website to be? You might just want a five-page informational site that will only need updated every year. You might want the next Google. Technically, both qualify as websites, but the former can be completed over the course of a week, while the latter takes a team of designers working full-time just to stay ahead of the competition. Each page you add, each custom-built form or application, each anything you add, the longer it will take, and the more the price goes up.
Who is going to provide the website’s content? A beautiful website won’t get you anything if there isn’t information on it. Providing the web designer with the website’s content will lower the price, while asking the designer to provide the copy will make the cost go up. Even more complicated are the images for the website. Providing your own images to the designer is the cheapest option, but depending on the quality, might not look as good on your website. Most designers will capture or create images for you, or can provide stock photography, but it usually starts around $3 to $5 even for the cheapest images.
Does the site come optimized for search engine indexing? Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is something that’s pretty easy to define, but can be tricky to understand; simply, it’s making the website look attractive to web crawlers owned by search engines like Google and Bing. All sorts of things go into SEO, so it’s usually best left to a web designer. Money spent on SEO is usually money that doesn’t have to be spent later on pay-per-click marketing.
What type of maintenance comes with the design? Most all websites need periodic maintenance, be it updating information, adding new content, or (worst case scenario) recovering from a defacing or some other type of security intrusion. It’s important for you to know what all you are getting with the deal, as hourly maintenance cost can grow quickly, and recovering from an attack can cost be even more costly.
How will the website’s content be managed? Once the maintenance agreement runs out, how easily can you make simple updates to the website’s content? If there is no Content Management System (CMS) in place, it makes it less expensive, but more challenging to update. With a CMS in place, most anyone can make routine changes to the website’s content.
Will the website be marketed, and how will the site’s usage be tracked? Do you want there to be some sort of pay-per-click marketing, email marketing, social network marketing, and if so, how much of each? You can spend about as much as you want advertising online, but having the designer do it for you will result it at least a small markup. And without some sort of tracking mechanism, you’ll have no way of knowing how successful your website is. While most designers will install some sort of tracking for every website they design, but it’s still good to ask.
I know. We’re almost 1,000 words into an article about how much a website costs, and I haven’t given you a figure yet, but the wait is almost over. It’s important to have some sort of basis before I start spitting numbers out at you. So, in general, here are some rough estimates of how much a variety of websites would cost.
Basic Website: $1,500 – $2,500
So, this would be your basic, informational only, five to seven page website. As mentioned before, who is managing the domain name, hosting, and email will cause the price to alter. Expect the design to be either relatively simple, or a template that may be used for other clients. The content would be almost completely provided by you, although a few stock images would usually be included. There wouldn’t be much in the way of long-term maintenance, probably little or no search engine optimization, and no content management system. There will be no marketing done by the designer, but they will usually install some sort of usage tracking.
Custom Designed Website: $2,500 – $7,000
The biggest difference between this price range and the basic price range is design. At this price level, you should expect a design that has been created just for you and your business; the more intricate the design, the higher the cost. Expect the designer to set up the domain name, hosting, and email for you, and expect them to allow you to have more pages, most likely up to the range of 20 or so. Again, the text content will mostly be provided by you, but the designer may be willing to provide some copy on the upper end of the price range; you should expect the designer to provide any stock images that they need for a complete design. There will still probably not be much long-term maintenance, but you should expect somewhere in the range of three to six months. There will be no content management system or marketing, but you should expect the website to be search engine optimized.
Content Management System: $3,000 – $9,000
Speaking honestly, this should really be the price range that most businesses should be in. You’re still going to get a non-template, custom designed layout, with most of the price difference again coming from the intricacy of the design. The rest of the price difference comes from if you want a custom-built CMS, which will drive the price up; most people will be more than satisfied with an out of the box CMS like WordPress. Your going to get everything from the custom designed website from above, but the maintenance term will usually be longer for routine updates, because a CMS makes updates simpler. Page restrictions are usually relaxed even more, due to the CMS making them easier to produce. Best of all, a well designed CMS will allow you to make routine changes yourself even after the maintenance agreement ends, should you choose to, or make the cost of long-term maintenance cheaper. Content management systems also allow you to ‘blog,’ or post news updates, and most any designer will integrate these to your social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, as well.
Custom Application Development: $15,000+
If you are looking for e-commerce, custom designed application builds, or intricate programming, expect to be in this price range. Simple e-commerce can usually be done for the starting point, but larger, enterprise type shopping sites can easily grow to a cost of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Expect at least a year, and possibly multiple years, of maintenance to be included. Also, expect the designer to take care of all hosting and domain requirements. While not always included, this will often come with some sort of marketing plan, as well.
So, there you go. That’s a rough outline of how much a website costs. As you can see, it can be a challenging question to answer. If you would like an estimate on a project, feel free to contact us and we can give you better estimate.
10T Web Design is happy to announce the relaunch of the James Carnes Center Website. The new website features a calendar of events, making it easy to find out if the Carnes Center is available for your event.
Why not head over there now and check it out?
10T Web Design is happy to announce the relaunch of the Belmont County Auditor’s website. While 10T Web Designs has been maintaining their website for a few months, we have now completed the transitions to new the new design. The layout is a reworking of its previous design, updated to more modern web design techniques.
For the Auditor’s website, the font was modernized and enlarged for easier viewing. The front page’s Flash slide show has been replaced with a pure CSS slide show, eliminating the user’s need to have Flash installed and the security risks that come with a Flash installation. The Auditor’s News is now presented in an RSS feed, allowing users to subscribe with a news reader or by signing up to receive the Auditor’s news by email.
The Auditor’s website can be found at belmontcountyauditor.org. Head on over and check them out!