Technology

 

3 reasons to safeguard your website with SSL

3 min read


Internet usage is a part of doing business today. For most businesses, web presence is an integral way to share and interact with prospects and customers—whether they access your site from their computers, tablets, or phones. Sharing access is great, but how often do you think about the security of your interactions on the web? It’s important to know that hackers have ways to intercept your communications from your website.

Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly targeted. It can be dangerous to think you’re exempt from these kinds of attacks, especially knowing that 85% of data breaches (about 4,000 a day) hit small businesses (InsuranceBee). That same study showed that, on average, SMBs lose $120,000 per cyber-incident.

Yikes.

The good news is, developers, tech leaders, and the like, have been gradually building a safer web. They’ve developed tools that help encrypt data and keep communications secure. And people are adding encryption tools to their sites. In 2018, Google Chrome recorded that over 78% of its Chrome OS and Mac traffic was protected through secure encryption of data.

In 2017, the average volume of encrypted internet traffic surpassed the average volume of unencrypted traffic. Security expectations will continue to rise, and we can expect to see more sites become secure through SSL certification (Wired).

How it works

When you access a website, the backend exchange goes a little like this:

Browser: Hi, Server. Can I connect to you securely over SSL? I just need your certificate.
Server: Of course. Here you go.
Browser: Thanks! Hold on while I confirm this certificate’s validity.

*hold music*

Browser: Hey, Certificate Authority. Is this certificate valid?
Certificate Authority: Let me check. ...Yes, it looks good.
Browser: Thank you! Bye.

*back on the line*

Browser: Okay, your certificate is legit. I’m ready to load your page.
Server: Awesome, thanks! Here’s the webpage content.

The webpage loads in a matter of seconds.

SSL defined

The technical definition: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. It transmits sensitive info securely, ensuring that all data passed between server and browser remains private (SSL.com).

In plain English, SSL is your ticket for safe internet browsing.
This makes SSL especially crucial to websites accepting confidential details — credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal intel. But even if you’re not selling anything, SSL still pertains to you.

Why you should consider SSL

Without SSL, data is shared in plain text, which hackers can easily capture and manipulate. With SSL, data is encrypted, so even if it is intercepted, it can’t be deciphered (SSL.com).

Websites with any text input features, such as login panels and contact forms, are susceptible to information interception. If a site encounters a security breach, its users’ email addresses and passwords — for example — could be compromised.

Many businesses also utilize FTP to share files, which, without protection, could be accessed by the wrong hands.

The internet is boundless, and hackers get more creative by the day. More than 40% of companies have sensitive files that are unprotected. That stat becomes even more frightening after learning that hackers stole nearly 447 million consumer records containing sensitive personal information in 2018 (Cybersecurity Ventures).

You may not experience any ramifications without SSL enabled on your website, but your risk is certainly increased.

Is my site secure?

The quickest way to identify a secure site is to look for the lock icon, in the address bar or in the lower right corner of a website. Clicking that icon often gives you a very reassuring alert:

An unsecure site will give you a more disheartening warning:
Your connection to this site is not secure

3 reasons to use SSL

1. Visitor trust
Above, you saw it’s easy to identify secure and unsecure sites. With that information readily visible across different browsers, it calls attention to the safety of your site. SSL gives clients and prospects the assurance that their information is not at risk when using your website. Enabling SSL is a simple way to promote the trustworthiness of your brand.

2. Search ranking
While SSL certification isn’t going to automatically bring you to the top of search results, it is a factor that search engines take into account. Way back in 2014, Google posted about its updated algorithm to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. Your website’s ranking in search results isn’t going to see a tremendous change by adding SSL, but Google may favor a site over another based on SSL. And there’s no telling how and when it may become an even more significant factor over time.

3. Performance
SSL performance has improved significantly since 2015. Without getting too technical, this performance boost came from a major revision of the internet’s network protocol (HTTP/2 from HTTP). While site performance was once a point of concern with SSL, this major revision to HTTP/2 has made sites with SSL faster (CSS-Tricks).

Enable SSL

Many website builders and hosting providers offer SSL in their packages. Take a look at your web hosting plan to see if it comes with an SSL certificate. You can also do a quick Google Search to get an SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority.

Several clients have opted for SSL in their hosting packages with us. If you need help securing your site, let us know.

We specialize in website design, development, and hosting, and can help you no matter where your website currently falls on the spectrum. Whether you have an unsecure website, you’re looking for a new host, or you want to build a secure web presence, email us or give us a call.


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Posted on: November 8th, 2019 by Laura Uber

 

2 min read


October 29, 2019 — We are pleased to announce that The Creative Department has earned a new designation of Twixl Certified Trainer from Twixl Media. (On October 21, 2019, we announced our status as a Twixl Creative Partner.)

TCD designers have been working with Twixl since 2017, mastering the various features and functionalities of the app development platform. Our lead designer became officially certified only after passing an in-depth exam. This, tied with our years of experience, has earned us the title of Twixl Certified Trainer — one of 46 worldwide and only seven in the United States.

Twixl provides support and training resources, but it can be hard to find live support from trainers operating within a U.S. time zone. Centrally located in Kansas City, Missouri, we can set up on-site or remote training and customize plans based on a user’s needs.

While we offer an end-to-end app solution, we can help designers, agencies, publishers, in-house teams, and more, learn and use the Twixl platform. We can cover any or all parts of the app design, development, and delivery process — whether you’re starting from scratch or migrating from Adobe DPS or AEM.

Ready to get started? Use the form below, or call us, to let us know your specific training needs. If you’re looking for more, check out our app solutions, here.





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Posted on: October 29th, 2019 by Laura Uber

 

2 min read


October 21, 2019 — The Creative Department is proud to announce a new partnership with Twixl Media, a major app development solution provider.

Twixl launched in 2010 with the release of Apple’s first iPad. At TCD, we began using Twixl’s native app solution in 2017. Since then, we’ve continued to solidify our confidence in Twixl as an innovative, customizable digital content distributor.

Twixl’s solution is utilized in 44 countries. The Creative Department is now one of only 20 Creative Partners worldwide — one of eight in the United States and the sole Twixl Creative Partner in Kansas City. We are excited and honored to be part of this exclusive network as experts in designing and executing app solutions.

Corporations, associations, and publishers are using native apps to reach their increasingly mobile audiences, providing easier access to content. And many users of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) are finding that Twixl is an even better solution.

Looking for a native content app solution? Migrating from Adobe DPS? We can help. And we have the credentials to prove it.

Learn more about our app solutions, here. Use the form below to send us your questions, or give us a call today. Let’s talk about what you need and how we can make it happen.





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Posted on: October 21st, 2019 by Laura Uber

 

(Really, we’re just trying to make your life easier. And ours.)

3 min read

At The Creative Department, we often design and build long-format documents, in Adobe InDesign, for clients to use in house. This could be a proposal document, annual report, publication, general collateral — we’ve strategically designed and developed custom branded print pieces of all types for our clients.

When wrapping up one of these templated documents for a client, we ALWAYS run through a spell check. Misspelled words mean BIG trouble in the work we do. We take this stuff seriously.

A lifetime with spell check

When using standard spell check, we realized InDesign was constantly catching words that our clients frequently used and wanted to keep. Spell checking was taking so long, it was tempting to bail on the process altogether. We had to closely review every abbreviation, industry-specific term, last name, and even more modern terms that you THINK would be in a dictionary (we’re looking at you ... “Wi-Fi” and “email”). Overall, this process took 10–15 minutes — at least. As you can imagine, it would be utter torture to endure this process multiple times throughout the life of a project.

Efficiency is top of mind for us at The Creative Department. We value craftsmanship, detail-oriented work, and going the extra mile if it means a high-quality product for our clients. If our client is using this template as the basis for hundreds of documents, how much time could we save them by addressing this annoying spell check process?

Enter: custom user dictionaries

Could it be? A light at the end of the eternally long and drawn out spell check tunnel? YES! IT IS! Now introducing: custom user dictionaries for InDesign.

Alongside InDesign’s standard user dictionary, it’s possible to create a list of unique words for spell check to ignore. It’s also possible to save this list as a new dictionary that complements the user’s standard dictionary.

Do you know what this means?

About 80% of the words that spell check historically flagged were correctly used, per client standards, just not recognized in a standard dictionary. If our spell check process took 10 minutes for one run, our use of a custom dictionary could save 80% OF THE OVERALL TIME it takes to spell check. Multiply that by 100 documents built off an original template, and that is an extra Friday you could spend on a beach somewhere instead of spell checking.

A custom dictionary could save 80% of the overall time it takes to spell check.

About custom user dictionaries

Individually, user dictionaries can be created and maintained by one user. While the “dictionary keeper” edits and updates the custom dictionary, everyone (using a shared server) can access the dictionary as a read-only file. The file can be loaded into each user’s InDesign program, and once the new dictionary is linked, it will update (contingent on relaunching the program or “refreshing” all text, using Command+Option+/ keyboard shortcut).

Already have a word bank of company lingo? We can quickly generate a new dictionary with that list. Starting from scratch? That works too. Bonus: Once the new dictionary is established, it’s easy to export. That means you can import it into other applications, like Microsoft Word.

The real win

What it really comes down to, is that one small consideration for our clients led to a high-quality, more efficient work product. A spell check process on a long-format document might seem like a tiny, insignificant detail. But little efficiencies can add up in big ways. And it’s our pleasure to work with our clients in the biggest and littlest of ways to produce effective work that makes us all proud.

Curious how we can work efficiently for you? Give us a call or email us today. We can talk about incorporating strategies, like custom user dictionaries, into your unique company documents.


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Posted on: December 13th, 2018 by Laura Uber

 

Google search bar magnify

Have you been paying attention to your website analytics? Some clients come to us for consulting when they’re unsure about website traffic. We typically start with a look at their analytics, which typically reveal a drop in traffic.

To seek at least one quick answer about your website’s lower-than-desired traffic, test one of the page URLs through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If it doesn’t pass, it may not appear in mobile search results on Google. So, how is your audience finding you?

It’s been more than three years since Google announced a mobile-friendly update to improve user experience. With Google’s “mobile-first indexing,” it predominantly references mobile versions of websites to rank them in search results. This replaced a system that primarily indexed desktop versions of page content.*

In this case, you should consider Google one of your primary audiences — if not your most important — because it is your link to customers and prospects.

To keep you climbing for the top, Google provides a basic Q&A to outline steps for ensuring websites can be found by its “crawlers.” Some of these tactics include utilizing Google My Business and improving your visibility on search engines (with SEO).

Google wants to be the most trusted and useful search engine, so it looks to generate top quality results. Even with a mobile-friendly site, you can still enhance your content by ensuring it is:

1. High quality. Content relates to user queries and is spam-free.
2. Quick to load. A site’s speed affects its ranking in Google Search.

Read more tips for mobile design in our post, 3 ways your mobile-unfriendly site may be stunting your growth.

Truly, the task list adds up when you look at all it takes to optimize your site and make it easier for prospects to find you. At The Creative Department, developing responsive websites is one of our strengths; and we like doing it! Get in touch with us — we’d love to help you improve your site and increase traffic. Tap into our knowledge and expertise, and let’s accomplish your business goals.

*Note: Google evaluates each web page rather than an entire site.

Posted on: August 1st, 2018 by Laura Uber

The Creative Department is a proud sustaining member of AIGA.

We follow AIGA's Standards of Professional Practice and adhere to its principles of integrity that demonstrate respect for the profession, for colleagues, clients, audiences or consumers, and society as a whole. We utilize AIGA's Basic Terms & Conditions and Intellectual Property Provisions to maintain the professional practices of the design industry.