Blog

One of the most difficult things about being self-employed is taking a vacation.  It requires much effort to strike a healthy work-life balance.  Many of my clients rely on my fast turn-around time for making changes to their websites, and are frequently adding time-sensitive special offers and the like.

Every year, I manage to take a few long weekends and sometimes an entire week... below are some of my practices for handling such an event:

I want to take a brief moment to write up some important points to consider when dealing with securing digital communications.

Many of these items have come to light after Edward Snowden (bravely) came forward and contradicted what Obama told Leno: “We don’t have a domestic spying program.”  As you are (hopefully) well aware, this is 100% false.

Further reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Snowden#Global_surveillance_disclosures

With all of this in mind, I am compiling a list of 4 things that anyone, not just industry-professionals, can do to protect themselves against such spying:

Nate Covington, owner of Covington Creations, LLC, will present:

Free Marketing & Technology Seminar
Greater Pocono Chamber of Commerce

Important:  This seminar is for Chamber Members only!  If you are not a member, join today!

Background:
In order to allow for safer electronic communication, I've finally set up my own PGP encryption for sending email. 

Don't ask for your privacy. Take it back.
"Mass surveillance is illegitimate. I'm taking steps to take my freedoms back and I expect governments and corporations to follow in my footsteps and take steps to stop all mass government surveillance."

Below is my PGP Key...

Website
First and foremost, your website needs to be up to snuff.  Is it search engine friendly?  Does it look presentable?  Is it up to date?  Does it work on iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices?  

All of the following services are going to link back to your website so put your best foot forward.  

“Now, people are calling and saying they found my site through an internet search.”
- Chris Pip, owner of CP Construction

We recently rebuilt this website for a local contractor and wanted to share the results.  

We are pleased to announce that we offer financing through PayPal's "Bill Me Later" service - details:

To get started please contact us and use the Payments page to make a payment using PayPal.  During checkout, use the "Bill me Later" option.

In the 7-10 days after Hurricane Sandy hit our area (Northeast PA), we were entirely without electricity and cable service.  As a web developer, this would have assumedly resulted in a general lack of productivity.  Luckily, we had just switched from AT&T to Verizon a few months prior, so tethering is included with our data plan.  And, just last summer, we had our generator hard-wired into the house.  So, unlike most of my clients and colleagues who were waiting for services to be restored, I was able to keep plugging away.  I certainly wouldn't want to work off of my cell phone's data plan on a regular basis, but in a pinch, it works great.  Now, if only Verizon would let me talk on the phone and tether at the same time (cough cough)...

I've written previously about the importance of maintaining control over your website and wanted to post this follow-up.  In addition to having your site's domain registration in your company's name and billing, you also want to have your hosting account in your company's name and billing.  The reason?  You are able to choose who works on your site without moving your site to a different server.  Have a falling out with your web guy?  Or he/she simply fell off the face of the earth?  No problem, you have control over the hosting account.  Change the password and find a new consultant to work with.  Give them your new password.

As much as I personally despise the growing popularity of social services like Facebook and Twitter, they are excellent mediums for a 'normal consumer' to be heard by large corporations.  In the past, a single consumer would only be able to make phone calls and write letters, short of funding their own advertising to publicly shame a company.  With today's popularity of Facebook and Twitter, and the equally growing pressure for corporations to engage with their customers, it offers a lot of incentive for companies to resolve issues with customers.  Here are some of my own personal tips for getting good customer service.

With a "responsive" mobile-friendly template, we are able to use a standard CMS-driven site, and by using additional style sheets (CSS), re-flow your site onto smaller screen sizes.

Benefits:

  • SEO Friendly: Google's officially recommended method for building mobile sites, won't harm rankings with duplicate URL issues 
  • Easy to maintain: mobile site is integrated into existing control panels, no separate mobile-specific site to build or update
  • Not device-dependent - adapts to mobile devices based on screen size, not device make & model (future proof)

For more information, or to get an estimate for building "responsive" technology into your existing site, contact us today!

This is a video walkthrough of a Joomla 2.5 site that I set up and did a bit of configuring / customization... for demonstration purposes.  I have been building sites with Joomla for over 4 years and am listed in the Joomla Resource Directory as a consultant. 

A few things I forgot to mention in the video, now that I've actually watched it myself:

  • Joomla 2.5 comes with some handy "Add new" buttons that have already saved me a good amount of time.  They will let you get into the "Add New" screen for various sections of the control panel: menus, articles, categories, users, etc.
  • When adding an "Image" in K2, you'll see that it resized and positioned my image automatically.  In addition, K2 creates five different sizes, so that you can easily use the various sizes throughout the site.  This is one of my favorite features of K2, it makes life simple for my clients!
  • Shameless plug: If you're interested in hiring us to build, rebuild, or redesign your website, contact us today.  We will respond within 1-2 business days.

Like I've discussed previously, just because the Joomla team releases a new version of the software, this does NOT mean that you are obligated to partake!  For me, I've still got dozens of clients still using the Joomla 1.0 platform, so it's worthwhile for me to keep these sites running.  And, part of my pitch for using Joomla CMS software is because it is OPEN SOURCE.  So, attached below are a few files that I've compiled:

If you're running a business, you probably use good ole' stamps and envelopes for a variety of purposes: checks, invoices, direct mail, letters, etc.  The last time I sent out a direct mail piece, it consisted of a personal letter, a small trifold brochure, and a business card.  I sent 1000 of them, which translated into two boxes of 500 envelopes from Staples.  The cost, just for envelopes?  About $70.

Article: If you're a sole-proprietor or small business and need to get your name out, and anything like me, you've spent a considerable amount of time building and pruning your personal and business contacts.  In marketing terms, this may be your most valuable asset: your customer base.  These people know you already, and are (probably) the most likely to refer others to your and your business.

Rather than writing an article that dissects each CMS platform, I've decided to discuss the similarities between Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress, and ExpressionEngine.  Combined, these 4 platforms power more than 20% of all websites, so let's not choose sides just yet.

This is an administrator module (installed via normal Joomla 1.5 extension installer) that has been rearranged and customized for sites primarily running K2 for content management. [Based on: Admin Menu K2 on JED]

If you look at the screenshots, you'll see that I've moved a number of things in the control panel - users, modules, components, global configuration... I've moved these things based on my own personal experience building over 100 Joomla sites and training each client personally to make changes on their own.

To install:

  1. Install via Joomla extension manager
  2. Navigate to Extensions -> Modules -> Administrator
  3. Edit the new K2 admin menu module, enable, assign to "menu" position
  4. Disable the standard Joomla admin module
  1. Claim your Google Listing (also, keep an eye out for feedback and reviews that others may have posted about you by creating a Google Alert!)
  2. Update your site's footer (e.g. © 2003 Your Company, LLC)
  3. Mobile Device Check: Check your site from an iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, etc...
  4. Check for broken links, broken search boxes, etc... test everything!
  5. Visitor Tracking: Check your Google Analytics reports - find out what's working and what's not. Also, schedule monthly report delivery via email if you haven't already!

Domain Registration -> Hosting & Email -> Framework, Content, Updates

As a business owner, the thought of not having control of your website is is most likely frightful.  I've experienced a handful of situations where a client hired a different web developer previously, hire me to re-engineer the site, then come to find out that their prior developer has more control of the site than they do...

Attached are a few files needed to create a "show-hide" action in Joomla's popular CCK extension, K2.