Very often, we don't notice the changes that happen progressively throughout the course of our lives......because they're not instant, they're gradual. The same applies to our websites.
We've just replaced the WebSpain site, and despite it being less than two years old, it was starting to date considerably compared to others in our field. That prompted me to visit the Wayback Machine which periodically takes snapshots of sites over the years.......to see just how sad some of the earlier versions of WebSpain actually were compared to today.
What I found made for scary viewing......as an example, this monstrosity is from 2010!
I cringe looking at it. It's a bit like bringing out your old photos from the 70's when you had big hair and even bigger flares! It feels like I've put a photo of my dirty underpants online.
But the reality is that the type of presentation you see there was par for the course in 2010. That was all we had to work with back then because the technology that is available today didn't exist. Mobile websites? No such thing!
We normally replace our site every 18 months so there's been about 4 or 5 updates since then.......but comparing the 2010 presentation to today is a real eye opener! Things have changed a lot in 8 years.
I want to emphasise that it's not a case of we've got better at what we do.....it's a case of the technology and applications available to us to work with are now on a totally different level to back then. And like real life, it didn't happen overnight......it was a progression over those years, but at a much faster rate. The mobile era was the game changer, but even that technology at this present time is much more advanced than it was 5 years ago.
Now ask yourself this question if you are a client from recent years:
Would you have even contacted us to find out more information if our website still looked like that?
Highly unlikely......because we would have looked like amateurs or a defunct business. It's the kiss of death at point of discovery!
The fact is, if you can't immediately present yourself as a professional then you will not be taken seriously. Besides looking unprofessional, old sites will also be riddled with security issues and running on slow, outdated, and vulnerable PHP versions on servers.
PHP have announced that later this year, versions 5.6 and 7.0 on the server will be discontinued and unsupported. So if you're still running an older site then this could present problems.
The red dot denotes expiry of those versions......contact us if you want to know whether you're affected! This new WebSpain site runs on PHP 7.2, which as you can see is supported till the end of 2020.
So to summarise, running outdated and obsolete sites can not only adversely affect your business in terms of client pereception, it also puts you and your users at risk of hacking and phishing attacks. Stay current!
Make sure you present yourself as a live, thriving business.....not as somebody who's trapped in time! And definitely don't wait until you plummet to the depths of obsolescence and embarrassment of the WebSpain 2010 site. Because everyone will be laughing at your site in the same way as most of you are now laughing at my old one!
Peace of Mind......how much is that worth to you? Is it even possible to even put a price on it? Because when prospective clients initially contact us, they invariably want a quotation based on their requirements. That's quite understandable......we know they'll be contacting other designers with the same request in order to compare prices.
However, a price comparison is only valid when you're comparing "like for like". And in our case that's going to be difficult, because the depth of service and support that we provide on an ongoing basis far exceeds most other web designers. That, alone, is what makes us different, because we bring peace of mind!
Now I'm aware that there are many good web designers out there......but there are also a large number of "putter-uppers".
Basically a "putter-upper" can be defined as someone who puts a site up, takes the money.....and is gone! If you've got problems you're on your own! Not sure how to do something or need advice? Then be prepared to cross their palm with even more silver first.
A "putter-upper" sees the transaction as a one night stand, whereas a professional web designer is looking to build a longterm relationship. Who would you prefer to entrust the future of your business with?
To illustrate this point, I'm going to recount a real life example that we experienced recently when a potential client made the wrong choice! It's by no means a one-off scenario......it tends to happen on a regular basis as people prioritise "cheap" as the overriding factor in their purchasing decision. This course of action rarely ends well! We all want value for money......but some things you just don't cut corners on, because not all web designers are created equal!
The story goes like this: We were contacted in June by someone wanting a quotation for a business site. After speaking to them and analysing their requirements we gave them a price.....and never heard any more. Until last week!
Back they came, but with a request for us to repair a site because it had been hacked and destroyed within a month. Apparently their "web designer" didn't want to know and blamed the Hosting company. The Hosting company (who are bottom of the barrel as well) blamed the web designer. The Hosts did manage to restore the site from a backup taken a month ago (so they lost a month's data)......but they were then back to where they were prior to hacking. Just a matter of time before it's blitzed again!
We always make it clear that we don't work on other peoples' sites....only our own. After all.....if you're not a WebSpain client you can't expect to receive the premium level of support that our clients enjoy. As it was, the site was done in Wordpress, and we're solely Joomla developers.....so we couldn't have helped anyway. But I did give them details of a couple of developers who may be able to sort it out......but their services won't come cheap.
What a mess......and with a site that was only a month old! That trainwreck happened because they prioritised "cheap" over everything else. They did not compare "like for like" or even consider the necessity of ongoing support or assistance. Ultimately, the cheap price from the "putter-upper" is going to turn out to be a lot more costly in the long run, without even factoring in the stress, frustration, and helplessness when faced with a situation that they didn't understand.
Obviously, there's absolutely nothing wrong with looking for a competitive price when you're buying something. But don't confuse "cheap" with "value for money", because these are two different things. Compare prospective designers on a "like for like" basis!
As far as what we bring to the table, it's 40 years business experience, 30 years of which is in IT, with the last 20 years solely in Web Design and Hosting. Remember what I said.....you must compare "like for like".
So if you're looking for a total web package incorporating both design and hosting.....do your research. The professionals may be slightly more expensive, but as people find out, it can ultimately end up costing you a whole lot more when you deal with an amateur! Practise due diligence, look for a verifiable track record at a professional level, read Client Testimonials and take up references!
We've now entered the CloudLinux era, as our main UK server is now running on this commercial operating system. CloudLinux is purely designed for shared hosting environments, and delivers numerous benefits to you as a user, and to us as a web host.
1. Each account is contained within a “Lightweight Virtualized Environment” (LVE), that totally isolates each user. This means that tenants cannot jeopardize the stability of anybody else's site, or the server, because each one will be allocated a specific amount of memory, CPU etc that they can use.
2. CloudLinux OS also “cages” tenants from one another using a component called CageFS to minimise the risk of security breaches. This way, unstable scripts or malware are unable to spread across other sites causing defacement. This short video is a bit simplistic but it shows how individual users are caged to prevent them causing harm to anybody else's site.
3. LVE Manager will limit all CPU, IO, memory resources, numbers of processes, and concurrent connections per each user to maintain stability right across the platform.
4. CloudLinux comes with a PHP Selector which will allow users to define the version of PHP that they use. But unlike others, we will not be using this component to continue to run outdated and vulnerable versions of PHP.
If PHP have discontinued security updates for a particular version then it will be removed, because we won't abuse this feature by turning it into a "workaround" for potentially vulnerable software. That's just asking for trouble.
5. We have also implemented the additional security initiative known as Kernel Care! This automatically updates the linux Kernel of the operating system as soon as vulnerabilities are discovered. There's no waiting weeks for patches to be released while you remain at risk......it happens instantly!
The implementation of CloudLinux was something that we have been working towards for many months. Earlier this year we doubled the server memory to 32GB, and changed the PHP handler to FPM-FCGI, in order to take full advantage of CloudLinux and recent advances in server processes.
And when the time came to implement it, we didn't just get the datacentre support staff to handle the process, we took the unprecedented step of paying for the services of an external CloudLinux specialist to carry it out. Simply because we wanted to ensure that all aspects of this operating system were deployed in the most effective way possible.
It's a very specialised system, and a generic "one size fits all" installation is not what we wanted. We wanted it fine-tuned and optimised just for our sites!
As I've stated before, not all web hosting is the same. We know for a fact that we were already offering a far superior hosting platform to our competitors anyway.....the majority of which only operate on reseller accounts on other companies' shared servers. I'm not knocking that......we all have to start somewhere, and that's where we were 15 years ago.
But the reality is that you can't compare that environment to the type of infrastructure that we deliver via our own private dedicated servers. Now with the addition of CloudLinux, we've taken a big step forward once again!
We're determined to offer our clients the very best in all areas......and we'll make whatever investments that need to be made in order to achieve that, at no additional cost to yourselves!
Bottom line is that nobody else does what we do.....in the way that we do it. That is absolute fact, and for those of you who've been with us for many years......I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.
Facebook have announced that it has now completed indexing the 2 trillion posts that have been made to it's network!
In addition, it's made them searchable! So what does this mean to you as a business?
Well if you consider that billions of people spend 40 minutes of their time on FaceBook every day, and 20% of their time online is on this network......quite a lot. FaceBook's objective seems to be to position themselves as direct search rivals to Google. Their thinking seems to be if so many people are on their site, why make them navigate to Google and Bing for information? From now on, if they search for "Spain Property" on FaceBook they'll get a list of results related to this topic.....not just pages but also posts.
So if your FaceBook page has no recent activity and very few likes then that's not really going to inspire confidence in potential clients. The fact that your website looks great and has good Google positioning is irrelevant......because they may not even look at it.
I'm certainly getting more business related enquiries on FaceBook, so make sure you have mail notifications for these in place or you could miss potential client enquiries! Remember that social media activity happens in real time.....not Monday to Friday office hours! If you don't make contact promptly then somebody else will, and that's lost business.
This initiative by Facebook is without doubt a challenge to Google’s authority as the world’s most dominant search engine. So you can see how essential it is that you show up on these listings, because if people can find what they want on FaceBook, why would they go to Google or Bing?
It also gives potential clients the opportunity to see how you interact with enquiries posted publicly. Therefore, if your previous responses are unhelpful, or you don't even respond at all, then users are just going to go elsewhere. So in a sense, interested parties can now also evaluate you as well. It goes without saying that anything negative on there is now going to be searchable as well, so you need to ensure that nobody can post on your business page except you.
I know some of you will say that you don't like Social Media, but the fact remains that it's a very important marketing and promotional tool. And the bad news is that it's not going to go away. It's big now, and it's only going to get bigger with initiatives like this.....so don't get left behind!
Google's designated cut-off day of 21st April for the de-listing of non-mobile compatible sites (Mobilegeddon) has come and gone. At this time it's still too soon to see any visible changes because of the millions of sites out there that need to be re-assessed.
The feedback that we've received because of Google's new stipulations is understandably not positive. After all, why should anybody be forced into making this upgrade by a third party? And I totally agree in terms of principle.....however, there is another side to this that I'd like you to consider.
Google are a massive company, and they didn't achieve that position without making some smart business decisions. Like any company their underlying motive is profit, but over the years their vision and initiatives have made huge improvements to the online experience.....GMail being just one of them.
This change in policy regarding mobile sites is not something they've just dreamt up to flex their online muscle. It's driven by consumer demand for using mobile devices......and that means all of you who have smartphones, IPads etc.
Latest figures show that consumers are interacting with websites via their mobile device 64% of the time, and that mobile searches now account for 67% of Internet traffic.
So whether you know it or not, you have already missed out on business over the last year by not offering potential customers the optimal user experience on mobiles. In light of that, my view is not to look at it as losing business from 21st April.....but to approach it as an opportunity to gain business by reaching a wider target market.
Google have established that we want to use mobile devices, and in order to give us the best possible user experience they have made these changes. But what I would emphasise is that Google are not forcing people to make these changes......people have forced Google to take this step simply because they wanted to use mobile devices.
Over the last few months I've received e-mails from some businesses complaining about Google's de-listing of non-mobile sites. However, to add a surreal element to the situation, their messages were actually displaying "Sent from My IPad" etc in the signature field.
So the ones who were the least enthusiastic about the era of mobile internet usage......were the ones who had actually embraced this technology themselves! The reality is that I have no connection with Google whatsoever, and, even more surprising is the fact that I don't even own a smartphone!
And that pretty much illustrates the irony of Mobilegeddon......because Google are simply giving people what they wanted.
For mobile compatible websites in Spain, WebSpain have the solution!
Mobile compatibility is critical today, as up to 40% of your site visitors are likely to be using smartphones and tablets. In fact, it is estimated that by the end of 2014 there will be 1.75 billion smartphone users in the world. Google wants to deliver the best results to it's users when they do a search, so they have announced what is essentially a name and shame program for websites with aging technology. These would include websites that are not mobile responsive, and sites that use Flash in their content.
This system is implemented by giving warnings to users that the site they are intending to visit is not suitable for mobile devices. The average user when seeing this warning is just going to go elsewhere.....so Google are making things very difficult for businesses that are still running on old software. If your current site is not mobile responsive and/or uses Flash, you're at a big disadvantage.....because potentially you're going to be losing a lot of traffic. Which means that business opportunities are going to be lost, and your bottom line is going to be affected!
So what is mobile responsive? Basically, a mobile responsive website automatically changes to fit the device you’re using by adapting the view to the size of screen that you have. Typically, there are four general screen sizes that responsive design has been aimed at: the widescreen desktop monitor, the smaller desktop and laptop, the tablet, and the mobile phone. So whatever size screen you're using you get perfect results without having to zoom in and out or scroll from left to right. It makes things easy for the user, and if you make things easy for your potential clients while your competitors don't, then you're in a strong position to drive your business forward.
All of our websites since early 2013 have been built using mobile responsive technology, because we could see the way that things were going to go. Now that Google has implemented this warning system, it's not a situation you can ignore if your business is important to you.
However, there's no need to miss opportunities and lose potential business! Because you could have a modern, mobile compatible site for a lot less than you might think! And the peace of mind that comes from working with WebSpain is priceless!