Category Archives: Ongoing Support

Email Signatures: Best Practices and Tips

email-marketing-smaller

It’s just the little bit of text at the bottom of your messages, but your email signature can make a big impact. However, creating an email signature that will look great in all the various email clients is rough. Some clients will resize images, some won’t. Some will force hard line breaks, some won’t. So how do you create an email signature that will look stellar to everyone who sees it?

Text is safest.
If you can avoid using images, do. Are they pretty? Yes. Do they work in all email clients? No. Your best chance for creating a universal formatting for your signature is to use text only. However, if that’s not an option…

Edit all images to be the exact size you want.
Keep them small to prevent old email clients from blowing your logo or other images way out of proportion. Another good tip for images is…

Use absolute URLs for images.
For universal support, be sure to always use the http://, and don’t use shortened urls. This could set off the spam filters!

Don’t go overboard.
Chances are if you’re already communicating with this person, they already have information for reaching you, so why bulk up your email signature with three phone numbers, five social media links, an inspiring quote, and your entire CV? Keep your signature to a minimum. A single phone number, one email address, and one to two social media contacts should be more than enough.

Consider all caps, bolding, an italics to help set separate your information
If you want your name to really stand out, bold it and make it uppercase. This will help create visual variety in your signature while staying compatible.

Use spacers to separate content while using fewer lines.
An upright pipe (|) or a bullet (•) work nicely. You can set the spacers to be a lighter grey color so they’re not as prominent, but still effectively separate your content.

Use inline styling.
It’s definitely counter-intuitive to web designers, but if you’re going to use CSS in your email signature, make sure it is ALL inline to ensure compatibility.

Don’t set any text to white.
It will set off the spam filters!

Use a nosend=”1″ attribute for images
This will keep your images from showing up as attachments in an email. Just add it to the image tag like so: <img src=”http://lunaweb.com/logo” nosend=”1″ alt=”lunaweb logo” border=”0″ width=”21″ height=”17″ />. This will only work if you are composing your emails in HTML, though.

Hopefully this will help you create awesome email signatures! Just remember simple is good when it comes to email, so don’t over-think it.

Resources for Moving from Blogger to WordPress without Losing Your SEO Ranking

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Recently, we posted an in-depth article detailing exactly how to move your content from Blogger to WordPress. It’s a bit time consuming, but ultimately worth it to have more control over your content. Using the instructions in that post, you can move all your posts and images to your new WordPress account, but you are losing one important thing in the migration: your SEO ranking.

So, we wanted to make a quick addendum to that post to give you some resources for fixing this problem.

You see, while your blog was live on Blogger, search engines were scanning for new pages, indexing your content, and associating your site with certain keywords. If your URL has changed in your migration (it was probably something like yoursite.blogpost.com), search engines don’t know where that content is anymore, and you will lose your SEO footing.

Another downside to the migration is that any websites that link to your content, or visitors that have your links bookmarked, won’t be directed to your new site when they follow those links.

Never fear, though! There are solutions for these problems! So let’s get going, but first it’s always a good idea to back up both your Blogger and WordPress sites first, just in case.

Whether you had a custom domain on blogger or used the standard blogspot.com domain, you’re going to be setting up a 301 redirect, which is basically a bit of code in the header of a site that tells the browser and search engines that the content of this page has been permanently moved. Set up properly, 301 redirects can be put in place site wide, so any instance of youroldurl.blogpost.com/anything-here will go to yournewurl.com/anything-here.

There are plugins that will do a lot of the work for you, the key is just to find one that you’re comfortable with. Both of these are very straightforward and contain great instructions on the back end to help you set up everything just how you will want it.

However, if you’re comfortable accessing your website via FTP, we’d more readily recommend this method from WPBeginner. It does dive into the code a bit, but if you’re careful in your copy-pasting you shouldn’t have any problems. Again, backing everything up before you begin is always a good idea.

Unless you really know what you’re doing, avoid any method for 301 redirects that involve your .htaccess file. Messing that up can really down your site! GOOD LUCK!

What You Need to Know About the WordPress Brute-Force Attacks

wordpress-crosshairsYou may or may not have heard: WordPress sites are under attack by a botnet. The news is being widely covered on tech sites, but many of them are failing to explain what the heck a botnet is in the first place.

According to Google’s definition, a botnet is “A network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners’ knowledge, e.g. to send spam messages.” Computers that are (unbeknownst to the owner) under the power of the botnet are sometimes called “zombies.”

In this particular botnet case, like the zombies from current pop-culture, the zombies are out to make more zombies. The larger the botnet grows by acquiring more computers to control, the more powerful it is.

Perhaps presciently, this blog published an article just a couple of weeks ago, How to Secure Your WordPress Blog. We proposed in that article that the goal of a hacker might be to infiltrate your WordPress site to gain access to your hosting information to, in turn, gain access to your credit card information.

The botnet in this case seems to be after something even more sinister. By hacking sites using the username “admin” and easily guessable passwords, the botnet is (as we predicted in the previous post) trying to gain access to your hosting server, but it’s not after your credit card. It’s after the server. If you’re using a big hosting server like GoDaddy or HostGator, that server hosts hundreds of thousands of sites and is much more powerful than any home computer.

The botnet is operating from about 90,000 IP addresses, and has infiltrated an estimated 100,000 sites. If successful in overtaking a server, the botnet could launch a huge DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on the Internet, effectively shutting down large sections of the whole Internet. In other words, it’s really bad.

What you can do:

1. Delete the “admin” user from your WordPress account. All of the sites hacked so far used the default username “admin” – it makes it much easier to guess the login information. Create a new user with the role of administrator, then login using that username. You can then delete the admin user and reassign any posts they’ve written to the new username.

2. Install a login limits plugin. The fewer chances the botnet has to guess your password, the less likely they are to crack it. We suggested Better WP Security in our previous post, but Limit Login Attempts will also work.

3. If you’re on a WP.com site, enable two-step authentication. There’s also a two-step verification plugin for WP.org sites here.

4. Make a secure password. Capital letters and symbols help, but the real key is length. Even if your password is “thisismypassworddontguessit,” that’s much harder to crack than “fluffy25.”

Here’s a list of the most common passwords – one’s that are certainly on the botnets list of first guesses:

password
123456
12345678
abc123
qwerty
monkey
letmein
dragon
111111
baseball
iloveyou
trustno1
1234567
sunshine
master
123123
welcome
shadow
ashley
football
jesus
michael
ninja
mustang
password1

 
Unfortunately, information on how to tell if your WordPress site has already become a zombie is not yet available. Check back for more news as it becomes available, and in the meantime, secure your site!

What You Need to Know About Transferring Your Domain

networkMaybe you’re not happy with your current provider or you found a better rate elsewhere – either way, you’re in for a bit of a hassle. It doesn’t have to be so bad, though, if you know a few things going in…

First, what does it even mean to transfer your domain? Let’s go back to when you first registered your domain. You went to a registrar (like Register.com or GoDaddy) and typed in the address you wanted to buy. Once you purchased it, you had to point it somewhere – maybe to your Tumblr or to your hosting account. Regardless of where it points, the registrar is holding your DNS records (Domain Name Server records), which connect the address you bought to the site that you want to show up when someone navigates there. (Learn more about DNS here).

It’s the holding and disseminating of these records that you’re really paying for, and that’s what must be transferred. So on to the steps to make this nice and easy for you.

First of all, it’s going to take some time, so don’t expect this to be the work of 20 minutes. Actually your part might only take 20 minutes, but the registrars have to connect with each other to transfer the domain, and then update servers all over the world. This can take days, up to a week or more, in fact.

The good news is that, if your site is already live, disruptions to your website will be minimal, if there are any at all. If your site is not live, well, probably just plan to wait until the transfer is done because you probably shouldn’t be messing with the DNS records while they’re being moved.

To transfer your domain, the domain must have been registered for at least 60 days and must also not be expired, so be sure to begin this process well before you need to renew!

Ok, step one. Before you even visit the new registrar, login to your current registrar and check three things. First and most importantly, make sure that the email address listed on the account is yours and you can access it. Then, if your domain is locked (which means it cannot be moved), unlock it. Last, if you have domain privacy enabled (which means that no one can see your WHOIS information), you’ll need to disable that too. (Learn more about WHOIS information here).

There, your domain is prepped for successful transfer!

Next, go to the new registrar, and (because they want your business) they will probably have the button for “Domain Transfer” clearly marked on their website. Your new registrar will walk you through the steps of initiating the transfer.

Several of these steps will involve the registrar contacting the administrator currently listed in your WHOIS information which is why we had to make that info public and make sure the email address is yours!

Once you’ve completed the steps laid out by the new registrar, it’s a waiting game. Waiting and waiting and waiting… but if you followed our prep list, it should be smooth sailing to your new registrar!

Free Coding Resources for Beginners

So you want to learn to code with the big boys, eh? Well you’ll be relieved to know that the big boys are sometimes girls, and big is a relative term. In fact, if you get into coding, it won’t make any difference what size or gender you are, just how well you know your stuff.

And it’s a wide open field. Businesses and individuals of all types are looking for people who know coding languages, and whether you’re looking for a full-time gig or just a side job, paying work is a lot easier to come by with some of these essential skills.

But where to start? And with what languages?!

Well that depends on what interests you. If web design and development intrigue you, start with HTML, then CSS. If software is more up your alley, go with Javascript. There, wasn’t that easy?

More good news: the web is absolutely teeming with free (yes, FREE) resources for teaching you code. No night classes, no expensive gimmicks, just a few websites that want to share the coding love with the world. Here are some of the best:

Code Academy
This is a fantastic place to start because not only do these guys know their stuff, but they’ve made a fun, interactive learning program so getting to know your new coding language will actually be fun. They even have Foursquare-like badges you can earn as you move through the courses! Right now they offer courses in HTML/CSS, Javascript, Ruby, Python, and PHP, and all the courses are tied to forums so you can ask questions and communicate with your fellow coding students.

W3Schools
After you finish up at Code Academy, W3Schools is a go-to reference for anything you forget. They also offer tutorials that are a little easier to navigate through quickly, in case you need to learn a specific skill. They also cover WAY more languages than Code Academy, so if you’re looking for a lesson in anything more advanced, be sure to check them out!

World Wide Web Consortium
While this isn’t a coding website, it’s important for anyone who will be publishing on the web to be familiar with the standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium. Their recommendations aren’t law, but their guidance helps streamline websites, browsers, and web apps to be universally accessible and usable. Read more about web standards in our previous post, What’s So Important About Web Standards?

More coding resources to keep you learning:

Good luck!

HTTP: What’s that thing in front of your URL?

httpWe all use it, probably many times a day. We can recite it by heart, but few of us really know what that “http://” is even for.

The first thing to know is what it stands for: Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Hypertext? We’ve seen that term before in our previous post  - it’s also the H in HTML. Hypertext refers to text that contains hyperlinks (more often called just links these days), which make the Internet so easily navigable.

Way back when, before hyperlinks, when you signed onto the Internet (via an old school dialup, of course), you would basically just be connected to the filing system on another computer. You’d then have to dig through their folders to find the particular document you wanted. Hyperlinks take the folders out of the equation so you can jump from one document to another easily.

So HTTP refers to a system (or “protocol”) by which this hypertext can be transferred! Ok, so what does that mean?

Every time you click on a link or type a URL in your browser, your browser sends a request through this Hypertext Transfer Protocol to the computer that hosts the page you’re trying to pull up. In this case, your browser is the “client” while the host computer is the “server.”

The server computer has a long identifying number that might look like this: 50.116.53.176. That’s called an Internet Protocol address, or just IP address. As we talked about in our previous blogpost, Domain Name Servers (DNS) equate that long number to a URL. This is important since the words that make up a URL are much easier for humans to remember than that long sequence of numbers.

Your computer, the client, sends a request to the DNS, which redirects to the IP address, which accepts the request, establishes the link, and ultimately delivers the file you’re after. While the link is being established, the protocol also confirms a few other things about the page being delivered, for instance the language of the page and when it was last modified. All this happens very quickly if you’ve got a fast connection, and it’s all part of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

Now if you’re wondering why sometimes your browser shows “https”, well that’s because you’re using a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which adds another layer while the link is established – authorization. Within all the information being sent back and forth, the webpage must deliver a password to the browser, so the computer knows to trust the website. The information being delivered is also usually encrypted for an added layer of security.

Yes, HTTP does get WAY more complicated than that, but that’s another blogpost!

(Photo Credit: Stock.xchng)

Design Terminology for Website Owners

www-questionsA few weeks ago, we posted some need-to-know keyterms for starting your own website. Today, we’d like to offer a few more advanced terms to keep you moving forward on your road to total web savviness. Whether you’ve hired a web designer or you’re building your site alone, you’re sure to come across some of the terminology below.

HTML & CSS
These are the two foundational languages of the web, and we’ve written a much more in-depth article on HTML and CSS here. The short version is that designers code the site content and structure in HTML (HyperTest Markup Language), and then code colors, fonts, sizes, and layout in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

Javascript
This dynamic and versatile programming language is widely used in websites, apps, widgets and more. Applications include animation effects like fading objects in and out, interactive elements like games or audio/video, sending data to tracking programs like Google Analytics, and loading new page content without refreshing the page.

jQuery
A pre-written library of Javascript functions, jQuery makes adding dynamic elements to a website much easier for designers because they don’t have to write the Javascript from scratch. Sliders, drag-and-drop functionality, accordion-style layouts, and much much more are all available and easily customizable thanks to the jQuery library.

Flash
Built by Adobe, Flash is a interactive multimedia platform that is used to add animation, video, and games to a website. While Flash can be used to add a lot of flare to a desktop site, it is not supported on all mobile devices. If mobile compatibility is important for your site, consider using a more flexible media instead.

Navigation
Otherwise known as the “menu,” this term just refers to the row or column of links that take readers to the pages of the site. Navigation may include sub-pages in what’s known as drop-down navigation, in which the sub-pages appear when a user hovers their cursor over the parent navigation link.

Cache
Pronounced like “cash” (not “catch” or “cashé”), this refers to a collection of stored data in your browser. When a user visits a website, their browser will often store images, stylesheets, and sometimes even the entire page so that when they revisit, the browser can render the page much faster. This speeds up the whole web experience. Usually caching information is not kept for very long, so in general, you don’t have to worry about looking at out-of-date information, but if you’re worried you can always do a hard refresh.

Hard Refresh
If you’ve just made site updates and you can’t see them yet, you might need to do a hard refresh. Basically this forces your browser to reload the page without accessing the cache, ensuring that everything on the page is the very latest version. On a PC, a hard refresh is done by holding Control and pressing F5. On a Mac, you can hold shift and click “Refresh” or by pressing Command + Shift + R.

Responsive Design
This is a more and more common buzz-word amongst designers, and it’s all about building websites that will be flexible (literally) when it comes to screen size. In order to fit desktops, tablets, and smartphones (and all the myriad sizes those come in), designers are creating sites that use percentages instead of hard pixels so that websites can easily adapt to whatever display the reader is using. Where possible, it’s great to try to use responsive design for websites since so many readers are browsing the Internet with mobile devices.

Designers might also enjoy the Guide to Image Formats for Web that we posted earlier this week, too, and also our Web Design Guide on Choosing Fonts!

Need-to-Know Keyterms for Starting Your Own Website

If you’re looking to get your own website off the ground and doing all the heavy lifting yourself, there are a few unfamiliar terms you may come up against. The good news is that they’re not nearly as scary as they sound!

Here’s a quick guide to translate these “webby” words into layman’s terms:

Domain: This is the “address” of your website, such as google.com or lunaweb.com. When starting your website, selecting and registering your domain is probably your first step. Domain registration is kind of like renting – you select the domain and pay a yearly fee to hold that online property for your use.

Top Level Domain (TLD): This is the .com, .net, .edu, etc. at the end of your domain. Which ever suffix you have, it denotes the highest level server that owns your domain. These servers are technically who you are “renting” your domain from.

Registrar: These are the lease brokers of the Internet world. Registrars must be accredited by one or many top level domains to facilitate the registry of domains. Competition between registrars ensures ease for the registrant, as well as competitive prices. Popular registrars include GoDaddy, DreamHost, Enom, NameCheap, and iPage.

WHOIS: Second-level domains (like lunaweb.com) are registered to a name, address, email, and phone number. This information is public and searchable in the WHOIS database. If there is no WHOIS information for a given domain, it is (usually) available for purchase. Many registrars offer a service to hide most of your WHOIS information for a fee.

Domain name transfer: Sometimes you’re not thrilled with your registrar, or maybe they don’t offer a service you’re looking for. Changing registrars involves a domain name transfer. Most registrars make this a straightforward process, but there are a few important things to remember when transferring your domain:

  • Make sure your WHOIS information is up-to-date before attempting a transfer.
  • Transfers are not instant since the two registrars need to exchange information between themselves and the top level domain. A successful transfer usually takes about 3-7 days, but may take as many as 14.
  • Do not wait until just before your domain registration has expired to transfer! If your domain expires before your transfer is complete, you may lose your domain.
  • Once you’ve transferred your domain, you cannot transfer it again for 60 days.

Web Hosting: Owning your domain is only one part of having a website – you also need somewhere to point it. You can always point your domain to a Tumblr, Blogger, or WordPress.com site, which means your content is hosted on the site provider’s server. If, however, you want more flexibility, as well as to own all your own content, you’ll want to purchase your own server space and set up your website there. Some registrars offer hosting or you may go with a local company to host (like our favorite, LunaWeb for hosting). Hosting prices very greatly depending on support, site size, security, database, and features.

Domain Name Server (DNS): We went over this in a recent blogpost on DNS and IP addresses! The short version is that domain name servers provide the link between your domain and the IP address you want it to point to. If you’ve bought your own hosting, you’ll want your domain to point to your hosting-provider’s IP address.

Content Management System (CMS): If you’ve ever had a blog, you’ve used one of these before! A CMS is software you can install on your server space that makes the overall management of your website more user-friendly. It creates an admin dashboard that makes it easy to make new pages or add images. Even if you’re a code expert, a CMS can make your life much easier. Popular CMS platforms include Drupal, Joomla, and our very favorite, WordPress. Read about why we love WordPress here!

We hope this will help you decode some of the web jargon you’re likely to face, and remember, we’re here at LunaWeb.com to help you!

(Photo Credit: Stock.xchng)

What’s So Important About Web Standards?

It’s been a while since we’ve posted here on the LunaWeb blog, but we wanted to assure you that we are, in fact, still here. We’d like to refresh our blogging efforts with some information that is at the heart of what we do here at LunaWeb, which is creating and sharing websites.

What goes into the creation of a website? Well, it’s a lot of code, a lot of creativity, and a lot of connection. There are some basic guidelines that help these aspects work in harmony for a faster, smoother web experience, and these guidelines are called web standards.

Web standards are all about ensuring three qualities in web-based content: interoperability, accessibility, and usability.

Interoperability means that data can be transferred, for example from one computer to another or one browser to another. The idea is that various technologies – whether they be Apple or PC, mobile or desktop, Firefox or Safari – they can all read and render the information to create a similar experience for the user.

Accessibility refers to how your site can be experienced by a wide range of users, including the elderly and those with disabilities.

Usability is the ease of learning and using a site. The goal is to reduce ambiguity (what will happen when I click on this button?) and lead users to information clearly and concisely.

Web standards make the Internet a better place for you and me, but who determines these rules? Why, that would be the good old World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)! This group headed by Tim Berners-Lee at MIT has been setting recommendations for Internet development since 1994.

While the group’s recommendations are by no means law or even mandatory, a guiding light in such a rapidly expanding industry is crucial to continuing development. It’s the reason technology has been able to move from binary ones and zeros all the way to a widely usable Internet with hundreds of millions of websites with browsable information. Far from needing years of coding experience like the pioneers of the Internet, one only needs a connection, a device, and click-happy finger to access and even contribute to the virtual landscape of blogs, Wikipedia, Facebook, and of course, LOL cats.

When we are creating a website here at LunaWeb, the W3C’s standards are at the top of our mind, because we think that makes a better Internet for all of us.

pii2011 (privacy identity innovation): Round Two!

pii PanelLast year, when “privacy” was the word on everyone’s lips (mainly thanks to Facebook), the Bay Area’s Natalie Fonseca and  Marc Licciardi decided to bring all the concerns to one table. They organized the first Privacy Identity Innovation conference (pii2010), which drew together thought leaders and stakeholders in the privacy multi-sphere to explore some of the hardest questions of the Information Age.

Now, in 2011, though some of the hype and hysteria about privacy has slightly cooled, the core issues surrounding the protection of our information are still crucial and fluid. That’s why we’re so psyched to see what will come from pii2011. (Admittedly, we’re also excited because some of LunaWeb’s photos from pii2010 are used for this year’s site!)

Registration is now open for the event on May 19 and 20 in Silicon Valley, and will feature speakers from Google, CBS News, Stanford Law, Microsoft, Wired – the gambit, basically. Check out the full list of speakers here.

A pre-conference reception and dinner salon will be held May 18 that pii2011 is co-hosting with the team from Techdirt at www.techdirt.com. A separate ticket is required, but well worth it!.

If you stick around another day, there’s a PrivacyCamp on the 21st, and the cost is included in your ticket to the conference! You may just see us there – LunaWeb has been invited to cover the event again this year! Visit pii2011.com for full details.

pii2011