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  • A Basic Guide to Domains for Business

    A Basic Guide to Domains for Business

    As professional developers and website specialists we often forget that terms like hosting and domain registration don’t mean a great deal to a lot of people. So, here is a quick beginners guide to domains.

    What exactly are domains?

    Your domain is also known as your url (Unique Resource Locator) and is the address used to find your website and email. So, for example, our domain at Crush Design is crush-design.co.uk.

    In order to secure a domain it needs to be registered with a central body, this is Nominet https://www.nominet.uk/ in the UK. These are also the people to resolve disputes over domain ownership.

    However, Nominet do not deal with you the customer directly. They are a non-for-profit governing body, so you need a middleman to handle the transaction. This is where the registrars, companies such as 123Reg, 1&1, and GoDaddy get involved. They act as the middle / money man providing the service to allow you to register the domain you want, and then manage it.

    Typically, the cost of registering a .co.uk domain should be no more than £8 per year (and .com no more than £15 per year), and no company can register a domain better than another so this is really a fixed price .

    It is true that companies can pay a lot more for a domain, mainly when a word is popular, but this is NOT the registration cost you are paying, this is the cost to buy the name from another third party.

    Fun fact: insurance.com sold for $35.6 million (yet it still only cost about £15 to register – not a bad profit!)

    Where we have found that clients get confused often stems from the fact that these domain registration companies try and sell you more, packaging up services such as website hosting.  It is worth noting that there are no advantages to buying hosting from the same company that sells you your domain.

    .co.uk or .com?

    Choosing which domain is simply down to common sense.

    If you are solely a UK based company then .co.uk is the obvious choice because it is the most familiar to your customers. Though you may want to buy the .com if it is available to make sure there is no confusion should another company buy that domain and start a website.

    The .org or .org.uk domains are for non-for-profit organisations and charities.

    Then there are country specific domains eg. .de (Germany), .fr (France) and .com.au (Australia)

    And finally, a wide range of new domains have been released which are great but less familiar so people may not guess / remember your domain (eg. .bar, .global, .business, .salon, etc)

    How domains link to hosting and email

    There is some confusion here, usually around ‘what do I need to pay for?’ which I will try to clear up.

    • You need to buy a domain at around £8 per year, as mentioned previously.
    • If you want a website that loads from your domain you will need the website hosting, and this can range from £80 per year to £1,000s (see following article on ‘how to buy hosting’). Often the registrars (eg. 123reg and 1&1) will try and sell a package, but they are separate things.
    • If you want an email with that domain you will need to set up a separate email service first.

    Linking domains to websites

    Each domain holds / stores a bunch of instructions which tells the traffic what to do, and these are called the domains DNS details.

    In simple terms, someone just needs to add the instructions on how to direct traffic to find your website. This is done by knowing and adding the IP address to the A-records.

    I fear I may have lost you here….!

    Crush Design’s domain management service

    Crush Designs offers a domain management service:

    • We buy the domain on your behalf, in your name.
    • We then charge an additional ten pounds per year per domain to update the domain when required and automatically renew domain when required (so you don’t lose it).
    • We will remember your login details and password!

    We can help with domain retrieval if access to the domain has been lost or is in dispute, though this needs pricing separately.

    We also provide quality website hosting solutions which will be covered in a next blog. Watch this space!

  • How to use LinkedIn for B2B Marketing

    How to use LinkedIn for B2B Marketing

    In April LinkedIn reached 500 million members worldwide, of which 23 million are from the UK alone. In addition to this, London is the “most connected city” in the world, with users having on average 307 connections.

    This makes LinkedIn the most effective place for companies to engage with decision makers and business leaders in the UK and Worldwide.

    Despite it being the most popular B2B social media, many businesses are not using LinkedIn to its full potential.

    For B2B companies, LinkedIn is ideal for promoting brand awareness, but most importantly for generating new leads. This last point is often forgotten.

    LinkedIn should be a platform to engage with potential clients and build connections.

    To make the most of this social media tool here are some of our top Crush tips:

    Stand out

    Much like your website, your LinkedIn page needs to be attractive and coherent with your branding.

    The banner image and the company description need to be on point, as they are the first things your prospects will see. Your first few lines need to be intriguing to capture your audience’s attention.

    Be interesting to your audience

    The more valuable information you share through your page, the more attention you will get and the more leads you will generate. Like your website, your LinkedIn needs to be updated regularly.

    However, never publish for the sake of publishing! Posting dull content will just bore your followers, affecting your company’s reputation.

    As long as your content is interesting, it doesn’t necessarily need to be new. It can simply be sharing your blog posts, case studies from your website and relevant business news.

    Join groups

    A good idea is to proactively look for active groups related to your business and industry, and join them.
    This is the ideal way to “meet” potential clients, create relationships and network online.
    If you already have a LinkedIn presence, you can even create a group yourself!

    More and more we have been helping our clients promote themselves on LinkedIn. For more advice give us a call for a chat.

  • What is SSL and why has Google included it in their algorithms?

    What is SSL and why has Google included it in their algorithms?

    What is SSL (Secure Socket Layer)?

    SSL is a security protocol that provides communications protection over a computer network.
    The original SSL has now been superseded by TLS (Transport Layer Security)- but SSL has remained synonymous with encryption for websites, much like hoover is synonymous to the vacuum cleaner.

    What does it do?

    It provides encryption, meaning no one can read what is being sent between you and the website you are looking at.

    Why is SSL that important?

    Well… glad you asked! SSL has always been a good idea for online security, but it has recently been give much more visibility as Google has deemed it important, with the announcement that sites with SSL will start to perform better on search terms than those without.

    So why has Google made this decision?

    Firstly Security

    The internet has become a more “dangerous” place over the last 10 years. More than ever we must do all we can to protect our online information.

    Take passwords as an example of what needs to be carefully protected. When you enter a password on a site without SSL, it is transmitted in plain readable text through other networks before eventually arriving at the website you are after.

    This means that when you click “login” on this non-SSL-secure website with your username and password a ‘hacker’ can intercept the transmission and then easily read / capture your username and password.

    And because we are human we tend to use the same same password over and over again so the next step for that hacker is to try the same username and password on Facebook, Twitter account, Gmail account etc…

    In short they have a good chance of taking over your online identity.

    And these ‘hackers’ aren’t humans sat at a keyboard, they are sophisticated computer programs that test millions of websites for weaknesses, then capturing thousand of potential password combinations which they auto check against all major websites. The human only gets involved once your username and password combination has been cracked.

    All this is easily preventable as a website with SSL security will automatically encrypt any data exchange so that if someone does ‘tap-in’ they will be unable to decipher the information

    Secondly Privacy

    Privacy is a hot topic when it comes to internet data.

    Many will say “if you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to hide” and not worry about it.

    If you are of this mind then feel free to email me how much you earn, your bank account details, and give me access to your location at any given moment of the day. I suspect you’ll say this information is private, to which I shall respond PRECISELY! And to tell you that you are probably already giving that information away freely.

    There is always a need for privacy, but it’s more than just information you need to consider, your online behaviour is potentially just as big a threat.

    Websites will always try to collect data about you, and as previously mentioned, without SSL this information is handled in plain readable text. Over time that data can say a lot about you, your browsing history and all the content you have reviewed page by page. Clues on any money problems, health issues, your relationship status, where you live, your age, when you are planning on going on holiday, etc.

    Less scrupulous individuals can then based a very convincing sales pitch, spam or scam based on profiling you on your potential fears, financial issues, social circles, family, holidays, even your general health.

    And technology means these less scrupulous people do not do this manually. Such is the potential value of a good scam they invest heavily in powerful computers and smart algorithms to send out millions of convincing emails automatically, 24 hours a days 365 days a year. A strike rate of 1% can make a scammer very rich, and given the sophistication of the scams even the most savvy are being caught out..

    The industry view is that SSL will put a stop to a lot of this activity as whilst they will still know what websites addresses you are visiting, they can not see any of the detail as it is encrypted – which is handy!

    This is just scare mongering – I’ve never been hacked!

    How would you know? A good hacker isn’t going to admit to it. The most skilled hackers will be discreet and you will never even know they’ve been there- unless they have made it into your bank account, by which time it is too late.

    There is some testing you can do, for example by entering your email address on haveibeenpwned, but this is limited only to the high profile public leakages.

    But why does my own website need it?

    It provides you with security for your site.

    This means someone can’t scrape the username and password to your site’s admin login and they can’t implant malware, links or link farming.

    In addition, they can’t steal any client data the site may have. It provides your customers with a degree of privacy, which is a moral and potential a legal responsibility.

    How do I get SSL

    Installing SSL on standard website won’t break the bank either.

    For most websites it should only cost between £200-£300 with the majority of cost being a developer’s time to install and thoroughly test your website.

    Crush Design can help

    If you have doubts on your website’s security, give us a call!

  • What size brochure should I go for?

    What size brochure should I go for?

    Brochures are a fantastic way to promote your business and reach out to new customers.

    A good brochure can differentiate you from competitors as well as give your clients confidence in your business’s abilities and remind them of your products and services.

    In short, a good brochure leads to business and therefore it is vital to get it right.

    Paper Size

    Firstly, when deciding on a paper size for your brochure it is important to decide beforehand how much content you would like to include. A cluttered brochure is unappealing to read and much less effective.

    If you have a lot of content, choose a bigger size so that it is presented in the best possible way. Alternatively, you can have a brochure with additional pages.

    If you don’t have a massive volume of content, you can be more flexible.

    Secondly, you need to think about what the brochure will be used for. Will it need to fit into a presentation folder? Will it go through a letterbox? Will it be renewed regularly or will the consumer keep hold of it for a while?

    The most popular brochure sizes are A4 and A5. Why?

    An A4 brochure is cost-effective in terms of printing, and the preferred choice if you need to include a lot of content.

    An A5 brochure is a more compact brochure size for those who need less content, yet still gives way for a bit of creativity. This size brochure is also the cheapest option to send via the post.

    Both are easy to carry around, fit through letterboxes and slot into literature racks.

    However, staying safe has its disadvantages. Being the most popular brochure sizes means that A4 and A5 brochures will not stand out from the crowd.

    Is it important for your brand to stand out?

    If cost and efficiency is critical to your business, why not create landscape A4 or A5 brochures to be more distinctive among the standardized portrait brochures.

    At Crush we have a soft spot for square brochures. A square brochure is a striking way of making a brochure look more premium and original, without a hefty price tag. Square brochures are letterbox friendly and don’t break the bank in terms of postage costs.

    Alternatively, for those who are willing to be a bit more flexible in terms of budget, bespoke brochure sizes are the best way to show off your brand. Bespoke brochures allow for maximum creativity, to completely compliment your products and services.

    Brochure folds

    After choosing a brochure size, the challenge is far from over.  The next step is choosing the right brochure fold. This step needs considering at the design stage. Some examples are here below:

    The right type of paper

    Paper choice can have as much impact on the final product as the design.

    There are two main things to consider; the paper density and the finish.

    Paper density refers to the thickness and firmness of the paper. It is measured in GSM (grams per square metre). A typical corporate brochure would be between 170-300 GSM.

    Think of a firm brochure as the equivalent of a firm handshake. It reflects assurance and professionalism. Whatever you are selling, every business should want to be seen this way.

    The right print finish

    A print coating is the finishing touch to a brochure. A matte or glossy varnish allows a brochure to be more expensive looking. You can also add lamination for extra protection and a smoother finish.

    Once again, the key question is “what is the use of your brochure?”.

    One of our clients, an industrial paint company, opted for fully laminated brochures because they recognised that their clients kept their brochures for years, and therefore they needed to be durable. They also needed to survive the wear and tear of an industrial environment.

    However, if your brochure is for a one-off promotion it might not need such a finish.

    For more premium brochures, other finishes can add a touch of class such as UV varnish, foil stamping, embossing, letter press etc.

    If you are interested in finding out more, or thinking of getting new brochures for your business, give us a call on 012460 563357.

  • How much should a logo cost?

    How much should a logo cost?

    The price design agencies charge for a logo can range from £50 to £50,000. That is a huge price range, so what is going on?

    Did the cheaper logo take one hour to create and the more expensive logo a thousand hours. I doubt that very much. The time taken to draw even the most complex of logos amounts to tens of hours, certainly not thousands.

    There are two key factors that determine the cost of a logo: The cost of getting it wrong and Is it really just a logo?

    The cost of getting it wrong

    If you are a global sports brand and you find you have to recall a newly launched logo it would be catastrophically expensive.

    • The embarrassment and bad PR of making a mistake
    • The loss of customer engagement, because who wants to be associated with an epic fail
    • The cost of recalling all products with the new logo
    • The cost of changing every instance of the new logo (vehicles, website, billboard, office signage, etc)

    All this could run into millions, so perhaps the £50k spent on finding the very best people and have them fully stress test the logo seems like money well spent, despite it only taking the designer an hour to draw the final logo.

    So when you are considering the price of your logo, work out how important it is to get right and spend accordingly.

    For a list of common logo mistakes, see below.

    Is it really just a logo?

    A logo is often just a simplified drawing with little meaning or value on its own. It needs to be part of a ‘Corporate Identity’ which is then part of the company’s ‘Brand’.

    It is important to differentiate ‘brand’ from ‘corporate identity’ as too many people use the former term when they actually mean the latter.

    This is important because when a client says they need a logo the chances are they actually need a corporate identity; one that includes a logo, but also shows the corporate fonts and colours, plus designs for letter-headed paper, business cards, email signature, social media favicon and so on.

    Clearly the more you need from a corporate identity the greater the cost should and will be.

    Then we come to the question  of brand. To use the analogy of a car;

    • A corporate identity is the wheels, the chassis, the aerodynamics
    • The brand is the pleasure you get from owning and driving the car

    So yes, brand is the corporate identity, but it is also the experience of dealing with the company in question.  As well as making fantastic cars, Ferrari work tirelessly to make the entire experience of buying, driving and owning one of their cars equally amazing, and we believe our clients should plan the same for their businesses.

    Making every client interaction spot on and consistent.

    Common Logo Mistakes

    • Logos that don’t scale
    • Overly complex logo
    • Logos that date quickly
    • Logos that are a difficult shape
    • Logos with colours that are hard to replicate in print
    • Logos with colours that don’t work digitally (metallic colours)
    • Symbols that accidentally look phallic
    • Symbols that translate badly abroad
    • Logos that are too similar to someone elses
    • Logos designed before urls are found
    • Technically poor logo files

    Some examples for fun

     logo-design

     

     

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