With summer vacation in full swing, our kids are likely spending more time on the Internet with their additional free time. Whether they are playing games or interacting with friends or family, the reality is that having access to the internet can leave kids vulnerable to hackers, predators, and identity theft. Thankfully there are several ways to help keep kids safe online:

Create an Online Contract

The best line of defense against the scary side of the Internet is your kids themselves. Creating a contract that kids and parents sign together agreeing to various conditions can help kids to think twice about their actions. Define hours and times during which the Internet can be used. List which people your child is allowed to interact with and which games they’re allowed to play. Agree to limit location information and use as little personal information as possible. Decide on appropriate consequences for breach of contract, including complete loss of device privileges. Partnering with your kids to agree on Internet usage rules and the results of not following those rules is an important step in the safety process.

Tech to the Rescue

There are several great apps available today that help keep an eye on our kids. Covering all the devices available to them is key to the apps working properly. Some of our favorites are:

Bark.us

Bark monitors all of the apps and services your kids use on any and all devices. It then sends alerts to parents if inappropriate language or content is viewed or shared. If something is detected, an alert is sent to the parents outlining the issue. There is also a dashboard that keeps track of alerts. Further, parents can control which games and apps can be accessed and when.

Disney Circle

This device is added to your existing Internet connection. It then allows the user to have complete control over who connects to the Internet, what sites and apps they can use, and it records historical data too. It can also turn off the internet to any device at the touch of a button. Touted as being extremely easy to use, Disney Circle takes the complexity out of Internet control.

Apple Family Share

Sign up devices and use parental controls to limit screen time, WiFi, account access and more.

Internet Providers

Check with your current Internet provider. Many offer Internet control options with certain hardware. Features often include protection against dangerous sites, device connection management, and more.

Location Services

Consider turning off location services on games and apps to prevent your child from being tracked by an unwanted source.

Talk It Out

Many times kids can get into a dangerous situation simply because they aren’t aware. Discuss things like fun, game-like ads that ask for personal information in order to play. It’s also important to talk about how people are not always who they appear to be, such as in a game. An adult could pretend to be a child and begin a conversation that seems harmless but could be leading to more dangerous situations. Point out that just because there are safety measures in place, it doesn’t mean they can be careless. Comparing Internet safety to our homes; just because the door is locked, doesn’t mean you don’t need to check to see who is on the other side.

Lastly, it’s important to note to your kids that once something is out on the Internet, it’s almost impossible to remove it completely. Therefore they need to be extra cautious about the images, words, and information that they put out on the Internet.

Take It From a Kid

Did you read our post about helping Hazel and Tillie, two local Girl Scouts who worked to create a website as part of their Silver Award project? These outstanding young ladies have created a page on their site dedicated to Internet safety for kids. You can read their recommendations here.

Speaking of Safety

Have you checked to make sure that your business website is secure from hackers? If you have questions about how to secure your website or any other site questions, we’re here to help. Click over to schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation and we can talk through all of your questions.

We know that we’ve told our readers a hundred times that website maintenance is important to your website. But really, it’s not that important. As long as your site is up and running, it’s fine! Really. Here are a few reasons why website maintenance just isn’t that important.

Security

If your website doesn’t take credit card information, it doesn’t need any security! Customer information like names, address, and email address wouldn’t be a big risk if they were to be stolen. And who would hack your site anyway?

Speed

Website maintenance can’t make your site run any faster. So it hardly seems worth the time to update your site regularly. Plus, at some point, you can just run a gigantic update all at once and it will get everything up to speed.

Content

If your services and products don’t change, why change anything on your website? Having a maintenance package that offers you 2 – 4 hours of content updates a month is hardly worth it.

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APRIL FOOLS!!😂😂😂

You know us better than that! We would never tell you that website maintenance isn’t important because it really is vital to having your site run safely and smoothly. So, let’s try this again:

Security

Even if your site doesn’t have eCommerce, having a security certificate is vital to your site running safely. Not only is it good business for your customers who can trust that their information is safe with you, but Google Ranking Factors will also rank your site higher because it’s safe for visitors.

Speed

Websites that are not up to date often run slowly. Your site is working much longer to keep up with outdated infrastructure and will take longer to load. Most users won’t stick around for a site to load if it takes longer than 3 seconds, so ensuring that your site loads quickly is imperative. In addition, waiting too long to run an update can cause your site to crash. Consistent maintenance prevents that extra-large update and the risk of it overloading.

Content

Not only is updating website content regularly great for customers, it also improves your SEO. Web crawlers love analyzing new content, and customers enjoy the value of long-form content like blogs, which educate them about your company and products too.

Let Hammersmith Support Help

Our monthly maintenance packages come in two forms to fit your needs. Visit our Calendly page to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and we can talk through your site needs and how we can help.

It’s almost Arizona Gives Day! April 6th kicks off 24 hours of online giving to benefit local non-profits, brought you by Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits and Arizona Grantmakers Forum. AZ Gives.org brings local non-profits and their missions to one online location, making it easy for donors to find and connect with a non-profit that fits their passion. Since its inception in 2013, Arizona Gives Day has raised over $23 million dollars for local non-profits!

Arizona Gives Day is just 24 hours…is your website ready to handle a large influx of traffic? Here are a few things you can do to get ready to make sure every dollar makes it to your bottom line.

Check Your Security

When you type in your URL, does it begin with “https“? If not, your site is not secure. Update your SSL certificate to ensure that:

  • Your site is safe for visitors’ information
  • Visitors can actually make it to your site. Several search engines will block unsecured sites from being viewed
  • Your SEO is the best that it can be! Google Ranking Factors depend heavily on security

Update

Be sure that your site is completely updated. Look for platform as well as plugin updates – all of which are visible from your WordPress dashboard. Even a small, out-of-date section can cause headaches.

Check Hosting

Contact your hosting service to confirm that your site is able to take on a high amount of traffic. The average website takes 3 seconds to load and more than half of visitors will leave if it takes longer. Be sure that your hosting can handle increased traffic and still load quickly.

View on Mobile

Because more than half of internet users view sites on a mobile device, it’s essential that your site loads quickly, completely, and is easy to navigate from a mobile device. Check that all of the menus and contact forms are visible and easy to use and that your images are optimized for mobile.

Test

Check your contact forms to be sure that they are working. It’s as simple as going to your site and filling out the form to make sure that form notifications are getting to your inbox.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

It’s not too late! If you need help with your site, we can help. Visit our Calendly link to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and we can talk through your concerns.

Are You a Member of an Approved 501c3 Organization?

Hammersmith Support is currently accepting applications for our newest pro bono client!

Who Is Eligible?

While we always work to support our local businesses, this project is aimed at those doing the most for our community – nonprofit organizations. Any charitable organization that is an approved 501c3 and has an existing WordPress website is eligible! We know so many organizations have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, and we want to help you.

How to Apply

We’re excited to learn more about your organization! Click here to complete an application. We will be accepting applications through Sunday, March 28th. We will meet with finalists and select our new client the week of March 29th.

Our client highlight this week features the rebuild of the Strunk Insurance Group’s website. Teresa Strunk is a fellow W Source Arcadia / Scottsdale member. She and her husband, Casey, are the owners of Strunk Insurance Group, a full-service employee benefits consulting firm founded by Casey’s father, Greg. They reached out to Hammersmith Support to rebuild and redesign their site from the ground up.

The Website Issues

In order to continue to serve their client base effectively, Strunk Insurance Group had several website issues that they needed help resolving. First, the overall look and feel of their site no longer accurately reflected their organization. Their logo felt out of date and their site copy was no longer fitting.

In addition, a security scare led Strunk Insurance Group to prioritize not only the outward look of their site but also the “behind-the-scenes” maintenance. They needed a more robust foundation in conjunction with regular maintenance to ensure that their site was not only secure but also effectively drawing in and capturing potential leads.

Here’s a peek at the site before:

The Website Solution

Knowing that the content on the website needed to be not only informative but also well organized, they also contracted with Katrina Oko-Odoi of Content Worm (also a W Source Member!). She was able to create fresh copy that more clearly describes their often-complex insurance business and the services they offer. That, combined with a new logo and design, resulted in a fresh and simplified site that effectively communicates who and what the Strunk Insurance Group is.

Behind the scenes, Hammersmith Support built a new, modern theme for the design and developed the site using the built-in WordPress Gutenberg editor, which makes updating the site’s back end easier. Hammersmith Support continues to provide monthly maintenance for the Strunk Insurance Group to ensure that their site remains updated, secure and optimized.

The Final Product

Click to see the new and improved Strunk Insurance Group, and the sneak peek below!

Behind Strunk Insurance Group

Casey Strunk

In addition to highlighting the new website, we’re excited to introduce you to Casey Strunk through our Hammersmith interview. Both Casey and Teresa are very involved in the Phoenix community. Casey is the Board Chair of Phoenix EC70, while Teresa is Chair of the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. They are both active members of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, working as strong fundraisers for the charity.

Casey, what is your “why” and how did that motivate you to start your business?

“Greg Strunk, my father, started the business almost 40 years ago. We have always been focused on the client and we continue to see today what drove Greg to start the agency in the early 1980s. There is an under-served segment of the business community. Those employers with 25-200 employees do not have a benefit PARTNER that is willing to invest the time and energy they deserve when it comes to their benefits package. We treat our clients like family and they continue to be our ‘why’.”

What is unique about your style and product offering?

“Most employee benefits firms help clients with employee benefits. It turns out it is a lot more complicated than that. We help clients quarterback everything related to their human capital. This includes enrollment technology, compliance, IRS filings, human resources, and retirement plans.

Lastly, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

“Surround yourself with a great team. This includes my personal board of directors, peer groups, business coaches, other successful leaders, and your employees! I believe that in order to be successful over the long run, you have to constantly be changing and adapting your business.”

Hammersmith Support Is Here to Help

Are you thinking your site may need some updating? Have you had security issues that you are unsure are resolved? Click over to our Calendly link to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation and see how Hammersmith Support can help you and your business.

WordPress Plugins

You might be asking yourself, “What exactly is a plugin?”. Chances are, your website is already using one if not several plugins. These awesome bites of software add customized functionality to your website – think contact forms, SEO builders, mobile optimization, security protection…the list goes on and on. We’re excited to give you the rundown on plugins and discuss some of our favorites as well.

Plugins 101

Plugins are open-source (meaning the code is adjustable) software made up of PHP code and may include JavaScript, CSS, and images. They are fast and easy to install on your site, and easy to navigate as well. Because they are open-source and the WordPress developer community is vast, a wide array of plugins are available. The result is custom functionality for your site without manually adjusting the site’s code. The other awesome part about plugins? Many versions are absolutely free!

Popular Versions

Hammersmith Support includes plugins on our sites because they add functionality and allow us to customize each site with our clients’ needs in mind. Some of the most popular are:

  • Gravity Forms:  Build complex powerful forms, polls, quizzes and more
  • Yoast SEO: Optimize for keywords, keyphrases, synonyms, build a sitemap, etc.
  • Smart Crawler: SEO page scanner
  • Advanced Custom Fields: Add fields to your pages
  • Defender: A premium security plugin that monitors activity on your site as well as reporting on vulnerabilities and necessary updates

A Word of Caution

We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about the potential pitfalls of using plugins. Just like your overall website, plugins should be updated on a monthly basis. Taking too long to update could potentially cause your site to be corrupted and not work properly or worse, leave your site open to hackers who exploit outdated versions of plugins to install malware. Once your site is out of date, it is likely that running updates will cause conflicts or issues that will could render parts of your site unusable. In any case, before launching or updating a plugin, be sure to copy your site as is. After activating or updating your plugins, test the site’s functionality (think lead forms, sign-ups, adding new content, etc.) to ensure all is well on the site.

How Hammersmith Support Can Help

If we lost you at backing up your site – let Hammersmith Support help! We offer monthly maintenance packages where we can keep your site up-to-date, running smoothly, including other vital maintenance, and content updates. In addition, Hammersmith Support is offering free training sessions that include tips on how to maintain and understand your WordPress website.

Book your free WordPress training session today!

When was the last time you looked at your business website? Like really looked at it? Chances are, you’ve been busy running your business and not putting enough time and effort into your website. Why is that a big deal? Because potential customers are going to judge your business based on your site. If it looks bad, is inaccessible via a mobile device, and or is not secure, they may decide to take their business elsewhere.

So how do you know if your site is out of date? Here are five areas to consider:

The Site Is Slow to Load

If your website takes forever to load – and by forever we mean if it’s not instantaneous – it’s slow. Consumers have high expectations: they want what they want and they want it right now. If your site takes too long to load, they are going to move on. Ensuring that your site is updated and utilizing a CDN will help it load quickly, keeping fast-moving consumers satisfied.

It’s Not Mobile Optimized

Pull up your website on your mobile device – can you see the entire site? Do all of the buttons show up? Do they work? Are the images sized correctly? If not, your website is not mobile optimized. With more than half of the world’s 3.9 billion internet users viewing websites from their mobile device, not having your site fully functional on mobile is a huge loss.

Your Content Is Old

Take a look at your about page. Is it still accurate? How about the images, the titles? Old content can be a huge red flag to consumers, not to mention confusing as well. Take time to update even tiny details and freshen up your content, it will make a big difference.

Your Micro Content Is Nonexistent

If your website is not showing your social media – or if your business social media doesn’t exist, fix it. Micro content is essential to keeping your business top of mind for consumers. Small bites of information can entice consumers because they can digest them quickly. Good micro content will point consumers to your website to find out more information, so do not miss out on that opportunity.

It Lacks Security

Does your URL have an “s” after the “http”? If not, you are running an unsecured site. While this may not seem like a big deal, if you are asking for potential customers to submit personal information like an email or phone number, they will know that their information is unsecured. In addition, Google Ranking Factors will rank your site lower if it lacks security.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

Feeling a little overwhelmed by what needs to be updated on your website? We’re here to help. Contact us to talk through your business and website goals and we’ll help make it a reality.

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for your sweetheart! Your website needs some love too this holiday and we’ve got just what the love doctor ordered:

Freshen Up Your Content

Have you looked at your website’s copyright date lately? Is it recent or old (very very old)? If it’s been a while since you updated or added to the content on your site, the time to do it is now. Not only is fresh content vital for your SEO (hello Google Ranking Factors) but customers and potential clients notice it, too. Would you want to do business with a company that never updates their information?

Updates

When was the last time your website was updated? Have you been ignoring your platform’s notifications that an update is available? Stop! Get that update running asap. Updates can be extensive or simple, it all depends on what it’s trying to fix. Oftentimes an update is patching a security hole. Even if your site isn’t taking credit card information, protecting your leads’ information is just as vital. After your update is complete, be sure to check that your lead / sign up forms are working, just to make sure you don’t miss out on any information.

Be Mobile Optimized

Do you visit your website from your laptop or your mobile device? If you’re constantly working from your computer, pull up your site on your mobile device instead. Does it show up correctly? Are all the buttons visible / available? With just over half of Internet users out there doing so from their mobile device, you might be leaving money on the table – or more like customers in the cold – if your site isn’t mobile optimized.

Check for SEO

Are you utilizing all of the available ways to organically boost your SEO? If not, now is the perfect time to start. In addition to fresh content, update or add images to your site. Make sure that all of the “behind the curtain” information is completed like alt text, caption, description, and title. Add an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO to ensure that the metadata and keywords on your posts are as good as they can be.

Need a Little Help?

If this list feels a little overwhelming, reach out to Hammersmith Support. Our monthly maintenance packages can help with all of the above and more! This means we take care of your website, and you get to do what you do best, run your business.

How familiar are you with your website’s security? If you’re like the majority of website owners, you may not know much about your site security at all, which means there’s room for improvement! Here we’ll tell you exactly what website security is, why it’s important for all websites, and how Hammersmith Support can help.

What is Website Security?

Does your URL have an “s” in the “https” portion? If so, your website does have a layer of security attached to the data transferred between the web browser and web server. HTTP stands for “hyper text transfer protocol” and it is the most common way to transfer information. The “s” added to the end of HTTP is the security layer and stands for “secure socket layer.” An SSL comes with a certificate to prove that the site is transferring information securely. Most web browsers will check for the SSL automatically and will alert you if it’s not present on the site you’re visiting. Some may show the URL as green or with an open or closed lock to alert you to the security level of the website.

Why Is Site Security Important?

It’s obvious why a website that sells goods and or takes personal information would want to have a secure site. Keeping a customer’s information safe from hackers is a given. But what about a site that only collects emails? Or doesn’t collect any information? Why would those sites need security?

The answer is that even sites that don’t collect personal information, or any information at all, are still vulnerable to hackers and/or malware. Hackers can steal email addresses and at the very least, cause a headache for your clients. But malware could take your site down completely by corrupting the pages – costing you time and money to repair and replace.

Further, Google ranks sites with security higher than those that leave their users at potential risk. So having that all-important “s” in your URL, will only add to your SEO.

How Hammersmith Support Can Help

One of the things we love most about our services at Hammersmith Support is that we keep your website running smoothly while you do what you do best: run your business. Our Website Maintenance service packages include not only ensuring that your site has an SSL certificate but also scanning the site monthly to look for any security vulnerabilities. In addition, we keep full backups of your website so that if the worst should happen, your site is back up and running securely as quickly as possible.

As the Hammersmith team has created new and exciting websites for our clients, we began to see the growing need for those websites to be maintained and supported. Our clients were thrilled with the site build results, but didn’t have the time or the know how to keep their sites in tip-top shape on their own. And so Hammersmith Support was born to fill a new need for our clients.

What Is Website Maintenance / Support?

Have you ever researched when exactly the internet was started? It’s a mess of answers, depending on what one would consider the actual “internet” (the conception v modern day usage). Some date it back to 1983, some 1990 when it was more widely used. Either way, that is a substantial amount of time. And think of how far the internet has come; from dial up to now being able to DIY your own websites, to social media… the list goes on and on.

Given that timeline, it’s interesting that website support and maintenance is still in a toddler stage of growth. For all the material available on the internet, it’s amazing that many consumers are just now looking to other companies to maintain and support their websites. Many companies have overlooked security updates and patches, ignored malware attempts to corrupt data, and leave site content stale and not updated – all important aspects of website maintenance.

Why Is Maintenance Important?

As the internet continues to evolve, so do the hazards for users. Security breaches and malware being two of the most urgent risks. Each of these can bring down your site, or worse, can steal data and or identifiable information about your customers. This is an increasingly high risk for sites using ecommerce. Even sites that only generate leads are at risk of customer contact information being stolen. The risk of malware corrupting your site and taking it offline is a huge risk, especially those businesses dependent on their site for sales.

On the less scary side, website maintenance and support is crucial for businesses that can’t or don’t want to do the work themselves. Imagine needing to update your product information, pricing, run an update – all while handling the other time sensitive issues of your business. It’s hard to prioritize when everything feels like a top priority.

How Hammersmith Support Solves this Issue

Our goal at Hammersmith Support is to provide comprehensive service through preventative maintenance and client driven content updates. Our preventative maintenance includes site security updates, site backups, optimization and premium site hosting.

This two prong approach ensures that your website not only run efficiently and safely, it’s also up to date with your content changes – a winning combination. Click here to see the Hammersmith Support service packages.