Consumers are on high-alert with privacy concerns after the last several months of Facebook versus the People. Facebook has been, at times, almost secretive about the privacy controls (or lack thereof) that they have in place and although they say their “recommended settings” do not violate people’s privacy, they make it difficult to find a way to change them. The “recommended settings” do seem to be geared more towards benefiting advertisers versus benefiting the user experience. And it does not help that when in the media spotlight, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg makes no apology for the issues. He instead insists that there is truly “no privacy” while online.
So how do you insure that your information stay private while you are browsing? And how do site owners insure that their sites stay secure for the sake of their many consumers? Here are some ways that both can be accomplished.
Realize that a site should tell you two things: what information they collect and what they do with it. Here is a policy page on the website, Hospital Dream Jobs, which describes this well. Look for that page on websites where you are entering your information. In addition, companies must give you an opt out choice for newsletters and mailings.
Understand that log-ons are encrypted and that companies can no longer store your credit card information. Fifteen years ago, sites did store the numbers (usually encrypted).
Look for a secure site when purchasing with a name brand SSL certificate. When a credit card number is entered (if not before), the URL at the top of the page should change from “http” to “https”. With many major sites, this happens after you place items in the shopping cart and proceed with purchase.
Always go directly to sites instead of clicking on links sent in emails, etc.
Site Owners should:
Communicate needs with developer and insist that the site has the best available privacy experience for their consumers.
Use an SSL certificate not only when having e-commerce available on the site but also if you gather any information that you wish to keep secure on the site. There is an annual charge but it does offer some insurance to your consumers. There are also different levels of SSL certificates available. The advanced and costly ones will upgrade a visitors’ browser for them to high levels of security, provide more insurance and even enable the green bar in high security browsers. Check with your developer to see what they recommend for certification.
Research your merchant services to see if there have been complaints against them in regards to privacy and lack of data control.
Immediately contact your hosting provider and merchant service provider if your site is breached. Quickly address concerns with customers and set security in place to prevent a re occurrence.
Here at Blue Sky Projects, we work closely with the site owners to insure site privacy and always have several recommendations ready to help with the effort. Give us a call or email us today.
What can you do to maximize the dollars spent on your website to insure that it will truly meet your business needs? Here are some suggestions:
1. Assess your needs and your desires. Make both a list of what your business absolutely must have and another list with what else you would like to see. Include any questions that you have for a web developer as you brainstorm. Don’t forget to include your team members in the process.
2. List your goals for the site. Is it only an informational brochure or do you want people to be able to interact on the site? Is some education about your industry important? (If so, you might want to consider a blog as part of your site design). Communicate your goals with your developer.
3. Consider your audience. Spend some time thinking about the people who will visit your site and what their needs are. If you were a customer, what would you want to see? And what would entice you request more information? Also consider your internal customer if you have one. Do you need back pages that staff members can access?
4. Keep future growth/potential changes in mind. Perhaps you aren’t ready for the social sites yet but think that you may want to be on Twitter someday. Share this with your developer. Perhaps you don’t want to offer e-commerce yet but in six months will have the product to do so. Your developer can help prepare your site for potential future adaptations.
5. Consider designs that are sleek, yet not overwhelming, and easy to navigate. Your site should be a comfortable one that is easy to read, navigate and search for information. Yes, bright yellow might get some attention but no one will want to stay long if they feel like they need to wear sunglasses to read it.
6. Consider Search Engine Optimization Services. A website that isn’t easily found in the search engines will not help you gain traction and new customers. Always ask your web developer if they can integrate SEO within the site and if not, find a developer who can.
Marc Rapaport, the founder of Blue Sky Projects, had clients before he even opened the doors to his business. In the early 1990’s after working as a webmaster under contract for a dozen Microsoft websites, he had friends and businesses lined up at the door wanting website development. “So I put together a team.” He says, “And I never looked back.”
What’s unique about his skills? Having owned several businesses throughout the years, Rapaport’s experience in many areas shaped his ability to know both the business and development sides in many industries. “My experience includes working with groups involved in shopping malls and centers, as well as real estate companies. I have traded commodity futures and also started a firm that built and sold framed pictures,” he explains. “So I have been on the trade show floor, worked with salespeople and the public and it brought an understanding of e-commerce too. Many web development companies are very technically-based, which of course is good, but not as many understand the business side as well. We have always been very focused on business results for both our clients and Blue Sky.”
This is where Blue Sky Projects distinguishes itself. Clients rely on Rapaport’s ability to bridge the gap between the business owner and the technical team. As Jessica Campbell, owner of Spa Scotta said, “Blue Sky Projects was good with the details. As an online consumer, I had a good idea of how I wanted things to work, but Blue Sky Projects was able to suggest back-end things that help my business run smoothly.”
A current project is a venue for online classes. “It’s a start-up,” Rapaport says, “And we are all refining the spec as we go along.” The site will include a combination of online classes in the Human Resources field and also will include live and pre-recorded webinars. Also available through the site will be coaching resources.