How to Send Credit Card Information to InsideOut Solutions

March 30th, 2014 by

Protecting your business’ credit card information should always be a priority.  What to do, then, when it comes time to give your credit card information to a vendor?credit card   In this article you will learn how to send credit card information securely, by looking at both the secure and non-secure ways to submit your credit card information to InsideOut Solutions.

Never Submit Credit Card Information via Email

Simply put: email is not a secure way to provide credit card information.

e-mail symbol

Never email your credit card information.

SSL on Email Won’t Protect Your Credit Card Info

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption only encrypts data that transfers between your email client and your domain mail server.  If your email message needs to go to another server to reach a recipient them your message may be routed through many other servers, including those that are unencrypted, with the potential of that message being read.

Breaking up the Credit Card Information Across Two or More Emails Is Not “More Secure”

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Get Facebook Likes with Your Newsletter Sign-Ups

February 25th, 2014 by

When a website visitor signs up for your newsletter, why not make the most of that good will and get Facebook Likes in the process? Nick Calaway, General Manager at von Stiehl Winery, brought up this idea to Owner Brad Schmiling. They’d never really taken a close look at the Welcome Email sent to guests signing up for their Constant Contact newsletter. When they did, they found that the message was pretty easy to edit. They could change the text, as well as fonts and colors. However, they wanted something visually appealing—an image that was much more inviting than the default, “plain Jane” option.

von-Stiehl-welcome-email-before

It’s a very polite welcome message, but it’s pretty boring to look at.

Brad needed some help with both the imagery and the coding, so he worked with Jennifer from InsideOut’s Graphic Design department. Since she was already familiar with Constant Contact’s system and von Stiehl’s branding, it was very quick and easy for her to design a warm welcome email for this friendly Algoma, Wisconsin winery.

von-Stiehl-Welcome-Email-after

Now this is a Welcome message that will get Facebook Likes!

With a click on the image, the visitor is taken directly to von Stiehl’s Facebook page where they can hit that “Like” button! This is a perfect audience to target because they’re already interested enough to sign up for the newsletter. The welcoming and convenient link to the Facebook page makes it very easy.

Now, when people use the website sign-up for von Stiehl’s newsletter, they will receive this Welcome Email as their first message. This first email serves triple duty. It allows subscribers to: 1) confirm their newsletter subscription, 2) add Brad’s email to their address book and 3) “Like” von Stiehl’s Facebook page. Points 1 and 2 are especially important because they prevent von Stiehl’s emails from being labeled as spam. Step 3 is a bonus that will help von Stiehl increase their Facebook audience.

Interested in making the most of your Constant Contact Welcome Email? Contact us today to learn how you can get Facebook Likes with your newsletter sign ups.

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Google Universal Analytics Is Coming – Here’s What to Expect

February 24th, 2014 by

Google Universal Analytics is likely to be a major topic of discussion with our clients throughout 2014.  In this post, I will break down the initial information on the what, why and when of this upgrade for our managed website hosting clients.

What Is Google Universal Analytics?

google universal analytics upgrade

Get ready for the new Google Analytics.

Google Universal Analytics is an entirely new script, not simply an update to the existing “Classic” Google Analytics script.  Google claims it will improve the way data is gathered, processed and displayed in Google Analytics.

Why Do I Need Google Universal Analytics?

This is a short answer: Google requires you to upgrade to Universal Analytics if you want to continue to use their analytics service.

When Do I Need to Upgrade to Google Universal Analytics?

Google Universal Analytics is still in beta testing, meaning it is being tested by users, a process that started late in 2012.

Google has not provided a detailed timeline for mandatory upgrade, but what information we do have shows there’s no urgency.  Currently, Google Universal Analytics is in Phase 1 of 4 of this implementation and does not yet support some features of Classic Google Analytics including:

  • Remarketing
  • Google Display Network Impression Reporting
  • DoubleClick Campaign Manager Integration
  • Google Analytics Demographics and Interests Reports

Google has set up the Universal Analytics Upgrade as a process to migrate all Classic Google Analytics properties to Universal Analytics properties without losing any data or changing your account settings.  Despite this there are many potential pitfalls in the transition and managed website hosting clients of InsideOut Solutions will be notified via our blog and newsletter when we have the tools and a strategy in place for this upgrade.

WordPress website/blog clients will likely have an fairly easy and low-cost upgrade via a plugin.  Older and other non-WordPress sites will probably have a more difficult time making the upgrade, meaning it will be more costly – just another reason to consider having InsideOut Solutions redesign your aging website in the more adaptable WordPress platform.  In addition to the readiness for the Google Universal Analytics upgrade, a new website from InsideOut Solutions will feature a fast-loading, beautiful, engaging responsive design built with HTML5 & CSS3 compliant code.Please contact InsideOut Solutions with any questions or for a new website quote.

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Google Telemarketing Calls Are Not from Google

January 26th, 2014 by

How many times has Google called you out of the blue to chat about your business?  If you answered any number except “zero,” then its 99.9999% sure that you were not actually talking to the a Google representative, but rather were a target of telemarketers. Unrequested Google telemarketing calls simply do not exist.  Anyone claiming otherwise in a call to you is misrepresenting themselves.

Google’s “Telephonophobia”

Google is notoriously reticent about calling businesses.  When they do call, it’s because you’ve asked them to make the call.  Those calls are mostly automated voice or text to provide PINs for account setup, login 2-step verification, Google Places listing verification, etc.

A Google representative may call your business if you’re a Google AdWords user.  Other than that, Google won’t pick up the phone to call you unless you request the call.  They also make it extremely difficult to reach a person when you call them for support with their products.

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Branding Your Business: TheInnkeeper.com

January 24th, 2014 by

When it comes to branding your business, just getting past the logo design can be daunting. Once you have a logo, what do you do with it? Mariah Walters, CEO of TheInnkeeper.com bed & breakfast directory, had an existing logo, a lot of ideas, and a short timeline as the annual PAII conference approached. What to do? In August 2013, she’d worked with InsideOut to finish step one: a full, WordPress-based website redesign.

With the PAII conference coming up, it was time to put her branding into high gear! Mariah worked with InsideOut Graphic Designer, Jennifer Lozada, to create a consistently branded trade show booth. From the printed business cards and brochures to the 10-foot backdrop, everything had the same look and feel for a professional first impression.

Essential Elements for Branding Your Business at Trade Shows

TheInnkeeper.com's trade show booth at the 2014 PAII conference. Mariah and her team added homey finishing touches such as the plants!

TheInnkeeper.com’s trade show booth at the 2014 PAII conference. Mariah and her team added the homey finishing touches!

Using the new website as a design base, Jennifer worked with Mariah to design the following branded products, which are vital pieces for any trade show presence.

Trade Show Display Designs: the “Big Picture” for Branding Your Business

Using the logo, fonts and colors from the website, Jennifer designed two portable 10′ x 7.5′and 2.5′ x 2.5′ displays, both fabricated by AAdvantageDisplays.com. Because there would be a table in front of the large display, Jennifer kept the most important information on the top half of the display. The smaller display was designed to be used either on the floor or a tabletop.

Graphic Design of Brochures and Business Cards: the “Take Away” Pieces for Branding Your Business at Trade Shows

QR-coded trifold brochure and business card designs for TheInnkeeper.com.

QR-coded trifold brochure and business card designs for TheInnkeeper.com.

Jennifer also worked with Mariah to create a full color trifold brochure, 8.5″ x 11″ when fully opened. To save on production costs and envelopes, they chose a standard letter size designed with a self-mailer panel. (Larger and non-standard sizes always cost more. Not having to mail in an envelope is an added bonus!) Both her brochure and business card feature QR codes that allow smartphone users to simply scan and arrive at her website—no typing! The back of the business card was left uncoated so Mariah and her team members could write additional notes or contact information if needed.

OpenOffice Slideshow Presentation

Using the content Mariah provided, Jennifer created a slideshow using TheInnkeeper.com’s logo and colors. Mariah could now use her laptop as another display, playing the presentation about TheInnkeeper’s services in a continuous loop. Designed with OpenOffice, a free, open source program, the slideshow can now be used by Mariah as a template for future presentations.

“Thank you so much for your beautiful design work. The convention was outstanding!”
~ Mariah Walters, CEO, TheInnkeeper.com

Branding your business doesn’t have to be a pain when you have the right people to work with! Contact us today for help with designing trade show booth displays, brochures, business cards and other graphic designs for small businesses.

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Responsive Web Design: Do the Responsible Thing

January 22nd, 2014 by

Trish from Captain’s Manor Inn knew that her four year old website needed an upgrade, but she wasn’t ready to give up on her design yet, so she called us to discuss her options. Being savvy, she had heard about responsive web design and wanted to know what it could do for her, as well as “sticky nav” and the benefits of HTML5. She also wanted to weigh the costs of new design against simply a responsive upgrade.

What is responsive web design?

captainsmanorResponsive web design is the method of creating a website to serve the same targeted content to different sizes of screens, from large screen monitors to mobile phones and adapt the rest of the design to fit it all. The term “Responsive Web Design” hit the web in early 2011, but didn’t really take off as a serious idea until late 2012 with the candidate recommendation of HTML5 in December 2012. Our development team got to work on a solution, and soon after, Elk Mountain launched as InsideOut’s first truly ‘responsive’ website.

Before the responsive design trend, there were two options to view content on a web page from a mobile device; either the full-blown view of the page, which looks bad on tiny screens like smartphones, or a completely separate version of the site that was specifically made to be seen on mobile devices. While the latter was a solution, it wasn’t the best solution. It doubled to quadrupled the work for developers, and the same for any updates that were required. In essence, it was a waste of time and money, which is the bane of the working world.

Enter responsive web design. With the introduction of HTML5 and CSS3, new protocols were introduced, made with mobile devices in mind. I won’t bore you with all the technical mumbo-jumbo, but in the end, developers were handed the capability of programming smart websites, capable of adjusting the page dynamically, as to better serve content to any size of screen.  These developments reduce the time and effort required to create and maintain the site being designed.

In short responsive web design is the design of a website that serves the same content to every device, without sacrificing the look, feel, and usability of the site.

I’ve heard about “Sticky Navigation” – what’s the deal?

Around the same time that InsideOut Solutions hopped on the responsive web design train, we began introducing our new websites with a new feature: “Sticky” navigation (or nav for short). The nav itself is a portal for visitors to peruse all of the pages on your site, and the concept has been around since the web began. We’ve taken it a step further, making the nav stick to the top of the page when you scroll down. Why is this important? It’s a usability perk, especially on mobile devices in conjunction with responsive web design. Instead of scrolling all the way to the top of the site to view another page, the ‘Sticky’ nav keeps the nav menu at the top of the window, always, saving time, and increasing the likelihood of visitors visiting more of your pages. More pages, more page views, better business.

You mentioned HTML5 and CSS3. Why do they matter?

Simply put, HTML5 and CSS3 are improvements made to the way we view the web. HTML was made the standard in 1990, with several revisions up to HTML4, which was made the standard in 1997. 15 years later in December of 2012, HTML5 was proposed as the new web standard. During those 15 years, we were introduced to smartphones, tablets, wide-screen monitors; an explosion of different web-ready devices. We also experienced the increase of importance in having a web presence, as everyone and their sister began using the web instead of phonebooks to find what they needed. HTML5 was designed with all of these in mind, a modern solution to the modern web.  Learn more about HTML 5.

The Good Stuff

The best part of all this? The value you get from InsideOut. The cost to convert an existing site we built with responsive web design, coded to HTML5 standards with “sticky nav” starts at $2,500 (cost depends on size of site), while new custom designs with all these features start at $6,000. Since Trish was happy with the look of her site, she made the wise choice to select the upgrade. Within a month, the project was done, and Trish had extended the life of her website by at least 4 years.

If you have a WordPress site by InsideOut that you still love the the look of, and you’re interested if a responsive upgrade is right for you, please send us an email or give us a call. We will evaluate if your site is a good candidate for a responsive HTML5 upgrade, like Captain’s Manor was.

Responsive Web Design: it’s the responsible thing to do.

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Internet Marketing Resolutions for 2014

December 29th, 2013 by

The new year is upon us and at this time of year tradition demands that we make our resolutions for the upcoming year.  Don’t forget your internet efforts when it comes to your business’ marketing resolutions for 2014.

2014 Resolutions

Don’t forget to make your internet marketing resolutions for 2014.

Making resolutions for the new year should be treated seriously.  Lots of folks chuckle about their New Year’s resolutions, but, indeed, it should be treated as the opportunity it is: a chance to refocus efforts and make improvements, whether personal or professional.

Top 5 Small Business Internet Marketing Resolutions for 2014

These resolutions are aimed at InsideOut Solutions’ primary client base:

  • bed & breakfast inns
  • dude ranches
  • cabin, cottage and vacation rentals
  • destinations, etc.

but also apply to many small to medium-sized businesses.

1. Review Your Website

It’s time to go through your website with a fine-tooth comb.  You’ll want to fix all those misspellings, grammar errors, and out-of-date info, of course, but your review needs to go much deeper to be truly effective.

Keep reading →

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Escape to the Florida seaside at The Addison on Amelia Island

December 26th, 2013 by

The Addison on Amelia Island is a stunning bed and breakfast located in the historic district of the seaside village of Fernandina Beach, Florida. This elegant, antebellum-style, island inn blends bygone-era elegance with modern-era amenities and conveniences – plus you’re just steps away from shopping, great restaurants, eclectic art galleries, and the marina.

Addison on Amelia Island

The new Addison on Amelia Island site

Innkeepers and owners, Bob and Shannon, embarked on a 5-year search to find the perfect bed and breakfast: The Addison on Amelia Island is the fruit of this quest – and a very sweet fruit it is.

The Addison came to InsideOut looking for a modern website design that was not only fresh in appearance but also provided a secure, flexible back-end for ease-of-editing and increased targeted web-marketing that translates traffic into reservations.

Working with our designer, Beth Edwards, they settled on a gorgeous new responsive design that capitalizes on the pristine beauty of their location and the amenities they offer in a way that imparts the simplicity and luxury of their Amelia Island inn’s personality.

The WordPress platform that their custom website is built upon, with InsideOut custom plugins, coding touches, and a healthy dose of SEM, will ensure that their site remains secure, easy to use, maintains relevance as the web evolves, and brings them the kind of traffic a bed and breakfast of their stature deserves.

At InsideOut, we have some pretty strong opinions regarding how a website should be built and what its job is. We think a site should have the newest, most secure, compliant, and flexible framework possible in order to clearly promote your visibility and reflect your business’s true personality. We have a feeling you want that, too – contact us for a free website quote today!

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North Fork, Long Island’s Quintessentials Bed & Breakfast and Spa

December 23rd, 2013 by

Quintessentials Bed & Breakfast and Spa

Quintessentials Bed & Breakfast and Spa’s new site

Located in East Marion on the North Fork of Long Island, New York, Quintessentials Bed & Breakfast and Spa offers five, exclusively appointed rooms and suites with fireplaces, private decks, Jacuzzi tubs, and a full-service skincare spa.

Nestled in Long Island’s wine country between the beaches of Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound, Quintessentials B&B is a naturally peaceful and romantic location uniquely suited to relaxing get-aways and unforgettably perfect weddings. It is also North Fork’s first and only boutique B&B with a full-service spa. This plantation-style home turned island escape will transport you to serenity in more ways than one.

Quintessentials came to InsideOut Solutions interested in a new, custom website that would more accurately capitalize on all these aspects of their business. They also wanted a stable, modern back-end architecture designed to assure long-term value and flexibility for the ever-evolving internet – not to mention ease-of-editing, responsive design, and InsideOut’s targeted web-marketing for increased web-views and reservations.

The lush, beautiful, and inviting results of the new, custom WordPress website we designed for Quintessentials Bed & Breakfast and Spa speaks for itself. As you can see, it is at once inviting, warm, calm, and serene in appearance, clearly delivering the business’s personality to the visitor.

At InsideOut, it’s our mission to build you the very best, standards compliant website we can. We believe there’s no reason your site can’t be attractive, flexible, accurate, secure, and fully supported to thrive in the ever-changing, sometimes overwhelming environment of the internet. Let us help you find the solution you’re after – the InsideOut Solution.

Get your free website quote today!

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WordPress 3.8 Update and What It Means for Your Website

December 13th, 2013 by

WordPress 3.8 (named “Parker” in honor of bebop jazz innovator Charlie Parker) was released on December 12. InsideOut Solutions will be rolling out the WordPress 3.8 update to its managed web hosting clients with WordPress websites and blogs over the next few weeks, so expect it to show up soon when you log in.

WordPressYour day-to-day content editing, post publishing, etc. functions as with previous versions, but there is one major difference to previous versions: there’s a new look to the dashboard area.

The WordPress 3.8 Dashboard

The updated look is much cleaner, with fewer distractions like faux 3-D buttons, drop-shadows, etc.  There are some other updates to go along with the new look:

WordPress 3.8 Admin Color Schemes

WordPress allows Users to choose up to 8 different color schemes.  To change your color scheme, edit your User Profile in the WP dashboard.  The colors show near the the top of your Profile page.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 9.26.16 AM

Other WordPress 3.8 Changes

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 9.18.40 AM Along with the overall dashboard changes, the way themes are selected is a bit different and the widget editing has been updated.

A great new feature is that the dashboard is designed to be responsive (just like all new websites we design) so that it works much better on mobile devices and tablets.

You should find this new version of WordPress very easy to use, but, should you have any questions, we offer support at our standard $80/hour rate (billed in 15 minute increments). Simply contact us with your questions and to set up a support session.

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