Steve Waddell to lead the Web Professional Association’s education and training efforts into a bold new future, increasing access to education and training around the globe
WebProfessionals.org, a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting the development of innovative, affordable and high quality web jobs and career training, has named Steve Waddell as Director of Education and Training.
In this new role, Waddell will use his 30 years of curriculum development, entrepreneurial and market experience to strategically expand the organization’s education initiatives and global influence. Building on the success of the WebProfessionals.org “SchoolofWeb.org” training program Waddell will seek out and cultivate strategic alliances and partnerships that acknowledge the tremendous contribution WebProfessionals.org has on advancing access to quality education and training on behalf of the millions of aspiring and practicing web workers everywhere.
“We are delighted to welcome Steve,” said Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the Web Professionals Association. “His experience and skills match up perfectly with our goals for the next phase of WebProfessionals.org work. Beyond a track record of building global coalitions and championing innovative solutions that improve lives, Steve brings an authentic and inspiring leadership style. His infectious energy, sense of humor and passion for making a positive social impact will propel us while creating a global movement that recognizes, supports, and promotes the vital and complementary role of individually-owned social enterprises.”
Waddell’s entire career has been dedicated to creating innovative solutions and building authentic relationships that result in positive outcomes for all.
“Over the past decade, I have come to know the WebProfessionals.org team and their total commitment to their mission of supporting Web professionals and those that teach. It is hard not to be attracted to working with such a fantastic group of professionals. It is an honor to be joining the WebProfessionals.org team and championing the work of engaging and upskilling the next generation,” said Waddell. “I would not have accepted this opportunity if I had not already seen how WebProfessionals.org has always done the right thing to help existing professionals and professionals on a global scale. They are the international organization with an inclusive vision for all.“
Established in 1997, WebProfessionals.org is a non-profit professional association dedicated to the support of individuals and organizations who create, manage and market websites, apps and web technologies. The organization provides education and training resources as well as certifications for those who work and teach in web technologies as well as those aspiring to enter this growing career field.
Gold Medal Winners of the 2020 Web Design and Development Competition Announced
WebProfessionals.org is pleased to announce the Gold medal winners of the 2020 “Virtual” Web Design Challenge
This year’s innovative and totally online event invited and challenged
Challengers documented their progress as they demonstrated their skills in Web Programming (HTML, XHTML and CSS), Web graphics, Web site design, Web accessibility and usability, Web site management, project management, Web multimedia and equally important, professionalism.
A panel of experts from the Web professional community based their winning selection on the following criteria developed by Webprofessionals.org:
• Design and Layout: Navigation • Programming: Compatibility • Programming Code Structure & Design • Scaffolding of Process – Diagram/Flowchart • Video production and presentation • Professionalism
Winners at the Secondary/High School: Gold:
• Kevin Downing, Whitinsville, MA • Daniel Cardone, Blackstone, MA
Winners at the College/Postsecondary Gold:
• Matthew Connors, Massachusetts • Joey Higuera, Massachusetts
“On behalf of the WebProfessionals.org organization, the Technical Committee and challenge judges, I want to say thanks to all the teams for putting forward all the great efforts. So much in the world has changed since last year in Louisville. But one thing has not changed, and it is the quality of our Web Design challenge participants. In chatting with the judges, each team excelled in different areas, and they enjoyed seeing all the creativity in all the submissions. If these winners stay on this trajectory, keep practicing, growing their career portfolios, and adding international industry-recognized certifications to their resumes, I have no doubt they will get snatched up by industry when they start looking for that first career move. I am proud to say this is my seventh year as part of the WebProfessionals.org Web Design challenge support team, and even though I didn’t get to see everybody in Louisville, I had a terrific time.”Lead Judge – Steve Waddell Founder CTeLearning.com
The Web Design Contest provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. It emphasizes total quality at work, high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education and pride in the dignity of work. For additional information visit www.webdesigncontest.org
SkillsUSA is a United States career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college and middle school students and professional members enrolled in training programs in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. For additional information visit www.skillsusa.org
How and where we work is changing. The nature of modern businesses and lifestyles means working from home is more popular than ever. Going to the same office eight hours a day, five days a week is no longer the norm.
While working from home can sound like a dream, anyone who’s actually done knows how unproductive or unsociable it can make you feel. If you frequently work from home here are some ways to make it a happier and more productive environment.
Make sure you can work when you want
A home workspace needs to be somewhere you can actually complete tasks. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, you need to make sure your workspace is suitable for the hours you’re most productive in. If you want to work remotely make sure your home doesn’t have partners, roommates or children roaming around distracting you. The more you can keep your focus on your work the better it will be. Work when they’re out of the house or make it clear when you need some time alone.
Make sure you aren’t confined to a bedroom either. Muddling the wires in your brain with what room is for sleeping and what room is for working will only make it harder to keep a good life schedule. Designate one room for working from home and design it around your habits and needs.
Tech out your work station
A difference you’ll likely notice working from home in comparison to an office is the drop off in quality of equipment. It’s unlikely your home office has a workstation as well designed as the one at your desk at work.
StarTech’s guide to the perfect docking station highlights how we now find ourselves moving around and jumping between tasks more than ever, even at home. Having technology that allows you to do that is just as essential at home as in the office or on the move.
If you do your best work with two monitors and a particular desk size then try and replicate that feeling when working from home. For a lot of people working from home is about comfort, but trying to do a full day of work with your laptop on your lap isn’t ideal.
Have an office structure
If you’re new to working from home it can be tempting to be a bit liberal with your work schedule. With no one watching over your shoulder and the lack of a productive office atmosphere it’s a lot easier to take an extra break to stare at your phone for half an hour. To make sure your productivity levels stay high and your guilt levels low you should try and stick to the same schedule that made you a success in the office.
Limit the number of breaks you take and don’t be tempted to elongate your lunch with an extra episode of something on Netflix. Mindset is a big part of what makes working from home successful. If you can carry over the same schedule you kept in the office it’ll be a more seamless transition.
Working from home can be lonely. You need people out of the house to keep yourself focused, but you miss out on the buzz of an office environment. There’s no need to feel disconnected though. There are a number of tools for staying in touch with your team remotely without having to spend all day on the phone. You can also keep an eye on what people are doing so you don’t lose step with the rest of the team and get a bigger picture of the business operation.
If you frequently speak to clients make a point of scheduling regular meetings with them over phone or video chat. This can help break up your day and act as a replacement for the contact you’d usually get from colleagues. Suddenly previously boring client meetings become a highlight of the day.
Treat your space like an office
A happy workspace is a productive workspace. When working from home keep the house as if all your colleagues were there too. Don’t just keep your workspace clean, make sure the house is somewhere you enjoy being and has an ambiance you enjoy. Businesses have noticed the benefits in recent years in having lots of plants, plenty of natural light and pleasant scents. Modern workplaces are often a nice place to be, so replicate that in your home.
Maybe work in your PJ’s if it makes you feel more at ease, but try and avoid sitting around in your underwear. Working as if someone else is in the room with you is about keeping yourself productive and retaining a professional state of mind for the full workday.
Keep to-do lists
Everyone working from home has the same thoughts. Maybe I should just clean those dishes quickly. The house could probably use a vacuum. Chores have never been as appealing as they are when you’re working from home, but you need to resist the urge and stay on track. Making a daily to-do list before you go to bed every night is a great way to achieve this. It leaves you with no illusion about what needs to get done that day and gives you direction, which is what remote workers need more than anything.
Working from home is both a blessing and a curse. It can be relaxing to skip the commute and have an extra half hour in bed, but home can become somewhere you become stressed and unproductive. Follow these tips to keep your performance levels up wherever you work.
Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Rodney Laws. Here is additional information he provided about himself.
Rodney Laws is an eCommerce platform specialist and online business consultant. He’s worked in the eCommerce industry for nearly two decades, helping brands big and small to achieve their business goals. You can get his advice for free by visiting EcommercePlatforms.io and reading his detailed reviews. For more tips and advice, reach out to Rodney on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.
More likely than not, the first thing that people come across when conducting a simple search over search engines for you are your social media profiles – your twitter feed, your Facebook pages, and your LinkedIn profile.
Your personal brand is your online persona. It is how the world sees you and people perceive you. It is the unique combination of your skills, personality, and experience that comes together to form your online persona and sets you apart from your peers and competitors.
Let’s get real though. Coding is where your passion lies.
Marketing yourself online and honing your virtual image is probably something you are least interested in. You would much rather immerse yourself in the code.
“Good people put their heads down and get caught up in their job and forget they have a whole career to manage.” – Pamela Rucker, chairwoman of CIO executive council’s executive women in IT.
While marketing may not be the thing you have a natural affinity for, it is definitely something you should work on to differentiate yourself in the ultra-competitive tech world and open up a myriad of opportunities as well.
As a web developer, you cannot underestimate the importance of having a strong online presence.
Jeff Atwood, the co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse said in his blog post, “Mere competence in a technical discipline is not enough. That’s the minimum required to keep your head above water.”
A strong online presence and a distinguishable personal brand is a tool that every developer needs in his/her arsenal that can open up a box full of possibilities.
Getting on the recruiters’ radars and getting job offers is just the tip of the iceberg of opportunities. When done right, personal branding has reportedly led developers to land lucrative jobs with developer salaries towards the developer salaries towards the higher end of the spectrum, just based on their online presence.
It has even helped developers establish themselves as entrepreneurs through their personal brand. Most importantly, it has empowered web designers and developers with control over their own online reputation.
How to create a compelling personal brand?
A large number of software developers have taken to personal branding in one form or the other. Everybody left, right and center is busy making a blog, tweeting about it on Twitter, posting on LinkedIn and sharing across Facebook.
How do you make your voice heard over the din?
Here’s the strategy you need to follow to make sure that your personal brand sends out from the rest, builds your reputation and ensures that you land in a goldmine of opportunities.
1. Find your brand before you start building it
What value can you add to the existing ton of information already out there?
It is easy to feel overwhelmed looking at the knowledgeable resources being published every day. The imposter syndrome is very real and figuring out your unique selling point (USP) is important for you to be able to overcome it.
You don’t have to be a subject matter expert to share something value-adding. Even if the knowledge you share is not something you, your unique angle or perspective has the potential to make it useful for someone reading it.
The personal brand you aim to build should reflect that. It is supposed to be “personal”. This doesn’t mean that you talk about your vacation plans or food preferences.
Have a passion project? Talk about it.
Learning a new language? Share your experience
Your personal brand needs to reflect who you are, what challenges you face and the steps you take to finally overcome them.
2. Focus on creating content and taking a strategic approach
How wonderful it would be if you only had to hit the publish button and readers would come pouring in. The reality, however, is that unless you take a strategic approach, the content you create is never going to see the light of the day, despite being amazing in quality.
Even publishing content on Medium doesn’t guarantee you traffic (even though it is the primary reason why developers blog on Medium). Social media is tricky unless you already have garnered a significant following.
Step 1: Build your own website
As a web developer, you can choose to code from scratch and your website can also double up as a project within your portfolio. If coding your website isn’t something you fancy or don’t have time for, a simple WordPress hosted website will also do.
Your website doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to have a decent UI/UX and feel professional.
While you might not be a marketing pro, understanding the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) and how the search algorithms work is critical to ensuring that the content you create reaches its full potential.
Step 3: Target the right audience
The homepage of your website should communicate exactly what is it that you specialize in. For example, if you are a Python developer, when a recruiter is searching for the same, your website should turn up in the search results.
How do you do that?
Identify the bottom of the funnel keywords. These are the phrases that people looking to hire someone with a skill you possess are actively searching the internet for. When you are writing blog posts, make sure those address the how-to queries regarding the area of your specialization.
Step 4: Build your blog’s authority
If you have just started your website, the domain authority is likely going to be low. Backlinks from high authority publications pass on the link equity to your website which is important for getting your content to rank.
There are several developer-focused publications you can write for. This way you can share your knowledge, contribute to the developer community and build backlinks to your own website at the same time.
If readers find your content valuable, they will likely follow the trail of links back to your own blog resulting in referral traffic at the same time.
3. Make sure your content doesn’t sit idle on your website
Blogging about something and then forgetting all about it is something that happens all too often. Don’t let the content you publish collect dust on your website.
Keep updating your content
The thing about technology as an industry is that it is highly dynamic. It is constantly changing and the stuff that is valid and relevant right now would likely become outdated or obsolete.
Keep going through the older posts, add or remove relevant data to keep your blog up-to-date.
Once your website grows, conducting periodic content audits can be a good idea as well. This removes the stuff that isn’t relevant anymore and also gives a boost to your SEO rankings.
Share it across the social channels
If you want to take full ownership of your personal brand, you have to make sure that your content reaches far and wide. This is where the power of social media comes into play. You don’t have to be an expert at social media to promote your content on it.
Choose your channel and interact with people there. The philosophy behind this should be value addition rather than self-promotion. Social media can be a great avenue for fostering relationships and engaging with the developer community at large.
Certain platforms such as Reddit have highly engaged communities where you can contribute and grow at the same time. Github and Stack overflow are also excellent avenues for engaging with the developer community and if you aren’t utilizing these channels already, you definitely should.
Repurpose your content to drive more value out of it
The value of the content you produce doesn’t end once you click on the publish button. The time is ripe to be experimenting with different formats. Video content is all the rage right now. Podcasts are also hugely popular among the developer community.
So the tutorial you just published on your blog can be converted into a YouTube video or a podcast and shared. It makes you accessible to your peers who may prefer watching or listening over reading about something.
4. Patience and consistency is the key to success
All good things take time, so don’t jump into establishing your personal brand expecting overnight miracles. Be consistent in your strategy and have the patience for the results to show and if the strategy is right, rewards would definitely flow through.
The quest to build your personal brand needs to continue right alongside your journey as a software developer. It might be a lot of effort in the initial stages but once you get started, the results will only get compounded over time.
Whether it is being recognized within the developer community, showcasing your skills, building your reputation or getting lucrative job offers, personal branding can help you accomplish all this and more.
Remember, achieving a balance between working and simultaneously talking about it is the true hustle. So, be a hustler!
Whether you run a small business, a personal brand, or a multinational agency, search engine optimization can help you take your business performance to the next level.
Here’s a couple of interesting facts. Google receives over 74,000 searches every second; 67% of the clicks go to the top five results. There’s one conclusion that we can draw: if you want to create a consistent source of organic traffic, your website’s content needs to rank high.
SEO is a process, not a result. It requires planning, maintenance, consistent testing, and optimization. It is similar to any website optimization – you keep improving it over and over again and you don’t stop.
I’m going to share three critical steps that will help you optimize your website for the search engines. Pay attention, take notes, and apply them!
Search engine optimization is highly related to keywords. Let me give you an example. If you type into Google the phrase “how to optimize website”, you’ll get different results compared to an extremely similar search term (“how to optimize a website”). Even though there’s a very small difference, it still matters.
Therefore, keyword research process is the first step in your SEO methodology. You must know your target audience and predict their intentions in order to offer them relevant content.
Start by identifying relevant keywords through brainstorming. Go to Google and type in those keywords and key phrases and look for suggested searches. Add the suggested terms to your list. Check out different industry forums to detect any possible search terms and add them to your list.
Once you have a decent list of keywords, you’re ready to continue the process. Take advantage of the following tools:
Keywordtool.io (helps you discover more keywords)
Google Keyword Planner (keyword analysis)
SEMRush (keyword analysis)
Before you start focusing on keywords that you’ve brainstormed yourself, you need to validate those keywords. Use Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush to figure out the difficulty, the competition, and the potential of those keywords.
As you validate keywords, add them to a new list of “confirmed keywords” and start planning your future content around those keywords.
Continuous Testing and Measuring
Test, test, test. That’s the number one advice that you’ll receive from most SEO professionals. You need to analyze your search engine rankings and your incoming traffic in order to figure out the effectiveness of your keywords and strategies. You can use a free rank tracker tool to simplify the process. Ensure that you’re measuring your results properly and keep track of the changes. You need to create connections. Figure out what changes produced the best results and try to replicate that in your future attempts. Check the screenshot below:
You must also pay attention to your link building strategies. The quality of your outbound and inbound links is directly proportional to your ranking performance. There are plenty of tools that can help you track and measure your backlinks portfolio, so make sure you use them.
Maintenance is key. You should consistently add and modify keywords according to your results. As I’ve mentioned above, SEO is a journey, not a result!
Speed Up Your Pages
Speed matters. If your webpages load slowly, you’ll offer a bad user experience, and users will immediately bounce off your website. When that happens, Google will immediately take notice and start decreasing your rankings.
To improve your website’s loading speed, take advantage of the following tactics:
Minimize HTTP requests
Minify and combine your files (images, videos, etc.)
Reduce server response time
Buy a better hosting plan
Run compression audits
Enable browser caching
Reduce the size of your images
Reduce the plugins
If some of these tips sound complicated, make sure you explore them using this useful post. Improving your website’s loading speed is critical since Google’s officials have specifically declared that speed is an important SEO factor.
Investing in SEO is one of the best ways to capture highly targeted traffic that are ready to interact with your brand. I believe that SEO is both an art and a skill. If you think about it, every skill needs to be practiced over and over again until one achieves mastery.
Of course, it’s going to be difficult at first, especially because SEO results don’t show up overnight. However, as you focus on your webpage optimization on a consistent basis, you’ll slowly gain a stable source of passive traffic that will significantly boost your marketing and sales performance!
About the author: Kate Peterson is a digital marketer, graphic designer, and content developer. She’s currently developing a beginners’ digital marketing course that aims to provide a comprehensive online marketing methodology. In her free time, she is contributing to various social causes through various non-profit movements.
An industry that has experienced the biggest transformation in recent years, mainly because of the use of the Internet, is trade. Either numerous companies are switching entirely to eCommerce, or it makes up an enormous part of their business.
As we all know, eCommerce is a very competitive and challenging field. It’s getting harder to attract users to visit your website in the ocean of the same or similar offers and to buy products from you rather than someone else. This means that website owners and digital marketers have to work assiduously and think of different strategies to achieve desired results, i.e., drive traffic to their eCommerce website (and ultimately sell their products or services).
There are two well known options: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Which is more critical for your eCommerce business – traffic to your website or conversions? These two strategies shouldn’t be mutually exclusive; the best way to have a successful eCommerce business is to combine these. Before going deeper, let’s review some basics.
What Is eCommerce?
For anyone just getting started in this field, eCommerce refers to acts of buying and selling products online. Some advantages of this approach include: lower costs, less physical limitations (such as floor space for customers), and increased visibility. In fact, to be successful today, a business is almost required to have a website and eCommerce capabilities.
CRO and SEO are separate eCommerce marketing strategies, but they are closely connected and necessary for a successful eCommerce business. If you are just getting started (and located in the UK), you might want to investigate some of these providers.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the strategy to increase website visibility and, subsequently, traffic by posting engaging content. CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization — a system designed to increase the number of people who will not only visit the website, but become customers. Neither of these two strategies, if used alone, is enough to get the results that you want. You need SEO for eCommerce website to attract people and draw attention to your eCommerce business. CRO eCommerce is necessary because, without it, you just have people who are looking at your products but not buying them.
How They Overlap
Some people believe that SEO and CRO are like cheese (SEO) and a mouse trap (CRO). Both of these strategies focus on users and must provide quality content. The work of web developers in building site architecture, and developing a framework for web content creation, affect both aspects equally. Here is how you can combine them to increase your sales and make your business stand out as a leader in this field.
Create an attractive design. Nothing makes a stronger first impression than website design. People often decide about purchasing your products based on what they learn from your content. However, an inaccessible messy design with poor navigation will turn them away. How does a customer feel while browsing through the pages of your eCommerce business. Important aspects to consider are brand awareness, impact on bounce rate, and website security.
Always provide interesting content. If you want to draw visitors (potential customers) to your website, you need to ensure to provide the best possible content. Here are some tips to remember. Use proper keywords associated with your products or services. Use a Call to Action where appropriate. Invite your readers to do something to get a product or get more information so they can decide to purchase what you are selling. Examples of such sentences are: Call Us Today to Have Your Product Delivered Tomorrow; Want to Know More About This Fantastic Appliance? Contact Us Now!
Create pages on social networks and integrate them into your website. It is well known that social media and eCommerce businesses work well together. The more you are advertising your product on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, the greater your chances of making a profit. There are many approaches you can choose to increase your visibility and sales using social media. Some of them are homepage social feeds, product pages, and hashtags.
It is no secret that eCommerce is a rapidly expanding field with a lot of competitors. This also means that both SEO and CRO are getting more complicated. Successful business requires the use of both strategies. However, finding the right way how to implement them simultaneously isn’t always straightforward.
We would like to hear from you if you are using these strategies for your eCommerce business! What are your experiences with SEO and CRO? We would also like to know your opinions, comments, or ideas if you are thinking about starting your own business.
About the author. Thomas Glare is a marketing specialist and a communication manager of various eCommerce portals. You can often see Thomas at marketing conferences. He likes to spend his free time watching British crime mystery web series.
Did you know that while you browse your favorite sites across the internet, your internet provider secretly sits on the other end of your screen watching your every move? Scary? While just makes for a funny scary story, the reality isn’t much different from this scenario.
Although there’s no one looking out for the sites you visit, there are people who can do so if they wish. Also, some internet companies record user browsing data and internet behavior to bag revenue from advertisement companies.
What’s more? In 2017, some members of the U.S. Senate voted in favor of selling internet browsing data recording from millions of people like yourself. If you are uncomfortable with this, you may want to do something. The solution? Get a VPN for yourself!
What Is a VPN?
VPN is an abbreviation for Virtual Private Network. As the name suggests, it’s a private network that overrides your original internet connection and directs you towards, safe, protected servers.
This means the VPNs route your data through encrypted servers that work to hide your online browsing details. Consequently, the private network saves you from all kinds of dangers lurking online such as hackers, identity theft, and commercial data selling.
We know what you’re thinking, you don’t really care who knows what you’re up to right? Here’s a secret, VPN can help you get into content and restricted web searches that you can’t access through your local network.
How? Well, you must’ve noticed how your local internet provider directly takes you to the regional page of websites like Amazon and eBay. Meaning, they know where you’re logging in from. Your VPN gives you a whole new identity online, which means you can access online material that’s not available in your regions, such as movies and educational resources as well.
Nowadays, VPNs are being used everywhere from corporate offices to top-secret government agencies. They are essential to organizations that need remote access to their networks on a regular basis. Also, it’s a valuable solution for people who value their privacy and get the protection they need from virtual threats.
Why Do You Need a VPN?
To make the reason as clear as possible, a VPN simply creates a direct, secure passage connecting one computer to another. If you’re not convinced yet and need specific reasons to use get a VPN for yourself, here are some situations where a VPN can mean a lot to you.
Be Safe On Public WiFi
It’s commonplace for us to inquire about the free WiFi services before choosing a restaurant to dine in. Believe it or not, connecting your device to one of these WiFi connections without a VPN can be the biggest risk to take. That’s because, these networks are open to anyone, and can provide a straight passage for malware from other devices to invade yours.
Similarly, the WiFi can also be a trap to get you into phishing scams raging through the internet these days. A VPN connection helps ensure you don’t fall prey to any of these situations.
Get Through Streaming Restrictions
Are you tired of Netflix blocking certain content because of your geographical location? The same dilemmas can get you on BBCi and even YouTube and Instagram. While browser proxies can get you through these restrictions, they slow down the streaming speed making for an unpleasant viewing experience. To get through these restrictions, a VPN is the best option.
Avoid Censorship Regulations
Some oppressive governments impose restrictions on their citizens regarding what they view and visit. These regulations are also virtually reinforced to combat any intrusion, so if you try to get into any prohibited online pages, they’ll know.
That’s where a VPN comes in. As mentioned before, it encrypts your data and conceals your identity completely. This way, you can get through the oppressive regulations and censors without exposing yourself in any way.
Encrypt Your Online Data
When you’re using a VPN, the network creates a secure passage for you to send your data through. So any activity you conduct with the VPN app running will be private and encrypted. Every VPN connection offers an app that you can use to activate and deactivate the connection on your device according to your needs.
How To Choose Your VPN?
Convinced? Then you’ve probably started conducting your search for the perfect VPN for yourself. Attributing to the high consumer demand, there are a plethora of companies providing VPN services. If you choose the wrong one, you’ll end up exposing your data to yet another unreliable third party, which can be hazardous to your privacy. Here’s how to choose an ideal VPN network.
Price And Security
Most of the time, the level of security you’ll get with a VPN is directly proportional to the price. For normal users, mainstream VPN providers costing under $5 will work well. To choose the best one, you should go through the user reviews to get a clear evaluation of the service you’re about to purchase. Also, go with well-known and reputable companies to avoid getting into a scam.
User Data Logs
If security is your main concern when getting a VPN connection as compared to unlimited access to content, you should check whether or not the company keeps logs of their user data. These logs can be used to track you or your online activity. For extra security, you should choose one that doesn’t save your online browsing details.
What could be worse than paying for a VPN service that slows down your device and makes streaming almost impossible? To avoid this situation, you should do your research about the number of servers a VPN network has. This way, you won’t put yourself at risk of overcrowded servers and slow connections.
Multiple Device Compatibility And Clear User Interface
Many VPN networks allow you to sign in with your account on multiple devices. If you can get this service at an affordable price range, you should definitely go for it as it keeps you from getting restricted to one device.
Most importantly, check the interface of the app you’re purchasing. The most clutter-free and clear the interface is, the easier it’ll be to use.
We hope you found this guide for VPNs useful. It’s a great personalized tool for people in favor of internet freedom and browsing privacy. Select the ideal VPN service for yourself today and go incognito for all your online operations.
Everyone who runs a website has heard of DDoS attacks and hopes never to see one at their doorstep. But, what do you really know about these attacks? Our perception can be muddied by several myths and misconceptions. Also, to efficiently protect one’s website from such attacks one needs to understand what they are. Let’s review the fundamentals.
Understanding DDoS attacks
A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack takes place when a hacker sends a lot of traffic to a particular website, essentially overwhelming it. The website server gets overloaded with these malicious requests and can’t function properly so it becomes inaccessible to visitors.
Perhaps you have seen situations when a website of some company can’t be accessed at the time of an important event or release connected to it (maybe it has even happened to you – and hey, there’s no shame in it; it has also happened even to Amazon). It occurs when the traffic is too high and the company’s servers can’t handle it.
A DDoS attack seeks to emulate such a situation, only without the pleasant (save for the headache that is fixing it!) feeling that you managed to draw so many people to your website.
In a sense, this type of attacks is somewhat similar to spam: flooding some resource with tons of undesired information and making it hard to find legitimate emails. Or, in this case, just crashing the website.
In a DDoS attack, the perpetrator gains access to computers or other devices that are connected to the Internet and uses their bandwidth to perform the attack. It is most often done with the users whose devices are being used for this purpose are not even aware. Usually, to hijack the device, the hacker needs to inject it with malware but it isn’t always so.
Sometimes, one can find themselves as a
part of a DDoS attack because of some seemingly safe activity they did online.
One example of that is the 2015 attack on 8chan. To gather their army of invading devices, the hacker bought bandwidth of the users of a popular VPN/proxy address provider through its sister company. Then, people who simply wanted to hide their IPs basically had them borrowed to commit a crime. While the use of that bandwidth to perform an assault on any website is illegal, buying and selling IPs is not. Those users should have read the terms of service which allowed it.
Since malicious traffic is coming from so many sources at once, it is nearly impossible to stop it and block all of it.
Why are such attacks carried out? The primary reason is money, as it’s possible to extort some from the unfortunate victim to stop the attack. On the other hand, sometimes DDoS attacks are performed just out of spite and to sow discord.
But why are DDoS attacks particularly
dangerous today, you might ask? The answer is simple. Just like with any
technology, modern Internet of Things devices that we all love so much can and
are used by bad actors for their purposes which often involve conducting
denial-of-service attacks on websites.
And the scariest thing here is the number of IoT devices. As of 2019, there are almost 27 billion of them worldwide. Moreover, the security of such devices is often lacking as their developers tend to focus more on functionality and, pardon the slang, oomph of their tools than on the questions of cybersecurity that are generally rather boring to the public and can’t be used in advertising as effectively. These two factors put together make our IoT environment something of a time bomb waiting to go off at some hacker’s prompt. The most famous example of an IoT-powered DDoS attack is, perhaps, the Mirai botnet one that happened in 2016.
How can DDoS attacks be prevented?
Most of the ways to protect one’s network or website from DDoS attacks rely on rapid detection. Speed is very important here because the faster the attack is blocked, the less damage it can do.
Detecting a DDoS attack can’t be reliably
done by a human specialist due to how much data they would need to sift through
and how rapidly. Therefore, technical methods have to be used. Of course, since
they are not operated by humans, they must be given some criteria to work with
and understand what qualifies as abnormal activity. Such criteria may include
certain IP addresses and IP ranges that are to be blacklisted, variations of
HTTP cookies, etc.
Once a likely attack is detected, it needs to be quarantined. Today, it is done via a cloud-based solution most of the time because hardware solutions are often too limited in their scope and don’t have enough capacity to deal with all malicious traffic coming with a DDoS attack.
There are various means of getting your
website rid of this undesirable traffic. Black-hole routing, for example,
routes it to a dead address that no host machine is assigned to, causing DDoS
traffic to be “dropped” there harmlessly.
“Scrubbing” data centers are another way of traffic filtering. All traffic coming to your website is transferred to such a data center where it is determined if it’s legitimate or not.
Another undoubtedly cool way to protect
your website from DDoS attacks is a very futuristic one. However, today, we
have technologies that weren’t imaginable just a few decades ago as something
that will be actually available to the mortals.
I’m talking, of course, of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML).
The main benefit of machine learning is that
it’s not simply a set of filters that legacy protection measures often provide.
It can, indeed, learn to see patterns that are common to something. What
interests us the most is that AI can be taught what a particular website’s
traffic normally looks like and notice any irregularities faster and more
efficiently than any human can.
However, unlike simple filtering
mechanisms, AI is not limited in it. It doesn’t need a strict set of filters to
determine if an attack is happening because just like a human being (at least,
in theory), it can recognize something it has never seen before (and hasn’t
been told by a human that this is a malicious attempt) as a threat.
All in all, there are many methods of
protection against DDoS attacks. Most of them come in the form of a service
that can be acquired from a security firm. And indeed, such protection is not
cheap. It is a difficult question if your website needs it and there is no
universal answer. Some sites are more likely to get attacked than others. Some
can afford to go down for a couple of hours while others can’t.
The choice is yours. But I hope that now you know a bit more about DDoS attacks and approaches to defend against them.
[Editor’s note: this is a contributed article. Information about the author is found below.]
Sam Chester is a co-founder of Cooltechzone.com, a website dedicated to online privacy and cybersecurity. His area of expertise includes data security and analytics, software, and Internet censorship. He is a staunch supporter of limiting the role of government agencies in the lives of the citizens.
This is no longer just an attention-grabbing business model trend. Remote work has become a valid and feasible work model for employees and companies. Remote work now encompasses employees working out of the office, with a flexible and mobile schedule, and companies hiring professionals that are working remotely.
Companies have expanded services towards outsourcing services, and that they hire remote workers for, such as operational processes and product and software development services. For example, companies and employers can use this link to learn more about software engineering services for their custom software development services needs.
But why remote work? How has it impacted the workforce and employment movement?
Remote Work: Popular and Viable
Remote work has grown 44% over the last 5 years, and between 2016 and 2017 found a 7.9% increase globally. The top fields with the greatest number of remote workers are Computer and IT, Health and Medical, Sales, Education and Training, and Customer Service.
In 2015, around 8% of
all the full-time computer programmers in the US worked from home. This
percentage has been growing steadily over the past couple of years. In the IT
and software development industry, many programmers find the benefits of
working from home are better than working in the office the entire day.
According to the State of Software Development in 2019, the major challenges encountered in software development are limited capacity and knowledge sharing. To address these challenges, the majority of companies allow their employees to do remote work. This then opened up the opportunity for outsourcing projects and business processes.
Advantages of Remote Work
Why is remote work so preferred by both companies and employees? Interviews with executives have shed some light on some of the advantages of the business model. And studies and market statistics have shown why remote work for software developers is the way forward with many a software development services company. Below are the major drivers we found as to why webmasters will find remote work as a business model beneficial, either as an employee or as an employer.
As an Employee
Increased work productivity. Studies have shown that working remotely leads to increased productivity for employees. Remote employees or those working on remote jobs are empowered to find the space and mindset that enables them to work optimally. Remote workers leveraging this freedom to choose when and where to work to work are more productive and able to accomplish more tasks, participate and collaborate better, and have a better disposition at work.
Increased mobility. Remote employees can work from anywhere. Remote jobs provide employees the benefit of being able to work anywhere that they are most comfortable at. The most popular place to work at, for remote employees, are at home in their home office, followed by working out of cafes or coffee places. Working remotely enables employees to be more mobile and spaces where they are most comfortable and most productive.
Improved work-life balance. Having a flexible timetable is the benefit that remote workers are most appreciative of. Remote work enables employees to spread out their time between work, time with friends and family, and hobbies, leading to a more positive work-life balance.
Individuals in the workforce that value experiences and personal growth over possessions find this highly favorable, especially in their work environment. This improved balance between work and non-work activities lead to less stress and more productivity for workers.
Reduced employee expenses. Because of its impact on their daily spending, employees are further encouraged to do remote work. Remote employees or workers that telecommute spend less on commuting, fuel, food, and car maintenance. An average worker usually spends around $10 a day just going to a from work, which accumulates to around $2,600 annually. Remote employees and those that work from home save on this expense and spend this money on better things.
As a Company
Improved employee retention. Remote work empowers employees to be more productive at home, in their own space, and enjoy the benefits of employment. Remote employees that are more than satisfied with their working environment engender appreciation and positivity towards their bosses and company.
Because employees are more satisfied with their remote work situation, they are more likely to stay with the company. With a company able to adapt to remote workers and provide their needed benefits, employees have more reason to stay and keep working for the company.
Increased workforce diversity. Employing remote workers opens a company to the opportunity to hire skilled professionals from all over the world. This approach enables the company to improve the diversity in their workforce by onboard remote employees that come from across different gender, ethnicity, and location, and abilities.
Take for example a software development services company, they can employ remote expert software engineers and software developers to build solutions for their clients. Or the company itself is remote and collaborates with other companies.
Reduced operational costs. Companies engaging remote employees in their workforce incur fewer expenses in setting up their office needs. Instead of physical offices and utilities, costs go to setting up tools and processes that would make remote jobs all the more efficient and effective. These costs are a lot cheaper to establish and maintain in the long run.
In the case of our software development services company example, in engaging the services of remote software engineers and software developers, this company can focus their operational costs in purchasing and maintaining communication, project management, and task tracking tools and software.
No business model is perfect. Remote jobs also have pitfalls:
Communication and collaboration can be a challenge to establish and maintain.
There can be difficulty distancing oneself from work and unplugging.
Employees may feel disconnected from work and life and experience loneliness.
Distractions from home or non-work environments can be a hindrance to productivity and remote employee time tracking and management.
But the challenges and pitfalls that may be encountered with remote work can be solved and improved. It makes for an effective working model and this is what is important. It has revolutionized work and the quality of work-life balance that employees can achieve. It has also provided companies and employers a viable and reliable means of increasing their workforce.
Remote work is not perfect, but, when done correctly, it is highly effective.
Editor’s note: This guest post was provided by Kateryna Boiko. She is a Marketing Manager at Mobilunity, Provider of Dedicated Development Teams with 9 years of hands-on experience in digital marketing. Kateryna managed to work with diverse industries and markets and now is keen on sharing unique cases with the world and coach on topics relevant to Web Analytics and Search Engine Optimization.
[Editor’s note – we thought it might be helpful to review some of the basics of eCommerce sites via this guest article. Let us know if your find these review articles helpful (via the comments section).]
The modern world of technology has many great opportunities
for businesses to attract customers and gain successful brands. Imagine this;
your business is everywhere you go. Great, isn’t it?
With the high growth and demand of the online industry, the majority of marketers try to make a step forward. If you also try to create your own store where you can offer your products or services, then, congrats! You are in the right way of getting a range of benefits.
How e-commerce websites differ from other sites
While ordinary websites are generally designed for sharing information, eCommerce websites are online platforms that give the possibility for offering products and services by means of the data and fund transfers. Through a number of SEO services and other marketing tactics, the site gains visibility and loyalty. SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages) target many visitors who surf the Internet for a desired product or service.
Why it this important?
Any web professional of an experienced digital marketing agency (such as the one I work for) values the role and importance of having an eCommerce website. Why?
The reason for this is its huge role in digital marketing. Regardless of the size, type, product, service or budget, any company can take advantages of building an eCommerce website. They not only integrate SEO services for increased visibility but also bring together different marketing strategies; like SMM (Social Media Marketing), PPC (Pay Per Click), Content Marketing, Email Marketing, and more, to facilitate the process of online sales.
Are websites are still relevant in this “mobile” world?
Although new technologies continue to emerge in our digital world (such as AR, Augmented Reality) and people tend to search mostly on mobile devices, mobile apps have not replaced websites; instead, websites become inseparable parts of mobile as well. While designing a website many digital marketing agencies choose the mobile-first approach, others make your website mobile-friendly. Websites are and will remain relevant for several reasons:
They include a variety of features .
They help strengthen your brand .
They provide the opportunity to include back-links.
93% of people start the product or service search in search engines (and your website can broaden your reach beyond just an app) .
They can be more cost-effective .
Let’s see some key benefits of eCommerce websites in today’s market.
Sell your Products Worldwide
56% of people in the world use the Internet; each of them can become your buyer. Digitization promises that this percentage will grow day by day. Among search engines, only Google has 3.5 billion searches every day. Hence, these numbers show the potential and possibility of gaining quality traffic with the help of well-optimized website for search engines.
It is open 24/7
While a real store can be open 24/7, not all people will go to it in late hours for shopping. However, many people tend to make a fast buying decision and websites allow getting what they want when they want it. Having online support or including chat-bots can be a solution if people have additional questions.
Your website can become a great tool for gaining brand awareness. However,this only works when people find you. This made easier due to a number of marketing tactics, like SEO, PPC, SMM, and similar approaches.
You can use social media platforms for your business, however, a website is more informative. Everything goes around your business. The quality and relevant content that you include, videos, images, navigation bar; every simple element can give your customer much information about your business.
It Builds Trust
People are more likely to trust your business if you show them your brand “image”. A good design and the contact information which you include give your brand added value.
Websites promise targeted and quality traffic, especially if they are organic. People who search and visit your website are more likely to purchase, than if they meet your business accidentally. Keywords and content that your website includes will meet the customer’s needs, if you create them taking into consideration searcher intent.
Website content allows including back-links which increases your chance of becoming more visible to your target market. Search engines, especially Google, can provide value to quality back-links which help find your business. Often, trust and relevance increase over those sites that do not include such links.
Increase your Brand Reputation
Since people can find everything connected to your business, they become more confident in your products or services which in turn helps to build loyalty. The better your website is (including accessibility), the higher it will be viewed and perceived by potential buyers.
Building a website is not risky and does not demand much money, however, it is a good investment for building a professional brand. When you optimize the website to meet the needs of users and search engines, you will get a chance to get high ROI. Optimizing your websites for search engines with the help of different SEO services you will manage to increase your website credibility, grow your target audience and increase your revenue.
Tigran Mirzoyan is a marketing and creative content specialist at Smarketa.com with a primary focus on SEO, PPC and customer satisfaction for eCommerce businesses. He draws inspiration from the simple things in everyday life.