10 things you should know about any website before buying or giving your personal information away. How to tell a shady website from a reputable one.

Here are a few tips about how to tell if the website you are visiting is a reputable one or a shady one that you should not trust your personal information and credit card data.

  1. Design, look and feel
    For a company that sells product online and makes a profit, designing a good-looking website is not very expensive. If a business skimped on a decent-looking website, what else did it decided to save money on? Data security? Personal information? Ecommerce? Customer relations? As a rule of thumb – if the website looks outdated and neglected – stay away.
  2. Mobile compatibility
    All modern websites should be mobile compatible – designers and business owners know that. So if you load a website on your phone and it looks like a tiny scaled version of desktop website impossible to navigate without pinching to zoom in – it means the website is old and not being taken care of properly.
  3. Excessive advertising
    A reputable business won’t shove many ads in your face. So if you see more than one pop-up, many ads on the homepage, and especially ads of other businesses and products not related to the website – it means the website owner is not serious about providing information or selling products and is trying to squeeze every cent on renting advertising, or alternatively is hosting the website on free hosting demanding running ads as a form of payment.
  4. Policies and Terms of use
    Nobody reads Terms and Conditions pages on the websites. I don’t urge you to start now, but you should definitely check if any online store has a link to its policies and terms. Most payment gateways demand that websites have it and most clients may want to check what the return policy is for example. So if those pages are not present – the owner is not serious about his business.
  5. Clear contact information, phone and address
    Any reputable business should have a clear and detailed contact information listed on its website. That includes a phone (1-800 number indicates a larger business, while regular number is typical of a small business), email address (preferably) or a contact form, and physical address of business. Not listing address is shady and is not a good sign.
  6. Writing Style
    Poor spelling and bad grammar are indicate that the site may not be credible: as website is a public face of the business, all contents should be carefully written, sometimes by professional copywriters, verified and spell-checked and carefully designed to convey the professional message to targeted audience. If it’s sloppy, incoherent and has grammar and spelling mistakes – you can be sure that this indicates how the whole business is managed and run. Stay away.
  7. No Secure SSL connection or certificate mismatch
    If you are paying online the website has to have a secure SSL connection (usually marked by a green lock symbol next to the URL), and by clicking on the lock symbol you can verify what certificate it is using – it has to match with the URL. Never by anything from an unsecured website.
  8. Browser security warnings.
    This one is simple: Make sure your browser is up to date (I recommend Chrome). If you see a browser warning about the website possibly containing a malicious code – run away. The site has been hacked or initially created with malicious intent in mind.
  9. Weird URL
    Look for misspellings or strange-looking URLs. Those can indicate “typo squatting”.
  10. Flash Player or other unwanted downloads
    If a website prompts you to download Flash Player or “additional codec” to play videos, or anything else you are not familiar with – run away. In the best case – it’s a very outdated website that still runs Flash, so it’s not to be trusted.

Roman Bershadsky

ROMAN DESIGN is an Award-winning web design studio based in Oakville and serving Toronto and GTA region, providing state of the art web design and development, graphic design, video production and photography services to corporate and small business clients.

Email: [email protected]

Creating and Managing Small Business Website

In the Creating and Managing Small Business Website seminar in Oakville we have outlined major goals and ways to reach them for small business owners in order to create, promote and manage a company website. The topic proved to be very relevant and popular, with many questions and a positive reaction. More seminars will follow, to educate Oakville business community about basic web design and management knowledge. No matter if you do it yourself or hire a web design and SEO professionals – you need to know how to define and set goals and how to judge the effectiveness of what you are doing.

CloudFlare CDN cache test speed before engaging CloudFlare CDN:

Tested from New York City, New York, USA on January 6 at 12:54:36
Page size – 6.9MB
Load time – 2.45s
Requests – 113
Perf. grade – 79/100
Your website is faster than 63% of all tested websites

Google PageSpeed (with minify disabled in W3 Total Cache) is 65/100 for mobile and 73/100 for desktop. With minify enabled it was 74/100 for desktop. The best result before video was added to homepage was 87/100 for desktop and 72/100 for mobile.

We’ll see how it improves after nameservers update for CloudFlare CDN. It looks promising, because they have servers in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver!

CloudFlare CDN test – after two weeks

Pingdom ranking did not improve, however Google PageSpeed score significantly improved after two weeks of testing: 86/100 for desktop and 72/100 for mobile. Before CDN it was 74 for desktop, so the improvement is significant. CloudFlare improves content delivery in specific areas – for example in Canada they have servers in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and it hardens security. It will also keep website’s cached version online if hosting goes down temporarily. So it’s a keeper.

Why you should not ever use Comic Sans

Comic Sans font has gained notoriety as the most hated font ever. It’s so dreadful and misused that there are many websites dedicated to banning and hating this font. No self-respecting web designer should ever use this font. It even appears in Weird Al Yankovic video “Tacky” (see around 1:15 minute mark):

Is your website mobile-friendly? Upgrading your website for mobile compatibility

On April 21, 2015 Google has introduced a new update of its mobile ranking algorithm that made mobile-friendly usability factors of your website much more important. Making your website mobile-friendly does not just makes it easier for your visitors on iPhones and Android devices, but mobile-friendly websites rank higher while others can be dropped in mobile search results.

Roman Design now offers Mobile Compatibility Upgrade service that will check your website and make sure that it is fully mobile-friendly and passes a new Google Test.

A new and completely redesigned website is live!

New and completely redesigned website is live! WordPress CMS engine, fully custom responsive design, Bootstrap framework, jQuery, Google fonts, numerous plugins and a lot of the custom code were used in the production of a new website. Caching and minifying techniques were used to speed up the website which achieved a score of 87 on Google PageSpeed. And of course homepage completely validates as HTML5, just as it should.

Based on the new website performance more updates and improvements are sure to follow in 2015.