Kaj Haffenden

Snappy nuggets of business website goodness.

Doing business online inevitably involves creating, memorising and recalling passwords. Understand how to create a strong password to minimise the chance of your security being compromised.

First, make sure you do not use the same password for two different applications of varying importance (for example, your password for a discussion forum and your password for internet banking.)

Next, if you choose to store your passwords in a “safe place”, make sure the security you apply to that safe place is at least as strong as the most important password kept there. For example, if you use a piece of software or a spreadsheet to keep track of passwords, don’t use a weak or easy-to-guess password to access that list.

For the password itself, avoid:

  • Names, numbers and dates associated with you, your family or your business
  • Dictionary words
  • Sequences of letters or numbers

Passwords take longer to crack if they:

  • Contain a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters
  • Contain numbers
  • Contain symbols or special characters
  • Are longer than 6 characters

You can make passwords easier to remember by having a password that is pronouncable, i.e. it follows English word conventions, without actually being a real word. For example, “4toblestic”.

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  • Filed under: Website Security
  • Your website’s words compete with others. Prove your confidence in your product or service by writing assertively; respect your visitor’s time by writing concisely; engage your visitor by writing conclusively.

    Two simple examples:

    • Write in a positive frame; instead of “The restaurant is not open on Mondays”, write “The restaurant opens every night of the week except Mondays.”
    • Turn around passive sentences; instead of “Daily guided tours are operated by our trained naturalists”, write “Our trained naturalists operate daily guided tours.”

    Re-read each page of your website’s content and apply the principles of effective writing to turn your spiel into a pedestal on which your product proudly stands.

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  • Filed under: Writing Style
  • On the web, prospective customers will come from the world over. To make their life easier, make sure that on every page of your website you disclose where you are located, including the country. On every page that includes a price, explain which currency that price is shown in (or, prefix the price with the currency format, e.g. $AU320, A$320 or AU$320 — depending on your preference.)

    If you only ship to your own country, make this clear. If you ship to other countries, explain which countries, be upfront about shipping costs, and include an indicative currency converter (a free tool is available on xe.com.)

    Not only does all this give your visitors essential pre-purchase information, but it demonstrates respect that you are not assuming your visitors are of a particular geographic region.

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  • Filed under: e-Commerce & Shopping Carts
  • If you operate a mail server in your office — for example, if you have an Exchange server — ask your friendly IT technician if you have backup mail servers in place.

    Commonly, a mail server is set up in an office, but if that server goes down (loses power, loses internet connectivity, etc.,) emails sent to that server will start bouncing back at the sender. The longer your server is down, the more likely the emails will bounce back.

    This is rather unprofessional, but the easy answer is to configure backup mailservers. Usually, your Internet Service Provider or your web hosting company will allow you to use their mail servers at no additional cost. The backup mail servers will keep trying to forward emails through to your on-site mail server, and will buy you more time before emails are bounced back.

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  • Filed under: Email, Getting Technical
  • Occasionally you will receive a spam email that appears to be sent from yourself, or a bounce email suggesting you sent a spam email to someone else. Although disconcerting, usually you needn’t be concerned about this.

    When you send an email, you can make the From: address anything you like, and there are many legitimate reasons for why you might do this.

    Spammers, as you would expect, do not use their own email address in the From: field. Instead, they will either use a random email address from the list of email addresses they intend to spam, or they will use the recipient’s own email address in order to confuse the recipient.

    It should be noted that certain viruses can cause your computer to send spam emails, so having up-to-date antivirus software installed is always important.

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  • Filed under: Email