Web Hosting Geeks' Blog https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog Click here for hosting industry most recent updates. Sun, 28 Jan 2018 11:33:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 How Referral Marketing Can Benefit Web Hosts https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/referral-marketing-can-benefit-web-hosts/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/referral-marketing-can-benefit-web-hosts/#comments Wed, 24 Jan 2018 17:49:59 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=21606 Even if the niche of web hosts are fully loaded with a lot of companies they are still one of the easiest to promote because you could write your own...

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Even if the niche of web hosts are fully loaded with a lot of companies they are still one of the easiest to promote because you could write your own experience about them. There are also tools like GTMetrix, to help you see how fast and reliable your site is. And for web host businesses your customers usually stick with you unless something bad happens. Referral programs are the best way to promote this type of business.

The benefits of customer referral programs

Even statistics show that when it comes to buying or trying anything, people would consider recommendations from people they know over ads. And that makes referral programs a very powerful marketing strategy. Online reviews could also help boost the power of a referral program.

When it comes to referral programs, it’s more likely that your customers would be referring you to people who are looking for web hosting. Just like when you’re a wedding planner, your customer would refer you to another person they know that’s planning to get married, they definitely won’t refer you to a person looking for a house as it’s not the slightest bit related. When it comes to referrals, it is more aimed at your target audience which makes it more effective.

And the last best thing you could get from referral programs is the fact that it could turn into a cycle. Your customer referred you, the referred person enjoys your service so they refer you, and it goes on and on. Eventually, your program would grow and so would your business.

How do you setup a referral program?

So, are you finally convinced that referral programs could really make a difference for your web hosting business? Giving rewards in exchange for customers is totally worth it, especially if you get to prove that they will be happy with your service. So here are some things you should do as of setting up a referral program.

There are five things you should do when you are planning to start a referral program.


  1. Find out what your customer would be happy for you to offer

If you have the right incentives, your referral program would definitely work. And they type of incentives would vary from your target audience to another. You have to make your reward one of the reasons why they want to promote you (aside from being happy with your service, of course). In order to know what incentive to use, you have to be able to understand your customer, and in order to achieve that you have to build a relationship with them and ask them or give them choices to choose from.

Rewards vary from cash, discounts, free trials, etc. You can offer them free services depending on their payment method whether they pay monthly or not. Just don’t forget to plan everything out before even starting.

  1. Make your customer want to refer you

Your customer would more likely promote you if it’s simple and quick to do. Everybody has their own preference when promoting, some prefer their blog, some on social media, some on forums, etc. So make sure that you allow them to choose where they are more comfortable to promote you in an easy way. But remember to always make your customer happy because that would be the main reason why your customers would want to tell their friends about you.

  1. Choose the referral software that would match all of your needs while still being good to your pocket.

There are a lot of referral programs that you could run on your own website. You can usually add them as a plug-in or add-on. But make sure that whatever you choose is compatible with your website or else it would be useless.  When you have figured how your customer would want to refer your business, you can start looking for referral program software that could do what your customer wants. Every referral software has their fair share of uniqueness when it comes to features and interface, so It’s usually more of a personal decision that should match your needs.

  1. You’ll have to promote your referral program

Not all of your customers would know if you have a referral program or not, having one wouldn’t mean they would automatically know. You’ll have to advertise and promote it.

You could advertise it by sending out emails, through social media posts, texts, invoices and so many other ways. You could also create a landing page for your referral program that entails details about what you offer, what they could expect as rewards, and what your customer needs.

  1. Make getting a reward easier

Some of your customers could be too busy or just not interested in joining a program. And those that do, should be prioritized to be kept happy. The more that they become happy with the benefits you give, the more that they continue in promoting you.

Another way to make getting rewards easier is by making the process simpler. Set up automated transfers if you are paying cash to make it quicker. No matter what your reward is, make sure that you keep it simple to achieve and be released.

How to promote your referral program

Make use of your email list

When you’re still starting to promote your referral program, you could make an email blast that would share all the necessary details. You should include a call to action button in it that would attract your customers by clicking on it and signing up. Email marketing is a way to market what you offer and at the same time keep your audience engaged. You also have to make sure that you use it to share new updates as well as upcoming updates to your email list. To make your email list better, it’s ideal to divide them into segments. That way, whenever you send out emails you could make it more targeted to their interests.

Let your website proudly wear it

Your referral program should have a real estate on a landing page. You can achieve this by adding a call to action on your website. There are many ways to do that, you could add a link on your header, a sidebar, and even a smack dab in the middle of your page to make customers sign up would do its work.

You could use website menus

If nobody is aware of your referral program then obviously it won’t work, right? So go ahead and make everyone aware that it exists! In the last 5 years, referral programs have been the bomb, people today aren’t just aware of it, they’re even aware of how to use them and what they’re for, actually, they even search for it! So if you don’t have a menu item or a section on your page dedicated to, it’s such a shame. You have to spark the curiosity of your visitors in order to increase your chance of turning them into your very own ambassador.


There’s a shift in paradigm in the world of technology as it’s being swept by a revolution of bots. Every brand are putting an effort into adding a bot interaction with its users. While many people who are focused on marketing have considered bots, there’s more focus on the ways it could boost ROI. But can you imagine if bots have the capability to upsell your referral program instead of just customer support and bookings?

Web Push Notification

For marketers around the world, web push notifications are such a fancy. Even when there’s obviously a debate on the rise of mobile between this, the web still is continuing to thrive. Web push notifications come in to get the attention of dormant users and also works as a playground for people who are promoting referral campaigns.

Bonus strategy to get more customers

Join Forum Discussions

For every niche, there are different forums, and in this forum, you will see people that are more likely interested in you. Join forums that talks about web hosting, try to contribute as much as possible and build a relationship with people in there. On your signature, you can use your URL to your website or to a page where you post special offers so when they click it could spark an interest. While helping people in related forums you are making more people know that you exist, meaning you are bringing more traffic to your business. Remember, be active and don’t just go there to invite, that could turn out negatively.


A referral program could work like a cycle that actually grows. You also gain the ability to keep and make your customers happier but at the same time attract new customers into your business. Your goal should be to set it up right to make sure it would work as an effective way to grow your customer base and lead to a bigger brighter business. So make sure that you choose the software that matches what you need, the right incentives, and an easy to use referral program to achieve more success.

Even if the web hosting industry is packed with a lot of companies, you still have the chance to grow if you have a successful referral program. Each person is looking for something different from hosts they use, problems could arise with some that could lead to their customers to look for another web host. As long as you make sure that your customers are promoting you and having a positive experience with your service, there’s a great chance that more people will know and try what you have to offer. Good luck!

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Broken Links: How to Find, Fix, and Benefit from Broken Links https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/broken-links-find-fix-benefit/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/broken-links-find-fix-benefit/#comments Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:16:23 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=21227 Links are what holds the web together. Essentially, the web is named as such because of the ability for pages and sites to link to other sources and relevant information....

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Links are what holds the web together. Essentially, the web is named as such because of the ability for pages and sites to link to other sources and relevant information. So, if links are broken, a visitor has no way of moving to the other resource.

Not only are broken links bad for a number of reasons, but they frustrate visitors. Imagine finally finding the information you need only to be denied because of a broken link.

broken links - frustrated visitor

This short article will help you understand what broken links are, what causes them, the harm they do, how to find them and then how to fix them. The information provided here will help you make sure that there are no broken links on your site and help you deal with broken links that should be bringing visitors to your site.

What is a Broken Link?

In a test run against a subset of the websites of the S&P 500, Link Tiger found that all of the sites had broken links. The average number of broken links per site was 2.4%. Some of the bigger companies had numbers even higher than that:

  • Tech Data – 8.62%
  • Cisco – 4.85%
  • CenturyLink – 4.64%
  • Apple – 4.57%

While others fared far better:

  • Comcast – .01%
  • Dell – .14%
  • WDC – .33%
  • Xerox – .37%

However, before we dive any deeper it is important to understand what a broken link is. Technopedia defines a broken link as, “a hyperlink which is linked to an empty or non-existent external webpage.” Broken links are also called dead links.

Quite simply, a broken link is a link that doesn’t take you to the expected resource. When you click on a link you expect to visit another webpage, view an image, open a PDF file, etc. When the link is broken you receive a 404-page error instead. This page will tell you that the webpage or file you are looking for is not available.

When a website has not checked for broken links and fixed these dead links for a long time it suffers from link rot. This term describes websites with an abundance of broken links.

What Causes Broken Links?

There is a number of things that cause broken links. Some are the fault of the webmaster and others are the fault of the websites a link is pointing to.

broken links causes

Regardless of who is to blame, broken links are caused by errors that include:

  • The wrong URL used by the website owner for the link. This can happen from a simple typo or mistake when entering the URL into the <href> tag.
  • The destination website removed the resource that you linked to. This happens when content grows stale, images are used without permission or just when the webmaster decides to take something down.
  • The destination website has permanently moved to a new URL. This can result from a merger/acquisition or even a domain name change.
  • The destination website no longer exists. Older studies show that the average lifespan of a webpage is 100 days. There is any number of reasons why someone would take their page, or site, down.
  • The resource you are linking to sits behind a firewall that prevents access to the content. Remember, not everyone makes their content accessible to the rest of the web. Perhaps it was open at one time but now sits behind a paywall.

Understanding why a link is not working is just as important as finding it in the first place. The obvious reason is that if you know why a link is broken, you will know how to fix it. However, let’s take that a step further. If you know what causes broken links, you are also less likely to make those mistakes in the first place.

By lessening the chance of a link breaking from the outset, you are reducing the chance that they will harm your website down the road.

It is unfortunate that many webmasters, marketers and business owners only view broken links as a nuisance rather than a larger problem. Google’s John Mueller once addressed the question:

— Do redirected links cause ranking issues?

by answering:

— The web changes, sometimes old links break. Googlebot isn’t going to lose sleep over broken links :).

Google on Broken Links

So, some people made the assumption that broken links aren’t that big of an issue.

Unfortunately, this is wrong. While a few broken links aren’t going to crush your SEO efforts, they certainly aren’t going to help. Of course, there are other ways that they will cause your website harm as well.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I know, Google says that Googlebot isn’t going to punish you for broken links. However, there are some ways that broken links will hurt your efforts to rank in search engines like Google.

For one, if you are linking to a page within your site and that link is broken the search engine spiders are going to have trouble finding it. When they hit that page not found 404 error, the content you worked so hard to create and promote is getting no love from the search engines.

Once it hits that broken link, it moves on to the next one and any pages that it does not crawl do not get indexed. Pages that aren’t indexed don’t receive a ranking and therefore cannot be found by search engine users.

seo digital marketing

Another way broken links harm your search engine optimization comes from how long visitors stay on your site. If they encounter broken links they are likely going to look elsewhere for the information they need. After all, they can’t find it on your site.

Most experts agree that pages with high bounce rates don’t rank well. They also agree that the time a visitor spends on your site affects your ranking as well. The assumption is that the search engines will think that your site is full of relevant information because visitors spend a lot of time there.

If they are leaving quickly, it’s because your content isn’t relevant or your site isn’t easy to use.

2. User Experience

Users are easily frustrated. If pages don’t load fast enough they leave. If there are too many advertisements, they leave. If there is a paywall, they leave.


If your visitors can’t access the information that they came to your site to find, they are going to leave. They would rather be on a site that works and broken links are a sure fire way to frustrate your visitors.

3. Reputation & Revenue

When a visitor encounters a website that is full of broken links, they are going to avoid it in the future. They simply won’t trust that site to provide the information they need. If that site is yours, your reputation is ruined.

Not only do you run the risk of damaging your reputation with that user, but others as well. KISSmetrics published a study that showed 44 percent of people will tell their friends when they have a bad experience online.

Website Performance Infographic

That same study showed that 79 percent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with a website’s performance are less likely to buy from that site again. So broken links can cost you money as well.

Of course, if links to your product pages or your affiliate products are the ones that are broken you are losing sales as well. You don’t need a degree in economics to see that this too will affect your revenue.

How to Find Broken Links

Now that you are aware of what effect broken links have on your site it is time to fix the issue. We recommend that you check for broken links on a monthly basis at least. This will give you the opportunity to take action and minimize the negative effect of having dead links on your site.

find broken links

If you have the time, or if you are consistently adding new pages to your website, then you are going to want to check more frequently. You don’t need to become obsessive over this, but making it a habit to check for broken links will certainly benefit your website.

As broken links are a problem for webmasters and businesses, there are a number of different tools available to check for them. Some of these tools are completely free while others will require an investment.

1. Google Search Console

One of the most popular, and effective tools is the free Google Search Console.

When you open this tool click on Search Traffic in the right-hand menu and then Internal Links. If you are missing an important page, or the number of links looks off, it could be due to a broken link.

Find broken links with Google Search Console

Next, click on Crawl -> Crawl Errors. Scroll to “Not Found” Section. This will give you a report of all the missing pages on your site with both internal and external links pointing to them.

Find broken links with Google Search Console

2. Xenu

Another popular tool to check for broken links is Xenu. Like the Google Search Console, this is a free product. Since its primary focus is looking for broken links, it is also much easier to use and gives a complete report about the links on your site.

Start by opening Xenu and clicking File and then Check URL. The following window will open for you and you enter the URL of the page you wish to check.

You also have the option of only checking for internal links that are broken. To do this, uncheck the Check external links box.

Once you run the tool, you receive a report of the links found and their status.

Xenu Broken Link Report

Xenu provides you with some other tools as well so you can export the report, build sitemaps and perform some other tasks. If you wish to check a local file, before you upload your code to the web, that option is available too. You also have the option to examine a list of URLs so you can check your entire site at once.

3. Domain Hunter Plus

The final tool we will look at is actually a Chrome extension called Domain Hunter Plus. This allows you to analyze a page you are on to find broken links.

Once you add the extension you will see a small green target on your browser.

domain hunter chrome extension

Navigate to the page you wish to check and click that target. It will run a check on that page and provide you with a report of all the broken links it finds. You can export this report to refer to later if you choose.

domain hunter fabthemes

4. WordPress Broken Link Checker Plugin

If you’re using WordPress for your website, then there’s a free plugin you can install that will automatically monitor your site for broken links.

Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin

After installing the Broken Link Checker plugin on your WordPress website, you’ll get dashboard notifications when a dead link is found. You can then fix the offending link directly through the plugin dashboard without even having to open and edit the page itself.

These are four of the more popular tools. You can find other tools available as well by searching for link checkers if you wish to use something else.

Fixing Broken Links

Now that you have found the broken links on your website it is time to start fixing them.

The way to fix internal links requires you to examine each link to see why it is broken.

  • Did you mistype the URL? If that is the case change it to reflect the correct address for the content you are linking to.
  • Did you rename or move a page? When this happens, you need to update the link to reflect the change.
  • Did you remove the page from your website? If this is the case you need to either remove the link or find another piece of relevant content to link to.

For external links, the process is a bit more difficult.

If the site you were linking to is gone you will need to find somewhere else to link to or remove the link altogether. If the link was to content that supported a claim or statement, find another resource so you keep your credibility intact.

If the broken link is due to an error on your part, you may be able to easily find the correct URL. If you can, change the link. If you cannot find the correct page, search for the site’s main URL using the site: operator and keywords related to the topic.

Search Google for Relevant Sites

You may be able to find the original content or at least something else relevant that you can link to.

What About Incoming Broken Links?

Up until now, we have focused on broken links that exist on your website. However, these are not the only links that cause you problems.

Link building, when done properly, is still an effective SEO technique.

However, if the links pointing to your site are broken you are losing any SEO benefit you could be enjoying, such as improved rankings in the search engines and more visitors to your site.

ahrefs broken links

Therefore, checking for incoming broken links is just as important as looking for broken links on your own site.

You should, as a best practice, keep track of any links you earned through guest posting or other link building strategies. Periodically, you are going to want to audit these links to ensure that they are still working.

Should you find any broken incoming links, reach out to the site owner and ask them to fix them. Check back to see if everything is working properly.

WebMeUp Backlink Checker

Some tools you can use to keep track of and monitor links pointing to your site include AhrefsMajestic, Raven, and WebMeUp.

These backlink checkers are paid tools but many offer free trials to help you decide if they will be beneficial for your website.

Using Broken Links to Your Advantage

Some site owners and organizations don’t bother checking for broken links. Due to this, they may be linking out to content that no longer exists or through user error they might have created the link incorrectly. If their site is one that you would like to earn a link from for SEO purposes, you can use this to your advantage.

First, start looking for sites that relate to a keyword you are trying to rank for. You can start by using some well-known search strings:

  • keyword + “resources”
  • keyword + intitle:resources
  • site:.gov keyword + “links”
  • site:.edu keyword + “recommended sites”
  • keyword + “related links”

When you see a page that is relevant to your site and would make a good link, check the page using a tool like “Domain Hunter Plus”. For the greatest SEO benefit, look for pages that have a high domain authority. Aim for a DA of at least 50 and you will start to see some rather impressive results.

When you find broken links and you have relevant content that the site could use as a resource, you have a match. Contact the webmaster of that site and let them know that you found a broken external link on their page. At the same time, let them know that you have content that they may wish to consider replacing their broken link with.

If you really want to increase your chances, dig into the broken links a bit further. If the site itself is down or you can be sure the page is gone let the webmaster know this as well.

Further Reading on Broken Link Building

Broken link building is an effective, white-hat, content-focused link building strategy. Just spend 30-40 minutes of your time to go through these awesome articles. You won’t regret it, I promise.


There is no question, broken links cause some business headaches. There are webmasters who aren’t even aware of the problems they cause. Whether broken links are hurting SEO efforts or keeping visitors from buying products these are solvable problems. It just takes time and dedication to resolve them.

Start by establishing a strategy on how you will deal with broken links. Set up a schedule for checking, be it monthly, twice a month or even weekly, and stick to it. The right tools can reduce the your workload significantly. Then, deal with broken links immediately. Don’t wait and address them later. Remember, each day that a broken link sits on your website is another day you are losing out.

Finally, remember that you can use broken links on other sites to your advantage. If you really want to take your SEO efforts up a notch, start building new links from sites that have a broken link problem of their own.

Broken links are a problem that all websites will have at some point, even large companies with a team of webmasters at their disposal. However, it is a problem that has an easy solution if you are willing to take the time to fix them.

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Brand Value & the Most Powerful Brands 2016 (with Infographic) https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/brand-value-most-powerful-brands-2016/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/brand-value-most-powerful-brands-2016/#comments Mon, 27 Jun 2016 22:23:57 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=20551 Brand value – everyone wants it, however, only few are able to achieve it. The subject of “brand value” holds a significant position amongst marketers, executives, and entrepreneurs. Let’s discuss...

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Brand value – everyone wants it, however, only few are able to achieve it. The subject of “brand value” holds a significant position amongst marketers, executives, and entrepreneurs. Let’s discuss what makes a brand unique, and how it is evaluated.

Brand makes your business unique. It sets the company apart and has the ability to position the business on the top in their specific industry. Sometimes, a brand is the company’s most valuable assets. In fact, many companies are often referred to by the name used in their brand – and they become one and the same. A strong brand identity drives customer loyalty, for the simple fact that once a customer uses your services and has a positive experience, your brand will bring them back.

apple google - most powerful brands

A brand can be any name, symbol, word, sentence, or logo that is used to distinguish the product from other similar products available on the market. Everyone knows the most powerful brands just by glancing their logos: Apple, Google, Facebook, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Disney, McDonald’s and Coca Cola are just a few.

However, there is more to it than just a nifty logo and a catchy name. Everything you do within your business adds to your brand equity – the choices you make in product design, the quality of service that customers receive, the handling of customer complaints and any other services that your company offers – all of these things can add to credence to your brand equity.

What is Brand Equity (Value)?

Well, brand equity can be best defined as the phrase that is used inside the industry of marketing that defines the significance of having a well-established and recognized brand name, based on the concept that the owner of the brand is capable of generating more profits from products registered under that brand name over those products of a not so popular name. This justification is based on the perspective of many customers that a product which has a well-known name is much better compared to those products from a less popular brand name.

The main principle behind brand equity is the relationship between a consumer and the company selling the products/services. If the customer prefers a specific brand over the other, it is mainly because of his or her perception of the brand and its value regardless of the price tags on the product.

Of course, the company must strive hard to earn and maintain the consumer’s loyalty for their brand. To establish a brand value, the company must earn name recognition for its product, encourage the customer to actually try their product/service and convince them that their product is acceptable. Only after that the company can expect to secure a few preferences for their brands.

Having solid brand equity not only increases the profits and revenues for the company but it lower costs as well. the companies that already have an established brand equity are likely to spend less on marketing since the existing as well as potential consumers are already aware of their product. They don’t have to go into the hassle of educating the general public about their company and its products/services. Having brand equity also helps the company expand into different product lines. Since the customer is already following the brand, they are more likely to try any new product that is created by them.

Whether through a quality product line, excellent consumer service, and/or exceptional marketing techniques used by the company – having a strong brand equity symbolizes that the company has gained enough recognition and respect from their consumers that guarantees they will spend more on products created by that brand.

The Benefits of Brand Value

Simply put, “brand equity” is the construct which is specifically designed to replicate the actual value which the brand name is holding for products and services which it accompanies. Measuring brand equity has been considered important mainly for the reason that brands are regarded to be powerful influencers of crucial business results like market share and sales.

“Branded products invariably command a higher price than so-called ‘store brands’ or ‘generic’ – even when the product itself is a commodity such as sugar. In these cases, the higher price is due almost entirely to the power of the brand.”

Inc. Magazine

Here is a list of the advantages of brand equity that were identified by Kevin Keller, a professor from Dartmouth College:

  • Be perceived variably and then produce varied interpretations of the product performance
  • Enjoy better loyalty as well as be less prone to competitive advertising actions
  • Command bigger margins and gain more unyielding responses to cost hikes and flexible responses to price drops
  • Obtain better support and trade cooperation
  • Boost the effectiveness of marketing communication
  • Backing brand extensions
  • Produce licensing opportunities

Just like other constructs, brand value has been defined and gauged in different ways. It’s sometimes understood from the viewpoint of perceptible financial assets of a company. On the other hand, from the marketing research outlook, it is usually viewed conceptually, as the framework to understand the effectiveness of emotional and intellectual associations that customers do have with branded services and products.

Contrary to outright dollar valuations, which underscore the direct financial perspective, the marketing researchers are looking to gauge and then understand the brand value for strategic planning and positioning.

Brand Equity Modeling and Brand Value Measurement

Brand equity has been defined and measured in numerous ways. However, the measurement process is not as simple as counting the number of individuals who recognize a certain brand name or symbol. It can also not be assumed by the fact that if the brand is popular, it holds strong brand equity. In fact, the most powerful brands can effortlessly be weakened by any wrong steps taken by the company or faulty product.

As a matter of fact, most research agencies worked and developed their own brand value model which is implemented in collaboration with the end-user researchers. Professor Kevin Keller said:

“Although the details of various approaches to conceptualize brand value differ, they tend to share a general core: All definitions usually either explicitly or implicitly depend on brad knowledge structures within the minds of customers both organizations and individuals as the foundation or source of brand value.”

Professor Keller

Researchers explain and gauge brand equity when it comes to knowledge that consumers have about a specific brand. Different published brand value models and measurements were available up to date. Remarkably, measuring brand value might be just a single piece of a more complete brand research program. Also, a brand research program of an organization might be just a single facet of a bigger research & insights program.

Brand Value Model:

  1. Brand Awareness (strength of brand in consumer’s memory)
    • Breadth (likeliness of recognition and recall of the brand)
    • Depth (mindfulness of the brand under various purchase or consumption scenarios)
  2. Brand Image (consumer perceptions and preferences for the brand)
    • “Lower” order brand associations (perceptions of benefits and attributes):
    • – Brand Performance – characteristics and features, reliability, serviceability and durability, effectiveness, empathy and efficiency, style and design, price.
      – Brand Imagery – user profile, purchase circumstances, usage situations, values and personality, history and heritage.

    • “Higher” order brand associations (judgments, responses and feelings):
    • – Brand Judgments – brand quality, brand credibility, brand consideration, brand superiority.
      – Brand Feelings – warmth, fun, excitement, security, social approval, self-respect.


  1. Brand Equity Measurement
    • Brand Awareness (Brand recognition, Unaided recall, Aided recall)
    • Brand Image (Free association, Interview, Means-ends chain analysis, Projective techniques, Zaltman Tech., Aaker Scale, Ethnography or Observ, Fournier BRQ scale)
  2. Extra Measurement
    • Comparative Approaches (Brand based comparative approaches, Marketing based comparative approaches, Conjoint comparative approaches)
    • Holistic Methods (Valuation approach, Residual approach)

Experts usually agree that the best way to measure the brand equity depends on its specific industry or company. In some cases, the brand equity can be analyzed by looking at the customer’s preference for the product while other cases require a careful study of customer’s satisfaction or market share of the company.

Most Powerful Brands in 2016

brand value and the most powerful brands 2016

Embed this infographic on your website:

It should come as no surprise that Apple tops the Forbes 2016 list. Recognizable products, a strong product portfolio and the ability to have people lining up for hours on product launch day. Despite strong competition they are responsible for almost half of the mobile phones sold in the US. The tech giant Apple is the most valuable brand of 2016. Having a value of $154.1billion, this is the sixth year Apple has dominated the rankings.

Google is now number 2, passing Microsoft and it isn’t difficult to understand why. The name Google has become synonymous with any internet search, if you don’t know something your friend will advise you to Google it. After Microsoft come Coca-Cola and Facebook.

Facebook is a prime example of something that started small, aimed at kids in one college as a beta test and grew into a behemoth. They constantly update their platform on the back of customer feedback and sometimes it might take longer than the customers want but they keep them in the loop that change is coming. People threaten to delete their accounts all the time, but they just keep coming back for more. Almost two billion of them!

BrandFinance Worlds Most Powerful Brands 2016

On the other hand, according to brandfinance.com, which ranks the company’s based on their product quality, familiarity, promotion, customer loyalty, marketing tactics, staff satisfaction, and reputation – Disney is the most powerful brand of 2016. Having a brand value of $31.7 billion, the company has acquired the number one position due to its long and established history. It has also acquired many prominent companies recently. These include purchasing ESPN Inc, Star Wars, Pixar, and the Muppets and the Marvel.

The Danish Lego Company which was dominating the charts in 2015, shifted to #2 positions as a result of several controversies that were circulating about the company in the past year. The quality of their products remains the same but other factors contributed to their downfall.

Last year the toy company whose products are loved and cherished by kids of all ages was fined by German officials for preventing retailers from discounting its products. It was also a part of the censorship issue where it prevented a Chinese artist from using Lego in his work. Yet, the brand remains powerful and a part of every child’s toy box. L’Oreal with a brand value of $14.9 billion sits on the third position while PwC auditing company holds the court on the fourth. The consulting firm McKinsey is ranked on the fifth position while the 40 year old brand “Nike” is still going strong on the sixth position.

The recent reports that incorporated 100 brands from 16 countries serves to remind us how valuable and powerful a strong brand can be and really is.


Every market is cluttered, so by doing your research before you jump in head first you will be better placed to grow your brand identity.

If you’re starting fresh you are in a better position than most, because you can look at the market you are moving into and find what is missing to really carve out an identity for your business, give it a personality that is likely to attract customers and see them coming back for more.

Who is your target market? The face of your company should reflect them, a customer should be able to look at that and say, yes!

We’ve watched many iconic brands slip away in recent years and the same can be said for most of them: they completely lost sight of their identity. They knew who they wanted to target they just didn’t understand what it would take to make their target realise they were the brand for them.

Look at your brand preferences and look at your business, or your potential business. What can you do to build a brand as solid as that?

  • Make it relatable, tell your customers a story – the story of how your business came to be, how you started out, and sell them on you.
  • Deliver first class customer service, employ people who are willing to go the extra mile.
  • Offer high quality products at fair prices.

There are a lot of people trying to say that brands are dying out because with the emergence of the internet customers have more options and far more information available to them. I would suggest there are brands that will never go away because they have the ability to adapt to the changes and movements in their industries. They take the time to understand what their customers want and need and they don’t waste time in putting it into action.

If you want to build a successful brand then you will take heed of the big names that have gone down the drain and adopt a more pro-active approach to running your business.

Good luck!

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Why We Love the IT Support Career? https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/why-we-love-the-it-support-career/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/why-we-love-the-it-support-career/#comments Fri, 19 Feb 2016 08:00:31 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=19968 In almost all of my posts I was talking about the stressful side of the IT – the long hours, end user issues, migrations, midnight calls and the like. But...

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In almost all of my posts I was talking about the stressful side of the IT – the long hours, end user issues, migrations, midnight calls and the like. But if everything is that bad, why are we still working in IT support? Of course, there is the good side of the story! Here is my take on what we love to work in IT support.

I will start with my coworkers. When you are working in IT support, most of the people around you are task-oriented, engineer-minded people. To say, people focus on the tasks, try to solve problems, and make something work. When you are working with like-minded people, your stressful day really becomes enjoyable. Even taking a small walk to the nearest coffee machine with your colleague can be the only thing that can get you through all the challenges. There is the beauty of having someone like you around and with the ability to make you laugh when you most likely need it.

We also have our “that’s it” moment. This is the moment when our end user understands what we have been telling him for hours or the moment that we finally figure out why that damn thing is not working. In the former case, the end user will not click “yes” on everything he sees (toolbars, “free download”s, give permission to share his personal data etc.), in the latter case, we will feel triumphant. We fought hard to earn this victory to establish our base as the IT admin in the serverland! (note: uneducated masses call this feeling “motivation” or “job satisfaction” – they never played Diablo or Warcraft thus they don’t understand. Shhh!)

Another triumphant moment is when we have our snapshots or gold-image virtual machines readily available. That remote desktop server is acting up? Move your users to other servers, boot two-three of your gold images, add them to the farm and voila! Everybody is magically happy. Need additional computing power for the users in the next few hours? Shutdown the VM, add resources, boot. Depending on the resources, you may even don’t need to reboot. Virtual machines are really one of the brightest things in our IT lives.

Migrations our favorites also. It is a magical word that, once said, makes everyone alert and make every IT professional understand what state his colleague is in. Migrations can take hours or weeks depending on the complexity of the migration and the problems encountered. Almost all of us, the IT pros know that we need to migrate our systems to have many of our problems automatically resolved but at the same time we know that the migration period will bring additional changes and the new system will bring unknown problems. During all these we will have to deal with budgets, time constraints and other non-IT issues. But when we finally succeed, our fears about the system are gone, our company will enjoy a more reliable infrastructure and our users will be getting more done. The feeling we have is zanshin – the mental state of relaxed awareness – and it is worth every moment that we spent on the migration.

Another migration scenario is moving to the web. This is one of the long-lasting victories I have for each and every client. Complex systems are shut down, critical data is backed up and migrated to the cloud and the SaaS solution offers superior features for (in most cases) less payment. Anyone who has maintained a legacy email system (consider Postfix) for some time and then finally migrated to Office 365 or Google Apps will easily understand what I mean. Once the migration to the SaaS infrastructure is complete and the client sees his data on her mobile, the expression on her face is worth all the pain.

The job market is another favorite. I believe that almost no other job has the flexibility of the IT support when it comes to managing your own career. If you feel terrible and want to breathe, you can just take some courses and change your direction – say you can take a project management course and switch to that path or take operational and CRM courses and pursue a career in account management. You may not hit the exact spot right away, but at least you can take a step and move forward.

Vacations are the last item on my list. From the day one, in every job, in every client, I made people aware that when I am on my vacation I mean it – no emails, no phone calls, no texts whatever, except when absolutely needed. That behavior of mine spread over to my colleagues in time, even to the ones who neglected vacations for years. When we take over our colleague’s tasks, send him on a vacation with nothing left behind, have him completely charged, the expression on the face when he walks in the first working day worths everything. It is when we see every second that we carried out his tasks and refrained from calling him in the direst situations on his face.

Here are the things that come first to our minds when me and my colleagues ask ourselves why we love working in IT support. What is your take? Why you love to work in IT support? Let us know in the comments below.


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IT Manager: Ways To Show Your Appreciation To Your Team https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/it-manager-ways-to-show-your-appreciation-to-your-team/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/it-manager-ways-to-show-your-appreciation-to-your-team/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 08:00:43 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=19962 Surely your team struggled hard and made things happen. You cannot say “this is what you get paid for” and just leave – you cannot keep your IT staff that...

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Surely your team struggled hard and made things happen. You cannot say “this is what you get paid for” and just leave – you cannot keep your IT staff that way. They happily followed you, reached their goals and it is time for you to show your appreciation to recognize their contribution. Here are some ways you can recognize your team.

First things first. Whatever you do, don’t forget to say thank you. No matter how much you talk or how long you write, missing a simple “thank you” make all your effort meaningless. Don’t omit that simple statement.

You may show your appreciation in different levels:

  • individual: people want to see that they are valuable
  • project: people want to see that they are making an impact
  • team: people want to see that they are helping their department/colleagues to be successful

Many of the IT leaders somehow omit one or the other when expressing their recognition. When your team made it successfully to the Friday evening, the last thing they want to see is that their managers are leaving work without saying a simple “thank you.” This kind of behavior simply takes away all the motivation and joy out of the work.

In many companies, IT people are the ones who fix one problem and move to the other and/or who finish one project and move on to the next. Even worse, everybody has accepted this as the nature of the business – pausing for a moment, seeing what you have accomplished and praising for success are perceived as the things that are for “other departments.” I firmly believe that this thought is the direct result of widely spread bad management.

Here is what you can do. You can just prepare an annual report and take your staff to the spotlight, without omitting anyone. Just make the report colorful, creative (hint: maybe as an infographic) and show the photos of your personnel. Show who was involved in what project, who were the people that made things happen and all that. Send this report to all employees. Prepare a presentation and present it to the managers. Make your IT staff firmly understand that they receive company-wide recognition and you are doing your best to praise them.

And yes, “I am working for you behind the scenes” is the most idiotic thing that you can say to your staff. If you are saying this to your colleagues, believe that noone is stupid and everybody knows what that means. You are trying to manage people by making unverifiable claims and nobody, including you, is believing it.

Also don’t forget that the families are part of your IT department. You just cannot say “downtimes are only allowed during off-work hours, this is the nature of the business, that’s why you are getting paid for and your family knows and accepts it.” If your staff has gone through the after hours – yes, in addition to their regular office hours – and weekends to make everything as smooth as possible, it is because their families also support it. You can just offer them a little time back and reward everybody for their contribution – a good dinner with wife and kids at the company’s expense won’t hurt the company.

And sometimes people just love to get loose. You can just arrange fun stuff with your staff and do silly things. You can go out on the picnic, you can invite people to a barbecue session, you can offer “to go analog” and play paintball rather than have a multiplayer session. You can even set up voting to ask people how they want to spend their time together, and if possible, together with their families. It is not all about the paycheck or following the “corporate norms.” Just take out your manager jacket and be yourself. People want to have some good time without borders and that’s it.

If you want to go further and allow for a continuous, periodic recognition, it may be a good idea to discuss with the HR. What you can offer is offering bimonthly awards, peer recognition, public recognition and the like. You can discuss with the HR the best ways to keep the pulse of the IT and the business staff following your company’s culture and procedures. What I would recommend at this point is to set a base rule to keep management away from the nomination. Let your staff nominate someone who they believe has done an exceptional job. Or let the peers vote for the person in IT who has gone above and beyond in their job.

For the top performers, set up interviews, preferably with the executive management to discuss and learn about their contributions and their overall impact to the company. This will both recognize the performers and let the management learn about their motives and force them to think how they should contribute to enhance the impact these people are having on the company. Again, take management involvement out and have the top performers nominated by their colleagues and/or peers.

Here are some ways how IT leaders can recognize their staff and show the value they create, the strategic role they play to the entire organization, in the broadest scale possible.

… and your take. How do you recognize your staff, their accomplishments and showcase them? Let us hear in the comments!


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Feeling Insecure In Your Current Job Position? https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/feeling-insecure-in-your-current-job-position/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/feeling-insecure-in-your-current-job-position/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 08:00:37 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=19959 Job security is one of our primary concerns. We everyday we live with the question of whether or not we will be working the next day. Loyalty is not the...

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Job security is one of our primary concerns. We everyday we live with the question of whether or not we will be working the next day. Loyalty is not the important factor that once it was. Previously “last in”s were “first out”s but today it is in most cases the opposite; “first in”s are “first out”s. So are we completely powerless? Isn’t there anything that we can do?

Let’s start with ourselves first. As IT pros, we have to grow, to stay ahead of the curve no matter what. Not learning about the latest trends, latest security issues, hot discussions means that we are falling behind the curve. We all know that this means the road to irrelevancy and the door to unemployment. We can take online courses, get certified, follow RSS/Atom feeds, follow podcasts and the like. But whatever we do, we cannot afford to fall behind. One word from me: follow consumer tech very closely.

Then, we need to improve our people skills. I have discussed this issue so many times in separate posts that I will not go into the details once more. We have to be an excellent support engineer, we have to be as close to the business as we can get and we have to form strong relationships with our end users. You may not realize it now but there will be serious impact of computerization (or “robot invasion” if you will) and containerization in the near future to many IT roles. The ultimate way to avoid this is to form strong relations with the people. Don’t be the know-it-all person. If you are, make sure you play nicely and do not show this at the expense of others.

We also need to get back to the basics. For an eternity you may be managing lots of servers and think that you don’t need the skills you once had: cable routing, desktop administration, application management, IP subnetting, ethernet cable making etc. Once we moved to high-level skills (server deployment, infrastructure monitoring etc.) we inevitably moved far away from our users. It is now the time to get close to them and make them understand we know everything inside out – from managing hundreds of servers to solving printing problems. This may sound mediocre but we need to show people that we are solving problems at every level.

Once we touch our users, we know more about what is happening in the company and what issues our users are facing. And since we already know the IT infrastructure, we are in much better position to improve our users and help our company get better investment on technology. The times that we use one thing for one purpose is over – remember that we used mobile phones for talking and messaging, mp3 players for listening to music and agendas for managing our lives. Now we use our mobile phones for almost everything. We have to show users that they can sync their calendars and tasks to their devices, that they can use tablets for more productivity and that they can use their smart technologies to get more work done. We need to be inventive, creative and solve problems that people did not know that existed.

At this stage we become unstoppable. Getting more done with the same investment, unseen problems solved and knowing everything about the business, we can now speak our minds freely when the time comes. For years we had ideas that can grow the business and move it forward. And we kept these ideas to ourselves, maybe refined them over time. Now might be the perfect time to voice these ideas and show how they contribute to the business. Of course there are three possibilities: your ideas might not be taken at all, they may be transformed (may be embedded in a different project) or who knows, may just be the innovation that can save the company. Even in the worst case scenario you are one step ahead – you are thinking about what to do and contributing, rather than being a “couch potato.”

We, people, tend to fall into the trap that our ideas are so valuable, so true, so right to the point that they have to be implemented as they are and right away. Although we know that the world does not work this way, we sometimes cannot control how we behave and become demanding. There is a fine line between making a reasonable request, showing the reasons and the benefits of implementing it and making a demand. The latter makes people very uneasy and makes us look like an annoying person. The former makes us a logical person who offers his/her ideas.

The same goes for asking things. We may need something to do our job better, improve things, or something that may help us in our personal life. No matter what, we have to voice it. But we need to ask for things seldom and “ask for” them, not “demand” or “require” them.

And finally, we need to love our work. If we love what we do, it reflects on the results. In order to have very nice results and bear the difficulties of our jobs, we have to love or jobs. Otherwise it will be harder for us everyday to cope with the various types of stresses and challenges IT brings. When the guillotine falls, it will no doubt fall on the people that mumble about their jobs. Don’t forget that what Confucius said holds true: if we do what you love, we’ll never work a day in your life. If you don’t love your job, find the one you do.

These are my suggestions to help you keep your paycheck. Sometimes there are the situations where you cannot do anything and there is no security to be had. What I have gone through my post is all about doing everything you can and increase your chances of keeping your job, saving you from the next round of layoffs.

What do you do to keep your job? Help us with your ideas below to keep our current jobs.



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The Stressed Admin https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/the-stressed-admin/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/the-stressed-admin/#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2016 08:00:47 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=19955 When you look at the average IT admin, you will spot certain physical characteristics – hair lost to some degree, pale skin and dark-colored garments are almost certain. But why...

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When you look at the average IT admin, you will spot certain physical characteristics – hair lost to some degree, pale skin and dark-colored garments are almost certain. But why is that? Why does IT world have some characteristics? It’s because IT support is different from many other career paths. It is rewarding, has a nice and friendly environment but it is also demanding, challenging and exhausting. You may think that this applies to all jobs. Let’s see what stresses out the IT admins (yes, I am a former IT admin).

First, we don’t have a major problems with the machines. We love administering them, we love to work with them but in some cases the love can easily turn into hate (an admin colleague of mine says once he retires, he will not use any device that has a switch/interface other than the on-off switch). Let’s shoot with the first case: the inevitable updates. It does not matter what we are updating – desktop, server, laptop or phone, when the updates are applied and we click on the “update and restart” button, our hearts pound on a higher beat and we begin to pray to arrive safely on the login screen. Of course we have snapshots, restore points, backups. But no matter how much we cover ourselves, a failed update is a failed update and we don’t want to see it.

Similarly, we have server migrations. We stack up caffeine, snacks and every item we possibly need before the migration and we hope all goes well and we complete the migration successfully. Of course we have thought the process, we held meetings, we have documented our steps, took backups, snapshots and prepared our backup plans. Still we expect it to go smooth, if it does not, you will feel the cold sweat running down your spine. Hold your breath, cross your fingers and pray. I still wonder though, if this is worse than the early morning call or not?

Early morning is not 0700 hours when we had enough sleep and just ready to wake up. It is the early hour just after we slept – around 0200/0300 in the morning. The call will not say anything more than “we cannot reach the server”, “for the last hour I didn’t receive an email” or “instant communication is not working.” We know what we have to do: connect to the office somehow, inform your colleagues and try to list the millions of possibilities that may be the reason in order to check when you are connected. For many admins, they do not connect to the office: they go there to check everything and do the informing and listing part when driving.

The problem is, in most cases we don’t have a 40/45 hour week. Working in IT support means 60+ hours in a certain week: 40 hours for our daily, routine tasks, and the remaining for upgrades, migrations, restarts, any other thing that needs a downtime. Therefore we cannot answer our emails on time, we miss breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and we take time from our lives, families and children.

There is one particular group of device that needs the mansions award in our lives: printers, scanners and projectors. I always say that these are the devices that can make one leave IT completely. Printers always complain, scanners don’t have the drivers, projector views are never right and their connections are shaky. And the champion in this group are printers. If it’s not a connection issue, it is the cartridges/toner, if it is not the toner, then it is a reboot, or some problem that requires the vendor’s intervention. And yes, I haven’t seen any IT pro who gets along well with printers, especially after operating system upgrades. (I didn’t forget the dot matrix breed.)

We also have the people side of things. The first one is the aggressive user. This one is the real challenge. Whatever we do to reduce their tension, they are stressed and they have no intention to change it. They further complicate the issues when we try to find a solution: they never stop arguing with us. They want to know about every single detail, even the ones they don’t understand, and when they learn something, they build upon it. A simple ticket turns into endless talks – you just want to locate the file or just remove the junk toolbar he/she installed but no. Trying to locate the file turns into an interrogation of why you are looking at their files, uninstalling the toolbar is not the solution to their problem. Wish us the luck and the patience we need. (There are more to these user types: check my previous article Top 5 Difficult Help Desk Callers and How to Manage Them.)

Similar, but a little different type of the difficult user is the one having no respect for us or our work. We have taken their computer that is not working, removed that malware that he/she installed, make a thorough cleaning of their system (software-wise, in some cases also the hardware), showed him/her proudly how their computer is performing and after an hour we receive a phone call. He/she lost him/herself in a frenzy telling that “we have received a good money” to “fix their computer” and now “everything is a waste because the computer is acting the same.” Some even go so far to blame us with hypocrisy, saying that “we made something” to show them their computers work very good, we cheated on them and we are scammers and all that. Listening to all these, we know that they did what we told them not to do. The thing that brought the computer to its knees.

We would accept those if we knew that these are just “end users” but we feel baffled when we see the same from our CEO. It is a complete disaster when the CEO thinks that he knows more about our job than we do. I don’t know how many times I was in such a situation, probably you cannot count either. In such a case, there is no point in arguing, he runs the company and his ego is larger than the whole American continent and he has no clue about the IT department. For them, Enterprise Administrator, UNIX Services Manager, Enterprise Architect is the same as the “computer guy” next block who formats and reinstalls the operating system in every problem he sees.

Finally, the budget. We are constantly battling about what is good for the company and what is the proper investment to catch the time and ensure that the operations go smoothly but no. The spreadsheet does not have the numbers we are looking for. It is the same as the past year. Perhaps some minute changes here and there but this year, everything will be the same overall.

Your take. What are your stress causes? What do you advise your fellow admins? Let us know in the comments!


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Ugly and Clunky Enterprise Apps https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/enterprise-apps-need-not-to-be-ugly-and-clunky/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/enterprise-apps-need-not-to-be-ugly-and-clunky/#comments Fri, 15 Jan 2016 08:00:06 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=19951 I read a couple of books about application user experiences and I am still amazed to see the user experience is still ignored today. Ease of use and user experience...

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I read a couple of books about application user experiences and I am still amazed to see the user experience is still ignored today. Ease of use and user experience is at the bottom of the list in development practices while deadline and feature list tops the list. This approach results in lengthy, fruitless, never-ending meetings to discuss why “the excellent app” is not gaining traction among the users. Let’s see how enterprise application developers overcome such a result easily.

PS: If you did not read it yet, I strongly recommend the Alan Cooper’s classic “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity”).

To begin with, the application has to fit in the current business environment, the business processes and has to be a solution to a certain business problem(s). .The application needs to have a focus, stick to it and improve upon it, rather than just being a technology showcase/programming wizardry. It also has to take the business into account, each business has its own way of doing things, own workflows and in some cases, their own equipment. The developers have to contact with the users from each department and have an overall understanding of the workflows, devices and the relevant applications. You cannot develop a container terminal operating application without understanding how operations work, the terminal operating system and the specialized tally devices used.

Your users are the ones who will use the application, so why not involve them from the beginning? The bottomline is you are programmer who is focused on solving particular problems and you are very comfortable with complex interfaces. But this is too much to ask from your users. Have two teams that are making the quality assurance of your application: the team that checks the technical points and the team of end-users that checks usability and experience. Remember, something technically elegant does not mean it will be accepted by the users. If it is not easy to use, you will be hitting the refresh button expecting to see one more download.

Next, the application has to be pleasing to use: it is easy to use and it looks good. As I have touched in the last paragraph above, if the users are going three or more levels deep to accomplish a task without any clue or any guidance from the application your app is not in a good shape. Same thing goes for the interface. Application loading time, number of images, density of text, whitespace and the color palette should match today’s standards. Would you accept a 2000’s design standards in year 2016? Don’t do this yourself and match today’s standards in your interface. Your end user team will provide invaluable guidance to you on the use; how you need to present workflows, how to consider placement of certain elements, and the like. If you feel yourself stuck, as about their favorite apps and analyze them. This analysis will open a window to usability – the layout of their favorite apps can be a good point to start.

When you are working with the end users, don’t forget that they will use the application on many different form factors. Desktops with over 20” monitors, 15” laptops, 7-8-10” tablets, 5” Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile phones are just some form factors that I can count. In terms of platforms, we can safely say that the application that runs on the desktop/laptop computer can be fully featured and the mobile one can have a little less features and with a smaller technology footprint. You need to ensure that the application has to perform well and look pleasing in all of the form factors.

Different form factors also mean different use scenarios. In a desktop/laptop computer you can snap two windows on the screen and make data entry easier. Imagine doing that on a mobile device: it is pain to select text on screen, copy, switch to the other application and paste. Forget all if you mistakenly happen to touch a non-related area on the screen – and heavens forbid the back button. On mobile devices make sure that the usability is not that high compared to desktop/laptops. Therefore try to make the users’ lives as easy as possible. An example? Consider automated form fills. When the user begins to type the customer’s name on the screen, make the query in the background, return the results and present the user with choices that he/she can select with a tap. Don’t ask him/her to enter lengthy strings. And when he/she makes the choice, fill out the form with all the details.

If you followed my advice, during all these steps, you will have one technical and one end-user quality assurance team. And to work closely with them, developers need to make their error messages understandable. A “404 error” means “page not found” to many people but for your specific application it may mean “data inconsistency.” During the development phase make sure that the error messages are in plain English (and/or whatever language is spoken by the users) and they guide the user to a certain action. Following the example “Data inconsistency error – please notify your administrator by clicking on the ‘send error’ button.” does more than “404 error: data inconsistency.” In addition to guiding the user to an action, you also need to inform him/her about how to complete the task that he/she was performing.

Having the error messages in plain language also bring us to the thorough testing issue. When you have the two teams (technical and end-user), you will have a lot of feedback. From the missing features to error messages from connectivity to usability, you will have a flood of information. You will be analyzing the information, prioritizing and fixing it. Never assume that rushing tests and taking away from quality assurance’s time will help you meet your deadlines. You will meet them, no doubt about it. But prepare yourself for the aftermath; to defend yourself against the high helpdesk calls, increased maintenance/fixing costs and ultimately less-than-desired usage levels, when asked by the executives.

Finally, in this Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) era, make sure that the application can be updated and wiped remotely. That is, the application could be updated in the field, could be tracked from the IT headquarters and if necessary, the data could be remotely wiped.

That’s my take on developing beautiful, easy to use, pleasing enterprise apps. What do you recommend for our IT fellows? Hit the comments below!


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How To Keep Focus In Your IT Projects https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/how-to-keep-focus-in-your-it-projects/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/how-to-keep-focus-in-your-it-projects/#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2016 08:00:52 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=19944 Your company’s IT project implementation will bring a load of benefit to your organization as well as big transformations, whether from an individual business unit’s or whole organization’s, depending on...

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Your company’s IT project implementation will bring a load of benefit to your organization as well as big transformations, whether from an individual business unit’s or whole organization’s, depending on the scale of the project. No matter its complexity, it will have a lot of challenges that an IT executive needs to overcome. I will discuss the big challenges in this article, together with how to overcome them, with the experience that I have learnt right in the field.

Many IT supervisors and managers tend to think that the biggest hurdle in an IT project is the technical side: server and network infrastructure, connections, integrations, tests and all that’s related to bits, bytes and packets. They are right from their own perspective, but looking at the overall picture, the technical issues are essentially “bits and bytes” compared to other barriers, as we will see.

Before beginning any project, we have to define why are we undertaking this project. What particular problem are we trying to solve? What is that particular thing that would make this project useless? What are the features required? What are the capabilities? Once we answer these questions and bring them together, we form the project’s shape. Later on we will put these on our roadmap.

When we have a clear definition, we will have the ability to work in parallel. Since the project is already defined in its essentials, we do not need to go top-down or bottom-up. Instead we can have multiple teams that work at the same time. If we had not clarified all of the items above, we would have to stick with various stacks and we would have to wait for each stack to complete in order to start the next.

This definition will also help both the project team and the users from “wandering.” In many cases people will lose focus on the big picture and the whole vision may be lost. This is not related to the business hierarchy – I have witnessed countless cases where newcomers kept perfect focus but the executives needed to be reminded of the project essentials time to time.

The next step is to define the architecture formally in the clearest way possible. All we need is a paper and pen and to define where we are putting all the elements – SANs, databases, clusters, switches, applications, web sites whatever. This step will allow us to see the complete picture first. Second, it allows us to discuss the project and its pieces with everyone involved. Third, we will be able to point out the places where we can scale up, scale out the system, the extensibility, management, backup/recovery and the mobility aspects.

This architectural drawing will enable us to see the end of the project. What is it supposed to look like when we finish it? That end state of the project is where we want to reach, so it is completely logical to work backwards from there. Consider the project of replacing a legacy IBM iSeries system and have everybody working on an Microsoft architecture (let’s say just a simple Windows Server, SQL Server, IIS setup), then we have a clear definition on the end result. How can we understand if we could accomplish this result or not? We will define this also: no connections to iSeries, all backups taken, restore tests successful and system powered down. Without having a well-drawn architecture and clear vision, we would not be able to have such clear definitions.

This drawing also helps to identify where the project can fail, what can go wrong and what are the items that we can expect? These questions are normally asked in the post-mortem analysis, but why wouldn’t we these questions beforehand so that we can see our risks and our opportunities. By this, we will be able to exercise our due diligence on the project. We will be able to look at from the perspective of “what would we do if we were buying this project.” And, we will be able to develop certain procedures, roadmaps, checklist for the scenarios we have identified.

The benefits do not end here. The architectural drawing will help us identify where we have the most opportunities to change. Consider the parallel work and the milestones that I have mentioned above. The drawing will show us where to start and how to proceed. With a little bit of thought on these, we will be able to identify the milestones and which resources we can bring together to accomplish the milestone so that we will be able to clear a big portion of work. To make myself a little clear, let me give you a small example. Suppose that we need to install 10 Remote Desktop servers. To do this, we will need to allocate them a certain space in our SAN and allocate virtual machines, define IP addresses, configure the load balancing, setup a golden image. Now imagine that the storage team is working on the SAN and the virtual infrastructure, the network team is working on the load balancer and the IP addresses and the Windows team working on the golden image. When all three teams complete their tasks and bring their results to the table, a big milestone will be cleared at once. In our projects, we will be on the lookout to identify such points.

When the project is starting to build up, we will load test it early on and we will do it often. That way, we will not only see how the system performs under pressure but also we will understand the bottlenecks, any mistakes that we have done in the architectural phase and how we can carry on. It is better to identify load test scenarios and the test criteria early on.

At this point, if the initial load tests results are good and if we are confident to move the project forward, and if the project has an end-user interface (to say, not something like a database migration but rather an in-house developed application), we will start working on the end user experience (UX). This is not the same as the end user interface, but the experience. We will call the UX experts and begin to discuss how we will handle the actual use of the program. If we do not start working on the UX issues at the beginning of the project, two things will happen: first, we will have a bad user interface (no doubt about it), second we will go back do additional work to ensure that the application can be used smoothly.

Once we arrive at this point, we will be pretty much confident that the project is taking off to a healthy progress. We will already have a great overview and be able to see more or less clear what’s ahead.

Do you have any other project tips that you want to discuss with us? We would love to hear your comments.


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IT Budget: Strengthen Your Security With No Additional Investment https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/it-budget-strengthen-your-security-with-no-additional-investment/ https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/it-budget-strengthen-your-security-with-no-additional-investment/#comments Fri, 18 Dec 2015 08:00:56 +0000 https://webhostinggeeks.com/blog/?p=19935 Data breaches are becoming regular news – from mid-sized businesses to large enterprises, everybody is taking some hit. Your company may be small, even a small family business but you...

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Data breaches are becoming regular news – from mid-sized businesses to large enterprises, everybody is taking some hit. Your company may be small, even a small family business but you are not safe either. From one person shops to large enterprises everybody has to keep an eye on the security issues.

Security does not need to come with a large price. It is not always the case that the dedicated, expensive equipment is the solution to all your security needs. In fact, the situation is just the opposite in many cases. Let’s see how you can increase your security with little to no investment.

Let’s start with updates. There are reasons that companies are employing programmers to code updates and distribute them to the users. Believe me, if the updates were not so important, no company would employ these people to release update patches. A significant percentage of these updates – sometimes most/all of them – come as security updates that keep you protected with the current security scene. Failing to apply the updates means exposing your company to security risks. I do agree that updating is a time consuming for the administrators and means downtime but it is a crucial and the first step to keep your company secure.

xNext, be vigilant. Keep an eye on the security area and figure out the emerging threats. For the beginning it will be enough to go through the RSS feeds of your hardware and software vendors’ security pages. Oftentimes, the security risk pages also include information about how to defend yourself against that particular threat. In many cases you will see that simple changes in the configuration files or installing a patch that does not require a reboot is all you need to do. My advice is to read, be open to the learn new methods, take training and connect with the relevant communities.

After that, take a look at your network. What are the security risks that are so obvious that they are forgotten and – God forbid – became the norm.

Let’s start with the wireless service. Your company can have a wireless service for the employees and a wireless service for the guests. The former may not be that necessary but the latter certainly is. But this does not mean that your company’s wireless connection should be without protection. The first thing that I advise is to separate your wireless guest access network from your company’s network. Purchase an additional line (you do not need that high-bandwidth, dedicated lines, you can just go with a consumer-level line) and have the guest traffic there. Plus, change your wireless password on a weekly basis (all you need is a recurring task and a random password generator). In countries like mine (Turkey), you need to log all the traffic and have to present it to the authorities when required. The solution many companies deploy is to record the social security number, name and the mobile number of the guests and send an SMS with their passwords. So, in case of an audit, the logs presented to the authorities are complete with all the personal details.

Speaking of passwords, you need to take a look at your password policies if you haven’t done for a while. Make sure that you set and enforce password policies for all your staff, the more stringent policies for your IT staff. End users can change their passwords in longer periods, but for the IT staff this period has to be not more than 30 days. This password policy also applies to the wireless passwords, BYOD users and any device that access the company network. I know this will become a pain in the very short term, but no device can assist you if your users have weak passwords.

To make access harder for malicious intents, the strongest route is two factor authentication coupled with VPN and full disk encryption. Office 365 and Google offer two factor authentication. This method should be the default where it can be used. Then, if you are allowing remote access to the company resources, you have to make sure that there is no access to company resources wihout VPN. I know how painful it is to set up and maintain a VPN but it is an absolute necessity. Do not allow any access to company data without VPN. And finally, encrypt everything that you can. Start with the mobile equipment – especially laptops, phones and tablets. You can then move on to servers and other data drives.

IT staff alone cannot do all of these to be frank. After the top management, HR has to step in;  especially for the people who try to get around these or plainly break it. As the IT staff you did all you can to make the company as secure as possible but an employee undermines it. This is when your company data is no longer safe.

To overcome such unpleasant attempts, the first thing to do is to properly train new hires on the security issues. This security training should start with what security is, what are the company measures, how an employee becomes a target for the attackers and what the methods of the attackers are. Of course nobody knows the real motives and intentions of a new employee, but it is IT and HR’s duty that the new hire learns as much about security as possible in this training.

Then the top management and HR should agree on the actions that the company will take in case of a security issue. The issue need not to be a breach, undermining security, trying to go around it, or having questionable, unexplained actions need to be addressed and communicated clearly. IT security must be like an area where nobody is “allowed to touch” other than the designated staff. Anyone who is not respecting this has to suffer the consequences. This may be hard to do at first, because it will come to employee termination in some cases. But when the users understand how serious the issue is, your security policies will be easier to enforce.

Finally, you need to remember that security measures are not “set-and-forget” things. Rather, they evolve, become further complicated and morph into something else everyday. If you do not think and act this way, then simply put, your datas is at risk. On the other hand, implementing the measures I have discussed in this article will put you in a pretty good shape, without spending too much from your budget, in some cases anything at all.


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