How To Identify Email Scams

It’s always a good idea to know what to look for in an email that could be malicious. Whether these emails come from someone you don’t know or from a familiar email address, scam emails can occur in three different ways. The emails you should keep an eye out for are spam, phishing, and scams. Here are a few ways to identify each of them and some examples.

Spam:

Spam is the most familiar of the types of common email scams you might experience. Spam emails are unsolicited emails sent en masse. It’s what we refer to as “junk mail.” Unlike phishing and scam emails, spam is usually sent without the malicious intent of getting you to download destructive software. Instead, they may aim to get personal information from you later on. These “old fashioned” scam emails include chain emails, bogus business opportunities, health scams, discount software offers, and advance fee fraud.

Spam emails often include enticing headlines like “More Money Now” or “This New Diet Will Change Your Life.” Common scams will focus on monetary factors, such as building a better credit score, a work-from-home offer, “free” goods, how to earn easy money, and even investment opportunities. In the body of the email, grammar errors will likely give away the fact that the email isn’t sent from a legitimate organization.

Email services like Gmail  have developed ways to identify scam emails based on factors like administrator set policies, empty message content, and unknown sender addresses. But if your spam filters don’t catch the emails, keep an eye out for any email addresses that don’t seem familiar or offers that seem too good to be true. If the scam is common, you may be able to search the web to see if other people have reported it.

Example of Spam Email:

Gmail has already identified this email as spam because it came from an unknown sender and is similar to emails that other users have reported as spam. The “too good to be true” headline and the sense of urgency immediately gives this away as spam. You can also see that the email contains grammatical errors and random capitalization.

Phishing:

Phishing emails are designed to look as if they’ve been sent from a legitimate organization. Their goal is to entice the recipient to click on a link, download an attachment, or provide personal information. Some common phishing scams include fake communications from a bank or IT provider asking for money, or an email asking you to click on an attachment or go to a different site to view a joke, special offer, etc.

Phishing scams likely look like they come from a company you might trust and can even use logos from large companies. Given how sophisticated some of these emails may look, it’s even more important to be able to identify some of the common factors of phishing emails. A generic greeting such as “Hello, Customer” can be one common sign that this email is not from the company it claims to be. Another common identifier for phishing scams is misspellings. For example, the phrase “Eliminate Debt” may be shifted to say “Ĕliᵐińate Ɖebţ” to evade filters but still remain legible. Most scam companies are aware of filters built into email systems, and will purposefully insert spelling errors into their subjects to get past these filters.

The best way to confirm that an email is a phishing scam is to verify with the company from which you’ve received the email. Log in to the official site with your secure information and see if you have received any notifications that match the email or contact a support representative. Don’t follow the links in any email that feels “off” as these links could have malicious software.

Example of Phishing:

This email is an example of a new phishing scheme that appears to be from Amazon. If you received this email and knew that you had not made a purchase, you would likely be tempted to click on the link to cancel the order. When you respond to an email like this, someone will collect your real Amazon login to access your account. Key giveaways for this particular email as a phishing scam are the generic greeting and the phone number which has been programmed with html to hide other characters so that it looks like a legitimate number.

Scams:

Scam emails are most likely to be received from a person who looks real. These emails often come from an email “hack.” If you received a suspicious email from a real email address, it falls under a hack. These emails will likely be asking for money outright. If you haven’t heard from someone in awhile and they reach out asking for money, that should raise alarms. Scammers could have breached a colleague’s email address and sent you the email. A good rule of thumb is to personally ask your contact or colleague if the email is truly from them using a different form of contact. Do not reply directly to the suspicious email if it can be avoided.

Example of Scams:

This person hacked an email account and looked for any emails that referenced payments to try to get more money from people. To avoid any scams, the recipient texted the sender to make sure that it was legitimate before responding, and when he replied that it wasn’t, changed the password to secure the account.

What to do if you encounter a scam email:

If you receive a scam email (particularly spam), you can take a few actions to help protect yourself and other users.

First, update your spam filters in your email to reflect the spam you’ve seen. You can restrict the users who are able to send email by updating your filters. You can customize your level of security from just filtering our junk mail to filtering out anyone who isn’t on your safe list. Second, report the email as spam. This will let the email provider know to filter out the emails on their entire system. Third, install an antivirus software and firewall on your device to help protect against installing any harmful software received via email.

If you would like to receive more training on email safety or if you have any concerns about an email you’ve received, please call our team at (843) 324-5824.

Privacy in the Modern World of Technology

Each day, it seems that we are hearing about a new form of technology. For example, NASA has recently sent a helicopter to Mars! Ten years ago, this technology wasn’t available to us. Since technology evolves so quickly, it can sometimes grow at a speed that makes it hard to understand. With every new wave of fantastic technological advancements, we open ourselves up to new concerns. Many Americans have expressed particular concerns about a growing lack of privacy that has come with increased internet usage. Studies have expressed that six out of ten Americans don’t believe that it is possible to go through daily life without having their data collected. 

Companies like Instagram, Google, and TikTok have been accused of overstepping privacy policies to gain more information and data on their customers, and some cases have even been sent to court. These court cases only shine a brighter light on the larger issue at hand: the lack of privacy when accompanied with extensive technology. 

Instagram:

Instagram was accused of viewing users through their phone cameras without expressed consent; Facebook (the owners of Instagram) responded to the lawsuit by claiming the issue to be nothing more than a bug defect. Despite Facebook’s response, Mark Zuckerberg has used tape over his laptop’s camera in the past. Many interpreted this as Zuckerberg’s own distrust of technology. 

Google:

Google, a product which 90% of people in the world use as their primary search engine, has been sued for $5 billion for tracking users, even while in Incognito Mode. Google offers Incognito Mode as a private way to browse the Web. Chrome’s Help section assures users that “…[N]one of your browsing history, cookies and site data, or information entered in forms are saved on your device”. A misleading concept is that Incognito Mode — or any other private browsing program — keeps you completely anonymous; however, this is not the case. Your data and personal information are not kept private during these Incognito sessions. Websites can find out where you are through your IP address, and figure out who you are from there.

TikTok:

TikTok, a rapidly growing social media platform, has recently edited their privacy policy to include the gathering of biometric data from US users. This includes faceprints, voiceprints, and whatever else can be used to identify an individual. Biometric data is used to uniquely identify someone; this technology has been helpful in forensic studies and maintaining high security. Educating yourself and others on the importance of your biometric data is the first step in bringing awareness to the dangers of data-leaks. Someone with ill intent might attempt to harm your image or use this data to impersonate you.

Why Data Collection Happens:

Why would enormous multi-billion corporations want your data, anyway? Well, if these companies can figure out what you, as a consumer, would be willing to spend your hard-earned money on, then they can place targeted advertisements in front of you, which could earn them money from advertisers. Your interests, buying behavior, and even your political affiliation can be gleaned from your consumer data

Precautions You Can Take:

Because the Internet is a relatively new frontier, very few laws surround your online privacy. So, what can you do as a precaution? It all starts with what you willingly post on your social media: sharing locations, names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, and even pictures of yourself could lead to identity theft or a breach of privacy. We recommend using a VPN (virtual private network) when browsing the ‘Net to maintain anonymity, and antivirus software if you’re concerned about hackers easily accessing your computer. 

As a new wave of technology is explored each day, the need for security and privacy becomes more apparent. If you’re concerned about your online privacy and security, give us a ring at (843) 324-5824; we would love to help you learn more!

Greg Mathis Charter High School: Creating a Custom Portal

Web Design: Creating a Custom School Registration Portal

Creating a secure portal for filling out, storing, and sending forms requires technical expertise in several different areas. In creating a custom portal for Greg Mathis Charter High School, our goal was to create a secure online portal to allow parents to sign their children up for school. We needed to gather a variety of information about each student from health conditions to school supplies. It was important that we create a way for parents to complete the sign-up process in multiple sittings, authorize each form, and send them to the school.

Our portal needed to allow for a simple process to login, fill out forms, and submit them. Let’s take a look at how we accomplished each step.

Step 1- Login:

Parents create a unique account that allows them to access all of the forms needed for enrollment and to edit previous entries. We’ve streamlined the process to be easy for many forms to be completed at one time or across several days. After completing and signing each form, the user is given the option to continue to the next form or to save their progress and return to the process later.

Step 2- Fill Out Forms:

The school provided us with the packet of forms which they typically use at the start of each school year. These forms were printed, scanned in, retyped, and re-formatted. To correctly build each form, we identified a WordPress plugin that allowed us to create custom fields for entries such as dates, times, numbers, and names. We could specify the fields that were required.

The school signup process consisted of 30 forms. Each was formatted to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand. Imputing the forms took several days. We set each form up to show whether or not it has been completed and to allow for future edits.

Step 3- Submit:

Every form is equipped with a digital signature field. Each form is then signed and dated so that all information provided is marked as approved by the parent. We secured each form with reCAPTCHA protection to protect from spam submissions and preserve security. After that, we set up a delivery process that would allow each form to be sent to the school in PDF form once completed. This way, the school could easily keep records for each student and sign them up for the new school year as usual.

Conclusion:

With the start of the school year approaching, ADVYON’s expert team worked tirelessly to make a user-friendly, high tech portal for this local high school. Both our team and the clients were very pleased with the end results. If your business needs a secure portal built for banking, medical forms, or any other secure sign-ups, please contact our team at (843) 324-5824 to see how we can help.

Watch our video for more details on the project!

Social Media Marketing Steps for A First-Time Business Owner

ADVYON was built through lots of hard work and constant effort. We understand the time required to dedicate to a start-up business, so we have created a guide to help you with one of the most important aspects of keeping your business successful: a good social media marketing plan! Once you get a little recognition, the only way to go is up; that is, if you keep a consistent, organized, and simple plan.

Step One: Keep everything organized. 

When you’re starting a new business, it’s imperative that you keep yourself organized. Keeping a to-do list or using a task management system to organize your social media posts is highly recommended. Read this article by Niel Patel which describes why organization is so important, and what you can do to prioritize it. Don’t try to remember everything; write it down, set a reminder, add it to your calendar! Our team uses a spreadsheet to keep track of what we’re going to post, when we’re going to post it, and who will create the content. Use a system that works for you!

Step Two: Stay simple with graphics.

When you scroll through social media, do you focus on each individual aspect of someone’s post? Usually, the answer is no. As you’re posting for your business, keep things simple; think big picture! When using a graphic in your post, keep the colors simple and ensure that all of the information you wish to convey would be communicated thoroughly with a single glance. It’s scientifically proven time and again that the most successful posts are images. Use larger and easy to read fonts for the most important info; if you’re announcing an event, use eye-catching words like “Biggest Event,” “Cash Prizes,” or “Free Food” to get people interested (Check out this article to learn why). Once you have them reading your eye-catching title, you can throw some more information at them to get them convinced that they want to join this event.

When you post on social media, use the same color palette throughout your feed. Humans are visual learners, and there are many subliminal messages through color selection. For example, combining black and white can convey antiquity, wealth, and success (when done correctly)! Color-pick the main colors in your logo or website (if you don’t have either one already, give us a call), and add them to your graphic. There’s plenty of evidence that supports the idea that humans associate colors to different things. When you think of yellow and red together, there might be several different fast food restaurants that come to mind. Use this to your advantage for your business! Consistently use the same colors for all of your marketing.

Step Three: Be consistent. Success favors consistency!

Post on social media most days of the week. ADVYON has found that the best times to post on Facebook for an IT company are Wednesdays between 9 AM and 2 PM. Do your own research on the best times to post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, or any other social media for your specific company. People are inundated with so many media posts within a day, so make sure that your post stands out from among the crowd!

Step Four: Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Starting a business is difficult, especially if you’re doing it alone. Thankfully, you don’t have to be alone in this! We’re here to help you: from the small social media posts to completely branding your company, we do it all! We understand that entrepreneurs are always busy with meetings, appointments, financial discussions, and whatever else you’ve put on your to-do list. We know that you’re busy with the in’s-and-out’s of a business, so let us help you by taking care of your marketing needs. Give us a ring at (843) 324-5824 to discuss the future of your business!

How to Identify Common Domain Scams

Recently, some of ADVYON’s clients have called us to ask about letters or emails they’ve received from fraudulent companies like Domain Listings stating that the customer must renew their business listing or domain. These letters are a scam designed to take advantage of a service that you are already paying for and convince you that their party needs additional payment for this service. The letters often appear very urgent, so we wanted to share some resources to help our clients and the public quickly identify this common scam.

How Can I Identify This Scam?

The best way to identify the scam is to figure out who actually hosts your domain. Use ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to identify your domain ownership. Some popular sites which may be your domain provider include GoDaddy, Domain.com, Bluehost, and HostGator. You should never pay anyone who is not your domain provider for services related to your domain.

What Are the Companies Using this Scam:

Here are a list of a few companies who have recently used this scam:

  • Domain Renewal Group
  • Domain Registry of America
  • Domain Listings
  • IDNS

What Will the Scam Letter Look Like:

Below are some examples of letters and emails received by our customers. Below are some examples of what a fraudulent domain renewal notice will look like. If there is any doubt, contact your IT provider!

(How-To) Find Your Computer Name for Windows or Mac

Sometimes your IT Support technician will ask you for your computer name.  Here is a simple how-to for finding your computer name in Windows or Mac.


Fastest Way to find your computer name for Windows:

Press and hold the Windows key, then press the Pause/Break key.

Your computer name can be found under the “Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings” section of the window that appears. This window will look almost identical regardless of which operating system you’re running.


Fastest Way to find your computer name for Mac:

MAC OS X

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner.
  2. Click on System Preferences.
  3. Click on Sharing.
  4. The computer name will appear at the top of the window that opens in the Computer Name field.

Other methods to find your computer name:

On Windows Computers with Command Prompt

How to find the computer name on Windows computers
  1. Open start menu.
  2. Type into the search bar cmd /k hostname.
  3. Your computer name will be displayed in the first line of a command prompt window.

WINDOWS 7

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Right-click on Computer.
  3. Select Properties.
  4. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings you will find the computer name listed.

WINDOWS 8/8.1

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. When the launch screen appears, type Computer.
  3. Right-click on Computer within the search results and select Properties.
  4. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings you will find the computer name listed.

WINDOWS 10

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. In the search box, type Computer.
  3. Right click on This PC within the search results and select Properties.
  4. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings you will find the computer name listed.

MAC OS X

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner.
  2. Click on System Preferences.
  3. Click on Sharing.
  4. The computer name will appear at the top of the window that opens in the Computer Name field.

Three Questions to Create the Perfect Social Media Plan for Your Business

Social media is a crucial part of an effective marketing strategy for most business owners these days. Consistent posting on social media can provide benefits like raising brand awareness, driving sales, and establishing your brand as an expert in your field. But how do you start using social media? We believe that like many things in life, success on social media starts by creating the perfect plan.

A social media plan can be as detailed as you want, but it starts with just three basic questions:

What will I post? Where will I post it? What will it look like?

Let’s work through some steps to find the answers each of these questions:

#1- What will you post?

The first step in figuring out what you will post is to find your brand voice. Try a chart like the chart below from the Content Marketing Institute to get a concrete idea of what tone your posts should use. First, use general terms to describe how your business sounds like “passionate” or “quirky.” Then you explain what each of those mean. Use a chart like this to determine the “do’s” and “dont’s” for your business’ communications.

Check out our Facebook page for some more ideas about how to find your brand voice: Finding Your Brand Voice

Your voice will determine whether you post about serious or lighthearted topics. If your brand is dealing with an inherently serious topic, you will probably not post memes or funny videos. You will probably stick to sharing news items and general tips for your business. But if your business can afford to be a little silly or wants to be seen as a “friend,” you may be very casual with your followers and use slang or popular viral images and videos on your pages.

#2-Where will I post?

Figuring out where to post also takes some research. You can start by performing an audience analysis. An audience analysis examines the demographics, location, and interests and other aspects of a group.

To figure out demographics and location, try using Facebook’s built in analytics tools. You can use the “page insights” feature to get an overview of the age and gender for your existing audience as well as the cities and countries your followers came from and the languages of their browsers. Simply navigate to the “people” tab under page insights to see an overview of your followers’ demographics like the one pictured below:

After looking at your demographics, you can research to see which platforms they are most interested in by doing a simple Google search. For example when we search this largest demographic, women ages 35-44, we can find statistics that tell us that most of these followers use Facebook and Instagram. From there, we can figure out when the best time to post will be by searching to see when most women ages 35-44 will be using Facebook.

After figuring out the best time to post and the best platform to use, create a social media calendar. This schedule should have what types of topics will be covered each day, the times they will be posted, and the platforms where they will be shared. Check out this example from Hootsuite which addresses the content that will be posted each day on four different platforms:

#3- What will it look like?

What your posts look like will be determined by your brand. No blanket look or feel will work for all businesses. 

If you want a concrete idea of what look to use for your posts, you can create branding standard. In this file, you can document the colors and fonts that your business will use and what situations you will use them in. Your brand standards should include:

  • Clearly defined logo usage, spacing, and colors
  • Specified colors & fonts
    • Make sure the colors and fonts are outlined for use in all instances. For example, for colors, you want to be sure to have CMYK for print usage and Hex for online graphics. For fonts, make sure weights and styles are specified as well as alternatives for both digital and print. You will likely have a greater variety of options to use for graphics.
  • Rules for usage of stock photography, photos from clients, and photos of team members.
  • An overall standard for how your brand’s message should be represented (Voice).

For more information about what should be included in your brand standard, read our blog about brand standards and why you need them: https://advyon.com/brand-standards/

Once you’ve set the colors and fonts you will use, you’re ready to start creating. To get ideas on what your posts might look like, check out the competition. Find social media accounts for similar businesses in your area and make notes on what kinds of graphics they’ve created. Your posts should not be a direct copy, but using similar ideas will help put you on an even playing field with your competitors. You can use design tools like Adobe Indesign or Illustrator or free tools like Canva to create appealing graphics with your colors and fonts.

Final Thoughts: 

Many businesses put off creating a social media plan because it seems time-consuming or intimidating. We think that answering by answering three questions: “What will I post? Where will I post it? What will it look like?,”you can create a solid social media plan that is easy and fun for your team.

Examining your brand voice, demographics, brand standards, and competition will provide you with valuable information on the best approach to social media for your specific business. If you’d like more help with social media planning, strategy, and scheduling, you can always ask an expert! We offer social media posting and plans as a part of our comprehensive marketing services, so please give us a call at (843) 324-5824, email marketing@advyon.com or visit our website, advyon.com for more information on our services or to schedule a consultation.

Your Guide to Cloud Hosting

In our world today, we hear a lot about storing information on the  cloud. But did you know there are different types of cloud storage? In this blog, we will explore what cloud storage can be used for and what the differences are between each type.

What is cloud storage?

All types of cloud storage allow you to access information remotely. The advantage of cloud storage is that files are not taking up any extra room on your computer or servers. Any time you access information remotely, you are using one of the different types of cloud storage.

Cloud computing can be broken up into two basic categories: private or public hosting. On a private cloud, you are responsible for saving the data yourself whereas a public cloud allows you to save data with a larger third party company. Let’s examine each of these types of cloud hosting in more detail.

Type 1- Private Cloud:

A private cloud works much the same way a business would operate its own traditional data center. If you are accessing information on platforms like IBM Cloud, you are likely accessing this information from a private cloud. On a private cloud, the user saves data himself on a hard drive at home or server at the office.

Private cloud is the riskiest of the cloud storage types in terms of security. Without the added security of a big company supporting your data, you may run into problems like:

  • Interruptions
  • Data Security
  • Improper Configuration

To help secure your private cloud, you can take a few simple steps such as using strong passwords and two-factor authentication, enabling account recovery, and signing out when not using your accounts.

Type 2 Public Cloud-

Public cloud is becoming increasingly popular with business owners. Some forecasts for usage of public cloud storage in 2021 are predicting that as many as 60% of companies will use public cloud platforms. Public cloud means that the user does not personally own the server. Rather it is hosted by a third party, often a large company, such as Microsoft’s Azure.

One benefit of hosting on a public cloud is cutting the cost associated with physical hardware. Purchasing a server can cost thousands of dollars and maintaining servers can cost thousands more. Hosting on someone else’s server will likely be closer to a fee of hundreds of dollars.

Another benefit of public hosting is that it removes office limitations. A physical server is limited as to the number of users it can support. Once a business gets to a certain size or expands into multiple offices, it will need a system to support their growth. Cloud storage provides the elasticity needed to grow and change with the company. Cloud hosting is also good for remote work because it allows for easy access, collaboration, and working from multiple locations.

Public hosting is also safer because you are using higher quality servers supported by a full time team of experts. When your server is supported by a full-scale team of qualified engineers, they are less likely to fail. To increase security when hosting on a public cloud, be sure to download backups of any data stored there to protect from security risks if one of their servers goes down.

Public Cloud Subtype: Software as a services (SAAS)

One of the popular subtypes of public cloud hosting is software as a service (SAAS). Software as a service will allow you to export your data for you to download. Well known SaaS companies like Microsoft 365 and Dropbox allow you to periodically download information so you have a hard copy backup. Software as a service is the most commonly used type of cloud hosting because this cloud can be accessed using only a browser. This is the most convenient and efficient type of hosting.

Typically, software as a service does not fail. Other risks to consider when choosing software as a service include low control over your data, dependence on the internet, and speed/ performance.

Which do we recommend you use?

ADVYON is an expert in every type of cloud storage. We believe that private clouds, physical servers, and hosted cloud storage are all highly beneficial for different applications. For most customers, we recommend using a good software as a service provider because they have web interface through browsers, regardless of hardware. Hosted cloud has more limitations because it still requires a stationary machine complete with keyboard and mouse. This makes SaaS most convenient for our highly mobile customers, especially as more of them transition to remote work.

Final Thoughts:

Cloud storage has made a huge impact on the way businesses function from day to day. Private cloud storage allows you to save data on a private server at your home or office, but is vulnerable to the most security risks. Public hosting removes office limitations, allows for mobility, and supports more users with increased expertise from third party support. The type of public hosting we recommend is software as a service, which allows you to store data on a large company’s server using only a browser.

If your business is looking to explore the exciting future of cloud storage, please contact our experts at ADVYON. We work with every type of server and are experts in cloud hosting, so we can answer any further questions you may have! We look forward to working with you on your cloud storage needs.

Try Turning it On and Off Again

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” It’s no secret that this phrase is a favorite of IT professionals. In fact, popular British sitcom, The IT Crowd opens their first episode by giving this line to one of their main characters. But, as the old saying goes, “in every joke, there is a grain of truth”, and it’s no different for this joke. Our ADVYON IT experts really do always ask if you’ve tried rebooting your machine. Why? Because it works!

Rebooting Can Cure Many Common Issues

Tamra Dubis, one of our IT Support Technicians, explained: “I’m passionate about rebooting… It’s important for your computer’s health. A computer needs sleep just like you and I do” According to Tamra, many of our clients’ most common issues including printer and program errors and network connection can be helped by rebooting. There’s almost never a bad time to try rebooting, as long as all files are saved and you aren’t in the middle of an update.

Experts say that rebooting can help with issues such as:

  • Computer Running Slowly
  • Unexpected Freezing
  • Driver Error
  • Hardware Error
  • Slow Internet Speeds
  • Software or Hardware Installation

Rebooting is critical for the speed, storage, and security of your computer. Let’s examine each of these issues more closely to see the difference that rebooting makes.

Issue # 1- Speed

Restarting your computer increases its overall speed. As you go about your work day, you probably open and close browser windows and computer programs without even thinking about it. What many of us don’t realize is that these programs leave a digital footprint in the form of background processes or programs that didn’t close all the way. These unseen programs can take up resources needed for you to perform new tasks quickly. Rebooting your machine sweeps away all the footprints from those programs.

Rebooting is also key to boosting internet speeds. Restarting your router wipes away the current state of your machine, including any bugs that are associated with the way it is working. When you reboot, your routerfrom before any issues that occurred.

Issues # 2- Storage

Rebooting also maximizes storage space for your computer. When you open and close programs on your computer, some of that information is stored in the random access memory (RAM). When this storage space fills up, your RAM can have a memory leak. Restarting clears the RAM, freeing up that needed storage space. A hard restart can also temporarily clear cache and free up storage space for your phone and computer.

Issue #3- Security

Finally, rebooting is vital to the security of your computer. If you leave your computer logged in, this can leave your computer open for security breaches. Restarting can also be crucial for program updates. For instance, Windows releases regular security patches. These patches provide updates to security programs not covered by large scale updates of Defender, etc. The longer it takes to apply these patches, the higher the risk of potential breach. Applying the patches without rebooting could lead to other attacks.

When Should I Reboot?

So, when should you reboot? Our technician, Tamra, recommends that you restart your computer on Friday afternoon. This allows plenty of time for updates and rebooting without disturbing your workday. At the minimum, experts recommend restarting your machine every 30 days.

Tamra also emphasizes that restarts and updates are different from one another. Some software can be updated due to a restart, but an update doesn’t usually have anything to do with the internal workings of your machines. Updates are also different from upgrades. Tamra cautions that an old version of Windows 10 can be just as much of a security risk of Windows 7.

Final Thoughts:

So, if you’re looking to boost the speed, storage, and security of your computer, remember to turn it off and on again. Rebooting your computer is important to restore everything to ideal working conditions without any problematic cache or half-opened programs. If you’d like to know more about why and when you should restart your machine, call our experts today.

 

Animal Medical West: Website Design and Content Writing

Website Design and Content Writing

What We Did For Them:  Website Design, Content Writing

Industry: Veterinary Clinic

The Website: 

When creating the new website for Animal Medical West, we prioritized making the website look friendly. We put a lot of thought into the aesthetics of the website because we wanted people to feel safe with the caring staff of AMW just by looking at their website. It can be hard for people to trust someone to care for their pets, so every design choice was made to create that feeling of trust for new customers.

The first design choice we made was the overall color scheme for the site. The main colors for the site include turquoise, orange, yellow, and red. These colors are designed to be vibrant, but not overwhelming, and are complementary to each other. Once we had the colors selected, we used them to create geometric shapes throughout the website. For any shape, we made sure that there were no harsh edges to ensure that the design was still welcoming, inviting, and friendly. We used a rounded angled border for the featured image in the header of each page, and rounded elements throughout the design. This was a subtle design choice that contributes to the friendly feeling of the site.

At the top of the page, we highlighted the most important information for pet owners. We included the phone number to allow clients to quickly have their questions answered. We also included directions to get to the office easily. Finding a veterinarian close to home is a priority for pet owners, so we were sure to give maps and directions high visibility throughout the site. We also included a “schedule an appointment” button in several different locations on the website, including the header, page load area, and middle. We made booking an appointment easy because it is the most common action customers want to complete on this site.

For our contact information, reviews, directions, and scheduling appointment buttons, we used yellow icons to create a unified appearance. We also created a unique paw print effect for the menu. When you hover over each page of the website, a different pet’s paw print appears. We also created a sticky menu with more information. This menu sticks to the top of the window while the user scrolls down the page. It showcases a small logo as well as the pages for each specific service. The sticky menu is colorful against a white background to match the rest of the site. We also included a “schedule an appointment” button in the sticky menu so that the customer can complete this action no matter where they are on the site.

After the initial page load, the next section we designed were the icons for each of the main service pages. We made this section large, graphic, and eye-catching because we wanted it to be easy for pet owners to find the main services offered by the veterinary clinic, including medical, boarding, grooming, and emergency services. Under the icons, we recapped the major services again for search engine optimization purposes, but made sure that this area still contributed to the overall design by utilizing colorful text and a yellow box.

We also created an overview of the company. This “keep your pet happy and healthy” section gives more details about the character of the company to create further trust. Under this information, we included the map so that pet owners in the area can easily find the office. We originally put the map toward the bottom of the page, but we decided to move it higher because location is one of the most important factors when choosing a veterinarian.

The next section is the testimonials section. This section showcases reviews from current clients, including pictures of their pets. This personalized touch creates trust in the staff and showing real pets adds an extra layer of social proof for new customers.

In the footer, we created an image slider with more pictures of animals and staff. This works as a reminder of the friendly, inviting aspects of the veterinarian’s office. The footer also includes important links, including the patient portal. These links will take the client to forms, special deals, and additional links. People are able to easily find the section of the website that they’re looking for. We put special thought into breaking up the footer so that it would look unique compared to other veterinary websites.

For the rest of our service pages, we chose to design a top-level navigation menu. Many websites choose to do a dropdown menu to save space, but creating a top level navigation menu that shows all of the services is better for search engine optimization and for users. It is easier to find out what services are provided by the vet and to easily learn about the practice without having to search for the right page. Each of our main service pages uses more images of the staff to show that they are friendly and dependable. Each service page also has a sidebar with links to other services to encourage continued clicking. Users don’t have to think about where they will go next, they can continue seamlessly learning about Animal Medical West by following links on any of the pages.

Our “patient portal” page holds most of the important information for clients. It houses forms including the schedule appointment form, online form for new clients, and drop-off and boarding forms. Each form can be filled out online or downloaded as a PDF to print and fill out later. The “current specials” page will be used for future growth as the vet offers more seasonal deals. Consistently updating this page will bring search engine optimization benefits for the company as they continue to grow.

We also modified the previous website’s “about us” page. This page now tells the story of AMW and includes biographies and photos of each of the staff members. Having a photo and fun facts about the people who work at Animal Medical West shows them to be approachable and competent. This creates further trust for pet owners who are able to see the people taking care of their beloved animals.

We also created sections to highlight AMW’s app. This unique app allows clients to look at their pet’s records, send messages to their vet, schedule an appointment, and get refills on medications. The app had never been highlighted on the company’s previous site, so we created a section on the patient portal page with information about the app and a pop-up on the homepage to drive more people to download the app. The pop-up was designed so that if someone clicks on one of the download options or on the exit arrow, the popup will not reappear for a week. This makes the pop-up informative without interrupting the user’s experience.

Content:

While Animal Medical West had a previous website that was well-written, we wanted to increase the search engine optimization value for the content. We thoroughly proof-read the entire site and added more detailed information about the services provided at AMW. We made sure that it was clear to customers and to search engines what services are provided by the vet and where they are located. These details will make it easier for local pet owners to find the Animal Medical West website at the top of their Google search results and quickly get the information they need.

Final Thoughts:

Creating this fun, friendly website was an enjoyable project for our team. We enjoyed creating the unique color scheme, geometric design elements, and showcasing many pictures of the staff and the adorable pets they treat. We were able to take the existing work of the AMW team and bring attention to their amazing team and the excellent veterinary services they provide. From the moment pet owners click on the site, we believe that they will feel certain they have found the perfect kind, thoughtful, and qualified veterinarians to care for their furry friends.

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