logo

Author: chris

05
Jul

Clef’s two-factor smartphone login service is being discontinued. What do I do now?

Image via TechCrunch

A few months ago, Clef—the service we use to provide super-secure login functionality on our clients’ WordPress websites—shared the disappointing news that it would be shutting down this summer. In light of that news, we have spent the past few months looking into the best alternative to the Clef login service.

At this time, our immediate recommendation is to deactivate and uninstall the Clef plugin and return to using a secure username and password combination to log in to WordPress.

If you are a Kestrel client receiving ongoing monthly support, the above will be taken care of for you. The next time you attempt to log in to your site, you will be shown a username and password login setup. Enter the credentials you used prior to Clef to log in. If you have since forgotten your username, password, or both, please add /wp-login.php?action=lostpassword to the end of your website URL (i.e. http://www.example-client-site.com/wp-login.php?action=lostpassword) to request a reset.

If you are not a Kestrel client receiving ongoing monthly support, we suggest reading the Clef team’s advice for transitioning away from Clef.

As always, we recommend using the strongest password possible (and one that is unique to your WordPress site). For tips on creating a strong password, read Google’s list of suggestions. Or, generate one automatically using Norton’s strong password generator.


If you have grown accustomed to the ease of logging in with your smartphone, you have the option to forego the username and password combination in favor of a different secure login app called UNLOQ. If you would like to proceed via this route, please send us an email and we will set up this configuration for you. Once UNLOQ is configured on your site, follow the below instructions to get set up:

Step 1. On your computer, go to the UNLOQ Registration page: https://unloq.io/register, insert your data and click SIGN UP

Step 2. On your computer, go check your e-mail and click Confirm my account:

After confirming your account, you’ll receive a Welcome message in your browser containing a QR code that you will use for activating your device.

In order for you to activate your device, you must first get the UNLOQ mobile app.

Step 3. Download the mobile app from the App Store or Google Play.

Step 4: Open the app and swipe left through the tutorial:

Don’t forget to Enable push notifications for the best authentication experience!

Next, you’ll have to set the PIN code for your mobile app. Later you will have the ability to switch to TouchID if you would like (iPhone users only).

Step 5: Pair your device to your UNLOQ account:

In your mobile app, click Scan setup code, point your phone at your computer screen, and scan the QR code generated at step 2.

That’s it! You have successfully set up your UNLOQ account.

Step 6 (optional, iPhone only): If you would like to switch from a passcode to TouchID, click the hamburger menu icon at the top left of your UNLOQ mobile app.

Next, tap Settings.

You can then choose either Pin or fingerprint, Pin and fingerprint, or Pin only.

Step 7: Log in to your WordPress site by appending /wp-admin to the end of your website URL (i.e. http://example-client-site.com/wp-admin). Then, select the UNLOQ tab at the top. You will be asked to enter your email and click Log In With Phone. You will then receive a notification on your phone requesting access. Either enter your PIN or scan your fingerprint, then tap Approve.

Voila! That’s all it takes!

As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re happy to help!

 

08
Dec

A Ho-Ho-Holiday Guide to Our Favorite Podcasts

It’s officially holiday season here at the Kestrel headquarters, and we’d like to give you a little gift! Podcasts are all the rage right now, but it can be tough to know where to start with so many options. If you’re looking for recommendations, look no further! Below is a list of some of our favorite podcasts (in alphabetical order). Download one for your commute, or stream one while curled up next to a fire. There’s a little something for everyone here. Happy holidays, and happy listening!

99% Invisible

99% Invisible

Often described as a show about architecture, this little show is so much more than that. Host Roman Mars and his team look at what makes our modern world tick: shipping containers, airport carpet, highway signage and everything in between. Every episode will leave you with at least one fun fact to share at your next happy hour.

Invisibilia

Invisibilia

Though similar in name to the previous show on this list, Invisibilia (Latin for all the invisible things) focuses on “the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” Combining pop-science and pop-psychology, this is a show that will make you say, “Huh, I never knew that!” over and over again.

Judge John Hodgman

Judge John Hodgman

Remember the straight-laced guy who played the PC in those ever-present Apple ads of the 2000s? That’s John Hodgman. But the comedian, actor, and author plays a very different role in this show: Internet Judge. Each week he adjudicates a minor (and often silly) dispute between friends or family members. The premise may seem silly, but the life lessons Hodgman imparts in each ruling are always clever, heartwarming, and thoughtful.

Millennial

Millennial

A relative newcomer to the podcast world, this show takes listeners along for the ride as host Megan Tan, a recent college grad, struggles with finding her passion, her career, and herself. The problems she faces are universal, but her open and honest dialog and curious personality will keep you hooked on her story.

Mystery Show

Mystery Show

The best possible descriptor for this show: quirky. Host Starlee Kine plays a Sherlock Holmes For The Modern Era, digging for the truth behind seemingly mundane little mysteries. Her methods are clever enough, but it’s her lengthy asides with the strangers she meets along the way that will delight you over and over again.

Note to Self

Note to Self

If you ever feel like you’re too reliant on technology, this is the show for you. Host Manoush Zomorodi wonders how today’s tech tools are affecting our brains, and she takes listeners with her from Brooklyn to Silicon Valley as she seeks answers from teachers and tech gurus alike.

Radiolab

Radiolab

One of the giants of the podcasting world, this Peabody Award-winner is essential listening, regardless of your interests. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich tackle topics big and small, from “What’s the soundtrack for the end of the world?” to “If you could wipe mosquitos off the face of the earth, would you?” Come for the fascinating discussion, stay for the exceptional sound editing and production.

Reply All

Reply All

If you like hosts with great camaraderie, this is the show for you. PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman dig deep into the hidden crevices of the Internet and unearth some fascinating stories, all while maintaining the sort of witty banter you only hope to share with your roommate /  best friend / younger brother.

Serial

Serial

The show that started the modern podcast boom, Serial is a twisty-turny investigation of a real murder. The central question: is the teenager sent to jail for killing his ex-girlfriend truly guilty? Produced by the master storytellers at This American Life and hosted by veteran reporter Sarah Koenig, this podcast is one you’ll sit in your car listening to long after you’ve pulled into the driveway.

StartUp

StartUp

What happens when you quit your job making podcasts to start your own podcasting company? This is the (admittedly meta) podcast about that process. Host Alex Blumberg, veteran of This American Life and Planet Money, is a master storyteller, and his microphone follows him everywhere. The result: an intimate look at what it’s really like to start your own business.

Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

Ever wondered what makes a pop song so addicting? Hosts Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding break today’s chart-toppers down into their component parts to find the secret sauce that makes them hits (and keeps them stuck in your head). For pop culture lovers, music nerds, and anyone who loves a good search for hidden meaning.

This American Life

This American Life

Ira Glass is the godfather of modern podcasting, and his show is essential listening. Ira, on the This American Life website, says it best: “There’s a theme to each episode of This American Life, and a variety of stories on that theme. Most of the stories are journalism, with an occasional comedy routine or essay. There’s lots more to the show, but it’s sort of hard to describe.” If there’s one show on this list to start with, make it this one.

19
Nov

4 ways Slack can make your office more organized, productive, & fun

I’m always skeptical when I see headlines like “_____ is killing email” or “How _____ has made itself an indispensable business tool” or “_____ is going to eat your old office software alive.” But after I read the stories and gave the product a try, I was convinced: Slack is a must-have tool for any business team in 2015. And the cherry on top? It’s free!

The team at the Kestrel Co. has been using Slack for over a year now, and we’re in love. So, to show our gratitude, I wanted to share four reasons we love Slack (and think you will, too).

Organization

We know how difficult it can be to keep track of several big projects at once. For every one email exchanged between you and the client, there are five more passed back and forth among your coworkers. It can be a headache trying to keep everything straight.

“What was the subject line of that last email request from Client A? Did I forget to Reply All to that last team brainstorm message about Project B?”

Slack doesn’t just answer those questions – it eliminates them completely.

Slack channelsBy organizing conversation in channels, you’ll always know where to find a message. We categorize our channels by client, but you can set yours up however you choose. Each channel serves as a de facto archive for all conversation around a topic, making it a breeze to find what you’re looking for.

Channels can also help you reduce distractions. If you don’t need to know every detail about a particular project or client, you can turn notifications off for that channel. By eliminating those intrusions and choosing only to read through the conversation when you have a free moment, you’ll be more apt to focus on the task at hand.

Channels also help you prioritize your attention by letting you know when YOU specifically have been mentioned in a conversation. If your coworkers have name-dropped you in a channel message, a red numerical indicator will appear next to that channel, letting you know to check it first.

Collaboration

Email can be great for one-on-one conversation, but it’s not so wonderful when it comes to collaboration and brainstorming.

By default, all channels are publicly visible to everyone in your Slack team. While some may initially bristle at the notion of all this transparency, I think it’s great. Here’s why: You never know where the next great idea will come from.

Slack channel collaboration

Say Mike and Tina are having a discussion about the next sales campaign for Super Special Client. Curious about the conversation, Tim heads over to the #superspecialclient channel. After reading through the archive, he has a brilliant idea and pitches it to Mike and Tina…and they love it! Not only does Tim look good, but the team as a whole is better off for his idea.

Would any of this have happened if Mike and Tina were emailing each other privately about this? Nope! Tim wouldn’t have been privy to their thoughts, and his brilliant idea would never have been born.

History

Channels aren’t the only way Slack helps document and archive conversations. It also has a powerful built-in search tool, allowing you to find any message or file with a few quick keystrokes.

Slack's powerful search

Looking for all messages from a particular team member? Just use the from: modifier in the search box. Trying to find something in a particular channel? Put the in: modifier in front of your search term.

You can also search just for uploaded files, and you can further narrow your search by filtering by file type. As good as Gmail’s search capabilities are, I find Slack’s to be even more powerful.

Pro tip: Any text-based document (PDF, Word Doc, Google Doc) you upload to Slack will have every word archived and available for search. So, say you don’t remember the title of a file but you remember it contained the term “tablecloth.” Just search “tablecloth” in Slack and that document will appear in the search results. Pretty cool!

Fun

Not only is Slack a great organization and collaboration tool, it’s also downright fun to use. We all know every team functions better when its members enjoy coming to work, and Slack can play a big part in that.

Sure, there are channels for clients and projects, but Slack also includes two default channels: #general and #random. Both of these channels provide outlets for stray thoughts and ideas, links to interesting articles and videos, lunch invitations, office and company policy info, and other “water cooler” chatter.

These channels can be made even more enjoyable by the addition of the Giphy integration, which allows anyone to cue up a random animated GIF.

Slack's Giphy integration

Just like any other channel, folks should be careful not to let the off-topic conversation become a distraction. But used in the right way, it can be a great outlet for discussion and a fun way to learn more about your coworkers.

 


 

The list above barely scratches the surface of all you can do with Slack. (Did I mention it’s free?) If you’re interested in learning more, I’d suggest checking out Getting started with Slack.

So, have you and your team tried Slack? Do you plan to after reading this? Let us know your thoughts, and holler if you have questions!

24
Sep

6 Ways to Make Your Restaurant Website More Appetizing

There are certain mysteries of the universe you and I will never understand: What is dark matter? How does gravity work? Why do humans need sleep? Where did that other sock disappear to?

But near that the top of that deeply perplexing list is one question that nags me almost incessantly: Why are all restaurant websites terrible?

It’s a sad reality, but it doesn’t have to be this way. By following a few basic principles, you can take your restaurant website from flavorless to five stars.

1. Make it responsive

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: It’s critical that your website be beautiful and functional on each and every device. If it’s not adhering to the principles of responsive web design, it’s going to be a navigational nightmare for anyone looking to find your hours, menu, contact info, etc.

Think about the ways in which most folks come across your website. Facebook, Yelp, Urbanspoon and Google Maps are all huge traffic sources, and the majority of their users are browsing on mobile devices. If I’m on the go and looking for a place to grab a bite, I’m going to reach for my phone. But if I open your website and see a desktop view (or even worse, nothing at all because you’re still using Flash), chances are I’m dining elsewhere.

2. Lose the PDF

If I’m coming to your website from a mobile device, the last thing I want to do is download a huge PDF file on my slow connection (and small data plan). Even if I’m able to get it open, I’m still going to have to zoom and pan around on this multi-page behemoth to find what I’m looking for.

Not only does a PDF offer a poor user experience, it isn’t optimal for SEO or analytics tracking either.

A far better alternative is to add your menu items in good ol’ HTML markup. This will allow them to adapt to screen size, be easily parsed by Google, and change quickly when needed. No more contacting your graphic designer for a single text tweak every time you want to make a menu change, and better yet, no more frustrated potential diners.

3. Hold the cheese

oatmeal

The great web comic The Oatmeal has a clever post about restaurant websites. In it, he offers a quick list of things people look for when browsing:

  • Menu
  • Specials and happy hour info
  • Address with a link to Google Maps
  • Online reservation system that actually works
  • Hours of operation, parking and contact info

The above should be a simple wish list to fulfill, but unfortunately these things are either a) not present, or b) impossible to find amid all the clutter.

Restaurants websites are so often full of cheesy components that do more to distract than inform potential diners. Instead of over-designing and overwhelming, try to follow these rules:

  • Don’t make critical pieces of information difficult to locate
  • Save the ambient music for the restaurant itself
  • Keep design flare to a minimum
  • Put any extra content (i.e. videos, photo galleries, letters from the chef / owner) on separate inside pages and keep the homepage clean and practical

 

4. Express yourself

If your aim is to provide customers with an elegant, white tablecloth-style dining experience, that aesthetic should be reflected in your site’s design. The same is true if you’re a sports bar hoping to provide elevated bar food and a fun atmosphere.

Your website often serves as the first point of contact with potential diners. You want them to come away with an accurate sense of the experience you’re trying to provide. If you don’t, you risk failing to meet expectations.

5. Keep it current

I’m sure you change your specials on a weekly or monthly basis. You probably rotate out several menu items seasonally, too. Why not give the same thought and care to your website?

Relevant information about drink specials, happy hours, and updated menu items entice potential diners to pay you a visit. However, outdated versions of the same information can scare customers away. If you’re not updating your information online, how can I trust that you’re putting the maximum effort into your food or your service?

6. Connect with the customer

One of the easiest ways to endear yourself to potential diners is to connect with them on social media. Even if you’re not able to update your website weekly, surely you’re posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram regularly, right?

By displaying links to these profiles prominently on your homepage, you provide customers with a simple way to see that recipe you’re testing or the new patio you just opened.

Overwhelmed?

Unsure of how to implement all of these changes? We can help. The Kestrel Co. builds each and every website according to the best practices of responsive web design and search engine optimization. We create beautiful sites free from clutter, and ensure that your identity and vision are expressed in every detail. And, we provide simple and practical solutions for you to keep your site’s content fresh.

Eager to get started? Let’s chat!

17
Aug

Your Laptop Is Not A Book or: why you should care about web typography

Let’s face it: most reading these days is done on a screen. Sure, you might crack open a book while you’re lying in bed at night, but the rest of your reading time is monopolized by digital displays.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that most type on the web is a pain to read. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is that the text is simply too small.

In the early days of the Internet, designers didn’t give much thought to the difference between reading on a computer and reading on a printed page. So, they applied the basic principles of print typography to web typography. The result? The default font size of those early websites was set at 12pt.

The inherent problem with this approach is that reading on a computer is an entirely different exercise than reading a book.

Answer me this: When you read a book, where do you hold it? If you’re like most people, it’s probably about 12 inches from your face. But how often are your eyes that close to your computer screen? Hopefully, not very often. So, why should the text on your screen be the same size as that of a book?

The farther away you hold the text, the smaller it becomes visually. You need to make the text size bigger the farther away the text is read, to compensate for a larger reading distance. Source: Information Architects.

The farther away you hold the text, the smaller it becomes visually. You need to make the text size bigger the farther away the text is read, to compensate for a larger reading distance. Source: Information Architects.

When we think about web typography, we should consider not just what the user will be reading, but how they will be reading it. How far away is the user’s screen? How long is the piece of copy we’re asking them to read? How wide is the container that holds the copy?

All of these factors impact how we should design our web typography. An easy fix is to bump up all paragraph text from 12pt to 16pt, like so:

16-pixel text displayed on a 24-inch screen, next to 12-point text printed on paper. Source: Smashing Magazine.

16-pixel text displayed on a 24-inch screen, next to 12-point text printed on paper. Source: Smashing Magazine.

If we want to get more technical (and we do, because it’s our job), we’ll look specifically at the length of each line and aim to follow this rule:

“Anything from 45 to 75 characters is widely regarded as a satisfactory length of line for a single-column page set in a serifed text face in a text size. The 66-character line (counting both letters and spaces) is widely regarded as ideal.”

The result of implementing this best practice is a good reading experience across all devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile).

Will your users notice? Probably not. But, that’s exactly what we want. As usability expert Jared Spool said:

“Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.”

At the Kestrel Co, we strive to make every website feel effortless and unobtrusive. Designing web typography that ensures users won’t have to zoom in or strain their eyes is one small part of that experience, but it’s a crucial one.

P.S. If you find yourself annoyed by small web typography after reading this post, try using a tool like Pocket to save articles and read them later in a cleaner format, or a browser extension like Evernote Clearly to improve font sizing in one click without leaving the page.

30
Jun

Solve your mobile woes with responsive web design

Picture this: a friend shares a link on your favorite social media platform. Intrigued (or just bored and otherwise doomed to scroll until your thumb falls off), you click. You wait a brief moment for the page to load…and your heart sinks.

Everything is tiny, zoomed out, illegible.

Determined to read whatever it was your friend felt compelled to share, you pinch to zoom in, pan around, then pinch to zoom back out a little. After 10 seconds or so, you’ve got the text centered on screen and big enough to read. Feeling victorious, you plow on.

A couple paragraphs in, you see the author has linked to something relevant you’d like to read, so you tap that link…or at least you try. But your fat finger misses, and all of the sudden you’re somewhere else entirely.

You hit the back arrow in your mobile browser, but when the page reloads, you’re right back where you started: tiny, zoomed out, illegible. Frustrated, you give up and head back to the aforementioned social media platform, never to return.

 

Static sites makes for unhappy customers

If you think you’re alone in this experience, you’re certainly not. A recent Google study found that “96% of consumers have encountered sites that weren’t designed with mobile in mind” and “48% reported feeling frustrated and annoyed” when this happens.

headdesk

That frustrating and annoying experience is the result of something called “static web design.” It’s the way most websites were designed for years and years, until the mobile phone came along and tore up the web design handbook.

To be more specific, “A static page layout […] uses a preset page size and does not change based on the browser width.”

Static websites are perfectly fine when viewed on most desktop computers, but the problem arises when you try to view those same pages on a tablet, mobile phone, etc.

In an effort to solve this problem, a few enterprising companies began building mobile-specific versions of their sites (think mobile.nytimes.com, for example). Many of these are still around today, and they do a fine job. However, in most cases, this requires two completely separate code bases and content management systems. With this setup, mistakes are easily made and headaches abound.

So, how do we solve this problem?

 

Responsive web design to the rescue!

Enter responsive web design, or RWD for short. It’s the magic pill you didn’t know you needed until now.

What exactly is this miracle cure? Smashing Magazine defines RWD thusly:

“Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.”

In layman’s terms, it means that no matter the size of your device (be it a desktop computer, a tablet, a mobile phone or even a smartwatch), the website will look great. Text is big and legible, photos take up the appropriate amount of space, and there’s no pinching to zoom or panning required. This, folks, is web utopia.

responsive web design yes and no

Not only are responsive web design sites easier to use, they’re good for business.

According to that same Google study referenced above, 74% of users visiting a mobile-friendly site said they were “more likely to return to that site in the future” and 67% of users said “when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service.”

Additionally, if you have a site that isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be sending traffic away from your business and into the waiting arms of your competitors.

dr-evil-crying

To quote Google again:

  • 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they’d quickly move on to another site
  • 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site
  • 50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn’t mobile-friendly

 

Google lays down the law

Knowing how deeply frustrating these static sites can be for mobile users, Google has begun penalizing websites that don’t meet its mobile-friendly standards. The search giant announced this change last year, and as of April 21, 2015 is offering priority to mobile-friendly websites when users search on a mobile device.

“A lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web,” Itai Sadan, CEO of website building company Duda, told Business Insider.

Is your current site mobile-friendly? If it wasn’t built (or redesigned) in the past five years or so, I’m guessing not. You can use this tool to find out for certain.

In this new reality, here’s how a mobile-friendly site will appear in Google’s search results:

mobile-friendly

That Mobile-friendly label lets mobile searchers know they will receive a good experience when they load the page, and it also means the page will appear higher in search results.

If you’re a business owner trying to drive traffic to your product, this matters quite a bit.

According to an Advanced Web Ranking study, 71.33% of searchers click a link from the first page of Google’s search results, whereas only 5.59% click links on pages two and three.

Additionally, “the first 5 results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.” That’s a HUGE gap. You want, nay, you need to be among the top results.

ranking-position-CTR-2

 

How we can help

When you choose the Kestrel Co, you’re guaranteed not only a beautiful, hand-crafted website, but also one that is built from the ground up using responsive web design priciples. No tiny text, no pinching or panning. Everything just works. Desktop, tablet, mobile and beyond.

For your customers, this means a better experience across all devices. For your business, this means happier customers, better search position, more clicks and more revenue.

Coupled with the SEM strategies Warren mentioned last week and the fresh content on the blog Ryan goaded you into starting, you’ll be at the top of Google’s search results in no time. Your customers will thank you, and you can feel better knowing that there’s one less frustrating static site floating around the internet.

thumbs up