News Media Websites & Bad User Experience

Responsive Design PhotoIn web development, it’s incredibly important to build websites that are easy to use on all devices to keep visitors coming back. The way a visitor feels when they use a website is referred to as “User Experience”. There are very knowledgeable people working on development teams at many companies whose entire job is to make sure the websites they build provide the best possible user experience. I was this person at past employers and I spend a lot of time focusing on it here at my own company. Bad user experience drives customers away and you don’t want that!

One industry that doesn’t seem to value a good user experience is the news media. How many times have you seen an interesting story on Facebook or Twitter, clicked a link and ended up at a website that unleashed an onslaught of ads all over your screen? I’m sure it has happened.

There are sometimes so many ads, in so many formats – pop-ups, slide-overs, covers, static, banners, video, everything! Sometimes crazy complex stuff I’ve never seen before and I’ve been in the industry 17 years! It’s incredibly frustrating. When this happens, I’ll immediately click out of the site and proceed to avoid it like the plague in the future.

Obviously, the news media does this because they rely on ad revenue to stay in business. They sell a ton of ads to almost anyone without concern for how it will impact user experience. There have been instances of ad overload where I wasn’t even able to find the article I clicked through to read.

Personally, I think quality is more important than quantity. I’d rather provide a great user experience with well-designed ads in acceptable formats in less intrusive locations. Instead of selling all of the ads I can, then shoving each ad up some poor website visitor’s ass, I’d much rather they have a good user experience, stay on my site for a long time looking at the few ads I do have and then come back over, and over again.

If you run a news website, or any website, make sure you pay attention to user experience. Don’t let bad user experience scare people away. If you need help with user experience, get in contact with us!

– Tom
Contact Me Here

Coming Soon – Video Tutorials!

Monitor photo with code illustrationIn July, I resigned from my college teaching job to prepare for a pending relocation to Florida from Columbus Ohio. Since then, I have had a plan to start posting video tutorials here on my website and over on my YouTube channel. These tutorials would cover multiple web development/design, Internet Marketing/Advertising, security and other related topics. Unfortunately, I’ve temporarily lost access to my quiet home office. My wife deals in sensitive health data for her job and needs a private office space with a lock so she has temporarily taken mine over.

For the past month and a half, I have been working at the kitchen table.  My co-workers are a periodically high maintenance Shih Tzu dog, named Zoe and an orange and white short hair cat named Genghis (aka The Great and Powerful Genghis Khan). The problem is, neither of them care that I’m recording video and do whatever they want (bark, jump up on my equipment, bark, bark, sometimes meow, sometimes all of that at once etc.). It hasn’t been very conducive to recording video.

After the move to Florida is complete, I’ll get a private office space back again and will start pumping out tutorial videos on a wide variety of topics. Here are some of the topics I plan to cover…

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Shopify
  • SEO
  • PPC (Google AdWords & Facebook Ads – my two areas of expertise)
  • Helpful free and low-cost applications for web developers
  • Helpful free and low-cost applications for web designers
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Google Search Console
  • Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Hosting Server Topics
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
  • Website Security
  • Merchant Accounts, PCI/DSS
  • JavaScript
  • PHP
  • Frameworks
  • A lot more!

If you have suggestions for a tutorial video, let me know!

Right now, we hope to be in Florida by October, so around then is when you should see video tutorials make their debut. I’ll provide updates if things change.

In the mean time, if you have questions don’t hesitate to shoot me a message or look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.

– Tom
Contact Me Here

Data Security – Your private data was exposed. What does that mean?

Whenever you put data on a computer, taking steps to secure data it is a requirement. I take a lot of steps related to data security, such as dedicating one of my computers to development work only (no general web surfing allowed), keeping and running an updated anti-virus/anti-spyware application, using SSL (https) on data-heavy websites, running security scanning software on the server, transferring files using secure connections, configuring custom access settings on the server, keeping all of my software updated and more. One of the biggest culprits behind data theft isn’t a problem with software or hardware, it’s people doing dumb things.

Periodically, big companies make the news because of customer data being “exposed” due to data security failures. Verizon was the most recent victim of this. Looking at people’s reactions in my social media feeds, it’s obvious a lot of them don’t realize there is are differences between data being “exposed” and data being stolen. Here is a brief explanation of the differences.

Data was “exposed” – This means your data is out wandering the streets without clothes on, well, not exactly. What it means is someone put your information in a location that was not protected by any security protocols, such as encryption or a password-protection. Without any data security protocols in place, you’re data can be easily accessed by anyone.

When your data has been “exposed” someone COULD have accessed it but they probably didn’t. It’s good policy for a company to warn people whenever this happens, even if it doesn’t seem like anyone actually accessed the data, so they can pay attention to bank statements, credit card statements and other financial information to make sure nobody is using their information to do illegal things.

Here in Ohio, someone working for the state once left a laptop full of private resident data on top of a car in downtown Columbus. This is an example of data being “exposed” and it didn’t even involve the Internet. it doesn’t have to involve the Internet because your data is stored in a lot of places both on and offline. Anytime that data is put in a position where someone could easily get their hands on it, it has been “exposed”.

Another example of data being “exposed” would be storing customer credit card information without encryption on an external drive without password protection and leaving that drive on a table at your local coffee shop.

Data was stolen – This means someone purposely gained access to information, either through an Internet connection (hacking) or some other form of theft, and it is very likely they intend to use it for something illegal (get credit cards in your name, file fraudulent tax returns, make purchases on your credit cards, etc.).

When your data has been “stolen” it’s much more serious and you should pay very close attention to your personal financial information. If the theft involves credit card numbers or account information you should change all of that information ASAP.

Whenever government documents are “leaked” what usually happens is an employee or contractor takes documents that they have access to off premises without permission and either gives or sells them to the media.

In Summary:

So, to keep it simple, data exposure is when someone does something dumb accidentally and data theft is when someone does something dumb on purpose. Both situations require your attention but an exposure isn’t as serious as a theft.

If you have questions about this, or anything else involving website security, get in contact with me anytime!

– Tom
Contact Me Here

All About Web Development, SEO and Tech

web development seo and tech blog article image showing office suppliesI’m into web development, SEO, tech and entrepreneurship just like  you. This is where I will post tutorials explaining how to do various web development and SEO related things, along with other more general tech industry-related articles. I’ll cover everything from how to use various pieces of software to web development and major issues in society that could affect the tech industry such as broadband speeds, net neutrality or anything else that might come along that could impact web development, digital marketing or the tech industry.

I might also venture off into the world of entrepreneurship from time-to-time. This is actually my third business.

What you can expect to find here:


Some of my posts will be tutorial videos so you won’t even have to worry about reading. I’ll go through things step-by-step in short, easy-to-follow videos without any industry jargon or unnecessary BS.


Sometimes a topic is basic enough it can be explained in a good infographic and I’ll post those in here also.


I’ve learned a few things over the past 15 years and I’ll share some of those “secrets” with you right here.

Product/Software Reviews

I use a lot of different products and software so you’ll find some information about my opinion on those things here.

If you’re interested in web development, SEO, entrepreneurship or anything technical, you’re in the right place! Stop by often to see what I’m up to. Thanks for visiting!

– Tom

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