Tech Tip – Pin Tabs In Chrome To Save Time And Stay Organised

If there are websites that you use regularly, pinning tabs is a way to save time, stay organised, and get right to the websites you need every time you open your Google Chrome browser. Here’s how it works:

– Open Chrome and type in the domain of the required website.

– Right-click on the tab the website is open in and select ‘Pin’.

– You’ll see your pinned tab appear at the top of the browser on the left. Pinned tabs are stored on the left of the window and only show the site’s icon, saving space.

– Pinned tabs stay in place, even when you close and reopen Chrome, so it’s just a case of clicking on the pinned tab (top left) to quickly go to the required website.

Tech News : ICO Cookie Warning To Top Websites

The UK Information Commissioner has warned some of the UK’s top websites that if they don’t offer users fair choices over cookie use, as required by data protection law, they will face enforcement action.

Guidance Not Being Followed 

The Information Commissioner argues that although it has previously issued clear guidance that organisations must make it as easy for users to “Reject All” advertising cookies as it is to “Accept All,” this guidance is still not being followed in many cases.

The Issue 

The issue is that people are concerned about companies using their personal information to target them with ads without their consent. However, some cookies used by websites track users so that they can serve personalised advertising to the user based on their browsing. Therefore, the ICO says that websites must clearly give users the opportunity to reject (or accept / consent to) these types of cookies in order to be compliant with data protection laws.

Stephen Almond, ICO Executive Director of Regulatory Risk, has given examples on the ICO website, of ways that website users can be negatively affected if the top websites they visit aren’t compliant in this way. Mr Almond says: “Gambling addicts may be targeted with betting offers based on their browsing record, women may be targeted with distressing baby adverts shortly after miscarriage and someone exploring their sexuality may be presented with ads that disclose their sexual orientation.”  

Only 30 Days To Comply

The ICO says that it has therefore written to companies running many of the UK’s most visited websites setting out its concerns and giving them 30 days to ensure their websites comply with the law.

Previous Warning 

This latest announcement follows a warning and a paper outlining guidance issued back in August. At the time, the ICO warned designers and developers to stop using harmful design practices that could: “Undermine people’s control over their personal information and lead to worse consumer and competition outcomes.”  

Legislation Changes Concerning 

The current regulations relating to cookie usage are split between General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). The PECR (known as the “cookie law”) led to the introduction of cookie consent pop-ups on websites.

Concerns Over New Bill 

However, a new data protection and digital information bill is on the way which has concerned privacy groups because:

– It will mean fewer cookie consent pop-ups.

– It will allow some websites to collect information (to improve service and security) without consent.

– It will give ministers the power to add new exceptions to cookie consent requirements.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

As the ICO’s Stephen Almond says, “many of the biggest websites have got this right” yet it appears that the Information Commissioner has now run out of patience with companies that haven’t yet decided (for whatever reason) to get to grips with and comply with data privacy regulations.

The ICO’s warning to the UK’s top websites about cookie consent has significant implications for businesses, especially those with high online traffic. This move signals an increased urgency for these websites to comply with data protection laws – 30 days isn’t a long time for big companies to comply, although some would argue they’ve had years already to do so. Emphasising the need for fair-use, transparancy and user-friendly cookie consent mechanisms is, therefore, the drive behind the Information Commissioner’s latest ultimatum with the focus on high-traffic sites. This seems to indicate that businesses with larger user bases now face greater scrutiny, and compliance may now be not only a legal necessity but also crucial for maintaining user trust and brand reputation.

The ICO’s announcement serves as a stark reminder for all businesses about the importance of adhering to data protection regulations. This includes staying informed about impending legislative changes that could affect cookie consent and data collection practices (remember, the new bill will see ministers able to make changes to cookie exceptions). For web designers and developers, this latest announcement underscores the need to prioritise user privacy in their designs, moving away from methods that subtly coerce users into accepting cookies.

With public concern over the use of personal data in advertising, this story is a reminder that businesses must be transparent in their cookie usage and provide clear consent options and that this approach is vital in enhancing the trustworthiness of the site. Overall, the ICO’s warning highlights the necessity for a comprehensive and proactive approach to data privacy and protection, urging businesses to not only comply with current laws but also prepare for future changes in legislation and public expectations.

Tech Insight : How To Make a QR Code

In this tech insight, we look at QR codes, the many different methods to generate them, the benefits of doing so, and the future for QR codes as the successor to barcodes.

What Is A QR code? 

A QR (Quick Response) code, first designed in 1994 by Japanese company ‘Denso Wave’, is a type of two-dimensional barcode. It looks like square grid made up of smaller black and white squares (modules) and typically features three larger square patterns in three of its corners, which help scanners identify and orient the code. The black and white squares within the grid encodes the data. Unlike a one-dimensional barcode, which represents data in a series of vertical lines (which are based on the dots and dashes in Morse code), a QR code stores data in both vertical and horizontal arrangements. This means that a lot more data can be encoded in a QR code than a bar code, and a QR code can contain complex information, e.g. text, URLs, and other data types.

Making A QR Code 

There are several ways you can make your own QR code. If you want to quickly share a URL of interest with others, it’s possible to make a QR code in Microsoft Edge that can be shared, and which directs them to that web page. This could be particularly useful if you want to open the same web page on a mobile device or share it with someone else without having to type or text the entire URL. Here’s how to make a QR code for a URL in Edge:

– Open Edge and go to the web page you want to make a QR code for.

– Right-click on a blank area of the web page and select ‘Create QR code for this page’ and choose either the option to ‘Copy’ (to paste and share it) or ‘Download’ (to get a png image download of the QR code).

– A QR code symbol also appears in the right-hand side of the address bar enabling you to re-use the code by clicking on it (which launches another QR code copy/download window).

Making A QR Code For A URL In Google Chrome 

To make a QR code for a URL using Google Chrome, the process is the same, but a QR code symbol doesn’t appear in the address bar.

Safari? 

For the Safari browser, a QR code can’t be generated unless a Safari QR code generator extension or an online QR code generator is used.

Online QR Code Generators 

You can also use online QR code generators. Examples include https://www.qr-code-generator.com/https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/, and many more.

Other Options 

Other options for making a QR code include:

– Using open-source software e.g., Libre Office (free open-source software).Open the ‘Insert’ menu, hover over ‘OLE,’ click ‘QR and Barcode,’ and paste in the URL to be converted to QR code.

– Mobile apps for Android’s or iOS. These apps often have the function to generate QR codes in addition to reading them. Examples include: QR Code Reader and Scanner, QR TIGER, QR & Barcode Scanner, QR Code Reader, NeoReader, and many more.

– Web browser extensions or add-ons.

– QR Code APIs e.g., QRServer’s free API or Goqr.me’s API.

QR Codes Will Replace Bar Codes 

QR codes are already set to replace bar codes. This will of course mean lower costs for retailers, will have implications for package design (less on-packaging information but more information available to customers), and the positive environmental impact of less packaging. For retailers, this could also mean improvements to inventory management, and it is likely to give greater flexibility to manufacturers and retailers in terms of updating product information.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

QR codes provide businesses a streamlined and interactive method to connect with their audience, offering a bridge between the physical and digital realms. By generating and sharing QR codes for URLs, businesses can quickly direct customers to specific online content, whether it’s a promotional deal, a digital menu, or an informational page, without requiring users to manually type in web addresses. This eliminates potential errors, speeds up access, and is easy and convenient for customers in a world where most of us now use our mobiles for everything.

Having QR code generation features built into browsers, is also very convenient for users as the creation process is fast, seamless, integrated, and creates something that’s easy to share, which helps the business whose URL is being shared.  Also, not having to rely upon on external tools or platforms to generate QR codes means that businesses can instantly create, share, and update QR codes directly from their browser, thereby enhancing efficiency and ensuring they can adapt to changing digital needs swiftly.

Being able to generate and share QR codes will soon be more important than ever for businesses with the QR codes set to replace the now 50-year-old bar codes. It should be noted, however, that QR codes can send users to web pages containing malicious code and therefore care should be taken when scanning them to check for authenticity, which could be something as simple as ensuring a sticker hasn’t been put over the original code.

Featured Article : Want A .Dad Domain For Father’s Day

Here we look at most of the modern top-level domains and their uses, along with the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a newer, lesser known, or more specific TLD for your website domain name.

What Are Top Level Domains? 

Top-Level Domains (TLDs) are the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System (DNS) structure of the internet, i.e. they are the last segment of a domain name that follows the final dot (e.g., .com, .org, .net). In short, TLDs categorise and classify domain names based on their purpose or geographic location.

Two Main Types 

There are two main categories of TLDs:

  1. Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs): These are TLDs that are not specific to any country or geographic region. Some common examples of gTLDs include .com, .org, .net, and .info. Originally, gTLDs were limited to a few generic options, but with the expansion of the internet, many new gTLDs have been introduced to provide more specific categorisations for websites.
  2. Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs): These are TLDs that are associated with a specific country or territory. Each country is assigned a two-letter code (e.g., .us for the United States, .uk for the United Kingdom, .ca for Canada) to create country-specific TLDs. These TLDs help indicate the geographic association or targeting of a website.

TLDs serve several purposes, including indicating the nature of a website (e.g., .com for commercial, .edu for educational institutions) or its association with a particular country or region. They provide a structured and organised system for domain names on the internet, allowing users to easily identify the purpose or location of a website based on its TLD.

Main Top Level Domains 

There are many TLDs that most of us would recognise e.g., .com, .org., .net, and many country specific TLDs such as .co.uk. However, new TLDs are introduced all the time, and the list below includes many of the newer ones and their intended purpose.

  1. .com: Originally intended for commercial websites, it has become a widely used TLD for various types of websites.
  2. .org: Primarily used by non-profit organisations and associations.
  3. .net: Initially designated for network infrastructure, it is now used for a variety of purposes.
  4. .gov: Restricted to U.S. government entities.
  5. .edu: Restricted to accredited educational institutions, such as universities and colleges.
  6. .mil: Restricted to U.S. military entities.
  7. .int: Reserved for international treaty-based organisations and institutions.
  8. .info: Intended for informative websites, although it’s open for general registration.
  9. .biz: Designed for business-oriented websites.
  10. .mobi: Intended for websites optimised for mobile devices.
  11. .name: Meant for personal websites and portfolios.
  12. .pro: Originally intended for professionals like doctors and lawyers, but it’s now open for general registration.
  13. .co: Originally the TLD for Colombia, it has gained popularity as a global alternative to .com.
  14. .io: Originally the TLD for British Indian Ocean Territory, it has become popular among tech companies and startups, and for downloadable games. They are treated as generic top-level domains by Google and there are no restrictions on who can use a .io domain.
  15. .me: Often used for personal websites, blogs, and online resumes.
  16. .tv: Originally the TLD for Tuvalu, it is frequently used by television and media-related websites.
  17. .dev: Geared towards developers, programmers, and technology-focused websites.
  18. .design: Targeted towards designers and creative professionals.
  19. .agency: Suitable for advertising agencies, marketing firms, and creative service providers.
  20. .store: Ideal for e-commerce platforms and online retail businesses.
  21. .blog: Geared towards bloggers and individuals sharing their thoughts and ideas.
  22. .travel: Restricted to entities in the travel and tourism industry.
  23. .photography: Suited for photographers and photography-related websites.
  24. .restaurant: Targeted towards restaurants, cafes, and food establishments.
  25. .esq : a secure domain for lawyers or ‘distinguished’ people.
  26. .foo: a domain from a word used in computer programming that can offer a distinctive and different position.
  27. .nexus: Another a top-level extension designed for entities in the technology industry.
  28. .prof: A domain designed to connect professors to students, colleagues, universities, and peers.
  29. .zip: A domain for storage services (think zip files).
  30. .mov: A domain for anything related to films and video.
  31. .phd: Designed to show the credentials of those with a PhD qualification.
  32. .giving: A domain to be used for fundraising efforts by non-profits, social enterprises, or companies involved in fundraising.
  33. .kids: Useful for websites aimed at entertaining and educational web content for children and youth.
  34. .rsvp: A secure domain for events and reservations, e.g. events, fundraisers, business bookings, and more.
  35. .boo: For fun marketing or special events, e.g. Halloween.
  36. .abbvie: Solely for websites affiliated with US pharmaceutical giant ‘Abbvie’.
  37. .pioneer: A domain solely for those affiliated with the Pioneer Corporation (Japanese company known for electronics).
  38. .channel: For uses by creators and publishers to host or redirect to storefronts featuring digital and physical products.

.Dad Domain For Father’s Day? 

Google’s. dad domains (which could make a good Father’s Day present) can be used for fatherhood-related content e.g., urname.dad, yourblog.dad, yourbusiness.dad. Google says its .dad registry is for dads who want to start a blog or someone showing appreciation for the father figures in their life. Examples of some of the sites and communities on .dad include:

– Classic.dad – All about the Dad Life, such as puns, dad cooking, fixing just about anything with duct tape and more.

– Lifeof.dad and life.dad – a leading community of dads whose mission is to celebrate fatherhood by entertaining and supporting dads.

– WorldsGreatest.dad – a Father’s Day page dedicated to a great dad, complete with photos and captions.

– Mr.dad / expectant.dad /new.dad – a site sharing resources to help dads become the fathers they want to be.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Having A Lesser Known Or More Specific Domain? 

Choosing a lesser-known, newer, or very specific Top-Level Domain (TLD) for your website domain name can have both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some considerations:

Advantages: 

– Availability. Lesser-known or newer TLDs may have a wider range of available domain names compared to popular TLDs like .com, where many desirable names are already registered. This gives you a better chance of finding a domain name that matches your brand or business.

– Specificity. Certain TLDs are tailored to specific industries or interests. If the TLD aligns closely with your niche or target audience, it can help communicate your website’s purpose or specialisation right in the domain name, making it more memorable and relevant to visitors.

– Branding. A unique or specific TLD can enhance your brand identity and differentiate your website from competitors. It can give your website a distinctive and memorable web address, which can be advantageous for marketing and branding purposes.

– Availability of keyword-rich names: In some cases, newer or specific TLDs might have more keyword-rich domain names available. This can be valuable for search engine optimisation (SEO) as having relevant keywords in your domain name can potentially improve your website’s visibility in search results.

Disadvantages: 

– Familiarity. Lesser-known or newer TLDs may not be as well-recognised or familiar to internet users compared to traditional and popular TLDs like .com or .org. This could lead to a perception of untrustworthiness or unfamiliarity, especially if visitors are accustomed to more established TLDs.

– User perception. Some users may associate specific TLDs with low-quality or spammy websites. If you choose a TLD that has a negative reputation or is commonly used for malicious purposes, it might impact user trust and deter potential visitors.

– SEO considerations. While having keyword-rich domain names can be beneficial for SEO, the impact of TLDs on search engine rankings is debatable. Search engines like Google claim that TLDs do not directly affect rankings. However, user perception and click-through rates can indirectly impact SEO performance, and a less recognisable TLD might affect user behaviour and therefore SEO.

– Limited availability of domain extensions: Depending on the specific TLD you choose, you might have fewer options when it comes to domain registrars or web hosting providers. Some TLDs have limited availability and/or higher registration costs due to exclusivity or being managed by specific entities.

– Ultimately, the decision to choose a lesser-known, newer, or very specific TLD for your website domain name should consider your brand identity, target audience, marketing strategy, and long-term goals. It’s essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages and consider how the TLD choice aligns with your overall online presence and branding objectives.

Will Having A New Or Lesser-Known Domain Have A Negative Impact On Your Search Engine Rankings? 

According to Google, the choice of TLD does not directly impact a website’s search visibility or rankings.

Google says its primary focus is to provide users with the most relevant and high-quality search results, regardless of the TLD used by a website and that its search algorithms primarily assess factors such as content relevance, user experience, backlinks, and other SEO signals to determine search rankings.

However, it’s important to note that user behaviour and perception can indirectly influence search rankings. If users are less familiar with a specific TLD or have a perception that it is associated with low-quality websites, they may be less likely to click on search results with those TLDs. This lower click-through rate (CTR) can potentially impact the visibility of websites with new or specific TLDs in search engine results.

Additionally, the content and relevance of a website’s pages, its overall SEO optimisation, and the quality and quantity of backlinks it receives remain crucial ranking factors. These factors are not directly influenced by the TLD but rather by the website’s overall optimisation efforts.

It’s worth noting that search engine algorithms and practices may evolve over time (with the introduction of AI within searches), and new information or updates may be introduced. Therefore, it’s always advisable to stay informed about the latest SEO practices and guidelines from search engines like Google to ensure your website performs well in search results, regardless of the TLD chosen.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Choosing the right Top-Level Domain (TLD) for your website domain name is a decision that can significantly impact your online presence and branding. While newer, lesser-known, or very specific TLDs offer certain advantages, they also come with potential drawbacks. It’s crucial to carefully consider these factors and evaluate how they align with your business goals.

The advantages of opting for a lesser-known or specific TLD include, for example, increased availability of domain names, better specificity and relevance to your niche, enhanced branding opportunities, and the potential for keyword-rich domain names. These factors can contribute to better visibility, differentiation from competitors, and improved memorability for your target audience.

However, there are also disadvantages to consider. Lesser-known TLDs may lack familiarity among internet users, potentially leading to a perception of untrustworthiness. User perception and trust are crucial for attracting visitors to your website. Additionally, the impact on search engine rankings remains uncertain, with search engines like Google stating that TLDs do not directly affect rankings. However, user behaviour and click-through rates can indirectly influence SEO performance.

Also, the limited availability of domain extensions and potential higher costs associated with specific TLDs can pose challenges when registering a domain or finding suitable web hosting providers.

Ultimately, the choice of TLD should be aligned with your brand identity, target audience, marketing strategy, and long-term goals. Consider the advantages and disadvantages outlined in this article and weigh them against your specific business needs. Stay informed about the latest SEO practices and guidelines to ensure your website performs well in search results, regardless of the TLD chosen.

Choosing the right TLD, therefore, is a strategic decision that requires careful consideration. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your business objectives and helps create a strong online presence.

Website Workshop : Site-Speed : Sorted!

Here we look at what website speed means, how important it is for businesses (and why), plus how businesses can test their website speed and keep it up to scratch.

What Does ‘Website Speed’ Mean? 

Website speed, also known as page load time or website performance, refers to the amount of time it takes for a web page to fully load and display its content in a user’s web browser. This includes the time it takes for the server to respond to a user’s request, the time it takes to download all the page’s files (such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, and videos), and the time it takes for the browser to render the page.

Why Is Website Speed Important For Businesses? 

There have been numerous studies conducted that demonstrate the importance of website speed for businesses. For example, a study conducted by Google analysed the relationship between website speed and user behaviour. Google found that as page load time increases from 1 to 3 seconds, the probability of a user bouncing off the site increases by 32 per cent. Similarly, as the load time increases from 1 to 5 seconds, the probability of a user bouncing increases by a massive 90 per cent! In addition, slower website speeds also lead to lower user engagement and poorer conversion rates.

Another study by Akamai, a content delivery network and cloud service provider, found that a 100-millisecond delay in website load time can lead to a 7 per cent loss in conversions – that’s just a tenth of a second! This means that even small improvements in website speed can have a significant impact on a business’s bottom line.

Overall, these studies demonstrate the importance of website speed for businesses, as it directly affects user behaviour, engagement, and conversion rates.

How Can You Test Your Website Speed?

There are several tools and methods available to test website speed. Here are some examples:

Google PageSpeed Insights: This is a free tool by Google that analyses the performance of a web page on both desktop and mobile devices. It provides a detailed report on various aspects of page speed and also suggests ways to improve the page speed.

GTmetrix: This is another free tool that analyses the performance of a web page and provides a detailed report on various aspects of page speed, including page load time, page size, and the number of requests. It also suggests ways to improve the page speed.

Pingdom: This is a paid tool that allows you to test the page speed from different locations around the world. It provides a detailed report on various aspects of page speed, including load time, page size, and the number of requests. You can just use their free version too.

WebPageTest: This is a free tool that allows you to test the page speed from different locations around the world. It provides a detailed report on various aspects of page speed, including load time, page size, and the number of requests. It also provides a waterfall chart that shows how each element of the page contributes to the overall load time.

Lighthouse: This is a tool built into Google Chrome that provides a detailed report on various aspects of page speed, including performance, accessibility, and SEO. It also suggests ways to improve the page speed.

Overall, using these tools can help you identify areas where your website speed can be improved and provide suggestions to optimise it for better user experience and SEO.

Website Speed Changes 

It’s worth noting, however that your website speed may be fast now, however, website speed changes over time due to factors like changes to the website, server, the user’s device and connections, browser updates, and third-party scripts and plugins.

Myths About Website Speed 

There are also several myths surrounding website speed. Here are some common ones:

Myth 1: Website speed is only important for desktop users.

Reality: Website speed is important for both desktop and mobile users. With the ever-growing usage of mobile devices, mobile users have become a significant portion of website visitors, possibly the major consumer in many cases. Therefore, website speed is equally important for both desktop and mobile users.

Myth 2: A high Google PageSpeed Insights score means that your website is fast.

Reality: While a high Google PageSpeed Insights score is a good indicator of a well-optimized website, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your website is fast. It’s important to consider other factors such as load time, user experience, and conversion rates.

Myth 3: A faster website requires a more expensive hosting plan.

Reality: While hosting can affect website speed, it’s not always necessary to upgrade to a more expensive hosting plan. Optimising your website, such as compressing images, optimising code and reducing the number of requests can significantly improve website speed without the need for a more expensive hosting plan.

Myth 4: Website speed is only important for large websites.

Reality: Website speed is important for websites of all sizes. Even small websites can benefit from faster load times, as it can improve user experience and search engine rankings.

Myth 5: Website speed doesn’t affect SEO.

Reality: Website speed is a ranking factor for search engines like Google. A slow website can negatively affect search engine rankings and reduce visibility in search results. Therefore, website speed is an important aspect of SEO and should be prioritised.

Overall, it’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to website speed to ensure that you are optimising your website effectively.

Best Practice For Keeping Your Website Speed High

Here are some best practices for keeping your website speed fast:

– Optimise Images: Large images can slow down your website. It’s important to optimise your images by compressing them, resizing them, and choosing the right format (e.g., JPEG, PNG, SVG) to reduce file size without compromising quality.

– Minimise HTTP Requests: Each resource (image, script, stylesheet, etc.) on your website requires a separate HTTP request, which can slow down your website. You can minimise HTTP requests by combining and ‘minifying’ files, reducing the number of third-party scripts, and using CSS sprites.

– Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN stores copies of your website’s files on servers located in different geographic locations, which can reduce the distance that data needs to travel and improve load times for users.

– Reduce Server Response Time: A slow server response time can negatively impact your website speed. You can reduce server response time by choosing a good hosting provider, minimising the use of plugins and third-party scripts, and optimizing your database.

– Implement Caching: Caching can improve website speed by storing frequently accessed data (e.g., images, stylesheets) in the user’s browser cache or on the server, reducing the need to fetch data from scratch each time.

– Minimise Redirects: Redirects can add extra time to the website load time. It’s important to minimise the use of redirects and to ensure that they are necessary.

– Optimise Above-the-Fold Content: Above-the-fold content (the content that appears on the screen before a user scrolls down) should be optimized for fast load times. This can include optimising images, using efficient code, and reducing the number of requests.

– Prioritise User Experience: A website that is easy to use and navigate can improve user experience and lead to higher engagement and conversions. This can also positively impact website speed, as users are less likely to leave a website that is easy to use.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Website speed is a crucial factor for businesses to consider, as it can significantly impact user behaviour, engagement, and conversion rates. Studies show that even small improvements in website speed can result in a significant increase in conversions. It is essential to use tools and methods to test website speed, identify areas that need improvement, and optimise your website accordingly. It’s worth noting that website speed changes over time due to a range of factors, including changes to the website, server, user devices and connections, browser updates, and third-party scripts and plugins. In addition, businesses must separate fact from fiction when it comes to website speed to ensure that they optimise their websites effectively. Therefore, businesses should prioritise optimising their website speed to improve the user experience and ultimately drive more conversions. By following the best practices, such as optimising images, minimising HTTP requests, using a content delivery network, and leveraging browser caching, businesses can help keep their website speed high and provide an excellent user experience to their visitors.