Copyright Infringement and Your Online Content

in Design & Development

copyright infringementEarlier this year we posted a link to an article that stirred up quite a bit of attention. In summary, a band grabbed an image from a photographer’s website, edited it and uploaded to their Facebook page without getting permission from the photographer or giving him credit. To make things worse, photographer confronted the band and the band blasted the photographer online. In the end, the photographer was vindicated with a check and a swift apology ‘cause the law won.

Risky Business
Pulling content off the Internet and using it for your own purposes comes with major risks. This is especially true when you have a blog or website where images sit waiting to be tagged for copyright infringement lawsuits. Several content creators meticulously scour the Internet for violations through software programs or add tracking tags to their content. So it’s not a matter of “if they find you,” it’s more like “when.”

Your Responsibilities As A Website Owner
If you’re building a website through a third-party, it is your responsibility and right to know where your images and content originated from. Reputable web design companies should also provide you with an invoice or contact sheet with details about your images. In regards to the text on your site, be sure not to copy it from somewhere else – online or print. Yes, copyright law covers all forms of media.

Once your website is handed off to you for maintenance and updating, we highly recommend that whoever is updating your content knows enough about copyright and image use to prevent you from being sued. For peace of mind assume any images, logos, videos, text, symbols, and printed materials are copyrighted. If you need content for your website or blog post, here are a few suggestions:

1. Create Your Own ContentThe best approach is to create your own content. Hire a professional photographer, copywriter or purchase your own fancy digital camera. Trust me, the investment you make here is minimal compared being sued for copyright infringement which can run into thousands of dollars.

2. Purchase Stock ContentYou can also purchase affordable, high-quality images or other media from a stock site. Be sure you are purchasing the right license that covers how you will be using the content. Most standard licenses cover online use only. If you are using content for a marketing campaign, you will more than likely need to purchase an extended license. One of the downsides is that your images will not be unique and can be used by anyone else – including your competitors.

In summary, copyright infringement is a costly mistake that can be avoided. The law doesn’t care if you plead ignorance or think you didn’t do anything wrong. A majority of the time the website owner will be held accountable. Don’t set yourself up for a hefty fine. To find out more about copyright infringement or ask questions about your online efforts, fill out our contact form or give us a call at (915) 351-8440.

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Read More about Copyright Infringement:
Ars Technica: ISPs sent 1.3M copyright infringement notices to US customers last year
Bloomberg Businessweek: Since It Can’t Sue Us All, Getty Images Embraces Embedded Photos
United States Copyright Office: Copyright Basics

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Internet Gullibility: Don’t Spread the Dumb!

in Social Media, Technology & Trends

053014_Gullibility_Blog

Alexander Gardner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Being in the biz, I’m on social media sites a lot. I mean A LOT. As a result, I see the whole gamut of hoaxes, scams, “like” bait… you name it. The Internet has given tricksters and scam artists the power to reach millions of people though one click. Unfortunately these posts are being shared by too many – which leads me to the main reason for writing this. I’d like to make an appeal for everyone to stop being gullible and spreading this garbage. Just stop.

I understand you’re overjoyed at Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 being “found” or saddened by the latest celeb demise. I know you really want to help that kid with (insert disease here) with all your “likes” or get free money from Microsoft (yes this is still going around). But really, please take two seconds to double check the facts before you spread the dumb. Most of the time, you can simply review the URL and determine if the story is legitimate. Please know that a site with WordPress or GoDaddy in their URL most likely won’t be dispelling factual or official information.

“Like” Farming
“Like” Farms are scams solely built for Facebook. What happens is someone creates a fake page and starts posting bait (things to get you to interact with posts). When you like something on Facebook, it shows up on your friends’ news feeds. The more likes, the more visible the item is on the platform. Once that page administrator has reached thousands, even millions of likes, they begin to sell ad space or put the page up for sale to the highest bidder.

This scam also includes those silly contests supposedly from Southwest Airlines, Disney Cruises or some other corporation. First, companies are not allowed to host contests on the Facebook platform. Second, if a company chooses to violate Facebook policy, their page will be deleted. Third, it’s easy to duplicate a brand on a social site for personal gain – logo and all. And finally, if these contests link off to a separate page they are possibly exposing your computer to malware and THAT, my friends, is a whole technical can of worms. So no, don’t trust or “like” those links either.

Recently Facebook has been cracking down on “Like” Farms and is discouraging users from sharing the same post repeatedly and ask for “likes,” comments or shares. These are typical behaviors of “Like” Farms and I applaud them for attempting to clean it up.

Fake Stories
Nothing irks me more than fake stories spreading false hope or instilling alertist fears. This includes the so-called “Big Hospital Finally telling the truth about cancer, Johns Hopkins” story and the fear-generating radiation from Japan reaching the U.S. There are heartless individuals out there who play on emotions in order to get visits to their blog. The more visits, the more traffic. This means more ads they can sell and more money they can make at the expense of your well-being. Shaking your head yet?

What Do I Do If I Share The Dumb?
Did you share the dumb? Not sure what to do? Plain and simple: apologize. Then vow to look for a credible source next time, not to believe all memes or posts begging for shares and deny all requests for personal information. Remember, when in doubt – check it out! Here are a few resources to help you weed out the baloney:

Google – Simply search for the story title to see what else pops up to see if it’s legit.
Snopes – Cut and paste the title of the article in the search bar and click GO!
Facecrooks.com – Notifies you of scams, schemes and tricks on your favorite social site.
Urban Legends/About.com – Keep up-to-date with this handy list of the latest phony baloneys.

Phew. Glad I got that out. Now I’m off to kick the lid off more Internet fallacies. Wish me luck!

Have more questions about the dumb? Fill out our contact form and we’ll do our best to give you more tips and resources. You can also give us a call at (915) 351-8440.

Read More:
Social media stole my daughter’s identity
How to Not Publish Baloney
The Only Post You Need To Share When You’ve Fallen For A Facebook Hoax
Facebook Like-Farms Scams Are A Thing
Storyful’s Verification Tech Could Stop Fake News From Spreading on Facebook

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Intrade Consultants Imports A New, Responsive Website!

in Announcements, Design & Development

Intrade Responsive Website

Intrade Consultants is a customs house brokerage facilitating imports and exports, warehousing, cross-border logistics and much more. They needed a site that would be easy to navigate and accessible on the go. We developed a responsive site with a clean design and simple navigation with a responsive backbone for viewing on desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones.

The site opens up with great imagery highlighting their facility and clickable text for easy access to additional information about their services. Clients also have a quick jump off point to access their password-protected inventory report.

Small clickable icons on the bottom of the page deliver a brief description for each service Intrade provides. One click and the user can venture deeper into service details for each category. A small intro and news populate the bottom of the page giving users a quick peek into the company’s background and media coverage.

The About Us section highlights the company’s experience, company history, qualifications & certifications and affiliated companies. To get more details about what Intrade can do for you, visit the Our Services section of the site. Here, you’ll find an overview of each service along with a contact form to quickly submit questions pertaining to that service. For media coverage on Intrade and other related topics, click over to the Latest News section to view stories.

Customer Registration Forms, NAFTA Certificates and Power of Attorney documents can be found in the Resources portion of the site where you can begin the process of becoming a client of Intrade. Simply fill out the documentation then call the number in the footer or Contact Us page to set up an appointment.

Thinking of importing your own sparkly new website? Fill out our contact form or give us a call at (915) 351-8440.

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The Heartbleed Bug and Your Stanton Street Website

in Announcements, Design & Development

Heartbleed Bug

The Heartbleed Bug has consumed most of our newsfeeds in the past few weeks. If you have a website with Stanton Street, rest assured that your Stanton Street hosted website is NOT affected. Our websites do not utilize Open SSL so we were not vulnerable to this security hole. Your usernames and passwords for email, content management systems and our HelpDesk are all secure.

However, please be aware that if your website utilizes third-party hosted services integrated into your site, those may be affected. Since we have several sites to review, we will need your assistance to confirm that your third-party provider has not been affected. This will help expedite the process.

If your third-party provider has Open SSL, they will need to install a new SSL certificate and instruct all users to change their passwords.

Another important thing to mention is if you manage your own social media such as Facebook or Twitter, you will more than likely need to change your personal password. This also applies to anyone who has admin rights to your company’s profile.

For the latest lists of sites that are affected, visit:

The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now

Heartbleed Bug: Check which sites have been patched

To check if your site is affected, you can type your URL into an automatic checker:

McAfee Heartbleed Checker (all sites)

LastPass Heartbleed Checker (secure https websites)

Your peace of mind is important to us. If you have any questions or concerns regarding Heartbleed, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (915) 351-8440.

 

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Featured Service: Responsive Design & Development

in Design & Development, Technology & Trends

Simply put, responsive design is a technique used to make a website look great on any size of screen. This means that users on a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet would be able to view and experience the website in almost the same way. Since a majority of the population consumes online content via various screen sizes, it only makes sense to continue a seamless user experience in every iteration of a website.

Responsive-Design

By Muhammad Rafizeldi (MRafizeldi) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How Does It Work?

In order for responsive design to work correctly, the site must be broken down in a grid format. Grids help designers visualize how the site will look in various dimensions. These grid foundations also provide the structure for code, telling the site where stopping points are and what size of image or what content formatting to display,

Why Responsive?

Not only does a responsive site give your users a seamless transition from screen to screen, it also saves you money. The standard practice for web developers was to build a full site then a mobile-friendly version. This used to take longer to develop, not to mention the two separate sets of data updates for full and mobile. Now, the industry has embraced the responsive approach. Even Google has stated responsive web design is the best industry practice for search engine optimization, giving the search engine one index to crawl instead of duplicates.

Benefits of Responsive

  • User Experience – A responsive site will automatically resize to fit most screens. This means users won’t get frustrated when their experience with your site won’t change when they view it on a different device.
  • Reach New Audiences – Increase your reach by serving up content that smartphone and tablet users can easily view and interact with.
  • Return on Investment – Businesses save money when only one site would need to be build instead of multiple ones to fit each device.
  • Save Time – Instead of building or managing multiple versions of a site, there would only be one to worry about.
  • Search Engine Optimization – SEO is improved as there is only one instance of a website instead of multiple versions.

Need a “responsive revamp” of your website? Call us know or fill out our contact form to find out more about what Stanton Street can do for you!

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User Experience Required!

in Design & Development

User ExperienceSince we’re on the topic of responsive web design this month, let’s talk a little more about the concept of “user experience” and what that actually means when it pertains to your online presence. I’m sure you’ve been in a position, like I have, where a website just isn’t doing it for you. Either it’s hard to get to where you want to go, things are broken or it simply takes forever to load. Regardless of the situation, you vowed to never visit that site again. I know it sounds harsh, but that’s the reality of the situation.

As web developers, our goal is to build sites that are engaging that make your customers, associates and peers want to visit again and again. This requires a careful balance of design and technology. There are several components and stages involved in developing a successful user experience, so I’ll try to capture it all in a digestible one-pager.

Know Your Audience

You probably hear this all the time when marketing your product, but do you hear it enough from your web developer? If not, I’ll say it again: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Finding out who is seeking out your services or products and identifying what they like, don’t like and how they use technology could make a huge difference in the site build. You can have all the fancy animations, crazy functionality and images that you like; but if your users don’t care to interact with your site then there’s no point.

Develop an Outline

Once the audience is identified and documented, then a plan should be put into place. We do this through wireframes or sitemaps. For basic sites, we use sitemaps that show the way the site will flow and where pages will lie within the design. If the site is more complex, like an e-commerce site, we develop wireframes. Wireframes identify interaction points and general layout of generic items on the website.

 Design with Purpose

There’s a whole slew of rules and standards that come with designing a website that will determine most of the aesthetics such as layout, font and color selections. The rest of the design is determined by the branding of the company, the audience and the site’s purpose.

In summary, each element of the site must complement another creating a fluid, solid experience. If your current web designer or applications developer never brings up the idea of user experience, our advice is to run far, far away from them. Then call us. ;)

Need to improve your website’s user experience or not sure what you need to make it better? Fill out our contact form and we’ll get you started on a user-friendly website. You can also give us a call at (915) 351-8440 to find out more.

Read more about user experience:

UX Magazine – Is UX Your Achilles?

Bad UI/UX Design

4 Ways Bad UX is Hurting your SEO

Killed at Launch: A complete disregard for user experience leads to drastic action

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Jordan Foster Construction and Stanton Street: We Build Beautiful Things Together!

in Announcements, Design & Development, Launches

Jordan Foster Construction Responsive Website

Jordan Foster Construction is an established, award-winning Texas construction company headquartered in El Paso with offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Formerly CF Jordan Construction, the company had recently gone through a name change and needed a new online identity to go along with it. So when we got the call to update their site, we knew it was our time to shine.

Armed with user profiles, competitive research, surveys and overall best practices, we dove into developing what we think is one of our best sites to date. The site is responsive, meaning it will adjust to the view of a desktop, tablet or smartphone. This especially comes in handy for those viewing details from a job site or in an important development meeting. Navigation is simple and direct, getting users where they need to go in one click.

Subcontractors and job seekers have first dibs sitting at the top of the main navigation. Job seekers are given a brief introduction and contact information. Subcontractors get to meet their Contract Administrator, download applicable forms and access to their regional key contacts for additional information.

Taking into consideration the breadth and depth of their reputation and experience, the homepage features flagship projects from each of their service categories in commercial, residential, infrastructure, concrete and federal. With one click, a user is taken from the homepage to the project details.

News blips at the bottom of the page highlight Jordan Foster’s commitment to its community as well as updates on projects that are underway. Social links above the footer give users a quick link to each profile giving users and opportunity to follow the company on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Flickr. Need to contact the company? A quick rollover of the locations serves up a quick glance at the addresses and phone numbers of each office.

The About Us section includes a company overview, office locations and contact information, a historical timeline and profiles for executive leadership and board members. Feeling a little daydreamy? Visit the Projects section for photo galleries of various projects. Here, a user will find details about each project such as: client, architect, size, cost, a small description and a pop-up photo gallery.

The Video page houses webcams and YouTube videos for current and future projects. Our favorite? The El Paso City Hall Demolition video. It’s a must see. Speaking of must sees, there is also a News section that contains press releases and media coverage from local, regional and national outlets. The whole site is wrapped up in a nice, cozy SEO blanket making sure we don’t miss a search.

And now a few words from our sponsor – Mark Gudenas, Vice President Corporate Communications at Jordan Foster Construction:

“When I selected Stanton Street to build the new Jordan Foster Construction website, I knew that I had picked the right company. I just didn’t how right they were. The entire team at Stanton Street is incredible! I have been wowed by their talent, knowledge and expertise throughout the entire process. They made it efficient, organized and truly a delight. And they’re fun to work with.

The look, feel and design of the new website are all excellent. Through a well-thought-out process, the team learned precisely what I wanted in the new website and delivered it in spades, beyond what I was hoping for. The navigation is intuitive, and flows seamlessly. The architecture is brilliant. To the uninitiated, you don’t even notice it. But there was a lot of expert work done to build something that performs so effortlessly.

Many thanks to Amy and Brian who oversaw the enterprise, Christine who takes such good care of clients, Tony who has a magic design wand, Karen who is best friends with Neo and actually knows how to get into the “machine,” Simeon who has a special wrench fitted specifically to 1′s and 0′s, and Naomi who expertly, professionally, diligently and wonderfully guided, drove and managed the entire process, all while working under the hood writing copy, editing and directing content to ensure a great website was being created.”

No denying we’re blushing over here, but we’ll still ask. Do you need some beauty in your corporate life? Fill out our contact form and we’ll get started on a smashing website. You can also give us a call at (915) 351-8440 to find out more.

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The Hunt Family Foundation: Giving Back with an Easy-to-Use, Refreshed Site!

in Announcements, Design & Development, Launches

Hunt-Homepage

Being a not-for-profit organization is not easy. It takes many hours and much dedication to keep it going and sometimes finding and receiving funding is a monster of a job in its own. Thankfully, The Hunt Family Foundation is a resource that regional healthcare, education, arts, local heritage, quality-of-life initiatives, and regional economic development can turn to.

With their recently refreshed website, organizations can find out more about the foundation, its staff and several key projects that are currently being funded. Organizations can also keep track of the great things going on in the News section of the site.

Those seeking funding can read more about the deadlines, information needed and requirements. If an organization meets the requirements, then they’re one click away from filling out a grant application online!

Annual reports are displayed on the website for a deeper look into The Hunt Family Foundation. Here, organizations can find out even more about the foundation itself – past and present. If organizations can’t find what they need on the actual site or have unrelated questions or comments, they can easily submit them via the contact us page.

Do you have a foundation or business that needs more exposure? Fill out our contact form or give us a call at (915) 351-8440.

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Website Down! Reasons Why Websites Go Down and What to Do

in Design & Development

Website Down

Websites go down. It’s a digital fact of life due to Mother Nature, hardware issues or other things mostly out of a web provider’s control. Either way, there’s no question what your next action should be: call your developer. In this case it would be us at (915) 351-8440. If it’s during the weekend, submit a HelpDesk ticket and we’ll get back to you right away.

Now let’s get into the details of why your site is actually down. A few of the more standard reasons are below listed by severity. Other wacky, unbelievable things are the stuff of legends.

Server Maintenance
Typically we alert our customers ahead of time when we have server maintenance scheduled. Server maintenance is necessary for hardware upgrades or security/software updates. Users are notified ahead of time and most maintenance is done when there is very little traffic to a site. For most businesses, midnight is usually a great starting time.

Coding Errors
Coding is very cerebral work and when the cerebrum is full, a developer may forget to close line of code or comment something that makes your site work. It’s typically an easy fix once the developer downs a Monster then reads through lines of code associated with site functionality.

Hardware Malfunction
Servers are machines and sometimes fans bust, circuits fry or are just angry in general. Replacing the offending part is usually an easy fix; unless it needs to be ordered then it’s up to UPS and their trusty steeds.

DNS Changes or Expirations
Domain names are typically a third-party affair. Sometimes, the third-party company the website address is purchased through changes its IP address and doesn’t communicate it with our servers. Other times, the domain name expires and no one renews it. Both result in chaos where villages of sites burn down.

Server Overload
If you happened to post something controversial or are giving away free cars through your website, expect a tsunami of traffic. If well planned, you can have backup servers to help maintain services while millions of calls are being made to your URL. If not, the tsunami will consume and obliterate.

Datacenter Problems
Servers are usually large and in charge – so like many other companies, some of our websites are hosted offsite. These offsite locations are large storage facilities specifically designed to maintain the optimum performance environment. When those datacenters are hit with a power failure or a hardware malfunction, it affects all of the sites that live there.

Hacking
Now unless you’re a high profile what have you, it’s unlikely that you’ll get hacked. However, these things do happen especially for slimy malware programs that make their way onto the computer you use to maintain your site. To prevent this, make sure your password is secure and you’re not a “Clicky Cathy” clicking on every banner ad you see.

As mentioned before, websites go down. The best advice we can give is to be patient, available and provide all of the information that you can. We’ll help you as quickly as possible to get to the root of the problem. Questions? Comments? Hit us up via our contact form or call us at (915) 351-8440.

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WestStar Mobile-Friendly Site: Easy to View, Easy to Use

in Design & Development, Launches
WestStar Mobile-Friendly Website

WestStar Mobile-Friendly Website

Looking for a quick, easy way to access WestStar Bank while you’re on the go? Check out their new mobile-friendly website on your smartphone! Here you’ll find the latest information on products, get directions to the nearest ATM and more.

The first stop on the mobile-friendly site is the Mobile Banking tab. Users can download iPhone/iPad or Android apps and also login and manage their account through WestStar’s mobile NetBanking site.

Interested in Personal Checking, Lending or Business Products? A quick click on the Products tab gets you the information you need to make an informed decision regarding your financial needs. Forms and links to additional information are also available where applicable.

If you’d like to speak to a Customer Service representative, report a lost or stolen card or send WestStar some feedback; simply click on the “Contact Us” tab to access click-to-call phone numbers and addresses for the main office and branch locations. Clicking on the “Contact Us” button on the page delivers a feedback form that seamlessly captures your comments and routes to the proper department or individual for a reply.

The “View branch locations” link takes you directly to the Branches and ATM locator portion of the mobile-friendly website. The locator can find the nearest branch or ATM through the GPS location of your smartphone or from an address or zip code. The branch locator not only helps you find the nearest WestStar branch but also provides details on operational hours, contact information, a list of services as well as directions served up through a Google map. The ATM locator works in a similar way using the GPS location of your smartphone or a zip code. If there’s not a WestStar ATM nearby, click on the Allpoint link to access their database of ATMs across the U.S.

WestStar ATM/Branch Locator

WestStar ATM/Branch Locator

For users that want to dive deeper into the services WestStar has to offer, the mobile website also provides users with quick links to the full website and privacy disclosures. Alerts are also available on the mobile site informing users of upcoming events, service updates and possible scams to be on the lookout for. Have socializing in mind? Click on the Facebook link to connect and interact with WestStar Bank and their fans!

Thinking a mobile-friendly site is for you? Fill out our contact form or give us a call at (915) 351-8440 to find out more.

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