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GoDaddy hacked by Anonymous? Not likely.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GoDaddy Hacked

On 09/10/12 the massive Internet registrar/lowbrow advertiser GoDaddy went down, taking millions of web sites offline with it. Breaking news reports attributed the trouble to a hack by Anonymous. Later that day, these items were corrected to say that the hack was not the work of Anonymous as a whole, but that Twitter user @AnonymousOwn3r was claiming responsibility. Mashable called @AnonymousOwn3r ”the security leader of Anonymous,” which must be true because @AnonymousOwn3r calls themself “the security leader of Anonymous” on his or her Twitter profile (and an “official member” to boot). CNN went with the more measured description of @AnonymousOwn3r as “a person affiliated with Anonymous.”

All of this is very silly. Anonymous isn’t an organized group of any kind and has no office or officer to make anything official. It has no leaders of security or of anything else, but I guess it does have affiliates. You become one by being anonymous on the Internet. Are you logged in to right now as you read this? If not, you are a person affiliated with Anonymous.

Whoever @AnonymousOwn3r is, they’ve gained notoriety and thousands of new followers in the last 24 hours and are likely having a laugh at the media right now. It might be a big laugh, because @AnonymousOwn3r might have had nothing to do with GoDaddy’s troubles.

GoDaddy is claiming today that they were not, in fact, hacked at all. CEO Scott Wagner said in a statment today that the outage had nothing to do with a hack or with a denial of service attack, Anonymous’ brute force method of pushing sites offline. Instead, it was “due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables” (which is totally what I thought it was from the start).

Could Wagner’s statement be face-saving bluster? Possibly, but if so, he would be playing a very risky game. Hackers are usually all too happy to provide technical proof of their deeds, and if necessary, demonstrate their “ownage” of a site by smacking it offline again. @AnonymousOwn3r is assuring doubters that he or she is the real deal and linking to GitHub text purportedly documenting GoDaddy’s vulnerabilities.

As security experts analyze this, we’ll find out who is lying: CEO Scott Wagner or @AnonymousOwn3r.

My best guess? GoDaddy went dark due to some internal technical glitch, some random indvidual took credit, the media ran with it, and “lulz” ensued.

Basic Tips for Web Design

By Michael Bluejay

Make sure each page in your website has something valuable to offer.

Though this doesn't really relate to design, it's actually more important than design, which is why it's the very first tip. I know that many people reading this page are trying to find out how to make useless pages look pretty, because they think that style is all that really matters. So let's step back a minute and realize that fundamentally a web page exists to provide something that's useful or interesting to visitors. If your page doesn't have that, then you must fix that problem before you worry about how to present it. If you throw mud at a canvas, then even if it's in a gold frame, it's still just a canvas of mud. What are you offering to your visitors? Why is it worth their time to visit your site? Please focus on that before you move on to how it should look.

If your plan is to make money from advertising, then go for a ratio of not less than 75% editorial to 25% advertising. Amazingly, I see some sites that are almost nothing but ads. We know that no one would turn on the TV if it were just commercials, and no programs, or buy a magazine if it were just ads, and no articles. By the same token, a website also has to have more than ads if it's to be successful.

Don't distract your visitors with blinking or scrolling text, animated GIFs, or auto-loading sound.

Animation and sounds are distracting. How can anyone concentrate on reading what's on your site when there are things flying around the page? It's like trying to read a newspaper when someone's poking you in the shoulder repeatedly. Also, visitors who have slow connections may resent that you wasted their time by forcing them to load animations and sound files against their will. (If you think that every has fast connections these days, think of the thousands of people at hotels, who are all sharing the same connection.)

Conventional wisdom is that people will be drawn to an animated ad, but it's actually the opposite: Readers who are assaulted by blinking ads are more likely to leave the site immediately without clicking on anything, and are far less likely to bookmark the site, return to it, link to it, and recommend it. The results don't lie: When I switched the ads on a friend's site from animated to static, click-through didn't suffer at all. (That site pulls in nearly $500,000 in yearly advertising revenue, by the way.) I make my living from ads on my sites, and I won't run animated ads on them. I prefer to give my readers a good experience, rather than an annoying one. Let's talk scrolling text. Besides the fact that it's annoying, there's another problem: the reader can't read it at their own pace. They're forced to read it at whatever speed you deliver it. They might have preferred to read those two sentences quickly and then move on, but because it's scrolling they're forced to sit there and wait for the text to slowly appear.

This brings up an important point: Always keep your visitors' interests in mind. Make sure you try to please them, not yourself. Scrolling text does nothing to serve the visitor. If it's on a site it's because the site owner thought, "Let me show how cool I am." Do you see the difference? Don't design the site for yourself, design it for the people who will actually use it.

Don't annoy your visitors with pop-up windows.

Nobody likes popups. Here again, the only reason a site would have popups is because the site owner is thinking of his/her own interests rather than the readers. We all know that when we're browsing we hate popups, but suddenly when we switch hats and become the site owner, we lose our ability to see through the users' eyes. So let's remember to put ourselves in their shoes. Which of these reactions to popups is a visitor is more likely to have?

  • (a) "A popup window, oh goody! I love sites with popups! I will make certain to bookmark this site and visit often. I will also certainly click the ad or links in the popup because I love them so much."
  • (b) "@#&$! Whoever made this website obviously has no respect for me as a visitor. When I leave here I will never come back."

Put some thought into organization. Think about what content you have and how it should be organized. This is at least as important as what your pages look like, so actually spend some time on

You do your readers a disservice if they can't easily find what they're looking for if everything is thrown up on your site in a haphazard fashion.

Minimize clicking!

Put as few clicks between your visitor and your information as possible. This is so important I'll repeat it: Put as few clicks between your visitor and your information as possible. The more you force your visitors to click around your site the more likely they'll abandon it. Even if they don't leave they might get annoyed, or not view as much of your content -- either of which is bad for you.

Is your home page a splash page (a page with no meaningful information on it, that simply "welcomes" visitors to the site, along with an "Enter Site" link)? If so, get rid of it. After someone takes the effort to visit your site, give them your site right away! Don't make them knock on two different doors.

A related idea is to put meaningful amounts of information on each page. If a page doesn't have at least 400 words, you probably should combine that page with another short page. I've seen many sites which spread info around five different pages that could have easily gone on one.

Along with minimizing clicking, minimize scrolling, too.

Include a menu on every page.

While you should provide a way for users to get back to your home page quickly, you shouldn't force them to go home before they can go somewhere else. Include a menu on the left or the top of each page.

Don't put navigation links only at the bottom of pages, because then users will have to scroll down to the bottom to get to them (unless your pages are very short). Users clearly dislike links at the bottom of long pages. On long pages, you'll want navigation elements on BOTH the bottom and the top or left, so that users who have read a lengthy page don't have to scroll back up to get to the menus.

Don't make your page too narrow or too wide.

As of 2012, 99% of users have screens that are at least 1024x768 pixels. Many designers make their pages work at sizes as small as 770 pixels wide so that they don't offend the less than 1% of users with 800x600 screens, but that means they're giving 99% of their users a bad experience, because those 99% see tons of whitespace rather than actual page content.

On the other side, pages that go edge-to-edge are way too wide on big monitors like most people have these days. I suggest limiting the page content to 1200 pixels or less.

For the love of God, use a spelling checker.

Yes, people who spell poorly may not notice or care that your site is badly misspelled, but literate people may notice and care, and they're in the majority.

Put your contact info, or a link to it, on the top and/or bottom of every page.

Don't waste your readers' time by making them hunt around your site for how to contact you. Make your contact info easy to get to. Put your contact info (or a link to it), on the top of every page. If you're not printing your phone and/or email anywhere because you don't have the resources to handle inquiries, then do your readers the courtesy of letting them know that, so they don't spend forever hunting in vain for contact info that doesn't exist.

Unfortunately you can't link up your email address with a simple mailto: link, unless you want lots of spam. That's because spambots are good at stealing such addresses from web pages.

70% of People Don’t Trust Badly Designed Websites

By Matt Krautstrunk

Local small and medium enterprises are damaging their businesses with a poor online presence. 70 per cent of people claim they would not buy from a company with a badly designed design website, according to research carried out by OnePoll.

The research also found that two thirds of business owners believe how a company website looks is more important than the location of the business. This makes it even more vital that a company’s website gives the right impression of the business.

“It has never been more important to present your company professionally online. In the digital age, consumers expect a company to have a well thought-out online presence. This is supported by the fact that two thirds of businesses believe that a website has more impact on its success than location.”

“More and more consumers and businesses are looking online for their everyday needs. It is imperative that SMEs have a website that is easy to navigate, fully functional and well-presented. A well considered website can dramatically add value to the business, especially if it provides customers with all the information they need to make a purchase. The research demonstrates that an unattractive site can detract from the effectiveness of a company and this lack of trust can seriously hit the business’ bottom line.”

How Poorly Planned Design Kills Your Brand.

A brand is one of the most amazing phenomenons in business. A great brand is a living, breathing specimen that must be cared for. Even in businesses that aren’t “brand-heavy,” such as non-chain restaurants; graphic design can play an important role in brand perception. A great graphic designer will be fully aligned with your businesses future, as well as your target demographics’ needs.

However, what many businesses don’t understand is how fragile a brand can be. Poorly planned graphic design, whether it is a website promotional material, or marketing collateral can tarnish a brand image.

Not designing Around a Target Market

Failing to create a design that hits home with your target market is ineffective for your company, but also potentially detrimental for brand image. A brand survives on consistency. If your designer doesn’t understand what your brand needs to be saying, your final product will confuse people.

For instance, take Gap. Gap recently released a new logo that was supposed to be “hip” and “web 2.0,” according to Gap “We want our customers to take notice of Gap and see what it stands for today. We chose this design as it’s more contemporary and current. It honors our heritage through the blue box while still taking it forward.” What Gap didn’t account for was the backlash that their poorly planned design would encounter. They ended up confusing people and worst of all, confused a brand.

Conveying the Wrong Emotion

One of the most common beginner mistakes with design is failing to account for the emotional aspects of your pieces. Here is a brief color guide for typical emotions regarding each color.

Red- Exhilaration, vigor, enthusiasm, love, intensity and passion.
Blue- Calm, serenity, faith, truth, confidence, and conservatism.
Green- Scenery, eco-friendly, good luck charm, youthful spirit and potentially envious.
Yellow- Hope, sunshine, optimism, hazard and friendship.
Black- Power, sophistication, mystery, death, fear, and elegance.
Orange- Loud and demanding attention.
Gray- Security and modesty.

Color isn’t the only thing that conveys emotion. Symbols and fonts also will say a lot about your graphic design. If you really love the Redskins, but you are a veterinarian that is positioned to do well in the community, you may want to keep your passions for red within. Keep your color, symbols and fonts consistent with what your business offers.

Trying to do Too Much

Every great graphic designer knows, “less is more.” Now this may not be true for your business if it is edgy and loud, however you still should beware of doing too much graphic design. Too much of anything can cannibalize a brand. If you own a website and you have too many moving parts, it will be ineffective from a user experience standpoint.

Another common mishap is trying to do too much with graphic design fonts. If you are using more than 3 different fonts in your piece, it limits the chances of your design being labeled good. In general, a humble graphic designer should be able to select appropriate fonts and symbols, and even more importantly decide when they shouldn’t use something. Your business should convey humble confidence in every design.

So whether your business is a highly branded t-shirt company or a local diner, be sure to meticulously plan out your branding and design strategy. Having your branding and design expert working together will ensure that your corporate image aligns with your value proposition.

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