Phishing – when scammers try to get your personal information

October 22nd, 2011 → 1:06 am @ // No Comments

I receive a lot questions from clients regarding emails they receive that ask for personal information. They usually call and say, “I just received an email and it wants to know my bank account and routing number. What do I do? Is this legit?”

100% of the time these types of emails are SPAM and hackers or spammers use these emails to try to get YOU to give THEM your sensitive information. This is called PHISHING (like “fishing” for information).

Due to the numerous types of e-commerce applications I write, we usually deal with credit card processing and NACHA files and when clients see those types of emails, they always catch their eye.

Banks, credit unions, credit card companies, and all other reputable companies will NEVER, NEVER, EVER ask for this information thru email.

Phishing does NOT stop with EMAIL. I’ve seen and experienced attempts thru the mail, phone, and other websites. Don’t take the bait. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I’ve seen emails that have a link to a site that looks just like PayPal—I mean exactly like it. The only way to know is to look in the “address bar” of your browser to make sure it’s the actual site.

If you fall victim to Phishing, or *think* you fell victim, contact your financial institution immediately.

For more information on “Phishing” click here.

–Iowa Web Guy

General &Questions

Q: Why do I have a lot of “empty space” on each side of my web site?

September 12th, 2011 → 11:06 pm @ // No Comments

I was sitting with a new client today and one of the first questions she had was “Why do I have a lot of ‘empty space’ on each side of my web site?”

I immediately thought, “I need to blog about this!” I get this question ALL the time when I’m talking with people when discussing web site layout.

The answer is a little complicated, but here we go:

  1. Computer monitors vary in “screen resolution” or available display space.
  2. As a web designer, it is difficult to attractively display a website for ALL the possible screen resolutions, so we design the site for the majority.

What the heck does that mean?

As technology improves, computer monitors become bigger and allow for more display space (or number of pixels).

We design the webpage layout so it will display correctly for the majority of viewers. If a viewer has a larger monitor than the average, they will have the extra space. (The amount of extra space varies from computer monitor resolution to computer monitor resolution.)

The leftover space is the extra space on the sides of your web site!

How do you determine what resolution to target to minimize “extra space”?
I ALWAYS look at website statistics to help me make critical decisions. Here are some real statistics from this website.

As you can see, 93% of viewers have resolutions widths of 1024 or greater!  So, 1024 is a safe number to target. 1280 would cover 90%!

Technology Changes…
Technology is ever evolving so these resolutions change all the time. Here is a chart of resolutions in 2008.

See the huge change in resolutions! 1024 went from 47% in 2008 to 4% in 2011. Wow!

Choose wisely!
If you choose too large of a resolution, a visitor that has a smaller resolution will have to SCROLL left and right to view the site! This is very annoying and NOT user-friendly.

–Iowa Web Guy

Blog &General &Questions &Web Design &web development

What is web hosting and why do I need a web host?

August 23rd, 2011 → 9:00 pm @ // No Comments

Every web site MUST have a “web host” so your site can be found on the Internet.

What is Web Hosting?
Basically, web hosting is “leasing” disk space on a web server. This space is where your web site files and folders live for the world to view. The web server may also contain email and database hosting depending on your web hosting plan.

Why do I need a Web Host?
Web hosting companies have the facilities and resources to provide fast, reliable web hosting that many individuals and businesses do not have (expert staff, security, power back-up, multiple internet connections, back-up servers and parts, etc). Leasing web hosting space is very cost-effective with basic web hosting plans starting at pennies a day.

How does Web Hosting work?
Joe, a guy in Des Moines, Iowa, wants to visit a web site:

  • First, Joe opens his favorite Internet browser and types in
  • His computer connects to the Internet and says that he’s looking for the domain
  • Joe’s computer sends his request to a DNS server and it finds the Name Servers for
  • The Name Servers tell Joe’s computer the IP address of the web server.
  • Joe’s computer contacts the web server (in Mountain View, California) and asks for
  • The web servers replies: “Ok. That web site is located in this hosting space on my server. Here’s the site and have a great day!

You could think of it this way:
Jane, a gal in Des Moines, Iowa, wants to send you (an Ames, Iowa resident) a LETTER in the mail.

  • First, Jane writes a letter and addresses the envelope to your P.O. Box.
  • The Des Moines, Iowa post office reads the address and routes the envelope to the Ames, Iowa post office.
  • The Ames, Iowa post office gives it to the correct postman for delivery.
  • The postman delivers the envelope to your P.O. Box.

Without your P.O. Box (or web hosting space) and the post office (or Internet), the letter would not be delivered to your address (or web site).

I hope that wasn’t too confusing. I tried to make a very complicated subject simple

Check back for a future blog on how to choose a web host.

— Iowa Web Guy

Blog &General &Questions &Web Hosting

So you need a web site… What questions should you be asking?

August 5th, 2011 → 5:40 am @ // 2 Comments

So, you’ve decided you need a web site.  Awesome!  It’s the cheapest form of advertising and the best bang for your buck.

web development questionsHowever, to get the best return on your investment (ROI) you should be asking some basic questions in order to develop a PLAN and define GOALS. These questions should be asked BEFORE you begin development.

1) What is the purpose of your web site?
Are you wanting to:

  • develop a presence or extend your brand?
  • share information?
  • build relationships?
  • attract new business?
  • sell products?

2) What are your goals and objectives and how do you measure success?
In order to effectively develop a web site, you need to define your goals and objectives early and determine how you will measure success.  Then, build your site to accomplish these goals putting metrics (ways to measure) in place in order to evaluate success.

3) Who is your competition and what are they doing?
Do they have a web site? What do you like and dislike about their web site. What can you do to make your site stand out?

4) What should I budget for web site development?
Yep, you knew this one would be here, right?  Everything is possible, but you need to set a budget for your site.  Depending on the complexity of your site, this will vary by hundreds if not thousands.  One of the most common questions I receive is: “How much does it cost to develop a web site?”  This question is much like “How much does it cost to build a house?”  There are many factors that determine the cost.  Look for an upcoming blog post with tools that can help you determine a range of costs.  Suprisingly, the answer could be $O.OO (aka FREE).

5) How often will you be updating your site?
This is a very important question.  If your site is going to be updated frequently, you’ll want to consider a content management system (CMS) behind the scenes so you can update the site yourself (hopefully easily) to lower your long-term costs.  Alternatively, if you don’t plan on updating your site on a regular basis, a CMS system would not be necessary–lowering your up-front costs. (However you’ll have to pay your developer when you want updates.)

These are the basic questions you should ask PRIOR to developing a web site.  These questions alone can help you not only streamline the development process, but also save you TIME and MONEY!  There are several more questions which I will discuss in upcoming posts.

As always, if you have any questions or comments post below.

— The Iowa Web Guy

Questions &web development &Web Strategy

Hello World!

August 1st, 2011 → 6:51 pm @ // No Comments

web design and development questionsWelcome to!

So, I just had a flashback to my first programming tutorial.  I’m pretty sure all developers, no matter your language of choice, completed the “Hello World” tutorial.

Anyway, enough about that and on to the blog!  I’ve been consulting on all things web and all things development for several years.  I’ve had a lot of help and learned a lot along the way.  This blog is my way of giving back!

I’ve been wanting to start this blog for quite some time and I look forward to answering your questions and sharing information you may not even know you need.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section if they relate to a particular post, or click the “Ask a Question” link on the homepage to ask a new question.  I’ll try my best to respond promptly.

— The Iowa Web Guy