Heartbleed Vulnerability and Your Website

By Jen Merry
April 10, 2014

The first question you may be asking yourself is “What exactly is the Heartbleed bug?” The following quote comes from directly from heartbleed.com:

“The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.”  

Learn more about the Heartbleed Vulnerability at heartbleed.com.

The second question you’re likely asking yourself is if FatCow was affected. We want to assure you that the security of our customers is a top priority. We began addressing the Heartbleed vulnerability issue immediately upon disclosure and have successfully applied patches to all of our platforms. The likelihood that private information was compromised is very minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure. We will continue to work to protect the security of our customers and their data.

Learn if your site is vulnerable by going to heartbleedcheck.com.

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Heartbleed Questions and Answers

Q: Is my server vulnerable?
A: There was a period when anyone relying on openssl was vulnerable. Upon disclosure of the vulnerability, we immediately patched our entire platform. At this time, our servers are not vulnerable and information is secure.

Q: Has FatCow replaced its own SSLs?
A: Yes, upon the disclosure of the vulnerability we immediately reached out to our SSL providers and began the process of having all of our internal and external SSLs reissued.

Q: Should I replace my SSLs?
A: That is a personal choice. If you feel it’s worth the time, or if you are dealing with sensitive data, then it’s a good idea to have your cert re-issued. The likelihood that your private keys were compromised is very minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure. However, if you do decide you would like to reissue, we will be happy to assist.

Q: Was my security or privacy compromised?
A: There was a period when anyone relying on openssl was vulnerable. Upon disclosure of the vulnerability, we immediately patched our entire platform. The likelihood that your private keys were compromised is very minimal due to the lack of a public exploit at the time of the disclosure.

Q: Should I change all of my passwords because of the heartbleed exploit?
A: Changing your passwords periodically, using strong passwords and keeping your passwords secure are things that we always recommend. While we can’t say for sure what the extent of the potential impact of this heartbleed exploit may be, we always feel that it’s a good idea to exercise best practices when it comes to password usage. If you haven’t changed your passwords recently (or even if you have), this is a great opportunity to do so, while you’re thinking about it.

How to Design a Website for Your Digital Product

By Jessica Ann
April 4, 2014

Using visuals as the gravitational center of your web design is a great way to design a website for your digital product. When you target your audience through visually stunning web design, you can reverse-engineer how your product or service is perceived. After all, visuals are one of the top five traits of good web design.

For example, if you’re selling a mobile phone, you’ll want gorgeous, high-resolution, full-bleed photographs of the phone in perfect lighting. A car demands many different angles. Real estate may even lend itself to those fancy 3D tours that are popping up all over the web these days.

But what if your product’s only physical characteristic is digital? In other words, how do you design a website for a digital product?

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Shoot your screen

Well, not literally.

Shooting your screen the civil way – by capturing screenshots – is one way to feature your digital product in action. When you showcase lots of gorgeous, high-resolution, full-bleed photographs of the digital product in action, your digital product comes alive.

Use visuals

You could also create a video on your home page of a woman sitting in the grass on a beautiful day, tapping her way through your elegant app. Or you can find a photo that has just enough whitespace to make your product visually pop.

But there are other more imaginative ways too.

Bring it to life

One impressive way to do this is to use top-notch programming skills to make those photographs or that video come to life. The best way to sell something digital is to let your customers use it. Show them how delightful and effective it is by allowing them to experience it first-hand. This is not selling at all  – but demonstrating the worthiness of the product for purchase.

The combination of HTML5, CSS, and Javascript in addition to AJAX make building an example screen of your software (whether it’s for desktop or mobile) relatively easy and it’s a great way to give users a taste of your product’s value.

If you prefer pixels over Python script, you can leave the coding to a contractor, or use an incredible service like AppDemoStore to create a working demo of your app for any device.

If you want to go a different route, focus more on the themes in which your digital product is most useful. Bring these features out with testimonials from recognizable names and voila! You’re on your way to creating a sincere web design that builds trust.

If your digital product is well designed from a usability standpoint, you don’t need to focus so much on explaining how it works. Rather focus on explaining why it works. What makes your product different from others? If you’re in a crowded space, differentiation is better than all the visually stunning images photos in the world. Of course, it never hurts to have both – photos and clarity with your messaging.

Whether you showcase screenshots of your product or feature the opinion of a trusted name, clearly explain why your digital product is different. Communicate this aspect throughout your website. You’ll peak interest and get new users on board in the most civil way – by building trust.

How to Understand Responsive Design

By Jessica Ann
April 2, 2014

Once upon a time, a primitive website built only for desktop viewing was enough for many businesses to get by. You may even remember the era when it was acceptable to publish a website that wasn’t finished yet, excusing your rush with a magnificently corny “under construction” image. These days if your site doesn’t hit on at least a few of the web design trends for 2014, isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s practically invisible. That makes it more important than ever to understand what responsive design means for your business.

If you don’t mind admitting you’re “internet old,” take a walk down memory lane. These days, display resolution, browser advances and customer expectations demand more than a plain old HTML site. And, whether it automatically resizes or not, an “under construction” sign is just never a good idea.

In fact, most website hosting providers, including the popular and free WordPress, offer a built-in responsive layout to help the less technically inclined. With so many easy options, a small business website without responsive design now stands out for all the wrong reasons.

Stress at Computer Screen

Why Responsive Design Matters

If you’re reading this on a desktop computer, hold the Control key (Command on Macs) and press the hyphen key a few times to shrink the page. If this site always looked like that on a mobile device like a phone or even an iPad, would you want to continue to read?

Exactly. Now, for goodness sake, hold Control or Command and press the zero key to return this page to its normal size.

No one likes to read while squinting. It’s uncomfortable. And it makes you look like you’re breathing in some awful smell in the room. But that’s what readers on mobile devices look like (and are forced to experience) when visiting a site without responsive design. Just look around on the street or the subway or the movie theater to see that the modern web is increasingly consumed on smartphones.

And, by the way, if you’re looking at your phone in the movie theater, you’re getting the stink eye from someone. Looking at your bright screen in a dark theater stinks the movie experience for everyone sitting around you.

Designing Responsively, Responsibly

We should have mentioned one of those statistics we glossed over earlier: 90 percent of mobile searches end with the user actually doing something. That means they’re visiting your business, calling your help line or posting to social networks about your services.

That means websites ignoring responsive design methods are potentially missing out on the overwhelming majority of new user interactions. That’s leads, conversions and cold hard cash that never get captured. Go hold a one dollar bill over the trashcan. Isn’t it an uncomfortable feeling? That’s what people are doing when they use a website that doesn’t react to the size and capabilities of the device on which it’s being viewed.

Put that dollar back in your pocket though, because understanding responsive design is simple.

Responsive Design Gets the Bleep Out of the Way

The key to understanding responsive design is realizing that the user visiting your website should never, ever, ever have to think about how your website performs. They shouldn’t have to magnify it like we did earlier. They shouldn’t have to pinch to zoom. They shouldn’t even have to double-tap.

And please, please don’t make us squint.

Design is your problem, and should never be the visitor’s problem. They already have a problem and they came to your site to solve it. Whether it’s a product, an answer or something else, help them solve that problem. Don’t add another one with a rigid outdated design.

Do the work up front to make sure your site respects any screen size, any display resolution, any browser and any operating system. That sounds daunting. And it should be, because it requires hard work. But the cost, effort and time spent making your site responsive will pay for itself over and over again. The key is to allow your customers to do what they came to do without worrying about things like…responsive design.

How to Create a Pinteresting Web Design

By Jessica Ann
March 31, 2014

A Pinteresting web design may just involve the site Pinterest, which drove more traffic to publishers last September than Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit combined according to Mashable. It’s a staple in today’s visual online worlds. And because it links all shared images back to the source page, it’s a beautiful way to exponentially increase your site’s reach and build awareness for your brand.

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Here are some ways to best incorporate Pinterest into a memorable web design:

Prep Your Site for Pinterest

The first step to getting more traffic to your site from Pinterest is to make your content the centerpiece of your design. And while it’s okay to share your own stuff on some of your boards, you also have to make it easy for your visitors to post what they find on your site to their own Pinterest accounts.

Luckily, the folks at Pinterest have made this easy. Head over to their ‘Pin It’ button page to choose from a variety of code snippets and customizations that will make any image on your site Pinterest-ready with a quick copy/paste. Visitors who mouse over an image in your posts will see the ‘Pin It’ button, which will open a window letting them choose a board and edit the description before posting the image to their Pinterest account.

High-Quality Images Only

Make sure you’re only using high-resolution images. You’ll want to find the right images for your website and only Pin images that are breathtakingly beautiful or represent your brand. If you can’t capture beautiful images yourself (which is a difficult task for many), consider using stock images.

Take some well-lit photos with an iPhone or a professional camera. If you have some money to invest, consider hiring a photographer. Remember, people rush to be the first to share beautiful imagery on their Pinterest boards. Awe-inducing photos inspire sharing.

Market Your Work on Pinterest

Don’t expect to sit back and watch the pins and repins start flowing in. You’ll need to establish your own direct presence on Pinterest. Make boards for all of your products and services. Come up with unique names for your boards. And remember to pin the images from your articles to showcase your work.

If you’re a content publisher, conceptualize and create your own boards. Use the wonderful images and the Pin It button to share your articles to a board of your own, named after your brand itself or the underlying themes of how you work.

Pinterest as Layout Inspiration

Pinterest is a phenomenal tool if you use it right. But it’s also a web design accomplishment in itself. If you rely on great images to make your website really pop, consider a layout similar to Pinterest. Several columns of bold imagery maximize the content displayed on your home page. Pinterest-like WordPress themes can inspire a Pinterest style website.

Whether you make it easy for visitors to share your content on Pinterest, or you decide to take inspiration from the Pinterest layout style, it’s a fun and beautiful way to inspire ideas for your web design.

Top Tips for Strategic Web Design

By Jessica Ann
March 28, 2014

Strategic web design is not about just about pixels. It’s about policies, priorities and people, according to Smashing Magazine. And one of the many traits of good web design is about diving deep into strategy. When you know exactly where you need to go, you can map your route, look at your resources, and decide who is running the show. Otherwise, you’re road tripping it to nowhere, which sounds like fun until you’re completely lost in the woods – with scenes from Deliverance running through your mind.

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Where to start?

Don’t start in the woods.

You’ll need a big picture view about your goals and roles. A well thought-out set of rules, with checklists will help to keep things simple. A design strategy document is a great way to get this information out of your head and into a form you can share with your supervisor, team or contractors. The best design happens when expectations are set clearly and early, and everyone can focus on what they do best.

A great design strategy document doesn’t just fall out of the sky. If it did, you wouldn’t see so many epic designs fail across the web. Consider a few simple ideas to put your strategy in place. Doing so will prevent you from making fellow webmasters and designers wince in pain. Hint: No Comic Sans, not even to be funny. Especially not to be funny.

Look into project management software tools like Basecamp and Asana to bring your design to life. A good strategy document doesn’t require blood, sweat and tears.

It Requires Swapping Your Tears for Cheers

First, there’s no crying in web design.

Second, figure out the purpose of your design – whether it’s one project or your company’s big plans for the year. Why are you building this site? And why are you restricting yourself to only a certain type of client? Distilling this purpose from your current projects will help set the tone for pixel-perfect work.

Third, target your audience through web design and always keep them in mind. It’s easy to fall into the trap of designing to delight other designers. But some of the most fancy chairs (that are usually the most impressive to fellow furniture makers) are highly uncomfortable. Game of Thrones fans will note how amazing the Iron Throne is from an aesthetic perspective, but that thing is a stab wound waiting to happen. Figure out who is using your end product, and design it based on delighting them with: beauty, usability, and functionality. Your design strategy needs to be thorough so make sure everyone is on the same page.

Fourth, explain branding requirements to ensure consistency of your messaging across your entire site – and across all of your projects. Basing design decision on the goals you set out in the strategy document will also foster that consistency.

Finally, measure and track your efforts. Find out what matters to your company the most, and note where you can improve. Knowing how a design performs will help to enhance your strategy, and motivate you to succeed.

And when issues do arise (as they often do), just be grateful that you’re not lost in a scene from Deliverance. This alone will minimize personal conflict and keep the focus on doing web design that brings cheers, minus the tears. And then maybe, if you’re lucky you can celebrate with beers (just look out for the deer).

How To Use Responsive Images

By Jessica Ann
March 27, 2014

Responsive design is the bees knees. Well, if bees had knees, which they don’t, those knees would be responsive design. Or something. Anyway, responsive images are important not just because it’s popular. In fact, it’s the other way around. Responsive design is popular because it’s an important way of reaching the broadest audience on their own terms.

Often, the focus of a responsive design discussion is on the use of grid layouts and using the right typography. It’s all about making your website readable, usable and beautiful on devices of all sizes. Does that sound difficult? That’s probably because it looks so impressive when done right. But like so many of the wonderful things we appreciate, it takes a careful eye and a patient hand (or mouse, or Photoshop macro). And it springs from simplicity.

But the words are only part of the experience. Whether you’re selling goods or services, or all the stuff your Aunt Gertrude gave you for the holidays (polka-dotted underwear, really Aunt Gertrude?), a website only truly “pops” with incredible images. It’s not hard to find the right photos for your website. And often you don’t have to spend much (or any) money doing it.

One approach to using responsive images is to set your constraints in the beginning. Here are some questions to think about:

  • What aspect ratios will you use?
  • What maximum size will you set?
  • Do you have a specific color pallet in mind?

Smashing Magazine explains in a gloriously detailed article how to implement a relatively automated image workflow with some HTML, Javascript and PHP. It lets your site’s server do the hard work and results in beautiful, pixel-perfect image sizes every time your pages load, regardless of device.

Think of it as the software equivalent of waking up in the morning, jumping out of bed and instantly looking your best and bursting into the world full of confidence and charm. It’s like that – but with code.

There are easier ways of achieving similar effects, but every technique requires some thinking – both by you and by your visitors’ browsers.

For example, you can simply set (or ask your resident geek to set) the max-width of every image on your site to 100%, using something like this:

> img { max-width: 100%; }

This technique expands into several different priorities, each with its own trade-offs. And Smashing Magazine elaborates on some ideas.

You can choose your own adventure:

  • Easy: That line of CSS above. Simple, elegant, effective. Right? Well, for small images and sites, yes. But as your images and sites grow, you’re potentially feeding huge images to tiny devices with limited bandwidth and computing power, or stretching tiny mobile-optimized images for Retina iMac displays (hint: it won’t look pretty).
  • Performance-optimized: You can use several different sizes for each image and some server-side magic to make decisions on the fly about which version should be loaded on which device. This may not cause bandwidth or performance issues, but it may be slower than you’d like, and requires more work up front to get all the images sized into different versions and stored on the server and coded into the site. Whew.
  • “Art direction” problem: Smashing Magazine points out that an image that looks amazing on an iMac might be too “squeezed” on an iPhone screen to show the details that make it so amazing. That means you not only need to consider different sizes of each image, but different crops and compositions of the same image.

The key is always to decide what matters most to your users, which starts with what matters to you. If you’re focused on mobile, you may be able to get away with the easy way out. If you’re running a sprawling site with many articles or product pages and images, the middle choice may be best. If you’re a designer or a photographer showcasing your work, the third option may be most important to you.

The best way to use responsive images is to decide what your priorities are and choose the adventure that gets you to your goals.

How to Understand Mobile User Experience

By Jessica Ann
March 17, 2014

The mobile user experience can seem pretty abstract, especially when you’re trying to target your audience through web design, or you’re building a new app. After all, the user experience on a mobile device is nothing like that of a desktop device. And to make things even more complex, the phrase “mobile device” describes not one device – but a slew of devices of various sizes with different software.

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How to Work It

So how do you fully come to grips with how your customers use their mobile phones? How do you create a truly delightful and useful experience for your people (without having your people call my people).

Simple. Take a peak at how users are using their mobiles:

  • 86 percent of mobile internet users will use their device in front of the television.
  • The amount of page views from mobile devices increased fourfold between 2010 and 2013.
  • Almost half of consumers won’t come back if your site doesn’t work as expected on mobile.
  • And yet 39 percent(!) of businesses don’t put effort into making a mobile-optimized site.

There are plenty of other statistics to cite, and many of them can be found in the aptly titled presentation The Internet In Your Pants. But the numbers all tell the same simple story: people want information in their pockets – on their mobile devices. And if you’re not giving your people what they want by focusing on usability then they won’t be picking up the phone to call your people (or use your product) anytime soon.

Can’t we all just get along?

Now, you may assume that your website will get along on mobile the same way that it does on the desktop view. But that’s a silly assumption to make when you consider the dynamic differences between mobile and desktop. Their differences require real thought and effort on how to make the experience unique to each viewing platform.

Build an experience

Think of your mobile website how you would if you were building an experience for your customers. Your brand and your offerings on a platform should be device-agnostic to get people to experience your site in the best way possible. An experience makes them happy and keeps them coming back in the future.

Learn what it takes to build a mobile user experience on various platforms and use that knowledge as the foundation for your design and for future changes.

Be Consistent

Cross-platform and cross-device consistency is the bread and butter to the mobile experience. Always ask if there’s a better way to achieve your goals without sacrificing the bread or the butter – because they’re always tastier together.

The same thing goes for updates to your site. Don’t decide on a whim one day while working with your laptop that you need a new WordPress template for your eCommerce site. While many templates are mobile-optimized, some are not. And it’s not always obvious when you’re selecting and installing them what you’re getting. Be deliberate with your updates and test them in a wide range of use cases, or do research to learn which ones will work across multiple platforms.

Apply your new mobile user experience to your current project, or simply hire a web developer if you want to save time. After your mobile experience is up, consider asking your users what they think with a survey or face-to-face questions. You’ll want to get insights into how your site performs on different devices so that you can iterate and evolve your mobile experience for your customers. 

How to Find the Best Typography for Your Web Design

By Jessica Ann
March 14, 2014

Good web design has various traits, and typography definitely is one of them. It falls under the “usability” and “visuals” category. After all, a website is only as stylish and usable as the typography it uses to display text. Most blogs and other websites use only the default options, which hardly qualify to be called “typography” at all. Elegant websites typically do not use the same tired fonts that you see everywhere.

And if you’re asking “Why not just use Arial or Times New Roman?” Well, keep reading. We’ve got your back.

Letters A B C made of wood.

Play Nicely

Typography is about so much more than the font you choose, or the size at which you display text. Typographic elements in your website need to play nicely together. As Smashing Magazine points out using a different typeface for each of your major elements is a good way to differentiate parts of your site while maintaining consistency.

Your headings, for example, might use a big, bold, see-it-from-across-the-room sans serif font, without any ornamentation. This ensues it’s clear and stands out from the rest of the page. Body text, on the other hand, might be better set in a serif typeface, which uses lines attached to the ends of letter shapes to achieve a very different look from sans serif.

Sometimes the best way to decide which typographic styles work best with your site is to seek out some sites you love to visit and have a look at what they do. While you certainly don’t want to copy someone else’s design sensibility, developing a collection of best practices will help you to decide which components you want to pull together to make your own unique impression on visitors.

Once you decide what general styles you want to use, and which corresponding elements to try, you still need to find some quality typefaces that will make your site stand out from the sea of typographical mediocrity. Unfortunately, many web pages tread in this crowded sea. Try not to be one of them.

Not the Type?

If you’re not the type (pun intended) to mess about in the code behind the scenes of your website, there are easier options. Most modern blogging platforms and content management systems provide a reasonable selection of better-than-the-default fonts from which you can choose. WordPress, with its wide variety of free and premium themes, is particularly friendly to the typographical adventurous user.

Sites like Google Web Fonts, integrated into the web advertising giant’s Blogger platform, and Adobe’s Typekit have free options allowing you to preview and test drive a wide variety of fonts of all styles. You can select one or more fonts you want to use and get a snippet of code to embed in your website. Then, a little bit of light CSS editing and you’re ready to go.

While many fonts look beautiful, reading them for an extended period of time can feel like punishment. As with all other aspects of your web design, run your typography choices by regular readers. Consider whether some of your audience are older or may have vision impairments. There is even a font made to assist dyslexic people who read your content. Whether or not your audience needs are that extreme, be aware that each situation has many options.

Whatever path you take to achieve beautiful typography, always remember that web design is not about your aesthetic preference – but rather the experience of your visitors.

How to Target Your Audience through Web Design

By Jessica Ann
February 11, 2014

Your website is often the first way people recognize you or your brand. When it’s prototyped in the right way, you can actually save time with the right web design.

Visitors should be able to instantly identify that it’s you or your company. Your logo should appear on every page, and be prominent without being distracting (not always an easy feat). The key is to design something that’s recognizable yet unobtrusive. This often means more than just plastering your logo everywhere, or forcing every visitor to watch an elaborate introductory video.

Magazine Cutouts

It means targeting your audience through your web design in a simple, elegant way. Here are a few ideas:

Color

Color will set the tone for all aspects of your website, from the font to the background to the images. In other words, your brand colors are for more than just your logo. Your site should incorporate your company colors in graphics as well as in CSS elements like links, borders and secondary backgrounds. This is one of the many reasons why simplicity is important for web design. It requires consistency and subtlety. Light touches integrated into all of your site’s pages and sections will result in a cohesive style people will always recognize as yours – and yours alone.

The overall “feel” of your site should also correspond to your audience and what you are providing for them. A retail site with a corporate feel won’t be very inviting to would-be customers. And a bright, bubbly feel won’t be right for a corporate home page. In other words, if you’re selling flowers, your site should use bright and festive colors. But if you’re marketing consulting services, a more streamlined and muted look may be more appropriate. Don’t be afraid to find inspiration for your web design in unlikely places.

Typography and Fonts

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of any site is the typography. Most sites use the same default fonts that came with their original template. They’re usually bland and cookie-cutter. While the font you choose can make or break your site’s readability, it also adds or subtracts a great deal from the character of your site.

For example, a website designed to provide recipes may want to use a light, casual font that doesn’t make the text look like it’s from a corporate brochure. And just because you’re running a corporate home page doesn’t mean you should use something like Times New Roman or Arial. Slab serif fonts, which typically use horizontal lines at the end points, can lend a professional look to text as well as add a bit of unique style lacking on many web pages.

Spend serious time selecting the fonts you use on your site, and use them to differentiate between main content, sidebars, menus and other elements. But it’s also important to keep it simple, usually with no more than two or three fonts on any given site. Any more and you risk upsetting the cohesive look you’re trying to create.

Design a website that focuses on your audience and keeps your ultimate goal in mind. Don’t hesitate to talk to members of your audience as you reach milestones in your design process, especially if your goal is to create a community from your website. If you’ve selected colors and fonts, run them by some of your customers to see what they think. Ask your designer to make a mock-up or a demo site so that you can share and get feedback.

Targeting your audience through web design is a combination of being consistent in how you present yourself and placing yourself in the shoes of your audience. If you do this, you’ll be on your way to an effective and engaging website.

How Social Media Optimization Differs from SEO

By Jessica Ann
February 6, 2014

Social Media Optimization (SMO) is only one letter different from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but it’s changing the way we think about SEO. Let’s start with understanding SEO first.

Search engine optimization is making websites as search-engine friendly as possible, both in terms of content and design. The goal of good SEO is to make your website appear higher in the search results for queries relevant to your industry. When it’s done right, it’s the difference between appearing on the first page and the second page of search results, and that can sometimes make the difference between a website that builds trust and a digital ghost town.

Website Marketing Concept Blackboard

But what is social media optimization, and how is it different from SEO?

While SEO focuses on relevance (which is still incredibly important), social media optimization focuses on the ease of sharing your content across a variety of social networking platforms, and its accessibility.

Shareability Tools

Strong websites and blogs usually include sharing widgets where their visitors can share content to their social media networks. AddThis is one tool (among many) that allows users to engage with your content more easily.

You’ll also want to make sure that your links are shareable. Use services like bitly or buffer which shortens links so that they’re more presentable. Another more expensive (yet worthy) link shortener service is Sprout Social. When used right you can actually use it to do less work. The other bonus to using link shortener services is that they have detailed analytics, so you can get data on how many people actually click your links. This helps to assess and evolve your social media strategy.

Whichever widget or link shortener service you choose, you’ll want to make it easy for your customers to share your articles. Craft solid, share-worthy headlines, and even give your readers the exact words that you’d like them to tweet. Services like click to tweet allow you to work “tweetables” directly into your articles. Tweet this: Breaking down your content into micro-content builds traction for your articles.

Social. Media.

Make sure you’re not only sharing your own content. Focus on the “social” part of social media. Social media should not be viewed as another media channel that advertises your business. Share other relevant content that’s related to your industry to be more social, less “media.”

Simplicity on Social Networks

Facebook and Twitter are the standard networks to include in your sharing platforms. And depending on your social media strategy (and where your customers are hanging out), you may also want to consider LinkedIn, Pinterest, and you don’t want to forget about Google+ (especially because of the importance of Google Authorship for SMO).

If you’re technically inclined or you have code-savvy colleagues or friends, markup tools such as Open Graph, Twitter Card tags and rich snippets are ways to make your content more robust. These tools control what headlines, descriptions, images and other components of your website look like when someone shares them on social networks. Incorporating these systems (while it can be complex and confusing to implement) creates simplicity within your web design, and facilitates the sharing of your content.

SMO-friendly markup is a great way to ensure the clarity and appeal of your content. This sort of control, and simplicity ensures your content is as presentable as possible when it gets shared.

While SEO focuses on getting your website seen in search, SMO integrates the various social media networks and sharing tools. Take it one step at a time, and go where your customers are hanging out. Everything is integrating at a rapid rate. But when you incorporate both SEO and SMO, you can evolve into a truly social business and reap the rewards.