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April 2014
Inc-Problems-with-Small-Business-Websites-Infographic
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Inc. recently ran an article and infographic about the biggest challenges small businesses have with their websites. We've been saying this stuff for years, so we thought we would share.

The main problems small businesses have with their website include:

  1. No Clear Call to Action
  2. Poor Design that Doesn't Impress and Engage
  3. Difficulty Updating Content
  4. No Way to Measure Success
  5. Poor SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  6. Not Optimized for Mobile
  7. No Designated IT person

Our CMS makes it easy to update your website, our support team helps every step of the way, our sites are Mobile/Responsive on every sized device, and we  function as the webmaster and technical team for our small business clients. Furthermore, when we build websites for our clients, we make sure clients figure out what their conversion goals are, so we can help them design a website that funnels traffic to those conversion goals and measure the results. This means every page includes a call to action, e.g. you view a profile and see a button to "Contact Jane", you read a blog and are encouraged to sign up for the newsleter, you view the prices and then take the next step to "Sign Up". Your website needs to be a funnel.

SEO is an important ongoing process that helps increase your free "organic" traffic. But once people are at your website you need to make sure it's "Human Optimized" as well. That is where good design, by experts who understand UI and visitor behavior, makes all the difference. If your website isn't optimized in these ways, you are missing out on the benefit that it could be providing for you. Your website should not just be another expense, it should be a vital part of your business strategy, paying for itself and in fact driving much of your revenue stream. If it isn't doing that, you are missing a great opportunity.


April 2014

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This is probably too geeky for most people, but for the sake of transparency I wanted to let you know what our status is in regards to the recently popularized "Heartbeat" security threat. "Heartbeat" is a flaw in OpenSSL, a protocol that manages the secure connections of the servers that run 2/3 of the websites in the world. Essentially it allows hackers to theoretically view 64KB of the current memory space (that's a lot of data). This random, raw data, but it could contain secure information like passwords and private SSL keys.

Lots of servers had implemented other protocols that made them secure against the vulnerability. And other servers, like Gutensite, are theoretically vulnerable to the attack, but since each connection has it's own resources the only user information an attacker could get was their own information, e.g. not other users passwords.

As soon as news broke about the vulnerability, and a patch was issued, we immediately updated all our servers. You can check our servers with this tool and see they are secure.

This vulnerability has been present since 2012, and it would not surprise anyone to learn that the NSA engineered it themselves, given the stream of revelations regarding their misbehavior to undermine all sorts of public security protocols in the past decade. But it's not clear that it was known by hackers during any of this time.

Although we aren't a large target like Yahoo!, it is possible that Gutensite's private key for our SSL Certificate could have been compromised, although only a select group of of operators like the network operators, the NSA, or criminals with a few million dollars of equipment in the right locations, could use that information. But just to be safe we reissued the certificate after the patch was in place. Everything should be as secure as possible now.

We also implemented Forward Secrecy, which essentially generates a new key for every connection, which make SSL far more secure than it was even before. If someone somehow steals your ssl key from one connection, it won't decrypt data from another connection.

We recommend that clients who use SSL ask us to resissue their certificates as well, just to be safe. And it's a good idea to change your password (something you should do regularly anyway).


March 2014
Gutensite as Primary CMS for Rackspace Marketplace

Today we are proud to announce an official partnership with Rackspace® Hosting (NYSE: RAX) as the primary CMS for their Marketplace. Our hosted website builder & CMS makes it easy for Rackspace small business and nonprofit customers to design, deploy and grow beautiful and powerful websites. Gutensite's user-friendly technology and dedicated expert support helps clients make websites that accomplish real world conversion goals, which become a valuable part of their organization’s business strategy.

By leveraging Rackspace’s OpenStack®-based technologies, Gutensite makes it easy for those who already love Rackspace to build an amazing website on top of Rackspace’s hybrid cloud. Rackspace Cloud Servers ensure easy scaling when traffic and load increases as an organization grows.

“Gutensite is built with open source server software, databases and programming languages, and we chose Rackspace in part because of their shared commitment to OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds,” says co-founder & CEO Chadwick Meyer. “This commitment to open source principles and no restrictive contracts, reflects our shared values for making sure clients are empowered with the best solutions available and remain loyal only because of our superior product quality, service and support.”

Every individual Gutensite runs on a Rackspace Cloud Server. Clients can start in a simple, affordable multi-tenant environment or migrate to their own dedicated Cloud Server, which could be a cluster of load-balanced servers or any other custom configuration required. Scalability and customization is available for every client. And by providing hosting for each website, Gutensite ensures that the CMS continues to evolve to meet client’s needs over time and server infrastructure continues to perform at maximum efficiency.

“Selecting the most appropriate content management system for your project can be tricky,” said John Engates, Rackspace CTO. “By aligning efforts with Gutensite, we can offer a hybrid cloud solution, while Gutensite takes care of a site’s CMS needs so business owners can spend more time focusing on their bottom lines.”

We are honored to be part of this fantastic community and look forward to our ability to help more small businesses and nonprofits create websites that become integral parts of their success.


February 2014
Succulent
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Return on Investment

A great website should be one of the most vital parts of your business strategy, not only easily paying for itself but driving a significant portion (if not all) of your business sales. We have clients whose businesses were completely transformed by their website. They saw what worked and now invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their website year after year, because it delivers a great return on investment.

Unfortunately, many people "get a website" because they think it's what they are "supposed to do". They don't have a strategic plan for integrating their website into their business' success. And they think an $8/mo website is a good deal. But they never stop to ask what that basic website is actually costing, in terms of lost revenue and opportunity!

If you ask the business owner who makes $1,000,000 from their $100,000 per year investment, who would they say is getting the better deal?

It's not so much a matter of how much you spend, but ROI for every dollar spent and how much lost opportunity is costing. If your competitors are getting more traffic than you and making more sales, how much is that worth?

Every business and industry has different opportunities and potential to capitalize on opportunity. If you paid $100,000 to get a million visitors next month, you couldn't possibly handle all those sales. So you may not recoup your investment. But a careful, incremental strategy, can customize a solution that delivers valuable ROI for $100, $1,000, $10,000, etc.

Examples of Business Saving and Revenue Generating Features

So instead of thinking about your website as an extra business costs on your checklist, think about it as a source of massive revenue potential.

  • Establish an Impressive Brand. Promote your brand with a professional image that is online 24/7 for the world to see. Provide a professional image that your sales and partnership develop team can confidently direct leads toward which will impress the client and make sales much easier. You can also associate your brand with helpful content on your website that will increase SEO and bring in more visitors.
  • Funnel for Conversion Goals. Everything on your website is a funnel to get your visitors to complete your desired actions, e.g. when they look at your team they are invited to contact the person, when they read an article they are invited to ask the author a question, when they download files they are asked to provide their contact information. Everything funnels to your conversion goals.
  • Product Sales via Online Store. Increase your revenue by selling more products and services through an online Ecommerce store.
  • Generate Contact Leads. Solicit phone calls from visitors on your website, or gather contact information from interested visitors by making it easy to contact you. You can motivate visitors to sign up for your service or provide you with their contact information in exchange for access to special features, private information and reports, physical merchandise sent in the mail, or other members only services.
  • Customer Support for Administrative Processes. Increase customer satisfaction and reduce administrative costs by allowing customers to update their own information, manage support requests, or provide them with answers to questions like Directions, Hours, FAQ, Tutorials, etc.
  • Service Platform with Online Tools. Be a platform for doing something awesome online. Or provide more ordinary online services that empower visitors or members to interact with your business’s services in valuable ways. For example: Searching and Mapping Data, Searching and Playing Multimedia, Cost Calculators, Facilitate Communication, Games or other Fun Features.
  • Informational Resource. Save a lot of time communicating with customers or members by publishing your latest news, description of services, and other helpful resources.

These are just a few high level ideas, but if integrated with your business, any single one of these could be worth thousands of dollars of savings or new revenue.

We would love to consult and help you analyze your entire business operation, sales and marketing strategy, and support, and suggest ways that you can dramatically improve the ROI of your website.


February 2014
pinnacle_blue
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Meet Pinnacle—vintage travel poster meets passport meets playbill. For the adventurous and the romantic. Comes in faded blue, slate, classic red, saffron and mahogany.

pinnacle_slate

pinnacle_red

pinnacle_saffron

pinnacle_mahogany


January 2014
blog_wolfram
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Introducing the Wolfram, a rich, dramatic portal with floor-to-ceiling background images. Comes in 5 colors: Stormy Blue, Camel, Blood Orange, Emerald and Pink Fusion.


January 2014
custom_design_lg
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HealCodeWe're excited to announce that the new year is taking off with a new partnership between Gutensite and HealCode, whose MINDBODY widgets integrate seamlessly to provide class schedules, class descriptions, staff profiles and prospect contact pages. Visitors can register to become members online, view trainer schedules, make appointments and register for special events. Packaged with Gutensite's exceptional features & design, health clubs and spas can get their websites in top shape.

Learn more at Gutensite for Health & Fitness

Or visit our Fitness Demo


09
December 2013

Old Servers Decommissioned

December 2013
server_decommissioned
By

Per our published schedule and instructions, the old servers are now decommissioned. If you cannot access your site, it is because unfortunately you have ignored all the emails we've sent you over the past month and you never took the necessary 5 minutes to update your domain's DNS records. For those who subscribe to our Domain & DNS management service, we were able to update the DNS without any hassle. But for all others, this was your responsibility.

In truth, we have helped out many other clients who are not subscribed to our service, for free, when they asked for our help and provided us with the correct login information for their domain registrar. And we delayed shutting off the server for an extra 3 days to give a grace period. And we offered to keep it on longer if anyone contacted us and needed more time. But since no one has asked for more time, we are moving forward.

If you cannot access your site, the fix is easy. Follow the instructions in your admin > Support > Domain & DNS Settings page. And ask the customer support of your Domain Registrar (where you bought the domain) to help. That is what you pay them for, and they should have no problem implementing the simple changes.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience this will cause, but the server migration was absolutely necessary to ensure you have a stable website. And we have done everything possible to make sure it was a smooth transition. The only thing we could not do, was update your DNS for you (unless you asked) if we were not the ones managing the DNS. We hope you understand and will not be frustrated with or blame us.

We have worked a lot of late hours over the past month, and at this point, if you can't follow the instructions linked to from this article, will gladly help you tomorrow during normal business hours.

Thank you for your patience and support during this important upgrade.


November 2013
server_migration
By
Do not ignore this CRITICAL information about your website and our major server upgrade and migration.

Big Picture

In order to ensure the long term reliability of your website we have been working hard on your behalf for the past four months to create a brand new server infrastructure with the redundancy and scalability that will serve you far into the future. There may be some elements that are temporarily inconvenient and frustrating for you over the next few days of migration. I am really sorry for those things in advance, but this upgrade is absolutely necessary and good for your website long term.

This upgrade has entailed massive rewrites of how our CMS must now function across multiple web servers, interacting with many different cloud storage systems and databases. We have tested our platform rigorously and are aware of a few remaining minor bugs that we are working to fix. But on thursday, the old server had a kernel panic that took it down for 45 minutes, and we feel it is in your best interests to complete this migration as soon as possible.

So I thank you for your patience and graciousness and I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to make this as smooth as possible. We will respond to questions, prioritize the bugs and get them all resolved as quickly as possible.

Full Details

Read the blog article for full details about the migration benefits and be sure to frequently check for any status issues and tips at twitter.com/gutenstatus

Current Status

Test your site right now. Your site is not migrated yet and if it's not loading see section below. We have migrated our website at gutensite.com (which includes the Control Panel) and we've migrated all preview domains at gutensite.net (to preview your website on the new server). But your website will not migrate until YOU update your DNS settings. Read more under the Migration Steps section.

Site Not Loading?

Since migrating our domain name to the new servers, a few of you have alerted us that your site is not loading. We're very sorry. This is because your domain's DNS settings have been incorrect for quite some time, and our domain migration just exposed the problem. Most likely you pointed the CNAME for 'www' to a 'gutensite.com' domain instead of your domain. Since gutensite.com is no longer residing at the same old server where your site is still located, traffic is being directed to the server where our domain is pointed.

Please ask your Domain Registrar (where you bought the domain) to help you implement the correct A and CNAME records according to the Old Server DNS Settings (below), or email us the login information for your domain registrar account and we'll fix it for you.

Old Server DNS Settings
To get your website back online temporarily at the old server, make sure you have the following two records:

TYPE NAME DATA
A yourdomain.com

204.11.244.154

CNAME www.yourdomain.com yourdomain.com

 

Migration Steps

  1. Preview Site. Check that your website looks and functions correctly at your preview domain on the new server (e.g. username.gutensite.net). Login to Control Panel and go to the Support section and click on "Domain & DNS Settings" page to see your "preview domain".
  2. Update DNS. Once you are sure your website looks good on the new server, update your Domain(s) DNS to point to your web server's IP address (see below) before the migration deadline.

 

DNS Settings for New Server

Many of you are pointing your entire domain to our name servers (e.g.ns1.gutensite.com or ns1.cratebuilt.com) and we used to help you manage your DNS settings for free. This is no longer advised, and we asked you to update this 4 months ago (but some still have not). These name servers will not work anymore after the migration. Check the Name Servers for your domain, and if it lists our old name servers above, you must either ask us to manage your domain DNS for you ($25/yr on Rackspace's DNS servers) or you must manage your own domain DNS settings at your domain registrar. This will require that you add the basic website records below, in addition to any other custom settings you need for other subdomains or MX records (for email).

Please ask your domain registrar to help you implement the settings that we specify in the control panel (or email us your registrar account login and we will do it for you).

To see the correct IP address for YOUR web server, Login at: https://admin1.gutensite.com/admin/support/dns and follow the instructions in the Control Panel. Under the "Support" section follow the side link for "Domain & DNS Settings". This will show you your web server's IP address and the correct settings for your A and CNAME record.

TYPE NAME DATA
A yourdomain.com [See Admin for IP Address]
CNAME www.yourdomain.com yourdomain.com

 

Migration Schedule

We want to give you reasonable time to make these changes, but we must migrate quickly because of temporary slowness caused by databases and websites residing on different data centers during this migration.

So you must point your domain to the new servers by Monday, December 2, 2013 at 12:00pm PST. After this date, the old server will be in "read only" mode and will be an archive of your site (no updates will appear). The server will be shut down fully on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 12:00pm PST. This gives you ten days from today to test and complete the migration, and another 4 days of extra buffer if you need it. If there are emergencies or any delay caused by bugs on our end, we will extend this date.

Report Issues

We are working on fixing some small bugs on the new platform, but if you find other issues, please email us to make sure we're aware of it. Be assured that we'll get it fixed as soon as humanly possible.

If you have a genuine emergency where your website does not load and you have already tried to update the DNS, email our emergency address in the control panel and I will respond (day or night). But please use this ONLY if your website is inaccessible.

Thank You

Thank you for your business and for letting us serve you for so many years. Thank you for your continued patience as we work extra hard to complete this server migration on your behalf.

Sincerely,

Chadwick Meyer


November 2013
server_migration2
By

We appreciate all your patience as we've been focused for the past 4 months on a major server infrastructure upgrade, to rebuild and migrate our hosted CMS to Rackspace's Cloud servers. This has required a rewrite of how we deploy websites, how we roll out updates and versions to the core code base, how we manage hosting, how we connect with databases, and many overall changes to how the CMS works across multiple web servers, connecting with a cluster of read and write database servers, and other servers for extra services.

Major Upgrades

  • We've grown from 2 web servers at our old host to 10 new servers at Rackspace.
  • We can scale to make each of these servers 32 times more powerful if necessary and deploy new servers within minutes.
  • If a web server fails, we can restore a new one from nightly snapshots within 30 minutes and have your site back online without any data loss.
  • The servers can remain small because we have migrated all your personal files off the web server to cloud files, which makes storage more affordable and the files faster to load with better redundancy and backup.
  • The databases are arranged in a cluster with multiple read and write database servers. This creates a lot of backups of the data and also allows the databases to fail over to each other if there are any issues with one of the read or write servers.
  • We can easily add more database servers to handle more traffic and load.
  • If you are unhappy with performance, expect a lot of traffic or need to grow, we can easily migrate you to your own server to handle as much load as you need.

Overall, this is a huge improvement, which if it works well you'll never take the time to notice.

Migration

We are ready to proceed with helping you point your domain to the new server where your site is already residing and waiting to perform. Before you migrate though, we want you to test your site at your "local domain" which is your main username.gutensite.net.

You can find your local domain in the new "Domain & DNS Settings" page. Please test your site, and if everything looks and works perfectly, you can follow the instrustions on that page and update your A and CNAME records for your DNS at your domain registrar.

Migration Deadline

In order to not drag out the disconnect between the new web servers and the old database servers, we need you to point your domain to the new servers by Monday, December 2, 2013 at 12:00pm PST. After this date, the old server will be in "read only" mode and will be an archive of your site (no updates will appear). The server will be shut down fully on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 12:00pm PST. This gives you ten days from today to test and complete the migration, and another 4 days of extra buffer if you absolutely need it.

Act Now

Currently gutensite.com (where the Control Panel is hosted) and gutensite.net (where the preview domains are hosted) are both running on the new servers. But as long as we have websites running on the old server we have to update the database on the old server, which is slow to do from outside that local network in a different datacenter. Also the old server has some issues (it crashed again today), so we want you to migrate as soon as possible.

Beware

Until the database servers are accessed locally on December 2nd, any web page that has to WRITE to the database (update or create new records) will be slightly slow (this mostly just affects the Admin, or form submissions on your website). And if after editing a record you redirect to a page where you expect to see the information you just updated, it *could* be the old info (requiring you to refresh) since the changes have to propagate throughout the slave/read database servers before you can "read" them.

For this reason, if you know what you are doing, you *may* want to wait to migrate until November 31st (as long as you don't forget and you give up to 72 hours for your DNS to propagate).

Thank You for Patience

We know how important your website is, and we want to make sure this is as painless as possible. But please be gracious during this process, and realistically anticipate some bugs in the first couple of weeks. We'll be working overtime to respond and fix them ASAP. Despite any problems, we are confident that after the migration settles down, this is going to be a huge improvement for the long term reliability and scalability of your website.

Thank you so much for your business.