Category Archives: Computer tips

How often should you change your website?

Some people change the appearance of their website every few months, while others keep the same site for years. This article discusses the pros and cons of updating or replacing your website.

Many really good HTML sites have stood the test of time since 2003 or 2004. These early sites are smaller than sites built today, but have solid design and good information architecture.

Two years ago, we began to notice that designs we had built only months previously were being replaced. Not just the design, but all the content thrown out and replaced within months. It was not just our sites. The majority of sites selected as winners of various website contests in 2011 had already been replaced with different designs by early 2012. Award-winning sites from 2012 are already being replaced with completely new sites in 2013.

Why are new sites being changed so frequently?

Web technologies have changed enormously in the past few years. Many people moved from HTML and Flash sites to content management sites built on platforms like WordPress or Joomla so they can do their own updating. Companies with Flash sites were forced to re-do their sites when Apple didn’t support Flash on the iPad and iPhone. People who used free platforms like WIX discovered they couldn’t do SEO work, their sites couldn’t be verified by Google (utterly critical to getting indexed and showing up in a search) and their site didn’t display on iPad and iPhone.

Most people today are redesigning their sites to adapt to mobile devices. Many companies who micro sites for mobile are already redoing them with responsive designs in 2012. Most of our work in the past year has been spent on designing responsive websites, where the content not only scales down but the layout of the content changes on smaller mobile screens.

WordPress is currently is the number one site-builder, and people with WordPress sites frequently change their designs. One reason is that WordPress allows you to change the “theme” or design of a site while keeping the content, menus and plugins intact.

We also see a fast turnover in WordPress design as a result of owners altering their sites. Not just adding content, but fundamentally altering the layout and design. Several expensive sites we built this year were immediately re-designed by their owners upon completion, simply because the owners wanted to try their own hand at “changing it up” – hacking the responsive designs, breaking links, altering URLs and installing incompatible plugins. Unfortunately WordPress makes it easy for anyone to alter their site design, usually to its detriment.

Other people just seek constant change. We’re often asked to look at sites and tell people what’s “wrong” with them. In most cases these sites have only recently been completed.

In other cases, site owners are approached by “SEO experts” who just plain wreak havoc on a site, drop user-friendly features and greatly change the appearance, throwing out proper usability and visitor experience.

Sample of website that has been copied and hacked by “SEO experts”

What’s wrong with changing your site as often as you feel like it?

Rebuilding your site too soon, especially if you don’t retain the same URLS, can be disastrous for your search engine results. Search engines need a good couple of years to make a profile of your site and a cache of back links (referring sites). In turn, referring sites can take months and years to acquire. When search engine optimization is done properly and organically, it takes time to “grow” the organic SEO.

One of the most valuable features of an older site is your Google Page Rank. Page rank takes years to build. Even when using 301 re-directs to ensure continuity between your old URLs and your new URLs, you will lose page rank.

Another valuable resource is repeat visitors. Repeat visitors are worth gold, and they may not be very happy to find your site changed. Branding means building up recognition and trust. If you follow large sites like Amazon, Old Navy or The New York Times for a while, you will soon see that despite all the money they could spend on new web design, their design alterations are done gradually and carefully so repeat visitors are not confused or annoyed.

For the sake of search engine continuity and branding, we often encourage new clients to keep their sites as is, perhaps with an updated heading, a slide show, or some social media links – features that will improve the visitor’s experience, but not necessarily at the expense of throwing out the whole site or changing the URLs.

So when should you change your website?

We recommend changing a site for the following reasons:

1. When the technologies used for your site are no longer compliant with modern web standards.

2. If your site is on a host or site-builder that does not support search engine optimization. Converting to WordPress is the best thing you can do for your search engine rankings.

3. If your site does not display well on mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets. When your market depends on visitors connecting through mobile devices, it’s time to move to a responsive design.

4. When you need a content management system to be able to add content yourself. If you need to frequently update your site content or want to start blogging, WordPress is the format of choice.

5. If you want to add features that are most easily done using plugins and widgets on a content management site. Building forms, calendars and other functional features from scratch on html sites is considerably more expensive and time-consuming than installing and modifying plugins on a CMS like WordPress.

6. If you need to increase your visitor interaction. Through the use of social media plugins, newsletter signups, visitor polls, Google maps and share widgets, content management platforms like WordPress offer valuable opportunities for increasing your social interaction with your visitors.

The best way to replace your site

When you replace your site, our best advice is to keep the following features intact for the sake of search engines and visitors.

1. Keep the same names for the URLs of the pages.
You want to retain all the search engine benefits your old site has gained, especially if your site is well-indexed on Google. Find out if your site has been well indexed by typing “” into a search box.

2. Add re-directs.
If the URLs of important pages have changed, be sure to re-direct them to the new pages so visitors who bookmarked your site don’t get error messages.

3. Keep your GA ID
Keep the same Google Analytics number by transferring the code to the new site.

4. Contact your referring sites.
If you change your domain name, even slightly, do a links search to see who is referring your site, then contact the designers or webmasters (typically in the footer) and ask that your old domain name be replaced with your new one. To find your referring sites, type “” into a search box.

5. Keep the most popular features of your site.
Check your Google Analytics to see what pages or content has been most popular. If you really don’t want to keep these pages, phase them out gradually from the new site rather than dropping them altogether. Remember that repeat visitors are a valuable commodity.

At Kits Media we believe that websites built with the latest technologies should support the addition of more pages and more features over a period of time. They should be carefully managed and monitored for visitors, search terms, back links, malware and updates during this time. We believe websites are most successful when they start with a long-term plan, and we welcome clients with the same approach.

Comprehensive list of reasons to change your site design
Excellent cautionary tales and tips for moving your site to a new host, retaining dynamic pages, changing urls and more
What you need to know about website re-directs following a site re-design
Outlines a plan for managing the goals, functionality and appearance of a new site design
Video presentation discusses when, why, and how you should redesign your website for both search engine crawlers and end users.
This older article provides some still current advice on changing the design of your site.

Why your emails get blocked

If your emails are getting blocked or sent to a junk folder, the problem is not with your server. The problem is with the restrictive controls of the recipients’ email programs.

Email programs will typically block email for the following reasons.

– Restricting email addresses that start with a recognizable name, like “pam” or “mary” or “peter”. This indicates a setting in the mail program that is more restrictive than normal.

– Restricting the sender’s domain. The domain name itself may be banned, so any mail coming from “” will be marked as junk or spam.

– Rejecting mail from non-existent domain addresses

– Accepting mail from trusted networks only – for example, mail from “” may be accepted but mail from “” may not be, if “” is on a list of networks your mail server doesn’t trust.

– Rejecting mail because of unrecognized attachments

– Rejecting mail because of attachments that are too large – typically, images over 2 or 3 MB might be rejected. Images over 7 MB will likely not even leave the sender’s mail box.

Because there are so many email programs, there is not much you can do about your emails getting junked. They all have different settings and different standards for what they accept and what they don’t accept.

Check your Junk mail as often as you check your Inbox, and mark each blocked email with your approval.

Different email programs have different ways of handling approvals. If I want to approve a sender I find in my junk mail in Windows Live Email, I right-click the sender’s email, select “Junk mail” from the pop-up menu, then select “Add sender to safe sender list”. If I expect to receive more mail from the same domain (like from other people at the same company), I’ll select “Add sender’s domain to safe sender’s list”.

Encourage your recipients to do the same with your own messages. If your emails don’t get answered, try giving them a phone call and see if it’s in their Junk, then explain how they can mark it safe for the future.

More information on sizing images for email

Be wary of emails from “Faceboook”

How to keep people from stealing your images

Unfortunately this is a difficult topic without a solution. Anyone can copy any image from any site if they know how. Without really disfiguring your images quite badly, there is no way to prevent them. Personally, if I want a copy of an image on the web, I have many ways of copying it, and I’m certainly not alone in my skills.

Most watermarks only cover a small part of the picture. People can still see the image perfectly and copy it if they want. A little photoshopping can easily remove most traces of a watermark – often it is only a line of text along the top or bottom. A larger watermark that disfigures the images looks unprofessional and amateur. And people can still copy the idea.

You can add a “right-click disabled” to your images, but thieves can easily do a screenshot then cut the image out. They would have the same image as they would if they copied it in the first place. There is no way to disable a screenshot.

On the plus side, there isn’t much anyone can do with a copied image. The resolution of a web image is only 72 pixels an inch, while print resolution is 300 pixels an inch. This means that printed pictures are four times more detailed than web images (they have four times the resolution). Images from the web cannot be used for reproductions such as prints or postcards (they will be useless and fuzzy), unless the image size on the web is extremely large.

Example: A 600-pixel wide image produces an 8 inch print, but the lower resolution of only 72 pixels/inch will make the image unsuitable for most printing purposes. If it was converted to 300 pixels per inch, the image would be only about 2 inches big.

Unfortunately people with blogs are not usually in the habit of re-sizing their images before they upload them. I see a lot of WordPress sites with direct click-throughs from small images to large, full screen beauties that could easily be converted to 300 pixels per inch. These are prime targets for image stealing.

If you’re a blogger and you’re in the habit of uploading photos without re-sizing them, be aware that you’re making them available for people to copy and re-use in printed materials. If you don’t want this to happen, you need to pre-size any pictures you put online to a much smaller size (for example, 600 pixels wide). This is the most effective thing you can do to protect your images.

There are a couple of ways you can find out if someone has already copied one of your pictures. Use the Google tool as described on

Or try linking to and follow the directions. I personally haven’t  found either of these tools work very well for slightly modified images, but if someone has copied your image intact, it will show duplicates.

If you find that your image has been copied, you should first attempt to contact the site owner. You can also contact the host of the site and let them know about the copyright infringement. If you’re an artist represented by a gallery, have the gallery owner contact the thief.

It definitely helps to have a digital copyright (this is information about the image that is “hidden” in the code) in the case of disputes. However, in most cases direct contact by email or phone with the site owner or website developer will result in the copied image being removed.

Website developers usually add a link to their own company in either the footer or the source code. Since web developers are equally liable if a site uses a copyrighted image without permission, the developer is more likely to remove it or bring it to the attention of the site owner.

Otherwise you must be prepared to invest a great deal of time, money and energy following through. And if it’s the ”idea” you don’t want anyone to copy, it’s best not to show your work anywhere at any time, because there will always be someone who will copy your style, composition, colours, brushwork, themes or ideas.

It is very disheartening when this happens. When I was a painter, I frequently saw copies of my work. Once I walked into Malaspina College and saw a large, perfect duplicate of one of my paintings hanging in a graduate show. It had been used on a Bau-Xi exhibit invitation and I later saw it copied on two other occasions. A couple of years ago I put some small, decorative canvasses for sale on Etsy. Within only 48 hours, exact duplicates of my paintings were reproduced verbatim by another artist, right to the last detail. The only recourse offered by Etsy was to contact a lawyer. 

For many, many years I have had the same thing happen to my writing, especially my reviews of gallery shows. My art writing is frequently copied intact and used by artists on their websites as their own statements. My reviews for Preview Magazine have even been returned to me as “press releases” from galleries for their subsequent shows. Strangely, artists and galleries are usually offended when I contact them.

Either there are a lot of otherwise intelligent people who really believe that images and writing found on the Web are up for grabs, or they just don’t care.

Note: If you’re wondering whether your writing has been copied, try Copyscape, Plagiarism Checker or the plagiarism checker at Small SEO Tools.

Preparing and sending images by email

Unlike Facebook, where you can upload 10 MB files straight off your camera, attaching and sending images by email requires a little extra image preparation. This is a basic skill that’s good to have, whether you’re an artist working with a gallery or sending holiday pictures to friends.

Image files have to be sent by email in the right size and format. Often a publication or gallery will ask for two sets of images – one set as low-resolution jpgs for review, and the other as high resolution TIFs or TIFFs for printing. In both cases, the images should be prepared properly. It’s not at all difficult to learn – you just need to know where the tools are located. There are also differences in the way images attach in PC and Mac mail programs. It’s important for people to receive them properly or they may have trouble opening them.

Preparing image files for email
To create a jpg that will fly through the mail, open the original image in Photoshop and make it a decent size file first. Do this by opening Image/Image size, set the resolution to 72 first, then set the width or height to 800 pixels (one or the other, not both). The resulting image will display nice and large on most monitors, but it won’t be too large to fit the screen.

Next, under File click on Save for Web and devices instead of using “Save”. In the top right of the window which opens, set the quality to 80. Be sure the image type (also at the top right) is set to JPG. Then save the image to a folder and prepare the next one.

If you’re asked to send a TIFF, try to find out if the TIFF will be used on a Mac or PC. There is a difference in the file structure. Do not re-size the image unless you’ve been given instructions.

If you are asked to send 300 dpi CKMY TIFFs, here’s how to set the resolution and colour before saving the image. Open Image/Image size first and set the resolution to 300. To convert the images to CMYK for printing, open Image/Mode and select CMYK.

To save a TIFF, use File/Save As…  A window will open where you can type a simple file name (no spaces, no symbols). Also choose TIFF as the Format (at the bottom of the drop-down list). You should probably give the image a new file name so it won’t replace your original copy. On the following screen, choose either IBM PC or MacIntosh for “byte order”. Tip: you can always save it as one, then go back and save it as the other if you’re not sure which version is required. The PC version has a .tif file extension and the Mac version a .tiff file extension so you can tell them apart by the single or double “f”.

Attaching images to an email
Most PC programs make this pretty easy. Just start a new email, type in a recipient and subject, maybe write a line or two in the body. Then use the paperclip symbol or the word “ATTACH” to browse and attach your images.

If you work on a Mac, you’ve probably been told that PCs tend to display Mac image attachments in the body of the email instead of showing as attachments. This can be quite annoying to the PC (Windows) user. It happens because a lot of PC mail clients automatically convert HTML/Rich Text image attachments into inline images.

PC users have found ways around this dilemma although none of them are very satisfactory. In some cases, if a PC user right-clicks the image in the email body, they can save it to a folder in its original file format. In other cases, they will only get a crummy bitmap version of it. A third option is for the PC user to do a screenshot then cut out the image; however this is problematic for images which are huge and don’t entirely show on the screen.

The solution for Mac users is to switch to “plain text” email before attaching images. Find “plain text” under Preferences/Composing. You will not be able to use your graphic signature in plain text mode, but your pictures will be sent properly — as attachments — instead of being embedded in the email. Again, do not include any image signatures or your mail will be converted back to HTML and the images will embed themselves in the email.

Best wishes for your new skill set! You are welcome to email or comment for more information.

Malware: Case of a Malicious URL

Last week I was showing a site to a client when my spam blocker, Avast, opened the red warning window shown below.

The original client has a beautiful website that showcases her artwork. A couple of years ago we created a WordPress blog as an add-on to the basic html site. She was on her way to a residency in Europe and blogged about her work for several months. Although the blog is no longer active in the sense that she continues to add to it, it is a valuable photo archive and journal of her experiences.

It was surprising to us that she had  been hacked since the blog is not active at this time. Some searching through the source code soon led us to the answer. The blog section of her site had acquired a patch of javascript that had been inserted by a wandering bot into the source code near the top. This javascript re-directed anyone who connected to her blog to go instead to a spam site. This type of “malware” directs visitors elsewhere when you type the URL or click on a link to an URL.

The javascript code itself was not contagious from one site to another, and my own Avast program recognized it as malware, as did the Norton anti-virus program of the other visitor. But the loud alarm and red flag of the spam blocker would doubtless scare off anyone from further exploring her blog. We quickly removed the offending code and her site is back to normal.

This type of “infection” generally occurs when  you don’t have the most recent version of WordPress. WordPress updates its own platform on a regular basis and there are pros and cons to updating it yourself – see our earlier article on WordPress updates. Talk to your developer on a regular basis and ask him or her to check your current version of WordPress and see if any updates are recommended. Although we encourage all clients to let us perform a major update once a year, there is a strong case for updating sooner. WordPress is the platform on which your entire site rests. It is constantly releasing new versions to patch security leaks in earlier versions. If you don’t perform major updates on a regular basis, you are leaving your site wide open to this kind of nasty behaviour. And if you don’t host with a company that does regular backups, you risk losing everything if a more aggressive attack gets through.