Thursday, December 15, 2016

Exit Strategy: Does a Great Website Help Sell a Business?

We launched a new website for Nexus Aircraft Climate Control Systems earlier this week. How this project came about reminded us of the role a great website can play in selling a business.

Back story: This is our second project working with Nexus' founders; we did website design and development work for their last company, which they successfully sold earlier this year. After that deal closed they launched Nexus to bring their next big idea to market. We were engaged shortly thereafter to build a website to explain the breakthrough features and benefits of their new products.

While there are many factors that contribute to the successful sale of a business, we see a great website is an essential element of a sound exit strategy. Here's why: A well-designed website is based on an understanding of business strategy and objectives. It clearly explains your brand, resonates with your target customers, and differentiates your value proposition, while driving the metrics that support real brand equity and (therefore) a higher valuation in a business sale scenario. Sweet.

For more on Nexus and the launch, here's a link to their press release: NexusCCS Announcement.

Questions? Happy to discuss.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Most Small Business Websites are Missing the Boat on Mobile Navigation and SEO

We spotted a Wall Street Journal article ("Missing Out on Mobile") a few days ago and noted a statistic that caught us by surprise: Only 33% of U.S. small business websites are optimized for mobile. It's surprising (and concerning) for two reasons:

First: With the majority of searches are now being made on mobile devices, any website that's not optimized for mobile is driving search visitors directly into their competitors' arms. Why? Because pinching and swiping right and left to navigate a small screen is difficult (and inexcusable) in terms of user experience. People will vote with their feet. In five seconds or less.

Second: Google has been giving clear preference to mobile optimized websites in its search results for the last 18+ months. (We pointed this out in one of our earlier posts.)  Given the clear competitive advantage inherent in better Google search visibility upgrading a business website to work well on mobile devices is an absolute no-brainer.

Here's why: Google's search algorithm is designed (and constantly tweaked) to give its users the most relevant, user friendly, technically sound results possible. (That way, we'll all use more Google services, click on more ads, and grow Google's ad revenue.)  And "technically sound" now includes mobile responsive design.

Based on our 20 years of experience building websites with strong search visibility, we see Google's approach as both reasonable. and, the best starting point for an effective SEO strategy.

Questions about how your website stacks up? Drop us a line and we'll be glad to give it look.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lessons from Last Friday's DDOS Attack

Analysis of the DDOS attack that took down big chunks of the Internet last Friday provides a reminder and a warning. While the "who" behind the attack remains unclear, the "what" has been traced (largely) to a hack of a Chinese company's IOT (Internet of Things) devices that were shipped with weak passwords, and then not changed to strong, unique passwords by their owners.

That vulnerability led to hundreds of thousands of these devices being infected by Mirai malware and commandeered into a botnet that was used in the DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack on Dyn, an Internet infrastructure provider. (Think of Dyn as a "traffic cop" that gets Internet traffic to where it's supposed to go. As we saw last Friday, without the traffic cops, Internet traffic can grind to a halt.

Lesson #1: Always use strong passwords on anything that connects to the Internet. We recommend passwords that are at least 8 characters in length, combining letters, (upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters (like !#$%*).  Avoid commonly spelled words and numbers in sequence. And don't "reuse" them. Write them down and keep them in a secure place or use a reliable password management service. (I can send you links to detailed reviews of password management services on request.) Strong passwords will help insure your devices don't become part of the next attack.

Lesson #2: Although it's pretty sturdy, (with multiple redundancies), the Internet is vulnerable. Access to services can be lost. It makes sense to analyze how an outage will impact your business and have a contingency plan. Example: If you're relying on the cloud for data or document storage, do you also keep a local backup?  Likewise it's wise to evaluate any cloud services. Can that functionality be duplicated on a local computer or your local network?

One other thing... Has a protocol been developed (and training provided) so your people know what to do next time the Internet goes down? It's a case where the old adage applies: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." (As attributed to Ben Franklin.)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gugi Malware Attacks Up 10X - What You Should Know

An article in The Register on malware caught our attention this week: According to a Kaspersky report there's been a 10X increase in Gugi malware attacks between April and August this year.  The article explains Gugi is a "bank-account-raiding Trojan for smartphones". Not good. 

Worse, this particular malware targets devices running Android version 6; (i,e, Marshmallow). Since version 6 added security measures to block this kind of attack it looks like the bag guys have upped their game. iPhone users would be wise to assume Gugi (or something like it) will be adapted to invade their ecosystem as well.

Here's what you need to know to protect your device: Gugi uses a spam SMS text message that says "additional rights needed to work with graphics and windows" with a button that says "Provide". Don't do it. Clicking the button allows the malware to get to your private data which will be used to try to get to your online banking info, with predictably unfortunate consequences.   

Here's a link to the article for additional details: Sneaky Gugi Banking Trojan

While Gugi originated in Russia, it's rapid growth shows the threat has now expanded well beyond Russia's borders. Forewarned is forearmed.    

Monday, August 8, 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Update Problems and Possible Solutions

Since the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (AU) started rolling out over this past week some of our clients have had questions and reported various problems with the installation process. We thought it would be helpful to share our observations and a couple of resources on this subject.

Side note: If you've updated your operating system from Windows 7 or 8.1 to 10 then you should consider getting the Anniversary Update. Besides strengthened security measures, this update includes improvements to the Start Menu, Edge browser, Action Center notification system, Cortana, and more.

If you haven't received AU automatically yet, you can start the process manually: Go to Settings (the little gear icon); then click on Update & Security, then Learn More. That should open a page with a box that says Get the Anniversary Update Now. Clicking the box should start the process. Note: Downloading and then installing this update will take a while. Depending on your connection and your computer, it could be an hour or more and will include a couple of restarts.

In most cases, this process unfolds without a hitch. But there have been reports of problems where the process hangs up or fails. The good news is that checking History in Windows Update Assistant will usually give you an error code to help narrow down the problem and find a solution.

For example, when installing AU on one of my own computers the process came to a grinding halt. Checking History I found error code 800705b4 as the likely problem. Doing some online research I found the suggestion to use Media Creation Tool (second option on the page) for the AU installation process and this did the trick. Other suggestions included disabling security software during the install process, but it wasn't necessary, at least in my case.

If you run into a problem, here's a link that will take you to the Microsoft Support site where you can search by error code. For other Windows 10 related issues you can try the Microsoft Answers Community. Just put your question in the search box and you'll get a list of possible answers. These are both very handy resources.

Hope this is helpful!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Windows 10 Free Upgrade Ends July 29; What Should You Do? Our Shortlist of Pros and Cons

With the clock running out on Microsoft's "free upgrade" offer July 29th, we compiled a shortlist of pros and cons to help clients or friends still on the Windows 10 fence decide what to do.  Here goes...


  • Improved security features and automatic "patching" going forward to keep the OS more secure; (this is perhaps the most important advantage to Windows 10 in our view)
  • More efficient, faster; (it uses fewer system resources than Windows 8.1)
  • IMHO it's more user friendly (i.e. it looks/works like Windows 7 rather than 8.1)
  • The early "bugs" (which 10 certainly had) have been worked through with interim updates including a big one last November 12, and several more since then
  • Microsoft Edge browser: (you shouldn't be using Internet Explorer at this point; it has big security problems, doesn't render many websites properly and is slow!)
  • Cortana provides search and voice controls for many functions
  • Task View lets you "simulate" having two monitors on one screen  
  • Anniversary Update is coming August 2 for Windows 10 with a slug of improvements to the Start screen, Taskbar, Action Center, and new features for Cortana, Edge and more
  • Your upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 is free until July 29; after that you'll have to buy it; (free is a very good price)
  • If you don't like it, you can roll back to your current OS within 31 days 


  • If you're using proprietary (or very old) software it may not be compatible with Windows 10 
  • Some people have "lost" (or had difficulty finding) certain files after they upgrade 
  • If you're still using Windows XP or Vista, not only will you have to pay for Windows 10, but you have to do a fresh install; (it's not just a simple upgrade from XP or Vista) 

For most of our clients, we're recommending they take advantage of Microsoft's largess and get the Windows 10 upgrade before the July 29 deadline, but with the caveat that they back up any important files first, just in case. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions; glad to help. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Personal Service Takes Spotlight in Latest Website Project

In the increasingly impersonal world of phone trees and autoresponders, our latest website project focused on the extraordinary personal service our client provides for her promotional product customers. (Not only does she answer the phone, she brings samples to your office!)

Of course every business claims to provide great customer service and talk (on this subject) is notably cheap. We understood our challenge as web designers was to clearly make this case for our client in a believable way, without having her sound like a braggart. (That would be way out of character; she's actually very humble.)

Our answer: Feature just one well-worded, credible, customer testimonial, from a real person, at a real organization, up front, on the home page. Here's our solution:

But beyond credibility, the new website also improved the website's security, enhanced its SEO capacity, while adding a responsive mobile design that works on all kinds of devices. (No small feat given all the different types and sizes of devices out there.)

Here's a link to the launch press release with more on Pam and her Specialty Connection.

P.S. If you haven't yet upgraded to Windows 10, Microsoft's free upgrade offer expires July 29th. If you have any questions about the upgrade and whether or not it's advisable, just send us a note; glad to help.  


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Interim Website Bridges Present and Future Needs

When Redbud Fitness and Lifestyle Center came to us they needed a new website, fast.  

They'd already begun construction on a fabulous new 35,000 square foot facility and needed to tell that story while promoting business at their current location. The old website wasn't doing either.

After reviewing the (many) new services and programs they'd be providing at the new facility it was clear that they'd need an enterprise class website. Unfortunately, the development time for design, coding, testing, training, integration and implementation of an enterprise site stretches into several months. They needed a new website much sooner than that.

Our solution: We built an interim site (in about two weeks!) to help get them bridge the gap while we're working on the longer-term website. The interim site is now up at

While it doesn't do everything the next site will do, it is a huge improvement over the prior site, with simplified navigation, improved mobile usability, and access to their class scheduling and membership functions. Most importantly, it promotes their current business while building excitement for what's coming soon!

Here's a link to their launch announcement with more info on Redbud Fitness and their new facility.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Greatest Invention of the Last Two Centuries?

In our estimation, the greatest invention of the last 200 years isn't the computer; (although computers are pretty cool); it's actually indoor plumbing.

So holding plumbers in very high esteem, (as we do) we were pleased with the engagement to design and build an all new website for the plumbing and HVAC experts at All Pro Services.

The project included some custom coding to create a new Service Call Scheduling tool that allows dozens of customer variables to be specified (in advance) to speed response times and further improve All Pro's (already outstanding) service.

The site also supports secure e-commerce allowing visitors to sign up for a Comfort Club Membership online. In fact, not only is the e-commerce engine secure, the whole site is engineered for HTTPS security with 2048 bit encryption throughout.

Have to say, we really enjoyed creating a website to help the All Pro team service and support "the greatest invention of the last two centuries." Keep up the good work guys!

For more on this you can check out their press release here: All Pro Launch Announcement   

Monday, May 16, 2016

Another Nail in the Coffin for Adobe Flash Player

Just noted a CNET article confirming our earlier post on the demise of Adobe Flash Player. According to the article, by the end of this year, Google will switch off default support for Flash in their Chrome browser for all websites with only 10 exceptions. (Exceptions include YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon, although even these exceptions are subject to review in the future.)

Clearly, Google is trying to wean website developers off of Flash, while promoting HTML5 as the default standard. This has been driven at least in part by the known (and recurring) security and compatibility issues surrounding Flash, especially on mobile devices.

You may recall our earlier post highlighting Apple's decision to stop supporting Flash on their iOS mobile platform; that's why we started switching our client web development work from Flash to HTML5 over four years ago. Now, Google's latest announcement may be the decisive nail in the coffin for Flash.

Here's a link the the full article: Article: Google to Block Flash on Chrome

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Exit Strategy: Helping a Client Find the Right Buyer for Her Business

We've had the pleasure of helping many company founders translate their vision into a killer website over the past dozen years. Memorable among these are the mother-daughter team behind Wear to Win, a beautiful line of women's performance sportswear. Made in America, they grew it with a combination of direct sales online and wholesale distribution though dozens of golf pro shops.

But life sometimes intrudes on the best business plan. When her daughter got married, moved and had a baby, mom told us it was time for her to pass the torch.

Based on our M&A experience we offered to take on the role of "matchmaker" to help them find a buyer to "raise their baby".  Structured as an asset sale for the inventory, IP, website, (and more) we think it's a pretty compelling business opportunity. For anyone who's looking for a "turn-key" business with lots of growth potential Wear to Win could be just the ticket.

Check out the article that just ran in one of the local papers: BCR Article on Wear to Win

Questions? Call us.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Next "Website Design and Optimization" Seminar Set for May 12

The next presentation of our "Growing Your Business: Website Design and Optimization" series is slated for May 12, at 9:00 am to 11:00 am at the Goshen Chamber of Commerce.

In this presentation we share a systematic, three step process (The Three Legged Stool) that can build a company's brand and grow its revenue by targeting and reaching new customers in the online channel. Whether your objective is improving communication, generating qualified leads or making direct sales, this presentation outlines a proven process tested in real-world businesses of all kinds.

This seminar is a joint presentation of Precept Partners, SCORE Elkhart and the Goshen Chamber. The cost for attending is $30 for Goshen Chamber Members; non-members are $40. Questions? Just shoot me an email: and I'll get back with you.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Latest Site Launch Integrates Real Time Access to Diamond Inventory and Pricing

Our latest website launch highlights the beauty (and power) of providing users with a clean, simple interface to access a huge, complex database.

The client is Images Jewelers, and the database indexes over 33,000 GIA graded diamonds, searchable, by shape, size, color, clarity and price. You can try this out for yourself; just go to and click the GIA Diamonds tab. It's pretty amazing.

It's also a great example of the collaboration process behind a successful design project. We met and spoke regularly with the management team at Images every step of the way, providing them with our insights on web design, and user experience best practices, while they educated us on the nuances of their custom jewelry design business model, customer expectations, and business objectives. The results speak for themselves.

Here's a link to the release announcement with additional details and comments from the Images team: Images Jewelers Launch Announcement

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Taking Steam Generator Website Live Like a Rocket Launch

You often hear the term "launch" used in connection with turning on a new website and for good reason. As with launching a rocket, there's a detailed checklist of essential tasks to be completed as the clock counts down to a successful "liftoff". (Security, DNS details, email and SEO to name only a few of our "Mission Control" concerns during a launch.)

Launching a new website for ESG Corp earlier this week we ticked the check boxes and "pushed the button" to take their newly redesigned website live. Have a look:

It's an update designed to better tell their unique story and explain the significant advantages of their electrode type steam boiler/generators. ESG is 70 year old company (based here in Buchanan) that lists such diverse companies as Space X, P&G, ConAgra and Boeing among their many clients. And they've continued to innovate to serve new industries and niche applications. (Like microbreweries!)

Like a successful rocket launch, this mission will improve the company's global visibility and provide a solid marketing platform for their long-term growth. We're proud to have played a part. Here's a link to the release announcement with details: ESG Corp Launch Announcement  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Eating Our Own Dog Food: Precept Website Redesign

Being in the website design and development business it affords us an opportunity to "eat our own dog food" every few years. It's that time again and we're proud to announce the redesign of our own website.  (By the way, for trivia buffs, there's an interesting article in Wikipedia explaining the origin of the term "eating your own dog food", apparently going back to an Alpo commercial with Lorne Greene.)

Since we launched the first Precept website back in 2003, this is our fifth significant redesign. That puts us on about a three year refresh cycle. That's not too frequent to keep the site's look and feel fresh and the messaging relevant as our client's needs have grown and evolved over time.

In any case, the latest iteration of the Precept website is indeed a case of "dogfooding" incorporating the latest techniques we're using for our client projects including a lighter, cleaner look using fully responsive design with custom menus and one-touch "contact" buttons (at page bottom when you use a smartphone to access the site).

We also reorganized the sites navigation to better segment our web design, development and marketing work from our business analysis and Internet strategy services.

Take a look and let us know what you think! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Boost Your SEO in 2016 with Relevant PR

We got a running start on 2016 yesterday helping two of our clients kick off the new year with a pair of timely press releases; one for and another for Have a look:

TarpsNow Press Release

PromoQuip Press Release

We encourage (and assist) our clients with writing and distributing well crafted, relevant press releases on a regular basis. (At different intervals depending on the market they serve.)  While this requires a fair amount of effort, we see PR creation and distribution as an effective tactic in executing our "off-the-page" SEO strategy. The consistent gains in our client's Google search rank proves its effectiveness.

If you're not creating and distributing press releases and announcements on a regularly scheduled basis, you might want to consider adding this arrow to your marketing quiver in 2016. Happy to discuss if you have any questions.