At Port 80, We Take Your Safely Seriously

It’s not until you have your very own web server to manage that you appreciate just how many meanies there are out there. Armies of hackers all across the world are constantly prodding and probing our defences, looking for a weakness.

SSL  certificate protection

If a website does ever get compromised, it can spell its end. Once a hacker gets in, they will hijack it and put it to their own nefarious ends. A compromised site can be used to send out spam emails, to steal user data, to disseminate viruses and many other nasty tricks.

Luckily for you, our dear clients, our server is robust, and we are ever-vigilant.

As part of our commitment to your websites’ safety, we have recently introduced a new service: free SSL certficates as standard for all our privately hosted websites!

Err, What?

What’s that you say? You’re not a geeky nerd and have no idea what an SSL certificate is? Well, the brief and non-geeky answer is that it is a form of encryption that is used to ensure that any information transmitted to or from a website is unusable to hackers.

SSL certificates are mainly used on websites that handle financial transactions, but increasingly are being used across the web as sites such as Facebook and other social media see us sharing more and more personal info online. The only difference you see as a user is that the site address changes from http://example.com to httpS://example.com.

They can cost anything from €30 -€300 depending on where you order from, and they’re fiddly to install. However, if you choose to host your website on our private server, we will automatically include an SSL certificate, free of charge! Aren’t we nice?

Franco-British Relations in Milhac-de-Nontron

Welcome back to Port 80! It’s a lovely sunny day in the Dordogne, warm enough to make one forget it’s nearly October already. The last tomatoes are ripening in our veggie plot and our fig tree has outdone itself this year – we’ve harvested kilos and the tree is still laden. They’re so tasty that it’s even worth the invasion of sugar-hungry hornets with whom we have to share them. If anyone wants a jar of fig jam, you know where to come!

After a truly dire start to the year (and not just in terms of the weather), it’s been a real treat to have had a long, hot summer out here. We hope the sun stays with us a little longer yet, but annual winter preparations – the tedious ordering and stacking of wood – are underway.

Also underway are our rehearsals for our next and final gig of 2016. This is called La Soirée Franco-Britannique and is an annual event that has taken place for the last 3 years in a row here in Milhac-de-Nontron. It’s an event with a sweet story behind it. There are quite a few Brits that live in our commune and one such couple were so overwhelmed with the friendly welcome they’d had upon arrival that they decided to organise a small event to thank the commune – La Soirée Britannique.

The first one attracted around 40 people, a mix of English and French, who all got to experience a range of quintessentially British produce, from pork pies to English cider. For entertainment, we joined the organisers and together put on a small concert of Beatles songs. The Soirée was so well-received that a local association decided to take it over and make it an annual event. It now draws over 100 people each year, and it’s proved to be a welcome distraction from the approaching winter.

To reflect the fact that both the food and music is now a mix of French and English, “Franco” was added to the name, but otherwise the format is the same, including us providing the musical entertainment. This year’s event is happening on 19 November and is open to all, so if you’re in the area, drop in! We’re very pleased to report that Brexit has done nothing to dampen Franco-British relations in Milhac. 🙂

Aside from fig plucking and rehearsals we have of course also been working away here at Port 80. We recently put live a drone photography website for a local French company called 3DR View. This is a brochure website featuring an English language version, the translation of which we provided. Other sites we’ve recently completed include A Flavour to Savour – an English butcher providing British meat cuts here in SW France – and How to Logistics, an eCommerce WordPress site selling digital downloads.

We’ve a few more that are very close to going live too, but you’ll have to wait until next time to hear about those. Until then, it’s au revoir from us here in Mazeroux city.

La Soirée Franco-Britannique 2015 in full swing!
La Soirée Franco-Britannique 2015 in full swing!

Annual Leave

A little note for our dear customers: we’re off on annual leave this week. We’re away from 27 July until Mon 08 August.

In the event of any urgent issue, we will have access to emails in this time and will do our best to help. But we will otherwise be taking it easy. 🙂

Thanks for your understanding!

The Port 80 team

What a Year…

Well, it’s been far too long since we updated our blog, apologies for that. The year really didn’t begin well when the news about David Bowie dying broke. He’s always been a major hero, so that was a bit of a blow. And from there, things seemed to continue in the same vein – Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Prince, Caroline Aherne… 🙁

Not to mention the fact that the only thing that distinguished January from June here in the Dordogne was the spelling! From the moment the clocks chimed in the New Year, it went grey and rainy and it’s only been in last couple weeks that – we hope! – it’s finally improved…

As expats living in France, we obviously also had a vested interest in the UK referendum resulting in a Remain victory, so that too wasn’t a great moment for us. Still, we’re British and that means we mustn’t grumble! 🙂

We’ve had a lot of new projects to get our teeth into so far this year, which we look forward to getting live over the coming weeks. It’s perhaps one of the best things about this line of work that your clients can come from all different kinds of industries and backgrounds. Current projects include an English butcher based in France, a wedding planner, an oil painter, a logistics specialist, and a drone photography service!

One that has just gone live deserves a special mention: Sharks’ Ink. This is an established print studio in Colorado, USA. They had an existing website that was built in the 90s, so needed modernising. Their new version is a WordPress site containing a searchable database of all the artists and their work. Take a tour!

We look forward to telling you more about all our projects as they develop. In the meantime, we’ll try and do better at keeping our spirits up and our blog updated. Au revoir from us.

What are Top Level Domain Names?

port-80-blog-postAs anyone who’s ever tried to buy their ideal domain name knows, in recent years the pickings had become decidedly slim! Our ever-expanding worldwide web sees new websites being created all the time, and all the desirable .coms have long since been nabbed. In an effort to combat this problem, a whole host of new domain name extensions, known as Top Level Domains (TLDs), have recently been introduced. TLDs are the last part of a domain name eg, .com, .fr, .org etc.

In the past, these were all handled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), but last year, the process was opened up to all to create their own TLDs.

This means there’s now a whole new world of possibilities for creating your perfect domain name. http://pizza.com may well be taken, but what about http://pizza.delivery? Many businesses can now opt for a highly personalised website address for the first time. This can quickly give visitors a good indication of the purpose of a website.

Apart from the benefit of increased choice though, it must be said that TLDs don’t offer any intrinsic benefit to business. A recent survey found no evidence they alter or improve perceptions of the website. They also have zero impact on site rankings, as confirmed by Google. New TLDs are neither penalised nor favoured by search engines.

In fact, they could sometimes be a disadvantage. Compared to well-established .com websites that have been around for years, a website with a new TLD can give the impression of being newly-created – and therefore an unknown quantity. This is why older alternative TLDs like .biz or .info never really took off. Before opting for a new TLD, it’s worth thinking about what kind of perception you wish to project: cutting edge and hi-tech, or established and dependable?

Lastly, if you are considering getting a new TLD for an existing website, it’s vital you ensure you handle the transition correctly. Failing to properly redirect traffic from your original domain to your new one can have catastrophic results on your site’s search engine visibility. So, make sure whoever you get to do it knows what they’re doing (hint: we do!).

You might not have noticed but we’ve recently opted to get a new TLD for ourselves: .services. This allowed us a domain name that matches perfectly our company name: http://port80.services (although we are course still be accessible via our original port80services.com domain too).

So, if you have any questions about new TLDs, get in touch! We can give you all the info you need, reserve your new TLD domain and set it all up for you.

A full and regularly updated list of all available TLDs is maintained here.

It’s all gone Autumnal all of a Sudden

Well, summer is definitely over here in the Dordogne. We had our first frost last night and the wood burner has even been on throughout the day this week. We can’t really complain after such an amazing summer – easily the best we’ve known since moving here in 2009 – but it did seem to stop with quite a jolt.

Luckily for us, we’ve had a few things to keep us busy indoors lately. We recently put live a new website for an English-run gite based in Normandy, France, called Le Petit Rigault. It has an enquiry form and an availability calendar. Thanks to the integration of a nifty system called Cushy CMS, the owners are able to make changes to the site’s content themselves. It is also, like all the sites we produce, responsive.

In our previous post, we talked about the local association, Musique en Herbe, with whom we’ve become affiliated. We actually have two upcoming concerts with them so have a lot of rehearsing to do in the coming weeks. We also mentioned that they were in need of a website. Well, now they have one! It’s a responsive WordPress site that features YouTube videos of their concerts, as well as information on their music lessons. We’re pleased to report that the guys love it.

Speaking of, it’s rehearsal time now, so au revoir – and try to keep warm!

Summer in the Dordogne

We’re very ashamed to have left it so long between blog posts so here at last is some overdue news from Port 80. It’s hard to keep up with blogging during the summer months: so many activities happen in the area like vide-greniers, concerts and fetes – all of which we’ve been taking full advantage of with relish.

Every July, our local town of Saint Pardoux la Rivière throws a big party called La Nuit du Spardos which we never miss. The streets are thronged with stalls and live bands play into the night. The event gets its name for the mysterious drink, Spardos, which is ladled out of a giant vat by men dressed as monks. No, we’re not making this up – and believe us, whatever’s in there, it packs a punch!

Another reason for our recent silence is that we’re amateur musicians and usually perform a few small gigs every summer, so our spare time has been taken up with rehearsals. This has stepped up a notch this year as we’ve recently been adopted by a local association called Musique en Herbe.

They’re a lovely group of volunteers who offer free music lessons here in the Perigord vert and also put on concerts at local events. They have an Aladdin’s cave of a music studio that is crammed full of state-of-the-art equipment that allows them to put on very professional looking and sounding concerts, and we’re thrilled to get involved with them. We played a gig with them last weekend at Nontron’s annual Fête du Couteau and it was a great success despite unfortunately falling on the only drizzly day in a string of beautiful ones.

But it’s not been all play here in Mazeroux. Since our last update, we’ve introduced a few new businesses to the internet. These include Action Carp Fishing France, Infiniment Belle and Perth Lifecasting, all of whom took advantage of our Quick & Simple service to get online at a great price. We also redesigned the website of a local wedding photographer, Peter Antoine Photography.

There’s plenty more in the pipeline too: currently projects include an ecommerce website for a supplier of UK paints based in the Charente and a wordpress site for a ski instruction school in the Alps. And of course, what kind of web designers would we be if we didn’t help our new friends at Musique en Herbe get online? They don’t know it yet, but a modern and funky new site is underway for them as we speak… 🙂

What is responsive web design, and do I need it?

Responsive is the latest buzzword in web design. Put simply, a website that is responsive has been built so that its content (text, images etc) adapts automatically according to the size of the screen on which the site is viewed. The primary goal of this is to ensure that the website is as easy to read and navigate as possible for all visitors, whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet or PC.

Non-responsive websites still work on mobile devices, but users are forced to zoom in to be able to read the text and click on menu buttons, making their experience laborious and ultimately off-putting.

The arrival of the mobile device

When mobile devices first appeared on the scene, designers began to produce alternate versions of websites that were designed to deal with this problem. However, this was an imperfect solution for several reasons. First, there is the labour involved in creating and then maintaining 2 seperate sites.

Then there is the fact that the alternate site needs a separate address. Google and other search engines prefer all of your content to be accessed via the same website address. Finally, mobile versions are created to accommodate set screen sizes. This would be fine if all tablets or mobiles had the same dimensions, but there are hundreds of different devices out there, with more appearing all the time.

A Better way

A responsive design is fluid and when built properly, will adapt to literally any screen size. This means they’re forward compatible as well, for when Apple et al release yet new versions of their devices. They also allow all your content to be stored in the same site, accessible at the same address.
responsive web design
Example of responsive design: the Port 80 website homepage on a desktop, tablet and mobile.

Yes but does my website need to be responsive?

It’s no secret that mobile internet usage is exploding. In fact, research now shows that global mobile internet usage has now overtaken desktop for the first time.

Like it or not, mobile devices are the future of the web, and sites that are not optimised for them are missing out. Of course, every business is unique, as is their market segment. It may well be that for your particular line of work, all of your visitors use desktops and not tablets. But the trend is definitely moving away from desktop and towards mobiles, across all industries.

So, sooner or later, not having a responsive site could have a significant impact on the ability of your website to help your business grow.

Welcome to the all-new Port 80 Services!

Hello to you. If you’ve been to our site before, then you’ll probably have noticed that we’ve just undergone a major design overhaul. And if you havent, then welcome to Port 80 Services!

In our last blog post, we broke the news that at the end of 2014, we took over management of Colleen Sims web design, another web design service in the Dordogne area. Since then, we’ve been working hard on combining our different business models and on updating this website.

Here are the main changes that have taken place at Port 80 Services:

Web design

– We continue to offer the same bespoke web design service as before, but now all sites created will come with responsive functionality as standard. (“Responsive” means the design adapts according to the screen size, so sites display better on mobiles and tablets).

– Domain name and hosting fees for the first year are now included in the price!

– Collen Sims’ Quick and Simple websites option continues to be available. These sites are still custom designed, but are quicker (so cheaper) to produce because the design phase is left up to us. A 5 page, custom designed website is only 285€!

Hosting

– We now offer 2 different hosting plans: shared and private. Our shared option is ideal for the majority of websites. Sites are hosted on Heart Internet, one of the UK’s largest and best providers.

– For advanced websites (ie, sites with databases, online shops etc), our private plan sees your site hosted on a virtual private server with its own dedicated resources. We also perform security updates as part of the service.

Webmaster Services

– Due to popular demand, we now offer Webmaster services. This is a website security service covering things like 24/7 uptime monitoring, off-site back-ups, software updates and server configuration.

Apart from that, it’s business as usual here at port 80! Of course, if you have any questions about our new services, or our new website, please get in touch.