In many ways, launching an online business seems easy. For one thing, you can do the whole thing as a solopreneur — especially with so many resources now available to help you do so. You don’t need to pay for the overhead of a brick-and-mortar store. And you can reach a wide, geographically diverse audience.
But in reality, creating a successful online business can be just as challenging as launching a traditional store with a physical location. With so much competition, standing out from others in your niche can prove surprisingly difficult.
By following some key tips when building your online business, however, you can have confidence that things will work out the first time around.
1. Find a niche that truly leverages your expertise.
Niche communities are considered the future of social media — and in many ways, they represent the most likely path to success for online businesses as well. With so many other brands operating in your industry, you can’t expect to stand out if you try to be all things to all people.
The answer to finding a target audience that actively demands your services is to niche down. This can easily be seen in e-commerce and service brands alike. Rather than selling generic backpacks, you could focus on hiking packs. Instead of offering “marketing services,” you can focus on copywriting for law firms.
Serving a smaller audience may mean you have fewer potential customers, but it also limits competition. This can enhance your visibility and make it far easier to build your platform as a true industry expert.
To niche down successfully, consider your own areas of expertise, and then look for unfilled needs within your industry as a whole. Keyword research, online forums and even the websites of potential competitors can help you identify where there are currently gaps in the market.
2. Define your brand and messaging in advance.
A well-defined brand is going to be far more memorable to your target audience, helping you stand out and form emotional connections with your customers.
The importance of branding for online businesses became especially clear during a recent conversation with Mike L. Murphy, founder of The Visionary Planner. After working on such films as “The Lord of the Rings” and “Iron Man,” Murphy mentored animation students before developing a detailed system for building a stable online business. To date, he has helped build hundreds of brands with this system.
Planning branding and messaging is actually the second step in Murphy’s system for growing a successful online business — even coming before developing business processes and offers to gain customers. As he explained, compelling headlines and an apt description of the problems are important. But they must be delivered in a way that also establishes your credibility and fosters a meaningful connection with the target audience.
Defining your personal brand will influence everything from the platforms you advertise on to how you communicate with customers. Doing your due diligence here will guide the rest of your efforts in building out the brand.
3. Don’t skimp on web development.
As an online brand, you need to give your website the same level of attention and care that you would give a brick-and-mortar store. Research indicates that it only takes 50 milliseconds for your website to make its first impression on potential customers. Thirty-eight percent of users will actually abandon a website if they find it unattractive.
This makes quality web development and design an essential early investment. Consistent and simple navigation makes it easy to get around your site regardless of device. Ample white space with plain fonts and minimal graphics will help draw customers’ attention to the most important information.
Perhaps most importantly, you should ensure that your customers can buy from you in as few clicks as possible. The harder it is to buy, the harder it will be to gain their business. A well-designed site will get more interaction and ultimately help you rank better for SEO.
Launching a successful online business is a process that requires no small amount of preparation on your part. When you do your due diligence before you even begin trying to onboard clients, you will be far better positioned to make a positive impression and achieve the results you want.
Over the past 24 hours, 13 people were booked into the Tom Green County Detention Center. Below is a summary of the booking charges and the individual Tom Green County Detention Center records.
Charge categories (Note: several that have been taken into custody have multiple charges filed against them that fit into more than one general category. See the individual records for details)
- Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence: 1
- Evading Arrest or Detention with Previous Conviction: 1
- Resist Arrest, Search, or Transport: 1
- Unauthorized Absence Community Correction Facility: 1
- Burglary of a Habitation Intend Other Felony: 1
- Burglary of a Habitation: 1
- Theft of Property: 1
- Unauthorized Use of Vehicle: 1
- Manufacture Delivery of a Controlled Substance: 1
- Possession: 3
- Public Intoxication: 2
- Criminal Trespass: 1
- Driving with License Suspended with Previous Conviction: 1
- No Proof of Financial Responsibility: 1
- Junk Cars on Property: 1
- FTA: 1
- CPF: 2
- VPTA: 1
10-22-2021 – 4:09 am
41999999 PUBLIC INTOXICATION
10-22-2021 – 12:03 am
48010019 EVADING ARREST DET W/PREV CONVICTION
54999999 NO PROOF OF FINANCIAL
RESPONSIBILITY – SUBSEQUENT
71999999 JUNK CARS ON PROPERTY
MISC FTA X 3
MISC VPTA X 1
10-21-2021 – 11:09 pm
24110003 UNAUTH USE OF VEHICLE
10-21-2021 – 10:11 pm
23990193 THEFT PROP >=$750<$2,500
MISC CPF X4
10-21-2021 – 8:58 pm
57070020 *J/N*CRIMINAL TRESPASS
10-21-2021 – 5:27 pm
35990008 *MTR* MAN DEL CS PG 2 OR 2-A >=4G<400G
50130001 UNAUTH ABSENCE
COMMUNITY CORRECTION FACILITY
10-21-2021 – 1:23 pm
35620011 POSS MARIJ >5LBS<=50LBS
10-21-2021 – 1:58 pm
10-21-2021 – 1:13 pm
35990015 *MTR* POSS CS PG 1 >=1G<4G
10-21-2021 – 12:03 pm
54990067 DRIVING W/LIC INV W/PREV CONV/SUSP/W/O FIN RES
10-21-2021 – 10:02 am
35620008 *RPR* POSS MARIJ <2OZ
10-21-2021 – 8:50 am
22990002 BURGLARY OF HABITATION (F2)
22990003 BURGLARY HABITATION INTEND OTHER
MISC CPF X1
10-21-2021 – 8:22 am
41999999 PUBLIC INTOXICATION
10-21-2021 – 7:03 am
13990031 ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJURY FAMILY VIOLENCE
48010006 RESIST ARREST
SEARCH OR TRANSPORT
Disclaimer: Information presented on this website is collected, maintained, and provided for the convenience of the site visitor/reader. While every effort is made to keep such information accurate and up-to-date, the Tom Green County Detention Center can not certify the accuracy and/or authenticity of any information. The reader should not rely on this information in any manner. Under no circumstances shall Tom Green County, the Sheriff of Tom Green County, the web development supplier for Tom Green County Sheriff, the employees of Tom Green County nor the employees of Tom Green County Detention Center be liable for any decisions, actions taken or omissions made from reliance on any information contained herein from whatever source, nor shall the Tom Green County Detention Center be liable for any other consequences from any such reliance. *Booking and release times are approximate. These records are from the Tom Green County Jail system.
Source: Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office
Address: 122 W Harris Ave, San Angelo, TX 76903
Phone: (325) 659-6597
Below is a list of the top and leading Web Development in Atlanta. To help you find the best Web Development located near you in Atlanta, we put together our own list based on this rating points list.
Atlanta’s Best Web Development:
The top rated Web Development in Atlanta, GA are:
- M16 Marketing – assists clients in developing a successful strategy
- Vega Technologies LLC – offers special, effective, and result-driven brand solutions
- Atlanta Web Design Shop – is a professional web firm
- WebXperts Design, Inc – is a full-service, non-outsourcing agency founded in 1997
- Blue Light Labs Inc. – understands clients with huge ideas and goals
M16 Marketing assists clients in developing a successful strategy that is supported by a number of strategies such as responsive site design, UX, content production, SEO, PPC, and others. The Better Business Bureau has given M16 an A+ rating. They are a Google Partner who is trusted by both Google and their clients. M16 creates and promotes value by combining art and science.
They assist their clients in succeeding by providing best-in-class strategic, technical, creative, and business insight on a consistent basis. Relationships are important to all they do. They ensure that both parties in the marketing interaction, their clients and their customers, are familiar with one another.
Digital Strategy, Web Design, Content Development, SEO, Paid Ads, Social Media & More
“Don at M16 is top-notch! He is extremely knowledgeable and proved it during our initial proposal request call. He solved our issue within 15 minutes when our current company wanted to charge us 5-10 hours of work. He is professional, passionate, and cares about helping people. Highly recommend!” – Cory N.
Vega Technologies LLC
Vega Technologies LLC offers special, effective, and result-driven brand solutions that assist their clients in realizing the entire potential of their organization and increasing sales and brand awareness. Their quality, speed, efficiency, and consistency propel them to exceptional outcomes and, as a result, a successful project. They are unable to fine-tune their services without the assistance of these crucial elements.
Their customer’s success is crucial to them. They are the ones who inspire them to try something new and inventive every time. They strive to exceed their clients’ expectations and provide them with an outstanding digital experience.
Web Development, Front End, Digital Marketing
“Chris and his team are the best. From the beginning, there has been nothing but firm communication and structure in the planning and development of our project. I highly recommend them not only to construct your site and build your SEO but also for their character and willingness to get the job done.” – Alex S.
Atlanta Web Design Shop
Atlanta Web Design Shop is a professional web firm that specializes in high-quality, low-cost website development. They create experiences that change web presence, build businesses, and create a brand that drives sales by using captivating concepts. Atlanta Web Design Shop understands the level of service and devotion that should be anticipated.
When you work with Atlanta Web Design Shop, you can anticipate the highest quality service that a professional web design company should offer. Atlanta Web Design Shop is a full-service Web development agency that specializes in Internet marketing, graphic design, and website design and development.
Web Design & Development Services
“Atlanta Web Design Shop does quality work, so friendly and professional, and always completes work in a timely manner. No complaints at all! Only good experiences to share after working with them for 3 years + on client websites.” – Alice D.
WebXperts Design, Inc
WebXperts Design, Inc is a full-service, non-outsourcing agency founded in 1997 in Atlanta, Georgia. They believe that highly experienced, local personnel understands business needs better than offshore developers. They understand that achieving outcomes, accountability, and ethical business methods are the reasons they have been in business for almost two decades.
In terms of development, their organization follows the Agile Methodology. This allows their clients to see the project progress and provides them with an opportunity to submit input before the final result is delivered. Clients see them as partners on every project, and they take that honor seriously.
Development Services, Internet Services, Online Marketing, Branding & Design, 508 Compliant Conversion & Consulting
“I’ve known Elliot for several years now, and I’m very fortunate to have had the ability to reach out to him with ease. I needed my own website for my real estate business. He met with me several times to make sure we were on the same page with my ideas and needs. He gave me suggestions to better my ideas and he made a great site for me!” – Ashley B.
Blue Light Labs Inc.
Blue Light Labs Inc. has its own passion projects and creative endeavors, so they understand clients with huge ideas and goals. The most enjoyable aspect of their job is taking your concept and turning it into a working website in today’s web 3.0 environment. The primary goal is to have a well-designed website, but ensuring that your customers can find and experience your brand online is why a thorough digital marketing plan is so important.
At Blue Light Labs, motivation and drive are what allow ideas to come to fruition. They immerse themselves in every project, which is one of the reasons for their success over the previous 20 years.
Web Services & Marketing
“Great team to develop your website or make improvements.” – Benjamin B.
Shera Elliott graduated from the New Mexico State University with a major in biology and a minor in Biological Basis of Behavior & Health Care Management. Shera grew up in Los Angeles, but moved to Las Cruces for college. Shera has written for several major publications including the Albuquerque Journal and NPR. Shera is a community reporter and also covers stories important important to all Americans.
Today, the company has a few hundred employees distributed across Pakistan, Australia, Texas and Malaysia, but it continues to service startups of all sizes, says Bashir.
Omri Traub, CEO of e-commerce startup Popcart, told TechCrunch that their company has worked with Arbisoft since its early stages.
“We had access to top talent and, importantly, elasticity in hiring. If we wanted to add a developer, we could have an incredible one join our team in under one week,” said Traub. “It would have taken us weeks and months to recruit and hire a developer in Boston or the U.S.”
According to Anna Bailey, product manager at Volta Charging, “help [from Arbisoft] has allowed us to build reliably and at a large scale without having to burden our internal engineers.”
We spoke to Bashir to learn more about how Arbisoft works with its clients, most of whom “have either closed or are about to close Series A rounds,” he said. In our conversation, he discussed agile development, data science, customer and employee satisfaction.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.
Can you briefly tell us about your background and what inspired you to create Arbisoft?
Yasser Bashir: I was 10 when my father bought me and my brother a Commodore 64. In the little town that I grew up in, we were among the only three families that owned a computer. I know very few people who used one of those C-64 machines in the 80s and didn’t end up loving computers or computer science. I was no exception. I went on to get an undergraduate degree in computer science from the top CS school in my home country and later ended up at Stanford University for a graduate degree.
Each of those steps paved the way, in one way or another, toward a career in computing in general and the creation of a technology company in particular.
In 2007, I, along with a few other colleagues, founded Arbisoft because we loved solving a variety of computing problems rather than staying close to one particular domain or technology vertical. We felt it was much easier to do that in a software services company than a software product company.
In addition to our love for software development, we also had strong ideas on the kind of culture that would likely inspire smart people to do their best in a technology-focused organization. Arbisoft is a manifestation of many of those ideas.
How has Arbisoft evolved since its creation 13 years ago, and and how did it grow?
What started with three people in 2007 is now one of the most successful software companies in our region. We have almost 750 people, mostly engineering staff, and we are software development partners for many organizations that are leaders in their verticals, including KAYAK, MIT, edX, Insurify and many others.
Almost all of our growth has been organic; companies that have had a great experience of outsourcing their software development needs to us strongly recommend our services to others. Not surprisingly, we consistently get a net promoter score of 75 or above from our customers in our biannual NPS surveys. Our growth is a direct consequence of our customers promoting us to others.
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How is your team structured?
Arbisoft is structured as a network of independent, cross-functional teams. Each team is typically working on just one client project at any given time. We strongly believe in autonomous, self-managed teams that are agile and constantly evolving to improve their effectiveness.
Among the many books that have shaped my thinking on organizational structures, one of the most important is Frédéric Laloux’s “Reinventing Organizations.” His concepts for Teal organizations are very ambitious — sometimes overly idealistic — but definitely paint a picture of an organization that is way more evolved than the majority of companies in the world today. In shaping our team structures, we have borrowed many ideas from the book.
What range of services do you provide? Why did you choose to go full-stack and beyond?
Our range of services, by virtue of our size, is pretty wide. We provide full-stack web and mobile app development, DevOps for cloud computing, machine learning, AI, UI/UX/product design, project management, and manual and automated software QA. Basically, we provide most, if not all, of the services that may be needed by a modern tech startup to get to a production-ready solution. Beyond launch, we continue to support our customers with maintenance, bug fixing and new feature development.
Among your clients, at what stages are the startups that you work with? How early-stage can they be?
We work with startups across all stages of their evolution, but more typically with ones that have either closed or are about to close Series A rounds. There is no restriction on the startup stage as such though. For the right idea, we can start at its very inception.
How do you build trust with your clients that make them potentially willing to rely on Arbisoft for all of their engineering needs?
Openness and transparency are fundamental enablers of the trust our clients have in us. We make sure we represent our capabilities exactly how they are so that we can set the right expectations and exceed them whenever possible. Our teams working on client projects are seamlessly embedded into the clients’ own teams and, for all practical purposes, work as if they are a part of the clients’ business.
Vulnerability also plays a role in building that trust — when we make mistakes, we are open about sharing them and learning from them, so that they are not repeated. Other agile principles help too but blameless retros are probably the most effective tool in openly discussing and learning from mistakes.
Can you tell us more about the data side of Arbisoft?
For quite a few of our customers, our primary service is collecting, cleaning, analyzing and presenting data. We have developed deep expertise in libraries and frameworks that assist with our data science practice. From the get-go (no pun intended), Python was one of our go-to languages. Luckily, Python is one of the strongest languages for dealing with data. Libraries like Scrapy, NumPy, Pandas, SciPy, Plotly, etc. come in really handy for all of our data science needs and we have pretty deep expertise in them.
You also built solutions such as Edly, ListenTool and more — can you tell us about these and why you are doing it?
That’s a great question. Considering that Arbisoft is a reasonably sized organization now, we often need technology to manage our processes more efficiently and maintain our leadership position as a software services provider. When we are unable to find a good match for our needs, we build solutions to solve our own problems. If it works for us, we then productify the solution so it can solve similar problems for other organizations.
For example, we built ListenTool because Arbisoft is big on frequent, instance-based feedback. We built Edly because we found ourselves frequently building custom learning management systems (LMS) for our customers and it seemed natural to abstract many of the complexities of an online learning solution into a customizable product offering.
This has been a successful strategy and we are likely to continue building such products in the future as well. We are also spinning off some of these products into organizations that can sustain and grow themselves independently of Arbisoft.
Why do you have offices in Texas, Australia and Malaysia in addition to Pakistan, and what are the advantages of this setup and locations?
Most of these locations are front offices closer to where our customers are. Since 80% of our customers are in the U.S., it really helps to have a presence on the ground. We have our customers nicely distributed between the West Coast (San Francisco) and East Coast (New York and Boston) so having an office in the middle optimizes time overlap and travel. Our customers can get the high availability and service quality of an onshore provider with the cost and other benefits of an offshore operation. It’s the best of both worlds.
Pakistan’s tech scene seems to be taking off. What has been your involvement with it personally, and what impact does this growing ecosystem have for Arbisoft if any?
I have been very involved with the startup and tech ecosystem in the country since its inception. It is indeed taking off like a rocket ship right now, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. This year, startups raised more funding than all of the previous years combined. Arbisoft is excited because many of these startups need technology services, and therefore, we have a new and exhilarating market at our disposal. We have a great brand and most businesses look at Arbisoft as one of the most reliable and dependable technology partners they can hope to have. So the demand for our services has surged by an order of magnitude.
What are some arguments for Arbisoft to attract and retain talent?
Arbisoft is known for having a great organizational culture — we care deeply about our people and create opportunities for them to constantly learn and grow their capabilities. I’d have to say that is the primary reason people come to Arbisoft and stay. We have one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry. When people do leave, it’s usually for opportunities outside the country or ambitions like higher education. Invariably, you will find Arbisoft alumni to be our best ambassadors, who are not only helping us find new talent to replace them but also redirecting new business to us.
Holden University Center of Lakeland Community College expands partnership with Franklin University – News-Herald
The Holden University Center of Lakeland Community College recently expanded its partnership with Columbus-based Franklin University, adding more than 30 bachelor’s degree programs to its current offering.
Franklin University has been a partner since Holden’s inception.
“Over the past 10 years, 79 baccalaureate degrees have been awarded to Franklin students in the partnership program, many of whom double majored,” said Holden Director Kristina Willey. “We are excited to expand the program offerings for our students opting to continue their education close to home in Lake County.”
Franklin University programs offered through Holden University Center include:
• College of Arts, Sciences and Technology: Bachelor of Science in communications, computer science, cyber security, information systems, information technology, interactive media design, psychology, public relations, social sciences and web development
• Ross College of Business: Bachelor of Science in accounting, applied management, business administration, business forensics, energy management, entrepreneurship, financial management, financial planning, forensic accounting, human resource management, logistics management, management and leadership, marketing, and operations and supply chain management
• College of Health and Public Administration: Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, emergency management and homeland security, exercise science, health education and promotion, health information management, healthcare management, nursing (RN-BSN), public administration, public safety management and leadership, and sport management
• School of Education: Bachelor of Science in primary education (PK-5), adolescence to young adult educations (7-12), middle childhood education (4-9), and intervention specialist: mild-moderate (K-12)
“Franklin is committed to removing barriers to education and Lakeland’s Holden University Center exemplifies that commitment,” said Bill Chan, Franklin University senior vice president of strategic alliances.
“We are proud of our transfer partnership with Lakeland since 1999 overall and the Holden University Center over the past decade,” he added. “We are eager to offer even more programs to Lake County. Lakeland students come to us prepared and they succeed.”
Through the partnership programs, many of Lakeland’s associate degree pathways are considered recommended paths of study for Franklin’s programs.
Once all Lakeland requirements have been met, students will be required to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of Franklin University courses through Lakeland’s Holden University Center to complete their bachelor’s degree. To learn more visit lakelandcc.edu/franklin.
Holden University Center was built in response to the community’s request for accessibility to higher education.
Since 2011, the center has brought 23 bachelor’s degree programs, 13 graduate degree programs, eight graduate certificates and endorsement, one doctoral program, and lifelong learning opportunities from 12 university partners.
Those are Bowling Green State University, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Franklin University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, Notre Dame College, University of Akron, Ursuline College, and Youngstown State University.
To learn more, call 440-525-7535 or visit lakelandcc.edu/uc.
PCMag has long reviewed and recommended third-party productivity apps that help you focus on your work, and now Windows 11’s new Alarms & Clock app provides some of the same key functions in its Focus Sessions feature. Focus Sessions encourages you to set aside time for work that requires uninterrupted, deep focus. It’s excellent to see this type of feature included with an operating system, and this feature is off to a good start. As you’ll see, however, there are some capabilities we’d like to see added.
Here’s an overview of the new Alarms & Clock app and instructions for how to get going with Focus Sessions.
Introducing the All-New Alarms & Clock App
Microsoft put a surprising amount of effort into something as seemingly mundane as a clock app. Clock apps have been around forever on both mobile and desktop operating systems and are usually no more than a clock face, alarm, timer, and stopwatch. Being a productivity and workplace vendor as well as just an OS vendor, Microsoft decided to include more than those basic functions.
The company was so pleased with the results that they made Focus Sessions the very top choice in the new app.
Before we dive in to Focus Sessions, here’s how the other four components of the app—Timer, Alarm, Stopwatch, and World Clock—look:
With that out of the way, let’s move on to the real value-add of the app, Focus Sessions.
How to Use Windows 11 Focus Sessions
- Start the Alarms & Clock app. You may have to wait for it to update, as I did.
- Select Get Started. Next you’ll see a dashboard-style screen.
- Pick a number of minutes for your Focus Session. The minimum option is 30 minutes. If you choose that amount, the app doesn’t allocate any time for breaks. You simply work for 30 minutes straight. If you choose 45 minutes or more, the app automatically schedules a five-minute break about midway through your session. Note you can always skip breaks with a checkbox option, although breaks are vital to working productively.
- Customize your Settings. Open the app Settings page from the three-dot overflow menu at the top of the timer tile. Here you can change the default focus period and break time lengths in case they don’t suit your needs. You can also disable or change the sounds that mark the end of a session and end of each break.
The Settings also has an area for customizing notifications from other connected apps (more on connected apps in a moment) but I’m disappointed that selecting this option takes you out to the main Windows Settings where you adjust notifications permanently. You can’t, for example, squelch notifications just for the Focus Session. While this is a first version of the feature, Windows shouldn’t make you change your notifications for the system as a whole. It should just be for the session. It should also disable specified apps, and maybe clear the desktop of distracting icons (which you can do by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting View > Show Desktop Icons, which I find very focusing).
Start working! When you launch a focus session, the app starts counting down with a shrinking circle showing how much time is left. A Stop button lets you interrupt your session. You can shrink the Alarms & Clock app to a small tile at the top right of the screen.
- Connect Spotify. Not everyone has a Spotify account, but a lot of people do, yours truly included. I like to work with a Spotify Daily playlist that I’ve honed for good work background music over the past couple years. When you connect Spotify to Focus Sessions, you get access to not only your own playlists, but also the service’s Deep Focus playlist and other appropriate ones. You still have to open the Spotify app to navigate it fully, but you get buttons to stop and start from the Focus Sessions tile. When your session ends, the music abruptly stops, letting you know you can carry on with your life outside the task.
Connect Microsoft To Do App. You can use Focus Sessions without signing into a Microsoft account (for those who freak out about having to sign into a Microsoft account), but if you do sign in, you can integrate the app with Microsoft To Do. This way, you get a panel listing your tasks from that app, and when you hover the cursor over a task, you can choose to start a focus session. The task isn’t automatically marked as completed when the session ends (which is good because working on a task doesn’t mean you’ve finished it), but the option is right there in the app, so it’s easy enough to mark it complete. It might be nice, though, to see an automated prompt asking if you want to mark your task complete at the end of a session.
- Track your progress. Focus Sessions isn’t just a one-and-done activity. The app tracks how many sessions you complete. You can set a daily goal for how many Focus Sessions you want to complete, and the app reports your success in the form of a Streak, meaning how many consecutive days you reached your goal.
What’s Missing from Focus Sessions?
For a completely free included perk, the Focus Sessions feature is a welcome addition to Windows. Still, there are some improvements I’d like to see. I wish it had the option to automatically prevent notifications during Focus Sessions. It should turn on Windows’ Focus Assist mode directly, rather than make you go into the Settings. A setting to disable all but specified apps and websites would be helpful, too. A bonus would be the ability for it to enforce Microsoft Word’s Focus view, which removes all distractions from the desktop. Finally, integration with the Microsoft To Do app could be strengthened with automatic task completion prompts, and integration with third party task apps like Todoist would be even better.
For more coverage of features and news about Microsoft’s new operating system, head to PCMag’s Windows 11 page.
The customer experience is becoming more and more important for all companies and industries. Your initiatives can involve endless tasks, from rescuing customers to improving employee training, innovating products, optimizing surveys and more.
No matter how varied your customer experience (CX) efforts may be, they have a few things in common: They all require transformational change — sometimes across your entire company — and they all have to drive business outcomes to keep your program growing.
These changes are no easy undertaking, but there are five steps you can take to best position yourself for success.
1/Assemble a team with authority.
The first step to making impactful changes in your customer experience is involving people with the authority to make those changes happen. When creating a CX action team, you should ask yourself these questions:
• Which teams are involved in this initiative? (If it’s website related, then it should include the web development, creative, and marketing teams.)
• Who on these teams can allocate resources and get things moving? (Project managers, team leaders, etc.)
The team members who come to mind are the ones you need to invite to your next meeting as soon as possible
2/Select the proper metrics.
It really can’t be overstated: It’s less to do with what metrics you track, and more to do with which metrics will drive business outcomes and impact the specific CX effort you’re targeting. But what does that mean? The right metrics should:
• Be present throughout the entire journey, not just a single touchpoint.
• Tie into business goals. What are you trying to achieve for your business?
• Involve financial outcomes to help you prove effectiveness (because money talks, right?).
3/Collect contest & detail.
This step really has two parts: When you uncover an issue in your data, you need to collect context both internally and externally.
- Internally: Bring together the people inside your organization who know the most about your CX project.
For example, if it’s a web design issue, you should discuss with your website team to understand why certain decisions were made and what options exist to remedy the problem. At the same time, you should talk to the call center, who can add even more context to the discussion.
• Externally: Scores can only tell you so much. Make sure that your feedback method (surveys, etc.) directs customers to leave unstructured feedback. When you allow customers to tell you what happened in their own words, you are opening the door to deeper, more informed understanding.
4/Leverage great data tools.
To get the right data and intelligence, you need to be using the right tools, but how do you choose? There are plenty of “data tools” that promise to ingest feedback and pop out “insights,” but to be honest, those insights simply aren’t enough.
For your data tools to be truly valuable, they need to deliver more than insights; they need to provide recommendations that enable actions. You have to be able to cut through the noise to find what key drivers are really affecting your business. Then, your data will give you the advice you need to make changes and deliver real outcomes.
After you’ve taken the steps, assembled the team, and acted on your intelligence comes the final stage of transformation: Did your efforts work? Proving the effectiveness of CX initiatives has become the holy grail of the industry, with so many practitioners struggling to put up the numbers.
Luckily, we’ve come up with a list of ways you can prove the worth of your efforts. Check your data to see if your initiative helped to:
- Acquire new customers;
- Retain existing customers;
- Cross-sell or upsell products; and,
- Minimize internal costs.
If your plans are executed well, you will be able to affect more than one of these categories and transform your business.
Jim Katzman is principal of CX strategy and engagement at InMoment.
This article will explain the ins and outs of Magento 2 migration, and why it’s a good idea to consider Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration now. We’ll try to help you understand if the move makes sense for your specific business. We’ll also describe the standard migration process by breaking it down into the tasks involved and the likely amount of time the migration process will take.
The Magento team terminated official support of the platform’s first version in June 2020. Yet the number of stores that are still up and running on Magento 1 is quite high. So should these business owners be thinking about Magento 2 migration?
The Benefits of Magento
Magento is a platform used for building highly customized and large ecommerce stores.
Although it has a rather complex architecture (which explains its tricky development and maintenance), the platform offers practically no limits when it comes to building something custom and unique. As a result, it offers a lot more than other ecommerce platforms such as Shopify.
Magento is an extremely versatile platform, where you can implement any functionality you like. Yes, it requires a team of experienced developers. But whether it’s boosting site speed, enhancing the search, reworking the design, or building a Magento 2 PWA, site improvements using progressive technology can certainly make a change for the better — even if we’re talking about “heavy” stores with non-standard design and non-typical storefronts.
Issues Surrounding Magento 2 Migration
The major point of contention surrounding Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration is that Magento 1 and Magento 2 have very little in common. And if a store is up on Magento 1 (usually a big one that’s been operating online for years), it will take a lot of effort and time to migrate it to Magento 2.
Whether you like it or not, most of the code will need to be rewritten. And you’ll have to deal with Magento extensions, plugins, compatibility issues, data migration, and so forth — all which is very challenging.
Intimidated by the complex, lengthy process and the possible costs involved, it’s no wonder numerous store owners have decided to postpone their Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration. Many have even started to look for other, less complex platforms to move to instead. Others are choosing to leave things as they are.
But sticking with Magento 1 isn’t recommended. Investing in Magento 2 migration makes sense for one reason in particular, which was mentioned above: the official Magento team has decided to terminate support for Magento 1. This means that, from June 2020, there will be no more security patches, no more updates — nothing. As a result, Magento 1.x is becoming more and more out of date by the month.
The Advantages of Magento 2 Migration
There’s no reason an online store can’t function perfectly well on Magento 1. But there are increasing disadvantages and risks in relying on outdated software. Security is becoming more and more of an issue, so it’s important to keep a site up to date for that reason alone — especially when you’re handling credit cards. And outdated software is less and less compatible with the modern code environments in which online stores live.
By migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2, site owners can mitigate large data leaks and credit card fines with a timely upgrade from an outdated platform.
Moreover, the migration can mean that it’s time for:
- a redesign according to recent design trends and a new store look (since moving the old theme will take almost as long as creating a fresher one from scratch)
- getting rid of loads of unnecessary data and unused logs
- enhancing the store with new advanced features and Magento extensions
- rebuilding the storefront to a progressive web application to reach utmost site optimization and a better user experience
As you can see, Magento 2 migration can be an opportunity to change things for the better — especially keeping in mind how sweepingly m-commerce is picking up steam.
Should I Upgrade to Magento 2 Now?
If you’re a Magento 1 store owner who’s in two minds whether it’s worth it or not, you have to understand how Magento 2 migration will affect your business and how much it will cost. So take some time to give answers to the following six questions.
1. Do you lack any features that Magento 1 doesn’t have?
Magento 1 is a long-established platform with plenty of extensions, themes, and ready-to-use solutions that you can implement right away. Unfortunately, core Magento is no longer receiving new features.
In addition to that, Magento 1 extension developers won’t be updating their products to add new features. Your only alternative is developing the required functionality yourself.
2. Will you migrate to Magento 2 eventually?
Most businesses will move to Magento 2 eventually. They just want to delay this move for one reason or another. But you have to understand that staying with Magento 1 will cost you a lot of money in terms of support and development. And the longer you wait, the more you might eventually end up spending.
3. Does your store’s design look up to date?
If your design patterns are outdated and don’t meet online retail requirements anymore, it’s reasonable to update your website design along with Magento 2 migration, eliminating a vast amount of work. Maybe currently your website has many UXUI mistakes you want to fix? It’s counter-productive to spend money on a Magento 1 store if you’re going to spend more money on a Magento 2 migration sooner or later.
And if your store’s mobile version is far from perfect (such as being slow, not user-friendly, hard to navigate, and so on), you’re already losing sales.
With Magento 2, it’s possible to build progressive web applications that optimize your store’s mobile and desktop versions. PWAs work fast and can have UX and UI that look a lot like a native application. For example, check out the series of screenshots below, illustrating mobile-friendly layouts.
Screenshots taken on the official Pet City website
4. Are you satisfied with your store’s performance?
The illusion of stability has been the downfall of a lot of successful businesses. Move with the times. Plan ahead.
Again, mobile sales are currently going up. Therefore, rethink your store to stay competitive and improve conversions across all devices.
Also, bear in mind the Core Web Vitals changes that Google has recently introduced. Now, site usability highly influences your store’s ranking and can impact your SEO.
5. Do you want to implement new features in the future?
If there’s a chance you’ll want to add new features to your store in future, it’s worth investing in a new Magento 2 store, which will be much more future-proof. Anything you spend on Magento 1 at this stage will be wasted to some extent. Online stores are already implementing new technology that helps them sell additionally.
We’re talking AI-powered chatbots, product builders, virtual try-on, and so much more.
Screenshot taken on the official Mary Kay website
6. Do you feel concerned about payment data security?
If you’re not concerned about payment data security, you should be! Magento 2 is now more secure, less buggy, and more predictable than Magento 1. The focus of the Magento community has long switched to Magento 2. Magento 1 gets less attention every year, which means fewer bug fixes, worse security, more liability for you as a business that handles customer data.
Besides, in the long run, it will be impossible to use PayPal checkouts, as well as the checkout of other PCI-compliant systems, if your Magento store hasn’t got this feature in its toolkit.
Food for Thought
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these six questions, it’s better to upgrade sooner than later. The longer you wait, the more expensive the Magento 2 migration becomes. You get fewer developers who offer Magento 1 support, fewer hosting options for stores that need older PHP versions, more security liabilities, and so on.
How Long Does Magento 2 Migration Take?
How long a Magento 2 migration will take depends on a lot of factors. Each case is individual, since all stores differ in size, design, feature stack, functionality, and so on. However, on average, the entire process takes somewhere around six to ten months. In the next section, we present a checklist that will help you plan out a Magento migration and determine how long the migration process might take.
A Brief Magento 1 to Magento 2 Migration Checklist
Here’s a short Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration checklist. It can help you get a better understanding of the standard process. The given timeframes are an estimate, as every migration project varies based on the store’s peculiarities.
Stage 1: Creating a Magento 2 Migration Plan
Of course, the very first step is devoted to planning the Magento 2 migration and the other works ahead. This is a very individual matter.
The scope of work ahead may seem immense. So, in order not to waste time and organize the future process properly, make sure to make a detailed list and set your priorities.
As an initial step, you should define your store from a technical perspective. Which features does it have? What modules does it use? What storefront theme is chosen? Would you like to make amendments to rework the customer journey?
By answering these questions and breaking down what you have now, you can determine which parts are essential, what needs to be changed, and what you can get rid of. This will help to estimate the required hours you’ll need for various specialists. We’re talking about creating new custom solutions, making a new design, and the hours for the migration itself.
Planning the Magento 2 migration with your specialists can take 50 to 100 hours.
Stage 2: Magento 2 UX and Store Layout
Every migration is a perfect opportunity to make changes for the better. It’s possible that your current design isn’t flawless in terms of usability. And usability does influence conversions. Thus, you can and should use this migration opportunity to improve navigation and the store’s layout in general.
User experience is the first point to rethink. What can be changed? Maybe you’d like to optimize your store even more to fit the needs of mobile shoppers? Or perhaps you can improve the look of your category and product pages by adding more user-friendly elements and a better navigation. Do you face the issue of abandoned carts at the checkout phase?
It obviously depends on what you have now and what you’d like to enhance. To understand that, you might need to:
- analyze the sales funnel and review underperforming sections
- make optimizations for the checkout and search capabilities
- develop mobile-first features and functionality
- implement personalization and re-marketing improvements
When you have a clear idea about your pain points and what you’re aiming at, the designers begin working on wireframes (each tailored to a specific device). This also includes time spent on reviewing and improving the currently used elements, menu, and navigation.
Usually, this stage takes about 100 hours. Indeed, it’s easy to expand the time spent on this stage when you add in other important goals. On the contrary, you can cut back if you opt for a ready-made Magento theme that answers to your needs instead of assigning this responsibility to a designer.
Stage 3: Crafting Designs for Mobile, Tablet, and Desktop
Even if you want your new store to look the same as the old one, there’s still a lot of work to be done. You have to understand that Magento 1 and Magento 2 are extremely different platforms, and it’s impossible to just move the old design to the new store without work.
It takes time and effort to carefully export and then import all the graphical elements from one store to another. Again, this can mean that it’s time for a thorough website redesign.
During the last few years, ecommerce has changed a lot. For example:
- stores get rid of bland or white backgrounds in favor of images that occupy huge parts of your screen
- stock photos or just modest-looking images get replaced with highly recognizable photos of brands and their products
- these images not only look good but are also designed to produce a bright emotional response from the customers
- the new store design is not afraid to experiment with extremely bright colors, animations, and eye-catching styles
There are still many stores with an old look, but there’s no reason to be one of them. Just keep in mind that there are drawbacks to that approach.
If you opt for a brand new design made especially for your store (rather than an out-of-the-box theme), add about 150–200 hours for the designers. Once again, there’s a workaround to reduce these hours: customizing a ready-made theme instead of redesigning the whole website from scratch.
Stage 4: Development (front end and back end)
After the designs are ready, the developers come in. Front-end and back-end development times depend on the number of third-party Magento 2 extensions you need to install in your store, the complexity of the Magento theme, the number of customizations and integrations.
Then there’s data migration that’s also no easy task. Finally, the process is finished with post-release tweaks and bug fixes.
Most development time is spent in the following areas.
Magento 2 Extensions
- finding and installing third-party Magento 2 extensions for your store to replace those used on Magento 1
- checking if these Magento extensions are compatible with one another
- creating new extensions for the functionality you can’t find in the Magento Marketplace
- testing how they work together and fixing incompatibility issues
Other Magento 2 migration tasks that take time
- creating new features that follow the designs
- creating custom functionality
- implementing any other front-end and back-end changes
- moving databases and logs
- configuring the server
- testing, and making sure the store works well on all devices
- testing the store again after the Magento 2 migration is complete.
The question of Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration will occur at some point, most probably very soon. Magento 1 hasn’t been supported officially for over a year at the time of writing, and is slowly “decaying”.
The bottom line is that Magento 1 will only get harder to maintain. So, to safeguard your online store, enhance its feature set, optimize its performance, and upgrade the look, it makes sense to start thinking about Magento 2 migration. And if your store is highly customized and massive, Magento 2 is your best choice.
In terms of migration deadlines, you can keep in mind a very rough estimate of six to eight months. But each case is individual, meaning that it varies based on how large and complex the store is initially, how big the planned changes are (apart from moving what you had), and which team you hire for the job.
Around 1,500 Cobalt Strike beacons uploaded to VirusTotal were reusing the same RSA keys from a cracked version of the software, according to a security researcher who pored through the malware repository.
The discovery could make blue teams’ lives easier by giving them a clue about whether or not Cobalt Strike traffic across their networks is a real threat or an action by an authorised red team carrying out a penetration test.
Didier Stevens, the researcher with Belgian infosec firm NVISO who discovered that private Cobalt Strike keys are being widely reused by criminals, told The Register: “While fingerprinting Cobalt Strike servers on the internet, we noticed that some public keys appeared often. The fact that there is a reuse of public keys means that there is a reuse of private keys too: a public key and a private key are linked to each other.”
Around 25 per cent (1,500) of Cobalt Strike samples observed by Stevens used a single shared key pair, he said.
Stevens’ discovery came about after he searched Google-owned malware repository VirusTotal for files containing Cobalt Strike key file, .cobaltstrike.beacon_key. In a blog post on NVISO’s website, he detailed how he and his team had found six cloned key pairs lurking on VirusTotal.
Cobalt Strike was originally released as a penetration testing tool, as summarised by Cisco Talos, which pointed out its use by internet criminals in 2020. One of the software’s main features is its beacons: malware simulation payloads inserted into target networks.
Inevitably, malicious people became interested in what an adversary simulation platform could do in their hands and it wasn’t long before the software began presenting a genuine threat – with Cobalt Strike’s authors writing a blog post in 2013 titled “How to crack Cobalt Strike AND backdoor it.” (The post does also suggest that leaked versions may include a backdoor for its original authors, not that this seems to have deterred online criminals from using cracked versions of the software in later years.)
Legitimate installations of Cobalt Strike generate their own RSA key pair on first run of the server software, Stevens told El Reg. Thus the reuse of key pairs shows that a number of malicious people are using a cracked version – and the presence of that particular key pair can flag up signs of malicious activity to alert blue teams.
“We were wondering what could possibly explain key reuse,” said Stevens. “One of the hypotheses was reuse of file .cobaltstrike.beacon_keys because of cracked software… We did a search on VirusTotal for ZIP files containing file .cobaltstrike.beacon_keys, and found private keys that match the recurring public keys we observed.”
He intends to write further blogs explaining how network defenders can use the half-dozen identified key pairs to rapidly identify signs of network compromise.
Vanja Svajcer, outreach researcher at Cisco Talos, told The Register: “Cobalt Strike has become a de-facto standard, almost Swiss army knife of a post-exploitation tool used by a wide variety of actors, both legitimate and malicious. As such, any discovery related to better detection of Cobalt Strike is likely to be significant.”
Svajcer added: “The good news is that any Cobalt Strike communication using these known keys can be outright blocked as malicious. However, one could argue that any detected Cobalt Strike communication, even the one using ‘legitimate’ keys, should be immediately blocked as it indicates a potentially serious breach of a network.”
Legit keys for Cobalt Strike sell for $3,500 per seat at list price. Given ransomware gangs’ eight-figure revenues, buying a legitimate copy to crack wouldn’t even register as a cost of doing business.
The Council of Europe and the Hungarian presidency of its Committee of Ministers are organising an online international conference on 26 October to discuss the challenges governments face to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) in a coordinated manner.
To be held under the theme “Current and Future Challenges of Coordinated Policies on AI Regulation“, the event will showcase various AI governance models and examine the interplay between national policies and the work of the Council of Europe and other organisations.
One of the main contributions of the Council of Europe in this field is the work of the intergovernmental AI expert body CAHAI, which is examining the development of an international legal framework for the development, design and application of artificial intelligence based on the Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule.
Representatives of international organisations, national policy experts, IT companies, civil society and academia will discuss the way to improve AI policymaking at the global, regional and national level. They will also examine case studies on best practices of AI governance and discuss issues such as the possible long-term societal effects of AI and the sustainable development of AI applications.
Opening speakers at the event include Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, President of Parliamentary Assembly Rik Daems, the minister of Justice of Hungary, Judit Varga, and the State Secretary for Security Policy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Hungary, Péter Sztáray.
A live webcast will be available on the conference website.
The event starts at 10.00 a.m. and will conclude at 5.45 p.m. CEST.