Obamacare Web Developer Grilled over HIPAA Privacy Clause in Source Code

The company hired to develop the now infamous Obamacare website CGI Inc, has taken a lot of heat for a clause in their source code that claims any information that is entered on the website is not private. This has obviously caused a stir-up in Congress and several Congressmen have spoken up.

According to cnsnews.com, Republican Joe Barton says that this clause was a violation of the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act or HIPAA that states any medical and health information of U.S. citizens is private under HIPAA. Barton sounded off on Cheryl Campbell, SVP of CGI and it was ugly. He put her on the spotlight as she stumbled over her words trying to construct a valid response.

Democrat Frank Pallone objected saying that the information required to sign up for Obamacare does not include health or medical data. Pallone claimed that this was just another stunt by Republicans to discourage people that were planning on signing up for Obamacare.

Many web developers are criticizing CGI being that they were paid a large amount of money to develop a flawed site and perhaps an illegal site. Either way this provision, (hidden from applicants by the way) does not give privacy to the applicant’s information. It’s important for web developers to remember all U.S. laws when developing any website (especially one designed for the United States Government). Having a lead developer with the tools to recognize all aspects of the project is key in any web development process. Whether you agree with Barton or Pallone, many of us are left wondering what else is hidden in the source code on some of your favorite websites. Be sure to choose carefully when you hire a web development firm.

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Design Your Homepage So Visitors Have Access To 5 Important Things

Some people get lucky. It seems like their blog takes off overnight and starts making them lots of money. When people start out blogging they usually have one particular dream. To run a profitable business from anywhere in the world while only working a few hours per week. If you want to be like the successful people there’s something simple you can do. It doesn’t matter what you talk about, or even the way you make money. It’s something much more simpler than that. You need to get the design of your homepage as close to perfect as possible.

Your homepage is going to be one of the busiest pages on your site. When people land on it you need to draw them in. You can’t expect to be successful if most people are reaching your website and turning away. There’s certain options you need to have available to them. Options they can choose from and get a much better understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s a little like fishing. There’s little pieces of bait you leave on the homepage and it’s much easier to get a catch. If you’re interested in knowing what the bait is we can look at them now.

Stare here

Everyone landing on your site might not have any idea what it’s about. That means you need a dedicated page that will bring them up to speed and you need to link to it in your main navigation bar. If your blog is dedicated to a certain topic you’ll have covered some very important lessons at various points in time. All of these articles need to be found and someone new to your site won’t look through all of your archives. Your ‘start here’ page is the perfect place to teach people everything they need to know.

Contact me

It’s annoying when you turn up at a website and there’s no way to get in contact with the webmaster. If you do this to other people they might turn around and find someone else they can send their question to. That could mean you have just lost a customer for life. A contact page doesn’t need to be complicated. You only need a basic form with the essential fields the person needs to fill out.

Opt-in form

You can’t expect to build a business these days if you’re not trying to build your email list. To do that you need to have an opt-in form on the top of your right-hand sidebar. When people land on your site and want to know more they will put in their details and allow you to contact them. You can make this more attractive by offering them a free gift. They won’t give you their email for nothing.

Popular articles

When you look in a lot of sidebars you will see people advertising their recent articles. This is crazy. If people want to see your recent articles they’ll be on the first page. They won’t even have to look for them. You need to show everyone your most popular articles. They are obviously the articles that the greatest majority of the people enjoy. It makes sense that new visitors to your site might enjoy them too.

About me

People need to know about you if you plan on getting great results. There’s a lot of shady people on the Internet these days and people are much more open to buying from you if they know who you are. Your ‘about me’ page should serve 2 main purposes. First, you need to tell people what they can expect by reading your site. Tell them what’s in it for them. Then you can talk about yourself and let people know you. Some won’t like you, but who cares about them? The rest will like you more because they can put a face to your name.

Mary Gonzalez is a web designer by profession but blogging has always been her passion. In her articles she advises webmasters about the importance of appropriate website design and therefore recommends the use of excellent admin templates.

Designing Your Website From a Business Perspective

               

When you design your first website or help your web design company to do so, this can be a lot of fun and very exciting. Most likely you have some kind of plans and vision for your website and you probably know in your mind’s eye precisely how you want it to look. While this is all very nice though, it does create a danger that you might end up forgetting the practical aspect of your website. A website is of course first and foremost a business asset, and chances are that you are designing it either to be monetized, or so that you can promote your business.

Thus it’s important to make sure that you don’t get too carried away with the fun of it all, and that you remember to stay grounded and make sure that it’s actually going to work in this business capacity. Enjoy yourself by all means, but remember to be realistic from time to time too. Here we will look at a few things to check and ask yourself when designing your website to ensure it will be efficient at making you money.

What do you want to be the first thing your visitors do?

When someone visits your site and lands on your home page, where do you want them to go next? If you can’t answer this question confidently then you aren’t making the most of the traffic you’re getting, because they’ll likely just browse around aimlessly or come down with a severe case of ‘options paralysis’.

On the other hand, if you provide your visitors with only really one avenue to go down and funnel them where you want them, then you can then ensure that each customer sees what you want them to see and increase the likelihood that they subscribe/buy/comment in the forum.

Is it search optimized?

Too many businesses and entrepreneurs will create a website and only start doing the SEO they need to promote it. This is all good and well, but of course it’s much better if you consider this right from the outset. For instance, are you using text headers or images that can’t be indexed? Are you up to date with the current Google guidelines for developers and algorithms (look up the ‘fold algorithm’)? And could you implement a site map to encourage the indexing of new sites?

Is it easy to grow?

When you make a website you don’t want it to be static – you want it to grow over time so that it has more and more to offer. To make this as easy as possible you need to consider things such as content management, such as the layout of the pages and the menus and such as the organization of the content.

Will it work on multiple devices?

When you create your site you need to make sure it’s going to work on as many devices as possible so that you can get as much of the market as you can. Everyone knows that they should make their sites work on different monitor sizes and resolutions, but think too about whether your site will work well with a touch interface for instance – things like ‘onhover’ drop down menus just aren’t practical for most users.

 

Courtesy of Creative Commons image source

Patrick James works with Yarra Web and is one of the finest Web Designers , who designs unique websites depending on one’s business needs.

What To Do With Blank Space On Your Website

Designing a website is a little bit like interior design. You need to think about where to put your items in relation to the space you have as well as in relation to the other items on the page, and you need to think both practically and in terms of aesthetics. This then means you need to carefully consider the layout of each item on the page and try lots of different combinations before deciding on what look you’re going to settle with.

However, deciding on what to do with the elements on your web page is often easier than deciding what to do when you don’t have enough separate elements. In other words, once you’ve used up all of your different images, buttons and blocks of text and they’re all arranged on the page – what do you do if there’s still a big chunk of empty space on the page. Here we will look at how to make the best use of that space and present a few different options for you to try out.

Twitter Feed

Placing a Twitter feed on your website has a lot of merit in many ways. For one this is great advertising for your Twitter profile in itself (which is a valuable asset in its own right) and this can help you to get more followers that you can then subsequently market to. At the same time doing this will ensure that your site never looks static or go without an update. While it won’t necessarily boost your SEO, it will ensure that your visitors know this isn’t a site or a project that has been abandoned.

Mailing List

A mailing list is one of the most valuable additions to any site as it gives you a huge list of potential future customers or clients that you can market to directly – which will help to make returning visitors of them or better yet get them to buy an ebook or another product. At the same time, make sure that you include some kind of incentive such as a free e-book which will make them likely to actually sign up. Otherwise it’s just wasted space.

More Advertising

You don’t want to cram your page up with AdSense of course, and doing so can these days get your site penalized and forced down the SERPs by Google. However if you want to include more advertising and thus potentially monetize your site more, you can still do so in a number of ways – by selling your own product for instance or selling an affiliate’s product. Just don’t make your site look too busy or the adverts too ‘in your face’ or you’ll scare away potential visitors.

Leave it Blank

There is actually value in leaving that blank space exactly as it is however. Having a page that is too busy can be confusing for visitors and it can make it more difficult for them to find what they’re looking for on your site. By leaving the page blank, the individual elements you do include will stand out more and your page will be more calming to spend time on. Of course you could also opt to put nothing here, but to instead enlarge a particular element of your site, or just to move things around slightly so that the blank space is at a more logical point on the page and something else gets more focus. Just like interior design…

Images Courtesy of Creative Commons image source  image source

Peter is an expert web designer and an avid blogger. He suggests all business firms to do a thorough research online before choosing a website builders ct  to boost their online presence.

Mobile Versions of Websites Discriminating Against the Poor? In a Strange Way, Yes

Before we get started, I don’t want you to think that this is a conspiracy theory blog.  I’m not sitting here saying that every website on the internet has come together as some sort of sinister cabal designed to keep people down.  That would be utterly insane.  I personally think that when people make mobile versions of websites they’re trying to be genuinely helpful.  However, unfortunately, it also means that low income people cannot access part of the internet.

What do you mean? They are trying to keep the poor out?! Hold it. Let me explain: I’m sure you’ve come across websites that have a mobile version which doesn’t execute the same functionality of the full website.  I’m not talking about things that just can’t be done on a mobile device, such as certain types of video.  Frequently mobile versions are delayed or limited versions of larger websites (I have currently come up to this problem with Vocus, which submits press releases; although there’s no reason why the website shouldn’t work on an iPad, the mobile version—from which you cannot escape—has most of the features not be an option).

I know what you’re saying: it’s no big deal; just go on your laptop and do what you need to do.  But, for millions of low income people, this just isn’t an option.  For many, a mobile device (which, while expensive, still costs less than a full a computer) their only form of connecting to the internet.  For them, this lack of functionality can be exasperating.  In June, The Huffington Post ran an article describing how websites that are not optimized for mobile devices negatively affect the poor.  This is true: even many websites that are designed to help provide social services for the poor lack a mobile version and are essentially unusable on a mobile device.

While I agree completely, I also feel that being forced into the mobile version that is incomplete also limits the internet to people who, honestly, do not have access to the full version.  Ideally, every website would have a flawlessly integrated, complete mobile version so that everybody could use the internet equally, but, that’s not always an option (many companies simply can’t afford turning their large and complicated websites into a mobile version, which can sometimes amount to having an entirely new website developed).

Therefore, until that day comes, I would ask that websites contain the option to see the non-mobile version on a mobile device.  It might look ugly or not even work 100% properly, but, at least it would give more options for people who need to use the internet but are limited to mobile devices.

Layout Changes: Bane of the Internet

Everybody hates it when Facebook does a layout change; it seems that, pretty regularly, we’ll sign into Facebook and see that it has been completely disorganized.  And, just when we’ve got a handle of it, it seems like they’ve done it all over again.  Of course, the whole internet gets into an uproar for a little while with each change, but we all keep using Facebook and we all keep complaining.

However, while we may find these changes to Facebook annoying, they serve a purpose: Facebook makes its money through advertising, so we can be assured that each change has been carefully calculated to increase clicks on ads.  They’re making more money, so it isn’t actually a random change.

I use Facebook as the example because they’re the most famous, but, other pages make changes like this as well.  The most recent change with which I had to deal was on Google, which changed the name of “Google Docs” to “Google Drive” (technically, Google Drive is a separate service that now includes Google Docs, but if you want to get to Google Docs, you need to click on Google Drive).  I’m sure I was warned, at some point, that the name change was going to happen, but I never noticed it; one day I just came into the office and I couldn’t find the folder I needed nor could several of my coworkers.  For a few minutes, it looked as though all our files were gone.

Now, this is a momentary inconvenience, and could say that we are at fault for not being more observant.  But, my question is: what does Google have to gain by changing the name of one of its utilities?  I suppose it does make sense for Google Docs to be part of Google Drive, but if people have grown to expect something the same way, good product design suggest you should keep it the same unless you have a very compelling reason; if you woke up tomorrow and the numbers on your phone suddenly went from 9 to 1 instead of the other way around, you would be annoyed, confused, and inconvenienced.

So, my question to Google is: why the change?  You’re not making any more money this way.  It doesn’t make for a fuller user experience.  It’s just change for the sake of change.  In product design, that’s a bad thing.  I humbly request that Google get off the layout change bandwagon and stick to making products that everybody uses.

eBay Changing Their Logo: A Good or Bad Idea?

When I think about eBay, the first thing that comes to mind is losing auctions. The frustration of losing an auction in the final minutes of acquiring an item that was being auctioned at half its price has deterred me from using eBay as my online marketplace.

Due to recent changes to the famous online marketplace, I no longer have to fear losing an auction. According to President Devin Wenig, eBay has finally embraced the websites transition from auction site to storefront, making it a more “Buy Now” friendly site.

To many digital auctioneers like me, the transition comes as good news. However eBay will also be changing their widely recognized logo to go along with the change of website. The new logo utilizes a simple font called Univers Extended, instead of the previous floating letter font, but still keeps the same recognizable color scheme.

Does changing such a famous logo like eBay hurt or benefit a company? Do we even really notice the logo in the top corner of the screen? Some could argue that such a decision can be a great online marketing strategy. Take Coca-Cola as an example. Ever since the inception of red into their logo, I subconsciously associate red with Coca-Cola.

It may seem weird stumbling upon a new eBay Logo, when they publish it in October. However times are changing, and so are companies. As long as I do not have to become victim to any more lost auctions, a logo change is fine with me.

 

 

 

Google Wants You to Get Creative

Not everyone can be naturally creative when they are sitting around thinking about how to approach a project. If you show an artist other creative projects they will often generate great ideas after receiving the necessary inspiration. Google has launched a new website that wants to highlight the creativity of others and also inspire creativity within you. This is what Google is hoping to achieve with their Creative Sandbox site.

The site aims to inspire, providing you with examples of various campaigns that are out of the ordinary and were successful. When you click to view a campaign you can learn more about each campaign, see how technology was used in a creative way, see stats from the campaign, and also see the team behind the campaign. Users visiting the site can vote a campaign as being smart, funny, or cool.

I love a site like this because it does so much to get the creative juices flowing. You can see how a piece of technology was used and think about how it can be implemented for a different product or market. This does not mean stealing someone else’s idea, it’s about taking an idea and molding it so it becomes something new while staying just as effective. I often find people thinking they need to create a totally original idea, but there are many ideas out there that are totally original. Embrace the creativity of others and use great ideas to spur on great ideas in your own mind.

I also admire that Google did this just because they love creative ideas. There is no requirement that makes it necessary to have used anything created by Google in the campaigns being submitted. This makes the site truly open to great ideas and campaigns. I know I’ll be frequenting this site often to think about how I can make something work for my own clients. Everyone needs a muse, mine just happens to be Google.

 

The GoDaddy Outage of 9/10/12? The Big Question Now is, Why?

You probably noticed yesterday that countless websites went down, all hosted by the popular web hosting company, Godaddy.  While it is unclear at the time of writing whether this was spearheaded by the whole group or by a limited number of members acting independently, it seems that infamous hacker group Anonymous is in some way involved.

Anonymous accomplished this through what is called a DDoS, or distributed denial of service, attack.  This has been a favorite tool of Anonymous for a while now, using a similar strategy when they took down the website belonging to a group of Pro-Syrian hackers.  Anonymous and the hackers, known as Syrian Electronic Army, had been engaged in an online struggle after Anonymous criticized human rights abuses by the Syrian government.

So, how do they go from there to attacking GoDaddy?  To be honest, it’s a bit surprising.  Whether you support them or not, Anonymous always seemed to have a strongly political theme to their attacks, such as their protests over internet censorship or their well-known attack on The Church of Scientology over alleged abuses.

The GoDaddy attack, therefore, breaks this theme rather severely in that it just seems so random.  GoDaddy hosts so many websites, covering practically every aspect of the political spectrum that taking down GoDaddy doesn’t seem like it would further any cause other than chaos.  If anything, the real victims are all of the small businesses who would see their revenue suffer from this attack.

Like I said before, as of right now it’s not really clear if Anonymous itself attacked GoDaddy, or if a member did it on their own (and, considering how fractured that organization is, it might be a moot point; there sometimes doesn’t seem to be any real direction or leadership of Anonymous at all).  However, if Anonymous did cause—or even condone—this, it certainly does give credence to the belief that they are not the internet freedom fighters they portray themselves to be, but rather a group devoted to  nothing more than whatever strikes their fancy.

Branding Nostalgia: How Your Brand Logo SHOULD Work

Take a ride down any major road in America and you’re bound to find at least one of the following; a post office, a pizza place, or even a McDonald’s. Any successful business has gotten to where they are because of three major factors, product, business structure, and a solid corporate identity – in this case, a strong, easily recognizable logo.

Corporate identity can make or break a business almost as easily as its product or business structure. When I’m stuck at work and want to order a pizza, I immediately think Dominos. It’s just that simple. Simple is a key term to remember here, because the more complex the logo becomes, the more likely you are to lose clientele. In addition to simplicity, it’s important for a logo to be up to date and relevant to the target audience while trying to attract new consumers as well. Apple’s first logo was of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. While visually attractive, it’s hardly the face of a company that has changed the world of computing over the past few decades.

Would McDonald’s be where it is today without those golden arches? If Sega decided to go back to their original name of Service Games of America, would they have ever been as popular? Would Nintendo be what they are today if all they made were playing cards?

Being up to date not only doesn’t get any simpler, it can also get much more expensive. As times are changing, so are costs, and they are constantly on the rise. According to Aziz Ali of PSFK, Stock Logos, the largest corporate identity design community, created a list of well-known logos, the people or companies who designed them, and what it cost to design them. The numbers were all over the place. Some companies such as Pepsi paid the Arnell Group $1,000,000 to design the logo, completely rebranding their product. According to the Seattle Times, Microsoft asked its employees to redesign their logo, saving an estimated $250,000-$500,000.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. If one intends to take one’s business to the level of a McDonald’s or an online marketing company, then that company needs to brand itself with an image to match its product that is easily recognizable and memorable.