7 Most Common Web Design Shortcomings

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The interesting thing with websites is that the vast majority of us take them entirely at face value, meaning that we don’t read into anything more than what’s in front of us and our experience when interacting with that website. Truth is nothing more should be expected from a visitor. It’s for this reason that web designers have to pay particular attention to how they design a website, and how they prompt those visitors to interact with it. There are likely a few specific websites you could name if you were to be asked for a few that you like. But if you were then asked to explain why you liked them, you’d probably struggle to define that exactly.

Here at 4GoodHosting, being a quality Canadian web hosting provider obviously means we’re somewhat more attuned to these sorts of things than the average Joe. That’s not to say we experts by any means, but we do have some degree of wherewithal about what makes for good web design. This isn’t the first time we’ve touched on this subject with our blog, but it’s always good to come back to it for the sake of any of you who are starting to dabble in web design.

It’s a vast frontier to be sure. Today we’ll look at the consensus 7 most common shortcomings found with web design, and hopefully armed with the information you’ll make sure you get yours right the first time around.

  1. Non-Responsiveness

In today’s day and age it is simply inconceivable to imagine a web developer neglecting to make a responsive site. For going on 4 years now internet traffic flowing through mobile devices has been higher than the traffic coming from desktops and laptops. Current rates are roughly 53% smartphones and tablets versus 47% for desktops, laptops, smart TVs and the like.

Not developing responsive websites can result in alienating more than half of your prospective visitors. The significance of that needs no explanation.

  1. Excess Jargon

If all website developers had a good sense of what constitutes readability, we wouldn’t have this on the list.This is something that frequently shows up when completed projects result in products that visitors struggle to comprehend when reading about them on a website.

The term for this is jargon. There’s a lot of it online, but that doesn’t make it a positive by any means. No matter how jargon creeps onto your website, you need to do everything you can to get rid of it. The best way to handle jargon is to avoid it wherever possible, unless the business developer has good reasons to include it.

  1. Noticeable Lack of Content

A lack of content means a message that’s lacking the same way, and it’s for this reason that some 46% of visitors who land on B2B websites end up splitting right quick without further exploration or interaction. There’s no getting around the fact that quality content that is relevant to the intention of a website is crucial in terms of establishing credibility.

Content must be intrinsically valuable for the visitor as well, and not just a collection of text that serves SEO purposes. If you struggle to generate good quality content, pay someone who’s capable with it to do it for you. It’s well worth it and then some. And a CMS – content management system – comes highly recommended as well.

  1. Hiding Essential Information

It used to be that the issue of misguided website development was thought to have been remedied through the judicious application of recommended practices. That was until mobile apps came around. Look no further than the situation with Google in 2016, where they fell victim to this with their release of Material Design. It introduced bottom navigation bars intended to offer a more clarifying alternative to hamburger menus. Long story short, it failed decidedly.

Unless there is a specific and enhanced purpose for prompting visitors to click or tap on a button, link or page element without explaining next steps, this ‘mystery’ type of navigation should be avoided, particularly when it comes to essential information.

  1. Excessively Slow Page Loads

For a website to be one that is considered to load sufficiently fast, a web design rule of thumb is to simplify and this responsibility lies squarely with the developer. Understand that the more ‘stuff’ you have on a page (images, forms, videos, widgets, etc.), the longer the server takes to send over the site files. Plus it then takes longer for the browser to render them. Here are a few design best practices to follow :

  • Make the site light – get rid of non-essential elements, especially if they are bandwidth-gobblers.
  • Compress your pages – Gzip is an easy means of doing so.
  • Split long pages into a few shorter ones
  • Write clean code that doesn’t rely on external sources
  • Optimize images

After doing so and still experiencing slow loads, turn your focus over to your web host. It’s a fact that cheap, entry-level shared packages are notoriously slow and unpredictable, especially as your traffic increases. A recent published test checked load times across the leading providers and found variances from a barely acceptable 2,850 ms all the way down to speedy 226 ms.

  1. Outdated Information

Not much will really need to be said here. Ensure all information presented on your site is up to date and accurate. Periodic audits of the site to keep up with this is also recommended.

  1. Clear Call to Action is Missing

Every website should push visitors to do something. Even if the purpose is to provide information, the call-to-action – CTA as it’s abbreviated – should encourage visitors to remember it and return for updates. The CTA should be just as clear as the navigation elements, and most often when it’s not then the purpose of bringing that visitor onto the website is lost

Enticements are acceptable, but the CTA message should be spelled out clearly – and even if you think that it’s too ‘pushy’ in doing so.

High-End Smartphones Not Selling Like They Used To

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There’s few purchases if any that are as big a deal for most people as a smartphone. Some people are iPhone devotees, while others will only go Android. There’s other players in the game too, but they’re lesser ones. Up until recently it seemed that there was no price people wouldn’t pay to get their hands on the newest smartphone that had become the Apple of their eye. Needless to say, all those people we saw lined up hours in advance to buy the newest iPhones over the last decade plus had plenty of cash to drop on them.

Here at 4GoodHosting, our staff is just like the one you’d find at any Canadian web hosting provider office anywhere in the country – the majority here are fairly opinionated when it comes to what we like or don’t like about certain mobile devices. One thing that’s universally disfavoured though? The way many of them are ridiculously expensive if you’re buying them outright and not through a mobile service provider’s contract.

Seems we’re not alone there, as the numbers of high-end smartphones being sold has dropped quite considerably over the last year. While demand for entry-level and mid-price smartphones has remained strong, global sales of the best quality smartphones like the iPhone XS and XS Max have dropped steadily over the past year.

Lack of New Wrinkles + $$$ = Remaining Inventories

The consensus seems to be that a lack of innovation with the new top-of-the-line smartphones, and then having steep prices attached to them, are making it so that consumers have much less of the compulsion to ‘buy now’ like they did previously – over all of last year (2018) global sales of smartphones grew just 1.2% compared to the year before -1.6 billion units sold.

The largest sales declines occurred in North America (-6.8%), Asia / Pacific (-3.4%) and Greater China (3%). The way these markets rely more on flagship smartphone sales than any others makes it so that the sales drop affected manufacturers AND retailers more emphatically.

As for the manufacturers specifically, the final quarter of 2018 had Apple experiencing the biggest decline – down 11.8% – among the world’s top five smartphone vendors. This worked out to selling 64.5 million handsets; equalling Apple’s worst quarterly decline in smartphone sales since the first quarter of 2016.

Holding on to 15.8% of market share lessens the sting of this for Apple. In the same quarter, Samsung had 17.3% of the market, and Huawei third with 14.8%. Huawei experienced the most growth, however, with sales rising 37.6% to more than 60 million smartphones being purchased.

Huawei Muscling In

Huawei’s growth in 2018 helped it close the gap with Apple, and it added more market share from Asia / Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East to its already strong presence in China and Europe. They’ve become the biggest player in emerging markets, to the tune of 13% more market share overall. As to why this is, look no further than the Honor 10 series smartphone retailing for about $468, compared with the iPhone XR going for $749.

Samsung is feeling the heat from Huawei most prominently. While Samsung is strengthening its smartphone offering at the mid-tier, it continues to face growing competition from Chinese brands that are expanding into larger numbers of markets. Huawei is mainly competing with Samsung in in terms of product breadth. The Chinese handset maker’s industry-leading growth is reinforced by a strong Chinese home market, selling 10 times as many phones as Samsung there.

Again, price points are integral in this trend – in the majority of markets, Huawei is selling from 1% to 50% less that comparable Samsung models.

What About Apple?

Apple faces something of a more unique challenge in that it only offers high-end smartphones, and those devices aren’t offering the same compelling new features they once did. Further, some users are discovering they don’t use all of the features high-end smartphones have.

When this is paired with price points that they (Apple) continue to push up, many consumers are finding the value proposition just isn’t there like it used to be.

While North America and in Asia/Pacific nations remained strong for them, Apple saw iPhone demand weaken in most areas, including in greater China. There its market share dropped from 14.6% in the final quarter of 2017 to 8.8% this past quarter. For 2018 as a whole, iPhone sales dropped 2.7%, to just over 209 million units.

Buyers delaying upgrades while waiting for more innovative smartphones along with attractively priced smartphone alternatives from Chinese vendors is now limiting Apple’s unit sales growth prospects.

Industry consensus seems to be that Apple is certainly not out of the game, even if they are not going to move away from their premium branding and don’t have a lot of room for pricing elasticity. Expanded trade-in programs and financing options will likely be their plan of attack to bring their premium price to a manageable level for consumers.

.Inc Domains Now Available for Business Websites

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For the longest time the .com domain extension was the one and only in the world of domains. In the early days of the Internet that wasn’t an issue, but as ever-greater numbers of sites – literally thousands of them – came onboard there became a need for alternative domain extensions. With a quick nod of acknowledgement to the .org and .net domains of the world, the most noteworthy development was the creation of country-specific domain name extensions. For example, if you’re here in Canada you’ll know that .ca domains are pretty much as numerous as .com ones.

All of this is why news like this is going to be of interest to any leading Canadian web hosting provider, whether their way out west like us here at 4GoodHosting or anywhere between here and St. John’s. And to get right to it, that news is that a new top-level domain is now available for registration.

Introducing .inc domains!

Most will be aware that inc. is short for incorporated, and without going into great detail that means that a business acts and exists independently of its owners.

Back to relevant information, however – the appeal of these new .inc domains is obviously that they’ll be an immediate indicator of a website being a business one. It’s likely that many decision makers will also perceive a greater sense of authority to having a .inc domain. This new option joins Google making the .dev domain name available for developers.

Specifically for Businesses

The new .inc TLD will be operated by Intercap Registry Inc., and their belief is that any business that ends its title with ‘Incorporated’ will be quite keen to have a domain that allows to have the website address end the same way. And it’s not just a select few who’ll be able to go this route if they’d like to. The .inc domain name will be available to register in the official language of more than 190 countries and used by any business—from start-ups to established major players in many different industries.

It’s safe to say that having a .inc at the end of a web address can help businesses gain credibility and, as mentioned, add a certain level of inherent authority to their website.


If that’s not incentive enough for incorporated businesses all over the globe, there’s some perks available for those ready to make the switch – free member benefits worth $2500 from leading brands. Among others, they are:

  • $1,000 in free transaction fee credits from Square
  • Free press release on GlobeNewsWire to announce the new .inc website
  • Free $100 credit for sponsored job listings on Indeed
  • $150 ad spending match for Google Ads

Converts are also encouraged to know that website migration to the .inc domain will not include downtime or a negative impacting of search engine optimization (SEO).

Harder to Cybersquat

Now here’s a term that should be much more foreign to many of you. Cybersquatting is registering, selling, or using a domain name with intent of profiting on the goodwill of another person or organization’s trademark. It’s generally done by buying up domain names that use the name of existing businesses with the intent of selling them for a profit later on.

It is also hoped that these .inc TLDs will prevent cybersquatting, allowing businesses to avoid having to deal with pre-registered domains related to their business name being held for ransom. The .inc TLDs are now available for priority trademark registration till April 30, and can be registered here.

After April 30 and until May 7 they will be available for priority public registration, and then after that for global public registration. Priority trademark registration is expected to set businesses back around $3,500. Definitely not cheap for the average individual, but not doubt a good many businesses will see that as money reasonably well spent all things considered.

If you’d like to know more about these domains, or have any questions about domain names and domain name extensions in general, we’d be happy to answer them for you. Contact us anytime.

What to Expect From Next Month’s Windows 10 Update from Microsoft

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Windows continues to be the most popular and ubiquitous of operating systems for desktops and notebooks around the world, and while there are those who will have nothing to do with it (see Mac devotees) that fact is a testament to the enduring popularity of what is ‘old faithful’ for the most part when it comes to computer operating systems.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a Canadian web hosting provider that’s in the position to see the value of both Mac and PC operating systems, and it’s true that both have their strengths and weaknesses – which is of course true of pretty much everything. One thing that Microsoft has benefited from for decades now is that it was first to the party, and that’s meant that many people will always choose a Windows OS device because it’s especially familiar for them.

And so it is that the next version of Windows 10 — scheduled for a May 2019 update release— is now just around the corner. This is not going to be a massive overhaul of the OS by any means, but there are as it approaches its 4-year anniversary there are some nice tweaks to make it fresher and more well-suited to determined user preferences. Foremost among these are a new light theme and changes to the search experience, Cortana, and more.

Let’s have a look at the most recent update to Windows 10 here today.

On the House

We’ll start by stating for anyone who might be unaware that Windows 10 updates are always free. The May 2019 Update via Windows Update will be provided at no charge for existing Windows 10 users on any device deemed compatible with the update. The noteworthy difference here, however, is with the rollout method – it is no longer automatically downloaded to your PC.

What you’ll get instead is a notification in Windows Update that the May 2019 update is available. From there you’ll have the option of downloading or installing it. However, only those running a version of Windows 10 that is close to end of support will receive the update automatically. Just as with prior releases, rollouts of major Windows 10 updates are gradual to ensure the best quality experience. For this reason you might not see the May 2019 update right away.

Further as regards the timing of this, let’s not forget Microsoft’s troubles with releasing previous Windows 10 versions. Don’t count on this update arriving exactly when it’s expected.


Let’s shift to the meat of all of this, and detail all of the improvements to be seen in the new Windows 10.

  • Light Theme & Improved Start Menu

Microsoft debuted a dark mode for Windows 10 in 2018, and a new light theme is being introduced with this update to augment overall contrast with the operating system. Users will see that both the taskbar, start menu and Action Center are a brighter and lighter white color. Some icons in the system tray and taskbar are now also tailored to match the new theme — including both OneDrive and File Explorer.

A new and improved start menu is part of this too. Installing the May 2019 update will give users a single column, and fewer preinstalled apps and live tiles. Plus, they can also now remove more of the stock Windows 10 apps that aren’t used much, including 3D Viewer, Calculator, Calendar, Mail, and Movies & TV, Paint 3D, Snip & Sketch, Sticky Notes, and Voice Recorder.

  • Cortana & Search

The separation of Cortana and Search in the Windows 10 taskbar is one of the most notable changes coming with next month’s update. With previous releases they were integrated with each other, but now the search box in the taskbar will only launch searches for files and documents, and the circular Cortana icon will summon the digital assistant when clicked. Some people have already surmised that this may mean the end of Cortana before long, but it’s likely that a bit presumptive at this point.

Search experience will also be changing, and now Windows will index and search all folders and drives, rather than just limiting it to the default documents, pictures, and videos folders. Along with a new search interface featuring landing pages for Apps, Documents, Email, Web, users can now expect accurate and faster searches when aiming to dig up important files.

  • Reserved Space for Windows Update

It’s true that Windows Updates can cause bugs, data loss, and failures, and there’s been no shortage of people eager to point that out every chance they get. This May 2019 update, however, is going to enable all Windows 10 users to pause updates for up 35 days – something that was for Windows 10 Enterprise and Professional users only up until now.

Having more time to read up and decide on when to install Microsoft’s monthly updates is going to be a nice freedom for many users

The fact that the May 2019 update will also reserve 7GB of disk space for installing general updates promises to be a more contentious point. The move has been made to keep your PC secure, and there reasons this new space cannot be removed from Windows 10 is so that it makes future OS updates more efficient.

The space is also intended for apps, temporary files, and system caches undertaken as your PC sees fit. The size of the reserve will depend on your system, so removing unnecessary files on your hard drive in advance of the update might be a good idea.

  • Sandbox Integrated Feature

Last but not least regarding the Windows update for 2019, we have Windows Sandbox. This integrated feature for Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise lets users create a secure desktop environment that is able to isolate and run untrusted and sketchy apps while keeping them separate from the rest of your system. Thus the term ‘sandbox’ – when a Windows Sandbox is closed, all the software with all its files and state are permanently deleted along with that move.

In our opinion, this is the best and most well-thought out feature added to this Windows 10 2019 update. Especially considering all the different well-disguised threats out there these days. It might not be the most exciting feature for your average, but you can be sure developers are going to be plenty impressed with it.

Will be interesting to see how well received this update is, and it appears we won’t have to wait long to find out.

Protecting a VPN From Data Leaks

Reading Time: 5 minutes

One thing that certainly hasn’t changed from previous years as we move towards the quarter pole for 2019 is that hackers are keeping IT security teams on their toes as much as ever. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the cat and mouse game that’s been going on in cyberspace between the two sides for a long time now. Cyber threats are as sophisticated as ever now, and for everyday individuals they biggest concern is always that the privacy of sensitive data will be compromised.

One of the most common responses to enhanced and more enabled threats is to go with a Virtual Private Network and all the enhanced security features that come with them. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’ve been promoting them for our customers very actively in likely what same way every other Canadian web hosting provider has. There’s merit to the suggestion, as VPN connections protect online privacy by creating a secure tunnel between the client – who is typically uses a personal computing device to connect to the internet – and the Internet.

Nowadays, however, VPN networks aren’t as automatic as they were when it comes to trusting in secure connections and understanding that there won’t be data leaks. The good news is that even people with the most average levels of digital understanding can be proactive in protecting their VPN from data leaks. Let’s look at how that’d done here today.

Workings of VPN

A reliable VPN connection disguises the user’s geographical location by giving it a different IP address. There is also architecture in place to encrypt data transmitted during sessions and provide a form of anonymous browsing. As it is with almost all internet tools, however, VPN connections can also face certain vulnerabilities that weaken their reliability. Data leaks are a concern amongst information security researchers who focus on VPN technology, and it’s these issues that are most commonly front and centre among them:

  1. WebRTC Leaks

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is an evolution of the VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for online communications. VoIP is the technology behind popular mobile apps such as Skype and WhatsAppp, and it’s been the leading force behind making legacy PBX telephone systems at many businesses entirely obsolete now.

WebRTC is also extremely valuable with the way that it allows companies to hire the best personnel. Applicants can be directed to a website for online job interviews with no need for Skype or anything similar installed.

Everything would be perfect, except for the fact that the IP addresses of users can be leaked, and even through a VPN connection.

  1. DNS Hijacking

It’s fair to say that hijacking domain name system (DNS) servers is one of the most tried-and-true hacking strategies, and interestingly a large portion of that has been made possible by well-intentioned efforts to enact internet censorship. The biggest DNS hijacking operation on the planet is conducted by Chinese telecom regulators through the Great Firewall, put in place with the aim of restricting access to certain websites and internet services.

DNS hijacking encompasses a series of attacks on DNS servers, but arguably the most common one involves taking over a router, server or even an internet connection with the aim of redirecting traffic. By doing so hackers are able to impersonate websites; your intention was to check CBC News, but instead you’ll be directed to a page that may resemble it but actual uses code to steal passwords, compromise your identity, or leave you with malware on your device.

Often times WebRTC and DNS hijacking are working in conjunction with each other: a malware attack known as DNS changer that can be injected into a system by means of JavaScript execution followed by a WebRTC call that you’re unaware of. Done successfully, it can gain your IP address.

Other lesser-known vulnerabilities associated with VPN networks are Public IP address, torrents, and geolocation

How to Test for Leaks

It might be best to cut right to chase here sort of – The easiest way to determine if you’ve got a leak is to visit IPLeak.net, and do it with your VPN turned off. This site is a very nice resource. Once you’ve visited, then leave seat and turn your VPN back on before repeating the test.

Then, you compare results.

The torrents and geolocation tests available are fairly worthwhile themselves, but probably not as much of a factor indicator as the DNS. Navigating the internet is done by your device communicating with DNS servers that translate web URLs into numeric IP addresses. In the bulk of those instances, you’ll have defaulted through your ISP servers, and unfortunately these servers tend to be very leaky on their own to begin with.

Leakage through your local servers can serve up your physical location to those with bad intentions, even with a VPN set up and utilized. VPN services route their customers through servers separate from their ISP in an effort to counter these actions.

Once you determine your data is leaking, what is there you can do to stop it? Read on.

Preventing Leaks and Choosing the Right VPN

A good suggestion is to disable WebRTC in your browser, and doing so even before installing a VPN solution. Some developers have set this to be a default configuration, while most better ones will have this is an enabled option.

Search ‘WebRTC’ in the help file of your browser and you may be able to find instructions on how to modify the flags or .config file. Do so with caution, however, and don’t take actions until you’re 100% certain they’re the correct ones or you may risk creating quite a mess for yourself.

Other good preventative measures include:

  • Going with the servers suggested when configuring your VPN – typically not those of your Internet service provider (ISP) but ones maintained by the VPN provider. Not all of them have them, though
  • Aiming to have a VPN that has upgraded protocols making it compatible with the new IPv6 address naming system. Without one, you’ll have a much greater risk of leaks. If you’re about to move to a VPN, this should be one of your primary determinations
  • Making sure your VPN uses the newest version of the OpenVPN protocol, and especially if you’re on a Windows 10 OS device (it has a very problematic default setting where the fastest DNS servers is chosen automatically. OpenVPN prevents this)

Overall, the security of tunneled connections is going to be compromised big time by a leaky VPN. If the security of your data is a priority for you, then you should be evaluating VPN products, reading their guides and learning about best ways to secure your system against accidental leaks.

Keep in mind as well this isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ scenario either. You need to check for leakage from time to time to ensure nothing has changed with your system. Last but not least, make sure the VPN you use has a kill-switch feature that will cut off your connection immediately if a data leak is detected.