Adblock plugins for web browsers are great! They block out all the annoying and distracting adverts on web pages, and make the browsing experience for visitors altogether more pleasant.
They're very popular – so popular that some web site owners are getting hurt from the lack of ad revenue. Publishers are fighting back using pop-up messages to try and persuade you to disable the adblock – and some even block access to their content until you whitelist them.
I'm not a fan of forcing people to turn off their ad blockers, but I have been thinking recently about the impact of using them.
I read an article a few days ago about a popular site that closed down because it wasn't making any money – and they cited the lack of ad revenue as a major contributory factor.
So it got me thinking about some of the websites that I visit every day – the blogs and news sites that I rely on for information and entertainment. I didn't like the idea that they might suddenly disappear because they had become financially unsustainable.
And so, short of actually sending the publishers of these sites money – something that's often not even an option – I realised that the only way I could give them my patronage was to whitelist them in the ad blocker. At least that way, they could earn a little bit of revenue from my visits. And I figured it was a small inconvenience for me to bear in order to support the writers I enjoy.
It never fails to amaze me how, when small businesses go to all the effort of registering a domain name and creating a web site, that they don’t use that domain for their email.
I seem to see it all the time – mostly on the side of vans, and sometimes on invoices and other documentation – whereby the email address looks so amateurish because they’re using a gmail address or similar.
It’s probably not the fault of the small businesses themselves, as they’re not internet specialists. But the people that sell them a web site are really letting the side down by not encouraging them to use their domain for an email address – even if it just forwards straight on to their gmail account!
After all the email address of email@example.com is much more professional looking that firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inspired by a blog post I was reading recently, I started having a play around with an SSL cert.
An SSL cert is what enables a website to encrypt the traffic to and from the end user. This improves security and trust, and I’ve read that it also improves your search rank in Google. The most notable difference to a web site visitor is that the URL of the site changes from http:// to https:// and a little padlock symbol is displayed next to the URL in the address bar.
Some SSL certs can be really expensive to buy. The ones from my own hosting provider range from €30 to €700 a year, depending on the type of cert you want. However by shopping around a bit on the web, I came across SSLs.com who sell certs from as low as $5 a year!
Buying the cert is the easy bit. Configuring it and installing it is a bit more tricky, and I couldn’t find any easy instructions online.
- First of all you need to generate a CSR (Certificate Signing Request). When generated it looks like a really long string of random letters and numbers. Often you need to ask your web host to create the CSR for you, but I found this tool from SSL Store to generate mine. Make sure you keep the CSR and Private Key safe!
- Back at SSLS.com you then need to activate your SSL cert – and you will be prompted to enter the CSR. Copy and paste the full value into the box provided. The SSL cert will then be generated and emailed to you in a ZIP file.
- I installed the supplied SSL cert myself using my web host’s control panel. Make sure you install all the certs provided, together with the Private Key you supplied earlier. In the ZIP file you’ll find your domain cert and three CA certs. Install them all.
The cert should now work for your domain, and you should be able to view your site securely using https at the start of the domain.
For my WordPress site, I also installed the WP Force SSL plugin to automatically redirect non-secure traffic to the secure domain.
Anyway, so it all works, and my richardbloomfield.com site is now encrypted and secure!