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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

How to change DNS, a checklist

January 4th, 2014

Before Authorizing Your Domain’s DNS/ Name Server Change

  1. Back up your email. We strongly recommend you install a POP email client on your local PC or Mac and download all the emails from your existing account before a service transfer. If you use a POP client like MS Outlook this means that copies of your emails are stored on your local PC or Mac. If you manage all your email using a Web Mail application this means that all your email and email folders are stored on your current Web server. Be aware that when a DNS change is complete all those emails and folders in your Web mail account will be irrevocably lost during the change process. If you do use Web based mail, please insure that you download any emails or folders you wish preserved. One option is to download your email from your Web account using a POP client like MS Outlook or Apple Mail. If you don’t have a POP client Mozilla Thunderbird can be downloaded here for no charge.
  2. Insure that your existing email accounts (e.g. myname@mydomain.com) are set up on your new mail servers prior to the DNS change so that as soon as the change is complete your emails will be received by your new mail server.
  3. If applicable, insure that you have the Website you want to be displayed at your domain installed and ready on your new hosting account.
  4. Understand that while most DNS changes are completed within 24 hours they can take longer (as explained in more detail below).
  5. Understand that while most DNS changes result in no or nominal interruptions in your Website access and email service they can result in interruptions that last longer (explained in more detail below).
  6. Understand that when the DNS changes are submitted, the process is completely in the hands of the top-level domain registers and numerous backbone and secondary DNS servers and there is nothing that can be done to speed up the process once changes are submitted.


Understanding What Happens During and After DNS / Name Server Changes

Initiating this DNS change with a domain register may affect the hosting, DNS servers, and email servers associated your domain. This means that when the transfer process is complete:

1. When your domain name is entered in a browser, it will display the Website installed at on your new hosting account; the content of your old hosting account will not be displayed or accessible using your domain name. If you have an active site at your domain, this means prior to authorizing this DNS change you must insure that your new hosting server displays the site you want your visitors to see. This of course does not apply if you currently are not displaying a Website at your domain.

2. When someone sends you an email, that email will be routed to a new mail server; the content of your old mail server will no longer be accessible. This means that you can only retrieve your domain’s email by going to the new URL we provide for Web mail and, if using MS Outlook or another POP client, by entering the new account information (such as your POP and SMTP server addresses) provided by us or your new service provider.

When a DNS change is submitted, typically the changes take place within 24 hours; meaning that the Website (if applicable) on your new hosting account appears when your domain is entered in a Web browser and you view and send email using your new accounts mail settings. While 24 hours is typical, there is no set or guaranteed time frame the changes will be finalized. The changes can take a number of days and, very infrequently, up to 7 days to complete.

Please be aware that once the DNS changes are submitted with your current DNS service provider, the process is completely in the hands of third parties and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to expedite the change process (called propagation). DNS propagation is a complex process of updating top-level index records, International Root Name Servers, ISP’s, Internet Backbone Service Providers and even the internal routers or servers of your own company (if applicable).

As stated, the vast majority of DNS name changes are complete within 24 hours or less. However, you must understand and accept the possibility that your domain name server change may take longer.

Potential Temporary Service Interruptions During a DNS / Name Server Change Process

Website
Typically, DNS changes occur sooner rather than later and provide a seamless and often transparent transition for site users. If the Website installed on your new hosting account prior to the DNS change is an exact duplication of the site on your old hosting account, it’s likely your site visitors will never know any changes have taken place. However, it is not uncommon for a period of seemingly odd or unpredictable behavior to occur during the change process, such as your site not appearing, your new site appearing then reverting back to your old site, etc. If this occurs it is temporary and is manifesting only because of the series of complex record changes that are taking place behind the scene.

Email
For email, you will know your DNS change is complete (or nearly complete) when you find your current POP client or Web mail settings no longer work. You will then use your new email server access instructions and soon be able to send and view email using your same email address associated with your domain (note: new accounts with matching addresses have to be manually set up on your new mail servers first). With Email, even in best case scenarios, there is often a brief period (usually a few hours) when your email address will not work and those who send email to your address may get it returned.

If any of these behaviors are experienced with your Website and Email, they may manifest sporadically during the update process, which as mentioned before is typically lasts 24 hours or less but can take longer.

Don’t add clutter to your Website!

August 6th, 2013

I want to point out a great post that Seth Godin made a couple years ago. It’s one of my favorite short articles to reference before starting a branding or design project —The inevitable decline due to clutter.

As is his gift, he does a great job of articulating minimalism; a principle of design and communication that has become critical for success in this age of massive information overload.

I’m having a hard time not quoting his whole post because it’s so good, but in the spirit of minimalism here are the best parts:

  • “As digital marketers seek to increase profits, they almost always make the same mistake. They continue to add more clutter, messaging and offers, because, hey, it’s free.”
  • “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention.
  • “More is not always better. In fact, more is almost never better.

A Quick Guide to Website Content

July 14th, 2013

Quick Guide to Writing Website Content

Writing content for your Website (or any marketing material for that matter) can be quite challenging. If I had to give one piece of advice it would be to keep your content as informal as possible so it’s not refined it into generic marketing drivel. What good is a Website that sounds like a million others?  I’ve found that it’s often the first pass at writing your content that can be the best at establishing that authentic tone that truly resonates with your visitors.

The Vital Elements for your Website

Effective communication on your Website can be compared to effective Interstate highway billboard communication — your visitors are going 70mph and if you’re not concise and clear they won’t bother slowing down to read your message. Research has established that visitors to your Website will make a judgment within a few seconds regarding the credibility and quality of your business (initially based on the graphic design) and then they will want these fundamental questions quickly answered:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • Where do you do it?
  • How can they learn more or try your product?
  • Why are you the best choice?

This last item is called your Unique Value Proposition and is extremely important . . . in fact it should permeate all elements of your marketing communication.

The Front Page

The front page of your site is that “billboard” that needs to provide answers to these questions or a clear one-click path for your users to get those answers. Don’t make your visitors guess about these answers or which link to click to get them, otherwise they’re apt to just leave and look elsewhere. Website visitors tend not to be very patient.

Provide Proof

For those visitors who are interested in your unique value proposition, a vital supporting section is the proof section . . . it’s one thing to say you’re the greatest at this or that, but offering your visitors credible proof is going to carry exponentially more weight than you just saying so. Examples of proof sections include testimonials, portfolios and/or photos of your staff and or customers engaged in providing your products or services to clients.

Photos as Proof

MeAs the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and this couldn’t be more true on your Website. Visitors are not going to invest the time to read 1,000 words about how great you are (even if they did, they wouldn’t believe it) but they can’t help but seeing a prominently displayed photo that, if done correctly, can instantly and powerfully communicate your values and help establish trust.

The Web is cold, impersonal and untrustworthy by nature.  Avoid at all costs stock photos with cheesy models posing. The only thing you’ll accomplish is to make people wonder if your business is legitimate. Rather, make this an opportunity to develop an instant personal bond with your visitors which you’ll find is extremely potent towards establishing credibility . . . offer photos of you in an authentic setting, whether it’s a photo that provides some personal insight on your bio or photos that show your business making real customers of yours happy.

Even if your budget is low, consider hiring a professional photographer to work in conjunction with your Web designer. While you may spend a bit more on the project, you’ll be establishing a significant competitive advantage.

I’m still amazed that with all the material we offer on our site, and the myriads of photos of our past projects, I often have prospects and clients commenting on my profile photo which shows me with my family. People want to trust the firm they’re hiring and my willingness to share this type of photo is very effective in helping to establish that bond (as you might of guessed, that’s the photo on this page).

Emotion and Advertising – Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial

February 4th, 2013

Out of the thousands of ads we’re exposed to each day, what is it that makes only a few stand out?  It’s emotional connection. Those ads that don’t have it, no matter how technically precise, are noise and filtered out by our brain.

Here’s great example from The Richards Group of how it’s done right.

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