Ten things you could have learnt from our blog in 2015

By: John McGarvey

Date: 10 December 2015

Lightbulb - good ideas from our blogThis year marked the fifth birthday of IT Donut, which has been around since August 2010.

In many ways, 2015 could have been any of the years since then. Another new iPhone hit the market. More companies lost more data to hackers. And UK broadband still isn't good enough.

As always, we've been here trying to cover the things you need to know about - in plain English. So, here are ten things you could have learnt from our blog in 2015.

1. Text messages are over 20 years old

The humble SMS message is proving remarkable resilient, even in the face of services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

In fact, they've been given something of a new lease of life by businesses, which increasingly use them for delivery updates and security authentications. (Plus annoying marketing messages.)

2. The Duchess of Cambridge can break your website

Back in February, fashion brand Madderson London was hit by the 'Kate effect' when the Duchess of Cambridge was pictured wearing one of the company's dresses.

The company's website crashed under an influx of visitors. And that must have been frustrating, given the opportunity for extra sales.

We won't all have the Duchess as customers, of course. But many different things can trigger a rush of website visitors. When each is a potential customer, you want to be sure your site holds up.

3. Google is serious about Microsoft Office

Google has offered its own equivalent to Microsoft Office for almost a decade. And for that entire decade, Microsoft Office has reigned supreme.

In March, we reported that this might be changing. After years of constant development, Google Apps for Work is mounting a fresh challenge.

The search giant reckons you can use its products seamlessly with Microsoft Office files. And it claims to be working hard to develop features that are genuinely useful.

Microsoft Office isn't going anywhere yet. But a bit of competition in this space is very welcome.

4. Mobilegeddon didn't break the internet

You must remember this one. Near the start of the year, Google warned website owners that it would be updating its ranking algorithm to show mobile-friendly websites higher in results lists.

As the date of the update approached, SEO pundits rushed to explain what you needed to do to retain your rankings.

With no overpriced SEO services to sell you, our advice was a bit more relaxed. 'Don't panic,' we said 'but do start thinking'. And yes, in 2016, having a mobile-friendly website will be more important than even.

5. Always check if it's down for everyone

If your website goes offline, you may well have cause to panic. If you sell online, downtime means lost sales.

Hold on though. Before you do start panicking, it's wise to make sure your website really is down. You can use Down for everyone, or just me?

And if it turns out your website is unavailable for everyone, we prepared four other tips to help you get back online quickly.

6. Your website visitors are impatient

Your website visitors don't like to wait. According to some research, 47% of people expect a page to load in under two seconds. 40% will leave a site that takes more than three seconds to load. And four out of five online visitors will click away if a video stalls while loading.

In other words, the performance of your website matters.

That's why Google started testing a 'slow to load' warning in its search results. And why we took a look at easy ways to test how fast your website loads.

7. Argos sales hit £1bn on mobile devices

I must admit, I have a soft spot for Argos. I once had a weekend job picking items in the stockroom and sending them down a conveyor belt where shoppers could collect them.

The retail giant somehow survived the wave of bankruptcies that hit during the financial crisis. Since then, it's attempted to stay competitive by updating its stores and introducing same-day delivery.

Impressively, Argos became the first UK retailer to generate over £1bn of mobile sales in a year, underlining how quickly m-commerce has been growing.

8. It's easy to create a disposable email address

If spam drives you crazy, perhaps a disposable email address could help keep you main inbox under control.

Services like Mailinator and 10 Minute Mail give you instant access to addresses that can receive messages, without putting you through the hassle of signing up for an account with a free email provider.

Disposable email addresses do exactly what you'd expect. You can use them in situations where you need a valid address, but you don't want to enter your own details.

9. There are legitimate uses for private browsing

You might know that most web browsers have a private browsing feature, so you can visit websites without leaving a trail in your history or having them store cookies on your computer.

It's easy to see how private mode might be used to hide your internet activities from other users of your computer. But did you know it has some uses in business, too?

We explain how it can help you test your website, sign in to multiple online accounts - and make public computers safer.

10. We're all failing on security

One of this Autumn's biggest tech news stories revealed that telecoms company TalkTalk had been hit by a cyber attack. Almost 157,000 people had their personal details hacked.

This is one in a long, depressing line of IT security breaches. We've been reporting them for years, and they just keep happening.

Their repetitive nature - along with some interesting new research - got us wondering if the drip, drip, drip of security breaches might be having a long-term impact on consumer trust.

Goodbye for 2015

So, that's IT Donut done for another year. Our team will be taking a well-earned break over Christmas before returning with new posts in January. In fact, there are some exciting things planned for the site next year, so make sure you keep an eye on this site.

However, I've decided to make this my last contribution to IT Donut. After five exciting years, it's time for me to move on. So, thanks for reading!

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