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GDPR compliant ready website USA

Is Your Website GDPR-Ready? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force May 25th, 2018. It is intended to affect data privacy laws across the European Union and Great Britain. Even businesses run outside of the EU may have users within the GDPR’s jurisdiction, so this new regulation affects just about anyone with a website online (I mean, it IS called the world-wide web, after all!). Understanding GDPR and how it will impact your website and your business may be a bit overwhelming at first (with a whopping 88 pages of legal language), but thankfully, there are many resources available online to help website owners figure out how to ensure their site is operating within the new regulations.

The best way to start

Perform an audit of your entire website to see what aspects of your site need to be declared as far as what you collect, and to be transparent to all visitors accordingly.
The following guide is not an end-all, be-all to GDPR compliance for your website, but is a general condensed overview meant to help you to go through what items on your site need to be addressed. Ask yourself the following questions about your website, and follow the suggestions under each.

1) What data is my site capturing? 

The following list of examples of data collecting you will want to audit includes, but is not limited to:
  • Personally identifiable information: Obviously, names, addresses, and email addresses are identifiable information. If your site allows comments, that’s collecting identifiable information. Same with contact forms. Someone fills it out and hits “Submit.”  You need to find out where is that data stored, and where does it go to?  Some contact forms don’t store the data in your site’s database, some do. Which option do you have set? Don’t forget I.P. addresses. In the United States, Visitor I.P. addresses are not necessarily considered identifiable information, but in the EU, they are. If your site tracks or collects any users’ IP addresses, you will need to know this, as well.
  • Cookies: Most websites send a small file to each user’s computer or phone, called a cookie. Most of the time, a cookie’s file contains just a timestamp of the user’s visit to a site, but can also store many other personally identifiable data, such as an email address or password.
  • Selling of products or services: Does your site sell products and/or services using ecommerce or payment tools (PayPal, WooCommerce, Stripe, Amazon Seller, etc.)?
  • 3rd party site tools: Such as live chat tools, marketing tools. If your site uses a live customer chat or any marketing tools, such as funnel services (LeadPages, ClickFunnels, WishList Member, etc.), you need to visit these service providers to see what they are doing to be compliant

Any other ways not listed here, in which your site collects a user’s data, you will want to mark down.


2) How long is the data on my site kept for?

Any tools mentioned above, or others, that your site uses to capture a user’s data must be investigated by you to find out how long a record is stored on your website’s database or in some cases, on a cloud connected to or provided by the service or tool in question. Follow up with your website designer/developer or investigate each tool on your own by visiting its provider’s website and either search for their updated privacy policy that clearly indicates that they are GDPR compliant, or contact them to ask how they are planning to meet the regulations, then be sure to get the information in writing.
In many cases (if your site is running WordPress, for example), the above-mentioned tools and aspects of your site may be handled by a script called a WordPress plugin, and those are typically written and managed by third-party developers. Visit your WordPress plugins page and then visit each plugin’s respective website or plugin listing to investigate the way the data is collected. Here is also a resource on WordPress and GDPR compliance.
Once you find the information that each provider outlines which indicates how they compliantly handle data, you can link to the language that each service provides, within a Privacy Policy page (addressed further in this post).

3) How does my site address consent and explicit consent?

After collecting all the above answers for the first two questions, write out what needs to be addressed, and how you want to present and disclose what it is your site does with any information it captures (you will need to make sure none of it is personally identifiable because there’s an issue of consent. All visitors need to not only consent to give you access to their data, you need to allow them to do so.

You can prepare a Terms page on your site to outline that by using the site, each visitor has agreed to give their consent for you to collect their data. Then you can add a button or check that says “I agree” next to a link to this Terms page.

4) How does my site allow users to access and control their data?

The next concern your site needs to address is the prove your site has the ability to deliver all data to each user in the EU that you have collected on them. The GDPR outlines that one thing they require for all EU website users, is that each EU citizen has the right to access and opt-out of or remove any or all of this identifiable data upon request. 

Some data compliance efforts may not be required on your part

If your site deals with health or medical information, you need to know that explicit consent is required for the processing of certain special types of personal data. Examples would include things like racial or ethnic background, political, religious, or philosophical beliefs, data concerning health information, sexual health, and sexual orientation. This is outlined in more detail in the GPDR’s Article 9. If your site does not use or request such data, you should be OK, but be sure to read through the GDPR text to make sure.

Bottom line: Transparency

Setting up a clear disclosure that explains in plain English what data you collect, what the data is used for, who can see the data, and where and how long it is stored, should be done via a Privacy Policy page. A good idea would be to check out a reputable legal website which provides privacy and terms page templates, use and customize what they have available, and then, for each service your site uses to collect data from users, provide a link to their page that outlines their GDPR compliant practices language.
If your site collects no personal identifiable information whatsoever, and your site is in the US and does not cater to users in the EU, you probably have nothing to worry about, but in the spirit of transparency, it’s still a good practice to just make sure there is a site disclosure easily accessible to all users of your site, even if you do not collect anything.

Next steps:

Whether or not you are within the EU or have customers in the EU, there are fines and penalties that can be imposed if your site is not compliant with the GDPR law. How these fines or penalties can be collected or enforced is still unclear, and many parts of what has been written so far have been presented in a very ambiguous way, so the practical effects and results on non-compliance have yet to be tested in a court of law.
You will want to share this with your legal team and/or website developer so you can work together to get GDPR-ready!


This was a guest post by Bobbi Jo Woods

Plan now - for a better next year - event

Create A Step-by-Step Plan for Marketing Your Business Next Year

Are  you overwhelmed at the thought of a marketing your business next year?

Do you wonder if your marketing efforts with your website, email list and social media are effectively reaching “your” audience?

With 2017 right around the corner, wouldn’t you love to plan out your online marketing priorities for the year and know exactly what’s coming and how to make it happen?

NOW is the ideal time to ensure you start the new year off right!

On Friday, November 11th join me and Kate Schell of Digital Marketing Momma for a LIVE in-person workshop as we breakdown the 4 major areas of overwhelm and confusion that most entrepreneurs face in marketing their businesses online.

In this 3-hour hands-on planning workshop, we will help you:

  1. Identify Your Ideal Audience – do you know who you are talking to/trying to reach?

• Who is your target audience?

• do they want and need from you?

• What does the marketplace look like?


  1. Create a Marketing Calendar – it’s time to get dates and deadlines on your calendar NOW!

• Using worksheets we will clearly define your business goals so you know the end results you are working towards

• Plan out your work/life calendar to see when you can plan key dates, campaigns and promotional opportunities and give yourself the space to prepare and create.

• Determine what your primary marketing efforts should be. This will help you focus solely on the places and opportunities that will generate engagement and revenue.

• Understand what resources you will need based on your goals. By creating this list you will not have to scramble last minute.


  1. Identify the Most Engaging Content – what is the ideal information you want to share or promote using your online marketing?

• Brainstorm ideas for what the most compelling, engaging and valuable information you can be sharing with your target audience.

• Narrow down and prioritized the most effective and efficient way to develop/create/curate your content marketing.

• Get a complete list of popular programs and resources to use to help your content creation and curation easy and fast.


  1. Develop a Content Strategy Plan – so you know what to do when for the entire year!

• Map out your content calendar.

• Learn how to determine the right time to post and how best to connect with the right people for your business.

• Plan how to review and measure your marketing efforts to find areas that work and areas that need improvement, so you know where to spend more or less time, money & resources.

After this workshop, you will walk away with a clearer understanding, strategy and plan of how to reach your ideal audience as well as the steps and tools you need to do so to rock your business next year!

What are you waiting for? Register now (and get the discounted rate before November 4th) as there will be limited seating to keep this as interactive, dynamic workshop as possible.


Date:    November 11th, 9:00am – 12:30pm
Where: Stamford Innovation Center
           175 Atlantic St, Stamford, CT 06901

$99 -discount price before November 4th
$149 – regular price after November 4th




Interested in the event, but can’t attend due to date or location? Let me know by email as we will be planning a virtual workshop soon.

3 Ways To Optimize Your New Website Launch

3 Ways to Optimize Your Website Launch

I’ve been knee-deep in new website launches with clients and with my own website, recently.  After months of fussing over getting everything just right, it’s totally understandable to want to get that new baby out into the world. I get it – you can’t wait to finally share your new look and branding with everyone.  However, here are a three steps you should consider taking so that your fantastic new website gets maximum exposure and visibility.

1)   Get your website Google-ready.

As important as it is for your new site to function properly and be easy to navigate for new users, it is just as important for it to work well for Google and the other search engines. Make sure that you have created the best headlines, meta descriptions, and keywords for all of the content on your site so that the search engines identify your website as one that is reliable, informative, and appropriate for searches in your areas of expertise.


For most WordPress sites, you can add in plug-ins (Yoast is the most popular) to help you do this. However, if it sounds too confusing, I advise hiring an SEO (search engine optimization) expert to help you with this process – ideally before you even design your new site.

2)   Carry your new design across all platforms.

No doubt hours and hours were spent thinking about the images, color, fonts, and the look of your new site – right? Keep that awesome design going with your branding for your newsletter, social media networks, and online presentations. You want your fans and customers to feel like they are in your world with your consistent look and messaging no matter where they are in your online space.


Create new newsletter header, and new (and appropriately-sized) social media images (both profile and cover images) using your brand’s new look. Also, make sure your website and looks good when it is shared. Get your designer to help you, and use social sharing plug-in (my website designer  recommended Social Warfare) and set up your social cards on your website so that you can control the look and specific content that is shared.

3)   Let your tribe help spread the word and engage with your new website.

Nothing is as infectious and engaging as a happy excited employee or fan, so let them help you share your good news. Encourage them to share the new website with their networks. If they have been involved in the process, this shouldn’t be difficult as they are probably as enthusiastic to get the word out.


In one recent launch, the team was so excited and proud of the new website, the employee team shared it on Facebook and encouraged all of their friends to like the company’s Facebook page, nearly doubling the the audience in one week!

Or make a game out of it. My friend Patty Lennon just launched a gorgeous new site and to get her people to check it out, she created a treasure hunt on her site – hiding a phrase that she rewarded people for finding.

It could be so easy to finally flip the switch and just let your site be your new site. Often, people choose to forget these extra steps or they wait until they realize they are not getting the traction they expected.  But taking the time and implementing these critical to-dos into your launch strategy will most certainly give you the wider visibility and engagement you are seeking for your most important online marketing tool – your website.

Want to learn more about maximizing your new launch? Schedule a clarity call with me now.

Your website is ready to go live, take a deep breath…and check again!

In this month’s guest blog post, website designer Veronica Agabs offers a great “check list” before launching a new website:

So, you worked hard and everything is ready but there still things to go over. I am not asking you to be a perfectionist but few simple things can make a big difference. So be sure to check one more time. Here is the list you should go over before you turn the ‘switch’ on.

1. Is the navigation where you’d expect it to be?
2. Is the navigation terminology clear (i.e. “Contact” versus “Reach Out”)?
3 Are there any broken navigation links?
4. Is there excess clutter in the form of graphics or text?
5. Are the colors pleasing to the eye or do they give you a headache?
6. Is the text on the homepage clean and simple?
7. Is it clear what the website is about? When considering the ten-second rule, this is one of those areas where there should be no doubt in the visitor’s mind.
8. As a visitor, are your most important questions answered quickly?
9. A simple About page is fine. In almost all cases, this includes a photo and a brief bio. It’s always nice to know who you’re doing business with, wouldn’t you agree?
10. Optimization for conversions means making sure your website serves a purpose – it doesn’t necessarily mean a big red “BUY NOW” button.
11. Do a basic SEO audit. Here are a few other things to look for:
– Does the website have an appropriate site title and meta description?
– Are the major pages of the site optimized with an appropriate title, meta description, and content?
– Is permalink structure set-up properly?
– Is there address and contact information in the footer of each page?
– Is their NAP (name, address and phone number) consistent across all their profiles (website, social & business listings)?
– Make sure all pages are verified by Google

Beyond the obvious navigation, general layout and color selection, does the site feel intuitive? Are things where you’d expect them to be? More specifically, is the existing design trying too hard to be creative at the expense of simplicity? Put yourself in the shoes of a real visitor, because this is who the website should be built for.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Veronica Agabs is a a freelance web developer, a WordPress fan, dog and coffee lover, and mother of three.  She is passionate about helping businesses and individuals to build their visibility online. No project is too big or too small. Rather than being just a designer or developer, she sees herself as a business partner. Her specialties include branding, design, user experience, development, integration, and maintenance. 

What's The Difference Between A Web Designer And Web Developer?

Web Design vs. Web Development

The world is not short of people, experts and agencies to help you build your website – the question is:  what is best for you?  You will have the best success if you have a clear understanding about what you need and know exactly what you are looking for – a website designer or developer?

If you are truly starting from scratch, with no branding, logo, colors and/or font directive, then it’s important to start with a designer or someone who can help you with your visual identity – or your brand.  A designer will help you bring the personality of you and your business into your marketing elements – in this case – your website – with the creation of a logo and/or particular font treatment and color scheme.

This design process can be as a big or minor as you want it to be.  In some proposals, the design work is estimated to be more time and expense than building a website.  So be clear in how important it is for you to get this branded element work established.  It is an investment but can serve you for many years if it’s done right.

Once your logo and brand is established, your design work is not yet done.  Now it’s time to create the design, look and feel of your website.  Things that you might consider and review with your designer:  Will you have lots of white space?  big pictures? lots of text or lots of visuals?  What fonts and colors will you use to complement your logo/brand?  What are some examples of sites you love? sites you hate?

As you start to establish the look of your new site you and your web designer will start to plan out the architecture of the site.  Questions to answer in this phase of the work would be:  How many pages? What do you want visitors to do?  How does information flow or get discovered or transition?

While a designer and developer can be the same person, most people in the trade tend to lean toward one skill set or the other.  In bigger web firms or digital agencies, you will find that once you finish working with the designer, your website work will then fall into the hands of the developer.  (Similar to building a house, once you have your drawings and specs from the architect, you will then begin to work with the contractor.)

The developer’s role is to make sure that your website actually looks and functions the way you designed it.  Whether your developer is using a template or theme or he/she is completely coding your site from scratch – the web developer’s job is to build the site.

The developer can also assist in making sure that your site is optimized for search (SEO), is responsive, mobile-friendly and is connected with Google Analytics. Also, make sure that your developer sets up access to manage and update your site once it is up and running.  (Ask for a how-to manual or training session!) Lastly, the developer is the main person who can help you with security, back-ups (don’t forget to set up regular back-ups!) and ongoing maintenance on your site.

Note of caution!!!  It is neither the designer nor the developer’s job to create content for your site (unless you have otherwise agreed).  It is your job to supply all of the copy, images, page titles and relevant links/accounts to whomever is helping you with your site!  This is often the biggest surprise for people who are creating websites for the first time. 

With this clearer understanding of how web designers vs. web developers work – here are 6 questions to ask to help you figure out the right fit for you – and for creating the best website for your business!

1) Do you already have branding and logo figured out?

  • No – start with a designer.
  • Yes – OK to start with developer.

2) Do you have a clear sense of how you want your site organized and what you want from each page of your site?

  • No – probably start with a designer.
  • Yes – OK to start with developer.

3) Do you have all of your content (logo, copy and images) ready to go?

  • No – start with a designer (or get help from photographer or copywriter).
  • Yes – OK to start with developer.

4) Are you fixed on having a site that looks customized and does not feel like a cookie-cutter template?

  • No – then you would be in good hands with a smaller shop and smaller budget.
  • Yes – creating a customized look can accomplished with either a designer or developer, it depends on their approach.

5) Do you have a small budget or big budget?

  • Small to medium budget ($500 to $10K) – website work in this price range means that you will probably work with a smaller team that might subcontract out some the work and may use customized themes or templates as the basis of your site.
  • Medium to big budget ($10 – $20K+)) –  bigger projects with bigger budgets affords you the expertise of a bigger team that typically includes a project manager, designer and developer and more customized design and coding work.

6) Are you a techie type, or have someone techie who can help you update your site?

  • No – consider a maintenance contract after your site is built for ongoing support.
  • Yes – consider using a template or easy to use theme for updating and managing and ask for a how-to manual and/or a few training sessions.

If you are still unclear, I’d be happy to answer any questions or make suggestions for the right web design/development support for your project.  Shoot me an email, at: nancy “at” nancysheed.com.

I’m also curious – what has been your experience with building a website? What lessons did you learn or what did you wish you had known?  Please share in the comments.  Also feel free to share this article with anyone you know considering a new website.