Changes at Google (and North Forty Road)

For years we have recommended Google Apps for Business as a great way for small businesses to get high-quality email services with enterprise features. Google Apps allows you to use your own domain name for email, yet also take advantage of all the great online services Google offers, such as Google Drive and Google Calendar. Until recently, Google offered these services for free to organizations that used fewer than 10 accounts.

Now, however, Google has changed their policy. If you already are a Google Apps for Business user, your free account will continue to be honored. However, new users will have to pay $5/per user/per month or $50/per user/per year. That’s still a great value for any business, considering the services Google bundles together, but it is most definitely not free! To learn more about these changes, visit Google’s Enterprise Blog.

It is fair to say that we would still recommend Google Apps for Business. Think about it: there is no software for you to install, upgrade or maintain.There are no mail servers to worry about. There is not a calendar server or a file server that needs to be maintained. You get a virtual office with file storage, best-in-class email services, and innovative collaborative tools all with 24 hour support. That’s worth the money in our book.

Our business is changing too. We are focusing more and more on making great websites for innovative and expanding businesses. We remain focused on great value, but we are also doing more with websites than in the past. The websites we are now building leverage the latest technologies on the web. We are investing our time and energy in bringing very capable websites to our clients. This means we are not as focused as we have been on other aspects of our business, such as hosting and tech support.

Consequently, we plan in the next year to partner with great service providers who can meet the support and server needs of our clients. We anticipate migrating many of our hosting clients to new hosting providers who will also provide tech support. For our customers, this should be a seamless process. The only thing you’ll probably notice is a new name and address on the billing invoice for your hosting. Rest assured that we will inform you of any changes to your account before it happens.

Also rest assured that we will continue to work to create great websites for our clients. The web continues to provide a fertile foundation for innovation and expansion and we intend to help you utilize the web for your business to the fullest extent possible.

NFR’s Communication Plan

One of our primary goals at North Forty Road Web Studio is to be your trusted web advisors. To that end, we strive to provide a high quality web product that meets your needs. But we also strive to provide customer service and support so you never feel left out in the cold when you need help. Today, web sites are mission critical tools, essential to your business plan and success. We want to do our part to ensure your success.

In the weeks ahead, we also hope to improve our communications with you. We want to provide you with useful information and helpful tips to keep your business running well and to allow you to utilize the latest tools on the internet. At the same time, we don’t want to inundate our clients with needless email or anything that might be perceived as “spam.” We want to increase the value of your relationship with us, not detract from it.

So, here is our strategy for communicating with you:

  • We will continue to send out a monthly e-mail newsletter. This newsletter will be the only regular email we send out (excepting our billing emails, sent by our billing system based on your billing schedule) and we sometimes even take a month off. This means, the most email you will get from us is once a month. Sometimes, of course, there are special announcements that require us to send out an email to all our clients, usually regarding server status or a security concern. That is a rare exception to our once-a-month email rule.
  • We will publish a weekly blog newsletter, that will contain helpful tips and hints. This blog will be posted on our website for anyone to read. Our monthly newsletter will be composed largely of these blog posts.
  • Usually, our blog posts will be brief, one-item stories that are focused on something useful for your business. But occasionally we will write a more in-depth article to help you reflect more deeply on how you are using the internet to further your business goals.
  • Since we are increasing our blogging content while keeping our email newsletters low, we will post the blog updates through our LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. If you follow us on Twitter, you will always know when there is some fresh content on our blog.

We want to be your trusted web advisors. Please let us know if our communication is useful to you, or if you have other ideas on how we can more effectively fulfill our mission of meeting the internet needs of business.

New Site Release: Automated Alarm Processing

http://www.automatedalarmprocessing.comBristol, CT, entrepreneur Brian Kirk’s message was simple: have better customer service at a better price than the competition.  He has achieved this with a new business: Automated Alarm Processing.

Our new site for AAP provides a place for people to learn more about home and commercial alarm monitoring, using the various technologies that are available to keep homes and businesses safe. AAP offers all of those services for a fraction of the cost of the big-name competitors, and Brian is a personable and dependable businessman.

Visit to learn more, and to see our latest custom WordPress installation.

Taming Your Inbox

If you’re anything like me, you get too many emails each and every day. The flow of email can be overwhelming. More than that, sorting through all your email each day can be a major consumer of time. More than once I’ve sat down at my computer in the morning and begun my day churning through the inbox, only to look up and discover that hours have passed by.

Adopting some basic strategies towards email can help you tame your inbox. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Set time for email. Don’t let email drive your day. Instead, set specific times of the day that you will address your email, and limit those times to whatever is reasonable for your work. I find a couple hours a day is generally sufficient to keep on top of my emails. Keeping that time limit in mind helps me focus through the fluff.
  2. Unsubscribe! Do you really need to read that email list? Get off as many email lists and marketing campaigns as you can. Think of your inbox as a sacred space for critical communications. If it isn’t really important, don’t let it in there!
  3. Discipline your inbox to be empty. Take time each week to clear out all of your emails. I know, it sounds crazy, but it can be truly liberating. When you know that you have managed all of your emails then you can really focus on what needs to be done. Keeping an email archive is a nice way to have a “safety net” should you need to find something later. Otherwise, respond to emails, assign them to a to do list or delegate them away.
  4. Filter the spam. Using a spam filter will really help you keep out the junk mail. Online services, like gMail, do a great job of filtering the email before it ever gets to you. But if you use a desktop client, there are several great spam filtering tools. Many email clients have them built in. Make sure they are on!
  5. Use the phone. Remember that email isn’t the best tool for all communications. Sometimes, picking up the phone or having a face-to-face meeting is the best way to go. In fact, sometimes a phone call is even faster than email. Don’t default to email just because it’s easier. If the message merits a phone call, make the call.

Taming your inbox isn’t easy, but it is possible. A few basic disciplines and some technology can really help you use email, instead of email using you. Contact us now for all of your email needs.

Mobile Websites

It’s a fact: the fastest-growing group of web-searchers are folks who browse on their mobile devices: iPhones, iPads, Androids are the biggest out there, but there are many others.

The images below show the differences between a standard site and its mobile counterpart. You can test drive this yourself at

A mobile site displays completely differently in a phone or tablet, removing extraneous graphics, adding a simpler navigation menu, and above all, making the text larger and easier to read.

Easier to read translates to: more people will read, and learn about your business.

What can you do as a business owner to catch the attention of these people? Be sure your website works well in a mobile format. I invite you to contact us for more info on mobilizing your site. Let’s take your website into a new era of growth!


Full Version

Mobile Homepage

Mobile Navigation

Mobile Store

Spam In & Spam Out

“Where did I sign up to get mail about that drug??” What used to be the occasional annoyance has become a constant. The best way to handle spam is finding a way to manage it.

Have I been hijacked? Sometimes spam messages appear to come from your own email address. In most cases, you are safe; the automated spam “bots” have changed the headers in their outgoing mail to make it appear that the message is coming from you.payday loans Just ignore these; they are harmless.

However, if you get a complaint from a number of people that “you’ve been spamming me,” your email account may have been compromised. We have all received those messages from a good friend selling “enhancements” to their entire address book. These are cases of spam hijacking. If it happens to you, the first step is to change your passwords. Learn more about email hijacking and what you can do about it here.

What can I do about all the spam I receive? The first thing to do is Google your own email address, and try to have it removed from all sites on which it appears. The live email address is a magnet for spammers. Next, get a good spam filter or convert your mail to a Google Apps account that has built-in filtering.

We can help! Contact us for more info about managing your spam. We can advise you on the best way to keep your spam manageable and your email efficient.

New Site Release: Central CT Plumbing and Heating

We’re proud to announce another new site release, for Tim Vergnetti at Central CT Plumbing & Heating, LLC, a Wallingford plumber. Tim is an honest, hardworking guy, and needed his site to present his business well, yet be designed within his tight budget.  Our new basic WordPress templates were just the ticket!

Using our NFR Basic Red Template, we customized with his logo, images, and content that he will be able to add to, change, and otherwise enhance over time.  An easy connection to his business Facebook page, setup of a Google Places page, and Google Apps business email rounded out the project, helping Tim to efficiently get the work out about his great work.

Check it out at!


New Site Release – Hahn Interiors, LLC

Today we released another WordPress site for a local Bristol, CT business: Hahn Interiors, LLC. Helen Hahn is a talented interior decorator who provides a full range of interior services in the Farmington Valley of CT and beyond, including Interior Renovations, Space Planning, Furniture,
Lighting, Window Treatments, Re-upholstery, Accents, Custom Bedding, and Floor Covering.

Especially in the business of decor, a picture is worth a thousand words.  On this website, Helen has the ability to add and manage multiple photo galleries showing various aspects of her work in an effective visual way. As with all WordPress sites, she has control of all of this content through a simple-to-use back end interface. We also set up a Google Apps email account for ease of managing her business email.

Check it out at!

Email that works with you, not against you…

Google is everywhere… most of us trust this massive company to make sure our businesses are found online, and for an increasing amount of business and home/mobile conveniences (maps, videos, calendar, documents, just to name a few).

Beyond Google’s ever-presence and usefulness, these tools are just plain cool…

Have you heard of Google Apps?
Google Apps is a handy tool that pulls together this host of tools in your own business account. Google Apps also allows you to have your domain-based email to function in a Gmail-based interface “in the cloud” online. This way of hosting your email has many benefits:

  • Email inbox is the same everywhere: reading a message in your phone marks it as read on your home computer and anywhere else you read email – no more deleting messages twice.
  • Email history and folders are available on your phone and remotely.
  • Can be used with Outlook, if you are still entrenched with that tool.
  • You can easily share calendars with your co-workers.
  • The service is free for up to 10 accounts (after initial set-up). No monthly fees as with Microsoft Exchange servers.

We have been using Google Apps in our offices to great success, and recommend it without hesitation. Give us a call for more information!

New Site Release – Century Tool and Design

Ready for their 2012 catalog to be published, Century Tool and Design of Plantsville, CT, needed a website that would be basic in style, but would allow potential and existing customers a place to view their full catalog online.  With world-wide customers, this online portal is an essential piece of their business.

We used a customized version of our “Basic-Clean” template here, with accents to match their catalog color scheme.  The highlight of this site, however, is the PDF viewer on each catalog page.  This allows the Century staff to replace individual pages throughout the year when products change through an easy-to-use online interface.

We also set up a complete Google Apps account for their entire staff for business email, saving them from multiple headaches previously experienced with Outlook Express.

Visit and give it a test drive.  We welcome your comments!