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IT for Donuts: get alerted when any web page changes

October 17, 2014 by John McGarvey

IT for Donuts is our regular weekly feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

Sometimes, you want to know when a web page has changed. Maybe you’re keeping close eyes on a competitor’s products and prices. Or perhaps you’re waiting for an item to come back into stock at an online supplier.

This week, we show you how to set up email alerts when web pages change, so you don’t have to check them manually.

Get started with

Ok, let’s imagine you want to receive an email whenever the Tesco special offers web page is changed. (Don’t we all love a bargain?).

To get started, visit this page. Then select the web page address in your web browser and tap CTRL+C to copy it. It should look something like this:

Tesco URL{{}}

Then, go to In the monitor a page section, click the Page Address box, then press CTRL+V to paste in the page URL.

Enter your email address into the Send alert to box, then choose Next:

Change detection{{}}

On the next screen, you can enter an Alert name (choose something you’ll recognise) and select various options for your alert. In general, you can stick with the standard settings here.

If you’re waiting for a specific change, you can enter keywords into the only send alert if box.

For instance, if you want to know when a Blu-ray appears on the Tesco offers page, you could tick added and enter Blu-ray into the box. Then select Create.

Change detection{{}}

At this point, the website will send a confirmation email to your address. Click the link in it and you’ll be prompted to create a password.

Once you’ve done this, your alert is set up. You should receive an email when the page changes.

To change the alert settings or cancel it altogether, just use the password you entered to sign in at

If you’d prefer not to be bombarded by messages about every small change to a web page, we’ve previously explained some other ways to monitor websites regularly

The tricks to finding the right business broadband

October 15, 2014 by IT Donut contributor

Broadband like this? We sympathise.

It goes without saying that every successful business needs a strong internet presence. (Ok, so I said it anyway.)

The internet is likely to be one of the main ways customers find you, contact you, and check up on you via reviews and recommendations. And that’s why having fast, reliable broadband is of critical importance.

Not all broadband is equal

If you’re looking for a new broadband provider, keep in mind that not all services are created equal.

It can be tempting to use a home broadband package for business, particularly if you work from a home office. If you’re considering this, weigh up the pros and cons carefully.

Although business packages do sometimes cost a little more, they typically offer priority support, fewer download restrictions and guaranteed speeds.

How to compare packages

You can compare business broadband deals on websites like, and

This is an excellent way to get a feel for what packages are available and which fit your budget. As you explore the options, you can begin creating a shortlist of packages that might work for your business.

When comparing packages, don’t just take the connection speed into account.

If you can find the information, look at each provider’s contention ratio, too. This measures how many customers share available bandwidth in a given area.

A provider with a contention ratio of 20:1 is likely to offer a connection that’s more consistently fast than one with a contention ratio of 40:1.

Also be aware of data limits, particularly with lower-priced packages.

If you hit your download limit during any given month then you’ll be forced to pay for an extra data allowance. Unlimited packages are worth the money, especially if your business sends and receives lots of large files.

Check out support and service

You can almost guarantee that if something goes wrong with your broadband, it’ll happen at an inconvenient time. And that’s when you’ll be glad you paid a little extra for 24/7 support or priority service.

See if your chosen providers publish average response times on their website. You can even give them a ring to see how long it takes them to pick up.

You might also be able to get a government grant to boost your broadband. More information is available from the Connection Vouchers website.

Once you’ve narrowed down your supplier list, take your time over the decision. Don’t be afraid to call the broadband companies with any questions you have.

After all, you’ll need to rely on them, so your clients can rely on you.

Copyright © 2014 Rachel Calderwood, who runs an online floral business.

What to do if you drop your iPhone 6 in beer

October 14, 2014 by John McGarvey

Well, Apple's iPhone 6 has been available for a couple of weeks now, so it's a fair bet that more than one of these shiny new phones will have fallen victim to water, beer or other liquid damage.

In a thinly-veiled PR stunt, Revivaphone - which offers a kit to resuscitate liquid-damaged phones - reckons it managed to dunk the first iPhone 6 in a pitcher of beer.

You can see the results in this video (warning: there are a couple of swear words in there):

If you do suffer the misfortune of dropping your smart phone into a pint of beer, water or some other liquid, all is not lost.

There's a reasonable chance it won't be destroyed, if you act quickly. Here's what to do:

1. Get it out of the liquid

Well, ok, this is the obvious bit. The less time your smart phone spends submerged, the better.

(As you retrieve your shiny phone from the toilet bowl, this may be the point at which you learn your lesson.)

2. Keep it switched off

Often, a swift dunking will cause your phone to lose power. But if it is still powered up, turn it off immediately.

If your phone has a removable battery, do this by yanking out the battery rather than by pressing any buttons. This will reduce the likelihood of causing further damage.

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to turn the phone on to see if it still works. This could do even more damage.

3. Dry the outside

If possible, remove the battery and SIM card. Then use kitchen towel (or something similarly absorbent) to get all the liquid off the outside of the phone.

You'll want to get as much water out of the phone as possible, so give it a good shake too.

4. Dry the inside

Now you need to be patient. For your phone to have the best chance of surviving, it needs to dry out completely before you try powering it up.

It's best to use something to draw out the moisture. A low-tech but surprisingly effective technique is to dump your phone in a bowl or bag of rice. If you do this, just be careful of dust getting into the phone.

If you can get hold of it, silica gel is even better. Either way, leave the handset to dry out for at least 48 hours.

Don't use a hairdryer or other heat sources to speed up the drying process. This can damage any heat-sensitive components in your phone.

5. Reassemble and cross your fingers

Ok, here goes. If you've left it a few days and your phone seems dry, pop the SIM back in, reconnect the battery and try to switch it on.

Depending on the level of damage, your phone could work perfectly, partly or not at all.

If your phone does seem to function ok, take the opportunity to back up any important data you need. Occasionally, liquid-damaged phones fail at a later date.

Is it worth buying a kit?

In addition to the Revivaphone product, there are a number of kits available to breathe life into water-damaged phones. These include Kensington's EVAP kit and the Save-a-Phone drying device.

These may provide a more effective way to dry out your phone. But as time is of the essence with liquid damage, it might be worth keeping one or two of them in the office. Well, that or a bag of rice, at least.

IT for Donuts: delete or skip words one-by-one

October 10, 2014 by John McGarvey

The CTRL key{{}}IT for Donuts is our regular weekly feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week, we reveal how the CTRL key can transform how you work with text in popular applications like Microsoft Word. Read on to learn its power.

Use CTRL to go word-by-word

If you use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to move through documents, you’ll be well aware that they move your cursor one letter at a time.

That’s fine if you need to get to the middle of a word to make changes. But it’s not so great if you want to jump move forward or back by a few words.

No problem. Next time you use the left and right arrow keys to move through text, hold down the CTRL key. Suddenly the cursor will move one word at a time, rather than letter-by-letter.

It works with backspace, too

The CTRL key works when you’re trying to delete words too. Instead of using the backspace key to delete text letter-by-letter, hold down CTRL. Then you can delete text a word at a time, instead.

Both these tips should work in common software on Windows computers. If you use a Mac, try holding down the Option key, instead. This is the key between cmd and ctrl. On most Macs, it’s marked with two lines and the text ‘alt’.

The inconvenient truth of A/B testing

October 07, 2014 by John McGarvey

Should you A/B test your website?{{}}Why guess about how to improve your website, when you can actually measure exactly which changes have the greatest impact?

That’s the basic idea behind A/B testing. Because tracking what people do on your website is easy, you can make a change and then precisely measure what impact it has on your sales or conversion rate.

A/B testing is also called ‘split testing’. Learn the basics on Marketing Donut.

How does A/B testing work?

With A/B testing, you use an A/B testing tool to split your website traffic in two. Half of visitors see your original page design. The others see an edited version.

As visitors interact with your website, you track how visitors behave and measure what they buy.

Over time, you can see which of the two versions is generating more sales. In A/B testing terms, you can see which is the winner. Typical A/B tests might aim to determine:

  • What types of imagery work best on a landing page.
  • What key benefit you should use in your headline.
  • What button text generates more clicks.

Once you’ve proved which of your two versions is better, you can roll it out to all visitors — and move on to your next A/B test.

The awkward truth about A/B testing

In recent years, the popularity of A/B testing has grown enormously. Tools like Google Content Experiments, Optimizely and Unbounce help you run A/B tests even if you don’t have much technical knowledge.

When running A/B tests is so easy, it’s tempting to get carried away. Why bother with market research when you can just try out two options and let the results show — unarguably — which is right?

Well, if you’re a small company that wants to test everything, you’re going to run into a problem pretty quickly. Your website probably doesn’t have enough visitors.

In A/B testing, statistical significance is crucial

An A/B test is only truly useful if you have confidence in the result. You need to know, for sure, that the element you’ve changed is responsible for the improved conversion rate.

Here’s an example. Imagine you’re testing two variants of a landing page.

Half your visitors see the original version, which is converting at 1%. The other remaining visitors see a new version that’s converting at 2%.

At first glance, it looks like the new page has won. Doubling conversion rate is an impressive result — it could double your revenue, too.

But what if these were the full numbers behind that test?

  • The original version was seen by 100 visitors. One of those visitors clicked ‘Buy now’, giving the conversion rate of 1%.
  • The new version was also seen by 100 visitors. Two of those visitors clicked ‘Buy now’, giving the conversion rate of 2%.

Suddenly, things look different. The difference between pages is a single sale. If just one more person chooses to buy from the original page, the score will be even.

For many small business websites, these aren’t unrealistic traffic levels for a single page. However, you need many more visitors to be confident the improvement you’re seeing isn’t down to chance or seasonal factors.

A/B testing may take longer than you think

Most A/B testing tools will give you an indication of how much confidence you can have in the results of your test. Typically, you’ll want a confidence rating of more than 95% before using a test’s outcome to make a decision.

And that takes time. As a general benchmark, you’ll need at least 100 sales or conversions via each page variant before confidence in the result is that high.

If your conversion rate is 2%, that equates to 5,000 visitors to each page. But if those pages only receive a few hundred visitors a week, you’ll be waiting a while for results you can trust.

Have realistic expectations of A/B tests

Sites with massive traffic, like Google, have the ability to test 41 different shades of blue to see which performs better. But your average small business website simply doesn’t have enough traffic to run such detailed tests.

This doesn’t mean A/B testing is a waste of time. It can be a really powerful way to improve your website. But it’s important you go into any project with realistic expectations of how long it will take to get meaningful results.

Online marketing gurus often talk of ‘testing your way to success’. But more often, visitor numbers mean it takes time for a single A/B test to provide conclusive results.

And in practical terms, that means A/B testing is best used as one of many tools to improve your website experience.

Posted in The internet | Tagged Website testing | 0 comments

IT for Donuts: how to include YouTube videos on your blog

October 03, 2014 by John McGarvey

IT for Donuts is our regular weekly feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week, we show you how to put YouTube videos on your blog. This is also called ‘embedding’ videos — it’s really easy, so read on to find out how to do it.

Why embed a YouTube video?

There are two main reasons for embedding YouTube videos on your own blog or website:

  1. It’s the easiest way to include one of your own videos. Hosting for videos requires significant bandwidth, so it can be much more expensive than standard web hosting. Using YouTube means you don’t have to pay anything.
  2. You want to include someone else’s video. In general, it’s ok to embed videos from YouTube on your own website. To be extra safe, steer clear of any obviously-copyrighted footage that’s been put on YouTube by a third-party. For instance, clips from Premier League football matches.

Ok, if you’ve found a video on YouTube that you want to include on your website, read on to find out what to do.

How to embed a YouTube video

How easy it is to embed a YouTube video will depend on what content management system or blogging platform you use.

Many blogs use WordPress. If yours does, you’re in luck. With the latest version, embedding a video is trivially easy:

1. Start writing your post in WordPress, as normal.

2. When you get to the point where you want to insert the video, find the video on YouTube.

3. Copy the address of the video on YouTube from your web browser’s address bar (to do this, highlight the entire address by clicking it, then press CTRL+C):

YouTube video address{{}}

4. Paste this into your blog post (to do this, press CTRL+V)

5. You’ll see the video magically appear in your blog post.

If your blogging platform doesn’t make it quite this easy, it’s still relatively simple. To get started, you need to view the HTML code for your blog post. There’s usually a button marked HTML (or similar) to do this:

HTML button example{{}}

Once you have your HTML code on screen, follow these steps:

1. Find the video on YouTube.

2. Scroll down till you see the Share option. Select this, then choose Embed:

Share and Embed options{{}}

3. You’ll see some embed options appear. Choose a size for your video from the dropdown. (If you’re not sure which to use, start with the smallest and see how it looks.)

Size dropdown box{{}}

4. There’s a line of HTML code just below the Embed option. Click once to select it all.

YouTube embed code{{}}

5. Then copy this code by pressing CTRL+C.

6. Switch to your blog post’s HTML code. Locate where you want to insert the video and paste the embed code with CTRL+V.

7. Save and preview your post to see how the video looks. If it’s too small or too large, use the dropdown to adjust the size, then copy and paste the code again.

That’s all there is to it. To prove it, here's an embedded video of a dog on a skateboard:

Now you can start using video on your website!

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