Despite the increasing influence of social media, traditional websites still play a huge role in establishing a presence for your company online. If someone in your area hits Google looking for an electrician, it’s not going to matter whether you have a solid Facebook following if all of the top results are competitors’ websites. While having a website is very important for establishing and maintaining an online presence for your company, you may not need all the bells and whistles that are available for your site.
One example of this is SSL, which is also sometimes called an SSL certificate. It’s a security measure, and with all of the data breaches and hacking stories we hear these days you may think that more security is better. Unless you actually have a need for SSL, though, you may be better off spending that money on other things for your website (like getting a designer to tweak that logo you created in Paint back in the 90s.)
What Is SSL?
SSL stands for “Secure Socket Layer”, and it’s essentially a digital certificate that contains information about the website, encrypts communications between users’ browsers and the server and generally certifies to the user that the site is on the up-and-up. SSL certificates are purchased by third parties that confirm your information and the information about your site to ensure that everything is the way you claim it is.
The certificates expire after a period of time, ensuring that information is kept up to date each time the website owner renews the certificate. They’re actually pretty good security, since if there’s any problem with the certificate or it doesn’t seem genuine then visitors will receive a big warning from their browser before they ever view the page with the problems.
More Security Is Good
As a general rule, you want your website to be secure. In this case we’re talking about your professional website or the site you maintain for your business, but even personal webpages need security to prevent unauthorized access. You wouldn’t want a rogue hacker changing the code to your website and planting virus downloads or directing all of your traffic to another electrician, would you? Website security measures not only protect your site from unauthorized access but also protect your visitors as well.
Too Much Security Is Wasted
The only issue with website security measures is that you can reach a point where you’ve invested more in your website’s security than it actually needs. SSL certificates are a good example; some companies spend hundreds of dollars per year on certificates while not actually doing anything on the site that SSL would protect. As an electrician, there’s a good chance that your website won’t actually require more advanced security features. Do you really want to pay the extra cost year after year for things that you don’t need?
Do You Need SSL?
If you need SSL for your website to protect your customers, then, by all means, get it. An SSL certificate provides good security (and peace of mind) for the price. However, stop to consider what data that certificate is meant to protect before you pony up the cash.
Do you have an online payment option for customers on your website? Do your customers send potentially compromising information just as payment details, home addresses or other personal data using on-site forms? Do you have a login function where users can access an account via a username and password? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, then you may have a need for SSL. If your page is static (or just contains a blog) and doesn’t deal with customer payments or personal data, though, adding SSL may be an unnecessary expense.
Legal vs. Smart
From a legal standpoint, you don’t need to have an SSL certificate unless you’re collecting sensitive information from users. However, it’s important to remember that without SSL, most browsers and some search engines will label your site as “not secure”, which will inevitably scare off some potential customers.
Some hosting companies offer free SSL certificates, such as Let’s Encrypt, to their clients, so check with your host – if they offer it free, you can’t say the price isn’t right.