It’s VIA’s 30th Year of Voyage!

VIA Marketing's 30-Year Anniversary

Aye, it’s true, VIA Marketing is celebrating 30 years of sailing in the land of Northwest Indiana.

As part of our 30th year of voyage, our swashbuckling crew invites ye lads and lassies aboard ship to explore our “Pirates and Pearls Treasure Map.” Let our fine marketing compass steer you through 30 Pearls of Wisdom by making passage along VIA’s treasure map. Along the way we’ve buried plentiful pearls for ye mateys to discover.

Trek yer way up the Advertising Mountains and then make passage through Communication Hills. Sail to the shores of Digital Island, but beware of bootleggers on Identity Beach! There are gems to glean and pearls to pirate around every corner on our treasure map. As this ship has been a’sail for 30 years now, the salty crew can tell ye the tales of marketing legend. So climb aboard ship and enter to win pirate treasure!

There’s bountiful booty to be found to help yer ship’s crew hornswaggle yer way past yer competition!

Avast ye! It’s time to get yer own Black Pearls, Pirateology book, and more!

Pirates & Pearls Treasure Map


We are proud to say that VIA Marketing has been serving Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana these many years with award-winning work. We’ve produced cutting-edge creative for start-ups and Fortune 500 companies spanning tech, e-commerce, hospitality, healthcare and beyond.

Our story began in 1987, with a little capital and a lot of faith. VIA’s Cap’n Julie and her business partner struck out in search of a dream. Over a cup of coffee and the hope of breaking out on their own, they formed the new agency. At the helm of this ship was an Itek typesetting machine (yes, it’s now an antique), a copy machine and a typewriter. The first assignment – a health club newsletter.

Today, in 2017, VIA is more than Marketing. We are Idea Crafters, Strategic Thinkers and Imaginative Explorers.

How Will the New SSL Certificate Policy Affect My Website?

SSL Certificate Warning

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. Encryption is what makes the link secure. If you collect sensitive information like a credit card, most likely you already have an SSL Certificate.

To identity web pages with an SSL Certificate, look for their URL to start with (1) “https://”, (2) a little icon of a lock, or (3) a green address bar. These sites use encryption technology that secures your information as it moves from server to server through cyberspace. HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol and the added “S” stands for secure.

Google is now asking that you not only have SSL security on your pages with credit card and password forms, but they also want it to be on ALL pages that contain forms, even simple ones and search bars. When a user begins filling out any of the fields, a warning will appear in the address bar.

SSL Certificate Error
Why does Google Chrome 62 want them on all forms?

According to a recent Forbes article, “from 2013 to 2015 the cyber crime costs quadrupled, and it looks like there will be another quadrupling from 2015 to 2019. Juniper Research recently predicted that the rapid digitization of consumers’ lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, increasing to almost four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015.”

These criminals are smart and motivated, plus Google’s research shows people do not think about the lack of security when they complete forms. Google wants to clearly label unsecure web pages in order to help protect our personal information from hackers.

The process of identifying pages as not secure is a gradual one that started with the release of Chrome version 56 and now a larger standard with Chrome 62. Google intends to continue this initiative and in the future will flag all websites as unsafe unless they have the SSL Certificate. Your Chrome browser will automatically update to 62 unless you have it set to manual.

What does this mean for your website?

Google views security as such an important issue that they use it as one of their search engine ranking factors. Your secure website has a good chance of ranking higher than a non-secure website when someone is searching one of your keywords. One of the biggest reasons to make the switch now is to stay ahead of the curve and maintain or improve your Google ranking.

Approximately 50 percent of people on the Internet use Google Chrome as their browser. This presents another compelling reason. You don’t want to discourage a prospect or customer with a “not secure” pop-up warning.

The best approach for purchasing and adding a secure certificate is to talk with a professional. There’s a lot that goes into switching your website pages, and you don’t want to miss any important steps. An SSL Certificate costs about $60-$70 per year through GoDaddy.

To learn more about your situation, please contact or call 219-769-2299 and we will investigate and recommend updates to keep you on the cutting edge – or at least running without error messages.

Stay Current with PHP Upgrades

We asked Ryan, our web developer, to explain why PHP upgrades are important for websites. As your bonus, I will once again attempt to translate his answers into common English so we can all understand what is meant. Refer to VIA Idea #44 to see my last translation.

VIA Idea #51: Stay Current with PHP Upgrades

  1. Michelle: Starting with the basics, what is PHP?
    Ryan: PHP is a server-side scripting language designed primarily for web development but also used as a general-purpose programming language. PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page but it now stands for the recursive acronym Hypertext Preprocessor. All that means is PHP code can be inserted into the HTML of a Web page.Did you know that as of January 2017, there are over 935 million websites in play on the World Wide Web, and 82.6 percent use a version of PHP? The most-used and supported version is PHP 5.0; these make up 92.3 percent of websites created with PHP code.
    Translation: Website developers really, really like PHP and use it all the time. A “supported software version” means that if a problem occurs, software developers are actively investigating the issue and sending you update patches with the fixes.
  2. Michelle: I’m wondering what other programming languages are out there.
    Ryan: There are dozens out there, some that are well known, such as HTML, ASP and JavaScript. At the other end of the spectrum, there are languages that are rarely used such as Intercal and Whitespace.
    The thing to remember is that even though websites are built in PHP, it doesn’t mean other languages are not used as well. PHP is a server-side script, meaning it runs functions and scripts on your host server before it renders the front end of the website that your visitors will see. PHP works well with other languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and dozens of others to create very powerful websites and applications.
    My Comments: I’m sorry I asked…not sure it matters to our topic of keeping website PHP code updated.
  3. Michelle: Getting back on track: why are there so many versions of PHP?Ryan: People like me work to help grow technology with field advancements in languages such as PHP to bring forth updates and new versions. The most recent version of PHP is v7. Since it is still so new, only 5.5 percent of PHP servers are running it. PHP v5 is still the most-utilized version. Older versions like 5.2x still exist and are used by some web applications, but we are starting to see problems as we move forward with new servers and recent software updates.I skipped PHP v6 because it collapsed in 2010. It’s important to realize that even though it failed, it spawned the intl extension and other features that are now part of the language in v5.x or 7.
    This Means: Programming is always reaching and changing for the better.
  4. Michelle: What happens if I don’t update my PHP version?
    Ryan: If you run PHP v5.2x or lower, you may not initially see anything wrong with your website, but it’s important to remember that your website needs to be up-to-date. New PHP scripts, codes and function may not run on older versions. For example, most content management systems (CMS) on websites run a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, similar to WordPress. This feature requires a minimum version of 5.3 to even run. So as you add new features to your website or CMS, it is imperative that you ensure your server-side software is up-to-date.
    Example: A client of ours recently asked us to add a new CMS feature to the editing part of their website. They wanted a lightweight, stand-alone editor that would allow them to change their website’s text and images. Once installed, we realized the new feature (in this case KCFinder) would not let them employ “image upload” or “file upload”. Only after we tried to upload a file, did we get the warning that the KCFinder required PHP v5.3 or higher. So our client contacted their website host and requested that they update their legacy server. The host informed them that they would be happy to update them to PHP v5.5, from v5.23. Afterwards the client was able to upload images, but a new issue popped up. PHP error codes appeared about “deprecated code” throughout the entire website. We found that the client’s initial CMS installed on the website worked with PHP v5.4 but was never updated for v5.5. PHP v5.5 deprecates the standard mySQL database calls and encourages you to use mySQLI or PDO. We updated all the CMS mySQL calls to the new standard and removed all the errors. Some PHP scripts for special functionality do not work on every PHP version. One seemingly small update started an unforeseen chain of events. Even though it may have been frustrating, it was a good thing to move away from the old server and code.
  5. Michelle: Thank you for that real-life example. Does PHP automatically update itself? How do I know what version my website is running?
    Ryan: PHP needs to be manually updated, and this is best done by a developer to make sure it is a smooth transition.
    Translation: Chances are if your website hasn’t been touched in three years or more, your code hasn’t been touched either. The next time you want to add a new feature or make a change, you may run into a conflict between the server and the code on your website.

If your website is out of date, needs PHP upgrades or suffers from one of the flaws mentioned previously, the VIA Marketing team will be happy to help. Contact Julie and we will recommend PHP updates to keep you on the cutting edge – or at least running without error messages.