877.799.9994   330.666.5164
A skilled graphic designer, Heather is responsible for the visual branding of Pilot Fish client websites.  Before joining Pilot Fish in 2000, she worked her design magic at DigiKnow, an Ohio-based web development firm. 

Maintaining Brand Consistency Across Social Media

You want each of your social media sites to look like they are all from the same company so you can create a strong connection with visitors.

From your website, to your marketing materials, to each of your social media accounts, brand consistency is essential in building trust with new or existing customers. But, since just about anyone can create and populate a social media site for their business, sometimes this attention to consistency can get lost or overlooked.

So, how does your social media presence hold up when it comes to brand consistency? To get a sense, compare the following design basics of your website and marketing materials to your social media sites:  

Logo
Instead of just typing in your company name, your logo should be included as part of your cover image or avatar. In most cases, the same version of your logo should be used across all platforms. The more often your logo is seen from site to site, the better.

Photos
Assign a cover photo. Choose one of your images that is already recognizable to your customers, or, select one that has a similar visual treatment as your main website photos. The photos in your posts should also resemble images from your website. Shadowing, borders, filters, colors and other treatments should be the same or very similar.

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Tips for Adding an Image Gallery to Your Website

Discuss the idea with your tech support or web development company to find out which galleries will be compatible with your site.

A website image gallery can be a dynamic and interactive way to share groups of images with your website visitors. Some galleries can be useful for maximizing website real estate, displaying a collection of numerous images in a small space, instead of having to scroll or click from page to page to see the images. Others can display a number of images at once making it fast and easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. There is a vast array of galleries available to choose from for whatever your goals are for displaying images on your site.

So, how do you begin to select the right gallery for your website? Below are some tips to help you begin the process.

  1. Examine the layouts that are available online.

    Find and test available image galleries and decide which display you would like best for your website.

    Here are just a few of the countless formats that are available for image galleries:

    • Carousel
      Revolving images that automatically rotate, or, are controlled by the user by clicking the arrow buttons.
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151 Hits

Web Design Tips: Pros/Cons of Large Header Images

Some sites rely so much on the effectiveness of image that they offer little or no keyword-rich content on the page that is necessary for search engine rankings.

Large, attractive header graphics on website home pages have been a trend for some time and not likely to go away anytime soon. And, why would they? A large image in the header of a website can have a very strong visual appeal. It can immediately attract attention and “wow” visitors. However, an image that is too large in size, or, not applied appropriately to a website, can negatively affect SEO and the overall user experience.

Here are some pros and cons regarding the use of large header images on websites.


PROS

It makes your site look up-to-date design-wise.
You want to be sure that your website looks modern, not dated. Using a large header image is what everyone else is doing right now, and following current trends can help you achieve a modern and current design aesthetic.

 
A large graphic demands attention.
We use photography and illustration because it catches the eye. If it’s done right, a large header image can inspire and engage the audience. It can instantly tell a story and convey a specific message very quickly.

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332 Hits

Better Content Legibility for a Better User Experience

Points of emphasis will immediately guide the user to the most pertinent information and help readers who like to scan content.

For those who have worked in the industrial marketing space a long time, it’s clear that websites offer lots of advantages over other forms of marketing – easier to control the message and update it as often as necessary; inexpensive compared to print advertising and tradeshows; and relatively easy to generate leads – if the visitors come, stay long enough to explore your site and follow through with a request for more information or a quote.  

To make sure your website is functioning the way you want, it’s important to give site visitors the right kind of experience. The first step to is getting visitors to your website. The next step is keeping them there.

Content legibility is one of the most important elements in keeping visitors on your site. A confusing, cluttered site is going to chase users away, while a well-organized, well-balanced, easy-to-read site is going to gauge users’ interest. Good legibility helps users to quickly and easily find the information that they need for a better overall user experience.

Find out if your site follows some of the most pertinent legibility standards:

Font(s)

The fonts on your site should support the style you are looking to portray, but more-importantly, they should be easy to read. It’s okay to use a more decorative font for areas of minimal text, but not for large areas of content.

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397 Hits

15 Tips for Better Password Protection

Do not store your passwords or master password in your email, or, on your computer in a text file, even if that text file is password protected.

Password protection is a crucial part of cyber security that not only impacts the security of business websites, but also personal information for anyone using the Internet.

Yet, many of us don’t take it as seriously as we should. The convenience and expediency of using easy-to-remember passwords, or, not changing passwords for a long period of time will, sooner or later, compromise your online security. Despite the risks, we have all been guilty of this.

As hackers continue to become more and more sophisticated in their means of stealing information our risks will continue to increase. Although there is no guarantee of a completely fail-safe solution, there are a number of things that you can do to drastically lower the risk of password theft and the catastrophe that could follow.

  1. Do not use the same password for more than one account login.
    If hackers get ahold of a password from one account, they can get into all of your accounts with that same password.
  2. Use a password manager.
    Use a password manager to help generate secure, random passwords that you won’t have to remember on your own, except for one very secure master password. Once you are logged in with the master password, some password managers will automatically, and securely, fill in your hard-to-remember passwords for you.
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607 Hits

5 Tips for a Successful Website Pre-Production Meeting

Over time, this comprehensive list of questions has proven to be the best way to communicate to your designer how you want your site to look and function.

5 Tips for a Successful Website Pre-Production Meeting 

Before you undertake a website redesign, it will be important to have a pre-production meeting, which will provide the information necessary for your designer to gain a clear picture and understanding of what you want on your website. In the meeting, topics will be discussed such as, the nature of your company, website goals, website likes and dislikes, styles, colors, etc. The thoroughness of the information that you provide will play a significant factor in how happy you are with the final design of your website.

Follow these five steps to help you prepare for your pre-design meeting. Doing so will help the meeting go quickly, smoothly, and will help you get the results you are looking for in your website design.

1. Review all materials provided to you about the meeting.
This meeting is the information-gathering phase of the website design process and is probably the most significant stage in the project. That is why it is so important to be prepared for the initial project discussion. Read over all of the materials(often including a detailed questionnaire)  that have been provided so you can give meaningful input on the information and questions that have been prepared for the initial discussion.

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626 Hits

Is it Time for a Review of Your CMS-based Website?

To get the most out of your CMS, it is wise to upgrade when updates are available.

If your website is controlled by a content management system (CMS) and you are making the edits yourself, you might want to occasionally have your web developer review the site to make sure you are on the right track. Doing so can positively impact the overall appearance, and the performance, of your website.

Here are the items that you should have your website developer review and why.

Content

If you’ve previously had your website optimized by and SEO expert, you’ll want to take care when editing the text on your site that you don’t change or overwrite any optimized content. A review of your site will help your SEO consultant determine whether your website pages are performing as planned on Google or whether additional work to meta tags or content should be done to bring your site’s SEO up to the latest standards.

Graphics

Without the eye for detail that a professional graphic designer has, it’s possible that over time, DIY changes to images and graphics on your site can impact the design integrity. Your website designer can help you regain balance of site elements and make sure the image treatments (such as borders, margins, sizes, proportions, color treatments, etc.) are consistent throughout the site.


Navigation

Adding, moving or deleting pages within a CMS can affect more than just navigation buttons. It’s good to review your site periodically to make sure that internal navigational links all still point to live pages and that your site navigation is still working properly throughout the site. 

Links

Have your site reviewed for broken links, missing graphics, videos, PDFs, etc., that may have occurred along the way. The site will should be reviewed for any missing target tags, which are useful in keeping visitors on your site for a longer period of time.

Typography

Consistency in typography builds trust with site visitors. Your designer will check for, and repair, any inconsistencies in fonts, font sizes, font colors, and, font treatments.

Responsive Design

When edits or upgrades are made, sometimes the responsive design can be affected. A review of the responsive design can flag any coding mishaps that could jeopardize the appearance of your site on other devices.

Latest CMS Upgrades and Testing

To get the most out of your CMS, it is wise to upgrade when updates are available. (Upgrading will help with the security of your site, giving you the best possible protection against hackers. Upgrades can also supply you with new features and technologies for your CMS, which will help you to maximize the value of your CMS investment.) Your web developer can install these CMS upgrades for you. The frontend and backend of the site will be examined for any errors or glitches that the upgrade might have caused so these issues can be addressed and resolved in a timely manner.

While going through the review and edit process with your developer, it’s also a good time to make updates to the things that you are unable to edit, or just don’t have time to edit, yourself, such as, headers, sliders, footers, or, any other parts of the CMS framework.

For assistance with your website design, contact Pilot Fish or call 877-799-9994 ext. 2102.

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776 Hits

Effective Website Design: Use Motion to Create Visual Expression

Less is definitely more when it comes to any type of animation or movement

Attracting visitors to your website can sometimes be a challenge. Keeping them there can be even more of a challenge. Luckily, these days, there are a lot of effective website design techniques available that can help to not only attract visitors, but to keep visitors interested and engaged in your message and what you have to offer.

One effective website design technique that can help interest and retain visitors is the use of motion. Below are some techniques that can be used to create motion, bring energy to your site, make it more enticing for visitors to engage in and make it more memorable.

Sliders
An image slider is a fantastic, eye-catching way of getting a lot of visual information into a limited amount space. Instead of only having one image and tagline to showcase your products or services, your website design can feature a creative, interactive, frame by frame animation to help tell your story and direct site visitors to various important sections of your site.

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1950 Hits

Custom Website Designs vs. CMS Design Templates

Custom designs are built from the ground up and around your company’s exact needs, specifications, and branding.

When it’s time for a web site redesign, one of the decisions your company may need to make is whether to use a CMS design template or create a custom website design.

A CMS design template is a generic website design that is typically available at little cost to enable businesses to easily and quickly build and launch a new website.

It can be tempting to choose the inexpensive route of a CMS website template. There are many popular sites where you can download and install a template and have your website up and running in a relatively short period of time.

Generally speaking, these CMS templates are easy to use, require minimal effort to set up and are offered at little to no price. Although this might be the right choice for some, it is well worth evaluating the valuable benefits of a custom website design, especially if it is within your budget.

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1081 Hits

6 Tips for Sending Images to Your Website Designer

Be sure to name and organize your files in a folder structure that exactly reflects your website outline or site map

Many of the website design projects that we produce are time-sensitive to our clients. The sooner the site is live, the better. One way you, as a client, can help in keeping your website design project moving along quickly is by following these 6 tips for sending images to your website designer.

  1. Use a remote server to share your image files
    If you are using a shared, remote server, such as, cloud computing, Dropbox, or any other FTP tool – this is ideal. Here, images and image folders can be seen and discussed by both you and your designer in a common, and always up-to-date, environment throughout the entire design process. If the information is well organized, your designer can quickly access the files and there will be little to no guessing about where the images should be placed on your website.
  2. When using a remote server, be sure to name and organize your files in a folder structure that exactly reflects your website outline or site map. See the simplified example below for reference.



    In each of the subfolders, include the images that will go on the corresponding page. 

     

    It’s understandable that not all images will be available at the same time. As additional images become available, just upload those files to the remote server in the proper folder and let your designer know which new images have been provided.
     
  3. Name your files in an intuitive, descriptive way
    Avoid using generic, meaningless image file names, or, image names that have been assigned by a digital camera. Instead, use descriptive file names that leverage keywords used on your site for SEO.

    Incorrect:
    D00317.jpg
    D00318.jpg
    D00319.jpg

    Correct: 
    seo-company-building.jpg
    ohio-seo-company.jpg
    tennessee-seo-company.jpg
     
  4. Follow the rules of acceptable file naming

    Rule 1: No caps

    Incorrect:
    SEO-COMPANY-BUILDING.JPG

    Correct:
    seo-company-building.jpg

    Rule 2: No spaces

    Incorrect:
    seo company building.jpg

    Correct:
    seo-company-building.jpg


    Rule 3: No special characters

    Do not use characters such as: " < > # % { } | \ ^ ~ [ ] `.

    Incorrect:
    product-#3x001.jpg

    Correct:
    product-number-3x001.jpg

  5. Provide a document indicating any image captions and/or special instructions
    If you are including captions with your images, please provide a document with the image name and corresponding caption. If you have any additional notes or instructions, please include those as well. This information could be provided in a simple word document with specifications that reflect the sample “About Us” page information below:

    ABOUT US
    Image name:
     seo-company-building.jpg
    Caption: Our corporate headquarters, built in 1974, is located in Akron, Ohio.
    Notes: This image is very important to us. Please place it in a prominent position near the top of the page.

     
  6. If you are sending images via email, provide a descriptive email subject line
    Sending images via email is OK, but not ideal. Usually, designers like high resolution images to work with, but, because of large file sizes, will limit the number of images that can be sent through each email. Usually, the images have to be sent one, or only a few at a time, which could eventually become tedious and time consuming to sift through. But, there will be times when emailing an image could be the only available method. If this is the case, please be sure to use a descriptive subject line and detailed message so your designer can easily determine the nature and placement of the images in the email.

    Incorrect:
    Email subject line: Attached is a new image for the website

    Email message: Please use this in place of the image that I sent last week.

    Correct:
    Email subject line: Your Company Name | Website redesign | Replacement corporate headquarters building image for “About Us” page

    Email message: Please use the attached, updated image in place of “seo-company-building.jpg”, which I emailed on 08/03/16.

Following these tips will:

  1. Save time for your web design company, which will keep your project moving along much faster;
  2. Save you time by requiring less back-and-forth communication between you and your website designer or project manager and fewer questions for you to answer.

Ready to start your website redesign? Contact Pilot Fish or call 877-799-9994 ext. 2102 for a quote or more information.

 
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768 Hits

Maintaining the Integrity of Your B2B Website Design

The amount of time that a B2B website takes to make an impression on a visitor could only be an instant.

B2B companies serious about using their websites as a marketing/sales tool need to ensure that their website design presents a professional appearance that fits the personality and communication style of the business. The best way to do that is to entrust your B2B website design into the talented hands of a professional web designer -- who can interpret the design needs of your business based on a review of your marketing materials and discussion with key decision makers -- rather than someone who will slap your text and images on a common WordPress template.

Below are the factors that a professional website designer will consider as they create your new B2B website.   

The Perfect Design for Your B2B Website

Graphic designers are always striving for perfection. They obsess over the color, size and placement of every component of every design down to the last pixel. They can work on designs for hours, days, weeks, or even longer, but still continue to want to make improvements. They will continually move elements around the page to make the design just a little bit better, a little more balanced, a little bit more organized, or to get that alignment just right.

The amount of time that a B2B website takes to make an impression on a visitor could only be an instant. Subconsciously, we notice perfection, or imperfections, of which we are not even aware. It is the job of your designer to pay attention to all of those subtleties and to create a design that is as flawless as possible. The professionalism of your website and brand depends on it.

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746 Hits

The Time for Responsive Web Design is Now

You may delay,
but time will not.”
– Ben Franklin

Technology does not move in reverse. So, if you still haven’t made the transition to responsive web design, now is the time. Even if you are happy with your current website design, responsive design is imperative by today’s standards. You can stick with the same look and feel, but your site will have to be modified to work under a new grid structure.

Here are some reasons you shouldn’t wait any longer to make the transition:

  • Google prefers responsive design. Your SEO results could, and probably will, suffer without it. 
  • Mobile users are still continuing to grow in number. Device flexibility will give your site a much larger audience.
  • Mobile users have grown to expect responsive sites and can lose patience with sites that are not. They could give up and look to your competitors instead.
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1126 Hits

Internet Changes Challenge Sites to be Better

If you are not adhering to best practices or if your site is not up to date on the latest requirements, then your site will be penalized.

 “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change” - Heraclitus


Well, isn’t that the truth? When looking back over the years, change has certainly been the only constant in every aspect of the web and Internet marketing. Not only has there been continuous change in appearance, technology, SEO practices and device platforms, but many of these developments have happened relatively quickly.  

Sometimes, keeping up with these changes can become overwhelming because successful Internet marketing is such a moving target, which often leads to additional costs and time investments. But, one thing that has been proven over time is that through all of this change, good things have happened. Internet marketing has evolved for the better and has become an invaluable and necessary tool for conducting business.

So, what are some of these changes? What are the benefits? And, why is it so important to embrace change?

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719 Hits

Solidify Your Brand with Professional Social Media Sites

No matter which platform you are on, casual or not, meaningful content can be overlooked if your brand identity is weak.

We all know that having a professional appearance is an important part of a marketing strategy that can help build credibility and trust with customers while distinguishing a company from its competitors. This aspect of branding should resonate throughout all areas of marketing, including social media. Establishing continuity across all marketing platforms is challenging, but can be accomplished with the proper use of professional photography, color and consistency in style.

It seems that many companies are on board with maximizing the appearance of their social media sites, but it is surprising that there are still some companies out there that aren’t taking advantage of such a considerable opportunity for fully and suitably promoting their brand. Although social media is often a conversational, casual and informal platform, it does hold a very significant weight in current marketing strategies that should not be taken lightly, and the appearance of these sites should not be neglected.

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1131 Hits

Your Website Redesign Begins with Research

Looking at other industry sites will give you a more vast selection of tone, style and design.

When designing or redesigning a website, it might seem overwhelming or difficult to articulate the details of how you would like your site to look. So, how do you describe the appearance of something that doesn’t exist? The easiest way to do this is through research and communication. Finding bits and pieces of elements that you like or dislike and providing your designer with this information is the first step to getting the look and functionality that you want in your website. Once you communicate these findings, your designer will assess all of your input and will produce a unique design to fit your company’s needs.

So, where should you begin?

1. Review your competitors’ sites.
Do you see something that gives other companies in your industry a competitive advantage or edge over your company? Do you like the way the information is presented on any of these sites? Is this done through the use of good photography, colors, fonts, or, all of the above? Or, do you hate everything about a particular site? Understanding your dislikes can be just as important as understanding your likes. Is the site difficult to navigate? Is there too much information on a page? Or, is the site perfect and you would really like to figure out a way to surpass the demonstration of quality with the innovativeness of your own website?

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1012 Hits

Keep Your Website Redesign Project on Track and within Budget

Problem: Not getting back with your web design company in a timely manner 

Solution: Be accessible.
Designing a website is a team effort and requires a lot of back-and-forth communication between the client and the design company. To keep your project on track and to secure your place in the production schedule, respondto questions, requests for materials and feedback, and gather approvals on your end in a timely manner.

Problem: Including decision-makers too late in the process, or not at all.

Solution: Involve all decision-makers early in the process and get feedback and approvals for design concepts and content before programming begins. Don’t sign off on design concepts until all important decision-makers have reviewed and agreed. Anyone and everyone that has an impact on the launch of the website should be involved throughout the ENTIRE process. Please do not sign off on any step unless you have gotten the go-ahead from each of these individuals. Not reviewing the design with all of the decision-makers almost always results in complex late-stage edit requests which have proven to be one of the most costly mistakes a client can make. For instance, if the nature of the edit requires a change in the structure of the site, the request could cost thousands to implement. These late-stage changes will undoubtedly throw your project off schedule and off budget.

Problem: Changing out images/sliders/headers

Solution: Know ahead of time which images you would like to use for all areas of the site.

Be specific about which images you would like to include on your website andassign those images to individual pages. Know that design work goes into editing each image and takes time to complete. If approved images have already been edited, cropped, uploaded and incorporated into the site, having to later replace those images could result in additional costs. The same is true, even more so, for header images and sliders, which are often custom-designed and could take a significant amount of time to recreate.

You can avoid having to swap out images late in the process by making careful image choices prior to the start of the design. Also, consult with your web designer about whether the images that you are considering are of a high enough quality to use on your website, or, whether you should hire a photographer for more professional-looking images.

Be sure to discuss your image choices with all of the parties involved in the website design before submitting those to the designer.

Problem: Late-stage design changes

Solution: Don’t sign off on designs prematurely.
This is one of the most crucial and costly mistakes that I have seen clients make. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to request all design edits before the site has reached the programming stage. So, that means, you will need to submit all of your final design edits before signing off on any design approvals. If you have officially signed off on the design, edit requests from this point on will most-likely affect the structure and programming of the design (and of the responsive design), which are often very costly. (Most minor text edits do not apply, unless they are part of an image, or affect the overall structure of the page.)

Problem: Waiting to review content till it’s on the website

Solution: Whether you write your own website content or have your web design/SEO firm write it, it’s important to have your company’s decision makers review and approve the content prior to building the site. Although most text changes are easy to make after the site has been built, some content may be incorporated into more complex graphics or website features that can be costly to edit later. Legal reviews should occur at the time the content has been written or early in the website review process so that the launch date isn’t impacted by waiting for a lawyer to give his/her blessing.  

For assistance in planning your company’s website redesign, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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1119 Hits

Effective Website Redesign Starts with Materials Checklist

Once your company has made the decision that it’s time for a website redesign, it’s important to gather all the materials that your designer will need to start the project.  Putting extra effort up front to pull together the media and content will enable your designer to begin the website redesign process without delay. 

Also, giving your designer access to all available media that could be used for the site prior to starting the project helps the creative process and minimizes the possibility of major changes to the new design.  There’s nothing worse than having your designer create a new home page design and then find out there are several really good videos, PowerPoints or images that could have been and possibly should have been incorporated into the design. 

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1115 Hits

Three Costly Mistakes to Avoid when Developing Your Website

It’s easy to let the cost of any project – including a new website – get out of hand. But a few simple precautions can prevent such a disaster. Below are three notable mistakes to avoid during the website development process to help you remain within your website design budget.

1. Including decision-makers too late in the process

Putting off the purchase of an SEO package will save you money now, but you will be losing out on the necessary promotion of your website and on opportunities for business in the future.

Starting with the decision to purchase a design-and-SEO package all the way through the website launch, it is necessary to include all decision-makers who have any say in your company’s website. Through many steps of the development process, you will be asked for sign-offs and approvals. Be sure to consult all of the decision-makers before approving each of these steps and before getting back your web developer with edit requests.

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1026 Hits

Adapting to Responsive Design

Responsive web design is a great solution for creating a site that is adaptable to any device, large or small. However, since there is less real estate to work with on smaller devices, some additional measures have to be taken to in order to make your responsive design uncomplicated and user-friendly while still getting your message across.

Fortunately, there are some decisions that you can make about which website elements are visible and how information is arranged for the smaller devices. And, this can be accomplished without compromising the integrity of the site in large, or in small format.

A beneficial aspect
of responsive web design is that it allows you to decide on the sequence of your site content.

So, if you are ready to make the switch to responsive design, here are some of the things that you should consider as your site transitions from a large screen to a small screen.

Reducing navigation
Navigation bars and buttons are commonly duplicated on websites that are made to fit larger screen resolutions, but, for the responsive website, you will have the option of hiding redundant or unneeded navigational elements to conserve real estate on the smaller screens. You may also consider including collapsible navigation bars as another option for conserving space.

 

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1102 Hits

What is the Quality of Your Image?

Even the most subtle errors in design regarding logo quality, spacing, and even paper choices can negatively affect how people react to your marketing efforts or correspondences.

I recently received a letter in the mail from a business that was claiming to represent my insurance company. The letter requested some personal information regarding a recent claim. Immediately, it gave off some red flags that caused me to question whether the letter was legitimate or a modern-day phishing scam.

After several phone calls to my insurance company, I finally learned that the company that sent the letter was, indeed, legitimate. But, the company was so poorly represented by their letter that one would never know it was actually a credible organization. The representative at my insurance company said that she’d received a number of calls asking about the validity of the letter but she wasn’t aware of the exact issue until I explained to her the unprofessional appearance of the correspondence.

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1270 Hits