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Net Briefs - March 2016

Posted on 3.02.2016

Quick Hits

Quora Hands Out Knowledge Prizes

Q&A site Quora is moving in a unique direction - enabling companies to pay cash to incentivize answers to questions. The cash rewards program, dubbed Knowledge Prizes, allows a sponsor to signal that they think a question is particularly important by offering a financial prize for the best new answer. This will likely encourage topic experts to more actively participate on the network.

A Social Login Shakeup

Facebook's virtual stronghold on social login seems to be loosening according to data from Gigya's Q4 2015 Landscape of Customer Identity report. The study revealed that although Facebook credentials accounted for 62 percent of all social logins on websites in Q4, the social network did see a slight decline from Q2 when it peaked at 66 percent. Logins with Google credentials are likely the reason for the Facebook decline. Google came in at 24 percent in the Q4 Gigya study, which is an increase from the second quarter of 2015 when its social login share was at 20 percent.

SSL for All

Adding encryption to a website has always been more complex than it should be, but Amazon is simplifying the process for its AWS users with its new Certificate Manager offering. The new service automates the registration and renewal of SSL/TLS certificates for AWS Elastic Load Balancers and Amazon CloudFront distributions. There are no charges incurred by using AWS Certificate Manager itself, and the certificates cost nothing. At launch, Certificate Manager is available in only one region - the Eastern United States - but the addition of other regions is expected to follow.

.Shop Gets Bought

Japanese domain name company GMO Registry will control the .shop top-level domain name after winning an auction with a whopping price of $41.5 million. GMO's bid for the hotly contested top-level domain beat out several others including Amazon and Google. GMO says .shop will be an open, unrestricted namespace, but the company is forbidding speculation and trading of domains under the TLD. Will online retailers adopt the new extension for their brands? Stay abreast of this and other important e-commerce topics in Website Magazine's E-Commerce Express channel at

More Budget for UX

A new study from user research platform UserTesting reveals that user experience (UX) budgets are on the rise. The UX Industry Report shows that in 2014 the largest segment was the $1 to $500 monthly budget range, but in 2015 that number rose to the $1,001 to $5,000 monthly range. What's more, there was a rise in the frequency of testing with the percentage of respondents who ran tests daily doubling from 2014 to 2015.

Firefox Gets Pushy

Mozilla unveiled a Firefox update for Windows, Mac and Linux that enables users to choose to receive push notifications from websites. The update is similar to Web notifications, except now users can receive them for websites even when they're not loaded in a tab. The feature is especially useful for websites that someone may check frequently for updates, such as email, weather, social networks and shopping.


$250 Million

Microsoft shelled out a reported $250 million to acquire popular predictive-typing keyboard application SwiftKey.

$50 Million

SMB reward program platform FiveStars raised a $50 million Series C funding round, which was led by HarbourVest Partners.

$45 Million

Instart closed a $45 million Series D funding round led by Geodesic Capital, which will be used to accelerate product capabilities and sales expansion in the U.S. and globally.

$14 Million

Cyber-situational awareness company Digital Shadows has closed a Series B funding round at $14 million, which was led by Trinity Ventures.


How does your business plan to use marketing automation in 2016?

To answer this question and possibly be included in an upcoming issue of Website Magazine, visit


Should You Hire an SEO Firm or Do It Yourself?


There are two ways to get seen on Google. You can either pay for ads that will display on top of search results, or invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to appear organically below the ads, but who is the best person to manage these strategies for a small business?

8 Tips for Hiring a Web Design Agency


Selecting the right partner for Web redesign endeavors can be a real challenge. This is especially true when it's a startup, where there is a dire need to hire a Web design agency that can create the website and manage redesigns as the need arises.

Google, Facebook & Others: The Race for Virtual Reality


In the past, execution of virtual reality has been difficult for most with high costs and less-than-stellar effects. In the new millennium, however, well-known companies like Google and Facebook have made strides to make VR more affordable and more realistic.


-Nova ( Content intelligence engine for email messaging.

-Grommet ( Open-source UX framework for enterprise applications.

-Notarize ( A notary app that is legal in all 50 states.

-Ptengine 3.0 ( All-in-one heatmaps and analytics.

-Restdb ( A plug-and-play database service.

-Instabug 3.0 ( In-app conversations and bug reporting for mobile applications.

-Caller Zen ( Customer support system for SMS and phone calls.

-Castle ( Real-time security analytics for Web and mobile apps.

-Crypho ( Encrypted enterprise messaging, chat and file transfers.

-Envisage ( Provide contextual help/tips to users on a website.

-Popily ( Data visualization tool for spreadsheets and data.


Stop Hitting Snooze

If you make a habit out of hitting the "snooze" button every morning, it may be time to start waking up the first time your alarm goes off by downloading the Mimicker Alarm app by Microsoft. The app requires users to leverage their surroundings to complete a game in order to dismiss their alarm. The games, which Microsoft calls "Mimics" range from snapping a selfie to repeating a tongue twister and even getting out of bed to match a certain color.

Discover additional apps at


Today's Top Picks for Our Readers:
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