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Ironing out the wrinkles in changing to HTTPS

A few days ago I wrote about the need for your website to be running HTTPS. I hope you’ve either made the change, or have something under way. Of course, the reason to do this is to ensure your site is technically secure for users, but from a marketing viewpoint, we know that looks are important too. With a correctly-configured HTTPS site, most browsers will flag it as such to their users. Depending on the browser, there might be a big label in the address bar saying “Secure”, or the address bar might even be green.

Users notice this. Many won’t have the faintest idea what it’s all about, but they’ll feel a lot happier on sites which have reassuring-looking labels. So we need to make the change.

Now, while getting an SSL Certificate and installing it (the main procedure) is straightforward for your website hosting company, it can take some time to iron out every last detail on the site. All the internal links need to be changed to HTTPS, which can usually be done through some mass search-and-replace, but your templates will almost certainly be serving up HTTP items which might need some tweaking in the code.

As an example, we changed the BMON website over to HTTPS last month. On the home page, using the Chrome browser, everything looks great:

However, on the article (blog) pages, there was a distinct lack of the reassuring “Secure” label. Indeed, there may still be, because at the time of writing we haven’t been able to track down what was causing it!

Clicking on the “i” symbol in Chrome gives an explanation of what’s wrong, and in our case the browser reckoned there was still an image being served up on the page using HTTP. So that’s an example of the sort of troubleshooting which may be required on any site after setting up the HTTPS arrangement. The lesson is also that after changing to HTTPS, you need to spend some time on your own site checking that every type of page is showing as being secure.

I mention this in case you’re asking a website design company to sort out the switchover of your site to HTTPS. If they suggest that it’s not a 10-minute job, they’re right. It’s not. There might be quite a lot of small troubleshooting tasks before everything is perfect. However, it’s also not a major exercise which will cost thousands of pounds, so we should all be getting on with it.