Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 2: Create A JIRA Workflow For Your Business

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!


Previously: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 1: Understand Your Business Workflow


If your business process is documented, you are ready to convert them into a JIRA process.

We chose JIRA Cloud because it has great features for agile development teams. The Kanban method provided in JIRA Cloud was our best choice to visualize our tasks and process them. We’ll show you these examples when we set up JIRA.

Understand JIRA Workflow Concept



 As Atlassian describes: “A JIRA workflow is a set of statuses and transitions that an issue moves through during its lifecycle and typically represents processes within your organization.”

It is the logical process to move your issues to different states so you always know the status of an issue by just looking at the status information. Statuses cannot be vague, so make sure you can clearly describe steps in your business process to be able to create them in JIRA.

Astral Web Master Workflow

As we described in our “Understand your business workflow” article, after spending nearly 3 months to review of how our teams and team members work, we were able to put together a master workflow that is compatible for even our biggest projects.


  1. Backlog: A list for all pre-planning issues (ideas, to-do, etc.)
  2. Selected for Planning: Issues that are ready for planning and need to be assigned
  3. In Planning: Issues that are in planning
  4. In Review: Plans that need approval
  5. Selected for Development: Issues that need to be assigned to development team
  6. Selected for Design: Issues that need to be assigned to design team
  7. PM Review: Issues that need to be checked by PM
  8. Select for QA: Issues that need to be assigned to QA team
  9. Deploy: Issues that need to be deployed (website)
  10. Pending Approval: Issues that have been deployed and need 3rd party approval
  11. Done: Issue has been approved and completed

These are all the checkpoints for project managers to keep our solution quality high, regardless of what kind of task or project we need to complete.

However, this workflow is overkill for simple and general tasks. So, we also made sure transitions are flexible for different teams and project sizes.

Customize workflow for each team

Development, design, and QA team branches off from the master workflow to process issues in their internal teams. Project managers are focused and handing off issues and receiving them for final review, so we omit detailed development, design, and QA tasks.


For smaller projects and teams, we simplified the master workflow with less steps and completely omit the development process. We kept the handover to the design team process, since many of our projects require design elements. This process is good for our marketing team, corporate strategy team, and other general work.


However, our sales team use completely different sales and crm system, so we took the general team workflow and added a few more status to customize a new process. We still borrow statuses from the master workflow when we can.


Prepare for naming transitions

You will need to set up a logical transition between each status. For example, if you are moving an issue status from “In Planning” to “Review”, you can name the transition “Review plan with PM”.

Create multiple workflows using the same status from your master workflow

Here is a preview of the master workflow we will create in JIRA. To create this workflow, we made many new status labels and transition that do not exist in JIRA by default. When we make simpler workflows for teams and smaller projects, we want to make sure we’re using the same label so the data is clean, shareable, and easy to report.


Here’s an example of a general team workflow that simplifies the master workflow by many steps, but still borrow some statuses.


We need to share statuses, so all similar issues are organized together. For example, we want all issues for any project that needs design work to be shared with the design team. So, all of these issues need to fall under “For Design” status at some point of the workflow.

Understanding these concepts will help you setup JIRA workflows much efficiently.

Next, we’ll show more points to consider for different teams when using JIRA.

Next: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 3: What Are Your Team’s Issue Types?

Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 1: Understand Your Business Workflow

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!


Previously: What Are Alternatives To Atlassian JIRA?


Now that you know many project management tool options are available and companies have been successful with using tools like JIRA, you will feel like jumping right in.

But, wait. Don’t sign up for that free trial yet.

Make sure you are able to document your business flow and how your company and teams work internally and externally, because this is exactly what you’ll be doing for the first few weeks or months with your new tools.

If a basic “To-do”, “In progress”, and “Done” is sufficient for you, that’s what you can quickly test during free trial, but there are other tools that is good enough for simple task management.

If your process isn’t ready, then you’ll waste a lot of time and money. A one month free trial will pass so quick.

Join Atlassian’s workshop and seminars, or learn as much as you can from articles like this one.

In this article, we will explain how we analyzed our company’s business and development workflows.

Astral Web is an Agile Development Team


We love to visualize our tasks and have them ready for our team members to easily capture them and work on them as needed. We want to work fast, even if some requirements of projects are not fully complete. We wanted to be flexible.

Understand the big workflow


We started with the idea to create a process to seamlessly integrate all team processes together using a master workflow.

First, we reviewed how each of our teams work to confirm our concept.


We knew each team’s processes would be different, but the more we studied, we learned that almost every member had their own process and set of tools. Some differences were obvious, such as using Windows or Mac. But, to learn more, we made a spreadsheet for everyone to list all of their tools. The result was a mix of free, paid, known, and unknown tools that were shared or used individually by personal preference.

Next, we looked at how projects were born and how tasks were passed on from team to team.

Because we are experienced, the overall flow did not feel bad, but there were enough issues that could cause major problems in the future. How we communicated through email and apps, the amount of information we shared, and the tools we used varied. Not everything is bad.

But, at this point, we realized making a master workflow was not so simple.

We had to refine our individual and team processes to create new connections that would become part of a master workflow.

Standardize tools and processes


We went deeper into our team processes to standardize some basics on how our teams should work. We spent 3 months to discuss with development, design, quality assurance, project managers, marketing, and sales to clarify goals and understand how we can improve and simplify workflows.

We looked at some of our biggest projects and to breakdown our work into steps (for each team) and understand how they could connect from team to team.

Understand what type of projects you have

Process is heavily based on the type of projects you have. So, it is important to understand what type of projects you work on. In our case, we have large scale e-commerce web development, marketing websites, and other creative projects.

What is the scope of each project

It’s not easy to know what we will do in the future, so we looked at our past projects to understand the general scope of work for each type of project. We also considered the scope of general tasks, so smaller work can also be quickly processed.

We made a list of project types, their variance in scope, and a list of tasks to complete them. The made sure our JIRA steps are able handle everything on the list.

What teams are involved in each type of project

Not all teams are involved in every project or a phase of the project, so we clarified who are required for each type of project.

By clarifying, we were able to minimize some processes. For example, pre-planning phases are not necessary for development teams. Detailed development and design stages, are not always necessary for project managers, so we can simplify how they can be shown to managers.


Who can access these projects?

We also considered the confidentiality of some of our projects. We wanted to make sure our tool can control who can access what. JIRA is able to do this as long as you have a good policy and set up the permission settings.

Understand Your Non-development Teams

JIRA is great for software development, but can it be great for other teams, too?

We believe this can be true, so we also considered processes for our non-development teams such as sales, marketing, and smaller projects.

Document your processes

To recreate your process in JIRA, you will need to translate your business flow into a more programmable logic flow with status and status transition labels. Create a good documentation to track and confirm all your requirements that you need in JIRA.


We’ll show you how to set up everything in our upcoming articles.

Next: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 2: Create A JIRA Workflow For Your Business

What Are Alternatives To JIRA?

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!


Previously: Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 2


Previously, we introduced the basics of JIRA and described how Astral Web chose JIRA Cloud for its ease of use and advanced features for software development teams.

If you’re not a team of engineers or just need a tool to improve general task management, you may like some of the tools we introduce in this article. We only introduce web-based tools so  you can easily start testing without having to invest in self-hosting or learn how to set up from scratch. If you are good at setting things up yourself and are able to self house, open source and local software are other great options that you can search for.

We also group the tools into two categories:

  • General Task Management
  • Project Management

We hope this list will help you make the best decision on what planning and management tools to use.

At Astral Web, we haven’t test all paid features, however some such as Asana, Todoist, and some open source tools, we still use them for some of our sub-teams and projects. If you can work small, you’ll see that most of the tools we share are free as long as you’re are under the user quota.

General Task Management Web Tools



Asana is a general project management tool to organize projects with multiple members so you can quickly and easily share tasks to reach goals. Used by companies such as Deloitte, NASA, New York Times, and more.




Free for Starters

  • Unlimited tasks, projects, and conversations
  • Up to 15 team members
  • Basic dashboards
  • Basic search

Premium: $9.99 USD Per User/Month

  • Timeline – New!
  • No team member limit
  • Unlimited dashboards
  • Advanced search & reporting
  • Custom fields
  • Task dependencies
  • Comment-only projects
  • Private teams and projects
  • Start dates
  • Admin controls
  • Customer success webinars
  • Priority support
  • Google SSO



Todoist is a general task management tool with great mobile app support.




Free for up to 5 users per project

  • Access on 10+ platforms
  • Recurring due dates
  • SSL secured connection
  • Sub-tasks & sub-projects
  • Task priorities (4 levels)

Premium: $3 USD Per User/Month or $29 USD Per User/Year

  • Automatic Reminders
  • Custom Templates
  • Cloud Data Backup
  • Custom Labels
  • Task Views
  • Custom Themes
  • Review Completed Tasks
  • Account Activity Overview
  • Visualized Weekly and Monthly Reports

Microsoft To-Do


To-Do is made by the creators of Wunderlist after acquired by Microsoft and is part of the Office 365 family.




Free if you have a Microsoft Office 365 Account



General task list with great focus on mobile apps to get things done. Acquired by Microsoft in 2016.




Free with great features but may be discontinued and be replaced by To-Do, which will have direct integration with Office 365.

Project Management Web Tools



Blossom is a project manage tool focused on employees that work from different cities and time zones. Used by companies such as Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and more.




Starters up to 5 Users: $22 USD/Month (cheaper if billed annually)

  • Unlimited Products
  • Unlimited File Uploads

Premium: Packages start from $70 USD/Month

  • Up to 15 Users



Crocagile is a tool for agile teams with various customization options.




Small Teams up to 5 users: $2.50 USD Per User/Month

  • Custom Workflows
  • Kanban Boards
  • Story Boards
  • Custom Fields
  • File Sharing
  • Personal Dashboard
  • Files & Docs
  • Wallposts & Chat
  • Reports

Premium: Packages start from $3.50 USD Per User/Month

  • Up to 15 users
  • 10.0 GB Storage
  • Unlimited workspaces
  • And more with better packages




Mingle is a program management tool for teams with workflows and content building. Used by companies such as Cisco, Siemens, Hertz, and more.




Free for starters up to 5 users

  • Planning Templates
  • Workflows
  • Chats
  • GitHub Integration
  • Single Sign on

Premium: $35 USD Per User/Month (first 5 free)

  • Program Management
  • Backlog
  • Smart Alerts
  • Portfolio Management
  • Dependencies

Pivotal Tracker


Pivotal Tracker is a project management tool focused on story based task creations. Used by companies such as BBC, Groupon, IGN, and more.




Free for up to 3 Users

  • 3 collaborators
  • 2GB storage
  • 2 projects

Premium: Packages start from $12.50 USD Per User/Month (when paid annually)

  • 5 collaborators
  • 5 private projects
  • 5GB storage



Smartsheet is a tool to plan, track, automate, and report your projects with collaboration features. Used by companies such as Netflix, Hilton Hotels, HP, and more.




Individual: $14 USD Per User/Month

  • Up to 10 Users
  • Reports View/Edit Only
  • Dashboards View Only

Business: $25 USD Per User/Month

  • Up to 100 Users
  • Unlimited Reports
  • Automated Actions
  • Activity Logs
  • Single Sign on
  • Custom Color and Logos






Targetpractice is a visual project planning tool with support for Kanban, Scrum, and SAFe methods. Used by companies such as Infineon, Vaio, Vodafone, and more.




Free for basic teams

  • 1000 entities
  • Basic support
  • Hosted in the cloud

Premium: Packages start from $20 USD Per User/Month

  • Unlimited entities
  • Standard support
  • Hosted in the cloud
  • Single sign-on


Project planning and management tool that is produced in parallel with their customer support and chat tools. Similar to the scope of JIRA and its other tools. Used by companies such as Paypal, Disney, Forbes, and more.





Free for starters

  • 100MB file space
  • Up to 5 users
  • 2 active projects
  • Limited task boards
  • Basic project management
  • Subtasks
  • Color themes

Premium: Packages start from $9 USD Per User/Month (Annual billing is 20% more cheaper)

  • 100GB file space
  • Up to 50 users
  • 5 User Minimum
  • 300 projects
  • Task boards
  • Instant file editing
  • Webhooks
  • Google Drive,, OneDrive Personal & Dropbox integrations



Trello is a collaboration tool developed by Atlassian that has boards, lists, and cards to organize and prioritize projects. Used by companies such as Redhat, Fender, Adobe, Google, and more.




Free for basic service

  • Unlimited boards, lists, cards, members, checklists, and attachments.
  • Attach files up to 10MB

Premium: Packages start from $9.99 USD Per User/Month

  • Unlimited Power-Ups
  • User Access
  • Restricted Memberships
  • Customize board designs
  • Priority email support
  • And more for better packages



Workzone is a project management tool and service focused on supporting their customers to improve project management. Used by companies such as Sephora, Verizon, Well Fargos, DKNY, and more.




Pricing is by request and categories by Team, Professional, and Enterprise.



Wrike is a project planning and collaboration tool made for various types of teams. Used by companies such as Airbnb, Verizon, SurveyMonkey, and more.




Free for up to 5 users

  • Simple shared task lists

Premium: Packages start from $9.80 USD Per User/Month

  • Task & Subtask Management
  • Gantt Chart
  • Advanced Integrations (MS Project, Excel, RSS)
  • Shareable dashboards
  • Unlimited collaborators
  • From 5 GB of storage space
  • From 15 GB of video uploads per month
  • More features in better packages

Up Next: Before You Start Using Atlassian JIRA Part 1: Understand Your Business Workflow

Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 2

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!


Previously: Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 1

In Part 1 we introduced the basics of JIRA, but now we want to understand why JIRA is so popular.

Why is JIRA Popular?



So, we have heard about JIRA before and how it is gaining popularity, so we studied demos to see if it is good for our company, too. Similar development companies like us have shared their success cases proving that JIRA works.

As of 2017, Atlassian claims JIRA is being used by more than 75,000 customers of all sizes around the world. But, why?

More about Atlassian customers and their success stories:

Atlassian Develops Great Features



As we listed in Part 1, Atlassian has the experience of developing various project management tools. And with thousands of customers, they constantly get feedback to continue improving.

We believe JIRA is no exception and is continuously growing to have many great features, which help us decide over other options.

  • Manage project tasks: This of course is the first requirement for a management tool. JIRA excels at allowing us to visually track issues using various methods and provide advanced options to customize how issues are processed.
  • Tracking bugs: Bug tracking comes by default in JIRA Software. This is helpful if you do not want to customize issue types yourself.
  • Customer support: If you add JIRA Service Desk, it is similar to other tools like Zendesk, which lets you track support tickets similar to JIRA Issues.

Their expertise of development and quality are definitely reasons for their great reputation.

Atlassian Marketplace Has Hundreds of Plugins And Extensions

Because of JIRA’s popularity, there are hundreds plugins and integrations that have been developed by 3rd parties, just for JIRA. We will introduce a few that we use later on, but some of these tools greatly enhance JIRA or how you process issues alongside JIRA.

However, some issues we have are:

  • If you use JIRA Cloud, plugins and extensions tend to charge you by total number of users on your JIRA account.
  • Quality of the plugins are sometimes not great and is difficult to choose between several similar options.
  • Some plugins are not available for JIRA Cloud (and vice versa).

See everything at the Atlassian Marketplace:

Combined with the relatively low cost to get started and features offered, we were able to quickly study and decide if JIRA Software is good for our company.

So far, JIRA has helped streamline all of our internal work and improved how we communicate project status with our clients.

Want a PDF Version of this Post?

Click here to Download a Free PDF version of this article!

Next: What Are Alternatives To Atlassian JIRA?

Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 1

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!


Previously: Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to Atlassian JIRA

Looking for a tool to help manage your project and tasks? We have been experimenting with various tools, and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, since 2017, Astral Web has focused on using JIRA by Atlassian, which is a great tool for software development teams to work fast and accurately to deliver our great products to our clients.

In this part 1 article, we will go over the basic information about JIRA.

  1. What is JIRA?
  2. What are Basic JIRA Concepts?
  3. How much does JIRA cost?
  4. What’s the difference between JIRA Cloud and Server?
  5. Atlassian Product Ecosystem

What is JIRA?




JIRA is a project management tool developed by Atlassian that has bug tracking, issue tracking, and project management functions. However, there are two different types of JIRA: JIRA Core and JIRA Software. Our articles discuss JIRA Software (previously known as JIRA Agile), which has stronger features for agile development processes, such as working from backlogs and processing issues using a Kanban method.

JIRA Core is focused on organizing tasks for teams, which should is more useful for businesses.

Both have many default functions that make it easy to launch new projects and advanced customization to tailor the whole platform to work how you want it to work.

Our recommendation is JIRA Software, if you are a development company that uses agile methods such as Kanban or Scrum boards.

More about the features of JIRA Software:

More about the features of JIRA Core:

What are Basic JIRA Concepts?




A project in JIRA is a group of issues. You can organize your issues depending on your project needs. Astral Web organizes projects into live software development, sales team, marketing team, and more to optimize all aspects of our work within the company.


An issue in JIRA is what represents your issue to track, such as bugs, task, or requests. You can add and customize issues according to how your project team works.


A workflow in JIRA is the status and transitions that define how your issues process within your project. You can customize workflows for each type of issue to optimize how they transition from status to status. Each status and transition can have their own backend actions for further customization.

How much does JIRA cost?





You have two options on how to use JIRA.

IRA Server lets you self host, which requires a single payment depending on how many users you plan to add. As of June 2018, 10 users license is only $10 USD, and can go up to $33,000 for 10,000 users.

JIRA Cloud requires a monthly fee. It’s $10 USD a month for up to 10 users and jumps to $77 USD from 11 users. The more users you have, the less cost per person, potentially down to $1.52 USD per person (with 2000 users). It’s even cheaper if you pay annually.

Latest pricing information:

What’s the difference between JIRA Cloud and Server?

JIRA Cloud has its benefit to be hosted by Atlassian servers, because they claim 99.9% uptime with 24/7 customer support, and are very secure. Also, plugins and applications are easy to install and remove.

JIRA Server has more administrative functions, which are limited out Cloud. For example, on server you can host on custom domains, more users, or import and export your own data.

Astral Web uses JIRA Cloud, which is hosted on Atlassian’s servers. We love to work on cloud and fits our office working style. It’s also helps us to worry less about maintaining our own servers.

More details on restricted features:

Atlassian Product Ecosystem


Atlassian also produces other tools that deeply integrate with JIRA.

  • JIRA Service Desk can be useful for a customer support style platform.
  • Confluence can be useful for document collaboration right inside JIRA.
  • Stride, Trello, and Hipchat can be useful for communication and more task management.
  • Bitbucket can be helpful to manage your Git repositories.
  • And more…

Each tool seem pretty good for standalone use. We are currently studying both Atlassian and other 3rd party tools to see if they are beneficial to add onto our workflows. Since our core workflow is on JIRA, our priority is to be able to integrate new processes seamlessly.

Full list of Atlassian Products:

Want a PDF Version of this Post?

Click here to Download a Free PDF version of this article!

Next: Introduction to Atlassian JIRA: A Great Platform for Project and Issue Tracking Part 2

Share Responsive Web Design Layout Screenshots with Chrome Extension “Full Page Screen Capture”

share responsive design screenshots article banner

Are you making every web design preview in Photoshop? Does it take time for every change you need to make for multiple browsers?

If you are in your frontend web development phase and would like to quickly share screenshots of live results, the Google Chrome extension “Full Page Screen Capture” will make your processes so much faster.

You will be able to capture exactly what the Google Chrome browser and user sees, instead of a theoretical design that has not been tested on browsers.

No more cutting and pasting image files!

First, open Google Chrome and get the Chrome Extension at the Chrome Web Store.

chrome store responsive screenshots extension

Select “Add To Chrome” and install to your browser. Restart your browser or computer if necessary.

A “Full Page Screen Capture” icon will show in your Chrome browser menu bar.

share responsive screenshots chrome icon


Go to a website you would like to capture a screenshot and select the “Full Page Screen Capture” icon.

Share Responsive Web Design Layout Screenshots  loading screen

Do not touch anything while the extension scans the website, otherwise your progress will be canceled.


Responsive Web Design Layout Screenshot Example

Once the capture is completed, a new tab will open with name “Full Page Screen Capture”. A full resolution screen capture will be displayed in the center of the page. Right-click the image and save the image.


Screen Capture Responsive Layouts

On the page that you want to show responsive layouts, press F12 to open Chrome Developer Tools. These tools will allow you to test different resolution sizes on the page you are showing.

Responsive Screenshot example

If you cannot see device options, make sure the blue “Toggle device toolbar” icon is selected in the Developer Tools panel.Developer Tools selection for responsive screenshot

Right-click the image to save the full resolution screenshot of your responsive layout.

example of mobile responsive layout screenshot

What You Should Know

Websites that have interactive content and fixed objects may not show correctly in the screenshot. You should disable or fix the interactive objects in the state you would like to show in the screenshot. Otherwise, you can use 3rd party image editing tools to refine your screenshot before delivering.

Get Google Chrome

Get Full Page Screen Capture Extension

GDPR Compliance for Ecommerce Sites

GDPR Compliance Ecommerce Banner


What is the GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU law passed in 2016 meant to give citizens of the EU greater control over collection, storage and usage of their data. By the same token, it’s meant to give businesses a clearer legal framework to work with.

Why do I care about the GDPR?
On May 25th, 2018, non compliance with the law can result in fines and sanctions by the regulatory authorities (€ 2 million or 4% of revenue) in addition to damages suits brought by individuals whose data is handled in accordance with the law.

Does the GDPR apply to Me?
The GDPR applies to any organization that collects personal or behavior data on EU citizens. This broad definition means that any company that has EU customers or collects data on EU users is impacted by the law. In addition to (relatively) straightforward data collection such as customer account information, it’s important to note that you are also responsible for the compliance of third party or custom tracking and analytics software used on your site.
The GDPR has additional requirements of companies of over 250 employees. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the fundamentals as they apply to small and medium businesses under 250 employees.

What do I do About it?
The key principles of the GDPR are broken down below into data collection and data storage as a starting point for ecommerce businesses to taking steps toward compliance. As with any legal matter, it’s important to consult a professional about how the GDPR applies to the specifics of your business operations.

Some Key Terms:

Before getting into the GDPR and related literature, note that the regulation distinguishes three parties within its framework:

  1. The Data Subject: Customers, users, or anyone providing data to third parties (including employers).
  2. The Data Controller: The business with which the Subject is directly interacting with and providing data to. Under the GDPR, the Controller is ultimately responsible for legal collection, storage, and sharing of the Subject’s data. If you operate an ecommerce site, this is you.
  3. The Data Processor: Third party platforms and services which receive/process user data on behalf of the Controller. Ecommerce examples include Google, Shopify, or UPS.


Data Collection

A wide range of data all fall under the GDPR rules for consent and protection of data. Any personal or behavioral information falls under the new regulations which means that in addition to personal information such as bank accounts and addresses, IPs, MAC addresses (device identifiers), photos and social media posts will also be subject to the GDPR rules.

Before getting too overwhelmed by GDPR’s data requirements, it’s important to note that a concept called “Legitimate Interest” allows the Controller (e.g. website) to collect information that is vital to providing the services that the Subject (read: customer) has voluntarily agreed to. For example, collecting name, address and credit card number is necessary to verify the Subject’s identity and process a secure payment which the user has voluntarily entered into contract for. Legitimate interest is a separate justification from the “consent” outlined below. In short, you don’t need to overturn your core operations.
Get Clear, Informed Consent
A fundamental principle in GDPR-compliant data collection is clear consent. Users must know how and why you are collecting each piece of information, and actively “opt in” to provide it. The example that virtually everyone in ecommerce will understand is the checkbox opt-in to marketing mail lists. Under the GDPR, a user must be have a clear understanding of exactly what the website will be using the email for. Crucially, the user must actively opt in. A pre-ticked checkbox or consent that’s hidden behind a link won’t fly as stated in Article 4.11, “…Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity should therefore not constitute consent.”

pre ticked consent box on email sign up

Pre-ticked and unclear opt-ins – Not an option after May 25th

Furthermore, consent cannot be “bundled,” meaning the user must have the opportunity to opt out of specific aspects of data usage and not be faced with an all or nothing decision. An all or nothing consent tickbox is not acceptable.

bundled consent form GDPR

Good Opt-in, but “Bundled:” Below is a good example of providing users with a clear choice about whether to opt in and what they’re opting in to . However, bundling different marketing channels (SMS, phone, and the vague “other electronic means”) is against GDPR regulations

If you share your data with third parties for the purposes of analytics, marketing, or business operations, be transparent about who they are and why you are sending user data to them.

The EU already has cookie laws, but if you’re located outside the EU and are just beginning to familiarize yourself, be aware that cookies fall under the GDPR as well as existing laws.

Collect Limited Data:
In accordance with the GDPR’s “Privacy by Design” which calls controllers to hold and process only the data that is necessary for the completion of its duties, if you don’t use information that you’re collecting, stop asking users to give it to you. For example, a lot of web forms will include a “Company” field that isn’t actually used for business or marketing purposes. In reality this is a UX design best practice regardless, so reviewing your forms to eliminate unnecessary fields could be a win-win in terms for GDPR compliance and conversion rates.

Note: The GDPR contains a requirement that some companies appoint a Data Protection Officer to ensure compliance and act as a contact for authorities and data subjects. However, according to the GDPR website, this requirement only applies to “ controllers and processors whose core activities consist of processing operations which require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale or of special categories of data or data relating to criminal convictions and offences.” Most ecommerce companies won’t fall into this category.

Data Storage

Secure Storage:
The GDPR aims to ensure that all EU citizen’s personal data is not only voluntarily given, but also stored securely. One of the most thorny rules in the cross-border world of ecommerce is the requirement that all data be stored on physical servers within the EU. See the Third Party Processors section below for cloud based hosted services, but websites with self-hosted websites and services should conduct an audit of information storage to ensure compliance with GDPR rules.

User Data: Make it Portable, Editable, and Erasable
GDPR requires that Data Subjects (users) can contact the Data Processors (website) and request that their personal information be:

  1. Edited – User data be updated or changed at the request of the data subject.
  2. Portable – User data can be provided to the subject upon request. The GDPR also includes language about transferring data from one company to another at the request of the subject, but no industry-wide protocols have been established yet.
  3. Erasable – A user has the right to request that their personal data be deleted permanently. As a business operating under GDPR regulations, you’re required to provide a visible contact or mechanism for requesting and carrying out these requests.

Another key point is to make very clear to users that the above options are available. Users must be made aware of their rights to withdraw opt-ins and edit or delete. Note that it is your responsibility to pass these requests to third parties as well.


Third Party Data Processors

Most larger hosted solutions and analytics software companies should be taking their own steps to comply with GDPR. The most-used ecommerce and marketing platforms all have their own statements regarding their current or planned compliance with the GDPR as seen below. Be sure to research the specific services that you use and whether you need to take proactive steps in your configuration or application of each one. Be sure to contact them directly if you have unanswered questions.


Further Reading

It’s important for everyone to understand the GDPR in terms of both compliance and best practices for adapting without hurting your business and marketing efforts. The below suggested links include official documents and statements as well as some more in-depth looks at how businesses are complying in practice. Ultimately, GDPR compliance can be a significant positive trust factor, so be sure to let users know what you’re doing for to protect their privacy!

EU & GDPR Pages:


Direct Statements from Ecommerce Platforms


Further Reading on Best Practices for UX and Marketing under GDPR:

  1. In-depth look at email marketing consent in practice:
  2. Article on Consent vs. Legitimate Interest by DMA (UK) Compliance Officer:
  3. Good look at compliant and non compliant UX examples of informed consent:
  4. A look at how third party cookie forms may look that includes some informal surveys:


Disable Auto-Apply Ad Suggestions in Adwords

turn off auto apply adwords suggestionsDisable Auto Acceptance of Suggestions in Adwords with the below steps:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select the Account tab
  3. Choose the Don’t Automatically Apply

Opt out of auto accept adwords suggestions

MCC /Agency Accounts can use the below form to opt out en masse:

Late last year Google adwords accounts have begun to default to “accept” Google’s Suggestions after 14 days. They describe this as the “ideal setting for most advertisers” and actively discourage opting out of it.

The Suggestions in adwords are fine, and by all means may be valuable, but allowing them to auto apply relinquishes a significant amount of control of factors that influence your budget and ROI.

Ultimately, all advertising platforms have an interest in advertisers spending larger budgets. This doesn’t mean you need to discard all Suggestions, but it’s enough to make not accepting them your default starting point as an advertiser:



Amazon Headline Search Ads Overview

Headline Search Ads allow sellers to create banner ads that showcase up to three products and direct shoppers to a custom landing page built from your brand’s products. Keyword-targeted, these ads display prominently at the top of Amazon search result pages on both desktop and mobile.

Note that Banner Search Ads are only available to sellers who’ve been approved through Amazon’s Brand Registry.


At a Glance:


  • Guarantee of best real estate when ad shows
  • Ability to showcase brand
  • Ability to showcase multiple products on landing page


  • Higher cost per click than other ad formats
  • Not suited for product-specific, long tail keywords
  • Added click between first click and conversion


Amazon Headline Search Ads offer sellers a great opportunity to increase brand awareness, something that’s been difficult in the past for Amazon.

Where traditional search ads will likely be more effective at matching search intent to a specific product, Headline Search Ads allows sellers to showcase their brand (or a subset of its products) in a way that wasn’t available before. n opportunity to get a brand in front of people earlier in the conversion funnel.


How to Use Headline Search Ads

As we see it, most Headline Search Ad campaigns fall into two general categories:

The first strategy involves directing shoppers to a broader brand page–showcasing all or nearly all of your products–with a primary goal of building brand awareness earlier in the conversion funnel. Assisted conversions, rather than “last click,”  are the success metric here as shoppers view your ad’s creative content and begin to associate it with concepts or product attributes.

The second strategy is to create a product landing page with a cohesive set of products that all match the same set of search terms. This is useful if you have similar products which are not listed as variations, allowing you to get eyeballs on multiple product options at once. In this scenario,the ad campaign still aims to drive direct conversions as with traditional sponsored product ads, with a secondary benefit of better brand awareness.


Amazon Headline Search Ad Setup:

Similar to it’s Sponsored Product ads, Amazon makes Headline Search Ads very easy to get up and running. Instead of a step by step, it’s more useful to consider the elements that are available to the average third party or brand page owner:

1) Landing Page Products: Amazon allows you to select the products which will display on your campaign’s landing page (minimum of 3). Regardless of whether you’re pursuing a broader branding strategy or a more direct conversion strategy, cohesion is key to both in order to build a landing page that’s more effective. However, if pursuing the latter strategy of last click-type conversions, similarity among your chosen products becomes more important as each one needs to be able to meet one set of keywords/search terms.

Amazon Headline search ads landing page product selection

Build a cohesive product section for your campaign’s landing page.



2) Displayed Product Images: Amazon allows you to display 3 products as well as  a “Main Image” which displays to the left of your ad copy. The three products’ main product images will display as thumbnails along with the first 18 characters of their Amazon product name.

The Main Image, slightly larger than the product thumbnails can display either:

– The thumbnail of one of your three chosen products

– The thumbnail of a 4th product belonging to the same brand

– A custom image – a great opportunity to escape Amazon’s restrictive image requirements and get creative!

Keep in mind that only the Main Image and your ad copy will display on mobile.

3) Headline / Ad Copy: Sellers are given 50 characters for their Headline Ad’s copy. Your style here depends on your goal, but it’s good practice to include the primary search terms that you’re using for your ad (just as we all work to get those relevant keywords into our product titles).

In addition, you also have the option to edit your brand’s display name.

Product image selection Amazon Headline Search Ads

Select your product’s headline and product image display


4) Targeted Keywords: Headline Search Ad’s keywords are set up using exactly the same interface as Sponsored Product ad campaigns. Aside from the additional consideration of branding benefits, keywords should follow the same best practices as any other ad campaign, namely relevance, relevance and relevance. Choosing one set of target keywords for multiple products means this is worth extra consideration, A/B testing, and monitoring in the case of Headline Search Ads.

Amazon’s guidelines for HSA keywords are as follows:

amazon keyword guidelines headline search ads



For more on what Amazon has to say about Headline Search Ads, check out the following links:

1) Headline Search Ads Optimization Tips (Amazon)

2) Headline Search Ads Overview (Amazon)

Configure Zabbix Alert Scripts

zabbix alert scripts banner



  • Create Jabber Script
  • Test from terminal
  • Configure Zabbix to use Jabber script
  • Create Email Script
  • Test from terminal
  • Configure Zabbix to use phpmailer script
  • Tell Zabbix to notify
  • Flap a server to verify operation is a replacement for the built-in Jabber/XMPP functionality within Zabbix.  You may need to install ‘sendxmpp’ prior to installation.  This is functional in an Ubuntu Xenial server installation, but the path may vary for CentOS/RHEL deployments.

Contents of /usr/lib/zabbix/alertscripts/


cat < $2


Adjust ‘user’, ‘server’ and ‘password’ accordingly for your particular setup.  The script should be owned by the zabbix user and have execute permissions set:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 zabbix root 288 Jun 16 05:11

To test, simply execute the script like any other. Note the arguments passed into it:

# /usr/lib/zabbix/alertscripts/ recipient@server message

If unable to send, try using sendxmpp outside the script and make sure it can send that way, then debug the script as required.

Your Zabbix should look like this:


zabbix setup 1

zabbix alert scripts screenshot 2

Note that the ‘Type’ of the media for the user corresponds to the name of the script we added earlier.

Email follows a similar procedure. Just make sure to have the necessary PHP modules installed. Below is the setup to use a gmail account:

Contents of /usr/lib/zabbix/alertscripts/phpmailer.php:

require_once "Mail.php";

$from = "ZABBIX <user@domain>";
$to = $argv[1];
$subject = $argv[2];
$body = $argv[3];

$host = "ssl://";
$port = "465";
$username = "username";
$password = "password";

$headers = array ('From' => $from,
'To' => $to,
'Subject' => $subject);
$smtp = Mail::factory('smtp',
array ('host' => $host,
'port' => $port,
'auth' => true,
'username' => $username,
'password' => $password));

$mail = $smtp->send($to, $headers, $body);


Adjust ‘user’, ‘server’ and ‘password’ accordingly for your particular setup. The script should be owned by the zabbix user and have execute permissions set:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 zabbix root 572 Jun 16 12:26 phpmailer.php

To test, simply execute the script like any other. Note the arguments passed into it:

# /usr/lib/zabbix/alertscripts/phpmailer.php user@domain.tld subject body

Make Zabbix look like this:



Note that the ‘Type’ of the media for the user corresponds to the name of the script we added earlier.

zabbix screenshot 5

Most important step!  This tells zabbix to actually use everything we just set up.  Once this is enabled, flap a server to give zabbix something to tell you about.  Check Pidgin and your email to see if it worked! 🙂