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The 'insurance agent' approach to your gallery's site

You probably think that 'it' is unlikely to happen to your gallery's site.

But servers do go down, programs start acting weird and even the best providers face technical failures. What would happen if your gallery's site crashed? Or if your provider's server went down?

Are you prepared? Do you have an emergency plan in place? A secure backup strategy? And a routine backup process tested and working?


Too bad there are more Murphy's Laws in this world than you can handle

There are a zillion things you need do to protect your visitors, but above all yourself from some really unpleasant experiences. The list of catastrophes that can happen is almost endless, the real disasters that can hit your gallery's site are equally vast.

Even if you are extremely cautious and act responsibly with your computer, your network and your internet connection there is a lot involved to keep your site up-and-running at all times, no matter what.


Better be prepared

You may rely on your providers' service contract that guarantees maximum uptime, security and protection. Yet, your provider is not responsible for maintaining your website, thus not responsible.

You may turn to your web design firm or programmer as skilled pros able to fix anything. But even top tech people are likely unable to rebuild a site from snippets and shreds of code saved from a major crash.

Similar to the risks covered by an insurance contract, we can distinguish different risk areas related to your gallery's site where you should act proactively.

There are 'casualties' such as crashes, problems related to the 'health' of your gallery's site like broken links, but also 'disability' risks engendered by outdated add-ons and of course 'life' issues, for example domain registration issues.


Let's deal with some of the most common 'casualty' risks first

Most casualties are caused by exterior factors. Statistics show fire or other disasters can put a knockout burden on the life expectancy of any business.

But there is an even more severe threath: theft or loss of data. Especially custom information such as your database of clients, your address book or even a mailing list, information that takes years to build and is nearly impossible to reconstruct.

Unless you give away your complete mailing list to all of your subscribers inadvertently (arggh... the cc field. It does happen!) data loss by theft can only happen if you omit to secure all entries to your network or your computers to a maximum.

So, on the first level you should always check the security of your Internet connection and of your network, especially if you opted for a wireless set-up.


Is your Internet connection safe and secured?

Some things that can happen are annoying but trivial, like having your galery's site, social networking account or even your email account hacked by spammers. Nothing really serious if you act upon right away, but if there is a leak in your own Internet connection, you open the gate wide open for more dramatic events.

Are you sure your internet connection is safe and password-secured?

Remember a lot of wireless access points still function with the built-in security feature 'off'. Working with an 'open' Internet connection means that anyone who 'drives' by (as Google was accused of doing during their European 'streetview' operation) or is parked outside your gallery can browse the Internet via your connection.

If they can do this, they can also access your computer and gather whatever information.


Is your internal wireless network also safe and secured?

And by extension is each and every computer in your network also password-secured?

As with your Internet connection, password protection to access your internal network is paramount.

Moreover, always opt for top security, 'strong' passwords for all your logins. Strong passwords are formed out of a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Eight characters long is a minimum, thirteen is standard length.

You should change passwords every two to three months. And even use separate passwords for folders or files with very sensitive information.


Do you have an alarm system installed on your site?

Something that warns you when things go wrong, when you have unwanted visitors, a virus attack, spam robots, etc?

Probably not. Matter of fact: you will always be too late if your gallery's site is attacked. As always: it is better to prevent than to cure.

Even if the art gallery world is less likely to become a prey, hackers don't limit their field of action just to the sites of major corporations, banks, insurance companies or governments.

Maybe you should not have a firewall installed personally, but be sure to check your service contract with your provider to see that he has taken at least the basic precautions to prevent spam attacks or hack attacks.

If your provider doesn't offer this service, you should switch and go find someone else who does.


Do you update your software regularly?

The key to protect your gallery's site and keep it fully functional at all times is simple: maintain it and keep it up-to-date.

If you are using Word Press, Joomla ... be sure you update these programs with the latest security patches. Likewise for your operating system. Windows and Apple send out security updates regularly, never skip one.

Web applications don't always send out alerts about updates. Therefore, be proactive and don't rely on your web hosting company.

Once again, if you use a hosted service (the overall majority of galleries), make sure you keep all programs to their latest version. If you operate your own private web server (congratulations!), foresee time to keep it up-to-date too. The same pro- active attitude goes for the database applications you use.

The web evolves rapidly, as do all possible risks for intrusion. A security audit by a reliable firm never is a luxury expense.



In a next step, we will have a look at how to be prepared if things go wrong.



If you have any concerns, questions, please email me directly and let me know. If there's anything I can do, I will do. I am interested in getting your feedback. Needless to say, what you let me know remains strictly confidential.

Luuk Christiaens

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P.S. If you haven't done so already, I would suggest to read the open articles where I elaborate similar subjects.

To access even more of these, why not simply join the Art Gallery Hub? Simply click 'Join' in the top right of this page.

It not only opens the Back Room section for yet more actionable material, you receive your 'Six Questions to ask yourself' as my welcome gift to get yourself on the trajectory to leverage your galley's web presence. Plus your web marketing article every month.



Other professional categories will give more insights in how you can finetune your gallery' site unless you want to read more on the other consulting services with the Art Gallery Hub.