Do I need an SSL certificate?

SSL Certficate - Cardiff

As a web designer it’s a thought that always occurs to me. When I’m creating a website for my customers – do they need to have an SSL certificate for their website?

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that is used to authenticate the identity of a website. The purpose being to encrypt the information sent to the server making for a safe, user friendly connection.
Information online is sent from one computer to the other to reach its destination. Any computer in between the original and the destination server can visibly see the details sent over.
So whether you’re a company, web designer or looking to create a website to showcase your work, you need to be thinking: do I need an SSL certificate?

Payments

If you take payments through your website then an SSL certificate is imperative.

Why? Firstly, and most obviously, you need to protect your clients details. An SSL certificate encryption on the payment page will prevent the information being shared, ensuring safe transmission of the sensitive details.
The last thing you want is or your clients’ card details to be stolen and it be your fault!
However, your website may not need an SSL certificate or encryption in its entirety. For example, checkout pages or payment gateways will need one, but if you’re using PayPal you won’t need  to encrypt the whole site as the customers will not be paying you directly, they will be paying PayPal.
I’m based in Cardiff and as a web designer I think it’s important for my clients to know the importance of the certificate, giving me room to implement an SSL if I need to.

Submission of sensitive or personal information:

If your clients submit sensitive or personal information via your website then you may need an SSL certificate.
Why? Even though you aren’t directly taking payments for services or products its surprising how much personal information can be collected. Encrypting the forms enables that information to travel safely.
As a web designer I don’t need an SSL certificate directly as my site is purely to showcase my services.
However, your daily activities as a business or an entrepreneur may determine whether you need one yourselves.

Safe Submission:

Customers will look out for the signs that submitting their details is safe.
SSL encrypted pages will show up as secure.
As a Cardiff based website designer I want a way for people to contact me. Although directly it appears I wouldn’t need an SSL certificate as I don’t take payments online however, I still gather personal details via my ‘contact me’ page. With this in mind if you are requesting sensitive information it would increase your credibility to purchase an SSL and may be something to consider.

Therefore, if you take payments or sensitive personal details via a ‘contact me’ form then you may want to think about getting an SSL certificate. As a web designer, it is essential for me to advise clients of this to ensure that they know the importance of it too!