Yan Huang is an award-winning marketer, interactive designer, business consultant, speaker, and the founder of Gray Hat Web, a Los Angeles design and marketing agency. He has 14 years of experience creating and marketing websites, and has worked with Inc. 500 and Fortune 500 companies. Yan is an entrepreneur at his core and his passion lies with online marketing and web design. Yan has founded or co-founded several successful websites with an emphasis on online marketing, web design, and business development. Read more

Spreading Heartbleed Bug Awareness

I sent a newsletter to my the SCOOP subscribers last week informing of the Heartbleed bug. For those who are not subscribed, you should do so now (in the bar above) because I send out exclusive updates that I do not share publicly. And even if I do decide to share it publicly, the public gets it much later and sometimes it may be too late especially if it has to do with online security, not to spook you or anything ;-) While at the time of this post, there are still some websites with the vulnerability open, the majority of big websites have had their systems patched. But I figure it is still a pretty relevant thing so decided to share this publicly on my blog.


Some of you may have heard of the Heartbleed bug. If you have not, you should be aware of it because it has affected millions of websites, many of which you may use (ie. including Yahoo, Flickr, ReverbNation, WikiSpace, etc.).

Before you start downloading the latest anti-virus software, hold on.

What is it?

It is a vulnerability in OpenSSL, an open source service that runs commonly on Linux servers responsible for SSL authentication. SSL is the process of encrypting sensitive information transferred between a website and your computer, and is generally validated through a 3rd party certificate authority such as VeriSign, GeoTrust or Comodo.

Basically, it is a bug that affects the websites you are using and not your computer so your desktop anti-virus software and malware scanners won’t do you any good.

What can I do to protect myself?

1. On mobile, manually log out of your apps, wait a few minutes and log back in. This would reset the authorization tokens that would allow someone to get into your account.
2. If a website requests that you change your password, do it. Most likely, they’ve been affected and has now just patched their system.
3. You can use this tool http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/ to check if one of the sites you use may be affected. If your own website has been affected, please contact your web team ASAP because your customers’ sensitive information is at risk.

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NAB Show 2014 Summary

NAB Show is the largest B2B tradeshow for broadcasting, media, film and entertainment industry folks that takes place each year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thanks to one of my good friends whom I’ve met through a business networking group, I attended this year’s NAB Show 2014. I have always had an appreciation for cool gizmos and gadgets but when you take it a step up from consumer grade to industrial level hardware and equipment, the results of the new technological displays and demonstrations are pretty mind blowing, to say the least.

I decided to capture part of the essence of what was showcased at NAB and to share this experience.

Enjoy! :-)


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Project Launch: Around the World Travels Blog

Many of our prospective clients think we only work with large companies and established corporations. Not true at all! Yes, a lot of our portfolio pieces we feature are for established companies but we also work with quite a few individuals as clients too. Most clients come to us because they like our cutting edge, clean, contemporary, chic – and possibly a few more adjectives that start with a “c” – look and feel with our work. And they stick around as clients usually because of our work ethics and our thorough understanding of the underlying technology behind the beautiful aesthetics that gives our clients a real competitive advantage.

One of our clients is Nan Dawkins. She’s a sweet person to work with, and her idea for her blog was something I found fascinating. We’ve worked together when she had her start up business that she recently closed. She decided to sell off her possessions to travel the world and documenting her travels on her blog, something that I want to do at one point or another in my life. Here is the blog website we launched for her: http://eatsweatseek.com

She wrote a kind review for us too on Yelp which I’m going to post here because Yelp has a tendency of filtering legitimate positive reviews, which has caused a great deal of pain for some of my local buisness clients:

“I worked with Gray Hat Web at my last company and the experience was very positive, so Yan was the first person I called when I started on a new gig. I knew that Gray Hat was reliable and produced very high-quality work, so I expected that the second time around and I wasn’t disappointed. What was surprising was how versatile they were. The second project was a very different style than the first (more of a boutique feel). They knocked it out of the park. I also appreciate their pricing. I have a long history of buying outside services for web work and I’ve found Gray Hat’s pricing to be extremely reasonable, especially considering the quality and personalized attention they provide. I highly recommend Yan and Gray Hat.” – Nan Dawkins

I encourage you to subscribe to her mailing list too!


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Project Launch & Modular Methodology Email Marketing

It is no secret that we have the secret sauce for effective email marketing that are socially conscious and converts sales. We pioneered an adaptive way of doing email marketing for clients and that is with modular templates. What does this mean? It means instead of having a single template with a body section for verbiage and images, we create a master template – carefully crafted and custom designed – with modular blocks (ie. a block with About summary, a block with items listed for sale, a block for the white papers, a block for your latest Blog posts, etc.) that can be easily repeated or turned off to adapt to each newsletter’s specific purpose.

Here are a few example scenarios: In a Spring Sale newsletter, it may make sense to include a few featured products and your About us. In an industry news newsletter to your wholesalers or B2B connections, it may make sense to include a block with your linesheets (or sales deck or whitepapers, depending on your business) and your About us. In your Saint Patrick’s Day newsletter, then it may make sense to disable all of the blocks and just have the greeting creative.

Each block in the email marketing master template can be repeated or turned off as illustrated in the infographic, which is from an email marketing project that we just launched for our client.


Here is the master template without the diagram overlaying on top.


Here is the same template with an ad creative and a several of the blocks turned off.


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The King of Web Design & Advertising

Okay – so humility out the window with this post. All other web design and advertising agencies – watch out! We are going to take the spotlight and we are here to stay. Period. We’re on the first page for Los Angeles marketing on Google and just made it to the first page for Los Angeles web design. We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work – blood, sweat and tears – consistently throughout the past half decade. When I take a step back – staring through the rear view – it is astonishing to see the progression from which we came from.

Most importantly, I am excited to announce that we launched the new Gray Hat Web portfolio!



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My Deepest Fears & My Commitment to Give Back to the Community


Many people do not know this but I turned 25 two weeks ago. My clients and colleagues assume I am much older, often times. Like many, I have fears and insecurities but since I graduated from high school, I have been on a active journey of self awareness, realization and actualization in conquering each of these fears. However, my deepest fears come from the long term progressions of life yet to come that inherently comes with age and the passage of time.

Here are two of my deepest fears:
1. Living my life as a corporate caged animal, confined to cubical life with the aspiration of the corner office and motivation of materialistic possession—and ultimately living a soulless existence without friends and flaunting money to compensate.
2. Developing a god complex and start believing that my decisions are impeccable and always right—and ultimately, destroying everything that I have worked towards.

Unlike tangible fears (ie. spiders or fear of heights), these fears are not ones I can face head on. My mechanism in addressing these fears is to stay positive, free spirited and most importantly, humble—away from the snares and temptations of ignorance, arrogance and greed—until the end. Like many who have achieved relative success at a relatively young age, there have been moments where I have been ignorant, arrogant and greedy—with an urge to ball out and even condescend those who disagree. However, I have noticed it usually comes right back at me and blows up in my face. If it doesn’t happen immediately or directly, it reappears in another form or permutation just as or even more disgusting.

On the road to riches, climb to the top or whatever cliche metaphor is preferred, I want to make an oath to myself and I want everybody to know this so I am accountable: I want to devote a part of my life (my energy, mental and emotional space) to add value to people’s lives through sharing my knowledge, expertise and experiences. Currently, I am doing this through my YouTube channel and volunteering my time as one of the instructors at Chicks Can Code in Long Beach, Calif. However, the amplification value of this is relatively small – reaching only tens of thousands through my YouTube channel and 15-25 individuals through the class. In my lifetime, I want this amplification to exceed the hundreds of millions in terms of people that I have reached and helped.

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Project Launch: Multi-Language Online Catalog

We just launched a website for a natural supplements company called Ever Health Vitamins based in the Larchmont Village here in Los Angeles, California. The website is an online catalog for their products, and has multi-language functionality built into it. The website is built using WordPress with WooCommerce as the product management platform and qTranslate as the translation engine. Currently, we have English and Arabic with the capability of adding additional languages in the future. Check them out!


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Project Launch: First Day School Supply List

We have launched another website project. My client is a mother of two school aged children and a member of their PTA. The purpose of the website is to save parents time and work when it comes to purchasing school supplies for their children. They would simply go to First Day School Supply List, enter in the code for their children’s school provided (by the school), select their grade level, purchase the kit and the school supply shopping is done!


The website was custom designed and coded into WordPress with WooCommerce powering the e-commerce side. What makes this project a bit unique is we had to accommodate for their very specific logistics with the school codes. We modified a WooCommerce child theme and created a custom plugin to allow for this functionality, as well as having it compatible with updates without the update breaking or replacing existing code. Check out our flow process and backend screenshots below!


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Completed Work For These Clients