Are Web Designers the new Tax Inspectors?

Having been a professional software developer for around 25 years I recently struck out on my own and started a small web design company. As a fairly new start-up I have been fortunate in that the local council run some extremely good free workshops to support new business.

In the last 4 months I must have attended 7 or 8 of these workshops ranging from how to write a business plan to the most recent on website SEO, I must point out that so far every single workshop has been well worth attending and I have learned a lot, however, on 2 of the workshops I have come away feeling like I am the local tax inspector come to check the accounts.

The first was a business workshop and didn’t have anything to do with websites but during and after the workshop the presenter made a valid point that no one these days has to pay for a website there are plenty of “free” websites available in the form of templates, free sites when purchasing hosting and free websites with adverts, however, over and over he stressed that web designers simply want to charge for something that anyone with a little knowledge could well do themselves at little or no cost, and to be honest he is right to a point any fool can drag and drop a fairly reasonable site together. The second workshop presenter was teaching SEO and what could be done by the average site owner who has access to the CMS it was a worthwhile extremely informative workshop and I learned a lot then we got into the “Why pay some guy to do what you could easily do given time” discussion and once again I fully agree, there is no way I can hide it in fact I wouldn’t try. I charge for websites and SEO both of which a business could do themselves certainly cheaper and possibly at no cost other than time and effort.

Now to the reason for the rant and the reasons I charge for my time and effort:-

Why I feel I add value to a small business are as follows:-

  • Most people are capable of dragging and dropping a website together but to be honest I make a better job of it.
  • Most business owners are too busy doing what they do best to build their business and simply don’t have time to build a website or perform SEO – This is where I spend the long hours on doing what I do
  • What sort of an image does a new company trying to build a reputation and build trust give to other businesses when the site has “provided free by SkiddlyDo” at the foot of the site and adverts for hemorrhoid cream popping up over what I am trying to read
  • How many businesses will cobble a free site together, make a reasonable job of it then not touch it again for 5 years complaining all the time that it does nothing for the business and doesn’t get any visitors.

What finally added the icing to the cake was a “Networker” I bumped into at a local meeting, we were sat doing the obligatory one-to-one, I told him I was a web designer, did SEO social media and other internet related stuff to which he replied “why would anyone pay you to do that it’s all free” so I explained that I could possibly make a better job of it and at worst I could free the business owner up so that they could concentrate on their business, “what do you do?” I asked “I am a life coach, I speak to people and make them feel better as well as telling them all what they are doing wrong with their life and helping them” mmm, “and do you get paid for that?” I asked unfortunately I didn’t hear the reply he got up and wandered off not sure but I don’t see him having any future one-to-one sessions with me.

Just a few examples I could buy the parts from a local shop and replace the brakes on my car but I choose not to because the mechanic is far better at it than me, I could pull my own teeth but I prefer the dentist to do it I am a bit squeamish that way, I can advise myself on how to invest what little money I have, I could build my own house, garage or extension I might even get some wire and make myself an electric blanket for winter but I choose not to the point I am trying to make is that all things can be cheaper or sometimes free, I can’t think of a single business that with time, effort or trial and error I couldn’t do myself if I really wanted to or had the time to do so but I choose not to, why, because if its not my area of expertise there is probably someone who would make a better job of it.

And as a final footnote the “Why would you pay someone to do SEO? ” workshop presenter who I might add was extremely good and certainly knew his stuff and to top it all seemed a really nice guy he runs a large and very successful Web Design and SEO company when he isn’t teaching.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At Activ Web Design (Yorkshire) we have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more information please visit http://www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 01482 861875
Mob: 07850 009750

Email: info@activwebdesignhull.co.uk
Website: www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/
Twitter: @activBeverley

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old Chinese proverb).

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Your Business Needs a Mobile App!

How many internet enabled devices do you own?, definitely a Smartphone, maybe a tablet add to that a PC or laptop now try and imagine your life without at least one of these devices. We rely heavily on these  devices to remind us of birthdays and appointments,  checking the weather, or sending and receiving messages and in the case of phones even phone calls, we would be lost without them.

In daily life how many times have you sat in a restaurant or coffee shop and seen someone tapping away on their phone at the table or on the beach in the office or the supermarket the list is endless it seems we just can’t survive without being connected. 

Now, what if you are a business owner with a mobile app, this puts you in direct contact with these potential customers 24/7 and 97% of messages will be read as opposed to 30% of emails for some reason a message delivered to one of these devices not only has to be read, it is normally read immediately.A business mobile app is a fantastic “branding tool” which is used for keeping your clients aware of your services or your products whilst increasing the level of customer loyalty.

As an example take the Starbucks coffee chain, the company launched a mobile app back in 2011, they included a rewards system called “My Starbucks Reward”, the account allowed customers to top up with money and make purchases, the user was then awarded stars that he or she could later exchange for more Starbucks products.

The program proved to be highly successful and more important profitable for Starbucks, so much so that today every 10th purchase for a Starbucks product is made via a mobile device.

The Starbucks example shows that a mobile app serves the purpose of keeping clients loyal and bringing them back time and time again to your business.

The app of course, should not only create more business for you but should also be  “user friendly”  and add value for the user, if it doesn’t add value or is difficult or time consuming to use the user simply won’t download it or if they do they will soon remove it.

As a minimum, the application should serve at least the following purposes:

  • Fulfill a need for the user
  • Make it easy for the user to access your products or services
  • Offer a reward or benefit for their loyalty in turn creating a desire to use the service again

The second point is probably the most important as users are already used to the convenience and ease of using mobile technologies. quite simply if a user has to jump through hoops to buy your products and doesn’t get a discount or reward after all that, he or she will go elsewhere and probably not return.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At Activ Web Design (Yorkshire) we have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more information please visit http://www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/activ-apps.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: dave.rowland@activwebdesign.com
Website: www.activwebdesignhull.co.uk/activ-apps.html
Twitter: @activmobileapps

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old Chinese proverb).

 

How Good Is Your Software Team

Just how well does your software team rate? Answer the following questions it won’t take a minute honest.

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Do you do daily builds?
  3. Do you use bug tracking?
  4. Do you fix bugs before adding more code?
  5. Do you have an up to date project plan?
  6. Do you have a specification?
  7. Do your developers have a quiet environment?
  8. Do you have testers?
  9. Do you do UAT testing?
  10. Do new developers have to write code at their interview?

Didn’t take long did it now let’s look them in turn.

1. Source control is a must have, not only does it keep your precious source code safe but developers don’t usually know what the last developer did, how good he was, whether the code he checked in actually builds. A good source control versions your code, keeps a history and allows roll backs to an earlier version.

2. Unless you perform regular builds on your code you never know what state it is in till you come to work on it. The process can be automated not only to build the whole codebase on a regular basis but to create single step checkout and builds (overnight if required) the more steps you need to get to the point of building the code the more prone to errors. Daily builds on the whole code base will highlight errors such as a developer checking back in the code but forgetting to checking new classes or libraries, the code will obviously build on his machine but won’t for anyone else checking out the code (even worse if he locks his machine and goes on holiday).

3. Without an organised listing of bugs you are going to ship not only low quality code but probably re ship the code with reported bugs unfixed, you can’t keep all of the bugs in your head. As a minimum your bug tracker must keep:-

  • Steps to recreate the bug
  • Expected behaviour (without the bug)
  • Who spotted the bug
  • Who is to or has fixed the bug
  • Current status of the bug

4. If you are not fixing the bugs before adding more code you are simply compounding the problem, not only will it make bug fixing harder (you can’t even attempt to debug till the current code compiles) but you could well be introducing new bugs to the existing ones.

5. The code is important to the business, it is important for them to know when the code is going to be ready, developers are notorious for saying “however long it takes” unfortunately that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) cut any ice with the business,  they have to plan in advance for  when they expect to get ownership back of the code and the only way to do this is to plan ahead and keep the plan up to date, from the developers point this means that there is a good chance that you won’t suffer from “feature creep” and end up working on the code for the next ten years.

6. If there is one thing about spec’s it usually that everyone agrees you should have one but no one provides one.  As a result, when teams consisting solely of developers  approach the problem they go straight for a solution and dive straight in to coding resulting in much higher costs to fix any design or code issues. Software which wasn’t built using a specification quite often results in a badly designed product which doesn’t meet requirements and timelines spiral out of control.
7. We all know the developers work best when they can get into “the zone” where they can fully concentrate on their work, the trouble is that it is hard enough to get into “the zone” as it is without constant distractions, phone calls and the ever present “can you do this for me it won’t take you long” interruptions.

8. If your team doesn’t include at least 1 tester (ideally to every 3 developers) you are probably at best using a highly skilled developer to do a lower skilled job and at worst delivering buggy code to the business, saving money on not having testers is a false economy and can dramatically cut delivery times.

9. You simply have to have UAT testing, how many times are users given a new system and told to get on with it, more often than not they have had no input as to how the system works, scarily end users won’t even be asked what is wrong with the old system. UAT is an invaluable must have step in the process; no code should be delivered without first going through UAT.

10. Is there any other professional you would employ without first checking their work or at the very least have them highly recommended by someone you totally trust.You are placing a lot of trustthese people not to bring your business down, not to destroy the trust you earned for your business with your clients, every new developer should be asked to show competence to the level that the position requires.

 

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).