Why does my business need a mobile app

Whether you have seen a mobile app for another business or you have read about them I hope to help with reasons why a mobile app would be good for your business, club or school.

What can an app do for my business?

  •  An app helps build brand loyalty, all business owners desire brand loyalty. With a mobile app your business can stay in direct contact with your clients or members. You can stay engaged with customers and keep them informed about your business activities, events and special offers, or in the case of schools inform parents of events, school closures or information regarding their child.
  •  A mobile app allows you to present information, services and products to your customers through a medium that people use and have with them constantly, this provides your business with an excellent affordable tool to inform and market to your customer base at any time.
  • A mobile app provides you with a ready revenue stream allowing your business to reach an audience that you normally wouldn’t reach through other means of marketing (97% of messages are read), people are always searching for the easiest and fastest way to get the information, products and services they want.
  • Customers always have their phone with them, no matter what they are doing people are always fiddling with their phones or tapping away on a tablet, this means that people can search, buy, browse or share at any time of the day or night regardless of where they are or what they are doing, with an app your business will always be available to them.
  • An app will keep you ahead of the competition, whilst your competitors may not have an app at this time, you could, here at Activ we have made developing and launching an app more affordable allowing you to reap the benefits with a sensible ROI, allowing you to engage with customers, build brand loyalty and be on the cutting edge of technology.

Why wait, your customers are using mobile devices everyday browsing for products, services, booking appointments, purchasing goods and much much more, how many people these days book a hotel or visit a restaurant without first reading the reviews, looking at on-line maps to see where it is, what the parking is like or what’s on the menu?. For the price of a couple of adverts you could have the latest technology advertising only your business.

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).

Advertisements

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).

What is cloud computing and what can it do for me

The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet. Cloud computing is a general term for anything which involves delivered hosted services over the internet.

In broad terms a cloud service has three characteristics which differentiate it from traditional hosting, these are;

  1. It is provided on demand (by the minute or hour in some cases)
  2. It is scalable (a user can have as little or as much as they want)
  3. the service is fully managed by the vendor (you typically only require a computer and internet access)

Cloud computing promises to speed application deployment and lower costs, whilst increasing business agility. It has transformed the way we design, build and deliver applications to the users. Have you used a search engine today?, have you accessed web mail if so you are already using cloud services.

There are public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds but don’t let the jargon put you off, everyone agrees that cloud computing is the key to the future of I.T but lots of these people are unsure of what it is. Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon to offer “cloud services” so it is worth understanding such terms as SaaS (software as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) or IaaS (infrastructure as a service) to name a few if you need to evaluate a suppliers claims.

Cloud computing has some real benefits but also has risks such as loss of services if your provider has downtime or worse still goes out of business also regulatory concerns over data security so choose your vendor carefully.

I recently setup a really simple system for a plumber who lives down the street; he already had an iPhone, an Apple Mac and an iPad although in his words he wasn’t really sure what to do with them. During our conversation he mentioned that his wife mans the phone at home and jots down all of his incoming appointments then rings him at regular intervals to give him the new list, if the call is urgent she tries to call him straight away, within 10 minutes we had connected his Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad calendar applications up to iCloud (he was familiar with the calendar app anyway), now when his wife enters the call details into a time slot on the calendar app on the Mac the appointment appears on his iPhone and iPad almost instantly and any Urgent appointments are highlighted in red, he now knows exactly when and where he should be, what the problem is before he gets there, the address and customer name and contact details and it cost him nothing as he already had the technology simple, but had this come up a year or two ago it would have been a little more difficult and a lot more expensive to achieve, it’s certainly not the best solution to his problem but it works for him and cost him nothing.

The reason for the anecdote above is to show that the “Cloud” isn’t frightening or intimidating, it’s not the answer to everything but in certain cases it does exactly what it says on the tin.

To conclude, here are a few more terms you may want to research if you want to know more, it is a fascinating subject.

Utility Computing
SaaS
– Software as a service
PaaS – Platform as a service
IaaS – Infrastructure as a service
RIA – Rich internet application
Multi-tenancy
Public, Private, Hybrid Clouds
Virtualisation

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).

 

Setting up a Facebook page

How to create a Business Facebook Page.

Want to make the most of Facebook for your business? Here’s how.

Facebook accounts in the UK number over 30 million. If you’re looking to tap into the marketing potential of Facebook or improve your own sites SEO ranking the first thing you need to do is create a business page. These are the steps and we show you how to make the most of this social media portal.

To Start
First you will obviously need a personal Facebook account. If you already have one great If not you may wish to create a separate business account so your employees can login and edit the company page. If you want to advertise on Facebook it will be tied to this account so a separate profile makes this easier to manage and control if the person who normally manages this task leaves.

Where to Click
The first challenge you have is finding where to create your business page. The link you need is often hidden away amongst the hundreds of options on your profile page. To get started the page you need is http://www.facebook.com at the bottom of the page you will see a set of links.

Mobile · Find friends · Badges · People · Pages · About · Advertising · Create a Page · Developers · Careers · Privacy

Select “Create a Page” (marked in red above)

Choosing Your Page Type
When you select ‘Create a Page’ you then have to choose from the following options:

•    Local Business or Place
•    Company, Organisation or Institution
•    Brand or Product
•    Artist, Band or Public Figure
•    Entertainment
•    Cause or Community

Once you have chosen your page type you can choose a category. It is important to select the one which accurately matches your organisation as users will often search for companies using this field. For example, a restaurant would go into the ‘Food/ Beverages’ category where as a magazine should go into the ‘Media/News/Publishing’ category.

Basic Information.
1.     Profile Photo: Here you have the option to upload an image. This should be your most up to date company logo in a square format – this same image (or a cropped square version) will also appear next to your updates.

2.    Get Fans: This is an excellent opportunity to start promoting your page straight away. If you know a number of high profile users it would be worth inviting them to view your page. If you already have a comprehensive list of contacts you can upload an Outlook, Constant Contact or .csv file and Facebook will alert the users of your new page. This is a fantastic option for a company like an online florist, who may already have a valuable list of emails for customers, clients and suppliers.

3.    Basic Info: Here you have the opportunity to add your website. This is worth doing as you can gain a valuable back link which can direct social users to your main domain. You also have 255 characters to summarise your company. This should convey your page’s proposition and unique selling point. I would also suggest including your main keywords and location to help the page appear in relevant Facebook search results.

The Detail.
Once you have created your page the real work can begin. Click ‘edit page’ in the top right-hand corner and enter as much information about your company as possible. When it comes to creating a Facebook page the more you give out the more you will get back. If you enter your address details you will appear for local searches i.e. ‘Computer Shop Brighton’. Similarly if you enter awards the company has won, this will give the page and your business more credibility.

If you have any photos they are worth uploading to send a visual message to the user. If you are a local store load pictures of your shop and displays, if you’re a restaurant include pictures of your best dishes. Similarly, a retail shop should display pictures of their most popular products. This can be done by going to the photos tab in the left hand column.

Get Connected.
Now your page is ready. The final steps to setting up your Facebook page are to make sure you are connected to the right people.

If you go to ‘edit page’ and visit the resources tab you can link the page to your Twitter profile. This section also gives you the option to install ‘social plug-ins’ like the ‘Like Button’ on your website. This is worth doing as it enables you to transfer website users into Facebook fans.  In turn this will help you build up a quality customer base and create valuable remarketing opportunities.

Permissions and Settings.
Finally you have the option of managing the permissions of your page. Here you can control what users can post on your wall. You can limit their posting ability by posts, pictures or videos.
You also have the choice of choosing what the default landing tab will be. This is worth testing and will be different for each company. For example, a news website will want their default landing tab to be the wall due to constantly streaming fresh content.  However a local computer store may want to display their information tab to prompt an enquiry as quick as possible.

Custom URL.
When you first create your Facebook page it will give you a long URL with lots of numbers. To get your own custom URL you will need to attract at least 25 fans. Once you have done this you have the opportunity to change the URL to http://www.facebook.com/CompanyName to do this simply go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ and edit the page username.

Creating a Facebook page is an excellent way to stay in contact with not only your core customers but with potential customers as well.

After you have successfully created a business page you can link to it from your own website, e-mail campaigns or other social profiles.

Once live, it is important to keep a regular stream of content populating the wall. Information, pictures and unique content will keep users coming back for more and will also enable you to build up a quality list of contacts for marketing opportunities.

For a free ebook entitled “Search Engine Optimisation Made Easy” visit CodeSpinner

If you would like to learn more about social networking, or would simply like to discuss your online presence or website requirements contact me at:

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

Why Should I Blog!

Whether you are a one man/woman business, boss of a small business or even the CEO of a multi-national you simply cannot afford not to blog.

The days when blogging was a niche pastime for spotty kids or bored students is long gone, the reasons today for blogging are many, not least of which is to promote your business.

So what are the reasons?

Blogs give you a way to reach out to clients.

One reason is to allow you to open a dialogue between you, your customers and your potential customers. You most likely have a good idea who your customers are, which products or services they are buying but how well do you know the customer.

Sure leaflets, newsletters and advertising will allow you to get your message across but blogging allows them to speak up as well.

The comment or response functionality of your blog allows your customers to tell you what they think as well as allowing them to learn more about your business.

This allows you to interact with your customers learn more about what they want, their needs, if the customer thinks you care, if they believe you are interested in what they have to say they are more likely to stay with you; there is no greater sales tool than word of mouth from satisfied customers.

Blogs can increase traffic to your business site.

Another reason is SEO If you’re having trouble with search engine ranking for your website then a blog might just be what you need. We all know that search engines love blogs. With some strategic blogging, you can increase traffic to your business website. And if someone finds your blog through keywords in a search engine result, they are probably part of the audience you are trying to reach.

If you are constantly posting new articles to your blog, then you can be sure that the search engines will notice. Keep adding new articles and useful content to your blog and you can expect your page ranking to improve.

You can build a following

When you post good information on a regular basis you will build a group of loyal followers. In time, they will get to know you and your business; your readers can become your biggest champions, providing referrals and leads.

A blog is much easier to maintain than a newsletters or electronic mailing list and what’s more, the contact between the business and the customers is immediate since your blog can easily be updated from wherever you have computer access. If you need help to setup your blog or just need advice about a web presence then we at CodeSpinner can help we offer a full range of services and skills at affordable prices.

Of course, blogging isn’t for everyone. It takes time, a commitment and accurate, interesting relevant material, you will need to post regularly, provide information that’s valuable to your customers, and be willing to interact with and learn from them.

One of the biggest challenges for bloggers is sticking to a regular schedule, we are all busy, and a blog post is yet another item on the to-do list, but once you start writing, especially if you are writing about something you’re passionate about, it just starts to flow and ultimately you will be glad you did it…and hopefully you’ll be advancing your business prospects in the process.

For a free ebook entitled “Search Engine Optimisation Made Easy” visit CodeSpinner

If you would like to learn more about blogging, or would simply like to discuss your online presence or website requirements contact me at:

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

10 Top SEO Tips

Content must be unique.
You need to provide content that is unique it’s no good copying content from other sites the search engines will look at identical content and work out who created it.

Add new content all the time.
Sites that are adding content on a regular basis are seen as more reliable this also helps you to increase the amount of relevant content on your site, which in turn improves your rankings.

Keyword Analysis
The first thing you should do when working on search engine optimization is find which keywords and phrases to use for your site. Keyword analysis is an on-going task in SEO

Choose a keyword phrases that are popular, but not too popular.
When trying to decide on a keyword phrase, you want to find one that is popular but not extremely popular. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the reality is that extremely popular keywords are very desirable and so very competitive. It’s better to try to optimize for keywords that you can rank higher with. You will generate more page views from a less popular keyword when you are on the first or second page of the search engines, than from a popular keyword that only gets you on to page 50 of the search engines.

Create an accessible site.
Makes sure the HTML is accessible to both search engine spiders and screen readers. The more accessible you make your pages, the easier it will be for search engines to read and rank your pages (check the pages against http://validator.w3.org).

Use your chosen keyword phrase in your title tag.
The title tag is one of the most important tags on your Web page it is the first tag the search engines look at and is often overlooked. Placing your keyword phrase in the title tag, preferably at the beginning is very important to get that phrase into the search engines. Plus it puts your keyword phrase as the link in the search engine index.

If possible get a domain with your keyword phrase in.
Putting your keyword phrase in your domain name is a great way to optimize for that phrase.

Use the keyword phrase in your URL.
Even if you can’t get your keywords into your domain name, you can put them into your page URLs. Search engines read the URLs and assign value to the text they find there.

Use your keyword phrase often, but not too much.
The ratio of your keywords phrases to the rest of the text on your page is called the keyword density. It’s important to repeat your keywords in your document, but not too much. Keyword density should be between 3% and 7% for your primary keyword phrase and 1%-2% for any secondary keywords or keyword phrases.

Use your keyword phrase in anchor text of links.
Link text is another great place to put your keyword phrase, links stand out on most web pages, and so are given higher priority than surrounding text.

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 perform the SEO tasks for you and get your site noticed contact me at:

Tel: 07850009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk

Why do I need a website?

How many businesses today still remark “why do I need a website?” and how many business have a website that looks fantastic, has flash, video, sound and music, cost a fortune and doesn’t attract a single customer.

At Codespinner in Hull our local advisors are all trained in sales, marketing and website design, we do not simply employ graphic designers to make pretty looking websites. Your website should be a business tool that should benefit your business.

There are three main ways a website can help your business:

  • Save Money
  • Save Time
  • Make Money

A website is the most flexible and cost effective way to keep in contact with your customers, inform them of your latest offers/events/news. Studies have shown that regular communication with your customers will improve loyalty to your business and therefore they’re likely to spend more with your business.

At Codespinner we know exactly how to fine tune your website to your marketing activities to ensure you spend less but gain more from your campaigns.

How do you advertise currently? A website will allow you to advertise yourself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Direct them to your website that provides full details about your business, a website provides a second shop window to attract more customers and raise the profile of your business over a greater area. Can you afford not to have one?

If you would like a free consultation with no hard sell, at a time and place of you choosing contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Or visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk

for all your website and online profile requirements in Hull, Bridlington and East Yorkshire

Starting a business on a shoestring

Make sure there is a demand for your service or products.

Unless you are rich and can stand the losses you don’t have room for trial and error, a business needs demand to survive and it doesn’t matter if its products you are selling or a service you are providing.  Market research is a must.

No Excess fat.

Forget the fancy office, fancy shop and the company BMW, if you can start from home if you are in the business of sales consider online or markets and fairs, rent instead of buy if you and your business are viable then the rest will come with time.

Illusion – Look bigger than you are.

Build a professional website (or have one built for you) don’t let people know you are a one man band working from home, answer the phone professionally it costs nothing look for special offers there are plenty of companies offering a batch of business cards cheap, you may get a better deal if the same company produces the rest of the stationary, haggle they need your business and expect haggling when you are selling the less expenses the better you need money coming in.

Passion

if you haven’t a passion for your business then save your money and carry on working for someone else. Believe me things are going to be hard if you are not committed then don’t do it working for yourself is hard work, you will need to go the extra mile if you are to succeed, long hours, heartache and disappointment precede a successful business.

 Balance the Books!

When possible take the cash option, you won’t have the luxury of 60 or 90 days credit, so where possible get the money from your customers as quickly as possible if your service takes time ask for a deposit or staged payments get the cash coming in and keep it that way

If you hold a stock purchase only what you can sell, avoid overstocks which are often sold later at a reduced profit or even a loss.

Reinvest.

Once the money starts coming in keep a percentage to re invest in the business, avoid taking from the business if possible the flash car will wait a month or so, remember anything sold must be replaced if you are to keep going.

Choose an online profile partner

A huge percentage of purchases are made online, in fact people research online before purchasing, all businesses these days require an online presence, we can supply a website at a fixed cost, the site will not only look good but will work for your business and regardless of the number of pages you require the price is fixed take a look at our site (Here)  to see what you get

And finally!

Good Luck!

Software Development

Fixed price web site design

2012 Business Plans

Hi,

Well christmas is over for another year, now is the time to take a long hard look at your business plans for the new year, unless you are 100% happy with your advertising. online profile or amount of business you had last year (and how many of us are 🙂 ) now is the time to get someone to look at your online profile.

At Activ we not only build fixed price web sites, but we also look at the bigger picture, sure for £499 your not going to get all the bells and whistles  but you  will get enough of them to make sure your site works for your business rather than just sit there looking pretty. Companies can spend a fortune on a web presence which their web designer tells them they need, it will probably look fantastic with images gliding gracefully across the screen whilst christmas video’s play in the corner and snow gently slides down the screen but chances are, after 6 months the site will still be looking just as pretty and still not generating business for you. just look at some of the highest grossing sites, amazon.co.uk, is it the best looking site you ever saw?, how about PC World, Argos to name but a few, the difference between these companies is that their site are built to a) work for the business and b) be easy to use by the customer, do you visit these sites to sit and look at the graphics or sit and watch a 5 minute video of their products whizzing around the screen.. No and they know that.

The point I am trying to make is if you want a site that works hard for your business then come and talk to us (Activ) , if you want the site to just look pretty we probably can’t help you.

We offer a full range of help and advice to make your online presence the best we can from fixed price wesites £499, to full e-Commerce sites at £999 as well consultancy, photography in fact everything you need online.

Happy New Year!

For all you online profile advice and web sites in Hull and Bridlington Codespinner Ltd

or call 07850 009750, email: info@codespinner.co.uk