3 Things To Look For In A Web Developer 

By Steve Hoag

things to look for in a web developer

Finding the right web developer for your enterprise project is one of the most important steps during the website creation process. There are a ton of options out there, but only a handful will provide exactly what you want. What should you look for when choosing a web developer? Start with these three factors:

Relevant Experience

A developer with years of experience is obviously more valuable than someone with limited experience. They know best practices and solutions to all the problems that may crop up. However, do they have relevant experience? For instance, if you are a municipality looking for a new government website, you should look for developers with government experience. They'll have a better understanding of your needs, wants, and market.

Location

Thanks to the Internet industry, companies have access to an enormous talent pool. Hiring a local developer can be a good option if you want someone you can easily get a hold of, and speaks your language fluently. On the other hand, outsourcing development can lead to lower costs, while there may be some communication problems. Just make sure you do your research and hire someone who is a good fit for you. There are great options both domestic and abroad.

Price/Features

Every developer is going to have a different pricing/feature mix. You need to ensure that you find a developer that fits your budget while offering the best feature set. Ask for quotes from different developers so you can get a sense of the industry average and avoid overpaying. You also want to avoid selecting the cheapest solution simply because it's cheaper. Make sure the quality of the work is the same as more expensive options. One of the worst things to do is underpay for a project, and then realize you need to redo all the development work.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, November 25, 2013 8:15:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web development website

Three Ways You Can Improve Your Design Firm's Customer Service 

By Steve Hoag

designing a great website for client

Designing a great website for a client is extremely rewarding. It's even more rewarding when your customer thanks you for your excellent customer service and promises to refer you to others in their network. Providing great customer service is crucial if you want to be able to retain business and gain access to new clients easily. So how do you go about improving your customer service? Check out these three tips:

Go above and beyond the status quo to understand their business, industry, and vision.

As a designer you need to interpret words and ideas, and turn those into a visual masterpiece. This is not an easy task if you don't understand what their business is about. A great way of improving the quality of your designs is to do background research on your client's industry. Get to know what sort of design approaches sell well for their target market. Also, make sure to sit down with them and go over their business vision. This is important because you want your design to evoke their ideas. Your clients will undoubtedly be impressed with your dedication.

Make sure you clearly communicate your pricing and deliverables before starting work.

No one likes surprise charges. That's why people are always complaining about cable companies or banks. You agreed to pay $100 per month for cable/internet and now it's $145. That's terrible customer service on their part. There should be no surprises for the customer. As a designer, make sure you all of your pricing and deliverables are communicated upfront. The client needs to know exactly what they are going to get with their investment. Surprise charges drive away business. Don't be like a cable company.

Be available on different channels of communication so your customer can easily reach you with concerns.

Being available to communicate with a client is also very important for web designers. Web design is a back and forth process. Being on hand to deal with customer concerns or questions is critical to improving customer satisfaction. It's also important to use multiple channels of communication. Sometimes your client won't be able to reach you by phone, but can ping you on Skype. Maybe their e-mail isn't working, so they need to call you instead. As a designer you need to facilitate communication, not impede it. By being available on multiple channels you avoid customers getting frustrated.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, November 20, 2013 6:19:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website

What is a De-Coupled CMS? 

By Steve Hoag

de-coupled content management system

Choosing the right CMS is important to every website. While there are many options out there, there is also a dichotomy to be aware of.

One thing you'll need to determine is whether or not to choose between a coupled or de-coupled CMS. A coupled CMS is like a blog engine where the underlying store for your content is used for both authoring and delivering. Authoring is part of your live delivery system, and only certain users with permissions can create content.

On the flip side, a de-coupled system separates authoring and delivery into two different applications. You use a publishing application to push content from the authoring app to the content delivery platform.

If you decide to choose a de-coupled system, you need to make sure it fits your business goals, processes, and requirements. Here is a quick breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of a de-coupled system:

Advantages:

- De-coupled systems scale better with high traffic websites, and managing multiple websites.

- SLAs are de-coupled. The authoring app can be down while the delivery platform is running and content will still go through.

- Content migration and sharing with other systems is easier.

- De-coupled systems have better multi-channel support, allowing you to publish content to social media, mobile apps, etc.

- Content sharing and syndication are supported better.

- Code complexity is isolated in the two different platforms, allowing you to make code as complex or simple in either app without affecting the other.-

- It is easy to develop awesome features for users when coding is isolated and scaling is easy.

Weaknesses:

- Set up of the system is more complex because of more components and moving parts.

- If not managed properly, all the different components can create more complexity and negatively impact the user experience.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, November 19, 2013 6:11:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SMB web design web development website

Three Awesome Website Analytics Solutions  

By Steve Hoag

website analytics solutions

Having an awesome website is great. But you can’t effectively monitor and track who are visiting it without an analytics package. Website analytics solutions are essential to assessing your online performance over time. There are a lot of options out there, but here are just a few that you should consider:

AWStats

AWStats comes pre-installed by a lot of web hosts. It can be downloaded for personal use, which is useful if you are setting up your own server. This solution burrows a bit deeper than other options, with unique features like monitoring whether people are hot-linking files from your site.

Google Analytics

The go-to option of many websites is Google Analytics. It’s free, powerful, and has a ton of features to take advantage of. Google Analytics makes seeing who is visiting your site a breeze with a ton of graphs and visuals of traffic. One of the most popular and robust options on the face of the planet, you can’t go wrong with this solution.

Compete

Compete is best known for showing the estimated amount of visitors the top websites receive. This package helps provide creative intelligence by showing how your visitors got to your website by tracking clicks before and after viewing your site. Compete has varying prices, but is definitely a tool worth checking out if you are serious about competitive intelligence.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, November 14, 2013 8:26:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SEO SMB website

What is Website Usability? 

By Steve Hoag

website usability

Website usability is all about ensuring site users can find what they're looking for quickly and efficiently. There are a variety of factors that play a role in maximizing site usability. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Easy and intuitive navigation

In order to maximize usability, it is important to make sure that your navigation is intuitive. Common conventions are organizing your navigation tabs at the header and footer of every site, with main sections highlighted in the nav bar. Also, try to keep your navigation system pretty simple. People visiting your site should be able to reach important information and areas quickly, without having to dig through multiple menus.

Ensure there are no broken links or image errors

If your website uses a lot of graphics to explain concepts then you have to make sure that all the images display correctly. Nothing is more bothersome to a user than clicking on a page and finding that none of the information loads properly. The same goes for making sure all hyperlinks and forms are working properly. The point of usability is to minimize user headaches, not increase them.

Pages must download quickly

People get tired of waiting. That’s a fact. Having long page loads will drive traffic away from your site and undermine its usability.

Easy information retrieval

Most people scan web pages these days. They don’t read everything word for word. Your website needs to make the important information pop out. Use headings, link text, bold text, and bulleted lists to make important information easy to see and understand.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, November 13, 2013 7:33:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design website
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