It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s telling you to go with the best solution, not the cheapest. You’ve felt it before, and now it’s back as you decide between creating your own customized software or buying a pre-built package off the shelf. We know, it’s not an easy decision, and the right answer is different for every business.
A client portal provides your customers secure access to information about their account or service. The aim is to streamline interactions with your customers, from support to sales. A great example of a client portal is the insurance industry, where their clients can access ID cards, claim information, and order or change coverage. Imagine what a good client portal could do for your business. A well designed client portal will help your business create operational efficiency, a better customer experience, and even grow your revenue.
From our previous blogs, you now know how involved the entire process is in developing custom software for your business, from gathering information to hiring the right developer. But what happens after the application goes live? There is always maintenance to be done, and a good software maintenance plan is key to ongoing success, not to mention keeping all of the components updated, secure and running smoothly.
The primary goal of creating and investing in a custom software application for your business is to improve your business -- profitability, efficiency, customer experience, revenues, etc. You know that much. Now, you need to identify what your business really needs so that you can develop the right custom software solution for your users.
Over the last couple blogs, we’ve touched on the importance of selecting the right type of project for your web needs. The first step is to determine whether or not you need a website or a web application. Here’s a quick and simple way to do that.
In the last of our three-part series on cyber-security, we're going to talk about how you can create a culture of security to prepare your employees to avoid the single biggest threat: human error.
Last week, we outlined some of the reasons cyber-security matters for small business. This week, we're going to provide you with some basic tools to help secure your Web site.
Recently, I attended a Cyber-Security Summit organized by the Arizona Technology Council. After attending many of these events in the past few years and through conversations at the many events I’ve attended, it’s clear this is still an important topic of education for small businesses. I’ll try to cover, not just the reasons for concern (hopefully without scaring anyone into giving up their smart phone entirely), but also some tips on how to prepare your small business for the ever-changing cyber-security threats.
By far the most common oversight by clients (and often by inexperienced developers) is the long-term solution. We start projects so they can be finished, so that means that the project has to “live” somewhere for the foreseeable future, right? Most clients gloss over this need assuming the developer will take care of it. Other times, they wait until the day before the launch to find out the Developer didn’t plan. In the worst cases, the client has no idea where their digital product lives and the developer goes AWOL. It’s important to be a part of this planning from the beginning.
We recently started to map out a proposal for a new project. This particular project meant working around an existing relationship with a staff developer who maintains a version of the app for another platform. As we moved through the process of crafting a proposal to meet their needs, a number of questions came up, including the question about security.
Most small businesses rely on an outsourced Web designer to manage their Web site. With the economy improving, not all of those resources are sticking around. They are instead heading back to work for other companies themselves and they all handle the transition differently. Some are great - providing their client with well-documented processes and information about their site. Many simply fade away. If you're outsourcing your Web design and development to a freelancer or independent firm, here's a few tips on making sure you're ready if you're forced into a transition.
Failure to plan is planning to fail.
We've all heard the old adage, but with software, failure should be part of any plan. This isn't because we want or even know that failure will occur. We certainly don't want the application to fail, but disaster happens. It could be a fire at the data center where the application is housed, infiltration by a malicious hacker, or any number of things that cause an application to fail. What's important, though, is that you have a plan in place to get back up.
Over that past few years supporting applications, I've received multiple requests to not timeout (either at all or less frequently). From a user's perspective, it's frustrating. You get up for a cup of coffee between work and get distracted by a quick conversation or the ding of email. You come back to the application, click, and you're required to log in again. There's a number of standards for the length of login timeouts, but everyone has their own opinion and each industry has different specific requirements.
Building a platform with security built-in from the beginning isn't a common occurrence. Many freelance developers or small development teams consider security late, if at all, which results in what we call "bolted-on" security (versus "built-in" security). Bolted on security, while still security, tends to poke a lot of holes in an application. Here are three things to discuss with your Web team about before you start the next project or enhancement.
Recently, a class-action lawsuit was filed against 21st Century Oncology. In it, the medical provider is accused of storing patient data in Joomla. Since we primarily use Joomla as a content management system, this story was interesting, particularly when you look at the lawsuit attorney's comments.
This week, it's time for information about digital security and what you can do about it. When I previously discussed security, I mentioned that the tone when people talk about digital security, privacy, and recently hacked companies is dire, but I want to focus on what you can do about it. Recently, Entrepreneur published two great articles on the topic, one broadly covering the topic and the other specifically addressing the issue of employee theft.
Security was on everyone's mind last year, including mine. One of the things I was keenly aware of was that most people talk about it fearfully - including me. I wanted this article to be different. We all know there are people out there who want our information - that hasn't changed. As a web development company, however, we must do our part to make obtaining that information more difficult.
Sol Minion Development was recently recognized as one of three finalists for the Tempe Chamber's 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, alongside BioStress Imagery and All About Compression (the recipient). After the Beacon Awards ceremony, I was discussing what we did differently from other Web companies. Let's face it, there are a lot of choices for Web design and development firms, but we do stand out because we are actively protecting our client's data and educating them.
Since founding Sol Minion Development, I've been to dozens of networking events. Each time, the same question came up: "So, what do you do?" There's plenty of ways to answer this question and plenty of techniques. I've tried several of them, but it's hard to define what we do succinctly. After a little over two years and using the "Twitter Approach", I whittled it down: We solve business challenges using software. The challenges could be just about anything, from marketing to operations to customer service, but it's all solved in some way by software. So, what do you do?
Here are three examples of challenges faced by many businesses that we can help overcome.