I, as founder, owner, and CTO of Sol Minion Development, was recently elected to a seat on the Tempe Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. This is a great honor and it made me think about the impact joining the Chamber has had on my business. To be perfectly honest, without the Chamber, I wouldn't have a business.
I was in a meeting regarding a possible and the inevitable question came up regarding how estimates work. As I've mentioned in the past, we are a custom development firm and don't perform project work on a fixed bid because application development, especially redesigning existing applications, always comes with a surprise or two - usually small, but sometimes not so small. The response I received was eye-opening: "I don't like surprises."
Many small businesses look at a Web site as little more than a necessary cost of doing business. We've heard, more than once, "nobody comes to us because of our Web site" from business owners. The truth is that customers may not come to you because of your Web site, but they will use it to gauge whether they can trust you and to find out more about the products or services you can provide.
If you're managing your own Web site or managing sites for clients, chances are you're trying to find a way to keep your site secure. It's getting difficult to go just a week without catching wind of some hacking scandal from the news. There's also a good chance your site is built using either Joomla or WordPress, which is great because there are a variety of extensions available for both platforms to make it easier to keep your site safe.
By now you've probably heard about Google's latest change wherein they start taking into account your site's responsiveness, perhaps even received an email from Google regarding your site's current standings. What isn't clear is precisely what the impact to your site and your site's search ranking could be. The bottom line is if one out of five visitors to your site is using a mobile device, your site traffic could see a significant reduction.
Having just celebrated our third full year in business, I started to think back on what brought us to this point. In our current, high-technology, low-interaction world, I find the basics often fall by the wayside. Our marketing plan consists of meeting other small business owners, listening to and getting know them, and cultivating relationships. To that end, I've spent a lot of time learning what to do (and what not to do) in terms of etiquette, introductions, and being a "connector".
Today's a big day. Three years ago, I jumped ship from the corporate world and began exclusively building my own company. There's been some speed bumps along the way, but I've spent the past three years building relationships with small businesses in the Tempe Chamber and getting involved in the business community. Some of those efforts centered around educating small business owners on the difference between Web designers and developers and the "cookie-cutter" approach vs the custom design approach to crafting an online presence.
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.
It sounds like part of some obscure riddle, but the reality is that ecommerce has grown to encompass more than just an online store. There are more ways to get in front of your potential market and the post-launch marketing is more important than ever. Consumers want information, they want fast and accurate delivery, and they want to save time. Here are a few channels for stores of any size.
When you talk to an architect about building your dream home, you can get a rough idea of the cost by providing some preliminary information. It's not until they dig into specifics - the kind of countertops, number and size of bedrooms, and other important details - that they can provide you with an exact number. The same is true when creating a custom Web site or application. Estimates are often based on little more than an hour-long conversation and a few general examples.
In our last article, we talked about cyber liability insurance, why we carry it, and why it's important for our clients that we do. Now, I'd like to examine the anatomy of a data breach - we'll use the recent Target hack - and look at what the costs would be if it happened to a theoretical small retail store.
You're elated. You've just launched your company's new Web site. Then the euphoria wears off. What happens if someone breaks through the security? What if your data is stolen? What if your customers' data is stolen? How much will it cost to fix? Don't panic. Life happens and there are ways to protect yourself, your business, and your customers.
When I'm talking with other business owners that are just getting started, I frequently hear how they built their site in WordPress themselves because it's so easy. Every time I hear "WordPress", I cringe a little (usually on the inside, but occasionally it creeps into my outward expressions). We manage WordPress sites for a few of our clients, but we advocate for Joomla. Here are a few reasons why.
If the 2014 holiday shopping season showed us anything, it's that people are shopping online more and standing in long lines at stores for mediocre sales less. Though the actual numbers have yet to be released, it's tough to ignore the predictions and the trends of the past few years. If your company has been considering launching an ecommerce initiative, there is planning that must be to considered.
We really don't know who the award is going to, but we were thrilled to be nominated and be named a finalist for the first annual Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Tempe Chamber of Commerce. It's a new award for 2015 and we're up against some great fellow Chamber members.
Late in 2014, it was brought to our attention that having a button on the Web site so our customers could pay their balance would be really helpful. PayPaloffers some payment button options, but I prefer Stripe for credit card processing. Unfortunately, there were no "pay any amount" extensions for Joomla. ... Until now.
When it comes to your site, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Many clients want to use imagery on the site to emphasize their point, but aren't sure what resources are available or how to pick the right photo, illustration, or artwork. Here are a few questions to keep in mind when choosing photos.
While discussing Web projects with other business owners, I frequently discuss the merits of Joomla versus WordPress. Many are surprised to learn about previously unknown options. Each platform has it's own merits and drawbacks, but this article will focus some lesser known options.
When it comes to technology, many clients ask me about the advantages of one platform over another. Often, they're focused on one platform or they read somewhere that one platform is better than the other. I'm here to dispel some of the myths and offer some advice on how to pick the best technologies to launch your next idea.
When we're working with clients on their Web site, they often have an idea of their message but may not know the best way to present that content in a way that engages their customers. Sometimes its the content itself that isn't compelling, other times its simply how that content is presented.