Posted: May 25, 2012
by Blake Facey

If you’re looking at a new content management system or don’t have one yet, then you should definitely consider Kentico CMS (sorry for the shameless plug).  Either way, it is helpful to know what to look for when hiring a firm to deploy your website on a content management system – here are a few reasons you should consider hiring a company with Kentico Certified Developers for your website development needs. 

  • Hiring a company with Kentico Certified Developers ensures that the company isn’t learning on your dime.  They have demonstrated experience working with Kentico and already know the ins and outs of Kentico, reducing the learning curve cost.
  • They have a proven track record of setting up and deploying new instance of Kentico CMS as well as upgrading old instance to newer versions.
  • Kentico Certified Developers also are keenly able to make complex customizations to Kentico (i.e. custom document types, transformations, web parts, using the Kentico API, etc.).  We have developed numerous custom web parts for Kentico and are able to customize the CMS to work exactly the way you need it to.
  • The vast Kentico Certified Developer network allows other Kentico Certified Developers to share their knowledge and best practices, further improving successful deployments.

There is no substitute for experience – hiring a rookie developer for any kind of web engagement, let alone a highly robust content management system like Kentico CMS or even Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server, can prove to be a crippling business decision through extruded timelines and costs as well as missed business opportunities.  Make sure you hire a firm with the skills, experience, and certifications necessary to get the job done right, on time, and on budget.

Posted: May 25, 2012 by Blake Facey | with 0 comments


Posted: March 29, 2012
by Ron Brumbarger

I just finished giving a presentation last week to a group in Columbus, OH in tandem with Ice Miller, a long time friend and client of ours.  We will be doing a similar presentation on April 13th @ 7:30am here in Indianapolis, so if the following piques your interest, you may want to think about attending this informative seminar.

Anyway, this presentation got me thinking about a few things and so I wanted to follow up a little on a blog post I wrote last year regarding “cowboys” in our industry.  We’ve come to call them cowboys because of how they will ride off into the sunset, leaving you holding the bag.  While I introduced this concept of a cowboy in that blog post, today I’m going to expound on a couple of important areas within this issue.

The first deals with source code and ownership rights.  When you’re dealing with a “cowboy” it’s nearly impossible to guarantee that the source code he is writing for you is properly licensed and could have major implications from a legal standpoint for you down the road.  This is not to mention that the origination of the source code can be indiscernible, making it impossible to walk away with “your source code” aside from scrapping it altogether.

The other common mistake made by “cowboys” is the use of improperly licensed imagery in the development of your website or application.  I can’t tell you how many times we have received a “you owe us big money letter” from Shutterstock, iStock, or countless other stock photo galleries, claiming that one of our clients is illegally using images from their library.  This is often a mistake by a naïve client or by a former “cowboy” who built their website but has now rode off into the sunset and is nowhere to be found to take responsibility for his actions.  As a side note, the photo brokers are getting increasingly aggressive and stringent with their “penalties and fines”.  Copyrights are a BIG DEAL and they are protecting their rights as well as making a point.

There is much more to each of these points, and to really grasp the full breadth and depth of these issues, I would encourage you to come to our event with Ice Miller next month.  We will present a host of information from both the technological side as well as a legal standpoint as to why this is a BIG DEAL for your business.  Hope to see you there!

Posted: March 29, 2012 by Ron Brumbarger | with 0 comments


Posted: March 22, 2012
by Blake Riley

I am the new guy. And yes, there is another Blake in the office.  Confusing I know.  So when I was asked to write this blog post, I secretly hoped there was a mistake, and they had the wrong Blake.  No, it was me. So, here we go.

When you start at a new company, there is always a new vocabulary you must learn, filled with acronyms and abbreviations that all the veterans of the biz take for granted. The first day, the first sales meeting, I was sitting there, nervous and smiling, trying to make a good first impression. Curt and Alex went off on a tangent about SEO, and I had no idea how it worked (give me a break, I was 25 minutes into a new career!) I nodded, smiled, and immediately following the meeting, I called on my good friend, the World Wide Web. I typed in this foreign abbreviation, and soon found out what it meant and how it worked: Search Engine Optimization.

I continued digging into the subject, and learned what it was all about; how search engines “crawl” over the content of a website to find relevant and new content. So, when you type in a series of words or a phrase, these “spiders” go out and scour the web and turn it into a ranking. That ranking is important to companies- it gives them exposure, leads you to their site, and hopefully, if their site is well thought out,  that company will accomplish their goal of “converting” you (i.e. Instant quote, questionnaire, you buy something, you eat at their restaurant, etc.)  That is why people are now professional bloggers. Yes, it was astonishing to me too, but that is also why I am sitting here typing this. If you keep your content fresh on your site, you are more likely to be discovered by the search engines.

As I have learned more and have become more familiar with the case studies of current clients, it amazes me just how advanced these search engines are, and more importantly, the research and work that must go into finding and optimizing for the “key words” appropriate for each client. The challenge is that A LOT of companies are competing for visibility with the same key words.  The web is a big place, and if you type in “BitWise Carmel,” we will be number one on the search engine. However, if you type in “website development Indiana,” BitWise will be found farther down the page. This is because the search engine found other sites that have more mentions of the key word or more relevant content; therefore they are higher in the search results.

So, whether you are a new company, or a long time pillar in your industry, there are people searching for you, and like BitWise, you want to make sure they make it to your site, not a competitors’!  Search engine optimization  is not a one-time event.  It is ongoing and important for enabling the right people to discover YOU and YOUR BUSINESS, quickly and efficiently when searching.  Once you get them to your site, you can direct them where you would like them to go, but getting them there is often the toughest part. This is why SEO is important to your business! Invest in SEO, it will make it easier for potential customers and clients to discover you via the world wide web.  Once they are on site, then we work on conversions.  But alas, that is a blog post for another time.

Posted: March 22, 2012 by Blake Riley | with 0 comments


Posted: March 20, 2012
by Curt Franke

Ah, where to start?  We get frequent inquiries from startup companies interested in BitWise developing their website solution.  So, here are a few things to think about if you’re a startup looking to build a website or you have a Web focus.

Have a solid business plan worked out first – it’s kind of obvious, but we see it all the time where a startup comes to us with an idea and they want to start building “right away” but they don’t have any kind of defined business plan.  Figuring it out as you go is a plan for failure – not to mention the way to have a million headaches along the way.  Put the time and effort into detailing some kind of a business plan because the direction for everything else – including the website, 3rd party tool integrations, etc. – will naturally flow from it.  Yes, it’s a lot of work, but well worth it, because you will get a better solution for your money.  Besides, a startup with no plan is silly. 

There’s almost no limit to what can be done technically – at this stage in the game, don’t get too preoccupied with the technical details and what can or can’t be done.  There are very few things we can’t do from a technical standpoint, so don’t limit yourself.  Dream big!  If there turns out to be something that can’t be done, we’ll work with you to come up with a suitable alternative.

Stay focused on what you want to do from a business perspective – it’s easy early on to get off track with really cool things that have little or no value to your business model.  There are plenty of cool, flashy things that can catch your eye but will only distract from your overall business goals and objectives and cost you more money.  Work with your web partner and figure out what is core to the solution.  When starting up, stick to what is essential to your business plan so you can launch as inexpensively and quickly as possible and so you can begin generating revenue and prove your concept.  Once you’re off the ground, our Continuous Innovation program is a great way to continually innovate and add in those features that bring a special touch to your website or application.

If your website has lots of functionality, you probably need a front-end planning engagement – if we’re just building a straightforward, informational website it’s probably not necessary to do a front-end planning engagement.  However, if your website features some complex functionality and/or integrates with other databases/applications, then it is absolutely imperative to outline the business requirements and functional and technical aspects of the project.  There are a number of reasons why this is so important:
  1. As a startup, you typically have limited time and money.  So, although it is difficult, figuring things out during development typically makes for a longer timeline and more money, whether it be a fixed fee or time and material engagement.
  2. It’s easy to allow “feature creep” to sneak up on you when you’re working through development.  Having the project outlined in advance, in accordance with your business goals and objectives, allows you to mitigate the risks of feature creep and ensure the end result meets your defined business plan.
  3. Getting it right the first time is extremely important, especially in the start up phase.  Although it may seem unnecessary, our experience is that investing in a little planning more than pays for itself when you compare it to a too long development phase, poor design, missed functionality, and ultimately missed expectations with your customers.
You would never start building a house without a plan and a blueprint.  It’s much the same way with website and application development.  Have a documented plan.  Work with quality contractors who have a history of getting it right and will be around in the future.  It is likely to cost you more than you think or hope to do it right, but it will be more than worth it in the end.  And the old adage still applies, “You get what you pay for.”

Call me if you’d like to discuss. And remember, BitWise is good, not cheap.


 

Posted: March 20, 2012 by Curt Franke | with 0 comments


Posted: March 1, 2012
by Blake Facey

Having been a web developer at BitWise Solutions for a long time, there is something I’ve learned along the way that makes successful website development or application development engagements.  It seems that pretty much any relationship functions better when there is clear, open, and regular communication – and web development engagements are no different.

Because these types of engagements are so relational, here are a few things we have found that make engagements successful:

  • Frequent status updates on a project to all relevant team members – If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that people like to know what’s going on, even if there haven’t been any major changes.  It’s typical human nature to start getting nervous and making negative assumptions unless someone regularly gives you updates.  Things just go smoother and clients tend to be a lot happier when they know what’s going on and can see progress.
  • Knowing when and how to communicate – Does a client prefer emails or phone calls?  Does morning, afternoon, or evening work better for them?  Doing as much as possible to accommodate their preferences in communication can go a long way in showing that you care about them and their schedule.
  • Being open and honest about all things related to the engagement so there are no miscommunications – Whether things are going well or derailing quickly, being open and honest about what’s happening ends up working out better in the end than trying to cover up or make excuses.  This is probably no surprise to most – you try and hide things from your spouse or your boss and it doesn’t typically end well; the same is true of web development engagements.
  • Never making assumptions – we all know what happens when you assume (if you didn’t get that joke, then ask your 5th grader, they’ll probably know).  Even if it means asking obvious questions or spending additional time in discovery, it’s well worth it.  Ensuring there are no loose ends and the website or application is developed exactly the way the client wants it, is always, and I repeat, always better than not.  There are no exceptions.
Posted: March 1, 2012 by Blake Facey | with 0 comments


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