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Why your Software Development Project is Going to Fail

The statistics about project management in general are (or should be) terrifying —

97% of organizations believe project management is critical to success, but:

80% of PM executives don't know how their projects align with the company strategy.

44% of PMs are not certified.

Less than 33% of all projects are completed on time and on budget.

Any business that wants custom software must choose a partner that has a track record of delivering as promised.

 

Why So Much Failure?

In the simplest form, any project comprises four parts: Concept, goal, process and validation.

Concept is the Vision: What, exactly, do you want this software to do? Who will use it? What resources can you expend to get what you want? Lots of questions need to be asked, very specific information needs answered and put in an organized format.

Goal is the Map: This is the delivery date. These are the skill sets we need. These are the benchmarks. These are the alternatives we may need. These are the obstacles we may face. This is required, that is desired, the other thing would be really nice to have. And, most important: This is the budget. (It's the reality check, it drives everything else.)

Process is the Work: Here's where project management makes it or breaks it. A good project manager is on top of things: Knowing the people and how to blend their skill sets and their personalities. Foreseeing problems and proactively dealing with them. Being involved — hands on — with what's happening on a daily basis. Keeping every stakeholder informed and getting feed back.

Validation is the Endgame: Riddle me this, Batman, "Does my software do what I paid you to make it do?" If you can prove that it does, and you made that happen on time and under budget, you deserve a bonus. (And Bruce Wayne could certainly afford a generous one.)

 

The Bottom Line

Tired clichés and bad jokes aside, it's about people — always. Facet Web Tech is a non-corporate, family-oriented culture. We focus on accuracy, capability and customer service. We support our client's tech needs for the long term. We value their dollars. We employ IT real professionals — experts in technology who understand our client's business needs. Contact Facet about your custom software development, let us make it work for you.

Why Stock Photos are Hurting your Web Design

Everybody's on a budget and stock photos can be vastly less expensive than paying a photographer to shoot quality photos exclusively for your website. However, there's always a trade-off and, with stock photos, that can be a big trade-ff.

SEO Rules

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key to success in winning Internet-based business. The algorithms (the process by which search engines rank websites) are regularly revised so they highlight original, useful content to searchers and avoid spam or other low-value copy. Web design bloggers currently say using stock photos doesn't hurt your search rankings, but that may come in the future. If it does, when it does, the search engines likely won't announce the rule change, so develop good habits now and remember, just because it's SEO-friendly doesn't mean it's a good idea.

 

Worth Less than 1,000 Words

The ancient sage who devised this maxim didn't live in an Internet-based world where anybody could post anything everywhere. To be blunt, some photographers are better than others. Viewers are more likely to skim text and focus on images when checking out a new web page and stock images can have multiple problems:

Realism. A supposed group of coworkers who look like they just came off a Fashion Week runway causes most people to react negatively. Where's the variety you see in real places? Why do they look so stiff and posed? Authenticity is a positive.

Artistic Quality. Poor composition, bad color balance, improper framing, low resolution ("pixilated") — people do notice this stuff. We are surrounded by imagery; we've all seen enough good and bad pictures to know the good ones instinctively and instantly.

Relevance. Does that photo advance the message? If not, it wastes time and you generally have less than a minute to grab the reader's attention and hold it. Creating original photos with an on-point message costs more but, if viewers will remember the image, it is worth more than 1,000 space-fillers.

Last and definitely not least:

Copyright. All intellectual property is the property of the creator until the creator formally sells, licenses or gives it away. Just because a photo is on the Net doesn’t mean you can use it without permission and it is your responsibility to be sure you have it.

 

Get the Right Kind of Help

Doing it right means letting the experts do it. You succeed in your business because you do something very well and your customers trust your work. Facet Web Tech has been doing web design for 30 years, we are Central Illinois' tech experts. Contact us and let us help you build a web presence that gets it done in style!

5 Skills that every IT professional should possess

Information Technology (IT, for short) is a broad segment of the technology industry. From simple tech support to the most complex coding and database management, there are roles for people with many skills:

 

1. Communication

If you want to create some tech, you have an idea. The IT pro needs outstanding communication skills to help you translate that idea into a workable concept that will drive your tech design. During the design and creation process, tech pros may need to communicate (verbally and in writing) with the client, team members, management, outside contractors, government regulators and others, taking all their ideas and comments and blending them into a smooth activity.

 

2. Creativity, Knowledge & Research

If it was easy, anybody could do it. To take what people (sometimes many very different people) think or want then fuse those ideas into a practical product requires intellectual prowess. You may be doing something that's been done many times before — how can you do it better? — or, you may be doing something completely new — how to you take what we know how to do and expand that into something we've never done?

 

3. Customer Service

Real IT pros understand that everybody is a customer and they must get the same level of service as the paying client must get. Every stakeholder in every project has individual needs and meeting those needs is customer service. In different circumstances, one could speak of the need for humility and suggest that a good sense of humor will also serve the project well. In its simplest form, it is simple, old fashioned, good manners.

 

4. Flexibility, Leadership & Teamwork

Back in the day, teachers often noted, "Doesn't play well with others," on report cards of our more rambunctious classmates. We're no longer on the playground, we're in the business world. We need to operate in many diverse teams and situations. IT pros must first control their personal situation, which is the most vital leadership possible — it allows us to enthuse and influence others and make things happen.

 

5. Project Management

The preceding skill sets can be called qualitative, they are personal and social. PM is quantitative, it coldly deals with budgets, deadlines, negotiating, organization, quality control, regulations, scheduling and more. It's the "nitty gritty", the "day-to-day", the pesky details of getting the job done that many otherwise talented, creative, brilliant people simply can't do.

 

Get All the Skill Sets You Need for Success

The IT technologists of Facet Web Tech have (and continually improve) their technical skills, like writing code or cyber security protocols. All across Central Illinois, companies are happily using websites, software, apps and other highly technical products created by us. Contact us today and see what kind of a smile we can bring to your face.

Web Designer vs. Web Developer: What's the Difference?

Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are distinct job titles. Web Designers are the creative artists; the people who make it pretty. Web Developers are the tech experts; the people who make it function.

 

Choosing between Design and Development

The basic question starts with: Do you have a website to be updated or do you need something new? (Warning, the answer to both can be 'yes' — having a website doesn't mean it works and, sometimes, it's easier to start over.)

If the website is technically good — and by good, we don't mean good enough because good enough never is — you may just need a designer. We may be able to recommend new graphics, better writing, an updated color scheme, or any of the small, very simple, very affordable changes that can revitalize a website and make it shine.

If, however, you need to start from scratch, you definitely need a developer. From deciding how many pages you'll have to how each will function and how they'll interact and support each other is the heart of development. Think of your web developer as your site architect, taking the image in your mind and translating it to reality — or whatever passes for reality in cyberspace.

 

Before We Bid

Whether you think you'll choose web designers or web developers, we recommend you start with a full physical by the web doctors at Facet Web Tech. Our experts may find ways to do it better. We might be able to recommend existing or custom apps to improve functionality; find bugs hiding in the code just waiting to bite you; streamline your online operations to get customers to the checkout screen faster. Website creation (creative and technical) is always evolving and our people keep up with the latest and greatest. We'd love to show you what we can do.

 

Choose Facet Web Tech

As the leading source for web design in Central Illinois, Facet Web Tech specializes in effective, SEO-friendly websites. Each website we build is totally custom, built to your specifications and goals. Looking to drive local leads? Need to expand your client list? Of course, you need to sell more products or services! Contact our team of web design and development specialists — we get results.

What are the Stages of Custom Software Development?

 

Custom software development is essentially the same as development in any endeavor. The magic lies in the people — your ideas, your goals, our technical and creative expertise.

1. Concept

"If you don't know where you're going," the sage observed, "you will end up somewhere else." This is the questioning phase: What do you need the software to accomplish? Who is the end user? How much can you spend on the project? When must it be online?

Ask more questions, define more answers and both of us will know when we've succeeded.

 

2. Design & Development

Once we know what we're trying to do, we start coding. Designers will consult with you on how the software will interface with users while developers will consult on the nuts and bolts of doing what it's meant to do. The project will be divided into segments and the software built in pieces that fit together like a puzzle.

 

3. Implementation & Testing

"But," you should ask yourself, "do these puzzle pieces actually fit together and make a pretty picture?"

Alpha testing is done in the lab, by the experts who built it, and who are merciless in the scrutiny of their own work. Beta testing adds the end users to the equation. Regardless of how pretty the code looks, if the user can't make it sing, we don't have an opera.

 

4. Maintenance & Security

Custom software development, like almost any other service, isn't a done-n-gone process.

Cyberspace is changing, sometimes at a mind-boggling rate. Computers keep getting better and faster, and users more knowledgeable and demanding. Your users will probably notice things that they want to see and do on your app or website and might just be very vocal in their suggestions. 

Some users, sadly, don't have your best interest at heart. 

 

Get the Best Work without Breaking the Bank

Throughout Central Illinois, Facet Web Tech has a well-earned and long-standing reputation for quality work. After 30 years, we should, and we guard that reputation like England's Beefeaters guard the Crown Jewels. Contact us for all your custom website development, software and website security needs. You'll be glad you did.

Why is Penetration Testing Important?

What is Penetration Testing?

Simply put, it's legal hacking. Penetration testing (pen testing, for short) involves all aspects of your computer system, subjecting it to every trick a hacker might try, discovering your vulnerabilities and removing those vulnerabilities or securing them so they can't be exploited. Pen testing has two primary avenues of attack — an automated attack by software applications or a manual attack by human agents. 

But, pen testing doesn't refer exclusively to hardware:

1. Software, bought or licensed, is being pen tested by its manufacturer. Many of the updates you receive from software companies fix bugs and close vulnerabilities the company has detected. 

2. Personnel are also part of the computer system, the most vulnerable part, because we can't "fix" them, they must fix any attitude problems, such as forgetting to log off when away from their workstations. If retraining and job counseling doesn't remove the problem behaviors, you may have to be ready to replace the personnel.

 

Why Do You Need Penetration Testing?

Because bad guys are out there, and they want in. If they decide they want into your website, we're here to frustrate them so bad they cry themselves to sleep.

Your website might never get hacked in any substantial way, but do you want to roll dice loaded against you? You can lose data, sensitive information can be compromised, the list is long and should be frightening. Your reputation can be ruined, your clients may find another provider, you could be held legally responsible for publication of personal information or other damages — real or perceived.

You insure your health, home, business, cars, just about everything. Pen testing is just more insurance.

 

Who are you Going to Trust?

Facet Web Tech has served the technology needs of Central Illinois businesses and organizations since 1989.  We know your needs and wants because we started as a small (basement-based) business. Hard work and quality services have propelled us to our current status as trusted technology experts.

Our culture is non-corporate and family-oriented with a focus on accuracy, capability and customer service, which have made our rapid growth possible. Contact us now, we will support all your technology needs economically and efficiently — those you have today and those that will come tomorrow.

How a Good Website Design Can Increase your Conversions

We love what we do, that's why we're in business, right? Wrong!!! We're in business to make money. We have bills to pay and our business does that. If you have a website that isn't converting page views into sales, it isn't doing its job, so fire it and hire a new one. And let Facet Web Tech be your virtual headhunter, finding the best talent on the Internet.

 

"What Am I Doing Wrong?"

1. Using stock photos — it's your website, your product, your company, if you're not presenting your face to the world, well, what are you hiding?

2. Asking too many questions — how many "click here" buttons are on each page? Each button is a "call to action" (or CTA). CTAs draw visitors closer to the sale, so don't give them an option, push them gently toward the sale. Each page should have a simple message and one CTA. Each page should say "This is your problem, we are the solution, click here and we'll do it." (There are exceptions: For example, a lumber store homepage might include only the store's name, address, logo, a picture, and two buttons — "Contractors, click here" and "Homeowners, click here.")

3. Too much information (TMI) has been a problem forever. Back when America's founders debated the Constitution, a single speech might last two days! In the 21st Century, Internet users want it fast, straight and clear. (Notice that all our blog posts run just over 400 words.) Bullet points are great, you can list or rank the answers to the questions that brought visitors to your site without distracting/confusing clutter.

4. Poor organization — again, lead them to the sale. Never assume your visitor knows what they're doing, do it for them. Lead with a headline (in as few words as possible); add a subhead (one sentence at most); add the copy (TMI-free); excite with an image that stimulates a reaction (like, "Oh, that is cool!" or "Gotta' have me one!"); finish with a CTA ("Click here to order now.")

 

What am I Doing Right?

You're running your business. That's where your expertise lies. Creating a web design that turns visitors into customers is our business and, after 30 years (founded 1989, happy anniversary to us!) we're really good at it. We are the Central Illinois web development experts.

Contact Facet Web Tech — a creative, adaptive and highly professional team of specialists with decades of experience in the industry. We'll give your website a full examination; we'll keep the strong points and recreate it with more strong points: Search engine optimization. E-commerce. Lead capture pages. The works!

 

Understanding Web Applications and Why Your Company Needs Them

A web application (app, for short) is software that runs in multiple locations from a remote server. Unlike installed software, apps need an Internet connection to work. For example, Facebook (social media) and Wikipedia (reference) are apps, but MSWord (word processing) and Chrome (browser) are installed software. Facet Web Tech has been building custom apps for years. If you have the need (and you probably do), we have the solution.

 

"Do I Have to Have an App?"

No, businesses have been successful for thousands of years without them. Of course, your competitors probably have apps because they are great tools, valuable for many reasons. Apps can:

1. Keep your business open 24/7, allowing customers to order your products/services whenever the need strikes.

2. Increase your market penetration — one recent study said over 5 billion people use apps (that's 68% of Earth's population) while only 4 billion (53%) use the Internet.

3. Allow customers to review data about their relationship with your company — tracking orders, viewing their history, comparing products — and, being designed mostly for phones/tablets, they do this on the go, not just in the office or shop.

4. Analyze data collected from locations across the country or world, allowing you to better know your customers' buying habits.

5. Keep your customers current — because they run from a single location, each time you update your app, every customer is updated.

6. Improve efficiency by allowing multiple employees in a company to access their account with you, so everybody has the same data at the same time.

7. Increase security because data isn't on the phone or application, it's on the remote server.

8. Set you apart, let you stand out from the clutter — when your customer has your app on their phone/tablet, they don't search the web, where they might find a competitor, they go straight to you.

 

The Downside

Yeah, there's always a downside: Because web applications work via the Net when the Web slows down or is unavailable, apps don't work with their usual magic. Of course, the same is true of every other business tool — including your employees, who get sick, take vacations and have family emergencies.

It's just real life intruding into our dream of a stress-free day.

 

"How Do I Get Started with a Custom App for My Business?"

So glad you asked! You contact Facet Web Tech, the Central Illinois leader in custom software development. We'll assess your needs, propose solutions, figure out exactly what you can do within your budget and deliver the best solution for your specific situation.

4 Ways to Tell if Your Website is Secure

There is bad news, and there is good news:

The Bad News — you can't, not absolutely. You've heard the phrase, "It's impossible to make something foolproof because fools are so clever". Cyber-criminals are equally clever; some are brilliant. If they want in that bad, they'll get in. Most, however, will back away from a hard target, so don't be soft on website security.
The Good News — you need to be aware, but you don't need to worry. Follow simple steps, and your website will be secure enough that only the most dedicated hackers will even try.

1. Earn an SSL certificate. This indicates you've encrypted your website info. There's a validation process, but it's absolutely worth the effort. Once you're validated, you'll see a closed padlock icon in your URL box and "https" in the URL itself. These need to be renewed regularly, so don't let yours expire!


2. Earn a trust seal. Once you have your SSL, many organizations (like the Better Business Bureau and security software companies) can collect specific data as a third-party witness to confirm your business is authentic and compliant.


3. Establish a privacy policy. Another cliché: "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Do you have and follow a plan to keep your system safe? If you assign every employee to a specific computer, you'll need to have a serious discussion with any employee found using another's computer. If your plan includes running malware scans daily, you need to run them every single day. Simple common sense.


4. Engage an expert partner. Unless you're a web security specialist, you can't know about all the latest threats and the latest tools to meet those threats. That's why companies in Peoria, Illinois, and across Central Illinois trust Facet Web Tech.

 

Don't You Worry About Cyber-security, Let Us Worry
Do you really know or care exactly what an SSL Certificate is? Do you know or care how many malware, phishing, identity theft, and other threats are out there? No, you care that your website, your data and your business are safe. That exactly what Facet Web Tech does, we keep you safe. We'll review your website and recommend ways to make it safer. We'll monitor your website 24/7 to see if anyone's poking around uninvited. If some skulking cyber-creep does break in, we can clean up and restore your site to pre-attack condition. Contact Facet Web Tech — we'll take care of your cyber-security needs so you can take care of your business.
 

The Vital Stages of the Software Development Cycle

First, let's get one thing straight: Software is never done. Individual projects are completed, but business needs changes, the industry changes and available technologies change. So, let's look at the 6 vital steps that comprise the Facet Web Tech software development cycle:

1. Planning
It's cliché because it's true: "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Unless you know what you need, you have a snowball's chance in the Sahara of getting what you want. Once you've looked at all the factors that affect the software, look at those that affect the project: Deadline, budget, personnel, and other issues. Then you can create a road map that will get you from Point A to B.

2. Design
This is concept. You know what you need, how do you get there? Engineers sometimes talk "form follows function" and sometimes talk "function follows form". Is your new software to be used by all employees (must be seriously user-friendly) or just by technical experts (more productivity, less simplicity)?

3. Development
This is process. "I need my drafting tech to merge with my accounting tech to bid a job," says the architect. I need my billing tech to merge with my archiving tech, but I need my archiving tech available for consults and my billing to stay absolutely private," says the medical practice. This is where the rubber (analysis) hits the road (coding).

4. Testing
The "pilot program" or "beta use" isn't designed to determine if there are bugs — of course, there are bugs, we are human, we make mistakes. Or, at least, new eyes find a few things we could've done better. Testing doesn't produce perfect software; it produces the best software we can within the limits of our plan.

5. Implementation
"Do it to it!" Put that bad boy to work and see if he works up a sweat or just collapses in exhaustion. That is, are the end-users happy, more productive, & making you more profit?

6. Continuance
Once your custom software passes into general use, wait a while. As noted, your business changes over the years, as does your industry, as does IT in general. (Sometimes, with truly irritating speed and lack of notice!) When you contact Facet Web Tech, you're talking to a full-service information technology partner that can oversee your website, custom software development, online security and more. You're dealing with a small business like your own — local people (not some who-knows-where customer service center) and you deal with the Peoria, Illinois, IT experts. You couldn't be in better hands.

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