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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.

Important Rules for Effective Web Design

There are numerous sites that will help you create your own website, but not one that explains how to perform heart surgery on yourself. What does medicine know that IT hasn't figured out? Simply put: Leave professional work to the professionals. Web design isn't about what you like or want; it's about what makes you the most profit! Not coincidentally, the Facet Web Tech web design team is all about making your business more profitable. It is our dream; let us help you realize yours.

Color Counts
Research suggests customers find cool greens and blues more relaxing and warm reds or oranges more energizing. If I'm a home-décor business whose customers view their home as a refuge from the rat race, I'll color my palette cool and relaxing. If I'm a car customizer with a young, professional clientele, I'll color my palette hot and exciting.

Font
This is a "sans-serif" font (simple).        This is a "serif" font (fancier).
This is a "bold" font (eye-catching).    This is a "condensed" font (space saving).
This is a fancy font (don't go there unless you're "Cuddles the Clown"). 
The font, like other factors, depends on the target market. Generally, women's tastes differ from men's; young people differ from seniors; and so on. Pick one main font and one secondary that works for your market and you're probably in good shape.

K.I.S.S.
Have we gotten this concept at last? It's been around long enough — "Keep It Simple, Simon" means don't do everything all at once. The Internet-users' attention span gets shorter every year, it seems. Don't make them read War and Peace to figure out what you're up to. Clear, precise phrasing. Bullet lists. Consistent layout page to page. Simple visuals that make your point.

Don't Hire the Navigator from the Titanic
(Bonus concept: A little appropriate humor can make a very effective point.) We read from left to right and from top to bottom, so put your most important items (text or images) in the upper right corner. Have a navigation bar that extends across the top or down the right side. Random can seem cool, but it confuses people, which doesn't help your bottom line.

Connectivity
Not just connecting business with customer; connecting computer to tablet to phone. Your website needs to connect with customers across multiple platforms. A page designed for laptops (widescreen) may look pretty lame on a phone (tall screen). Inattention to such details means missed sales.

The First Rule
Contact Facet Web Tech, the Peoria, Illinois, IT experts. We understand your needs because we're a small, local business, just like you. Web design is what we do, so you don't have to.

5 For-Sure Signs that your Site has been Hacked

1. You Get a Ransom Demand

No joke, site-napping is real and growing. It's profitable because ransomware users are hard to track down and many people assume it's easier to pay off and be done than to wait for the site-nappers to be caught, and to hope that, once caught, they will restore your site in exchange for a reduced sentence.

 

2. Fake Virus Scan

A fading problem, but far from gone. It appeals to your ignorance and trust: "The wonderful folks at [insert cool-sounding company name] have detected [insert huge number] of viruses on your website. Let us do a complete scam — uh, I mean scan!" Plenty of people fall for this and hand over the credit card numbers. Your website won't get cleaned out, but your bank account probably will.

 

3. Browser Warnings or Disabling by your Host

You might see a red-flag warning like, "This website may allow others to obtain personal information" or "known phishing site" or something similar. Of course, it isn't you, you're honest, but, if hackers have hit you, browsers will react to your site and warn others away.

Hosts need to be extra cautious because one infected site can infect others. If they find malware, spam ware or other dangerous stuff in your site's code, they can shut you down.

 

4. Error Messages

When your code is good, you don't get them. If they appear suddenly, that probably means new code has been added — and not by you. When you find unexpected messages in your error log, or the file path looks unfamiliar, somebody's been playing in your sandbox.

 

5. Someone Else's Site Appears

Hackers have placed code on your site that redirects to some other page, probably one that collects private info.

 

Vigilance

Once your website is cleaned up and back in operation, and your new security system is in place, don't assume you'll stay safe. Hackers are, as a group, petty little jerks who like to cause trouble — for fun or profit. "Constant vigilance is the price of liberty," they say; it is equally true of web security.

When you contact Facet Web Tech, you're talking to a full-service information technology partner that can oversee your web security as well as all other IT needs. Our ongoing monitoring services provide the peace of mind you deserve. Spend your time and effort running your business without fear, we have your back.

Bot, Bot, Who Got the Bot?

A bot ("web robot") is a software application that runs automated tasks over the Internet. Most are harmless and useful; some are like viruses. If you're worried about getting infected — and you need to be — Facet Web Tech can inoculate you.

 

Cybersecurity is Vital
Just a half-century ago, smallpox infected 15 million people a year, killing around a third of them. Internet viruses don't take life, but they can ruin it. In 2018 alone, 50 million Facebook profiles were accessed by hackers; data on 57 million Uber customers was exposed and 2 million T-Mobile accounts (including payment data) were captured. It is impossible to accurately estimate the long-term economic impact on companies and individuals.

 

"I'm Too Small. I'm Not Worth It!"
Like hell you are!
Some hackers use malware ("malicious software") to steal, others use it to destroy — like a vandal might spray paint your walls or an arsonist might burn them down. There's a significant community of people who just want to break stuff and bigots who'll shut you down because they disagree with you. Some even claim altruistic motives; they hack to show where you are vulnerable — they'll break into your website as a public service! (Yeah, there are a lot of crazy people in the world!)
Your reputation as a business of integrity is one of the reasons your repeat customers are repeat customers — they trust you. A cyber breach can destroy that trust.

 

Web Security is Insurance
Don't fall victim to this 21st Century plague. You have insurance that protects you against accidents and more, get "insurance" against the criminals and the crazies. Don't wait for a breach to occur, contact Facet Web Tech’s cybersecurity experts. Let us assess the weaknesses of your website and find the best website security solutions to prevent hackers from entering your site and harming it.
If you've already been hit, the Facet clean-up team can get you back onto the web fast, restoring your page to its original state or improve it — we also have Peoria, Illinois', premier web development team, why not kill to birds with one stone?
As a final brick in your custom-built firewall, Facet Web Tech offers monitoring services for your system. Let us keep a constant overwatch for potential threats and attacks. Give yourself peace of mind and, even more important, assure your clients that their personal information is safe. Should an attack be launched, Facet will know it and defend against it, stopping the criminals and crazies dead in their tracks.
 

A Whole New CyberWorld

How many apps have you installed on your smartphone over the past couple of years? You probably started with games (from classics like chess to brand new stuff like Candy Crush). You then added shopping (from major retailers to local grocers or specialty shops). Certainly, you didn't forget banking, news, entertainment, tools — the list goes on and on. The "app" (short for "application") really has created a whole new cyber world, including becoming one of the best online marketing tools you can have.
If your business doesn't have an app, you're not alone. Across the USA, more than half the small businesses have not yet created custom software to support their business. It's an investment and, like all investments, not guaranteed to return a profit. If, however, your business can benefit from an app, it could be a huge return.

 

Is It Right for You?
Some businesses require a personal touch — no one is seeing cyber-barbers in their future — but even a barber can have an app to let customers book appointments whenever they decide they need a trim. Do what you do best (be it sell a product or provide a service) and let the tech-experts do what they do best. Facet Web Tech's software development team will do the research, draft the specifications and develop a complete turnkey application based on your business needs.
Once we determine how we can help you, you'll get a proposal that spells out all the details: Exactly what the app will do, how long it'll take to design and test, how often updates should be required, and the all-important bottom line — how much will it cost.
Once you see the big picture, you can make the decision to go forward knowing you've done the due diligence.

 

Cyber-Partners
Whether your application project is a start-from-scratch development or an update of software you already purchased that's showing its age, it's critical that your app stands out from the crowd. So, partner with Peoria's software development experts. We'll guide you through the entire development process. Once your team has explained your ultimate app-destination, we'll draw the map, build the road and give you a lift in a brand-new custom-styled app-mobile! We'll even help expedite marketplace application submission and approval processes. Contact Facet Web Tech and let's start talking.
Remember the old "Rules for Real Estate Success"? They are "Location, location, location." We'll help you make every smartphone in the world a potential new location for you to make money.

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