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What NOT to do When Facing a Malware Attack

Malware can take many forms. What they all have in common, though, is that they can turn into a big concern for your business very quickly.

Some pieces of malicious software take over your computers or workstations until you give up ransom payments to developers. Others can flood your business – including your employees and customers – with endless spam and pop-up ads. Perhaps the worst form of malware are the little bits of code that spy on your communications, looking for things like account numbers and financial transactions so thieves can get access to that information later.

Because the threat of malware is changing and evolving all the time, lots of business owners and executives aren’t really sure what they should do to guard against the threat. Even worse, most have no idea how to respond to a malware attack once it happens.

It’s easy to make things worse by doing something you shouldn’t. So, today we’re going to share a handful of tips you can use in the event you know or suspect you have malicious software on your computers or devices. We hope you are never in that situation, but if you are, here’s what you definitely shouldn’t do…


Don’t Ignore the Risk of Malware

When it comes to malware, a lot of professionals seem to take the “it could never happen to me” approach. That might be comforting, but it isn’t sound business strategy. You don’t have to run an enormous company to have hackers target your business. Many online thieves commit quick and easy crimes of opportunity. If your company’s hardware or software seems easy to get into, they’ll come looking for you.

It’s hard to find firm statistics, but it’s thought that malware affects thousands of small and medium-sized businesses throughout Arizona each year, costing them tens of millions in theft, missing revenue, and lost productivity. Typically, it’s the businesses that think they have the least to lose that are hit the hardest.

Know that the risk is real, and pay attention to warning signs like error messages, suspicious emails, and slow technology performance that seems to come out of nowhere. If any of these seems to be a problem, make a phone call and find out whether you need help from a professional IT team.


Don’t Panic About Your Malware Attack

If it turns out you do have malware on company computers or equipment, don’t panic. Sometimes, business owners or managers will decide to deal with the issue by formatting hard drives or replacing specific devices. Buying new tech can get expensive, and you don’t want to overreact and wipe out all your files at once.

You may not know what the scope of the problem is. That’s not great news, but it’s not a terrible position to be in, either. Things might not be as bad as they seem, and you don’t want to make them worse by taking drastic steps that won't solve the issue.

Sometimes the quick fixes business owners turn to in order to resolve malware are worse than the original infections themselves. Don’t turn a small repair into a big one by formatting something you shouldn’t, downloading software you don’t understand, or turning to a solution that seems too good to be true.


Don’t Ignore the Issue and Hope it Will Resolve Itself

Just as you don’t want to go too far, neither do you want to ignore malware if it has infected your computers or devices. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and seemingly small issues can get progressively worse with inattention.

For example, some small pieces of spyware can download malicious code in the background if you don’t get rid of them right away. Or, you could end up spreading malware from one computer, workstation, or device to another if you aren’t diligent about getting rid of the problem. The point here is that the issue won’t solve itself, so don’t bury your head in the sand and hope for the best.

Having malware removed usually isn’t expensive or time-consuming, but it isn’t something that can be put off indefinitely, either.


Don’t Keep Infected Devices Online

Digital viruses resemble their biological counterparts in an important way – both stay alive through constant spreading and infection. So, if you don’t deal with malware quickly, there’s a chance it will move from one device on your network to another.

The best way to stop this from happening is by simply taking affected workstations, tablets, etc., offline if you can. Better yet, turn them off completely (unplugging cords if necessary) until they can be inspected by an IT professional. Leave them sitting where they are and you could make the problem worse, even if you aren’t actively doing anything with the affected hardware.

If you can’t take affected hardware offline, consider shutting down your network until the problem is solved. The problem will be fixed quicker if fewer devices have malware, and there will be less chance of hackers stealing information from you.


Don’t Make Any Payments or Money Transfers

In the last couple of years, lots of individuals – and more than a few very large organizations – have made big payments to hackers who are holding their files ransom. This is almost always the wrong course of action.

Even if the amounts demanded by the producers of a piece of malware are small, there are a couple of problems with the payoff approach. One is that you have identified yourself as a target for future exploitation. The other is that you are rewarding the hacker, thereby encouraging them to develop even more malicious code in the future.

Of course, there is also the chance that your financial information will be shared or stolen. So, take our advice and call an IT team if you are infected by malware, rather than paying a ransom you'll regret later.


Don’t Forget to Monitor Website, Email, and Financial Activity

In many cases, malware can be removed from many infected devices in a short period of time. Afterwards, you’ll want your IT team keeping an eye on your website, email, and other technology. Additionally, you’ll want to watch your own financial transactions to ensure nothing seems out of place.

There are two reasons you need to take this step. One has to do with unknown consequences. If you aren’t sure when your computers were infected with malware, then you can’t be certain what kind of information hackers already have. Also, this kind of activity check can help you be sure that all the malicious code was taken away and your business is back to normal operations.

In the same way your doctor wants to know you're well after giving you medicine, your IT team will likely want to keep an eye on your computers and email activity following a malware attack.


DO Call the IT Experts to Protect Your Business and Customers

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s a lot easier to deal with a malware attack that doesn’t happen, than it is to fix the damage after the fact. Unfortunately, most business owners and executives simply don’t have the time or expertise to identify suspicious activity, much less prevent it.

For that reason, your best bet is almost always to have an experienced team of technical experts working on your behalf. That’s exactly what we have at Kinetik IT in Phoenix. Contact us for a free consultation and you might be very surprised at just how easy and affordable it is to get the help you need.

Whether you’re dealing with performance and security issues stemming from a malware attack, or suspect you might not be as safe as you could be, now is the time to act. Get in touch with our team today so we can get your technology running perfectly again!

What Should You Look for in a Software Programmer?

Do you know what to look for when you’re looking for a programmer to help with custom software creation? Most businesspeople don’t.

That’s only natural. Business owners and executives have no reason to be familiar with programming languages and design processes. They have to be focused on the bigger picture, which largely involves what they want from the finished product in terms of appearance and functionality. They can’t get those outcomes, though, until they have the right team in place.

The need to hire a programming team without having programming knowledge can lead to a bit of difficulty. How do you hire a team when it’s difficult to properly assess their qualifications? How can you be sure about who you’re going to if you aren’t entirely sure what separates one from another?

The first thing to know is that you absolutely can find the right software programming partner even if you've never written or seen a line of code in your life. All you need are the proper set of criteria to examine. Just like non-engineers can pick out great cars, our job is to look for the obvious signs of quality.

As veteran developers ourselves, today we are going to give you a quick peek behind the curtain. We are going to show you, in non-technical terms, exactly what to look for in a custom software programming vendor. It all starts with the one quality you would probably look for in any specialty…


Your Software Programming Partner Should Have Experience

The more you do anything, the better you get. With experience, it’s easier to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls, and to streamline your working process to come out with the right result.

Software programming is no exception to that rule, although a lot of startup firms and independent programmers would like you to ignore that fact. That’s because the least expensive and least experienced programmers want you to think that it’s all a matter of putting a few simple lines of code together. However, things are more complicated. Believe it or not, programming software takes vision and creativity along with a base of technical knowledge.

If you’re serious about creating a tool that helps you to market, automate, or better process information, then work with someone who understands the way a piece of software comes together. The experience level of your team matters, particularly if you have a complex project.


You Want a Programming Team with a Willingness to Listen

Although programming software isn’t as simple or straightforward as people tend to believe, in some ways it is the easier part of the job. That’s because the most valuable work happens when your vendor asks you what kind of program you want to create, and why certain features or ideas are important.

If your programmer isn’t listening carefully, they might miss the important details or jump to conclusions. That’s not a good idea, since programmers never know a client’s industry as well as the client does. The finer points of functionality, appearance, and usability all come into focus through a gradual question-and-answer period. That can sometimes take an hour, but it can last longer, too.

This is something a lot of business people wouldn’t necessarily consider to be important, but you don’t want a programmer who doesn’t take the time to figure out what you’re hoping to get from their work.


Choose a Software Programmer with Lots of Patience

In a lot of ways, designing and programming a custom software package is a lot like writing a book. You can begin from an outline, but they’re going to be revisions, additions, and even major plot changes along the way. You’ll find pieces of code are missing, need to be amended, or aren’t compatible with one another.

This is to say that good software programming takes a bit of patience. You have to be able to be calm and work through the little issues that are going to come up as you write line after line and then test your work. You also have to be able to step back and assess things when clients realize that what they asked for isn't exactly the same as what they wanted.

If you choose a software programming team that isn’t patient, you are going to end up with an app that feels rushed. That might get you to a finished program quicker, but over time you’ll have to deal with more errors and patches that hurt your profitability.


Your Software Development Partner Should Emphasize Reliability

There are software programming firms out there that specialize in giving clients more glitz than substance. That is, they build programs that look great, with interesting design features and animations, but don’t necessarily work as well as they should once they’re put to use.

In some cases, that can mean a lack of functionality. The resulting software just doesn’t have as many tools or features as the client originally intended, or those features aren’t as deep (in terms of reporting, etc.). In other cases, speed and reliability can be compromised. The app might run perfectly in a test setting, but crash repeatedly when it’s used on a different workstation or website.

When it comes to creating software, reliability is the name of the game. Refuse to work with any programming team that prioritizes speed or budget above long-term value.


Examine a Software Programmer’s Portfolio and Case Studies

Even if you know what you’re looking for in a software programmer, it’s not necessarily easy to find it. That’s because some people will tell you virtually anything in order to close the sale. You might have to do a little bit of research to get to the truth, or to verify that what you’re hearing is accurate.

This is where a custom software development company’s portfolio and case study examples come into play. You want to have the chance to take a good long look at their previous work, and to evaluate the statements past clients have made. What you’re looking for isn’t just positive feedback, but a sense that business owners and executives who have hired them the past are emphasizing experience, patience, etc., in their praise.

No one knows your software programmer like the people who have already hired them the past. Take the time to read what they have to say before making your decision.


Pay Attention to Your Developer’s Budget and Scheduling Terms

Before you sign the bottom line, it’s worth looking through the budget and terms proposed by your creative partner. What are they promising you in terms of delivery? What about additional costs for edits or revisions? How do the cancellation terms look?

Pay attention to each line item and don’t assume that the price you're quoted will always be the final cost. Some software companies make their money off of add-on fees, or aren’t great about meeting deadlines. You don’t want to get caught in a situation where you’re tied to a company that won’t deliver and you can’t get away.

A reputable programming partner is going to be confident enough in their work to offer you terms that are fair but friendly. If you get the sense that you’re being locked into something you might regret later, ask a few questions before finalizing the deal.


You Can Hire the Best Without Breaking the Bank

All things considered, it probably won’t come as a major surprise that the best software programmers aren’t usually the cheapest. Experience, technical skill, and business know-how tend to come with a cost.

With that being said, however, you can definitely work with the best in the business without breaking your IT budget. In fact, many of our clients actually save money on custom software programming because they don’t have to pay for delays, deal with unexpected errors, or suffer losses from apps that don’t do with they are supposed to. Quality always wins out in the end, especially in our industry.

So, if you want to work with the most trusted software programming team in Arizona, contact the experts at Kinetik IT. We’ll be happy to give you a free, no-obligation consultation to hear about your project. Then, we’ll show you just how easy it is to turn your idea into a finished product your clients, customers, or employees can use.

5 Signs Its Time to Call for Help With IT Networking

There are times when it’s obvious you need help with networking from an experienced Phoenix area IT team. When you’re staring at a pile of hardware that’s covered in water and giving off smoke, for instance. Or, when you try to load up your computers and see nothing but error screens.

However, when it comes to network maintenance and security, there are also more subtle indications you could use professional technical assistance. Sometimes, these little signals are clues that bigger (and more expensive) network problems are on the way. In other cases, they could simply be slowing you down and causing endless aggravation.

Either way, you don’t want to ignore serious network issues. They may get better on their own for a little while, but you’ll almost always end up with bigger headaches – not to mention IT repair bills – at a later date.

To help you understand why, let’s look at five clear signs that it’s time to call us for help with IT networking…


#1 Your Network Goes Down for No Identifiable Reason

If your network is unreliable, going off-line at irregular times and for no identifiable reason, it’s important to figure out what’s causing the issue. That’s because whatever problem you may have, it’s likely to become more prevalent the longer you wait.

Generally speaking, when a network isn’t as stable as it should be, it’s because there are hardware problems or conflicts in the configuration. In other words, you have a piece of equipment that is wearing out, or multiple devices or apps that don’t work together the way they are supposed to.

That might not seem particularly dire, but consider what happens when equipment fails altogether and causes more serious failures or data loss. Imagine that suddenly you can’t process credit card transactions, access account information, or save files you need to complete your projects. Why face that kind of situation when you can see it coming ahead of time?


#2 Your Network Performance is Slow at Times

A network that runs slowly from time to time might not seem like a big concern. After all, as long as it isn’t always happening, and performance turns back to normal, do you really need to worry about something that’s a minor inconvenience?

You probably should, if you want to get the most from your technology. Slow networks can be a sign that some of your hardware is on the verge of failing. Or, it could simply indicate that you have bottlenecks that are holding up the flow of data during peak periods of usage. It might even be a sign of compatibility problems between newer and older devices or software packages.

None of these common IT issues should cause you too much stress on their own, but they can lead to larger difficulties. For instance, if your network is too slow, it might prevent backups from occurring normally. Or, you could find that software updates can’t run the way they should, leaving you with security issues.

As a rule of thumb, it isn’t difficult to repair a slow or lagging network. Put it off for too long, though, and you might end up with a bigger issue than the one you started with.


#3 You Aren’t Sure if Your Network is Being Backed Up

No matter how big or small your organization might be, and what kind of hardware software you’re running, regular data backups are crucial to your long term profitability. That’s because you’ll eventually run into a situation where your primary storage devices fail.

A lot of business owners and executives fail to understand just how common it is to lose access to important data when it matters most. Something as simple as an electrical surge, hard drive failure, or an improper setting in the wrong place can all lead to years and years worth of files disappearing within moments. When that happens, you’re going to want the data you’ve been sending back and forth through your network to be accessible as quickly as possible.

If you aren’t sure where your data is being backed up, how often those backups are being run, or whether that backup data itself is being secured, now is the time to get the answers you need. Even a network that’s functioning perfectly at the moment can experience problems. That’s just a fact of life in the digital age. Whether such an event causes minor hiccups or major problems for your business will largely be dependent on what you have stored in the event of an emergency.


#4 Network Security Feels Like a Bit of a Mystery

It almost goes without saying that network security has become a top priority for businesses of all sizes in the past few years. For every high-profile hack and cybercrime that has made the news – and there have been dozens – there are dozens of other smaller companies affected by online theft and malware.

In the same way that locks, alarms, and cameras can help keep a retail business safe from shoplifters and break-ins, basic networking security protocols can prevent unauthorized third parties from snooping in on your files and communications. If you don’t have the right tools and procedures in place, though, you’re practically inviting thieves to see what they can steal.

A good IT team will ensure your network is as safe and secure as it can be. However, if you haven’t had a professional looking after your systems in the past, now might be a good time to ensure you aren't an easy target for hackers.


#5 You’re Opening a New Location and Want to Install Networking Equipment

Expanding your business is a sign of prosperity, not IT problems. But, it can also present some logistical headaches. Do you need to buy new networking equipment? Is what is available on the market compatible with your existing hardware and software? Are you sure your new network will be reliable, and connect seamlessly between offices or locations?

Your IT partner can help you make sense of all of these questions. That’s because a technical team that knows your business can help you choose the right hardware at an affordable price, set it up correctly, and test it for both performance and security. In other words, they can ensure you are ready to step in and get to work from the first minute your new office or location opens.

We deal with bad network configurations every week. Usually, they come about because a company was in a hurry to get things set up and didn’t do enough planning. That leads to persistent (and expensive) networking problems that go on and on for months and years. Do yourself a favor and hire an experienced IT partner who can set your systems up correctly the first time.


Networking and IT Support Done Right

Most networking issues, if they are caught early enough, are easy enough to fix. That’s because a team of trained technicians can identify simple issues with routers, servers, and backup media pretty quickly. Additionally, these kinds of components are generally inexpensive to repair or replace.

On the other hand, once you get into a situation where your network is failing, the costs can spiral out of control quickly. If you’re dealing with issues like malware or corrupted data, the problem can spread from one drive or device to another. And of course, it’s worth pointing out that you and your team aren’t being as productive as you could be when you can't communicate with customers and each other.

Consider these details together and it’s easy to see why networking problems should be dealt with sooner rather than later. Luckily, we have a team of trained, experienced, and inexpensive technicians that can get you back online and working quickly. So, if you’ve noticed one of these five signs affecting your network, contact Kinetik IT in Phoenix today so we can get to work for you!

9 Ways to Prevent or Solve Software Development Issues

Custom software development can be the key to boosting revenue and productivity with the perfect app. Or, it can be expensive, time-consuming, and pointless if the process drags on or the buyer gets a piece of software that doesn’t meet their business needs.

Having worked within the software development industry for so long, we know that the biggest issues that affect developers and their clients don’t appear out of thin air. Instead, they stem from things like poor planning and a rush to get a finished product out the door quickly.

That’s because a good piece of custom software is sort of like a cake that has to be baked. If you have a solid recipe, the right ingredients, and a diligent baker, you’re going to end up with something that looks and tastes great. On the other hand, if you wing it every step of the process, substitute salt for sugar, and give yourself an unrealistic deadline, the final result will be unappetizing to eyes and stomachs.

Because this is so important to understand – and because custom software development can be so profitable for businesses that use it correctly – we want to help you avoid making the common big mistakes. Here are nine ways you can prevent or solve the kinds of software development issues your colleagues and customers are struggling with…


#1 Ask Customers or Users What Features They Want

One of the classic mistakes you see in custom software development occurs before a single line of code has been written: moving forward with the wrong idea. If you aren’t creating something your customers, employees, or users want, then it doesn’t matter how great your software looks or what the performance is like.

You might use polls, questionnaires, or interviews. No matter what you prefer, though, it’s important that you get a sense of what features and functions matter most to the people who will actually use your software. Otherwise, you could end up with something they aren’t going to adopt in the first place.


#2 Plan Extensively, Even if You Think Your Project is Simple

Ideally, you’ll want every phase of your custom software development project planned out in advance. You’ll want to know exactly what your app will do, what it will look like, and which tools will be integrated before your programming team starts putting it together.

You might even anticipate stumbling blocks, programming challenges, and future releases. That information isn’t crucial at the outset (and in fact can be difficult to predict), but having more information and insights is better than less.


#3 Get a Written Agreement with Milestones Spelled Out

Naturally, your software development team is going to want you to sign a written agreement or proposal before any work begins. When you do, be sure that the deadlines and expectations for major milestones are spelled out thoroughly.

From a client’s perspective, this can add a little bit of peace of mind. You want to know when you’ll start seeing early versions of your software, at what date you can expect it to launch, and so on. For developers, these sorts of milestones also prepare the client so they can be ready to make important decisions in a timely way. That helps everyone to keep the process moving along.


#4 Decide on a Look for Your Software Interface

What do you want the various screens or pages within your software package to look like? At some point, early in the process, it’s good if you can decide on a certain aesthetic that will carry from one interaction to the next. That’s because you don’t want your programming team making a lot of last-minute changes to the visuals if it’s not necessary. That can lead to crashes and inconsistencies.

If you have a sense of how you want your interface to be presented, bring that up early on. The design element of your app isn’t necessarily as important as the concept itself, but it does add to the overall feel and usability of the finished product.


#5 Create Flowcharts for User Flow and Interface Design

In some ways, custom software projects are similar to web designs. That’s not only because many new apps end up on the internet; it’s also because you want to manage things so it’s as easy as possible for users to get from one screen, prompt, or feature to the next.

To maximize usability, work with your development team to come up with flowcharts and menus that guides users through the various steps needed to complete common tasks. You’ll double check this work in the testing phase later, but it’s easier if your software is set up in a coherent way from the beginning.


#6 Give Prompt Feedback to Your Development Team

As they move through the design and programming phase of your software development project, your creative team is going to present you with various models and mockups. These might be screenshots, artistic designs, or versions of your app with limited functionality.

When you receive them, take care to respond with any feedback in a timely way if possible. That will stop the development project from stalling, of course, but will also make it easier to facilitate a back-and-forth discussion that influences future work. To put it another way, it’s easier to prevent the same mistakes from being repeated again and again when your programming team is getting solid and immediate responses.


#7 Leave Time for Beta Testing and Security Evaluations

Sometimes, business owners, nonprofit directors, and executives get so excited about a software development idea that they want to rush the product to market, or get their team using it as quickly as possible. That enthusiasm is wonderful, but you should always leave a little bit of time on the calendar for beta testing and intensive review from your creative team.

No matter how well-planned or envisioned an app is, there are often small corrections that need to be made once real humans start interacting with the product. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure your software is as stable as it can be, and that it isn’t leaving you open to any kind of security concerns. It can be hard to wait while testing goes on, but it’s an important step that shouldn’t be skipped.


#8 Plan for Future Updates

Once your app is ready to launch, schedule some time with your development team to review your progress and talk about version updates later. You might not have any idea what those updates will be like, but you are very likely to need something once your software is in use.

Little patches, revisions to text, and feature growth are all common requests that come into play after an app or software package has been delivered. By planning to review for these changes ahead of time, you can make it easier for you and your team to keep track of what you might like to see done.


#9 Choose a Software Development Company You Can Trust

It’s worth pointing out, of course, that everything we’ve suggested on this list is easier to accomplish and manage when you have a team of experienced and professional software developers on your side. That expertise is going to come with a cost, but you’re also going to get what you need and expect in the end.

There is a common misconception that programming is all the same and it doesn’t matter who you work with for custom software development. However, the lowest bidders and newest providers start out on the bottom wrong for a reason. If you want software that helps your business to grow, and wish to avoid the kinds of headaches and issues that can cause you to give up on the project before it’s finished, then do yourself a favor and work with professionals you can trust.


Turn to Us for Custom Software Development

An experienced Arizona software development team won’t just give you a completed application you need – they’ll also have plenty of questions and guide you step-by-step through the programming process.

That’s how we’ve been so successful at Kinetik IT. With more experience than virtually any other team the Phoenix area, we have helped our clients to develop usable software that works in a variety of situations, and on just about any kind of platform or operating system you can imagine.

Whether you have a perfect idea of what you want your custom software package to do, or need to talk about the possibilities with a team of experts, we’re here to help. Contact our development team today and will be happy to schedule a no-obligation consultation for you. In just one short conversation you could get all the information you need to grow your company, automate repetitive tasks, and improve your bottom line.

Why not reach out now and get the answers you need?

9 Truths About Your Business That Your Web Designer Needs to Hear

We like to tell business owners and executives that the most important part of the web design process happens before we’ve ever drawn a single pixel or written the first line of code. That’s because information and insight are the foundations for a good website and online marketing campaign. It’s not enough to create a strong online presence – you have to customize it to a specific company, and then keep growing and adapting over time.

None of these great things can happen, however, unless a web designer and a client are on the same page. If there isn’t a good flow of information from one side to the other, a creative team can’t really narrow in on specific strengths and opportunities. In other words, they can’t give a business the website or marketing plan it really needs.

Knowing that, it’s up to you as an owner or executive to supply your web design team with the details they need to help you. To be sure you don’t forget to mention something important, today we want to examine nine different truths about your business that your web designer definitely needs to hear before they get to work on your project…


#1 Where Your Business Comes From

Often, the history of the company can tell you a lot about its strengths, it’s values, and its future. Additionally, it can be central to the sales and marketing approach that the business will follow.

You should be sure your web design team knows where your company or organization comes from for those reasons, and to provide context for any future discussions about design, philosophy, or marketing results. Whether you’ve been around for a few hours or a century, make sure your creative partner understands your story and how it influences your business today.


#2 Where Your Company is Headed

Even more important in your history, is your future. In a big-picture sense, you want your web design team to know where you’re headed. They should have an understanding of what your dreams for the company look like, as well as the challenges that are looming on the horizon.

This is, once again, important for context. However, it also matters because a business website is never really finished. Instead, it grows and evolves over time. If your web designer knows where you intend to steer your company in the future, they can help lay the groundwork for additional expansion, new features, or tools and plug-ins that could be required down the road.


#3 What Your Specific Business Goals Look Like

Once you get past big-picture aspirations, it’s time to dig into the details. Let your web design team know what your specific goals for the project look like. Do you want to increase online sales, generate walk-in traffic, or grow your business in some other way?

These kinds of targets help shape the design of your website, and let your creative partner know what sorts of campaigns are going to be needed to turn your ideas into reality. The more firm you are in knowing what you want to accomplish, the easier it will be for your web designer to put together a plan that leads you in the right direction.


#4 What Kind of People Make Up Your Target Market

Who are your best customers or prospects? Where do they live? What kinds of jobs do they have? What are they willing to spend, and how informed are they about your products or services?

These kinds of questions are only a starting point, but they can remind you of just how important it is to know who your buyers are. You can think in terms of demographics or personas, but this sort of insight is going to influence every design or marketing decision that comes later. Be sure your web designer knows who you’re selling to, or your bottom line is going to suffer.


#5 Who Your Biggest Competitors Are

Of course, it isn’t only enough to know your own business and your customers – you have to keep an eye on the competition, too. That has always been true, but it’s even more critical in the Internet age where “the other guy” is just a click away on Google.

Ideally, you want your web design team to know which businesses you are in direct competition with, which colleagues you admire, and how each of them stacks up (in terms of price, value, and maybe even location) to what you have to offer. Then, they can help you put your best marketing advantages forward.


#6 Why Buyers Come to You Instead of The Competition

Your competitive strengths should be highlighted on every page of your website. They should also be presented in a way that appeals to your best customers and differentiates you from the competition.

We have already alluded to this, but it’s so important that it’s worth mentioning again separately. There is some reason that a certain segment of your target market decides to work with you instead of your competitors. Maybe you offer lower prices, better service, or just a more convenient stop on their daily commute. Whatever it is, your web design team needs to know.


#7 Which Geographic Areas You Operate Within

More and more, customers are turning to the web for local businesses and providers. Google has essentially overtaken the Yellow Pages as a top source for any kind of vendor you’d find in the neighborhood, and geography has become a big factor in search engine visibility.

Considering all of that, it’s easy to understand why your web designer needs to know which cities, states, or neighborhoods you operate within. They have to know where your revenue comes from, and which areas you want to expand to. That way, they can help you to not only optimize your site for local search traffic, but to reach out to the customers who are literally minutes from your door.


#8 Which Customers You Don’t Want to Target

In most businesses, there isn’t just a segment of the market to target, but also a group that doesn’t need to be focused on. These could include buyers who can’t afford the products or services on sale, those who are loyal to other companies, or just people who live too far away to serve cost-effectively.

If there are customers you can do without, or want to actively discourage from soliciting your business, you should let your web designer know. That way, they can ask buyers to qualify themselves, and make sure none of your marketing dollars are being wasted on the wrong audience.


#9 What Your Marketing Strengths and Weaknesses Are

After your website goes live, you’re going to need ongoing updates like blog posts, email newsletters, and social activity. Some of these you might want to handle on your own. Others you might prefer to outsource to your creative team, or to ignore altogether.

If you let your web designer know about your strengths and weaknesses as a marketer, along with your budget and time constraints, they can help you to develop a plan that maximizes the return you’ll get from each. If you don’t share that information, though, you may end up with a strategy that isn’t workable or profitable in the long run.


Is Your Web Designer Asking the Right Questions?

As we mentioned in the opening to this article, a good web designer is never going to move forward until they have this kind of information from you. How could they help you reach your goals if they don’t understand the challenges and opportunities you’re facing?

If you haven’t been getting that level of service in the past, it might be time to make a change. Call Arizona’s best web design team at Kinetik IT in Phoenix today, so we can set up a free consultation and review your current marketing plan together.

7 Ways to Help Your Web Designer (to Help You Back)

As a business owner or executive, there is probably a lot you want from your web design team. You need the best of their artistic instincts, responsiveness when you have questions, edits, or revisions, and technical expertise when it comes to things like search engine optimization and social media marketing (to name just a few items).

However, your web design partner needs some things from you, as well. And, the better you are at giving them what they need, the easier it’s going to be for them to not only meet your expectations, but blow you away with the perfect layout and online marketing plan.

A lot of business people don’t necessarily understand this, and end up sabotaging themselves as a result. To help you avoid that, today we want to give you seven ways you can help your web designer to do their best work… and to help yourself in the process.


#1 Be Patient During the Discovery Phase

Often, the start of a business web design project feels like a whole lot of talking. That’s because long conversations are exactly what should happen when planning a new website.

If they are any good, your design team is going to want to know what your company is all about, where it came from, who your customers and competitors are, etc. The better understanding they have of this information, the easier it’s going to be for them to design a website and online marketing plan that matches your needs perfectly.

Some clients like to rush through this process, usually because they are excited to start seeing new design ideas. That’s understandable, but the discovery phase is the foundation upon which your website will eventually be built. Be patient, share as much information you can, and realize that you’re helping your web designer to make you more profitable with every answer or insight.


#2 Put the Focus on Your Business Goals

Your creative team can help you to attract new leads or customers, improve your recruiting, or even boost online sales. What they can’t do, though, is rewrite your business plan for you.

Everything about designing and promoting a website gets easier when we work with someone who understands what it is we are trying to accomplish. There are a lot of possibilities, but you should come into the process with some ideas about the bottom line targets you would like to reach. How do you want your business to affect your website? What specific and measurable goals would you like to see reached?

There are a lot of things that can go into your website and online marketing campaigns, but not all of them are right for your business. To achieve a sense of clarity and make sure you get the ROI you want from your new online presence, it’s crucial to know what you’re trying to achieve.


#3 Provide Prompt Feedback When You Can

One thing every web designer dreads is a period of unbroken silence from a client. This happens when we submit a site map, outline, or potential design and hear nothing in response.

There are lots of reasons clients might not respond, of course. They could need a day or two to think about things, or might be busy with other projects. That’s all normal and understandable. But, when the silence goes on for weeks, bad things happen. For one thing, we might begin to wonder whether you actually like the work we’re doing. More importantly, we can lose focus and momentum on your project, meaning the entire job will take longer to finish.

You don’t have to get back to your web designer immediately, especially if they’re asking for a decision or opinion. However, by being prompt with your feedback, you help them to stay focused on your project and do their best creative work.


#4 Try to Be Specific With Requests

If failing to get any feedback is a huge challenge, then getting feedback you don’t understand is an even bigger one. That’s exactly what happens, though, when clients don’t express themselves in ways that are straightforward.

When possible, tell your web designer that you prefer something “lighter” rather than saying you want “more energy.” Show them the design you really like, instead of asking for a new layout. See if you can be specific when talking about elements like fonts, colors, and spacing.

Being clear when you communicate with your design team makes everything more efficient, even if it’s just to say that you don’t like what you are seeing. The more specifics you can point to, the less chance there is you’ll find the next design idea to be disappointing, too.


#5 Give Your Web Designer Time to Work

Let’s begin this point by admitting that it isn’t fair to suggest clients should respond promptly while web designers need time to pull out their creative best. Still, it’s a fact that artists in any field can get tired, sick, or overwhelmed. When that happens, you’re better off waiting a little bit longer than you are rushing the work.

Sometimes, a new client will begin “checking in” weeks before their initial design is due. When that happens, we have to love their enthusiasm, but also try to slow them down. We’ve been around long enough to know that the goal isn’t to produce a design as quickly as possible, but to come up with something that they’re going to love (and that will help their business).

When you rush your web designer too much, there is a chance you’ll get something that’s not quite as good as it could have been. As long as they’re keeping within agreed upon deadlines, give your creative team the space they need to give you their best.


#6 Give Your Web Designer Great Content to Work With

The design and layout of your business website are important, but even the most talented artistic minds can’t help you if your content (that is, the images and writing you provide) isn’t up to par.

It’s important for you to know that and act accordingly. If you plan on generating your own content, and supplying things like images yourself, then it’s best to get started early in the web design process, so you aren’t rushing to complete them later. Alternatively, if you want your web designer to have content generated for you, then make that decision from the outset and give them some direction to work with.

Ultimately, content on your website will attract search engine visits and persuade potential customers to buy from you. Give your web design team great ingredients to work with and they’ll turn them into something perfect for your business.


#7 Don’t Disappear After Your Website Goes Live

We often caution business owners about hiring a web designers who seem to disappear into thin air once a site goes live. You want a creative partner who will be around to offer continuing support, web analytics reviews, website audits, and content updates. In other words, ongoing service and online marketing are important to your success.

Sometimes, though, things happen the other way around. Clients get their websites launched and then disappear completely. This is difficult for us for couple of reasons. First, we miss out on the chance to see how their business is growing and expanding, which is the most rewarding part of the process. And second, we can’t help them stay up on the latest trends and best practices, which means they don’t get the full value from their website over time.

If you choose a quality web design team, consider them to be your marketing partners going forward. If you disappear, they can’t help you achieve the results you’re looking for.


Want a Web Designer Who Can Help You Grow Your Business?

If you put these seven pieces of advice together, they all amount to one simple philosophy: that web designers need to work together with their clients to not only build the perfect site, but to create a winning formula for new sales.

That mindset has helped us become a leader in Arizona web design and online marketing for more than a decade. If you want to work with a creative team that puts your results first, contact Kinetik IT in Phoenix today!

15 Things That Separate the Best Websites from the Rest

Will your next website be a valuable tool for your company and its customers, or “just another site” that makes you look like one business out of dozens?

The business owners and executives we talk to always want the best, of course, but they aren’t always sure what that might be. In other words, they can tell whether they like the look of a website or not, but figuring out what makes a new design outstanding (from the perspective of a marketer or a customer) can be a little more difficult.

It’s tough to get what you need when you aren’t sure of the specifics, so today we want to share with you 15 things that separate the very best websites from all the rest…


#1 A Narrow Focus

The best websites aren’t designed for just anyone. Instead, they are drawn and coded for a specific type of customer. That’s because strong marketers and creative teams know that no business can appeal to everyone, and few have the resources to even try. By zeroing in on a specific buyer type, you make it easier to manage the process of putting a website together and marketing it to customers.


#2 Unique Style

Have you ever noticed how many websites within a specific industry all look alike? That’s not doing much good for companies who want to stand out, but building generic layouts is easier for lazy web design teams and clients who don’t want to take any risks at all. If customers can’t tell you apart from everyone else, they don’t have any strong reasons to do business with you.


#3 Clear Navigation

Most of the potential customers who arrive at your website for the first time aren’t going to find the information they’re looking for in your home page (or whichever page they are referred to by Google, Facebook, etc.). With a good navigation structure in place, you can make it easy for them to find what they need. Otherwise, they could get frustrated and take their attention and money somewhere else.

#4 White Space

A new website is like a small apartment – it’s easy to try to cram too many things into a limited area. Experienced web designers know this and will separate various items like text blocks and images with white space. This gives your website a cleaner feel, and is easier on the eyes. It also encourages visitors to scan and find what they need without too much effort.

#5 Vivid Images

The human eye is drawn to images, particularly those with bright colors, animals, and human faces. The sharper and more interesting your visuals are, the easier it is to maintain a visitors focus and convey an idea or emotion. Conversely, if you have old, grainy, or low-resolution pictures on your website, it can give the feeling that your site is outdated, regardless of how good your layout is.


#6 Persuasive Content

We could (and have) devote entire articles to the importance of web content. Suffice it to say, the words on your pages attract search engine visits, help you put your most compelling sales points forward, and turn searchers into leads or buyers. Your creative team should help you come up with content that isn’t just search-friendly, but also persuasive and informative.


#7 Fast Page Loading

Internet connections are getting to be faster and more reliable than ever. As a consequence, visitors to your pages aren’t going to be patient. They want your content to display quickly or they’ll move on to the next Google result. By investing a few dollars a day into premium web hosting you can do a lot to speed up the performance of your site and keep buyers engaged.


#8 Reliability

If fast website loading is important, then you can imagine how critical it is that your content never go off-line. However, with the wrong hosting package, outdated plug-ins, or HTML errors within your site, specific tools and videos – for your entire website itself – could become unavailable without warning. That’s never going to help you make a good impression on customers or generate leads.


#9 Useful Plugins

Speaking of plug-ins, it’s important to choose the ones you want to include on your website in a careful way. They certainly can help you to add features and functions that improve your marketing or make your website more useful to customers. However, if you have too many apps (or the wrong ones) they can slow down your pages, cause errors, and even lead to ongoing security issues.


#10 Strong Security

It’s absolutely crucial that your website be safe and secure. You’ll want to ensure that anything prospects or customers send to you is encrypted, and that hackers can't steal sensitive information by breaking into your database or CMS. There are a lot of factors that go into website security, including strong hosting, regular backups, and routine checkups. A good web design team can handle these details for you, but you have to make it a priority.


#11 Search Visibility

Did you know that Google processes roughly 5 billion search requests per day? That’s why a top spot on the world’s most popular search engine can do so much for your online sales and lead generation campaigns. A great website is built with surge of visibility in mind, with every page set up and structured in a way that is friendly to automated spiders that catalog your content.

#12 Local Exposure

If you’ve been in business for more than a decade or so, you undoubtedly remember what it was like to place ads in the Yellow Pages or other print directories. These days, you can get a lot more exposure – and save yourself quite a bit of money – by simply promoting your business to local buyers through Google and neighborhood review sites. Of course, you can’t take advantage of those sales and savings unless your website is set up to attract the buyers.


#13 Positive Reviews

New customers rarely ever decide to stop in and visit a company without checking out their reviews online first. That’s because they want to know what other buyers have experienced before risking their own money. Whether you have lots of positive reviews already, or need to gather some, part of building a great website is making sure people can find all the wonderful feedback that’s being posted online.


#14 A Sales Funnel

There is undoubtedly something you would like your new website to do. The best web designers will set up pages so they can generate leads, attract walk-in visits, or even create revenue through internet sales. Those are all good goals to focus on, and none of them is going to happen by accident. A great website needs to have a plan – complete with a sales funnel – in place to guide visitors from their first contact to the point where they’re ready to either contact you, or finish a purchase.


#15 Accurate Contact Info

This is an easy detail to overlook, but every great website features accurate contact information that’s easy to find. In fact, you should have several different ways customers can reach out to you. Some might want quick answers through email, while others could prefer the personal touch of a phone call or a scheduled meeting. You may even discover that some customers and prospects want to follow up or ask questions through social media. Why not give them options that make it convenient regardless of their preference?


Want to Turn Your Website Into More Profits?

Whether you need a new website for your business, or just a new approach to online marketing, we can help. Contact the Kinetik IT creative team today to schedule a free consultation and see why we’re a favorite of companies throughout Arizona.