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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.