Find Web Developers
Find Web Developers

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Choosing a Web Testing Service – What You Need to Know

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

With different application domains and different testing dimensions a person comes across various terms. Web testing is one of those. Totally different from standard web application testing, a website or web development requires you to know the technical stuff. As with other testing types, you have to use certain tools, depending on the type of web development that you are going to test. It could be an open source tool which helps you to test the web development being made with .Net. Soap UI is one of those tools, it can be used to test web services made in ASP.net. With other tools it varies, some companies prefer to use open source tools when it comes to Research and development (R&D) projects; others prefer to purchase licensed tools for testing their specific web development.

Testing a web development requires the person to first of all know the tools/language in which the web development has been made; also the person needs to know the logic behind the web service code. That way the understanding is developed. This is very different from standard web applications testing, as the person is already aware of the functional domain, the technical level stuff is not that important. Though it would definitely help to know the technical details, for manual/functional testing this is not really required. With web service testing, this is a requirement. A person has to know the tool otherwise it is not possible to test the web service effectively.

Also the person will need to have concepts of server-side testing and client side testing. That in turn requires some knowledge of the architecture which the application has been designed in. Essentially from a software tester’s point of view this all seems extra ‘techy’ however it can be performed by anyone who has decent technical level knowledge. We find that people who have the ‘in-between’ capacity, they are comfortable with some level of software development and software testing, take up web service testing work. And in some companies the software developer will prefer doing the web service testing himself rather than taking the chance or taking the time to train someone else to do it.

Such testing is usually done in small to medium scale projects which require a certain technical skill level from their software testers. Although true that software testers are not supposed to be experts at coding and development, but in this particular case it becomes a requirement, to know the technical details of the project and of the respective module before starting web service testing. Also a technical understanding from an architectural point of view would be required from the software tester, as this is testing from a technical perspective.

Looks Good, Works Well and Costs Little: A Joomla! Web Site Is Best for Any Business

Monday, August 27th, 2018

To present an informative and impressive collection of the features of their services, businesses need to put together electronic text, documents, pictures, sound and movies on the internet, so interested Internet visitors can find and browse through them.

Information in various forms like text, audio and video is broadly what is referred to as content. Placing the corporate information on the Web, maintaining and updating from time to time and generally managing the content requires a good content management system (CMS).

Such software to be useful and cost-effective has to provide all the necessary features and be friendly towards the Website owner, the Web developer and most importantly, the Website’s visitors.

There is also a need for systematically organizing the content in such a way that it can be searched through. For example, a visitor looking for a Tee-Shirt of a size, color and price-range of his choice should quickly be presented with the details of the right product. In other words, a data base management system with indexing and searching capabilities needs to be working in the background, transparent to the user.

Joomla! is a free, open source content management system for publishing content on the Web and intranets. Being open source, it is highly cost effective. It saves on both development and maintenance costs.

With banners, contact management, newsfeeds, online polls and voting for spot results, search and Web links, as well as online editors, content archiving, news flash, statistics and an integrated help system, it has every kind of feature needed for a powerful Web site. Joomla! has a data driven site engine. The system is well-suited for marketing purposes and for search engine optimization.

Joomla is versatile. It is suitable for development of Web sites for educational institutions, commercial companies, corporate houses and industries, non-profit organizations, personal sites, social sites and community portals, governmental portals, multilingual Web sites and every other purpose. It generates visually appealing Web sites. There are any number of ready-to-use templates which can be modified, enhanced or adapted to suit the Web site’s requirements and the site owner’s taste.

The design system of web application development provides easy navigation and a convenient way to edit, update and manage content. If you are looking to build a new Web site, it can get it up and running in hours. Adapting an existing Web site to Joomla CMS too, is very simple. It is very user friendly. It was expressly designed with a view to give the freedom of customizing the content to the user. It is super easy to add, modify and manage the content once the site has started running.

It also has Forums, management of contracts with clients, multiple language support, multi-user access and many more features.

Small businesses can build an instant Web site with a pleasing appearance and minimalist layout. As the business grows, the site will grow in step, getting new features and functionalities. Sites developed in the Web application developments system have the potential to grow easily and quickly into fully powered business sites.

The most recent release is the Joomla! 1.6.3 of April 18, 2011. Version 1.6 has fine-tuned control of “who sees what” on the Website, along with hundreds of new features for a smoother workflow and better productivity.

Joomla runs on the Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, MacOSX server and Solaris and AIX platforms.

Investment in the Web development (Joomla) is protected because the code is flexible, extensible and reusable. This reduces future maintenance and up-gradation costs of the project.

For an effective business Web site, a professional Joomla! Web application development service with the skills and knowledge of technology is required. This will ensure that the owner of the Web site gets a quality result in time and the Web site starts generating returns on investment at the earliest.

Small Business – Choosing the Right Web Agency

Sunday, August 26th, 2018

Choosing the right web design agency can be a make or break decision for many small businesses, it can mean the difference between a website which works for them, or a website that doesn’t. Or, in more succinct terms, the difference between a website that supports the business and one that costs the business (time, money, reputation, brand).

A large part of Hot Lemon’s online business is helping our clients redevelop their websites because their current websites are, for want of a better phrase, “not fit for purpose”. These are not websites our clients have done themselves, in which case you could forgive them, but so called “professional” websites developed by “professional” web design agencies.

This has eventually prompted me to write this guide to choosing the right web design agency for your small business to help other small businesses of repeating those very same mistakes.

Who’s to blame for bad web-design?

Quite simply, the agencies developing the websites and the small businesses commissioning them. So, that would be everyone!

The agencies are to blame because they don’t engage with their clients, they cut too many corners and they try to template design and technology too much in order to meet a specific price point. The small businesses are to blame, because they are driving the market to a low price point, they don’t want to invest much in their website, and they don’t get involved in the process as much as they should.

Bemusement – the internet is important

Of constant bemusement to me is the way some small businesses go about developing their online presence – their website. The internet is so persuasive now, and used by so many consumers in many different ways, that a robust, professional online presence is a necessity for any business, no matter what sector, no matter what size.

However, many small businesses still approach the development (and use) of their website in a casual manner, to them, the website is of secondary importance rather than primary. Unfortunately, with this mindset, many small businesses will never experience the benefits of what a good online presence can deliver, and why it is so important to invest time and resources into it.

The race for the bottom – the bargain basement website

This attitude by small businesses can be characterised by the increasing preponderance of web design agencies offering “all inclusive”, “professionally designed” and “tailored for you” websites all for the princely sum of £199.

Now fundamentally, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this bargain basement web-design.

However, you really do get what you pay for. Bearing in mind these agencies have overheads, and they are businesses too therefore they need to make a profit themselves, the actual development cost spent on a website like this might be as little £80 to £100. The agencies in order to meet this price point need to pare down the design process to a minimum. Hence use of templates, generic pictures, generic text.

The resultant website might look ok. But does it work for your business? Does it reflect your brand? Does it communicate what you do properly? Does it sell your business? Can you find it on Google?

An old adage: “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”

Top tips for choosing a web design agency

Hot Lemon has developed some top tips for any small business to use when choosing a web design agency, these are:

  • recommendation – use your network, if a colleague can recommend an agency you can use their experience to help you with your choice
  • talk to several agencies – don’t just go to one agency, talk to several. Do they treat you as a client or as a potential cash-flow?
  • don’t make a decision on cost alone – cost is important, it’s why we budget for things. However, the cheapest is seldom the best. Saving money in designing a web site can lose money in the longer term from lost business
  • do they use English? – English is a wonderful language, however, many people don’t use it and decide to use jargon instead. If an agency can’t be bothered to talk to you in plain English that you will understand, can you really expect them to spend the time getting to know your business
  • do they understand you? – Has the agency bothered to get to know you, get to know your business, your market? They are designing your primary communication channel, they need a good understanding of you in order to do that effectively
  • benefits not features – the web is full of features! But what real benefit are they to you? Be wary of long lists of features, this is especially the case for e-commerce sites
  • beware of the up sell – you are getting someone to design you a website, be wary of agencies trying to sell you other online services for your business, whilst often useful, they can tie your business down
  • copy-writing – is the agency going to help you write the content of your website, or just design the website. Writing effective web copy is not an easy skill
  • templates – have a look at the agency’s portfolio, do they all look the same? Are they designing to a template? Many low cost web designs are template based – it’s where they save the money – not necessarily a problem, as long as the template is good for you
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) 1 – the agency should offer internal SEO as an integral part of their service – not as an add on. SEO is so important it needs to be done from the start of the design process
    • SEO 2 – get the agency to explain what their SEO services are in plain English. Get them to explain their internal and external SEO services to you and their costs. Further, ascertain whether they do this in-house or sub-contract it
  • Content Management Systems (CMS) – many agencies make CMS a key feature, but do they tell you everything about CMS and is it right for you? Key things to consider:
    • ease of use – whilst you don’t need to be able to code in order to update a website with CMS, many of them are not as intuitive to use as they should be, indeed, quite the opposite
    • proprietary or published – CMS’s can come in two forms – proprietary (i.e. written specifically for a specific website), or published (Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, Coldfusion etc.), in which case the CMS is adapted for your website. Proprietary is usually more intuitive as written specifically for you, but can tie you in. Published can be less intuitive and more templated.
    • templates – CMS websites generally follow similar template designs, especially the published varieties, your choice in layout and design may be limited
    • flexibility – because many CMS designs follow templates (with some agencies just changing the logo on the template and then selling it to you for £500) they lack flexibility, you may well be limited in what you can do within your budget
    • content – just because you can update your website, should you? Were not all copywriters, and this together with the relative inflexibility of CMS websites can lead pretty quickly to some messy websites. Further, if your being sold a website with CMS is the agency going to help you out with copy-writing and SEO? Do you know enough about SEO to write search engine friendly copy?
  • e-commerce – many small businesses are attracted to the online world because of e-commerce and the ability to compete with the big boys on equal terms. Err no. The first thing any agency should do is to administer a dose of reality to your e-commerce dreams. It’s not impossible to be successful, but it’s not as easy as you may think. Things to consider asking your agency about e-commerce are:
    • software – your agency is very likely to use commercially available e-commerce software for your website, the larger agencies may have their own software which they re-use. Find out which one their using and Google it! You might find out that your paying an agency just to change the logo
    • beware of the up sell – many e-commerce packages are hugely capable, able to list and manage thousands of products and do wondrous things – this might be over-kill if all your after is a simple e-commerce website selling a few items
    • ask for options – if you’re just going to sell a few things online, make sure your agency gives you a range of options, from the cheap to the expensive. For example, PayPal provides a free e-commerce facility that can be used with any website!
    • understand the amount of work involved – often, the easiest part of setting up an e-commerce site is the design itself, understand that inputting your product details with appropriate tags and descriptions can be very time consuming – will your agency help?
    • templates – because e-commerce websites are usually based on published software, and have very complex databases related to them, they tend to be very similar in how they look as they are generally set up using templates. This could be an issue if you want to differentiate how your e-commerce site looks compared to your competitors, ask you agency how they can differentiate your site from your competitors
  • beware of the plugins – use of specific plugins might make your website look fantastic, but understand that not all of your customers will have those plugins (for example Flash, Quicktime, Java, Real player files etc. ). Ask what happens to your sexy looking website when the visitor doesn’t have Flash installed for example (iPhone’s don’t play Flash). Also, the content of Flash files are not indexed by Google, so you need to make sure your agency is communicating the content of them in other ways for search engines
  • standards matter – ensure your agency codes their websites to international standards. Those standards are there for a purpose, to ensure that websites work regardless of browsers and operating platform. As a minimum you should insist that your website adheres to W3C standards for HTML / XHTML. There is no excuse for not designing a standards compliant website, apart from laziness!
  • testing – find out what the testing regime is at the agency. Web pages display quite differently in different browsers and operating systems, what works in one browser doesn’t necessarily work in another. Find a computer with Internet Explorer 6 on it (still the default browser on 10% of all computers) and test your website on it (IE6 is usually the worst culprit for displaying websites incorrectly)
  • relationships are key – above all else, do you feel that you can do business with the agency and build a working relationship with them. Things do wrong – fact of life – do you feel your agency is going to be there to help and support you when it does?

I think that’s pretty exhaustive list of tips and things to consider when choosing a web design agency for your small business.

Things to consider

Whilst the above is pretty comprehensive in terms of assessing web design agencies, it’s not all one way traffic. Small businesses equally need to consider several points as well before beginning the web development process. For example:

  • your website is likely to be the primary communication tool of your business – your shop front to the world. Therefore dedicate appropriate time and resources to getting it right
  • understand that you get what you pay for. You will not get someone understanding your needs and the needs of your business and then design an effective website for £250!
  • if you do not understand the internet, find someone who does. Find out why SEO is important, and what drives good SEO (chances are, the £250 option will become less attractive on doing this) – as a wee plug, Hot Lemon is quite happy to chat
  • do not trust anyone who can’t explain things to you in plain English
  • don’t get too drawn into CMS and fully featured e-commerce sites, understand that your good at your business, not necessarily at copy-writing, graphic design or web design
  • whilst most websites have similar structures (it’s intuitive!), don’t be satisfied with a template design. Your customers will recognise that you can’t be bothered with your own website – so why should they?
  • your website is a critical tool for your business, don’t treat it as an add on, treat it as an integral part, and commit the time and resources appropriate to it.