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Great Clients and Challenging Clients

The other day I was listening to a podcast by Michael Hyatt, whom I highly recommend. He put into words a question I have been mulling over for quite a while: How should I think about clients who take a disproportionately high amount of my time and energy? And what are the different types of clients?

Find out how to handle that high-maintenance client. Click To Tweet

Most likely you have dealt with this scenario: You open your inbox to glance through emails, only to come face to face with harsh words from a client frustrated by unmet expectations. Instead of moving forward with other partners’ projects, you are stuck trying to satisfy a single client.

At IT Hands, we’ve discovered that all our clients can be divided into 1 of 4 quadrants, 4 types of clients. There are certain characteristics that make up these types of clients, and a certain way to respond to each.

ITH Blog Graph

ITH Blog Graph 2

The Perfect Client: This high profit/low maintenance client can be so refreshing. They understand the team, the process, and communication flows easily. These types of clients are reasonable and understand that challenges come up. They also pay you for your services.

Suggested Improvements: Give this dream client some well-deserved appreciation!

The Big Client: Those high profit/high maintenance clients that take a lot of time and energy are often the most difficult clients to evaluate. You need to be honest with yourself about them. They’ll pay you without question and return for future projects, but have high, hard-to-meet expectations.

Suggested Improvements: Lower their maintenance levels by clearly writing down what you hear as their expectations. This will improve communication. If you are not able to improve your process and expectation setting with this client, strongly consider parting ways. They are not the best fit for your company and process. Use your energy elsewhere in building a strong base of clients that match your company’s process more exactly.

The Quiet Client: The low profit/low maintenance client is that quiet customer you have had for a long time. With these clients you’ve done a good job setting expectations and creating a solid foundation for the relationship.

Suggested Improvements: Thank this client for their positive relationship. Offer to increase the project size or volume with them. This may not always happen, as this client’s business may not need as much attention.

Beware the Draining Client – that low profit/high maintenance client. These customers bring immense amounts of stress into a business for you personally and for your team. They don’t try to understand you or your team, can’t be flexible with the process, throw fits rather than communicate, and have impossible expectations. More than likely, they’ll try to negotiate down your set prices.

Suggested Improvements: If this client won’t lower expectations, treat you (and your team) with more respect, or at the very least make it more profitable to work with them (which would land them in the Big Client quadrant), then it’s best for both of you to part ways.

Conclusion
Each client comes with their own set of rewards and challenges (well, except for the Draining Client). It is important to minimize challenges as much as possible through straightforward processes, clear expectations and transparent communication.

At IT Hands, we are a process-driven company focusing on clear communication and deliverables. One way we gather a client’s expectations is through our questionnaires. Take a look at them and use them to set clear expectations and improve communication with your clients.

IT Hands has been providing quality, custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 350 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that IT Hands brings to every project.

5 Keys to a Clear Website Estimate

Five Keys to a Clear Website Estimate

As an Web development company owner, a big challenge is providing a clear website estimate to potential clients. If done right, an estimate can give your client a clear understanding of the price and work involved in the project and start the project on the right note.

At IT Hands, we’ve experienced the good and bad of estimates and formed five key points to create a clear estimate for clients.

Provide thorough estimates to your clients with these 5 pointers. Click To Tweet

Understand the Scope

Understand the scope

Think like a reporter. Your client has objectives for their project, but it’s up to you to figure out how those define the scope. Ask the right questions and understand their business objectives before you even get into the technical requirements.

Think through the project scope and even offer any suggestions to enhance their technology or minimize cost. Be consultative! Clearly define for your client what requirements are in scope or out of scope in the project.

As you are able to look back on the list of requirements and discuss points with your client, you will be more confident with the task before you and your client will know you will follow through on your commitment.

Make Good Assumptions

Make Good Assumptions

At a certain point, you have to stop gathering requirements and make some assumptions. These assumptions have to make sense both for the tech on your team and the business you’re serving. The most important part: Make sure you’re absolutely certain what those assumptions are for the client. (Read Chris’ blog for more on this topic)

Here are a number of common assumptions that we have thought through in some projects:

  • What browsers (and how old of browsers) will be tested in this project?
  • How fast will the site be expected to load?
  • Where will the images come from? Who will provide them?

Involve Your Delivery Team

Involve your team

Don’t be a postman. Meaning: Don’t blindly deliver estimated hours from the development team to the client. Make sure the team understands the entire scope of the project. This is especially true for custom development work.

Also, don’t ignore your delivery team. If they receive a project in which they disagree with the estimate, you’ll have a group of unhappy developers. Many projects derail when the business development side and the developers lack communication from the very beginning.

Define the Project Management Methodology

Define the project

Sometimes, you just don’t have enough knowledge of the project to give a clear website estimate. What do you do? Just be sure you have a trusted method as you move forward with the client.

There are many types of methods of working through a project. At IT Hands we follow an Agile/Scrum methodology, which gives the client the benefit of a quick iterative process providing consistent feedback and readjustment of deliverables. Using Agile methodology allows a project to naturally evolve from an idea to an excellent product.

Understand Timeline and Budget

Understand the timeline

Understand the expected timeline and budget of your client before you present an estimate. It’s better to overshoot and save the client time and money. If you don’t know the budget, then be sure you have a strong level of trust with the client throughout the process.

Don’t get into details when providing an estimate. If you breakdown your estimate and provide too many details, it gives the client a chance to nit-pick the numbers or demand a discount. If this starts, it could be a sign that the project may not be successful.

Conclusion
When you present a clear website estimate to the client, you should already have a feel for what the client will say. The client should have provided a timeline and budget, which you can meet. If you don’t think the client will say yes, you’re probably right.

Looking for a format to follow when developing a project estimate? Download one of our free questionnaire templates to get started on your next project estimate. Click Here.

10 Reasons to Hire an Offshore Team

It is common for me to sit down with the owner of a web company, marketing firm, or ad agency and hear about their past experiences with an offshore team. Honestly, the stories I hear range from devastating project derailment to positive interactions that turned into long-term trusted relationships. I get it. There’s risk involved in outsourcing.

Should you hire an offshore team? Here are 10 reasons you would want to. Click To Tweet

The reality is many firms know there’s also a lot to gain from outsourcing. When does the benefit make it worth looking into the dynamics of working alongside another team? Are you wondering if this could be a strategic move for your company’s growth? Below I’ve listed 10 common reasons a business hires offshore teams.

While some of these have similarities, there are definitely differences between each of the reasons. Overall, hiring another company will allow you to expand your business. Everyone has a different vision for how to incorporate a team into their business’ growth. Here are 10 reasons CEOs of web and advertising companies seek offshore work.

Capacity
When you face an influx of business, you don’t have to turn away the work. Access to extra capacity gives you the opportunity to scale your business without hiring full-time resources. You can even take on extra hands through a Full-time Equivalent Model. This would give you a project team, without having to hire another employee in-house.

Technical Competency
Focus on your technical strengths. Let the team handle the rest. For example, you can focus on keeping the design in-house and send PHP work to the overseas team. Don’t stretch your own technical reach too thin. Do what you do well, and bring in a team working to add more tech skills.

Consultative
Are clients coming to you with countless questions? Use this as an opportunity to tap into an offshore team as your tech resource. Your team can even develop the scope of the project for your clients and draft proposals. You become the expert consultant, and let a team back you up with project reviews and proposal drafts.

Cost Effective
Are you trying to work within a limited budget? Whether covering part of a project or a full project, you can pull in quality service at an affordable rate. Unlike hiring a full-time employee, who requires health benefits or PTO, a team working from another country takes care of their employees’ job security, health insurance and pay.

Moving to SaaS Model
Moving to a SaaS (Software as a Service) model? Use your in-house resources to build out your SaaS, and use your offshore team to manage existing clients or new web projects. This gives you the freedom to focus on growth in this specific area. The project team takes care of the rest.

Scaling Your Business
When you consider expanding your business, take the low-risk growth strategy. In general, outsourcing is one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to scale your business. Don’t over extend your business past its limits. This gives you a safety net, and spares you from firing additional employees if business slows.

Focus on Business Development
As the CEO of your business, you should be focusing on strategy, growth, and team development. Take the project management and technical details off your desk and hand them to a trustworthy partner. Or if you are a networker, make the connections with companies, while sending a reliable team the offshore work.

Finding a Certified Team
Some contracts require developers to be certified in certain technologies. Don’t spend valuable time for your developers to be certified. Bring in an already-certified, offshore team. Your developers can focus on their job.

Support Your Team’s Skillset
Some web companies have employees who are driven toward design while others like development. You do the designing, and let the team manage the behind-the-scenes framework and website development. Keep what you like and what you’re good at in-house, and hire a team to fill the gap. This will make happier employees and a better work product.

New Initiatives
Looking to roll out new initiatives that you keep putting off? Don’t wait to start. You can start extension builds, personal projects and company website redesigns through a project team.

If you’re considering outsourcing, choose your potential partner wisely. If you find a trustworthy team, your relationship can last a lifetime and build up your business.

At IT Hands we provide our partners quality work and transparent communication for a reasonable price. We also encourage any partner to come visit us to see our work environment and team culture. Interested in working with us? Contact our team at solutions@ithands.com.

Managing Code in GIT

When programming, most software developers create code on their local machine. It’s common then to upload the code when everything is ready for production. But in a team setting, that’s not feasible. To make development easier, your team needs a system that can control your version of code.

Want to learn how to use Git? One of our experts explains the Git system and shares commonly-used commands. Click To Tweet

Git: a version control system

Git is an actively-maintained, open-source, version control system used for software development. Developed by Linus Torvalds in 2005, the distributed version control Git architecture was set up so that every working copy of code is a repository. Rather than having a centralized repo, like in Subversion, each repo has a complete history of code commits and changes.

Put more succinctly, this version control system records all the changes made to a file over time so that any revisions can be made to a specific version later.

Database Diagram

Benefits of Git

  • Fast.
  • Distributed.
  • Tracks every change made, and by who, along with the time of change (or addition to code).
  • Provides simple and easy steps to rollback your changes whenever needed.
  • Gives a globally-dispersed team the ability to facilitate work and collaborate.
  • Uses branching/merging features to copy and update the code from existing repo without affecting the Master Branch.
  • It can version any file, not only code files.
  • No need to keep multiple versions with different names of the same file.

What is Github?

Github is a source-code management tool and a web-based repository hosting service. Sometimes people, especially beginners, get confused with Git and Github, but it’s not a single identity. Github is different than Git, but Github uses Git to push any change to the repository, which is hosted on Github.

To start with Github, you need to create an account and then create a repository inside. Once you create a repo you should see a screen on Github that displays all the basic commands you will use to set up and start pushing to the repository.

Git Workflow

ITH-Git-CommandsGit commands

When using Git, here are some basic commands you can use.

Setting Up Git

First of all, you have to check if Git is installed on your machine. If Git is not installed, then you can download it or install it via the command line, depending on which OS you have.

This command will tell you which version of Git you have already.

git --version

The command should bring up information similar to this image.

git version check

Set your Identity

git config --global user.name "John Doe"
git config --global user.email johndoe@example.com

Note: –global flag will make this setting for the entire system. You can see this setting by typing the command:

git config --list

Initialize a Repository

By using the command git init you can initialize an empty git repository (repo) into any directory/folder. After that, you can start creating files/folders inside this folder. By running the command git init you should see something similar to this:

git init

Cloning a Repository

An existing repo can also be cloned using the git clone command and it will initialize the git repo into your cloned directory.

git clone https://github.com/username/reponame.git

Git clone

Review Status before Adding and Committing

The command git status will show you the current status of your repo. It can show both changes and untracked files. It’s always recommended to review the status of your repo before committing a file (or files) to your repo.

Untracked File
Unracked files

Untracked and Added Files
check git status

Stage Files for Commit

The git add command will stage the files for a commit. You can either add all files together or specific files for a single commit.

git add --all or git add .

git status

Adding individual file

git add header.html

Status check git

Committing Your Work

Once files are added and ready to commit, you can use the commit command to commit your work. (Note: As mentioned above, before executing the commit command always review the status).

git commit -m "Initial Commit"

Git initial commit

Branching & Checkout

A new branch can be easily created by using the git branch command.

git branch dev

Git checkout command is used to switch between available branches

git checkout dev

checkout branch

Push to Origin

git remote add origin https://github.com/yourgitusername/yourgitreponame.git
git push -u origin master

push to master git

Merging Branches

git checkout master
git merge dev

By using Git Merge you can merge your other branches to the Master Branch.

git merge

Opinions will vary on whether a centralized or distributed version control system is better. Here at IT Hands, as a globally-dispersed team, we like using this quick-and-easy software development system. Is Git the right system for your next project? Contact us today with any project on your list at solutions@ithands.com.

Framing the Business Problem

When a client comes to you with an idea for using the latest technology, what should you do?
Do you inflate the swelling enthusiasm of an entrepreneur or stop and understand the underlying business problem and implications?

When clients come to a Web development company, they have a business problem that needs a solution. Sometimes technology can solve it, but other times it can not. Frequently, I find myself, not requesting more details about the solution, but asking clients, “What is the business problem you are trying to solve in your business?”

If a client comes to you wanting to integrate the latest technology, what should you do - jump on the opportunity or understand the business problem they are solving? Click To Tweet

A lot of clients can easily get lost in the technology available to them, while not knowing about the all-too-common outcome – a high price for a low ROI. Clients and Web development companies can be more concerned with what technology will use, rather than the business problem they are trying to solve. Before providing IT work for someone, you need to understand their business, evaluate the benefits of technology and involve your team in the process.

What is the Business?

Understand the business’ value proposition in general. Here at IT Hands, we send each client through a “Get to Know You Questionnaire” to get a better picture of their business. In the business world, clients are either wanting to catch up with a competitor or strengthen an edge they already have. It’s my role, if I am going to be a trusted source for tech development, to prompt my clients to answer the question: why does your business exist? Any good entrepreneur can easily answer this question.

Will Technology Enhance the Business?

How does technology strengthen the value of the business?
Does it allow your client to deliver products faster, cheaper, give quality information quickly?
If a technology doesn’t augment some aspect of your business, then it is not sustainable or practical.

One example is the mobile app vs. responsive website comparison. Perhaps a mobile app would serve your business, but would it really enhance your business value? If you’re facing this dilemma, then read my blog on the topic of mobile app vs. responsive site.

Another example of this is eCommerce. Many businesses want to build an online store. To build one using Magento (a huge eStore) may not serve the client if the business is only selling a few key products. Finding a smaller eStore platform would be more practical.

Is the Team Involved?

Not only does the client need to understand the problem they face, but everyone on your team needs to understand it. This means everyone – from the coder to the database administrator. Along the project route, each team member will need to make many decisions on colors, design, photos. If they don’t have a good understanding of the business and its target audience, they may be designing to the wrong crowd.

Take this example: You’re doing a bank website, like a credit union, targeting students with school loans and debt. One of their main targets is to start students on a path to financial stability. If your team doesn’t know the audience well, they may choose irrelevant images or highlight headlines about home loans.

You’ll want images to convey security and progressing in life. You would not highlight other options like home loans or car loans. Instead, highlight loan repayment plans, rather than the application for another loan. Your colors would need to appeal to a younger audience. The website would need to be mobile-friendly.

Although it may seem counter productive for a Web development company to simplify a huge money-making project, for those developers with the long-term goal of trustworthy business partnerships, it’s the best possible plan. Before diving into a project with a client, consider the three steps to start off:

ITH Values

IT Hands has been providing quality, custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies through excellent consultation with our clients. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 350 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that IT Hands brings to every project.

3 Steps to Close Deals

If you don’t close deals, you don’t have a business. It does not matter how great your business, expertise or product is; if you can’t sell it, it doesn’t matter. When prospects come to you, how do you close deals? You have to give the prospect what they want and guide them to a solution.

When a company comes to you with a business objective and vision, they want support and collaboration to grow their business ideas. There is a logical progression of thought which a potential client needs to go through before making a decision. It’s your responsibility to find out where they are and match their mental stride in order to form a practical solution for them.

What is a sales process and why do I need one?

Having a process for your sales is like having an outline for an essay. It gives you the chance to have an introduction, a goal for your conversation and a conclusion that will leave you with a clear idea of what needs to happen next.

A simple 3-step sales process: Define the problem. Determine a solution. Deliver a price. Read more. Click To Tweet

Even if only limited to three steps, having a sales process in mind when interacting with a potential client will allow for clearer communication. With a defined approach, your conversation will be more conscientious and less of a ramble. Any potential client will appreciate this straightforward approach.

Read more to learn about IT Hands’ 3-step sales process and use it to close deals.

3 Step Sales Process

IT Blog Sales

As the developer, it’s important to first understand a company’s goals. This is where you start. Then define a solution. After, and only after these two steps, can you settle the price. Problem, solution, price. This is a simple, yet effective method to process with a client.

1. Understand the Problem
First, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What problem are they facing? Review, understand and think through their business objectives and vision as a company. Solving a problem requires a deep level of understanding of the following:

  • Current situation – What are their needs as a business? Do they have any questions to educate themselves before making a decision?
  • History of any related events – What experience have they had as a business with building a website or mobile app? Has it been positive or negative?
  •  Future vision – What end result do they want out of this project? Do they have clearly-defined goals or do they want you to help form the vision?

2. Provide the Solution
Once the problem is clearly defined (be sure you have accurate information) the next step is to consider possible solutions. Before you lay out the solutions, revisit what you understand to be the customer’s vision and objectives. That way, you are both on the same page. Then you can add your suggestions with the confidence that you clearly understand their vision.

IT Blogs Solutions

Be careful when presenting your suggestions. In scenarios where the customer has lots of business ideas and a foggy vision, it’s your responsibility to clearly define their objectives. Don’t insert your opinion. Sometimes by simply stating what you heard them say, will help them process and form conclusions on their own. Be sure you never interject your ideas into a business plan that has already been thought out.

Offer the support each client needs to form a solid business plan. A good business plan will have the following:

  • Clearly defined goals and objectives
  • Vision that aligns with the goals
  • Well-defined roadmap to execute
  • Success criteria

3. Determine a Price
Once the problem has been identified, understood and communicated well, it means that you now understand the customer’s business objectives and vision. You have asked key questions to determine specifics. You have presented the solution to the point person for the business. They have decided at this point that your solution is a good one, or they will consider something else.

IT Blogs Price

Here is where you offer a price. Be transparent about the cost. Hidden fees will drive away clients. If there’s a chance of any price increase during a project, always be forthright with where that could occur. This will ultimately build a foundation of trust and start off your relationship well, whether or not the client accepts your proposal.

See more details about our process in a co-worker’s blog.

Contact us with any questions you have in creating a proven sales process to close deals.

IT Hands is a globally-dispersed company, providing quality, custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 350 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that IT Hands brings to every project.

The Future of CodeIgniter

The future of CodeIgniter is anything but clear. As rival frameworks, especially Laraval, grew, many were sounding the death bells for CodeIgniter. However, CodeIgniter is back with a new version. Before we consider the future of CodeIgniter, let’s consider the background of this framework.

Background
CodeIgniter is an MVC-based framework introduced by EllisLab in February 2006. Used by many developers, it gained popularity because of its easy implementation and low-learning curve for beginners. In mid-2013 EllisLab decided not to support the framework anymore, and the search began for the prospect who would maintain it. Questions flooded into the open-source industry. What did the future hold? Would it be better or worse?

For CI lovers EllisLab leaving CodeIgniter seemed like the end of the open framework world. However, after a year of searching, EllisLab found the team that could maintain CodeIgniter – The BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). The community has appreciated this end result.

Since then, BCIT has launched a new version, CI 3.0, under the MIT License. Many things changed in the third version. For a more detailed list of what changed between CI version 2 and CI version 3, read our blog. But what changed in the third version pales in comparison to what will happen with CI 4.

What’s New?
It wasn’t long after CI 3 had been released that developers began discussing the possibility of further upgrades. Maybe a CodeIgniter 4.0? Taking the communities’ requests into consideration, the CodeIgniter council at BCIT decided to upgrade the framework to compete with other frameworks.

The future version of CodeIgniter would include features to form a rich framework in terms of autoloading, security, routing, caching and better exception handling. The development process is divided into three phases, the first phase is complete. The second, underway.

PHP7
The most important thing is that CodeIgniter will now use PHP 7. PHP 7 was released last year, and PHP 5.6 is currently in maintenance mode and will be unsupported soon. This made the move to the newer framework a natural transition.

Backward Compatibility
The future version of CodeIgniter will not provide backward compatibility, because of the core changes in the framework. This will not be good for people using older versions, but it will provide a rich set of features for new developers that will help them make quality applications faster.

Features Implemented

  • Controllers and Models will be able to use namespaced classes.
  • Developers can define the routes inside the routes file.
  • Addition of Unit Testing.
  • PSR-4 Autoloading implementation.
  • Integration with Composer.

The open source community can communicate any thoughts or questions on the Support and Discussion forums that BCIT has launched for CI4. Read some of those forums here.

Why CodeIgniter Won’t Die

Low Learning Curve
CI has less of a learning curve than many frameworks and is very easy for a beginner. Its easy documentation helps developers understand the concept of MVC. It also doesn’t have any complex configuration to set before using.

Extensive Libraries/Helpers
CI has an excellent set of libraries and helpers that make development faster. A developer can either use the existing library functions or create personal helpers and use them anywhere in the application.

Fast Building Capability for MVC Application
MVC has an architectural pattern widely used by the development community. It is a standard of application development. CodeIgniter made it simple for the developer to build an MVC application quickly and in a few easy steps.

Upgrading to the latest standards
CI 4 will release PSR 4 autoloading and PSR logging standards along with the routing feature implementation. With these changes, it will be easy to stay up to date with the latest standards.

IT Hands CodeIgniter Experience
At IT Hands we have worked with the CodeIgniter framework for many (around 7-8) years on a variety of projects. Our experiences have been with small and medium web applications, web services implementation, and web portal supporting mobile apps. In our experience, CI is an excellent framework. Its design is simple and easy to use.

If you’re wondering if CodeIgniter is the best framework to use for your next IT project, contact us at solutions@ithands.com

CodeIgniter Hands is a division of IT Hands. IT Hands is a full-service web development and outsourcing company in India. We provide affordable web development services to web companies & ad-agencies. We have served more than 300 clients with our expertise.

Closing a Deal Effectively

For a web design company, closing a deal with a new prospect can be a challenge. A relationship can start off smoothly, but when the time comes for a decision, a potential client may hesitate. Why?

Why would a client refuse to close on a business deal? A lack of clarity in the relationship. Sale tactics are nothing without trust. In this blog, I outline the simple, transparent process IT Hands follows when establishing a relationship and closing a deal.

Gaining a prospective client’s trust is done through honesty, integrity, and clear communication. With that in mind, you need the right people in your business development team, the right strategy in establishing the relationship, and the right method of communication.

The Right Team

Having a group of people with clearly-defined roles makes for a precise process of outlining and closing a deal. We have the following roles within our business development team:
Introducer: Looks for people who would potentially be a good client
Business Development Manager (“Hunter”): Meets with potential clients and wins business. This person tends to be an extrovert, an outgoing personality, who is very confident in front of others.
Team
Relationship Manager (“Farmer”):Also known as the Account Manager, this person is your steady, relationship and service-oriented sales person.
Solutions Consultant: Gathers and reviews the business needs. If well organized, this member of the team will make the process a smooth one
Solutions Architect: Reviews the requirements in detail and consults/recommends the best technical solution for helping the client’s business needs.
Proposal Coordinator: Documents the proposal and oversees the organization of the proposal process, keeping all contributors on task.

Clear Communication

When communicating with a potential client make your intentions clear.
Communication

  • Write down the client’s objectives. This will help you understand your audience, their timeline and project budget.
  • Reiterate your understanding of the project. That way, when prospects look at your review they can easily understand what you’re thinking.
  • Write down what you hear the client say, and give them the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding.
  • Send questions via email to prospects. In some cases, meet to discuss questions as well. We might have 1-2 calls with the prospects before presenting them the proposal.
  • Use interactive visuals and flow diagrams that help prospects understand exactly what they are committing to.
  • In the end, ask them to come back if they have any further questions.

A Proven Process

Questionnaires
To begin with, we have clients fill out a questionnaire. This helps end clients provide as much as information as they can for their project requirements, and may even highlight points in the project that they had not considered.

Resources

We have the following questionnaire for our services. Download them, if it will help you.

  • Web Design Questionnaire (WDQ)
  • Mobile App Questionnaires (MAQ)
  • Internet Marketing Questionnaire (IMQ)

Initial Meeting
The goal of our initial meeting with the prospective client is to go deeper. We introduce ourselves. We ask the client more about their business. We get more specifics about project requirements. In this meeting, we also give the client a deeper understanding of our process in projects. We describe how we work with Agile and Scrum.

In summary, the initial meeting focuses on the following:Internal Meetings

  • Get to know each other
  • Introduce all IT Hands services
  • Introduce working methodologies (Primarily Agile/Scrum)
  • Review business objectives and the specifics of the project

By the end of the meeting, we make sure we have enough to review with our development team.

Review & Analysis
After the prospect has filled out a questionnaire, met us and defined specific project goals, we start the review and analysis process based on the information from that first meeting.
Now is when we clearly define a task breakdown and process flow, giving straightforward facts and asking direct questions. If the client wants a content heavy website, then usually we do not have many questions. But if it is a custom functional app, we go ahead and create a process flow diagram to show various integrations and user types. While defining the flow, we might come with a few questions and list them out for the client to review.

Proposal Development
Once all our questions have been answered and we have a good understanding of the flow of the project, it’s time to work on proposal documents. IT Hands has developed a Google Slide presentation format to deliver proposals to prospects.
Our proposal clearly defines our project management approach – Agile methodology. We customize each proposal to fit the client’s brand and project goals. Usually, our proposal has these sections:
Proposal Development

  • Introduction to Business
  • Agile Methodology and Team Structure
  • Technologies to be Used
  • Solution Approach
  • Process Flow Diagrams
  • Project Plan (Sprint Cycles)
  • Environments and Code Repository (Dev/Staging/Production, Git, etc.)
  • UAT/UAP
  • Investment
  • Acceptance Page (This page needs to be signed to finish closing a deal)

We put all of above information in the Google Slides document, and once completed, we review it with our business development team.
We consult prospects on the solutions and the technology approach. We explain why a specific solution has been selected and how it will help them translate their business into technology.

Proposal Presentation
After all the hard work is done to develop a clearly-defined proposal, it’s time to present it.
The Relationship Manager sends an invite to the prospects for the meeting and schedules it on their calendar. Right before the meeting, we send a PDF version of the proposal to the prospect. Within our meeting, we go through all the pages of PDF and review with the prospect.
We describe the Agile methodology and Scrum process along with the team structure for the project. We talk about the project plan, and how sprints will help with the successful delivery of the project. We review the investment and explain our transparent billing process, which helps them understand that there is complete transparency throughout the project for the billable hours and the completed tasks. Often the key to closing a deal is to ask a simple question of the prospect of “When should we start?”

What’s next?

After delivering the proposal sometimes prospects sign the documents immediately; therefore closing a deal. Other times we plan a follow-up meeting to discuss further questions. IT Hands has a defined process for follow up with prospects, which helps us keep organized. We use a CRM “PipeDrive” to manage prospects.
When it comes to closing a deal, the most important part is clear communication and a predictable process that will make a client feel safe in entrusting you their business and latest technology project. Do you have an interest in understanding our proposal process further? Or are you considering your options for an IT project? Contact us at solutions@ithands.com

IT Hands has been providing quality, custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 350 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that IT Hands brings to every project.

Internet Marketing Strategy: 5 Home Page Questions

You have worked hard to develop your internet marketing strategy. And then…

10 seconds.

That’s all you have.

In that time a person visiting your site will make a decision – to stay or leave.

What are people thinking as they browse your company’s website? You don’t need a doctorate in human psychology to know what is going through their minds. Just the following five questions; keys to a good internet marketing strategy.

"What are people thinking as they browse your company’s website? Find out now." Click To Tweet

1. What’s in it for me? Why should I care and stick around?
The Nielson Norman group says in their study on the 10-second phenomena, that people will stay much longer on a site that has a clearly-defined value proposition. That means the first question is not only about benefits; it’s also about your promise. You want clients to know what they can get from you, but you also want to be clear what you are offering. People will stay on your site longer if they understand why they should, ultimately, give you their email address or credit card number. If it is a good deal for them and they know exactly what they are getting from you, they may even come back. Lightning quick engagement of your visitors is key to an internet marketing strategy.

2. What is this?/Who are you?
Your visitors arrive on your site with expectations and intentions, so you need to reflect those expectations and intentions in your landing page.

For example, if they come to your home page for a web design company, they should be able to repeat your basic value proposition within the first 10 seconds. If they are going to a landing page for an ebook, it should be crystal clear how to download the ebook. Each page can have a specific purpose on your site, a piece of your internet marketing strategy, but that must be clear.

3. What’s different or unique about you/your product?
When you’re explicit with what’s unique about your product, you eliminate a question cluttering your visitors’ minds. That’s critical to keeping them around.

What is your value proposition to your site visitor? What makes you unique? Keep in mind what Robert Herjavec, from the show Shark Tank, says, “Being better is not a good enough differentiator from your competitors.” Be specific.

4. Is this product/service right for me, in particular?
Tell your niche that they’ve arrived on the right site by using an “ideal for/perfect for” statement. That not only serves those visitors to your site who want to know if you are the service they are looking for, it also serves you. Those people, who are truly interested, will stay to learn more.

5. Who else is already using this?
The answer to this will likely appear on your page in the form of testimonials, logos, etc. – any clear indicator that tells your first-time visitor, “You’re not alone. Others are already doing this. You do not have to lead the pack on this one.”

A crucial step in the sales process for most prospects is hearing how you solved problems similar to their problem. This can be done with simple testimonials, case studies or videos. This is often the final step before a prospect is ready to talk to you.

10 seconds. Sounds short, but you can do a lot in 10 seconds to tell your prospective customers about who you are, how you are different from others and about similar people who have benefited. When you think about all you can accomplish in 10 seconds, 10 seconds is an eternity.

Want our expert Internet Marketing Team to see how well your site answers these five questions? Contact us

IT Hands has been providing quality, custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 350 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that IT Hands brings to every project.

5 CodeIgniter Myths

CodeIgniter is one of the best frameworks in the open-source community. Other developers may not agree (That’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their own framework preference). But if you’re wondering whether to choose CodeIgniter for your framework, allow me to correct some too-commonly-believed CodeIgniter myths.

CodeIgniter recently implemented new features and functionalities required to help end users. Some users are still not aware of these new features and worry that CodeIgniter cannot manage all of these functionalities. I have highlighted a few facts, which will (I hope) put these CodeIgniter myths to rest.

1. Managing content is difficult
As a framework, CodeIgniter comes with a set of library functions when you first install it. Most users think that CodeIgniter is only for the development of custom applications and not a CMS. That is not true; it is one of the CodeIgniter myths. You can use CodeIgniter to develop CMS apps very easily. CodeIgniter functions can build a CMS system, which makes it simple to create web pages.

There are a number of CMS Apps available in the open-source market that are built on CodeIgniter. These can be used to design a CMS-based website. A CodeIgniter developer can also implement CMS editors with their custom application code, which makes web pages easy to create.

2. CodeIgniter is not secure
Security is one of the major concerns for any online application or website. Hackers try to break into your website and put malicious scripts into your website code.

Some users think that CodeIgniter is not secure compared to new PHP frameworks, like Laravel. This is not true; another one of the CodeIgniter myths. The CodeIgniter community is working hard to keep the framework secure and does not allow hackers to inject scripts easily. CodeIgniter architecture is robust enough to keep it secure.

The following are a few areas that define how CodeIgniter keeps its framework secure:

  • URI Security: CodeIgniter defines the characters that are allowed in the URI strings. This minimizes the possibility for malicious data to pass into the application.
  • Register-globals: CodeIgniter unsets the global variables automatically during system initialization.
  • Display-errors: CodeIgniter provides mechanisms to disable PHP errors in the production environment. This helps with keeping sensitive data secure.
  • XSS Filtering: The built-in filter for Cross Site Scripting protects it from malicious scripts.
  • CSRF protection: CSRF is an out-of-the-box protection from CodeIgniter. It gets automatically triggered for every non-GET HTTP request.

There are a number of other ways to keep the applications secure, which you can build using CodeIgniter.

3. CodeIgniter is not SEO-friendly
The most common CodeIgniter myths are related to SEO-friendliness. Most people think that a CMS-based solution (WordPress, Joomla etc.) is the best solution for improving SEO, since SEO tags are implemented by default.

But in reality, SEO has a number of tasks that need to be done outside the website. This includes research on your business competition, finding the right keywords, finding the exact customer geographical area, and many other aspects. Someone who is responsible for Internet Marketing needs to perform all these and a few other activities to define a base for your search engine optimization work. Once these tasks are completed, then on-site SEO can be performed.

CodeIgniter provides abilities to easily define these tags into the web pages. A developer needs to add proper tags and titles to the web pages, like title tags, meta description, image name, or image alt text. A developer can also develop forms to accept all these keywords so a non-technical person can enter the SEO information to the website pages.

Following are a few key elements that need to be set in order to get better rankings:

  • Title tags
  • Meta description
  • Image Alt text
  • Image names
  • SEO-friendly URL’s

CodeIgniter does not have problems with setting up an SEO-friendly site. It just takes some planning with your developer to create a good marketing strategy.

4. Updates and Upgrades are not simple
Often updating or upgrading a CMS takes a couple clicks. CMS solutions often provide a graphical back-end interface that helps users update or upgrade CMS whenever an update is available.

On the other side, PHP frameworks have a different approach for updates and upgrades. CodeIgniter also gets updates and upgrades regularly and developers need to apply these to their applications.

CodeIgniter provides an easy way to update or upgrade the library. Recently CodeIgniter 3.x version came out to the market and they provided step-by-step instructions to upgrade from the 2.x version.

The following link makes this upgrade simple and straightforward:
https://www.codeigniter.com/userguide3/installation/upgrade_300.html

5. CodeIgniter is dying?
CodeIgniter has been one of best PHP framework for the last few years. The founder of CodeIgniter, EllisLab, made a statement in mid-2013 that they were seeking a new owner for CodeIgniter. That made a number of people doubt the future for the framework system.

But a year after making the statement, EllisLab announced that CodeIgniter development would continue under the stewardship of British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). BCIT brought CodeIgniter 3.

 

CodeIgniter 3 has improved the framework’s functionality and security, gaining trust from the community. This new framework has a lot of flexibility and makes it easier to build custom applications. It looks like the framework has a great future and will be used for future application development for a long time. Don’t believe the CodeIgniter myths.

The CodeIgniter Hands team has years of experience working with CodeIgniter-based applications. Our team has served many clients and still serve them using the CodeIgniter framework. Email us to find out how our team can help you with your website development using CodeIgniter framework.

CodeIgniter Hands is a division of IT Hands. IT Hands has been providing quality custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 300 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that IT Hands brings to every project.