Docs Onsite Updates

We’ve added a few new features to Docs Onsite. Docs Onsite is the document and project management system that we’ve developed. We’ve been really pleased to see how it has worked for other client based companies who need to manage large quantities of documents with clear, simple, auditable access controls and logging. It is also how we manage our internal tasks, calendars, files, time tracking (which exports to QuickBooks for billing), support tickets, and bug tracking. The latest features are small looking updates, but are both very useful. We’ve added tagging to the Tasks, with color coding. This has really helped make it easy to quickly filter the task list to a related group of tasks. We’ve also integrated a […]

Peer Review

We use Peer Reviews during coding for a variety of reasons. The three main reasons are: Quality Assurance – checking other developers work to make sure everything is done correctly and works as it should. Cross Training – the reviewers going over what was done ensures that at least two people have a good understanding of everything that is built and changed. By rotating reviewers for different tasks in the same part of a system many people will be looking at what is built as it is happening. Education – the developers and peer reviewers learn from each other during the review process – new tricks or techniques are shared and developed. Peer Review Checklist We use a detailed checklist […]

American History 101

You’re a large organization with divisions and departments and teams. You have vice presidents and managers and team leaders. You have a web team that manages your massive public web site. They have designers and developers and a manager. So, I ask you, who should decide what content goes on the website? Do you let anyone send content to the web team for posting. Does the vice president from Marketing call the shots? How about the manager from customer relations? Or the team leader from product development? Perhaps the manager of the web team? What is the right answer? Who should be the gatekeeper for the website? Should you even have one? The answer is not so simple. If you […]

New Site: International Global Products

We’re happy to announce another site launch, this time for International Global Products. Right now the site is a simple 3 page web site with the company’s contact info and an introduction to some of their products. A few of the sites we’ve launched recently are our clients’ first forays onto the web. They are taking those first baby steps of setting up a basic website and learning to use it as a tool to help them do business. We wrote about this a while back, this is the Publish phase of getting a company online.

Establishing a Working Relationship

Getting to know a potential business partner in an unfamiliar industry can be a daunting task. For business’ looking to hire a web design or technology fim they are often faced with trying to evaluate the skills of people who essentially speak a foriegn language and perform magic. Intelligent business people are left wondering what the hell programmers are talking about as soon as the try to delve into the details of a web designers skills or the work they did on past projects. Generally, business people won’t have the slightest idea what questions to ask to discern if a potential firm will be able to help. This is of course not their fault, they should not be expected to […]

Motorbilly.com

We are pleased to announce that Motorbilly.com is now online and that Ann Arbor based DJ Del Villarreal is happily posting fresh content there for your enjoyment. The content is being gradually added as Del has time, but he has already started to add announcements, links, and other material. The launch is what we refer to as a “soft launch”. The site is ready to go but the content is being added gradually. The benefit of this is that while Del is not yet publicizing the web site much on his radio show or at concerts or dances the search engines are starting to pick up the site and add it to their indexes. Del is a great DJ and […]

Change and Risk

With change comes risk. Simple enough, except that failing to change can be a bigger risk as your business stagnates, gets overtaken, is left in the dust by your competitors. So perhaps it should be taken as a given that a company should be somewhat introspective. Regularly evaluating the performance of individuals and the organization and striving to be better than ever before at whatever it is you do. Change happens very quickly on the Web. Even the best websites become outdated very quickly as new and better technologies and best practices are developed. What was great in 2002 is often regarded as tired or dated in 2005. This can be unsettling to a company that invested heavily in a […]

How to Avoid Lock In

As a business person faced with the task of hiring and overseeing the work of a design or development firm it can be extremely difficult to know if you are hiring the right people. Sometimes you will have a sense about the people you are considering hiring, but often you lack the technical skills required to make an informed hiring decision. Even worse, unscrupulous developers can build systems that other developers will not be able to decipher, leaving you dependent on the original developer for the life of the system. This means that your bad hiring decision can haunt you for decades. Being trapped into using a particular system is known as “Lock In” and it is preventable.

Knowing Your Role in a Project

Most web design and development projects will feature many individuals trying to work together to create a web site. Some of the common roles of individuals involved on your project include: Business Stakeholder Content Creator Marketing Specialist Copywriter Web Designer Web Developer Graphic Designer Usability Specialist Information Architect One person may fill multiple roles on the project but there is often a team of people building the site working with a team of people who are experts in the site content and business. In order for the project to go smoothly everyone must contribute their expertise and support each other.