This past weekend, the Lansing State Journal ran an article in their business section about entrepreneurs taking their companies to the next level. And, what do you know? It featured Brian Town of our partner Michigan Creative and our own Craig Tucker (CEO of Tucknologies) talking about how they are able to move from start up to sustained business and discussed some of the projects we're working on...including The Foundry Web Program. The Foundry Web Program is a partnership between Michigan Creative and Tucknologies that creates affordable, professional websites that are launched in 30 days.
Tucknologies and Michigan Creative teamed up to create a new web product called "The Foundry." The foundry is an affordable web design program designed to help your business’ website.
02Tech as a Revenue Stream: Being in business these days means being on top of Tech. Well Tucknologies is on top of tech. We have consulted for a wide range of businesses, from successful small businesses to large media conglomerates. These days, we're presented with a lot of options and a lot of things to think about. HTTPS? HTML 5? CSS3? Cloud? SAAS? BYOD? PCI? Clear up the confusion with IT Consulting from Tucknologies. Do you need analysis of your data? Tucknologies can take a look at your current traffic and leverage it for you with our Analytics and Data Analysis. We specialize in creating plans that will help you win!
03Mobile Apps: Tucknologies' staff has created mobile applications in iOS (Apple) and in Android (Google).
We have created "Thumb Tied" an anti-distracted driving application (2013); "Sentencing Authority" for Mokasoft which aids prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys (2014); and "MSU Museum" for the MSU Museum (pictured, 2012) Check out our mobile app page...
04Customer Service: Our firm is built on customers service. If you are tired of not getting an answer from your developer, or having to wait months or years after the initial deadline, you need to switch to Tucknologies. We take customer service seriously, and our customers are happy with their results.
Even though technology these days has our heads down looking at our phones, the sky is the limit for these wonderful devices. Everything can be done through your phone these days, and there are hundreds of thousands of applications to help us out along the way. Businesses are seeing this trend of mobile users, want a piece of the action, and are conforming to people's lifestyle to gain more interaction with their business.
Mobile applications can be one of the best ways to keep your consumers interested with your brand as they are on the move. But first you have to decide whether or not you actually need an application. Here are some tips to help you make that decision.
E-commerce websites are ideal for a mobile app. Everyone is looking to do things all at once, and if you offer a “one click” option to do any sort of task through an app, people will be willing to download an app to use their thumbs for any tasks they need to.
For companies like trucking company, movers, dentists, doctors, or any other service that allows you to schedule something via the interment, an application would be essential. Just like #1, people want to do multiple tasks at once or use one device to do it all. With a touch of a button, your 4:00 appointment can be moved to 5:00 or cancel the appointment all together.
Does you company have a loyalty program? Do you offer your customers rewards for doing certain functions with your business? Do you have a mobile app yet? If you answered, “yes, yes, no” to these three questions, then a mobile application is right for your business. Gamification is a great marketing tactic, and it keeps your consumers wanting more. A prime example of a gamification application is FourSquare, which gives points for every time you check in a place, and, in some cases, give instant coupons to use during your visit.
The more times you use the app, the better your status and rewards are. People love free incentives, and if you can offer that somehow in an application, you may have struck mobile gold for your business.
Isn't the idea behind a mobile phone that a phone can be useful when you are mobile? Tow trucks, ambulance service, or AAA can benefit from a mobile application because it works with technology that isn't stationary. If you have a mobile service, or something people use when they are mobile you definitely need a mobile application!
Multiple locations may mean multiple maps, different information, and directions to each location. Users can select the place they are the closest to, then determine if they can make it to one location or the other. Each location can have one application, and you can use it for servicing all your locations. How cool is it to show them the closest store? Or, how long it will take to drive there?
Do you think a mobile application is beneficial to your business? Why or why not? Can you think of other deciding factors for developing an app for your business?
Contact Us today at 1-855-932-9499 to discuss!
We get asked ALL the time...what does a website cost? Well, as both consumers/customers and producers/sellers we thought we would like to clear up this question once and for all:
I'm sure you probably both expected and feared that answer. So, instead of telling you what every developer ever told you...I thought we'd try to clear it up. Because, you probably don't have experience building a website...and that's probably why you are here right now!
For the purpose of this exercise, we are going to use the analogy of a domicile or a place where one lives. It'll be easier to explain things this way, as we all live in and have had experiences with housing of some sort. We'll start at the most basic, and work our way up. Don't worry, not only will we explain what a website is, what kind of web design it takes, and what kind of web development is needed...but we'll also give you pros and cons for both!
A lean to...a refrigerator box...or an abandoned freight car. The shelter is your most basic form of domicile, if you can call it that! This is a one page post-card type website. It's usually sold as "Free" or "Starter," and sometimes comes with a limited number of other pages or some kind of page cap.
Users won't ever find your pages because there is no depth to your content. Users also do not trust too little content. It means to them that you didn't put enough thought or effort into it...or are too small to provide a better user experience. This means that the presentation screams to users "Hey! We don't really care about the information we put here. It's short sighted, and it just shows you what you might expect from us. Cutting corners and no attention to detail."
Oh, and just pray you don't have something go wrong...they aren't exactly quickly to respond to your issue.
A step up from the basic shelter is the cabin, or trailer. This will suffice for those who want a few more amenities, like running water and a stove to prepare meals. And, like the analogy these websites will give you the ability to do a few things like add blogs or other content. Think of it as Economy e-Commerce.
They'll tell you have you have a TON of options to choose from, but those options are all still pre-defined. If your round logo doesn't fit the square hole, then oh well...there is no one to help you at this cost. Despite being a bit more modern in style and design sensitivities, it still comes across as looking cheap to the users. And, if you want to update your site, it's going to be a problem as you'll have to wait for the system to allow you to do it.
There are fewer features, and certainly only choice for technologies. For instance, you often can't use a shopping cart technology of your choice or a slider that supports video...if you decide to go this route. Remember, it's a trailer. It doesn't even have a foundation...
Being on someone else's server makes you a slave to your provider. If you ever do decide to change or disconnect from the provider, it can be a hassle getting them to work with your new development team.
We always insist that a company that does business has control over their own server. Not with someone who has your website on their own server...and holding all the keys!
These sites aren't expensive. They run between $5.99 and $14.99 a month. And, you can do multiple pages and sometimes can do menus and categories. But it's limited in terms of functionality and originality. And, sometimes you might not even have your own domain...though you will see things that are on other more developed sites like fancy animation and better, more current interfaces.
The first real step up to a real business class website is to look for a site that you control the server, control the log in, and control the content. This means that a professional web design firm sells you a solution to put up a website. These are normally based on a popular CMS (Content Management System) like Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, or Magento. These CMS-s allow the user to control the basic levels of content for the site such as pictures, galleries, blogs, and other media.
What we're talking about here is a Template Website. What that means is someone makes the design for a Content Management System and a development team or solo developer puts it together on the server, and appropriately adds/creates and adjusts content.
The downside to this approach is that you don't usually end up with a unique design...unless you are prepared to buy the design out-right from the developer. This usually means a purchase of $2,000-$6,000 for the exclusive rights of the design. The site may also fall prey to outdated and not updated technology as you are often reliant on 3rd party plug ins and software. If the CMS doesn't fit with the plugin, you may have a site that no longer works.
The Templates can be easy (by professional standards) to swap-out. So if your site gets old and tired looking, and you don't want to lose all that content...you can switch over to a new one. That keeps it fresh and modern and keeps your site from looking like no one pays any attention to it. Because if it looks like no one pays attention to it, then no one will!
The CMS based development communities that develop the templates, the plugins, and the software are relatively active. This means that they are constantly acting to update and upgrade the functionality of the system. This keeps the software and the tools that run on it fresh, and pushes the CMS to be able to do more as time goes on. There is also a lot of support for these systems, as a lot of users have adopted this way of production.
And, since there are professionals working on the software all the time there are a lot more bells and whistles to customize your site with. Don't like the shopping cart you are using? Choose a different one. Don't like the drop down menu animation? Swap out that plug in for another one.
This also makes different versions for mobile a possibility as designers are making their designs functional across different platforms. And, since you are essentially picking out all of the decor at once and applying it to your foundation and skeleton, it's usually cheaper than custom made.
If you are a business with an annual gross income of less than $150,000 then this is probably the best solution for you. Of course, if you have designs on being larger, growing to compete nationally and internationally, then this won't work for very long.
Our discussion on website development has brought us to the last on our list: The custom made "Enterprise Class" website. These are, as you might assume, expensive to build. They take top designers sometimes millions of dollars to develop robust, integrated e-commerce solutions. You likely already have used one, if you like Amazon or Zappos or host of other multi-million dollar/year consumer shops. Or, if you've used a service like Priceline, Hertz, or happened to look for a new car over at Ford.
The Enterprise Class of website is a site designed from the first pixel to the last PCI Compliant bit of code for a single unifying purpose: To serve an organization in conducting their business and increasing sales. They are investments as important to the company as new machinery, research and development, and hiring and retaining the right talent. Often, these types of websites will consume entire development firms for years. Or as often is the case currently will hire entire departments and produce the online experience.
This can cost a firm millions of dollars to build--either by outsourcing or in-sourcing.
To do a large Enterprise Class website you'll need plenty of funds and patience. It'll take highly skilled and high demand talent to pull it off. That means, it won't be cheap to get that competitive advantage. Making the website have an acceptable ROI (Return On Investment) means putting a lot of development through the disciplines of psychology, consumer behavior, economics, marketing and computer sciences. We're usually talking advanced degrees, technologies and fresh-from-the-lab software.
Because of all that is put into it, an Enterprise Class website won't change that fast. The technologies change only when the company can ensure a competent and consistent user experience. So, that sometimes mean dancing on the knife's edge trying to keep current and relevant while trying to get a better ROI out of your last capital expenditure.
You are also taking a chance on your idea. Sometimes doing something that has never been done before means taking the risk that you will have to change what that is.
As with anything that is one of a kind, it is special. Getting something no one else has gives you a measurable competitive advantage. Any way that you can differentiate or substantiate yourself online you should.
And, since it is unique it is built to your specification. That means the time, money and effort needed to sustain a long and sometimes expensive endeavor. To get exactly what you want and done exactly the way you want it, it means paying for skilled labor and the time it takes. Since it is built to your specifications: A proper Enterprise Class website can integrate with your inventory, marketing initiatives, data harvesting software and can greatly increase your revenue.
It is also most likely to be a leader technologically. This will add to your intellectual property rights, and can be something you can license down the road. Which is always a good thing!
You retain the highest percentage of profit. You don't have to pay vendors' fees since you did it yourself. Your enterprise class web design means that you aren't beholding to plugins and components that may (or may not) be supported tomorrow. The only real considerations to make with an enterprise class website are the credit card percentages. Which, in such rarefied air is not such a bad problem to have!
In the end it all depends. It depends on what your needs are. It depends on what your budget is. I hope that our guide gives you a frame of reference. Of course, prices change and are widely varied. This blog represents what we think in our best opinion is what a site of the corresponding magnitude would cost to build...or at least what it cost when we published it.
There are ALWAYS exceptions. Tucknologies recommends that you pick a site to suit you and make it your own!
Securing your website is another important consideration. One of the last things you want is sensitive information being taken from you or your users. Things like passwords to messaging, account information wherever there is money involved, and pictures and content intended for limited audiences are things you have to secure. There are a lot of people who may want to compromise your security for access to these things.
Once you have decided to make your new website, you have to decide where to host this beast. It’s not just a consideration of “well I should go with the place I bought the domain” though there is nothing wrong with that. It all depends on what you want out of your service. That’s where server considerations come in.
You need to think about costs, and growth. These are the two biggest variables that you have to realize when you plan what type of service you should use. Costs can range greatly from one provider to the other. Some of them are enterprise class, like Liquid Web, Google or Amazon Web Services. Some, are just fly-by-night operators...or big companies that really don't care for anything more than your wallet.
Anyone can do it. Search for the term “website hosting services” and you’ll get over 112,000,000 results. That’s because there is little to no regulation for hosting or ISPs in the United States. One of the few remaining “wild west” parts of the WWW. Your local coffee shop can be a host. You could, if you had the hardware.
But would you want to trust your business to that?
Web Design is one of the most pertinent decisions that anyone faces. What do you want from a website? In your “mind’s eye,” what do you see? Knowing what you want from a website is a good start.
Knowing what you don’t want is more important. Because trying to get what you want only gets you half of the picture, if you aren’t familiar with the more technical side of building a website. (That’s right…code)
(Say it with me…UGH!)
The problem is that most people forget that there really are two camps to conquer when presenting business communication online. The first constituency you have to please is the human that is trying to get information. The second is the communications technologies that enable that communication.
Without careful consideration to both sides, they will be are in conflict unless they both complement each other. This is what is commonly referred to as “User Experience” (UX) and the more fluid you make the interactivity the better the experience. It leads to the “wow” or “cool” factor.
These sites, posted yearly by Vincent Flanders give an example of what can happen when what is desired is not communicated:
01A flash intro or picture gallery that is not optimized
02No text or information to tell the viewer AND the computer what is relevant about this site
03No way to connect through other media
04Very little content
05Nothing of value for the end user
06Not asking anything of the user
#Tucknowledge. To make your mind up as to what you do and do not want...spend some time looking into other websites. There are design ideas, or functionality that you might want on your website. While no designer can outright steal something...there is nothing wrong with using an example to show a website designer kind of what you want.
This website unfortunately doesn't comply with many of the "what not to do" list of web design:
This chamber of commerce website is a good example of what not to do. It's unfortunate, as I grew up here and the area is very nice and a great place to raise a family. But does the website portray that? There are a lot of things organizations need to do *yesterday* in order to step into the 21st Century.