Analysis: Review the Data

by Jeff Carver on April 13, 2016.

One of the key steps we take in the discovery phase of our analysis is to review and evaluate any piece of data we can get our hands on. Usually the data supports our already festering viewpoints on the prospect or client issue, but sometimes it guides us toward a more refined viewpoint of an issue.

Design data and content data are big components of our discovery phase. How the content is displayed—whether it is a more modern aesthetic, responsive to smaller and larger device screens, supportive of the brand’s key messaging—and what makes up the actual content are typically major factors in uncovering the issue.

Data will also tell us if functionality is operating properly. Items such as site search, shopping carts and product features must act quickly and efficiently to keep users engaged. Functionality failures frustrate users and give them reason to try a different brand.

Be wary of a web company that sells you online products or services without explaining why you need them. A client should be able to ask questions around real data and facts and the web solutions provider should be able to intelligently explain the recommended solution.

Analysis: Uncover the Real Issue

by Jeff Carver on April 4, 2016.

The objective of initially conducting an analysis for a prospective or a client is to discover the actual issue the web will resolve. Skipping this planning step and taking a tactical approach by selling a prospect or client just a website, some SEO services or a new app fails to address the central issue.

Robojuice provides a more refined experience for its clients through a partnership and relationship model. We start our client relationships with consolation through a discovery and analysis process. It’s like going to the doctor for health needs or to the mechanic for car issues. You tell the expert the issues you are experiencing, and they use their proficient knowledge to provide a recommended path of next steps. This is also true online. Talk with a team that listens for the real issues and provides a personalized, well-thought-out plan that addresses those specific issues.

Tools: Hosting

by Kevin Dees on March 28, 2016.

Reliability, speed and security. These are three basic buckets your business should think about when it comes to hosting.

Reliability

Reliability is about being available and reduced server down time. Most commonly down time occurs during a code or server update. For most being available 100% vs 98% of the time is not critical. But there are strategies to prevent this down time if you need it.

To prevent code update down time developers should use a “zero down time deployment” strategy. By using best practices code can be updated without experiencing down time.

When a server needs to be rebooted and updated you will want a “high availability” server configuration. When one server goes offline another server online to take its place in a highly available setup.

Speed

Speed is emotional. Its about an interface feeling smooth and natural. Its also about having the right computing resources at the right time. Seasonal business will need more resources in peak seasons and a strategy to handle the demand. Virtual severs are scalable and can be deployed quickly making them the prefect fit for seasonal industries.

A Content Delivery Network will boost the speed of an ecommerce site by taking the load of assets off the server and distributing them to locations physically closer to customers. File compressions and minification help with downloadable resources as well.

Security

Security is a big deal. Sites get hacked. Database injection attacks steal and corrupt information. Viruses threaten everyone. Denial of services attacks look to take you offline. Brute force attacks scan for usernames and passwords.

Hackers behind security attacks are not people who sit at a computer and click around your site looking for holes. Hackers write complex programs to scan hundred of sites in seconds looking for weaknesses.

To deal with these security threats there are three things you can do to be ready.

First, have a solid backup and recovery plan. Second, preform penetration testing to check your architecture for venerabilities. Finally, have a solid security team to help you when you need them most.

Tools: Project Management

by Kevin Dees on March 21, 2016.

Sophisticated projects demand a sophisticated management approach. Keeping commitments and delivering projects on time requires team transparency and concrete deadlines. Unfortunately, meeting deadlines within a group is not always easy. It requires a tracking process that allows goals to be broken down into tasks. And transparency calls for open, visible conversations.

This is why we use Basecamp as our project management software. Basecamp makes it easy to create and assign tasks, discuss ideas, keep up with milestones and measure the progress of a project.

Robojuice relies on Basecamp to keep every team conversation, task and deadline in one place. This visible documentation protects against communication breakdowns, and no one is left asking what happened or when a task is due.

As we constantly advance our processes, Basecamp has become a powerful tool for delivering a refined experience.

Tools: File Sharing

by Kevin Dees on March 14, 2016.

File sharing—we do it all the time, which is why it should be easy. Whether it’s Wireframes, designs, contracts, code or process documents, locating fundamental information should be straight forward.

That’s why Robojuice utilizes a program called Dropbox. Dropbox takes cloud file sharing and makes it as simple as adding folders on your desktop. Because Dropbox stores files in the cloud, our clients can access their files from any device, any time, anywhere.

Code is another matter. For programing, we use GitHub to share and collaborate with clients and developers. GitHub has the ability to version, secure and keep everyone up-to-date on the project programing process.

Achieving organization through programs like Dropbox and GitHub is not only crucial to on-time delivery, but it also provides peace of mind for Robojuice and a refined experience for our clients. We know it’s important to take time for the simple things, like how we share files.

Relationship: Communication

by Jeff Carver on September 3, 2015.

Webster’s dictionary defines communication as “the process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.”

This definition offers three keys for making communication relational.

  • Process. Communication is a process. It is not a single phone call or text or email. Good communication requires follow-through, which means a response to that email or clarification when a response is misunderstood. When communication follows a process, communication is more clear.
  • Exchange. An exchange is not one-sided. It involves sending and receiving messages. While listening is commonly overlooked in everyday communication, it is crucial to the exchange.
  • Common system. A breakdown in communication occurs when individuals are not using a common language system. Jargon and slang can also cause this breakdown. Seek to use common language and speak in terms that others understand.

 

Relationship: Client Time

by Jeff Carver on August 27, 2015.

We love our clients. We enjoy meeting them and getting their feedback. But whether we’re communicating over emails, Basecamp® project updates, phone calls, texts, formal meetings or casual lunch conversations—they are a big part of how we do business.

Our clients are each unique, and we treat them that way. Different client relationships require different time commitments, and it’s our job to know what our clients need. Some clients are quick to email or call and avoid in-person meetings. Others keep emails to a minimum and are happy to meet with us every other month. Discerning how much time a client needs shows respect for the relationship we have with them.

But regardless of preference, we believe there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. That’s why we make it a point to meet with each of our clients several times a year. In-person meetings are essential for getting to know our clients personally. We want to know about more than their websites; we want to know what’s going on in their busy lives because we genuinely care. This is part of our refined experience approach to web partnerships.

Relationship: People are the Business

by Jeff Carver on August 12, 2015.

In the words of innovative author Simon Sinek, “If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.”

This statement from Simon’s talk resonates with Robojuice because it describes our approach to business. People and relationships should be the center of business, and a company’s ability to make that happen directly impacts not only its clients’ success, but also its own.

Every relationship is important. Interactions with clients, bosses and fellow employees all affect the work environment for good or bad. Those who treat one another respectfully create a healthy work environment, which allows the team to produce better results for the business’s clients.

Robojuice originated with the mission to do what’s right no matter what. We have built trust with our clients by being transparent with them and each other about the reality of any situation. We strive to be what we claim to be and do what we promise to do. We are invested in the people with whom partner, and we endeavor to put their personal needs before any project.

It was only after we began pursuing this mission that we realized others were of the same mindset. Our clients and partners shared these same values and beliefs. That commonality has strengthened our relationships with them produced better results as it created harmony within the team.

Having clarity in our mission has helped us avoid unhealthy partnerships and client relationships—relationships in which individuals value personal gain more than the success of the team. We have been able to filter out those prospects before putting a business relationship at risk.

Process: Features and Functionality Document

by Jeff Carver on August 6, 2015.

One of Robojuice’s major learning curves happened in the early stages of the business when our team encountered projects in which our perception of necessary features and functionality differed from the client’s. When a client’s understanding of a particular feature’s capabilities and its response in the digital realm differs from what our team actually delivers, that is not a refined experience. So to create a refined experience, we adjusted our process.

Now we provide our clients with a Features and Functionality document immediately after the design phase is complete. This document outlines the function of each page, section, icon, slider, box and roll-over. Sometimes we even specify what these features do not do. We then discuss that document in person with the client who either approves it or requests a revision. Once the document has been approved, we move into the development phase of the project.

It’s a bit tedious at times, but it’s worth the effort. Our clients like to see their expectations clearly described on paper so we can deliver exactly what they want. No surprises, no misunderstandings. Just a contented clients.

The longer we’re in this business, the easier it is to identify opportunities for improvement. Each project and relationship presents an opportunity for us to refine our process and our clients’ experience.

Process: Onboarding

by Jeff Carver on July 28, 2015.

Once a prospect and Robojuice have determined it is a fit to work together, the Robojuice process is engaged. We go over three primary processes with the client.

1. The Robojuice Process

The objective is for the client to feel the project is being properly managed to client expectations, the budget and the schedule. The client is directed on when to be involved and when they do not have to think about the initiative. The client has key sign offs within the five milestones:

  1. Planning
  2. Concept and design
  3. Coding and programming
  4. Testing
  5. Launch

2. Working with Robojuice

There needs to be a development environment that mirrors the live environment. Coding the design and programming the features and functionality, client reviews and client approvals are made on development. Once everything is approved and migrated to the live environment, the new system needs to be managed and maintained. This is discussed with the client and determined early in the process so once it is live that plan of action is implemented and there is no scrambling to figure it all out last minute. Robojuice will either be managing the ongoing relationship or will help transition it to another manager.

3. Technical Specifications

When we are ready to launch and cannot do so because of recently uncovered technical issues it is a hassle for both parties. Hosting, environment, browsers supported, hardware being utilized and any needed access levels are acquired early in the process. No one wants to be excited and ready to launch and have delays due to a  lack of planning in this area.

All of these processes are set up to make sure the client has a more refined experience with digital initiatives and partnerships with Robojuice.

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