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Overwhelmed by Software Development

Software Development – Where to Start?

One would not generally associate custom software development and healthcare but stay with me here …

Having previously spent 15 years in healthcare it’s been my observation that many people don’t know what to expect before (or after) they, or a loved one, experience a health event.  They may become overwhelmed, frustrated, and even apathetic when a health professional talks to them regarding a change.  Apprehension and/or decision paralysis seems to set in and they put off taking that next step even though it might really improve their quality of life.

It is easy to be in that same boat when it comes to understanding technology and moving forward with a custom software or website that could significantly improve your business.

It is a goal of the fantastic Half Geek Half Human folks at Atiba to help demystify technology and be customer-centric.  If you are thinking about custom software development or design, but are inundated by the information out there … hopefully this article can offer a new perspective.

An Illustration

Using a general healthcare example, let’s say a person is thinking about getting a knee replacement.  This process is not as simple as walking into the hospital and requesting the surgery, is it?  <Insert Laugh Here>

There is the progression of doctor visits beforehand – likely the general practitioner examines and recommends some exercises and maybe an anti-inflammatory medication.  Then, typically, comes a prescription for physical therapy or a stronger pain medication.  Eventually there is a referral for surgical intervention.  A couple orthopedist visits are likely next to determine candidacy for a knee replacement and what type of procedure needs to be performed, etc.  Consulting with insurance to see what will be covered and which providers are in network is also part of the process.

As the journey continues, the surgery is scheduled (hopefully there has been a case manager involved by this point).  A list of best practice recommendations is often provided for maximum results.  Some of these directions may include a list of exercises, medication instructions, pre-registration information, pre-op bathing instructions, etc.  Decisions such as transportation to and from the surgery, time off work, and aftercare plans for therapy must also be made.  The surgery hasn’t even happened yet and there has been so much “front-end” preparation already.

It’s the day of surgery and the “back-end” work begins…no one can really see what’s going on inside the knee except the surgeon & the team doing the operation.  The possible risks were explained and signed off on beforehand; such as the risk of undergoing anesthesia, risk of infection, risk of defective replacement appliances, etc.  Then the procedure begins and there may or may not be complications along the way.  For example, what may have been planned to take 2 hours, maybe takes 5 hours because of an unforeseen complication.

After the operation, the incision is inspected, ice packs applied, and precautions are put in place to minimize risk of infection.  Immediate and continuous physical therapy must ensue to get adequate range of motion back in the knee.  Perpetual monitoring and modifications to treatment are essential, including: adequate nutrition, constant quality assurance, medication adjustments, reapplying bandages, etc.  All these little tweaks can be time consuming and seem exhausting, yet, are vital to the overall success of the operation.

How again does this tie into software development?

Most custom software development requires a lot of planning and follow-up that many people may not incorporate into the initial cost or time expectations.  As with medical procedures, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process and frustrated with unexpected complications.  Good communication, like in healthcare, is essential on both sides of the equation.  Expectations need to be made clear, however, maintaining flexibility is also important.

Like a Case Manager in healthcare, a Project Manager can be helpful in navigating the unknown territory.  Project managers can aid in establishing the timeline, being a single point of contact, and keeping the project on target.  However, just like with the above-mentioned surgery, unforeseen complications or “bugs” can surface and delay even the best planned project.

The Process

Think back to the knee replacement example given above…custom software development/web design can loosely be broken down into two parts … front-end and back-end development.

Front-end work usually includes design content and coding skills that affect what the user sees and interacts with on a web application, it also includes developing what is known as UX/UI experience.  It is the work done that makes the interactable part of software development user friendly & efficient.  User interface know how is combined with languages like CSS, HTML, JavaScript, XML based languages, Java, Objective C and iQuery to name a few. Deciding a CMS (Content Management System) platform (examples: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, or Magento to note a few) can be important if the data entered on the website needs to be pulled to a database.  Other programs like Photoshop and Adobe can also be utilized as well for front end work and design.

Back-end development involves making sure the web application can communicate with the server so that changes can be made in the desired database.  This involves making sure the code on the front end is supported and using additional programming languages (like PHP, Ruby, Python, ASP.net, C#, ColdFusion, Haskell, etc) on the back-end so information can be relayed to the servers and Database Management Systems.  Then when someone clicks on the website or is using the custom software program the information can be generated immediately when summoned for the user.

This construction takes time.

Continuous quality assurance and testing must be performed, either by the customer or the provider, but it must happen.  And just as the incision needs constant monitoring & cleaning so no infection sets in… the code will need frequent testing as “bugs” pop up and patching needs to occur for the program to be continually functional.  It will be an ongoing process that needs to occur over the lifespan of the code… (Which is why apps, programs and operating systems need ongoing updates).

Software Development … The Take Away

Yes, there are a lot of moving parts to technology, just as in healthcare.  As patients must trust doctors, hospitals, and healthcare teams, be assured that a project manager/software development team use the best tools to create websites and custom software based on individual situations.

It can seem overwhelming, but just remember how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

Fortunately, the great folks here at Atiba can help get you started on the journey and walk you through every step of the way when it comes to custom software development and web applications!

Don’t put off improving and growing your business any longer!  Give us a call (615) 353-1921 or send an email to info@atiba.com

 

 

 

Drupal Basics from Nashville’s Drupal Developers

A quick Drupal overview from Nashville’s Drupal Developers…

Drupal is free software, written in PHP, which has a wide and active community of users and developers who collaborate together in its improvement and expansion. Drupal is designed to be the perfect content management solution for non-technical users who need both simplicity and flexibility. This is achieved with a modular approach to site construction.  Unlike other CMSs, Drupal is not a prefabricated toy truck, but rather a collection of wheels, windshields, axles, frames, etc., that a toy manufacturer can easily assemble.

Drupal can be described both as a content management system and as a content management environment: a unified system that strives to have the advantages of both, without its shortcomings. In this way, if someone is looking to create a news site, an online store, social networks, blog, wiki, or something totally different, it is all about finding the right combination of modules.

This extension is possible because it is a modular system with a very consistent architecture, which allows modules created by any developer to interact with the core of the system and modules created by other members of the community. With Drupal, it is possible to implement a wide variety of websites: a personal or professional blog, a corporate portal, a virtual store, a social network or virtual community, etc … Directed to those people, with technical training or not, who want to start in the creation of Web Portals with Drupal. It is also very useful for companies or professionals who want to create their professional or personal web portal without external dependencies.

Drupal is an open source program, with GNU / GPL license, written in PHP, developed and maintained by an active community of users. It stands out for the quality of its code and the pages generated the respect of web standards, and a special emphasis on the usability and consistency of the entire system. Online help: A robust online help system and help pages for the ‘core’ modules, both for users and administrators.

Open source: The Drupal source code is freely available under the terms of the GNU / GPL license. Unlike other systems of ‘blogs’ or proprietary content management, it is possible to extend or adapt Drupal according to the needs.

Modules: The Drupal community has contributed many modules that provide features such as ‘category page’, private messages, bookmarks, etc.

Personalization: A robust personalization environment is implemented in the core of Drupal. Both the content and the presentation can be individualized according to the preferences defined by the user.

Friendly URLs: Drupal uses the mod_rewrite of Apache to create URLs that are manageable by users and search engines

WordPress Vs. Drupal: What’s The Right Choice For Your Business?

overhead of docked boats with some empty slips

Drupal and WordPress are both excellent Content Management Systems (CMS) to use as a foundation for a business website. But there are differences. If you are looking to build a new business website, you might be wondering which platform is right for you.

man looking at his phoneWordPress started as a blogging platform and is a great choice for most basic websites that need robust content and navigation, need to look good, and might need to be updated by you or a non-technical team member at your company quickly and easily. Good examples are tourist attractions, law firms, non-profits, event websites like music festivals or a beauty and fashion website. Those are just a few examples. Most basic businesses that need a website to get information out about what you do should consider using WordPress.

Drupal is the platform to use if your website is going to do a lot of heavy lifting. If your site is going to be very complex with a lot of content, like an eCommerce marketplace with a million items (SKUs), Drupal is probably the choice for you.

Similarly, having individual users on your site can be a very complex management task, especially if the user base is expected to be large and will need to be sorted by many different data points for different functions.

A lot of enterprise projects use Drupal, like government and school websites, because you can program several different sites (for different departments) with different databases, but still use the same Drupal base code.

This is a simple explanation to get you started thinking in the right direction. If you’re unsure, talk to a company like Atiba, with experts on staff in both WordPress and Drupal, to find out the best way to build a site for your business.

It’s Getting Hot in Here… 3 Ways Heatmapping Can Improve Your Site Content

If you’ve never used a heatmapping tool (like the ones offered at CrazyEgg or HotJar) you’ll probably be surprised, and maybe a little overwhelmed, at the amount of insight you can glean. Being able to see and digest user behavior, whether it be how far the average user scrolls or where most clicks are happening on a particular page, can be invaluable in understanding the effectiveness of content placement or calls-to-action.

These tools typically display data in a few ways. Areas of a web page that get more activity, whether it be through user scrolling patterns or actual click behavior, will be colored to help visualize the activity. Orange and Red are typically used for areas with more activity. Blue and Black are for “colder” areas that garner less attention from users.

We typically utilize heatmapping tools before a client’s website redesign, mostly because they can offer insights that may be harder to detect from Google Analytics. But there are also other reasons why this can be an incredibly effective tool.

Here are a few ways that these tools can offer actionable insights of your web page:

Deciding on most effective placement of key calls-to-action

Seeing the scrolling patterns and click behavior of users is usually pretty eye-opening. It turns out, that call-to-action below the fold that you thought was beautifully written and incredibly intuitive? 90% of your users never see it. Understanding the placement of calls-to-action is just as important as how they are written and/or designed.

Ensuring the best possible user experience

We often find that our clients are surprised when they see where clicks are happening on their site. Things like images, addresses, and phone numbers are usually assumed by the average user to be clickable. Using imagery and higher value content pieces as gateways into a conversion funnel can help nudge your user toward the end goal you’ve setup. Seeing content pieces of a page (such as images or text) that are being frustratingly clicked on over and over that don’t link anywhere usually has the effective of jump-starting an audit of all page content.

Understanding the highest value referral sources

Though this information is available through Google Analytics, it can sometimes also be helpful to see the exact actions taken by users from a particular referral source. For instance, being able to visually map the users coming from Google as opposed to Bing, or your preferred paid marketing channel over organic traffic, as it relates to activities or clicks on a call-to-action can sometimes offer insights that are a little harder to deduce from looking at hard numbers or graphs in Google Analytics.

In summary, any tool that helps us gain actionable insight into user behavior for our clients is incredibly valuable to us. We’ve found that heatmapping tools can be an incredibly helpful resource in helping understand user behavior and assist our clients in making the necessary changes to raise conversions or meet marketing goals.

From New York to Nashville: Atiba Web Designer Jessica Hill

By Jessica Hill – Atiba Senior Web Designer

As a gal who was born and raised in NY, public transportation has always just been a part of my life. I grew up just outside of Manhattan, and I can’t tell you the number of times my mother would tell my sister and I to just take the train if we wanted to get somewhere. I have learned to read just about any bus or subway schedule you can imagine. I know which subway lines are the slowest. I know what a pain it is when you get on a express train or bus by accident and it flies right past your stop. I know what it’s like to fall asleep on the subway heading to Queens, but waking up at the Coney Island stop.

I have also found that many people I know will at some point ask me why I always carry a tote bag with me. My answer is “because I take the bus”. I often carry an umbrella, extra socks, some snacks, bandaids, things like that because I have learned it’s better to be prepared. I also use the tote bags if I have to stop at the grocery store or run errands on the way home. If you have ever had to carry a bunch of heavy plastic bags for more than a block, you will understand why tote bags are so awesome.

Because I had such easy access to public transportation , I never really drove much. I went to college in Philly where I would usually ride my bike, walk, take the train and then take the express bus back to the Port Authority in NY when I would go home to visit. So, again, I just never needed to drive.

When I came to Nashville, I noticed that public transportation was not as widely embraced. And I understand that. It can be a pain. You really have to plan your schedule around it. You have to be willing to wait. Sometimes it is horribly hot outside, other times you are stuck in the rain or freezing cold. But you learn to adapt. It’s actually a skill that has served me well.

But there are a lot of benefits to taking public transportation, or even using apps like Lyft or Uber. The biggest benefit for me is that is helps me actually meet people. I am very lucky to have a career doing what I love, which is web and graphic design. However, this also means I am happy to sit with my headphones in and work. I can easily go days without talking to anyone other than my dog. Public transportation helps me actually interact with people. And I have met some really great folks. Plus, there is a lot of diversity on the bus and it’s great to meet people from other neighborhoods nearby that you may never usually visit.

The other thing I love is that it gives me time to just let my mind wander. It’s nice to sometimes stare out the window, or just take a break from all the other things that are in my head. Sometimes it’s fun just to sit and listen to the many conversations happening. Most of the time, there are some pretty amusing ones going on!

I highly suggest if you have never taken public transportation before that you give it a try. It’s always good to see things from a different perspective. Plus, you won’t have to worry about parking, and who wouldn’t like a break from that?

When Family and Business Mix Well Together

I’m fortunate enough to have a great family. I was recently telling my younger sister – who happens to be attending Michigan State University – that even though I’ve been in the business world for about 15 years, I’m constantly meeting new people and learning new things. It’s part of what keeps a successful business culture moving in the right direction.

New Mobile App Developers

As Nashville’s top full-service technology consulting firm, we are proud to recruit the best and brightest in the industry to lead our network infrastructure, custom software development, web design, digital marketing and mobile app development projects.

JJ Rosen, President and CEO, has kept the team focused on the core philosophy of Atiba, “Our mission is to deliver the most customer-centric technology solutions in the marketplace. To effectively execute our mission and connect with our clients we’ve continued to hire the best programmers, engineers, designers and project managers in the business.”

Mobile App Developer PHP C+

Justin Gregory – Software Developer

Justin Gregory, PhD, is a new addition to our software development team.  Since joining Atiba, Justin has developed and deployed the GoVoteTN mobile app on behalf of the Tennessee Secretary of State – a mobile app for the people, by the people. With years of software development experience using C/C++, OOD, Unix, Erlang, Haskell, Labview, Python and more, Justin exemplifies the intelligence and self-motivated nature of Atiba team members. Justin earned a PhD in Interdisciplinary Materials Science from Vanderbilt University and a B.S. in Physics and minor in Computer Science from Lipscomb University.

Mobile App AGILE Project Manager

Mike Presley – Project Manager

Mike Presley, Atiba’s newest Project Manager, is passionate about mobility, apps, interactive design, and improving the overall look and effectiveness of the web.  Mike is dedicated to creating the next generation of web and mobile apps through better user experiences. Mike currently leads projects for  Dollar General, Worship Together, Patient Focus, Hamilton-Ryker and The Pasta Shoppe, to name a few. Mike received a Bachelor of Science from Vanderbilt University.

Mobile App Develpment PHP C+

Bryan Bodkin – Software Developer

Bryan Bodkin is an innovative computer engineer with a unique blend of software programming, project management, and hardware design skills. He recently completed work on www.WorshipTogether.com and Pan Oston projects.  Bryan holds a Masters in Computer Engineering from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) and a Bachelor of Science Dual Major in Computer Science and Electro Mechanical Engineering Technology from MTSU.

JJ Rosen, Founder and Chairman says, “I am excited for the next decade with our new team members to support the ongoing growth and positioning of Atiba.  We will continue to keep our offerings innovative by hiring team members that are “half geek, half human”, enabling Atiba to demystify technology for clients and help their businesses thrive.”

Introducing: Atiba Version 3.0

Atiba Nashville Technology and Web Design

We are enjoying a new year, new offices, and a fresh, new look for Atiba.  Our inspiration?  The principal of Kaizen.  Kaizen is the philosophy that you must have continuous improvement and break the mold every once in a while to make a transformative improvement.  That is exactly what we have done with the Atiba brand in the past 6 months.  Under that guiding principle, the Atiba Team is proud to introduce Atiba Version 3.0.

This latest ‘revolution’ was inspired by the incredible range of needs and innovative thinking of our clients and their customers.  Just as our hometown, Nashville, has transformed, so too have our client’s needs and service offerings.  We have grown along with them – expanding our services by supporting local tech startups and hiring the best programmers, designers and digital marketers in the area.

This re-brand maintains the essence of Atiba which remains our core “half geek and half human” composition while also showcasing the large range of services we now offer.  We have some team members that are highly technical (the best in the business, in fact) and some that understand business and excel at client communications.  While our developers create best-in-class software and network architecture, our client relations and project management teams understand business challenges and can help demystify the available technology and provide practical and successful solutions.

New features on the Atiba.com website:

1) We present more client sample work and service overviews to allow you to get a feel for our work and the range of businesses we serve.

2) Buzz Atiba – our direct line to the 24/7 Help Desk and Emergency Support – is now just a click away for clients. As an IT Managed Services client or Website client, you can ‘buzz’ us any time to request changes or if you need help.

3) Just click here if you need help with a service or provide us your email (on the bottom of the home page) if you’d like to sign up for our newsletter.

4) Join the team!  There is now a way to contact us about job opportunities and become a part of the Atiba Team.

5) And, if you’re interested in seeing what the Atiba Team can do for you, just click the orange “Request a Proposal” button at the top of the home page and complete the quick form.  Our client services team will get back to you right away.

We hope you enjoy the new site and find it helpful.  We understand all this ‘techie stuff’ can be intimidating, so we are doing our best to show each of our services in both a technical and a human light.

Nashville Web Designers Can Learn To Code, Too

Amy Rochelle has been a Nashville web designer for the past ten years.

She is truly unique in that she knows  how to do web design and also how to program equally well.

What is even more unique is that she is one of the best at both skills.

A Day In The Life Of A Nashville Programmer

We decided it may be kind of fun for our web developing and programming group to keep a journal for a day.   We figured this would be a good excersize for our crew to help us know where to fine tune how we spend our time as well as just be interesting to share with one another.   Welcome to our Nashville Programmer journal…