Friday, February 28, 2014

How Mobile Payments Benefit Small Businesses

Not many years ago, small businesses had little choice but to depend on cash only transactions, limiting opportunities for profit or making steady cash flow a rarity. Mobile businesses like food trucks, lawn services, and pop-up market booths, for instance, could sell only to customers with cash in hand, while caterers and contractors invoiced for jobs and covered expenses while waiting 30 to 90 days for payment. Many such businesses depend on credit lines to cover the gaps.

The launch of mobile payment processing changed everything

Businesses can collect on the spot to cover payroll and expenses, freeing them from the uncertainty of low cash flow periods while reducing operating costs and benefiting customers at the same time.
  • By the end of 2013, International Data Corporation (IDC) projects that 918.6 million cell phones will be in use, a 27% increase from the previous year.
  • About half of all cell phones in the U.S. are smartphones.
  • In five years, experts say that number is on track to grow to 1.7 billion smartphone users worldwide. The mobile payment market is huge, and growing.
The Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group estimates that 50% of smartphone users will abandon credit cards and other noncash methods of payment in favor of mobile payments within five years. Since the noncash market, including credit and debit cards, ACH transfers, mobile payments, and checks, racked up more than $73 trillion in 2012, the implications are clear.

Reducing the risks

Cash is a significant risk for any small business. Since it can’t be tracked, employee theft is always a potential issue. The National Retail Security Survey estimates the cost of employee theft at $34.5 billion in 2011, a figure that’s gone down in the last couple of years.  Unfortunately, about 75% of employee theft goes undetected.
Theft may take place in many different forms, from making a sandwich before leaving for the night to pocketing cash that should go into the register or cash box. It’s difficult to monitor everything, and impossible to  prevent all theft. It’s important to understand that opportunity is a common motivating factor. Reducing cash transactions also reduces an easy, untraceable, and tempting opportunity.
Employee theft is not the only risk, however. At the end of the day, small business owners, especially those with mobile businesses, take a personal risk while carrying the day’s receipts home, to the bank, or back to the office.
Customers, too, are more leery of carrying cash. They face the same risk of theft or loss, and can be inconvenienced by simply running out before the fun is over. Mobile credit card processing offers an efficient way to pay and get paid with equal benefits to both customers and vendors.
For businesses that depend on payment for large deliveries, like catering service, the ability to accept payments on-the-spot is far superior to the wait that invariably accompanies sending out invoices for goods already delivered. Prompt payment impacts the entire supply chain, from seafood delivery to table rentals. The faster the caterer collects, the better he’s able to meet his own obligations. In addition, with the expectation of immediate payment, the customer is less likely to default and leave the business owner on the hook for immediate expenses and prolonged collection efforts. The result: higher profits with less effort and minimized risk.
A primary consumer concern with mobile payments is security. Credit card theft and identity security continue to plague merchants, card issuers and consumers. Mobile payment processing relies on an encrypted and secured transactions to ensure centralized control and secure reporting. The best systems send encrypted credit card data directly to a point-of-sale (POS) system, without third-party processing.
It’s important to note that credit card terminals use the same technology as mobile payment processing. Every time a customer whips out a card for a transaction, whether buying tools at a retail giant like Sears or a gourmet goat cheese burger at the local food truck, the technology used to process the transaction is essentially the same, and customers face the same level of risk. No method of payment, including cash, can be 100% secure. Mobile payments are as secure as any other.

How mobile payments cut costs

Accepting mobile payments represents a significant savings in cost over today’s complicated cash register systems. Mobile credit card processing eliminates the need for pricey specialized equipment or custom software, making transactions accessible from any smartphone, with similar easy-use technology most customers and employees are already comfortable with. Shortening the learning curve saves time and money at every step, training, implementation, and processing.
More savings opportunity comes with smoother cash flow. Reduction in wait times means the up and down cash situation where a business is either flush from freshly paid invoices or struggling to stay afloat while waiting for overdue payments, commonly known as “lumpy cash flow,” is gone. To cover expenses prior to instant payment processing, many small businesses turned to credit, adding the expense of interest to their bottom line. Meeting payroll and supplier expenses with a loan or credit card is practical in the short run, but can quickly eat profits.
In 2012, Bank of America surveyed small business owners and found 45% of 1,000 respondents cited “not getting paid on time by clients and customers” as the biggest challenge to managing their cash flow. Other factors were low profits or lack of business, and 9% said they had trouble getting invoices out in a timely manner. Doing the paperwork, sending the bills, and following up are time consuming, costly, and potentially fraught with errors. Mobile payment processing client, Intuit Payments, solves a number of issues by integrating seamlessly with Quickbooks™ to simplify and improve accuracy for invoicing, bookkeeping, and billing.
It’s easy to speculate that the growing adoption of mobile technology might explain why 71% of small business owners say they have enough capital available to run their businesses. Robb Hilson, head of Bank of America small-business segment, said, “The bottom line: with improved cash flow, many small businesses don’t need to borrow to make payroll.”

Improving the customer experience

Business owners aren’t the only party to benefit from the boom in mobile payment processing. For customers, mobile payments offer a range of convenience. It’s is generally faster and more efficient than a traditional cash register transaction, and most payment processing software emails a receipt, which makes keeping track of purchases and spending easier.
An email trail of electronic receipts will make it easier at tax time for customers who write off expenses and for supporting businesses with their own bookkeeping needs. The IRS accepts electronic documentation for expenses as long as pertinent details such as venue name, date, and amount are included. Customers can happily toss the shoebox full of paper receipts and open a file folder full of electronic receipts instead.

Boosting sales with mobile payments

In 2012, a quintessential mobile business got an unexpected boost in sales numbers. In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, John Graves, chief financial officer for the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio reports that Girl Scout cookie sales soared after he cut a deal with a mobile payment company to put credit card processing in the hands of little girls armed with Thin Mints. Customers loved it, and sales jumped by 13% for 150 participating troops, while troops that did not adopt the technology did not see any improvement in sales. In 2013, 536 troops participated in the card reader program. Graves reports that participating troops had the largest restocking orders in history.

Inventory tracking and consumer trends

Mobile payments allow businesses to automate inventory tracking and stay on top of consumer trends, making customer preferences more transparent. By collecting mobile payment data, small businesses have access to the kind of big data formerly available only to big businesses with deep pockets. Restaurants, for example, can use the consumer trend data to figure out what products sell best at a certain time of day, on a specific day of the week, or what appeals more to customer appetites when the temperature falls or rises.
Prepared with detailed information about when and what customers are most likely to purchase, business owners can reduce waste and stock the right products at the right time. By addressing customer preferences, businesses of any size will see a rise in sales and an improvement in customer satisfaction.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Benefits Of Integrating iPad POS To Your Small Business

An iPad POS is a revolutionary Point-of-Sale system powered by iPad tablets. Prior to the advent of iPad POS, the POS systems used to be powered by large and complex terminals, computer software and applications. However, such systems came with a lot of limitations, particularly when it came to features, functionality and cost effectiveness.
An iPad POS can be considered as a major breakthrough in retail technology, as with the help of this a proprietor may now spend prolonged hours in his store stowing inventories, placing orders, and performing other tasks that are often done by the computer in a large establishment.
In fact, iPad POS is a great tool for both small business and large business entrepreneurs. While it proves to be a cost-effective solution for small business owners considering that they cannot afford big budget expenses on point-of-sale system; for large business owners, an iPad POS can be a great way to boost business and expand sales through integration of multiple points at affordable costs.

How it works

Basically, an iPad POS system is an application software that has been styled to operate on an iPad tablet – but is not able to order items automatically. Developers can design these programs to integrate seamlessly with the Apple and Windows operating systems. Similarly, additional software can be used to print out an order form, and the shopkeeper can use his computer to print out the form.
Moreover, iPad POS are also used by small business retailers to track sales and also monitor employee man-hours; besides availing reports about the stocks with the support of inventory system. Bar code scanning options are also available for those who want to identify the products without any hitches.
Step # 1: Add Items
You may add items by just tapping, searching by name, or using a barcode scanner. Adjust quantities and apply discounts seamlessly.
Step # 2: Choose a Payment type
Choose a secure payment type that suits you. You may choose payments by cash, swiping credit cards, or any of the ‘designated’ mobile payment options offered by the system.
Step # 3: Adding a gratuity
Preset gratuity buttons to boost tipping.
Step # 4: Transaction Complete
This is the final procedure in iPad POS where the customers sign right on your iPad, the receipt is either emailed or printed as a conventional receipt.

Features of iPad POS

  • One of the key features that make iPad POS indomitable is that the device is mobile and optimizes space.
  • Manager reports can be generated in seconds with just the push of a button.
  • Integrated staff time card systems help schedule hours and also generate payroll.
  • Running inventory checks is easier with the iPad POS inventory that is wise and self-managing.
  • The iPad POS is much less expensive to operate than the traditional POS.
  • No bulky terminals required facilitating affordability in pricing due to fewer hardware requirements. While a cash register and related equipment would have cost you $300 to $1000, a wireless Apple iPad will cost you $300 to $500.
  • Cloud-based solutions empower businesses to use their software without having to rely upon the Internet or third-party apps.
  • Customization options enable iPad POS to be modified to accommodate various different small business operations.

Benefits of iPad POS

Why is it Important for your Business

An iPad POS system is an asset for businesses, especially small business. Besides being highly affordable and cost effective, it is user-friendly, has good synchronization, reduces administrative strain, and offers enhanced customer experience. Also, you can easily monitor your business from anywhere using iPad POS systems provided they have a smart phone, tablet, and/or a computer.

iPad POS is User-friendly

An iPad POS system is more user-friendly considering the fact that iPad offers an intuitive interface that is easy to learn. This can not only prove to be time-saving when it comes to training of employees, but the user-friendliness also helps reduce cases of errors.

iPad POS helps better Synchronization

An iPad POS system helps synchronization as it helps to improve communication with the tablets that are running the digital menu software for secure payment and real-time ordering. This feature is especially great for hotel industry. Here you will find menus with appealing features that enable guests to enter custom cooking specifications, place orders, request table service and order drinks among many other things.

iPad POS eases Administrative Strain

The administrative responsibilities used to show when managers had to schedule employee hours, compile manager reports by hand, keep track of time cards, handle reservations, do inventory checks and generate other reports, when performing tasks by traditional POS. However, with iPad POS and its entirely automated system, business administrators are able to integrate employee time card systems, manage the inventory and generate payroll and produce reports in seconds.

iPad POS offer Enhanced Customer Experience

Benefitting from the low cost, mobility factor and less optimization of space the iPad POS system offers place for more merchandise facilitating customers to avail products of their choice and make payments from anywhere – for immediate pick up or delivery to their home address. Moreover, the real time data it offers helps improve sales and prove to be a great assistance to the management in taking better decisions for the business.

iPad POS facilitates Effective data management

An iPad POS system helps manage receipts effectively and also store customer as well as credit card data, while ensuring the accurate processing of sales tax, cash and credit card payments. Thus eliminating the probabilities of erroneous computations such as double entries; besides facilitating tracking of sales in real time.

How to Choose the Right iPad POS app

Research the Market

Researching your market is the first priority in choosing the right iPad POS, as vendor websites are always the perfect place to start your research and analyze retail POS system reviews. Remember that vendors often use phrases like “cashier software” and “cash register software” to describe their solutions; however, these terms are tantamount with point of purchase software.

Prioritize your Needs

While it is true that there are many solutions to meet your basic requirements, specific functionality is required in the new system. So, what is important is to understand if integration of e-commerce functionality is required; or the significance of the vendor having adequate experience to support retail software for small business.
Next, you need to assess if it makes business sense for you to invest in open source POS software. This is especially beneficial while you are actually on ‘POS hunting’ – going through reviews and trying to make the right iPad POS system.

Compile a list of Prominent Vendors

Once you have made up your mind and set your eyes on choosing the right iPad POS, compile a list of the best retail iPad POS systems that meet your priorities. Shortlisting vendors can effectively simplify the system search and ensure that you only evaluate systems that will be a good fit for your business. A few prominent ones are ShopKeep POS, Shopify POS, Paypal Here, GoPayment (Intuit) to name a few.
Have you chosen your iPad POS for your business? Share with us.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Exploring Web Applications: What Tools Are Available To Freelancers

Freelancers are an interesting group of business professionals that expands each day as more and more day workers leave the corporate world and enter the world of working for themselves. With a much looser operating structure, freelancers can get into bad habits if routines aren’t established from the start. Large and small companies in addition to freelancers themselves have found a niche market in producing tools, applications and software oriented towards freelancers.
Applications consist of time trackers, invoicing and billing, project management and quote or proposal web applications. Utilizing available tools whether they be free or paid, can significantly cut down on the amount of time spent doing monotonous or daunting but necessary tasks as a freelancer. Similar to the way that a corporation’s accounting department has ledger software, the creatives have design software and the coordinators have project management software – a freelancer needs to become all of these entities in order to run a successful business.

Project Management Tools for Organization

Once a freelancer starts working with multiple clients at a time, it can be difficult to remember what was emailed to who, said over the phone or promised during a meeting. Using a software that can note these events under clients will save time and prevent heartache in the future.
Certain project management applications even offer internal task creation events to keep a virtual, cloud based to do list for each client. Insightly is a free project management software that also offers Gmail integration; making logging contact with a client even easier. Enjoy all of the benefits of a large company’s system available to you as a freelancer with Insightly.

Contract and Proposal Creation Applications

Freelancing involves a little bit of sales work as well. As a freelancer, you’re constantly pitching yourself and your skillset to new clients who have quite the list of freelancers to choose from. A great contract and proposal creation application offers freelancers the chance to show off their skills while spending half the time than before when putting contracts or proposals together manually.
Motiv is an excellent choice for creative freelancers as it offers industry specific content for freelancers to aid in the proposal creation process. It’s a known fact that each job a freelancer does requires a contract; Motiv also has handy content for aiding in this process including the option for clients to e-sign.

Time Tracking and Invoicing Tools

Projects taken on in the freelancing world either operate off of an hourly rate or a flat rate per project. Both are common depending on the specific industry and scope of the work. A large website would be done on an hourly rate while a small character creation or animation would be done on a per project basis.
Harvest is a legendary time tracking tool that allows freelancers to honestly report the amount of time they spent working on a specific project. It offers one click time tracking from your desktop, browser or mobile device. From there, reports and invoices can be generated for clients when it comes time to invoice. Invoicing in itself may be a feared aspect of the freelancing job. Having to keep track of accounting and produce documents to both clients and accountants is no simple task.
Freshbooks has a wide amount of invoicing tools for freelancing professionals including the option to be paid online versus snail mail checks. 

A freelancer can arm themselves with many tools that will help them succeed in both the long run and short run of their freelancing career. By utilizing one or all of the available tools, a freelancer can adequately track their hours and send professional invoices using Freshbooks and Harvest, create killer proposals and contracts using Motiv and keep track of what’s what with Insightly.
Most of the applications mentioned above offer a free trial period and are under $20 per month for individuals. Considering the amount of time saved by utilizing available applications, many freelancers take advantage of applications available. Finding what works for you may be a process with a significant amount of applications on the market. Achieve a balance between apps and complement them with your work. Remember, apps are here to help you grow as a freelancer; not hinder your work.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is Your Business Flying Off With Cloud Technology

More businesses are using cloud technology to improve the way their companies function. From a brand new, little understood technology to a system used in almost every business in some form, cloud technology has improved business function. Such software has replaced the outdated onsite physical servers and reduced the cost of full service IT departments. Have you instated a cloud system in your business? If you have, how has it changed how you do business? Are you using the cloud to the fullest potential it has for your company?

Automation

One of the key functions of cloud technology is automation. Tasks that were previously handled by manual data entry can now be taken over by the software. Automation improves accuracy and allows more staff to be freed up for other important business functions. When expanding into foreign markets, the software can be programmed to meet the regulations of any country for shipping, currency, and more.
All systems from customer service to shipping can be linked together for better business performance. Automation allows ease in expanding the company’s reach by increasing power on an as needed basis. Adding to the amount of storage, features, and functions is usually based on a tier level provided by the cloud server company. A monthly fee may be charged or a yearly license which will increase if more options are added. The total cost is still less than keeping an entire IT department that will require employees, space, and power use.

Lead Conversion

With the reduction in staff devoted to IT duties, more employees can be devoted to sales. Lead conversion is handled by the automation of cloud software which delivers qualified leads to sales staff. The leads must meet a qualification process programmed into the software.
Cloud software can be accessed by all sales staff at any time, no matter where they are. This works extremely well for staff that are travelling often. Leads can be checked by email or through text alerts delivered to a sales member’s mobile phone.

Data Storage

The most popular use for cloud technology is data storage. By storing data in the cloud you can back up much of your inventory, your hard drives, and customer information. When this information is stored off site it is less likely that sensitive information can be lost through a power outage, storm, or natural disaster. Some business owners may be worried about hacker attacks, but the reality is that most cloud software or cloud servers have far more secure encryption than that placed with on-site servers.
Another security measure is that more than one or two IT employees can access the storage easily. The CEO and advisors can have access, this will allow the reduction of reliance on a single individual for computing service. Cloud storage can be accessed anywhere, so even if the company maintains an IT staff, the staff can access the information and make changes no matter where they are.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Starter Guide For Developing Mobile Applications

Are you developing a mobile application for the first time? You probably have many questions: Is it worth doing it? Would it make sense? How will people find out about the app?
Here are some of the frequently asked questions by those who are developing a mobile app for the first time:

I have an idea for an application, but how do I start?

Start by defining your idea on paper as clearly as possible.  Use a tool off the internet for creating a prototype and create a detailed, step-by-step (screen-by-screen) prototype for your application. Once you are clear about your requirements, look for a company that can design and program mobile application.
Another possibility is through participation in start-up and mobile camps where you can find potential investors, experienced developers, and use mentors to master your idea.

I have many ideas for apps. Which one do I go with?

Do not limit yourself to one idea. Most successful entrepreneurs have built their businesses after many ideas. Applications are much more like creating songs. You never know which song you will achieve the most success with. Give some time to each application – from 4-6 months after release (launch) and if the customer base does not increase, advance to the next idea.

How to find out if customers like my app?

Start over in prototype. Do not wait to create a complete application with all the  features. Start with the basic version and evaluate whether the customer is ready to buy.

Should I build a mobile website or native application?

There are nearly one million applications available for iOS and Android, so you have to compete against the best to be noticed. Mobile websites do offer some experience, but do they add any value to the customer? Applications are for mobile, and web pages for a desktop computer. Do not mix these two.

Am I supposed to develop an application independently or hire someone to help?

Some of the most popular products today were developed with external assistance in their early (initial) stages, including Alibaba, Fabb.com, Digg, Skype, and so on. When creating the first sample of your product, keep costs low and try with outsourcing with someone that understands your requirements the best. The most important thing for you at this point is to make sure your product successfully arrives at the hands of the consumer. Once you see the real demand for your product and that it continues to grow, the development may be downloaded and maintained independently.

How to publish an app on the App Store and Android Market for mobile apps?

Create a developer account on Apple and Google and register on their website. You’ll currently pay an annual fee of $99 for Apple and $25 for Google. Your developers should do the actual process of uploading applications to these stores.

Should I offer my application as free, and then think of a method of earning?

There is a one-in-million chances that you could be the next Facebook or Twitter. The choice is yours. If you want to build a business, have a clear strategy for revenue from the very beginning.

I have made an application. Now what?

The products are not sold by themselves. Optimized app stores can help you to be found and discovered, but not enough for your database to grow and make your business sustainable. Find your application market and become visible.

How to find a market for my application?

The best form of publicity for your application, and for any business, is publicity by a third party. Reviews from tech bloggers, media coverage, and good impressions would be recommended ways. Also, be aware of reviews from users of your application and work hard to remove or correct negative criticisms.

Do I need to create cross-platform applications?

Cross-platform applications usually offer a rich user experience. This is why there are different programming languages for different platforms, which have their own software development projects. Such applications are usually full of bugs and errors and fail to offer a consistent experience across platforms. If you decide to go for cross-platform application, pay attention on other platforms.
I hope this guide for developing mobile applications make things clearer for you.  I’d welcome your comments below.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

3 Reasons You Should Avoid iFrames For Your Business Website

An Inline Frame is an HTML document embedded into another website. It lets users view content from another user on the same page, and can sometimes be accompanied with its own scrollbar, and navigation. Although they may be considered useful, iFrames have a lot more disadvantages than they do advantages

# 1.  Unreliability of different users

In an iFrame, because the HTML can be changed without the discretion of the website’s creator, malicious content can be uploaded without permission of the website’s designer. Your website may have your content on it, with another website’s content, but the content can change anytime, to material that you may or may not approve of.
An example of this is when in 2008, the websites of major newstations were hit with hackers that added links to pages that led to malicious websites, causing an abundance of problems for the websites.Unsuspecting users had to face multitudes of problems- something that you don’t want to deal with.

# 2.  Some Browsers Don’t Support iFrames

The most important aspect of the internet is that users can access almost every website, no matter their region or computer system.The open nature of the internet is what draws users into checking out website.
Because some browsers don’t support iFrames, using iFrames stops some websites’ accessibility to users that have browsers that don’t support the application. When the internet is based around the amount of hits your website gets, this could create a major problem in gaining popularity amongst users.

# 3.  Search Engines Find it Difficult to Index Your Website

As mentioned above, hits are one of the most importance aspects of running a website. The more people that know about your website, the better it will do. The best way to find any website on the internet is known by all- search engines. Typing a few key words into Google can lead any number of users onto your website. But this can’t be done if you use iFrames.
When you use frames on your website, search engines find it difficult to index them. This could lead to a number of problems- for example, the search engine may only lead to your homepage, instead of the page that the users are looking for. Drawing users in is a matter that takes seconds, and if they can’t find the information they’re looking for on your website, they’ll move on to something new.
Even if the search engine does somehow manage to lead the users to the right page, internal frames may be indexed out of the frameset. This means that even if users find what they’re looking for, they’re going to be looking at a page that has no footer or navigation.
Although these are just three reasons why you shouldn’t use frames, there are many more. When designing your website or dealing with other website creators either it is through a designer, agency or a crowdsoucring website like zillion designs, 99designs, etc, make sure that you look for better options than frames. The internet is a place of thousands of possibilities so why choose one that might hurt your prospects of popularity?

Friday, February 21, 2014

8 UX Pitfalls To Avoid In Mobile App Design

Be it games, shopping, videos, news, stock market updates, or education, the number of apps available is increasing at a phenomenal rate. There is an app for everything imaginable. With more than 6.8 billion mobile subscribers which accounts for a staggering 87% of the world’s population and over 56 billion app downloads predicted for 2013– the mobile app industry is booming and perhaps is one of the fastest growing industries.
Analysts estimate that app revenues will hit $25 billion in 2013 and could triple by 2017. However, despite the buoyant figures, Localytics found that one in four apps are never used again once downloaded. Let us not discuss about zombie apps which never get downloaded even once and become oblivious in the app world.

So what is the reason behind this abysmal user engagement ratio? Is it poor usability, lack or innovation, or technical glitches? Well, this is a complicated and highly-debated question. While different theories regarding this low user engagement levels float, we will focus on the most common UX pitfalls in mobile app design that spill the word disaster for a mobile app.
Here are some of the common pitfalls that should be avoided:

# 1.  Tossing user experience to maintain consistency with web

Remember, mobile UX is unique and needs special consideration in terms of design and user interaction patterns. Simply scaling down website design for the mobile device without applying any thought will result in poor experience. It is important to maintain visual consistency across web and mobile mediums, but not at the cost of overall usability of your mobile app. Trying to put together all web UI elements into a mobile experience will not only confuse, but also alienate your audience. Branding cannot override user experience.

# 2. Information onslaught

It is a proven and documented fact that it is difficult to decipher content without context of use. Don’t bombard users with detailed tutorials mentioning everything about your app on the first time, especially if not asked for it. There is no denying that tutorials in apps are common and important to some extent. However, it is timing of information that counts. App should be intuitive and easy to navigate. In fact, if your app relies on extensive tutorials to clarify each and every functionality, it is an obvious UI failure.

# 3.  Apps that slow down

Mobile users are on the go and generally multitask while using apps. They want information at lightening fast rate with minimum efforts. If your app slows them down, they will look for better options. Avoid elements such as animations, videos, and heavy images that take too long to download.

# 4.  Apps that confuse and keeps you guessing

Keeping users guessing about every action kills the spontaneity associated with mobile apps. It is crucial that you provide feedback for actions and its result in the app clearly. In order to avoid confusion, play safe. Don’t experiment and deviate from tried and tested methods, unless you have a persuasive or compelling reason behind the change. It is important to rigorously test design elements that are likely to confuse users.

# 5.  Develop app for users and not yourself

Your app should evolve around your users. Period. Don’t just rely on your creative juices and resist the temptation of designing app the way you want to see. Rather design an app for your target audience. Show users what they want first. Always consider feedback as one of the most effective methods to improve your app.

# 6.  Blank Loading Screens

One reason that could definitely irritate customer is a blank loading screen, unless handled tactfully. It is important not to keep user staring at blank screen in anticipation of what will come next. Think about innovative ways to make blank pages appealing and engaging.

# 7.  Forced sign-up

There are thousands and thousands of apps out there. When you make it mandatory to go through a sign-up or registration process or ask for other credentials without showing the benefits of your app, you are bound to raise questions and doubts, ultimately leading to abandonment of your app. Always have the option of guest users for your app.

# 8.  Human-interface guidelines

Both Android and iOS offer comprehensive and well-defined human-interface guidelines for app makers. However, in the flow of creativity and innovation, designers ignore the standard and industry best practices. And the end result is overuse of unknown gestures, hidden menus, and jazzy visual elements which lack any purpose or context. These elements typically end up annoying and frustrating users.

Conclusion

One of the most overlooked aspects in developing a great user experience is observing user habits, interacting with UI design and modifying the app accordingly. But in an attempt to launch cool apps at reduced time-to-market factor, UX designers often compromise and in some cases get their basics of mobile app design wrong. Remember, exhaustive testing is one of the safest ways to overcome UX pitfalls and save yourself from huge losses.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Technology To Make Your Business Run Smoother

A business is a lot like a car: all the parts and pieces need to work together for you to move forward. And just like a car, to keep it running at peak performance you’ll need occasional upgrades and services. Depending on your business model and budget, you need to decide which upgrades take priority. But no matter of what you start with, there are many simple, cost-effective upgrades available that’ll help your business run like a well-oiled machine.
There are so many accounting programs on the market that it’s hard to choose which one to use, but don’t let that intimidate you. Regardless of which one you choose, these programs can cut a significant amount of time and cost from your budget. Accounting software is designed user-friendly so you or a member of your staff can easily learn the program, eliminating the need for an expensive corporate accountant.
The likely hood of a human-made error is also greatly reduced, resulting in a worry-free spring when taxes are due.

Accounting Software


There are so many accounting programs on the market that it’s hard to choose which one to use, but don’t let that intimidate you. Regardless of which one you choose, these programs can cut a significant amount of time and cost from your budget. Accounting software is designed user-friendly so you or a member of your staff can easily learn the program, eliminating the need for an expensive corporate accountant.
The likely hood of a human-made error is also greatly reduced, resulting in a worry-free spring when taxes are due.

New Office Equipment

When considering upgrading technology, office equipment seems to fall low on the list for most people. Consider this though: you may invest in the greatest software and most expensive machines, but if you’re employees are spending their days in uncomfortable chairs, productivity will drop from sore backs and unhappy workers.
Along with the reduced productivity, you’ll actually end up spending more on the cheap equipment. Buying that $50 knock off printer may seem like a good idea now, but when you end up having to replace or fix it every 6 months, you’ll regret not purchasing the $150 one with a 5 year warranty.

Cloud Data Storage

 

Utilizing technology like a cloud data storage system is something that every business should consider. In case a server crashes, you run the risk of losing important documents and projects, resulting in a huge loss of time and resources. With a cloud storage system, however, the only time you would lose your projects is if the entire Internet were to fail — if that were to happen you probably will have more pressing concerns.
With a cloud storage, you can get access to files at any place in the world. So if you’re managing multiple sites across a large distance or on a business trip, you’ll still have access to anything you need.

Workload Automation

Imagine a software program that can handle anything from job scheduling to IT processes. Workload automation software is leading the way in convenient, time-saving practices. Using workload automation won’t only save you time and money, but job scheduling and monitoring IT processes has never been easier. Allowing a program to handle these mundane daily tasks frees up your time to focus on promoting your business and striving for success.

Tablets

Tablets are revolutionizing the corporate world and are quickly becoming a must-have for any profitable company. In fact, many businesses are replacing tablets in lieu of laptops or desktop machines. So why should you consider getting a tablet? The portability for one is a big selling point.  Traveling with a laptop is frustrating, especially when so many face problems of over heating and poor battery life. Most tablets brag to have twice the battery life as laptops, and processors that are on par with desktops.
While not all the programs you have are capable with tablets yet, many developers are making it so you can do anything with a tablet that you can with a laptop.

Faster Wireless Internet

If you’re business is still using an 802.11b or 802.11g Wi-Fi network, it’s time to consider upgrading to a faster wireless network.  Working on an 802.11n Wi-Fi will yield better results in both productivity and functionality. Having increased wireless connection will make your work flow together seamlessly without pesky distractions like loading screens and buffering errors. It’ll also increase the amount of connected devices, meaning more people can connect and thus more work gets done.
Don’t let your business die because it couldn’t keep up with technological demands. The corporate world is an ever-changing, expanding community and if you want to succeed you need to prepare to change with it. New technology is often daunting, but is necessary to compete in today’s market. If you make it work in your advantage, you’ll find it’s the best thing that ever happened to your company.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

4 Information Security Tips Every Small Business Owner Should Know

With nearly half of small businesses failing before their 5th birthday, it’s crucial that you do everything in your power to protect your company. That being said, you need to ensure that your sensitive data is safe. There’s no mistaking it, there are thieves out there looking to commit fraud and identity theft. As a result, small businesses are finding themselves increasingly targeted. And according to data from the National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, the statistics say you’re small business is one data breach away from bankruptcy.
So what can you do to minimize risk of data breach? Here are four tips you need to follow to make sure your important information is secure.

# 1. Pinpoint your sensitive data

You can’t ensure that your data is secured if you aren’t sure where or what that data is. That being said, it’s important that before anything else, you decide what pieces of your data you possess that needs document scanning. For example, perhaps you have customer credit card information. Or maybe you have social security numbers on file. Or maybe it’s your own company’s credit accounts.
Whatever the case, once you figure out what the sensitive data actually is, then you need to figure out where it’s stored. After you find it, take a closer look at what you’re doing to protect it in its existing space.

# 2. Background and reference check all new employees

As a small business owner, you may find yourself eventually having to hire new employees as you begin to expand. That’s great—it’s a sign of flourishing. However, hiring a new employee can be scary. After all, you’re going to have to trust them with your sensitive data.
It’s really scary when you start looking at the data. According to CBSnews.com, the average company loses 5% of revenue to employee fraud. On top of that, around one-third of employees steal from their place of work in some form or fashion. Other sources estimate that as much as three-fourths of employees steal from their companies. Those are some bleak odds!
So how can you keep new employees from compromising  the security of your sensitive information? Be proactive. Run background checks on everyone. Not sure how? Look to the SBA for more information. But don’t stop there. You know those references you ask for on your applications. Make sure you check them! If your future employee has engaged in sketchy behavior in the past, there’s a decent chance their former employers will warn you about it.

# 3. Institute a “shred all” policy and destroy documents professionally

You absolutely never want to throw paperwork with sensitive information in the trash. Doing so is just asking for a security breech. All it takes is one disgruntled custodian or a shady passer-by to see an account number, slide the paper in their pocket, and you’re in big trouble.
Some companies combat this issue by providing their employees with their own personal shredders. However, this still leaves room for error, as not all employees will necessarily use the same discretion when shredding documents.
According to the information security experts at Shred-It, you should go with a “shred everything” policy to ensure that no sensitive information gets into the wrong hands. Taking it one step further, you might consider using a professional company to shred all documents—someone with a trusted name who can ensure that all necessary documents are properly dealt with.

# 4. Take precautions with your copy machine

If your business is like most, then you couldn’t make it without your copy machine. However, what most people don’t realize is that these copy machines often store the scanned data in their memory. In other words, those account statements you’ve been copying are stored in the machine’s hard drive. Imagine the implications…
It’s pretty common for businesses to lease these machines. So what happens when you send the copier back? Who knows where it’s going to end up. And who knows who is going to gain access to all that vital information.
But obviously you can’t quit using a copier. However, you can take a few precautions. Before you lease a copier, find out about their security features. According to Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Business Center, you’re looking for two words: encryption and overwriting. The former scrambles the data so it can’t be used later, and the latter allows you to erase memory.
Prevention is Key
What it all boils down to is this – if you don’t take steps to secure information, it will leak. And when it leaks, people will take advantage. Avoid the heartache and do what you can to secure your sensitive data.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Customized CRM Software Advantages

Ready-to-use point of sales (POS) systems have long been practical retail business tools that serve various businesses in just as varied retail store situations worldwide. These are automated systems driven by software or apps that help people in brick and mortar stores keep track of transactions that customers make. Along with all the transactions is some important information like how much money was involved in transactions, when these take place, and how frequent these transactions take place.
All these details are often assumed as readily available to business owners at face value. However, when the time comes for a concrete analysis of how well retail store transaction records tell about customer buying behavior, that’s when business owners realize one sad thing: POS systems just record transactions but never really offer business owners a really easy or reliable way to collate all info adequately. POS systems are designed to perform certain functions specifically for retail transactions – not necessarily for efforts that deal with keeping your customers. As a business owner, you need to develop something else for that: a customized customer relations management (CRM) software.

Distinct needs

There are stores that use distinct retail practices that current POS systems couldn’t suffice when it comes to enabling companies to keep the business relationship going between them and their customers long after a sale has been made. Since a POS system couldn’t be relied on for that, entrepreneurs need to develop a CRM software that’s custom-made for its distinct retail practices.
For example, a laundry shop business model with a lot of regular or walk-in customers with various transactional volumes and frequencies respectively could not be expected to have the same POS system functioning as a CRM tool, likewise in the tracking of customer buying behavior as that of any other business model, say a general store.
It would be more apt for business owners to subscribe to custom CRM software applying the same line of thinking with retail telecom. You configure a system that’s suitable and practical for your business practices.
  • A RingCentral hosted VoIP PBX, for instance, enables phone-driven sales.
  • Online CRM software, for example, makes it easier for marketers to correlate strategy with actual sales figures, patronage frequency, and product/service choice.

Worthy investment

Online tech CRM becomes an advantageous investment for companies once they pursue it with the view of regarding it as a long-term revenue stream infra. After a customer successfully makes a transaction with a retailer, it leaves the latter with a serviceable amount of information that the retailer could use to maintain rapport with the customer. Once this kind of tech is developed to make customer relations management an integral part of transactions online, you could then focus on its main advantages like the following:
  1. Online CRM helps facilitate transactions. Either via virtual/online or cloud-based telecom buying processes that enable systems that automatically record and index transactions and their various accompanying data, the retailer succeeds in gathering and storing data while the customer enjoys efficient service consistently no matter how many times transactions are repeated.
  2. Organized customer databases. Ready access to collated info in databases help marketers identify consumer demography.
  3. Determine certain period transactions. Tactical activity schedules could be launched according to strategic seasons or via degree of their timeliness as revealed by analytics.
  4. Know amount of cash involved. Revenue streams could be forecast once buying patterns and cash amounts involved in transactions become recognizable from available data.
Customized CRM software for companies ultimately helps companies establish more meaningful relationships with customers. The buying process happens automatically once a long-standing pattern of patronage gets established from the get-go.

Monday, February 10, 2014

8 Technology Trends That Will Impact Business Strategies In 2014

Before investing in new technologies, consider these options to decide which ones suit your needs best.

# 1. Mobile devices will keep you in contact at all times

Cumbersome desktop computers might work well at home, but you can expect to do most of your business from a mobile device. Laptops will likely remain popular since they have built-in keyboards that people already know how to use. Tablet PCs, however, will become important companion pieces.
The best tablet for business will have several features that you need for presentations as well as day-to-day work. Some of these features include:
  • long battery lives (between 8 and 18 hours)
  • A larger screen that you can share with others
  • Internet access no matter where you are
  • The ability to connect with other devices via Bluetooth
Without these features, your tablet will be trumped by those that your competitors use.

# 2. Cross-device software will help you save time and money

Since you will use several devices in 2014, software providers will respond by letting you download programs to many devices at once without forcing you to pay more. Many developers have already recognized the importance of cross-device software. When you download apps, they often have the opportunity to install the small programs on six or more devices.
This will make it easier for you to learn how to use the software that’s important to your industry. Instead of spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to use several programs, you’ll just adapt to different types of screens.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that multi-device software helps you save money. Imagine buying separate programs for your desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. That would get expensive fast!

# 3. Marketing data will come from multiple sources

In 2014, it will become increasingly important for you to learn how to market your products and concepts to precise audiences.
Social media has made marketing more targeted and effective. Of course, many companies have already tapped into this potential. The difference is that more businesses will start integrating information from multiple sources. You might get information from Facebook, your own website, Google, and other data sources.

# 4. Scalable data plans will become more important

An increased reliance on mobile devices will mean that more people and businesses have to invest in wireless data plans. A tablet can only do so much without accessing the Internet.
Unfortunately, those data plans can cost quite a bit of dosh, especially when you stream video content (we’ll keep mum about whether you’re just watching a movie or trying to convince a client that she needs your services). To combat growing prices, many companies will start to look at scalable data plans.
Scalable data plans differ from those that you probably have for your smartphone. With a scalable plan, you get to exceed your monthly limit without paying ridiculous fees. Many Internet Service Providers will also let customers jump from low-cost packages to higher-cost ones when they go over their allotted data. That’s a great alternative to paying extra fees.

# 5. Cloud data storage options will become increasingly important

Despite the concerns that many industries have about cloud storage ability and willingness to keep information secure, people will have little choice but to keep more information on these systems as opposed to their hard drives.
While it does raise some concerns, it also offers many advantages to businesses that work in a global marketplace. As many companies have already found, cloud systems make it possible for employees to access information from all over the world. If you have a meeting in China, you can always download a presentation from your cloud system instead of begging someone back at the office to take it off your PC and send it to you.
The convenience, in other words, will likely outweigh the concerns.
As more industries get involved, cloud service providers will probably find that they have to improve their security measures. That could make it safer for everyone to use.

# 6. Companies will make more of their own apps

In 2013, people get most of their apps through online stores. This next year will reveal a shift towards proprietary apps owned by employers.
Instead of relying on apps made by outside developers, more companies will start creating apps they can distribute among employees.
A company that builds its own app can include specific features designed to boost productivity and meet client demands. You don’t get that kind of flexibility from many third-party apps.
Many employers will also decide to regulate third-party apps. By assigning a manager to review available apps, the company can make sure that it spends money wisely while giving employees the tools they need to succeed.

# 7. More employers will ask you to Bring Your Own Device

There is good news for people who hate their workplace computers. Research shows that over two-thirds of companies already let employers bring their own devices to work. BYOD, as it’s called, boosts productivity by keeping employees in constant contact and making it easier for them to work outside of the office.
There’s even research showing that 43 percent of executives encourage BYOD because they want employees to get more work done away from the office. Given the advantages, you can expect this trend to continue in 2014.

# 8. You will receive BYOD training

As more employers encourage workers to BYOD, they will also need to create training programs that teach workers how to become more productive without compromising network security. Like many technological changes, there are some potential downsides.
Luckily, companies find that a comprehensive BYOD program makes the average employee about $3,150 more valuable every year compared to employees who do not BYOD. Companies that only offer basic BYOD training, see a $400 increase in value.
That means you might as well prepare for training that will turn you into a more valuable employee.

Friday, February 7, 2014

WiFi: The Perfect Way To Invite Your Customers In

In this growing digital age, not only the established businesses are turning to Wi-Fi services but also small businesses are providing free wireless access to tablets and Smartphones to gain profits from increased customers. As more and more people own Smartphones to browse their web, they are increasingly happy to accept a high speed free connection.
If you are one such entrepreneur, you will notice as you walk around the street that almost every business offers some types of promotion in the form of a special discount or sale for a specific group of consumers. As a smart merchant, you should not miss that opportunity to introduce free offerings that could generate significant return.
As you run your coffee shop you’ll always dream of making it larger. And as it grows, you’re driven by more desire and passion to succeed. But how do you plan to execute your dream? Well, how about offering free Wi-Fi in this age of Smartphone and tablets to retain the existing and attract the potential customers.
I am sure that with your one raised eyebrow you are actually thinking of the same, but not sure about how much you can get in return, right?  In that case, you will be surprised to see how much you can actually benefit from such an idea. Let’s check out the plan.

Do not hurry! Choose the best Wi-Fi plan:

If you are scared about the costs of installing a Wi-Fi hotspot, it is unnecessary. It does not involve the costs you are imagining. Talk to the service provider or check with the internet for different wireless packages and service to opt for the best one. Once you make a list of the options available, you can determine a plan that requires minimal investment.

What is that ‘EXTRA’ you are doing over your competitor:

In addition to price and quality, technologies nowadays are forcing businesses to rethink about differentiating themselves with others. So, how do you distinguish yourself from your competitors? Don’t you think free Wi-Fi can be a significant advantage over competitors? Indeed it is. But how, is the next probable question. Check whether the location of your shop is capable of providing a free Wi-Fi connection to your customers. Once you install Wi-Fi, do not forget to promote it for people to notice as they walk past your business.

Wi-Fi to provide customer data-grab them:

Every Wi-Fi network requires a registration process for new users. In order to complete the registration the new users have to supply basic details such as name, gender, date of birth, phone number and email address.  Of course the users have a choice to allow the business to use these details. This is valuable marketing data. With this customer data, you can connect with your customers personally. Most importantly, the best use can be for email marketing. You can also target your customers with special offers.

Are you meeting your customer expectation?

If you think making Wi-Fi available for your customer is the end of your task, then you are wrong. As said earlier, customers are accustomed to free Wi-Fi access, and it has created a level of expectation. Therefore, it is important to meet their expectations and allow them to stay connected to the online world. Hopefully then you can be assured of the increased percentage of “HAPPY COFFEE CUSTOMERS” for your shop.

Apart from the coffee, what else have you organised in your café?

Few people will enjoy coffee sitting alone. So what is that something which can completely change this? Of course, allowing customers to access the free Wi-Fi along with a cup of hot coffee. A survey shows that around 53% of people would be happy to sit alone in a café if they can avail of Wi-Fi. It actually removes the stigma of sitting alone and helps them connect with friends or continue with their important tasks.
Wi-Fi is an important business tool to provide additional service to your customers. The technology improves the overall efficiency by allowing employees to spend more time helping customers and less time handling the mundane work. Are you still thinking of installing Wi-Fi in your coffee shop? I am sure you don’t want to miss the opportunity to serve your customers in the best way possible.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Social Login To Tweak Today’s Prosperous eCommerce

There is no reason for an online customer to appreciate filling registration forms to get into your eCommerce site. Honestly speaking, they hate this process of pre-filled fields. You can enrich your customer dataset with social factor.  I am not talking about the common social media features here. Bridge the gap between an eCommerce login and social login with Addshopper’s new release of  ‘social shopper’s login’.

What it is all about?

This is one of the powerful tools to combat conversion-killing registration forms and allow a smooth sign in for your customers. Social shopper’s login allows customers to login to your website by simply using their account information from Twitter, Facebook, Amazon or even Google PayPal.
As already mentioned before, most of the customers abandon their shopping carts as they are forced to create an account during checkout. In addition to this, there are several other reasons for their annoyance. It can be the security concerns as well as hidden costs and high delivery charges that stop them from making a purchase from online stores.

How does it solve your problem?

It is obvious that anyone who would search your site for a purchase would be quite infuriated if they have to register for a new account, remember the password and recheck their entries. Coupled with this, is the tedious task of filling the billing address, shipping address, name and email. No wonder the majority of the customers abandon the shopping cart or end up creating a wrong or an unfinished user account. This results in lower margin because of lack of Remarketing efforts.
But how does social shopper’s login help to solve their problem? Social login completely abolishes this problem by minimizing registration with just a couple of clicks. They allow your customer to create an account with the information stored in their existing social networking account.  All you have to do is pull out the data available from whatever profile the customer is logged in and accordingly populate the form fields, thereby reducing the boring task of filling form fields. This new Addshopper’s feature allows an eCommerce merchant to  login and acquire user details from the user’s Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon or PayPal profiles.

How does social shopper’s login work?

It simply works via linking logins from one or more social networking sites to your eCommerce site through the use of plugins or widgets thereby refuting the need for a new consumer to register their details.  It has been observed that nearly 41% of consumers prefer to login to an online store through their social networking site.

Is it beneficial for your eCommerce venture?

Without any doubt, yes it is. Social login helps to provide customers with an easy one click mode to access your website using their preferred social identity. They do not have to take the burden of creating and storing passwords thus making the registration process much safer and effortless.
The tool also makes sharing your favorite products much easier; since the users are already signed in. The sign-in also adds valuable information for the online merchants such as the customer’s birth date, their interests and their likes and dislikes. The process also enables the visitors to like, comment and share more about your site and its products they find interesting and expand your business reach and users’ engagement.
With such social data you can customize your store based on the consumer’s likes and interests. Moreover, it also allows the customers to connect to their friends from within your store through their access to the social graph.  Also by integrating social data, you can streamline your workflow into your Customer-Relationship Management and Automated Marketing Systems among others.

With more and more of us spending time on social networking sites the next logical step has to be social login for your eCommerce success.

5 Cloud Computing Myths Busted

According to Wikipedia Cloud computing is an expression used to describe a variety of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet. So what are the myths?

#1. The Cloud is one entity

People often talk about ‘the Cloud’ as if it is just one entity, service or solution housed in one location. There is a common misconception that when you put your data in the Cloud, it is going to sit in one place alongside the data of everyone else who is using Cloud computing.
The reality is that ‘the Cloud’ has almost become a buzz word used by IT people over the last number years. There are many definitions of Cloud computing but in general terms ‘the Cloud’ is a service or pool of services accessed over the internet. Typically Cloud services are run out of large data centres spread across the world. Which data centre your information is stored in depends on the provider and solution you choose, so be sure to do your homework on this.
There’s no definite figure on how many data centres are in the world but some estimates put it at around 500,000.

#2. Cloud means the end of hardware

Although Cloud services can really make a difference to your hardware footprint, you will always need some sort of device to access your applications and data. While Cloud can do away with many things including the need for numerous on-site servers, businesses will still need PCs, laptops, tablets or smartphones to access data.
Hardware is also required even if you are running your entire business in the Cloud. For example, in our own company, all of our phone systems, wireless access points and firewalls are Cloud-based. While these still require some hardware, the management of these systems is done through the Cloud which makes configuration and monitoring of performance much easier.

#3. Cloud Computing is not secure

There is a lot of hype surrounding this myth, particularly in the wake of spying revelations earlier this year. However, it is important to point out security is at the heart of the vast majority of Cloud solutions; this is why choosing your provider carefully is important.
The reality is that most businesses cannot compete with the level of security that is offered by Cloud providers given that they have teams of security experts working 24/7. The amount of time and money invested into securing both the technology and the physical locations is unparalleled.
If a business is particularly concerned about access to their data, private Cloud or hybrid solutions can provide some extra peace of mind. However, the reality is that once the correct policies are in place (necessary encryptions, two-factor authentications, data protection legislation etc.) the level of security you can get with Cloud solutions is often far superior to what would be practical at a local level.

#4. Cloud is cheaper than traditional IT

Many of the arguments in support of Cloud technologies are based on the notion that Cloud is cheaper than traditional IT. I am asked every day whether Cloud can bring costs down and the real answer to this question is: it depends. The price you will pay for Cloud services will vary according to the type of business you run and the solution you need, the amount of users you have and the security that you need in place.
Similarly, moving to the Cloud also brings about a lot of hidden costs such as migration and integration costs, potential bandwidth upgrades and investment in staff training for new systems. While all of this may add up to more than what you currently spend on IT, it is important to remember the added value that Cloud solutions are bringing to your business. This includes increased flexibility for remote working, greater team collaboration and improved back up and disaster recovery.
Cloud should be looked at as a business enabler rather than a simple replacement for traditional IT. And while it could end up being marginally more or less expensive than your current spend, the ability to pay on a per user per month basis makes it easier for businesses to manage and predict costs in the long run.

#5. Cloud is the answer to everything

Many Cloud advocates would have you believe that the answer to every IT problem is Cloud. This is simply not true. In fact, more often than not, Cloud services are the answer to business process issues rather than IT troubles. There are still a number of industry-specific applications and software out there that may not be 100% compatible with Cloud technologies. As Cloud is not an ‘all or nothing’ solution, you can easily move some elements of your business while keeping others on site for the time being.
My advice would be that if you are curious about Cloud technology and want to explore options for your business, do it one step at a time. Keep it straightforward and begin by moving simple systems like email and disaster recovery to the Cloud.  This will allow you to get familiar with the technology and make informed decisions going forward.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

5 DIY And Crafts Apps To Keep You Busy

We blame Pinterest for stirring our interest in Mod Podge. Mind you, we’ve never used the stuff; but for some reason, it makes us feel like we could be DIY & Crafts queens in the making. Of course, we’re about a hundred projects short of being proper members of the Do-It-Yourself club – but it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to become experts someday. In fact, we’re planning to start as soon as possible; and we are hoping to become awesome throughout the process with the help of the following apps.

# 1. Craftgawker

We don’t know about you, but for us, the well of inspiration tends to be close to running dry some days. With writing, we pretty much know how to fix things (read: rest for a bit or panic when the deadline’s just an hour away). But for a home DIY decoration project, we don’t think our usual methods will take care of business – which is why we turn to craftgawker, an app slash website that delivers a heavy dose of focused inspiration. Available on the Apple App Store, craftgawker allows users to browse, search, and submit photos as well as links of DIY and craft projects from all over the web.

# 2. My Measures & Dimensions PRO

Need to take measurements around the house? My Measures & Dimensions PRO is an app designed for landscapers, architects, engineers, and carpenters; but any DIYer would find this super easy to use. Simply take a picture, add arrows, texts, and notes, and you’re good to go, which means no more scrambling for pen and paper just to note down measurements. This is also extremely useful for apartment dwellers who need to find a new place and who want to make sure that their furniture will fit. Measurements are customizable – they can be entered in metric, Imperial, Chinese or Japanese standards. But keep in mind that manual input is needed, as the app cannot calculate the distance between two points just from a picture.

# 3. Décor Advisor

Being a lover of makeup, we know how to work the canvas that is our face. We know exactly what type of brushes to use, whether it’s a MAC 187 or a Sigma E40 or a Shu Uemura kolinsky brush 5r. What we’re not so confident using are brushes that are specifically used for house painting. With Décor Advisor, finding the right brush, roller or tool for the job is as easy as swiping, tapping, and flicking the screen of any iOS device that run on iOS 3.0 or later versions. It also comes with a paint calculator so you can estimate how many liters of paint you will need, complete with tips on how to apply said paint “to achieve a professional finish.”

# 4. Springpad

What do you get when you mix Evernote with Pinterest? That’s right, you get Springpad, an app that doesn’t just help user take notes but also makes their organizing easier – or, as the creators put it, “a more visual way to categorize your digital life.” Now you may wonder why we included Springpad here, considering it’s not really a DIY/crafts app per se. Well, if you’re really planning on completing several projects or renovation endeavors, you’ll need a way to organize everything. Lucky for you, this app does just that; but in a more meaningful way – Springpad has note-taking capabilities, which we’ve mentioned already, reminders, checklists, and even a repository for your saved images, audio files, and even barcodes.

# 5. Smart Tools

We know your smartphone can pretty much do anything aside from performing the basic functions (call, text, voicemail, etc). It’s also possible that in the future, such devices will offer complete business phone service functionalities like hosted VoIP PBX (without the need for a VoIP phone on the same line). But for now, we can all agree that smartphones – and phablets too, for that matter – are amazing. With regards to crafting projects, your phone can be equipped with 15 different tools that can “measure angles, widths, heights, and sound” simply by downloading the Smart Tools app from Google Play. Created by Android Boy, Smart Tools gives users access to five different sets of tools including a ruler, two protractors (length and angle), compass, metal detector, and LED light, just to mention a few.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

MotoG available in India exclusively at Flipkart

Hello Moto!
Finally MotoG was launched for India and that too with a dramatic strategy, Launching exclusively via Flipkart. Well, that’s not all about MotoG, the real catch is that it’s available for just 12,499/- and trust me it’s a great deal you can ever get for an amazing phone like this.
Why should you buy MotoG -
1) The top reason is IT’S DAMN CHEAP & AFFORDABLE
2) It has got some good at hardware at that price. 1.2 GHz – Quad core processor, 1GB of Ram, HD display
3) It will be getting Android updates right a way, as soon as Google is going to roll out.
4) It does not come with all the kitched & sink and has “Pure Android“. This is the best thing an Android phone can have. Unlike Samsung or other manufacturer’s phone this phone comes with plain Android meaning the overall phone would be quite fast, since they do not have not so much required additional Software.
5) Dual Sim – For some it’s useful while for others it’s just optional.
Other than above 5 reasons, there are so many good reasons to buy this awesome phone. Some of the key features are listed below -
  • 5 MP Primary Camera and 1.3 MP Secondary Camera
  • 4.5-inch HD Display
  • HD Recording
  • Wi-Fi Enabled
  • 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 Quad Core Processor and 1 GB RAM
  • Dual SIM (GSM + GSM)
  • 8 GB Internal Memory
  • Android v4.3 (Jelly Bean) OS
It comes in two variations and at two different prices, listed below -
  1. Moto G (Black, with 8 GB) – 12,499/-
  2. Moto G (Black, with 16 GB) – 13,999/-
The above two models are available exclusively at Flipkart and you can also avail the following offers while buying via Flipkart -
  • Lucky draw offer – 100% CashBack
  • Flat 70% off on Moto G cases offer
  • Clothing offer- Rs 1000/- off
  • Eboooks offer – Rs 500/- off
I think you do not require any more reasons to give it a second thought, Just go and buy this awesome phone. Flipkart claims to have limited stock and that’s why sometimes the phone is not available over the website. On the launch date, the stock lasted for only 15 minutes.
buy motog flipkart MotoG available in India exclusively at Flipkart
 Watch the promotional video here -

Hope you will buy this phone and would post your comments!
Stay Digified!!

5 Creative Ways To Get Started With Google Alerts

Google offers its users several tools to make their web usage more convenient and meaningful. One  of these tools is the Google alert which is not as popular yet but it will soon be once web users begin to appreciate the great functionality features that Google alert can offer them.  There are a lot of hidden features that not all Google alert users know about. If you are not yet familiar with using Google alert, here are some creative ways to help you maximize your user experience as you begin to use this wonderful tool.

# 1. Follow what people are saying about you

You can now use Google alert to let you know when people are talking about you and what they say in the virtual world. Many business owners use this feature to monitor the latest buzz about their company and the information shared by web users about them. With the help of the Google alert’s automatic vanity search feature, you can instantly find information about your search. Just key in the name of your company or your name in the search field.
You can customize your option to screen the quality of the search result, when you want to receive the alert and whether you want Google alert to generate the information you need through an RSS feed or by email. Google alert can provide you updates as soon as the information is available relative to your search.

# 2. Monitor your competition

You can use Google alert to keep track of the activities happening with your competitors. This will make you more competitive as you receive the latest updates on their latest products, endorsements and promotions. The tool can be an effective source of information that you need in order to keep up with your competitors and understand the latest issues in your field of business.
The Google alert will provide relevant keyword searches that will help cut down the time of your own marketing research for keywords that are highly relevant to your business niche. Instead of making a daily search for keywords, Google alert will do this work for you.

# 3. Use Google alert to find a job

Google alert is not just a mere search tool to find information. You can also use it as a tool to generate relevant results to help you find a job. You can specify in its search query box any job openings that are relevant to your field or profession and you can sit down, relax and wait for Google alert to deliver the latest job openings directly to your inbox. Tailor your search query by targeting specific companies, job titles and places of employment to receive an alert as soon as they are available online. Google is capable of indexing the specific information that you need and you won’t miss any job listings available that you can apply for. Find your dream job with less effort using Google alert to help you find it.

# 4. Find some freebies

If you are looking for great bargains online you can simplify your search to scout for the best deals with the help of Google alert. You can find coupon codes, promotional offers and discount freebies from your favorite online seller or retailer with the help of Google alert. You don’t have to visit their website daily to find out if a good deal is available. Google alert will let you know immediately when great discounts and promotional offers are available. This is very helpful when your favorite seller is giving away free and discount coupons for a limited time offer only. With Google alert you won’t be the last to know about the latest promos and it enables you to grab them instantly whenever one is available.

# 5. Know the latest trends and news

Let Google alert bring the latest news and information that you are interested about directly to your inbox. It will give you an alert about the latest current news and events and then you’re on top of the information as soon as an event is happening. You can always enjoy the updated news stream according to the frequency you would like to receive them. You can select how often you want to receive the alert plus you can customize your search and make sure to change the result type into “news” or “blog news”. Take note that your news feeds are not only limited to the current events but may be on entertainment, music, celebrities and politics as well.
Are you using Google Alert?