The Sheaf Digital Blog
Better Technology. Better Outcomes.
What makes a good landing page for an online service or application? I decided to look at the home pages of three successful online services and pick out the things that seem to represent good practice.More
You don’t need a degree in computer science to become a software developer. You just need a plan, some effort and an aptitude for solving problems. The demand for software developers is as high as ever and good developers are in short supply - that means great salaries and plenty of vacancies. You can make the move if you really want to.More
Our Sheffield Apprenticeship Twitter account (@SheffApprentice) uses the Twitter API to automatically Tweet out information about apprenticeship vacancies in Sheffield. The Tweets are scheduled - 6 individual apprenticeship vacancy Tweets and two summary Tweets every day.More
I wondered a bit more about freemium pricing models after writing the last post. Freemium is where part of your software as a service is offered for free. Users sign up, they use the application for free but then have to pay for more premium features.More
Dave Skok on forentrepreneurs.com has a nice post about SaaS applications and pricing in which he describes the three basic scalable pricing axes. Most Saas applications seem to have an approach to pricing that is based on one of the axes or maybe a combination of two.More
There is an EFSA API (application programming interface) that allows you to search live apprenticeship vacancies (in England) and then look at the details of an individual vacancy.
The API is easy to use and there’s good supporting documentation - developing a simple location based search interface is relatively straightforward.More
A lot of small businesses start out with MS Excel. They are run on spreadsheets - information about customers, products, quotes and sales spread across multiple workbooks. Valuable data is inconsistent, almost impossible to query and often never backed up.
Sooner or later someone decides to look for a new, more scalable solution. They want a cloud based system that:More
The design of your software as a service application (SaaS) is inextricably linked to your business model. You should think seriously about how you’re going to find and sign-up paying customers before development starts. Does your SaaS application make customer acquisition as frictionless as possible? How does the design of the application facilitate marketing, customer feedback and the prioritisation of new features?More
Why pay a software company to develop a bespoke application when there are so many subscription based online services?
Bespoke or custom software can sometimes be a better choice, but the decision is not always easy. This may help you decide:More
Here are some things we think it helps to know if you are about to start your first project with a software development company. Knowing this stuff makes a difference, you’ll get better value for money and you‘ll get better software - simpler, more focused software with fewer bugs.More
A customer relationship management (CRM) is then next step on from using MS Excel to keep track of customer interactions. You keep data your in one place - often a database in the cloud - instead of storing it in multiple Excel spreadsheets. Reporting on data then becomes easier and your data quality is better - data validation in web forms means you’ve got more control over what people type in.More
Do you want to change the way you collect and manage data? Perhaps you’ve been using MS Excel to record information about potential customers and now you need a better alternative - a single database that holds one consistent set of data and makes reporting easier.
One option is to go down the off-the-shelf application route. Sign-up for a online customer relationship management (CRM) system like Zoho CRM. You replace the ad-hoc MS Excel solution with a third party web application.More
What does it cost to develop a typical custom web application? Perhaps a bespoke customer relationship management (CRM) system that medium sized business might use for tracking customer enquiries and orders?More
The Software as a Service (SaaS) model for business software is now common. Software isn’t hosted on a server at the client’s site, instead it’s run from the vendor’s own servers. And most modern systems are multi-tenancy - that means there’s only one actual instance of the software running. Each client uses the same instance, seeing only their own data. The benefits of SaaS and cloud hosting should be clear - client’s don’t need to worry about hardware or local software installations and the software vendor can roll out fixes and updates more easily.More
You should talk about the technology stack when you decide to ask a software company to develop a bespoke web application. A lot of clients miss this because their supplier has only one preferred technology and so there’s never really a serious discussion about its advantages and disadvantages.More
Here are 5 useful tips for anyone who is about to commission their first bespoke software development project. I think these are common sense but they may not be obvious to someone who doesn’t have a technology background or who hasn’t worked with a software development company before.More