Published July 21st, 2014 by

Since I set up in business there have been a number of different software packages that have proved absolutely invaluable for me in terms of not just productivity but also network and PC security.  One of those products is McAfee’s Security Centre – without this I would probably have had to rip and start my business up again due to a recent cyber-attack and hacking attempt that was made on my PC via a Trojan Horse program.
McAfee Promo Code

Get it With a McAfee Promo Code

Note: If you want to buy this product then you can do so with a 25% discount from the Coupon Chili website – click on this Coupon Chili’s promo code for McAfee page.  You should then be able to get for under one hundred dollars – but Amazon also have some cheap deals.

How it Works

The great thing about McAfee Internet Security is that it works in the background to protect your computer against a huge variety of threats – things like viruses, Trojan horses, hackings, malware, and malicious scripts.  Unfortunately I seem to be a bit slack when it comes to backing up my client files and so having McAfee act as the gatekeeper has saved me on more than one occasions according to the logs that I recently read in the McAfee promo code admin area.

Other software that I have started using recently and recommend, in particular for PC and computer security are Norton AntiVirus which I use in conjunction with McAfee just to be even safer – call it paranoia… could be!

To conclude, if you are running any kind of business from home, or have any sensitive files or files you would hate to lose (think accounts and family photos) stored on your computer – then please please make sure that you have adequate protection against data loss and any hacking.  If I find any more deals like that McAfee promo code then I will share them on here.

Disclaimer: I do not benefit financially from any products or websites that I recommend.

Published June 30th, 2014 by

I was recently lucky enough to pick some new PHP development work up from the Elance.com website from a UK-based client who deals in bridging loans.  It’s the first client that I’ve managed to pick up from outside of the United States, and I am hoping that it will be the first of many.  I’ve set up a profile on Elance (as well as Odesk) which targets users who need web development for companies dealing in loans and finance sectors.

Whilst no clients have directly approach me yet, Elance still worked very well for me.  It’s very simple to use, and I picked up the UK bridging loans company through it by doing a search for PHP development needed.  You can see in the screenshot below how Elance works and how you can search and apply for jobs.  It’s very cool.

How I found a bridging loans client in the UK

Searching Elance for PHP Developer Jobs is easy

The Bridging Loan Calculator

They were looking for someone to develop a bridging loan calculator for them.  It basically lets people type in their details, how much that they want to borrow as a bridging loan, and then calculates how much then can borrow gauged against current interest rates which are plugged in at the backend.  You can see an example of how the calculator works on the screenshot below or visit their website directly to see it in action if you want to test it out yourselves.  It’s built entirely with PHP and I had to work with their in-house web designer in order to get it to render and scroll properly using CSS and some responsive type coding so that it also worked on mobile and smartphone screens correctly.

Bridging Loan Calculator on Their Website

The Bridging Loans Application Calculator I Developed With PHP & CSS.

Improved Customer Conversions by 62%

According to statistics from the Bridging Experts company this has already helped them to increase conversion of new customers applying for loans by a massive 62% online so I am really proud of this piece of work.  They gave me a great testimonial that I can use on this website as well as my Elance profile – very happy about that! (See my new testimonials section).

Mobile Load Speeds for Bridging Experts Homepage

In addition to that they also asked me to help with some coding to help improve the mobile experience on the Bridging Experts website.  Essentially looking for ways in which it could load faster and quicker for people looking for bridging loans in the UK whilst on the move.  By tweaking some of the underlying HTML and CSS placements we were able to improve load speeds by 20% and also make the website render correctly on all browsers for Android and iPhone and iPad users.  Again you can see the work for yourself if you visit the bridging loans website.

You can see how it renders on smartphone and mobile on the image below – I created this screenshot using the excellent iPad Peek website – you can enter in a web address and see how your website looks, it’s very cool and is how the majority of the testing for the bridging loan calculator was completed remotely from me in the United States to the team in the United Kingdom.

Bridging Loans Experts on iPad Peek

Testing the Bridging Loan website on an iPad Embulator.

A Fantastic Experience

Overall, working for this bridging loan company in the UK (albeit remotely) has been a great experience and has shown me that perhaps with a little bit more faith in myself and my abilities I could quite happily turn this into a full-time business.  I plan to try to attract some more clients over the coming months using the Elance and Odesk platforms to see if I can pick up anymore work from loans and finance companies using the methods outlined at the top of this blog post.

Want to Employ Me for Your Loans Website?

Meanwhile, if you would like me to write up a proposal for a finance website that you own then please do get in touch with me on the Employ Page.  You can then email me for a quote.  My prices are very competitive (e.g. cheap and low!) and I always do a very good job.

Published July 21st, 2014 by

I live in Kansas, and one of the largest technology companies in the World is based here in a place called Olathe. Whilst I’ve never worked for Garmin (although it would have been nice!) I have always respected them and used their products.  I’ve got a Nuvi PND in the car, I run with a Garmin Forerunner, and have a hand-held GPS device to use on my hiking holidays.  Anyway, I got a marketing email from them a couple of weeks back telling me that they are celebrating their 25th birthday – which seems like a heck of a long time for a tech company.  My friends who work there have nothing but good things to say about the place and they do a lot of charity and community work in the Kansas area.  The video they have released makes it look like a great place to work at… so happy 25th birthday to Garmin!  Here’s the cool video.

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Published July 8th, 2014 by

Off the back of my recent successes with my PHP development portfolio on Elance (see my previous blog post about how I am helping a bridging loans company) I won yet another UK-based client this month – the IT Support London HQ company.  They are a computer and PC support firm based in the capital city of London in England and asked me to quote for a new client booking system that they needed to place online for one of their own projects.

System to Log IT Support Requests & Tickets

The system will allow their clients to log IT support requests into a back-end password protected support website.  It means that their customers can login with their credentials, submit an IT support ticket, and then follow the progress of the job where they can see the assigned IT support technician, any associated notes, scheduling and deadlines.  I am really proud of the piece of work.  Obviously I can’t show you it in the flesh as it’s hidden behind a secure firewall, but I can show you a screenshot or two of how the development work is currently looking.

Work for IT Support London HQ

The IT Support Ticketing System Under Development

The fact that I have been able to pick up new clients like this means that’s it’s a very exciting time for me and I hope that this leads to more work from the IT Support London HQ as they have a large portfolio of clients inside of England that they offer outsourced computer support and remote IT support to.  So far so good, and the feedback I’ve had from their in-house project manager has been excellent so far.

Project Deliverables

I have delivered on the main objectives as follows;

  1. Create a user-friendly IT support ticket system
  2. 100% secure from hackers, SQL injection attempts and other security threats
  3. Let IT Support London HQ staff members upload their own time sheets
  4. Allow customers of IT Support London HQ access remotely
  5. To be quick and fast loading even over slow web connections
  6. To be mobile responsive and accessible via a smart phone or mobile device

The most problematic part of the project to date has been the PHP coding of some aspects concerning the database.  It was all to do with old PHP code from a previous iteration of the application using the MYSQL_ code lines in order to make a connection direct to the database.  You can see how I overcame it below (one of the coders only so apologies for the geekiness!)

PHP Coding Problems

How I Fixed the PHP Database Issues

Generally speaking though, everything has gone really smoothly and I don’t anticipate that that it should take too much longer to complete.  Hopefully I will get another fantastic recommendation to place onto my testimonials page in the near future!

Find Jobs on Elance

I really cannot recommend the Elance website enough.  In the past 2 months I have managed to pick up 2 new clients from this system, firstly it was the Bridging Experts, and now IT Support London HQ.  Hopefully this will be the beginning of many and I have more clients wins to share on my blog in the near future.  It’s exciting times for me and the business is really starting to take off at the moment.

Published July 8th, 2014 by

I love planes, always have, and have actually had a couple of lessons from my uncle over the last 12 months.  A few years back I went to the Kansas City Air Show which unfortunately hasn’t been running for the last couple of years due to a budgeting problem.  It’s a real shame because the 2009 event was awesome.  I was looking up for some footage on YouTube earlier today and found this great video blog montage of great clips from the ’09 show.  You can see it below… if you were there you will probably recall the Apache helicopter that was flown on the day – just amazing.  Anyway, here’s the video.

Published June 30th, 2014 by

Earlier in the month I relayed via my blog how I was going to attend the SMX Advanced Expo in Seattle.  Well, it was actually amazing!  I managed to meet and talk to loads of guys from the industry and picked up lots and hints and tips, but probably more importantly picked up a load of contacts that will hopefully help me to progress my business over the coming year – with the end game being to give up my full-time job and go 100% my own boss.

So in terms of what I learned at the Expo here are just a couple of notes:

  • If you aren’t developing for mobile then you need to start now… see a recent blog post from me where I detailed how I did this for a UK bridging loans company.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – there were some massive names at the Expo and I found that just by going and talking to them I could get some valuable insight into the industry.

I will try and cover off more information once I get a chance to download all my notes into a readable format from my iPad.

Published June 10th, 2014 by

Whilst web design is my main forte, there are an increasing amount of clients who want me to make their websites perform better in the search engines – in other words help them with SEO. SEO is by no means by speciality, but regardless I want to keep on top of any developments in the industry where I can. I am actually in Seattle this week visiting family, and by sheer coincidence the city is hosting the SMX Advanced Expo. It’s billed as the World’s leading search engine marketing conference, so I am going to head on over and see if I can grab a ticket on the door to see what it’s all about.

SMX Expo

SMX Advanced Expo – in Seattle for 2014 – photo from www.flickr.com/photos/chiropractic

It does look like you have to be quite a heavy-hitter to get properly involved as you can see from the photo above, but going to see if there are opportunities for me do some networking and hopefully pick up some tips and make contacts in the web design and SEO industry.

Should be fun!  I will post up some notes and photos later this week once I get back home from Seattle.

Published May 30th, 2014 by

Over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time designing websites for companies that specialise in offering loans. My typical clients are small loans companies that target particular cities in the United States. It’s taken me a long time to streamline my design process, but my looking at analytics, customer conversions, and usability testing I’ve now come up with some basic rules that web designers should follow when developing websites for customers in the finance world who need to convert customers to a sale. Here are my top 5 design tips:

#1 – Always Use Large and Clear Calls to Action

Any loans company wants to convert as many customers as possible, and in my experience the best way to do that is to use large buttons (or calls to action) to encourage the customer to click through to an application process. Here’s an example of how one particular loans company does it.

You can't really miss the call to action to get a loan on this website.

You can’t really miss the call to action to get a loan on this website.

#2 – Make Sure the Essential Content is Above the Fold

One of the best ways in which you can make people sign up for more loans on a website is to make sure that all the essential stuff is above the fold. By that I mean so that the user doesn’t have to scroll to perform the key actions, or to see the important content.

#3 – Get a Professional Logo Developed to Add Trust

I am not a great logo designer by any stretch so when I work on developing loan websites I often will ask them to invest in a proper bona-fide designer to come up with a great brand and logo. In my experience this is key to getting people to trust you before they submit any details. A poor logo that doesn’t look professional can really put customers off.

#4 – Use Clear and Concise Navigation

The user experience can live or die by the use of navigation.  A poor navigation menu can mean you lose a customer.  One thing that Amazon does quite well is actually remove the navigation once the customers gets into their cart.  They do this to reduce the chances of a customer clicking away and not completing the purchase. With loans company websites I often do this and it tends to lead to an increase in conversions for loan applications – cunning, but it really works!

On the same token, your navigation must be clear and easy to use – here’s an example from another website which I particular like.

There's no mistaking which buttons you need to press on this navigation.

There’s no mistaking which buttons you need to press on this navigation.

#5 – Choosing the Right Colors

Believe it or not, color plays such an important part in the human psyche, especially when it comes to money.  In my experience blue is a very trustworthy color and I try to incorporate elements of this hue with all the websites designs that I do.  The wrong or right color choices could be the difference between making money and not making a dime!

So what did you think of my tips?  If you would like me to look at a design project for your accountancy firm, loans company, or stock broking website then please get in touch with me using my employ me section.