You Want To Do What In A Tractor?

•September 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

This is the type of question you hope you never have to ask your children but I promise, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  Let me explain.  Switchbox solves unique business problems.  We do this in almost every industry: medical, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, etc. We even work in a few unique industries like prisons, stock exchanges for poker players and even groups that prevent human trafficking. Because of this experience, we’re not usually thrown off when clients want their websites to do odd things.  However, last month while sitting in a meeting to discuss rebuilding a client’s web dashboard for their organization, an odd request came up.  The client works with various farmers to help collect opinions on how to spend millions of dollars on research and development each year.  Their current online application worked reasonably well but needed some help.  We were in the process of discussing how to sort some of the dashboards for them and one of their board members told us that he didn’t care about anything else except that it had to work in my tractor, in the middle of my field, at 10pm at night, without an internet connection.

We are ambitious but making web applications work without the internet in the middle of a corn field at night was a bit of a stretch.  To make a long story short, we went through our discovery process and worked through ways to solve his problem.  The real problem wasn’t that he needed to use the application without internet access but that he needed access to summarized data from the application during his late night board meetings.  We worked through what he needed and found a simple solution to the problem.  If we had built it as requested it would have been a giant undertaking, but since we took the time to actually understand the problem we found something that solved the issue and stayed in budget.

Switchbox is about solving our client’s problems in the best way.  Sometimes the best way is complex and sometimes it’s simple.  We don’t care what it takes, we find solutions.

Information Overload: Too Much Data, Not Enough Organization

•September 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

We recently had a client that encountered a problem that was typical for several organizations…lots of information spread out across several shared drives or networks with no easy access or even awareness of what was out there. Administration, storing and accessing information is a critical process for a company’s behind the scenes success and a one size fits all solution doesn’t always exist.  While there are many options available for document storage our client had a requirement for quick and easy access based on how their employees, spread out across several locations, thought and organized the information. The information needed more centralized administration with the most recent versions available and a directory was needed based on locality of people resources.

We started with a discovery process to define their business needs and content type. We broke down the organizational roles and their expectations of use scenarios. Those discussions provided the base of their new site applying existing available tools.  The new site offers greater administrative control for categorization based on actual use and utilized their current storage system’s version control to display the most up to date information.  Users across multiple locations can now log in to one stand-alone application to access a series of organized videos, standard operating procedures and other needed documents providing better onsite efficiency to their work standards.


Throw Away Your Company Phone And Maximize Your Company’s Efficiency

•August 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Today’s businesses offer numerous outlets providing information and resources to their products and services. If you have a question or concern or simply want to stay up-to-date on product details, you can usually do so through a company’s website or social media outlets. The days of where is my order? or is this in stock? and how much does that cost? are no more. Now all it takes is a customer account, tracking number or a few clicks on a website to retrieve details and answer most questions. With resources at your finger tips, it begs the question why do we still have office phones? 

If you are still using the phone as a main way for customers to request information you are wasting a lot of money.  In truth, we are finding in a growing number of businesses that having phones on employee’s desks is actually becoming a huge time investment and time waster. While we can’t argue against the personal touch a phone call provides, especially as an alternative to a face-to-face meeting, we can vouch for the added time phones afford in an office. For the company’s that rely heavily on their company phones, there is usually an increase of customers calling to request basic information. Additionally, many offices rely too heavily on phones internally to communicate. Just think of the last time you were in the middle of a project and someone in your organization called your line to ask a simple question, this interrupted the efficiency in which you were completing a task. Many people think of phones as a quick way to acquire information but the people on the receiving end are usually staring at a report or agenda and simply relaying information. What if this information was accessible to those seeking an answer and how much time would that save?

When we meet with clients and start holding meetings with various members of an organization, we begin to see just how many small, micro phone calls people are handling which are nothing more than looking at a database and relaying information to a customer. This is just one of the ways we are able to work with our clients to provide business automation and business process management services and help find ways to reduce time wasting. We believe there is absolutely no reason anymore to waste your employees time dealing with phone calls from customers or vendors asking for basic information or internally reaching out to a co-worker before a staff meeting to update a company number. This is the type of problem that a company intranet or external facing company portal that is accessible to clients/customers would solve. These types of solutions pay themselves off in a matter of months as they provide the ability for people to self-serve, which becomes crucial for a young business to grow.

If you want to maximize your customer and employee’s time, throw away your company phone and look at ways you can make your website answer the questions for them..

5 Things To Do BEFORE Your Site Gets Hacked

•August 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

In a recent CNN article, they reported an increase in cyber crime and hacking. As an IT company, we have also seen this trend recently as more and more companies are calling us to help when their site gets hacked. As more and more countries gain technical infrastructure but are not getting high quality IT jobs, hackers around the world are starting to use hacking websites as a status symbol, similar to graffiti.  The idea being, if you can climb the tallest building and put your graffiti on it, you become more known. Hacking into websites is being used as tool by these individuals almost as a resume. In light of this increase, we have come up with 5 recommendations any company can do to prevent hacking, even if they do not have a strong IT team:

1. Make sure your usernames and passwords are updated.

Often when we work with a client and ask for the password to their host or website, they’ve usually left it as the default administrator combo or something generic like their office building number or initials. Having weak passwords to your host or website, sets you up for an enormous vulnerability to hackers. Usually with just a quick automated request, a hacker is able to obtain the password. A helpful tip is to change your username for your administrative account if you have a content management system. You can change the username from administrator to something different, like your company name, for example Switchbox_Admin. This small change in and of itself can create a significant barrier for hackers to get into your website because they don’t assume this type of modification has been made.

2. Make sure your web host is backing up your website.

If your website changes constantly, for instance if you have an e-commerce site or if you have a huge amount of content you update regularly, we strongly recommend that you work with your host to create a daily backup. If your website is not changing that frequently, you may want to consider a weekly backup so that if your website does get hacked, your IT department could easily restore a version from a day or a week ago. Usually, having a quick turnaround is enough to deter hackers from attempting to hack your website again because they realize it isn’t a valuable use of their time to hack a website that can easily be restored within a short period of time. Hackers make a point to target websites that can be easily hacked and stay down for as long as possible.

3. Run an online automated scan to see if there are potential vulnerabilities.

Having an IT person is useful for this point as sometimes these online systems can become very confusing. Scans are almost always going to find some items at the low warning level and some of these items can be costly and they are not always going to be required to fix. Having someone help you decipher what is and isn’t worth fixing is beneficial to your time and money. That being said, most scans do offer solutions and sometimes the results can be as easy as making a strong administrator password or turning off a particular setting on your web host. Running a scan and understanding your vulnerabilities is crucial to prevention of your website being hacked.

4.Put all of your hosting information in one location.

If your website does get hacked and you need help, one of the first things you will need to do is provide the name of your hosting company, your username/password and wherever your domain name is registered. Very often we receive calls from clients who are having an issue but without that information, we are unable to solve their problem. They may then spend several days tracking down this information and that becomes several days their website remains vulnerable to whoever hacked it. Having this information beforehand, gives you a timely head to start to resolve your problem quickly.

5. Have a team you feel confident about today that can help you if your website gets hacked tomorrow.

When your site is hacked and down, the last thing you want is to spend your time calling varies companies for bids to fix your problem. You also don’t want to find yourself in a position where you’re forced to rely on a company due to a time constraint who doesn’t have the expertise necessary to resolve your problem. Asking the question ahead of time ‘if our website does get hacked, would you be comfortable fixing it for us’ ensures you know who to rely on prior to having an issue. Having a company or team that you feel confident about prior to a hacking will ensure time and efficiency in the event your website does get hacked.

In a time when Cyber crimes and hacking are on an incline, we’re sure these 5 steps could help towards preventing your website from being hacked.

If you’re looking for a good IT company to help navigate solutions like this and see the problems before they originate, give us a call, we would love to talk to you.


Wendy’s High School Heisman Award Website

•August 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The Wendy’s High School Heisman Award is a joint program between Wendy’s and the Heisman Trophy Trust which rewards our nation’s most esteemed high school seniors.  Award Recognition goes to those who are proven leaders and role models within their school and community as well as actively participating in school sponsored sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Switchbox was excited to collaborate with Rattleback in creating an engaging site that appeals to users on both desktop and mobile devices.

The new site is dynamic and rich in imagery as it documents the process and journeys of the student athletes who participate.  The base of the site has been created with WordPress and built out with Grunt. The design provides an immersive experience starting with video animation on the homepage. Additionally, design for the mobile is switched out to a stacked view and uses an image rather than background video to accommodate for a better responsive experience.  Images, videos and stories throughout the site are used to keep the audience engaged.

Below is a video highlighting the homepage to the Heisman site. Take a look at the clip or visit the site at

What’s on your company’s dashboard?

•August 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Years of experience has taught us that each business utilizes some sort of a dashboard. It may look like a piece of paper they hand out in a meeting, it may be a marker board that is up on the wall in their manufacturing facility or there are some who may have it as a digital tool. Every industry tends to have different items on their dashboard. For example, in Social Work or any industry dealing with people, it is usually the caseload. For manufacturers and distribution it is often orders that need to be fulfilled or perhaps orders that have been shipped. Regardless of industry, the common thread remains, dashboards are a valuable resource to companies.

Here at Switchbox we have been working on dashboards for years for various businesses and organizations. While dashboards have proven to be a viable resource to a business, it is through our experience that we have found keeping a dashboard updated is the number one issue with having them fail. Often updating a dashboard requires multiple people to physically be in the same room or many emails back and forth through many departments, ultimately resulting in a lot of time and miscommunication of information. However, at Switchbox, we have become particularly good at finding ways to automate dashboards. We help clients identify what needs to be on their dashboard and then help collect the correct information in order for management and teams to use it effectively. We look at the data a company collects and show them how their information could be simplified by organizing it all in one place. In addition, we help the client by deciding which is the best way to present the data (percentage, graphical, numerical, average, etc.). Overall, our experience with dashboards has helped us streamline communication and information within an organization. We are able to find what information is the most important and create efficient ways to access and update the dashboards themselves.

What’s on your dashboard and how can we make it better?


Which Way Should You Go – A Single Onsite Resource Developer or a Development Team?

•July 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment

We’ve been getting asked a lot recently if it makes more sense to hire one developer that works in-house or to hire a development agency like us. Obviously we are biased in this issue but the discussion comes up so often we wanted to share our thoughts.  Many businesses believe there is value in hiring one developer to work on all internal issues instead of hiring the team at a software development company like ours. A short time ago, we took on a project from a client who had a similar intention.  Our client had recently hired an experienced, senior developer and by doing so, thought this experienced developer would be able to resolve all of their issues internally.  This developer did a great job, in all honesty we wish we had hired them first.  However, after a year or so the internal developer was so bogged down in the day to day operations they didn’t have time to handle some of the larger projects that were on the company development backlog.  The sales team needed some special reporting, marketing wanted changes to the main site to handle new sales promotions, and the list kept growing.

Initially, we met with the client to discuss their issues in order to find the best solution to their problems.  They were frustrated with this developer and since they did not know how much work he should or should not be able to do they didn’t know how to manage his role.  As we started talking, we also agreed that the hired developer was in fact experienced and incredibly knowledgeable. Overall, on paper, this client had everything they needed to get the job done. However, as the conversation progressed we quickly saw the issues. One of the largest problems was that the developer worked alone. This particular developer had great experience but simply did not have additional developers to share ideas with and learn from, ultimately leaving him a bit stuck.  Additionally, he was working with two other internal technical resources (one in marketing and one hardware) and essentially wasn’t collaborating well with the team. When the client came to us, our team was able to work with their developer, provide different ideas and offer additional help and support. Overall, this project was a success for our team and the client. We not only resolved the issue for the client but did so by collaborating with their internal team.

This particular problem is something we have seen over and over again. People who are not used to managing IT projects often believe they can hire a good developer and that in it of itself will get the work done. In truth, developers always work better on a team. A team dynamic offers diversity in terms of knowledge and experience for individuals to bounce ideas off of each other. It also offers developers to get a breather and have someone else look at code, help troubleshoot or spot issues. Just as a great sport’s team is comprised of many varying degrees of talent, ultimately it is how they work together that proves the greatness of their success. A development team offers varying levels of experience and ideas because of each unique perspective offered by each individual. This is something we’ve really enjoyed offering at Switchbox. Our team encompasses developers who have worked together for years, who collaborate well and who compliment each other. Often Switchbox is able to take on a project and complete it faster and of higher quality because of the tremendous talent and partnership on our team.



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