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A Review of TAX DRx Franchise

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Drive down any street in the US these days and it’s not very long or far before one runs into to an office that prepares and files tax returns. Many of these are well known franchise offerings; some that have almost become synonymous with tax preparation itself. There are the old time names and newer comers as well. Each of these franchises have a niche that they serve. Many of the smaller and newer tax franchise offices specialize in RAL’s or “Refund Anticipation Loans.” Some of the companies have names that sound like accounting firms while others have more commercial sounding names.

TAX DRx is a new and different kind of tax franchise that combines both tax preparation and resolution services under one roof. We all know what tax preparation is, but tax resolution adds an interesting and profitable service to the TAX DRx franchise offering. Tax resolution is the service by which professionals work with those that are having some trouble with the IRS to help them “resolve” differences and or disputes. Many tax preparation offices are busy from January until the end of April, then they are either closed or open for reduced hours after that time. TAX DRx offices generate revenues year round which makes their business model very different.

It’s estimated that almost Sixty Percent (60%) of US tax filers pay a professional to prepare and file their returns. This makes tax preparation a great business for the right person. Tax preparation is considered to be a business that is both recession resistant as well as one having low start up costs. These two things combine to make it an attractive business now and for years to come.

The tax resolution aspect of TAX DRx makes it a very interesting franchise offering compared to other franchises. In order for a professional to offer tax resolution services they must either be an attorney, a CPA, or an Enrolled Agent with the IRS, a designation which can only be obtained after passing a test given by the IRS. TAX DRx expects all of it’s franchise owners to eventually have a professional designation to handle tax resolution work. TAX DRx has a way of assisting any tax franchise owner with tax resolution cases until they obtain the required designation. By requiring owners of the franchise to have better and more in depth knowledge of tax preparation, it is TAX DRx’s hope that they will be able offer a higher level of tax services than other tax franchises, thus attracting clients who are willing to pay a little more for a better quality service.

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How to Prevent Your Headlight Bulbs From Blowing Too Frequently

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If you find your headlight bulbs are blowing on a regular basis, then there could be several reasons why it is happening and by identifying what the cause of the problem is, you will save yourself the cost off continually buying replacement bulbs, and the hassle of needing to constantly change them.

Are You Using Your Headlight Bulbs For Long Periods?

The typical expected lifespan of a standard halogen headlight bulb is around 350 to 400 hours, so if you are driving a lot during the long winter nights or even if you keep your headlights on during the day it is possible that your bulbs could only last 2 to 3 months.

Its important to note that if you have fitted upgrade xenon bulbs they will normally last only around 200 hours, because they have been in effect tweaked to improve their light output. For drivers who do use their headlight bulbs for long periods you can reduce the amount of time between changes by fitting long life headlight bulbs.

These tougher car bulbs contain heavy duty reinforced components and so last normally three times longer than standard halogen bulbs, whilst still offering the same lighting performance as normal halogen bulbs.

Are You Touching The Glass Bulb When You Change Them?

If you touch the glass section of the headlight bulb with bare hands, the natural oils within your skin will leave a small residue of grease behind. Once the halogen bulb is illuminated this oil patch will create a hotspot within the bulb and lead to it failing early. Therefore it is a good idea to wear latex gloves when installing new halogen bulbs.

Are The Bulbs Getting Wet Or Suffering Excess Vibration?

Whilst most of the major bulb manufacturers used toughened glass in the construction of their headlight bulbs, they are still vulnerable to the effects of thermal shock. This means that if they come into contact with water that has leaked into the headlight unit, then it is very likely that the bulb will be damaged. It is also important to ensure the bulb is securely installed as otherwise the extra jolts and bumps it will be subjected to can damage the filament

Is The Car’s Electrical System Working Correctly?

When installing the bulbs make sure that the electrical connectors from the lights power lead are firmly joined to the metal connectors on the base of the headlight bulbs, otherwise it is easy to get a short circuit and blow the bulb.

It is also important to check that the alternator is not overcharging the battery and delivering more voltage than the bulb is designed for. Typically the maximum voltage of a bulb is around 13.2 volts.

Are You Buying Good Quality Headlight Bulbs?

Whilst cheaper car bulbs may seem like a good idea, they normally lack the high quality and precision components used by the leading manufactures like Osram and Philips, and will not last as long. High quality bulbs will be marked with the E1 mark, which indicates they have undergone the most rigorous testing and quality standards.

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Recession Proof Your Business – 10 Steps For Success!

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Two years prior to this recession our business took a turn for the worst and we almost closed our doors for good. My wife and I own a small custom made window treatment and bedding manufacturing business with 5 employees and work exclusively for Interior Decorators and Designers alike. Since the time we opened our doors in 1999 we have had no time to breathe! We were always back logged 6 to 8 weeks and with out warning the orders stopped!!! No faxes, no phone calls and no explanation! We visited all of our accounts to see if we were not servicing there needs or if they were sending work else where but this was not the case at all.

They were in the same boat we were in! We had to lay off all of our employees and slowly went through our savings. We were forced to take loans out just to pay the mortgage and have food on the table. After 6 very long months the orders started coming in just like some one turned a switch on! Our employees went back to work and it was business as usual, except now we are in a financial hole and cannot afford to take another blow! We received a huge wake up call and new that if we do not have a good back up plan we will lose everything we have worked for, our home, the business, everything! A very scary thought… So my wife and I implemented a back up plan just in case business showed signs of slowing down again. If we had not had this plan in place we would have closed our doors… We turned our business around in a recession! Here are 10 steps you need to take to recession proof your business.

Step 1) Make a brochure that explains what you do and the services you provide and target your customers! Hand deliver to local areas and talk to your potential customers. This is no different from how politicians get votes! I don’t care if you only sell a $10.00 pizza! Keep track of your sales and talk to your customers! Brochures with pictures are a visual description and need to be sent to all customers who have used your services in the past as well as potential customers.

Step 2) Keep track of who is ordering from you and make sure you log name, telephone and addresses. Why do most businesses fail today? It’s very simple! Because they never followed up on service or tracked who there customers are! If you think because they ordered from you once they will order again. Wrong. Thousands of small businesses open and needlessly close every year just because they did not follow up with there customers or listen to what they have to say about the product or service. If you do not get feedback from your customers you cannot correct potential problems. The worst mistake you can make is to think you satisfied your customer because they did not approach or call you with a problem. Most people never will! And you will never hear from them again. Repeat customers are your best customers!

Step 3) Advertise your product or service. This is a double edge sword! You may not be able to afford it but if you sit back and do nothing you will fail! You need to be smart on where to place your adds. Monthly small adds in your local news paper under “Dial a service” or small weekly news papers are a good start but stay away from radio until your cash flow has increased. Radio is referred to as “Passive advertising” and is effective, but if you can only afford one method choose print and always include a picture!. Time line your advertising and make sure you give customers a reason by offering a sale or discount.

Step 4) Sign up for home shows in your area. Home shows are mainly held in spring & fall seasons and are a very useful tool to connect to potential customers. This is where a professionally made brochure on good quality paper with several pictures and a well written description will make the difference! Have a date book ready and offer a free consultation, free product, free estimate, etc. You need to get names and phone numbers!

Step 5) Listen to customers needs! My wife and I had rented a booth at The Great North East Home Show in Albany N.Y. Several potential customers approached us inquiring about cellular shades and wood blinds. Since we manufactured draperies and fabric roman shades they naturally assumed we sold cellular and wood blinds as well. The fact is we did not! But we set up in home appointments and the very next day set up an account with Kirsch and had them ship demo books for us to show our potential customers. We sold 20 cellular shades, 4 wood blinds and 3 metal mini blinds, 3 roller shades and 2 vertical blinds. We had no idea how popular these items were! The point I’m trying to get across is not be so quick to turn down a sale because you cannot be bothered finding the product! There were plenty of competitors at this home show but we were the only ones who offered free in home consultation and free installation!

Step 6) Have a website! I have 3 websites and the total cost per month is $30.00! Making your own website is easy! Make sure you include your website in all advertisements.

Step 7) Diversify your business! The only reason why we are still in business today and thriving through a recession! Drastic time need drastic measures! We changed our company from a wholesale business that only worked for Interior Designers to a full retail store! Now instead of just manufacturing window treatments and bedding products we now sell everything related to window fashion like decorative wood poles and hardware, cellular shades, wood blinds, vertical blinds, mini blinds, and wood shutters. We also added several lines of fabric companies and display hundreds of fabric books for our customers to choose from as well as a complete line of decorative fabric trims. We put a divider wall up that separated our workroom from the showroom but customers can still look in and see the factory.

Step 8) Offer a service or product for free! Now I know what your thinking, how can I make money if I’m giving it away! Well your not going to make money if it sits on a shelf or no one is walking through your doors either! We offer free in home consultation and it’s on all our advertising and on our website. 80% of the time we make a sale! We do most quotes by email. This has been a powerful tool for us! Many times the fabrics or style the customer has picked out is to expensive and a deal breaker. Having the customers email address allows us to select alternative fabrics or styles that are less expensive and email them pictures and new pricing with in there budget with out wasting our, or the customers time. No one will tell you how much there willing to spend until the quote is to high! Your job is to find ways to cut corners and still make a profit and keep your customer satisfied at the same time, not an easy task but some money is better than no money!

Step 9) Don’t mind your own business! Find out every thing you can about your competitor. Who uses them, what products and services they provide, what they charge, pricing, sales, everything! Now find out what they do not offer or areas where you can beat certain price points or service and run with it!

Step 10) Times have changed, has your business changed with the times? The banks are not lending money, charge card companies are lowering credit limits, companies are laying off, and the news reminds us every day how bad thing are! As a business owner you need to change with the times or close your doors… We had to make a 360 degree turn around in order to survive. We researched products that our competitors do not offer, or are a better value, offer free services and work twice as hard! The good news is that people still have money and the majority of the country is working! But, everyone has tightened there belts and want the best deals for there money. Re-think! Change! Don’t down size, diversify!

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Understanding How a Distance Education Program Works

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Students had to attend classes at a university to get credit once upon a time. If you had a time conflict, or the university was far away, you missed out. Now distance education has changed all of this. Distance education is also sometimes called distance learning, and it involves getting educational materials to students who aren’t physically attending a course. The education is offered via technology or correspondence.

Students in far-flung corners of the globe can now get an education thanks to distance learning. In fact, the University of South Africa, established in 1946, is one of the oldest distance education universities.

Individual distance education classes and programs have been around for far longer. Distance education can be traced back to Sir Issac Pitman, who also invented shorthand. Pittman thought it might be useful to offer courses via the mail. The idea was adapted by the University of Chicago in the early 1900s; they began what is likely the first department for correspondence courses. It was not the last such department. The idea caught on and other universities followed suit.

There were only a few countries where distance learning was a major component of the educational system, however, until 1969. This changed when the United Kingdom started the Open University. This changed distance education radically and encouraged other similar universities to be founded.

Today, we have distance education that would have seemed like a dream to these earlier departments. Students can get materials via podcast, webcast, videoconferencing, satellite broadcast, email, CD-ROM, and broadband to name just a few.

We can even use a virtual classroom to deliver materials. This means that a teacher gives a lecture in one classroom and it is broadcast via teleconference to students in other classrooms as well. Students benefit from remote technology in many ways. They can also get online video materials and course materials, chat with tutors online, email instructors, and so on.

Distance learning programs are thriving in the United States. You can find them now in nonprofit and for-profit businesses of both private and public sectors.

It is still quite expensive to offer distance learning, however. Still, with technology becoming more reasonable over time, the possibilities for this type of learning to be used more widely are quite good.

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Choosing A Broker – Your First Step To Forex Sucess

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As the online Forex trading market becomes increasingly saturated and the choice of brokers becomes wider, the decision of which broker to run with becomes increasingly important for the trader. Although the majority of brokers provide the same basic trading platform, there can be a vast difference in what they offer their clients, both in terms of trading conditions as well as customer support. By simply visiting a company’s homepage it may be hard to separate the second-rate firms from the professionals, therefore this article will examine the main parameters that should be taken into consideration before creating an account and depositing.

Account type

The decision of which type of account to open will most likely depend on the amount of capital you have to invest. Most brokerages offer two main account types: a “Mini” ($100-$200 minimum deposit) and a “standard” account ($1,000-$2,000 minimum deposit). Mini accounts are best suited to new or amateur traders looking to gain market experience and confidence with a smaller investment, and offer higher leverage, which you’ll need in order to make money with such a small amount of initial capital. “Standard” account holders can expect to enjoy a wider variety of leverage options, but will have to invest a greater sum of money for the privilege. Although not as commonly advertised, many brokers provide a premium service for large investors (perhaps $100,000 – $250,000+), including additional VIP services, such as a dedicated fund manager and tailor made conditions.

Common to nearly all online brokers is the offer of a demo account, which allows users to get a feel for the software and gain trading experience without the risk of market exposure. Such simulations are undoubtedly beneficial to potential clients wishing to test the waters, but caveat emptor: they are not always representative of real-market, real-platform conditions, despite claims of full functionality. Do not be afraid to question a brokerage on this matter – an honest, reliable broker will admit the downfalls of a demo account.

Software Considerations

The foreign currency market can move at a fast pace and will often require you to make quick decisions and executions, regardless of where you happen to be. Depending on your level and frequency of trading as well as travel habits, it may be wise to choose a brokerage that offers a web-based Java trading platform, which requires no download and enables you to trade from any location worldwide.

Payment Options

Look for brokers that allow you to pay with credit card, as this is the easiest option by far and does not involve the necessity of transferring funds from online e-account. Other payment options typically offered include wire transfer, which is equally as secure as credit card, but expect to wait a number of days for it to clear and to have access to your funds.

Support

Perhaps one of the most crucial considerations and one that may potentially have a significant effect on your trading success is the issue of customer support. Whether you are a first time forex amateur or a FX vet, having the support and advice of a reliable, dedicated customer service team is undoubtedly invaluable, so it would prudent to do your homework on this one. The only way to gauge the quality of a support team is to contact them and see how they deal with your inquiries: are they fast, do they give reliable technical and market advice; do you get the sense that they know the industry well enough to advise others, or are they simply good sales people? This might not be so easy to find out, but as the only point of contact between yourself and the brokerage, it is important to do so. As with any business, pre-sale service might be more satisfactory than post-sale, so again, try to judge whether or not you are being helped or simply pitched.

Platform, Tools & Analysis

In the present online market place it is rare to find a company which does not offer real-time tools such as charting and price updates, but predictably the quality and availability of such applications will vary from broker to broker. Ideally you should have access to a wide range of tools, enabling you to assess the market 24 hours a day, making your trading decisions accordingly, and in addition your broker should also provide you with daily market reports, prepared in-house by professional analysts. These reports should cover the basics: economic news relevant to the major currencies, technical movements and general commentary. The better known, more reputable analysts have their reports published on a number of the larger online forex portals and forums, which is an indication that their data is considered accurate and reliable, which in turn tells you a little more about the reliability of the brokerage itself.

As previously mentioned, many trading platforms offer the same basic functions, but not all brokers cover all areas of the forex market, so before committing make sure your chosen platform will let you trade the currency pairs you require.

Spreads

Spreads are an important factor to consider before investment and will certainly require some shopping around in order to find the best offer to suit your trading habits. The spread is the difference between the price at which currency can be bought and the price at which it can be sold at any given point in time. FX brokers don’t charge “commissions”, so this difference is how they make their money; therefore, the lower the spread, the lower the commission, and unlike stocks, currencies are not traded through a central exchange, so the spread may differ from broker to broker. Spreads differ according to account type, with mini accounts offering spreads between 1.5-2 times higher than those offered for Standard accounts, which in turn are higher than those offered to large volume traders with VIP status.

“Fixed” spreads remain the same day or night, and despite market conditions, and although they are usually somewhat wider than the narrowest of variable spreads, they can be safer over the long term by providing a slightly higher level of predictability and a slightly lower level of risk. “Variable” spreads change according to market conditions (which may initially be attractive during a calm period, but once the market becomes busy, they are likely to widen considerably, meaning that the market will then have to move significantly in your favor before a profit is turned).

Leverage

Unless you intend to invest a six-figure sum of capital, the use of leverage will be essential in order to make decent profits in forex. Generally speaking, the sum of money made during a successful trade amounts to just fractions of a single cent per unit, so if you are buying lots worth just a few thousand dollars or less, your profits will be minimal. This is where leverage comes into play: in effect by “borrowing” your broker’s funds temporarily you will be able to make larger trades, which, if all goes according to plan, will lead to larger profits. Obviously, this practice involves an inherent risk: if the market takes a turn for the worse you risk losing a substantial sum of money, depending on the amount of leverage taken. For this reason it is advisable to do some further reading on leverage and margins prior to using leverage, so that you are fully informed before exposing yourself to the open market. Under normal market conditions, some common currency pairs are generally less volatile, and may warrant a higher level of risk taking, while more exotic currencies may not be predictable enough and traders would be advised to use less leverage when getting involved with such pairs. Mini accounts provide the highest levels of leverage, with some brokers offering up to x 400.

Education

While practicing on a demo account may help you improve somewhat and trading with real money might teach you some hard-learned lessons, the best way to improve your trading ability and provide yourself with a solid knowledge base is to educate yourself. To this effect, more and more online brokers are offering trading courses or tutorials, ranging from free five minute “introductions to forex” to curricula covering the smallest of details and costing thousands of dollars. Well established educational centers, such as the Online Trading Academy (OTA), with years of technical training experience are your best bet, providing solid instruction that will not only teach you the basics of the market, but also the technical side of the business (advanced technical analysis, charting, chart reading, Fibonacci calculations etc.). Some brokerages produce their own courses in conjunction with such trading centers, such as the course offered by Forexyard.com. Without educating oneself, the vast majority of built in market tools offered by trading platforms will be wasted on the amateur forex trader.

In summary, there are numerous factors to consider before choosing the right online forex broker, all of which should be researched to ensure that your trading account and broker will allow you to get the most from your investment. You must be aware that some brokers do not have your best interests at heart, but do not despair, as there are many reputable and reliable companies eager and capable of providing a professional service. As part of your research, be sure to visit the many online trader forums, where you can discuss any of the issues raised in this article with other traders, many of whom will already have been through the process of choosing a broker and will be able to advise you from their own experiences.

Article written by FOREXYARD.

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Small Business Websites – Inexpensive and Easy

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Is the website for your small business outdated and amateurish? What does that say about your company? But, websites can cost thousands of dollars, right?

Yes, they can but, they don’t have to. In this article, we’ll discuss the options that you have to get the website you want, while keeping more of your hard-earned money to invest into the core functions of your business.

The barrier to entry as a “web developer” or “web designer” is at an all-time low. Practically any kid in high school can build a simple, decent website these days. But, your business deserves more than “decent.” You want to show that you are professional, and nothing can take away from that more than an out-dated website with poor design and usability.

What is often not understood is that the biggest expense in website development is the creative work, such as graphic design and copy writing, and the administrative costs associated with managing the project. Believe it or not, the person coding your site probably receives only about 1/3 of the fees you pay for a website when you use an advertising firm or design shop.

So, what’s a business owner to do? Let’s take a look at some options.

Offshore Outsourcing

May websites, such as planetsourcecode.com, guru.com, and odesk.com will offer services with which you can hire contractors to build your website for you. Most of the contractors you’ll find on these sites are working from Middle East and Eastern European countries, and you can find someone advertising the skill set you need in all price ranges. While this seems to be an attractive option, it does come with several drawbacks.

I have used these services in the past. However, I usually limited it to small projects that required very little oversight, or to have an expert in a particular field solve a very specific problem. I have not had very good luck when we’ve assigned a full project to one of these contractors, especially if the project required a lot of administrative oversight.

Some advantages of using offshore outsourcing for your web site are:

  • With a lot of searching and a little luck, you can find skilled workers who are willing to work very inexpensively.
  • Many contractors are students who are in computer science classes, and typically have a good attention to detail and industry standards.
  • Most services have an escrow system so that you don’t have to release funds to the contractor until you accept their work.

But, as mentioned, outsourcing your website to offshore contractors has some disadvantages, as well:

  • While most of the contractors you work with will speak English well, there are still some communication barriers. I believe this has more to do with the differences in terminology used, rather than a true language issue.
  • It’s not uncommon for a contractor to get halfway through your project and then disappear.
  • While you can find someone to work for a low price, you typically get what you pay for. Many times, you would have come out ahead paying a much higher hourly rate and having someone who is more accountable build your site.

While I wouldn’t count out offshore development help, I really feel that the disadvantages are magnified for the typical small business owner. Once you count the cost of your time, the headaches and hours spent trying to manage a few overseas contractors can greatly outweigh any advantages and cost savings you would see.

Hire a Kid

These days it’s very common to find a teenager with the skills to build a simple website. In fact, there are many with advanced skill sets that rival some professionals. If you have a good relationship with a teenager or college age student, and need a very basic site, this may be a good option.

The advice I would give is to only use a student that you know and trust. While their skills may be adequate, there is still a level of maturity and professionalism that may be absent. Teenagers may not realize the importance of issues such as security, protection against cross-site scripting attacks, protecting web forms from spammers, etc. However, for a basic, static site, you will probably not find a better bargain.

Some advantage of hiring a student are:

  • The will likely work very inexpensively, or even at no cost, if they’re trying to build up a resume or portfolio.
  • They usually have very good skills at the basic level.

Some disadvantage include:

  • Lack of maturity and responsibility
  • Lack of knowledge of advanced aspects
  • Lack of importance placed on security and other issues, which can cause you problems down the road.
  • Lack of support when you need something changed or fixed later
  • The appearance of your site is directly related to the design capabilities and creative skills of the student, which may not provide you with the most professional looking site.

As mentioned, I would only suggest this option if you are needing a very simple site with static content and no advanced features. I would also recommend that the person hired is known and trusted. Otherwise, I would look at one of the other options available.

Use WordPress or Drupal

The use of pre-packaged content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress or Drupal is growing in popularity. This is due to the fact that they allow a person with fairly basic knowledge of web development to get a very professional looking site up quickly and easily. They also have many plugins that allow you to include almost any common function you’d like into your site.

The fastest growing CMS is WordPress. This is likely due to the ease of development of plugins as compared to others. The number of plugins and themes available for WordPress seems to be endless, and it’s very easy to build a nice looking and fully functional website without requiring custom programming.

Drupal, while not growing as quickly in use as WordPress, is still becoming more and more popular, especially with highly customized site. It sells itself as more of a true framework than a CMS system, as it lends itself to the development of some highly advanced plugins. Personally, I see WordPress catching up in this area with the latest release. I believe WordPress to be easier to theme, as well.

For the typical small business, using a CMS for your website is probably the most cost-effective option. Many hosting companies have a “one-click install” for WordPress and Drupal, as well as some other popular CMS applications.

However, the claim that “anyone can build a website” with one of the systems is really an over-statement. There still remains a required level of technology skills and an understanding of basic website development. The user must be capable of doing some research and finding documentation on the use of the various plugins in order to take full advantage of these systems. Many development companies will assist with this and include some basic training with their services.

So, to summarize the pro’s and con’s of this option, the advantages of using a pre-packaged, Open Source content management system are:

  • Produces a very professional looking website
  • Easy to install
  • No cost to install and configure with many hosting companies
  • Many plugins and/or modules available, both free and commercial, which can extend the functionality beyond the core system.
  • Many themes available, both free and commercial, which allow you to change the look of the site very easily without altering the content.
  • Most produce compliant HTML/CSS code, making the site’s appearance uniform across different browsers and operating systems.

Disadvantages include:

  • Steep learning curve for developers looking to extend functionality past what is available with existing plugins.
  • Custom themes may be more difficult for developers/designers to build than if working with other template engines or raw HTML/CSS.
  • Many advertise that they improve search engine rankings out of the box, but much of the search engine optimization is based on the content of the site. Therefore, these claims are basically unfounded, in my opinion.

One other common CMS which we’re beginning to look at is Typo3. It shows to be very easy to develop on, but a full review of it hasn’t been completed. Therefore, I’ll have to wait before I recommend it. However, I would highly recommend WordPress and, to a lesser extent, Drupal for the typical small business website. Nothing is quicker and less expensive to have a professional looking site up and running.

Hire an Individual Developer

Of course, as a developer, my favorite option is for you to hire one of us to build your website for you. Granted, I may choose to develop it on one of the CMS applications noted above, but we also might wish to use a custom-built CMS to provide a better user experience for you when you’re keeping your website updated.

Custom programming is often used to develop such functions as shopping carts, membership management systems, image galleries, etc. Many of these functions are available as plugins to one of the pre-packages CMS applications, so the need for them is certainly not a driving force in the decision to hire a professional developer. However, if you don’t want to spend the time to learn one of the CMS applications, and research the documentation for all of the plugins, a custom application can often save you time and money down the road.

Some key advantages to hiring a developer for a fully custom-built site are:

  • It’s easier to integrate custom graphics and complex designs into your site
  • It’s easier and less expensive to build custom application functions that aren’t available with the plugins and modules offered in a CMS
  • The user interface can be built to be so intuitive that very little to no training is necessary for you to manage your site
  • It is often less expensive to build custom functionality from scratch than it is to build a custom plugin for a CMS to provide that functionality
  • Well built custom CMS applications are often much less resource-intensive, and scale better than pre-packaged systems.

Of course, going this route has its drawbacks, including:

  • It’s very important to hire a developer that you can communicate well with and that you trust, or else it can be a financial nightmare
  • Custom applications tend to be “buggy” at first and you have to allow for a period of time to test and fix some quirks before you make the site live. (A good developer will fix any bugs at no cost — see the first item in the list)
  • The time involved with development, as well as testing and debugging, will not allow a site to be put online as quickly as it can be with a CMS.
  • Though this option is more affordable than most people believe, there is a higher cost involved than there is when developing on a pre-packaged CMS
  • The look of your site will depend greatly on the quality of the graphic design, which may increase the cost of your site even more

My recommendation is that, even if you believe it best to use WordPress or Drupal for your site, have a good developer look at what you’re wanting to do and give you a solid quote for a custom CMS. You may find that the cost difference is not much and the advantages may be worth it. This will likely be true if your site is built around an advanced graphic design that doesn’t lend itself to being implemented in a pre-packaged CMS.

Summary

Shop around and compare options. Discuss your needs with someone who has diverse experience and an open mind, rather than with the person who only has one solution to offer. Be sure to discuss future plans for your business and your site, so those issues can be addressed early in the process.

Getting your site up and running can be an easy task, but make sure you select an option which allows you to easily manage your site in the future as well. Doing so will ensure you have more time to spend on running your business, and less on maintaining a poorly developed website.

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How Solar Panels Work To Produce Solar Energy In Three Steps

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For many, the concept of being able to tap into the sun and produce energy that can power their home, business, or automobile is a mysterious phenomenon. Unlocking the power of the sun in just a few simple steps can not only save you thousands on utility bills but also help create a more sustainable world by reducing our carbon footprint. Here is how solar panels work to produce energy:

1. Solar Panel Technology

Solar panels work to convert sunlight into electricity that your home can use, reducing your electricity bills. Panels come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and use a range of solar cell technology. The very best panels work harder by maximizing every drop of solar energy available throughout the day. The very best solar panels on the market can produce 70% more energy than lesser solar panels over the course of 25 years*. Studies have shown that a solid copper foundation adds strength to panels, and ultra pure silicon delivers optimal solar energy conversion. In fact, the world record efficiency of 24.2% delivers 44% more power per square foot of solar panels, meaning that they work to produce significantly more solar energy that panels made from other materials. It’s also imperative that your panels are engineered and tested to stand up to the world’s harshest conditions, including temperature swings, battering winds, humidity, hail, and more. If the design or quality of the solar panel is inferior, it could mean that you’ll be producing significantly less solar energy. A well-certified system has been shown to yield solar energy for more than 40 years.

2. Installing Solar Panels

Once you select the very highest quality solar panel technology, placement of the solar panels is key to generating solar energy. Some of the most popular locations for panel installation are on the roof of your home or business, surrounding areas on the ground, or a solar canopy. Your solar company will input your home’s dimensions into a Computer Assisted Design (CAD) program to aid in assembling a permit submittal packet. Once the solar company has determined which location will generate the most solar energy and the number of panels will be installed, a typical solar system installation only takes a couple of days.

3. Monitoring The System

Once your system is installed, you’ll immediately start producing solar energy that can be used to run your lights, computers, machinery, and any other electrical devices for your home or business. A utility meter tracks your energy use and counts both ways. You will earn credits for solar power produced but not used because it is pushed back into the utility grid. The utility grid still provides you with electricity at night, when you’re not producing enough solar power, but any credits earned during the day cover that cost. Remember, the amount of solar energy you’re producing can change throughout the year based on where you live and how much sunlight your panels are receiving on a daily basis. To check on how much solar energy your panels are producing you can use your online monitoring system to track production. If you notice a significant variation, notify your solar company to ensure everything is working properly.

* https://us.sunpower.com/solar-panels-technology/facts/

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