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  • What is a monad?

    Without getting too deep in computer science terminology, a monad is a way of creating a wrapper around an entity/object/concept to make it easier to work with in other contexts, without modifying it. This is exactly what we do: we provide websites and consulting to represent your organization in the digital space, without changing the way you do your business.

    Tags: About

  • Why don't you offer blog post writing?

    Because we're coders, not writers! Writing text (a.k.a. copywriting or content creation), is surprisingly difficult to get right. The voice and tone need to be consistent with your brand. It needs to be clear and concise and at the reading level of your audience for it to be understood. It needs to be optimized it for organic SEO without impacting readability. In other words, it's not what we do best. But we DO partner with some excellent partners who can help make sure all these factors are met so your website can perform at it's best!

    Tags: About, Websites

  • What is WordPress?

    WordPress is a website platform aimed at people who want to manage their own content in an easy-to-use interface. Originally developed to help create blog sites, it has grown over time to now support making even complex sites with user accounts and even e-commerce. It's estimated that it powers between 50% to 70% of all websites on the internet. On the technical side, it's made up a few different technologies, including a web server, a database, and a programming language called PHP. It's a great option for people who want full control over their site and who require (or prefer to use) a friendlier publishing experience. However, since it's so popular and has many technologies under the hood, it's a common target for hackers, requires frequent security and maintenance updates, and the many pieces can make it slower unless done correctly.

    Tags: Websites, Technology

  • What is Shopify?

    Shopify is an e-commerce platform designed to make it easy for shop owners to sell products and services online and offers payment options for brick-and-mortar shops. There are nearly 5 million websites powered by Shopify. It's headquartered in Canada, so it's a plus if you're looking to support Canadian. It's a great option for people who want a streamlined e-commerce solution.

    Tags: Websites, Technology

  • What is a custom site?

    We admit 'custom' is a bit misleading, since all sites are 'custom' from a design and content perspective, but in this case, we're referring to what technology is powering it. We use it as a catch-all for any site that doesn't use a platform like WordPress, Shopify, or other solutions we don't offer like Wix or Squarespace. This is our preferred method of creating websites since they are generally faster and more secure. The trade-off is the client has less control over the content should they want to change things, and it's not well-suited to small-to-medium e-commerce businesses as it would be more costly to you compared to a platform like Shopify.

    Tags: Websites, Technology

  • Should I choose WordPress, Shopify, or a custom website?

    Here's a breakdown of what we would recommend based on what you need:

    • E-commerce - Shopify.
    • Client-controlled or basic app with user accounts - WordPress.
    • Anything else (e.g., landing page, informational site, or complex web application): custom.

    Tags: Websites, Technology

  • What makes a great website?

    A great website is one that is beautiful, fast, secure, inclusive, and engaging. At the end of the day, the purpose of a website is to get noticed online and to convert visitors into customers. Search engines use these factors to determine the quality of your site and similarity to a users' search term(s). Without getting a good ranking, visitors will never even know about your website since it won't be shown to them in the results. You also need to have good descriptions appear in the search engine so if they do see your result, they choose you over the hundreds of other potentials. Once they've decided to visit your site, you want to convince them to stay and complete a task, usually contacting you for more information or buying a product or service. The website needs to be fast and easy to use, including for people with disabilities, different devices, and potentially even languages, so that people don't quit out of not being able to use the site. It also needs to be beautiful and secure so that people trust that you're a respectable business.
    That's why a beautiful website without considering the other factors is just throwing your money away. Our approach always starts with the user and their needs, and then we work backwards to make sure the site hits all the targets: fast, secure, inclusive, engaging, AND beautiful. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you get the most out of your website.

    Tags: Websites

  • What makes a website 'complex'?

    User accounts (especially when there are many roles, such as where admins have access to everything while basic users are limited in what they can do), multiple languages, and very dynamic content (think an application like Gmail) can quickly increase the number of moving parts in a website, and drastically impact the cost, time to develop, and the technologies used.

    Tags: Websites, Technology

  • How much should a website cost

    We had to do some research on this ourselves to know what we were willing to charge. Check out our pricing page and compare with the following links.

    We feel our prices are fair and competitive given the quality of our work, and we're happy to provide a free quote for your project.

    Tags: Websites, Price

  • What makes a site fast?

    Oof, this is a big subject with a lot of technical details, but we'll do our best! At the end of the day, what makes a site fast is how quickly you can get a webpages' data from the server to your browser, and then for the browser to turn that data into what you see on the screen. So, having smaller webpages, having the server geographically close to your users, and not asking for more data than you need are crucial. There are many (many) factors that are related to shrinking down a webpages' size, the most important of which are optimizing and compressing images and using the least amount of JavaScript as possible.

    Tags: Websites, Technology

  • What makes a site secure?

    Using common and up to date technologies, having fewer technologies, and using standards developed by experts. For example, making a simple site that can be served by a CDN rather than one that has a web server and a database like WordPress means there's fewer ways for attackers to get into your system. And you should always use HTTPS to keep your data safe from prying eyes. As a bonus, secure websites increase brand trust and rank higher in search engines. You wouldn't want to log in to a website that has been obviously hacked, would you?

    Tags: Websites, Security

  • What is hosting?

    Hosting is the service that makes your website available to the world. It's where your website files are stored and where your domain name is pointed to. You can also store your email on the same server, however we don't recommend this. There are many different types of hosting, but the most common is shared hosting, where your website is hosted on a server with many other websites. This is the most cost-effective option for most people, but it does have some drawbacks. For example, if one of the other websites on the server is hacked, it could affect your website. Also, if the server is overloaded, it could slow down your website. We recommend using a managed hosting provider to help mitigate these risks.

    Tags: Hosting

  • What is managed hosting and is it worth it?

    Unless you employ someone who is knowledgeable, stays up to date with the platform your website is written in, and who you give the time to actually maintain the website, YES. Things move quickly in the tech world, hackers are always coming up with new attacks, and there are new tools and processes being developed every day to make things easier, safer, and faster. It is almost always a better use of your money to outsource to the experts.

    Tags: Hosting, Technology

  • What makes a good website host?

    Our preference has been to choose primarily based on the quality of the support. It can literally save hundreds to thousands of dollars (or more) in terms of quickly recovering from outages and saves time on general R&D of how to solve a problem. What we don't necessarily consider a deal-breaker is performance and cost. That may sound counter to our goals of giving you the best site for less, but if a site is designed well the performance of the server becomes less of a factor. In fact, we started this company because so many of our friends who used other design agencies were told to just 'pay for a more powerful server' to hide the fact that their websites weren't designed with speed in mind. Cost is important, but it's easy to get caught up in just finding the lowest price. Remember that paying a small monthly fee for great support is basically like having a specialist employee you can call on whenever you need for almost nothing.

    Tags: Hosting

  • What technology is used in this website, and why?

    The front-end (what you see in the browser) is our in-house modular design-system called Ferment UI (made up of a CSS library and Web Components created with Lit), and a sprinkle of JavaScript, as we like to keep things light. Our build tool is Astro. The host is Cloudflare. This is our top choice of technologies for developing custom websites (i.e., the same ones we'll likely be using for you!)

    Tags: About, Websites, Hosting, Technology

  • Why would I choose you over another company, or just making it myself?

    For us vs. another company, while there are many excellent design agencies out there, we started this company because so many of our friends complained that the website they paid a lot of money for was slow, got hacked, and/or didn't convert as much as expected. We're not sure why, but it seems many companies only focus on creating beautiful websites instead of on the whole picture. We believe in teaching our clients that getting the best results requires more than just good looks, there's a whack of other stuff (brand trust, performance, inclusiveness, SEO) that's needed for you to maximize your conversion rate, which in the end is why you paid for the site in the first place. And we partner with some of the best hosting platforms on the net to make sure things run lightning quick.

    As to you building it yourself, it depends if you're doing it because you love building things (in which case we salute you!), or if you're trying to save money. If it's money, do this simple calculation:

    hourly rate of the task you do best × number of hours to make a website = ?

    You may have saved some dollars for the website, but you've lost that amount of money in work on what you are an expert in. Remember to include the learning hours too... let's say 10 for a very basic clone or website builder, 50 for one that looks quite good but may not perform as well, and 5000+ for the amount we've been doing it. It might seem cheaper to do it yourself, but it almost never is, and the quality of the product won't be as good as it could.

    Tags: About, Websites, Hosting, Price

  • What is SEO and why is it import

    Unless your website is purely information, for example a personal blog site with no monetization, your website is about getting conversions. You need people to find you, learn about you, choose you over other competitors, and if all goes well, get paid (i.e. click an affiliate link, buy a product from an ecommerce store, contact you to arrange a service). SEO is the first step, getting noticed. When searching, people rarely look past the first few results, so none of the other steps even matter unless you're one of them. You can either pay, advertisement style, to get pushed to the top, or you can design your site so that search engines recognize your site as being closely related to the search term(s), have expertise in the topic, and be high quality (fast, secure, inclusive, no shadowy stuff). Expertise is determined by how much high quality unique content you have on your site, and the number of highly ranked sites that link to you. It's a tricky and constantly evolving field, but it's crucial to your website's success.

    Tags: SEO, Websites

  • What business software do I need now and in the future?

    You'll need accounting software right off the bat.
    Then you probably want to look at getting "productivity software": business email and an office suite.
    At the same time you'll want to get an identity provider as well so you can have a single sign-in process for everything (often this comes included with where you get your email/office suite).
    Once you have a couple employees or contractors, it makes sense to start having HR and task management software, and as a security-best practice make sure it integrates with the identity provider you've got.
    As you grow your number of clients you can start looking at a CRM system and a help desk service.

    Tags: Business

  • What business tools are out there?

    Here's some examples of high quality software for different uses:

    • IAM: Zoho Vault, Microsoft Entra ID, Google Workspace, Okta, Auth0
    • Email, Office Suite, and Cloud Storage: Zoho, Microsoft 365 Business/Enterprise, Google Workspace
    • Accounting: Zoho Books, QuickBooks Online, Freshbooks
    • HR: Zoho People, Ripple, Humi
    • Task Management: Zoho Sprints, Monday.com, Asana
    • Project Management: Zoho Projects, Microsoft Project
    • CRM: Zoho CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, HubSpot, Salesforce
    • Help Desk: Zoho Help Desk, Zendesk
    We currently support Zoho, Microsoft 365 Business or Enterprise, and Google Workplace, but if you're keen on another one, we're happy to look into if we can support you!

    Tags: Business, Technology

  • What software do you recommend?

    We recommend Zoho for most of your business software needs (email, office suite, communication tools, CRM, planning, help desk, accounting, and HR). They have a great suite of products that integrate well with each other, and they're very affordable including a free tier for the most commonly used ones for when you're just getting started.
    Microsoft 365 Business or Enterprise subscriptions include email, an office suite, communication tools at the base level and others like laptop/phone management in the higher subscriptions. It's good for those who like Microsoft products and want the extra device management capabilities, however you'll need some additional tools for accounting, HR, task management, and help desk. Microsoft does have a CRM system as well, but it can be expensive and complex so other options may be a better fit. Google Workspace offers a similar suite of products to Microsoft 365 Business (email, office suite, communications tools), so it's a good alternative if you prefer Google products but lacks the same accompanying full suite of software.
    Our recommendations are:

    • Zoho - for most business as it's a great all-in-one solution and has free tiers for getting started
    • Email, Office Suite, and Communication:
      • Microsoft 365 Business - for those who prefer MS products and may want device management capabilities
      • Google Workspace - for those who prefer Google products

      Tags: Business, Technology

  • Should I pay for business email address, and how much should I expect to pay?

    Yes, you should. It builds brand trust as it's a good way to show that you're serious about your business, and migrating to one later can be complex and expensive. It's also a good way to keep your personal and business life separate. Some email providers have free tiers, so all you'd need to do is register your domain name. Others have paid tiers, but they're usually quite affordable ($15-20 per user per month) and come bundled with other commonly used software like office applications and communication tools. We recommend looking at Zoho, Microsoft 365 Business or Enterprise, or Google Workspace.

    Tags: Business, Price

  • What regulations for data do I need to be aware of?

    The keys issues are: privacy, residency, sovereignty, security, governance, and notification. Together they define who has access to the data, what it can be used for, when it can be deleted, where it's stored, and what the process is if any of these are breached. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the E.U. and Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada are examples of policies involving this. Make sure you are complying with your local laws and regulations, and if you're not sure, ask a lawyer.

    Tags: Security, Compliance

  • How can I be sure my data stays in my country?

    There's a couple concepts here: where is my data stored (data residency) and how does it get transmitted to and from there. For data residency, simply ask your provider where their datacenters are located. Some companies won't disclose where their datacenters are as an additional security measure, but from our own anecdotal research, most are using one the big three cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, GCP) in the U.S. or the E.U.
    Data transfer is a much trickier subject since it relies on knowing the path the information takes through the internet. For example, in North America, much of Canadians web traffic passes through routers in the U.S.. While this isn't an issue for most, the two concepts are important for business domains with heightened legal requirements for managing data (especially classified and invasive personal data), such as the medical and legal professions. If you need help getting the information you need from your provider, reach out to us!

    Tags: Security, Compliance

  • When should I choose a SaaS vs. PaaS vs. IaaS service from a cloud provider?

    If you aren't in tech or have special requirements, you should always favour SaaS vendors. Although they can seem expensive up front, you have to consider the cost of paying employees or contractors to be experts in system administration (i.e. security, operations, maintenance) who are often paid $100k+ a year, so the math becomes pretty easy.
    You should choose a PaaS if you have special platform needs, such as a database. The platform provider is responsible for the infrastructure so you can focus on the product or service.
    While IaaS is the cheapest, you are responsible for managing the security and maintenance of the servers yourself, so you should not choose IaaS unless you have enough services to justify the cost of hiring at least one full-time sysadmin. This generally only happens with enormous companies that have global scale web applications, such as Uber.
    And ALWAYS make sure you're complying with any applicable laws and regulations surround data privacy and security.

    Tags: Business, Technology, Security, Compliance, Price

  • What is a CDN and should I use one?

    A CDN is a Content Delivery Network. It's a network of servers that are geographically distributed around the world. When you use a CDN, your website's content is stored on these servers, so when a user requests your website, the content is served from the server closest to them. This makes your website load faster and more reliably, so is a great thing to have! A great CDN we often use is Cloudflare.

    Tags: Technology, Security, Websites

  • What is 'the cloud' and should I use it?

    The cloud is someone else's servers that you rent. It's a way to get the services you need without the cost of buying, maintaining, and securing them (which can get very expensive, especially if you're legally required to meet certain data protection standards). It's a great option for small businesses and startups and 9 times out of 10 is the right option if you need PaaS services. Only when your company is large enough that the cost of paying for the hardware, maintenance, and security is cheaper should you consider getting your own servers.
    If you're not sure, reach out to us and we can help you decide.

    Tags: Technology, Security, Compliance, Price

  • When should I use my own servers vs. a cloud provider?

    You should only get your own servers when the cost of operating it yourself becomes cheaper than getting one in the cloud. You might think it's an easy answer, your own servers, but remember that included in the price of cloud servers is the cost of the hardware itself but also the electricity for running the servers and temperature/humidity controls, physical security like guards and cameras, redundancy, and the cost of the sysadmins and security experts who maintain and analyze the systems 24/7. If you're not sure, reach out to us and we can help you decide.

    Tags: Technology, Security, Compliance, Price

  • What are your preferred technologies and services?

    Oooo interested in the nitty-gritty, are you? We like your style! In no particular order:

    • Zoho (email, office suite, accounting, HR, help desk, and CRM).
    • Typescript as our go-to programming language.
    • Web Components w/ Lit for design-systems.
    • Astro for custom sites, WordPress + Elementor for sites with client-managed content, and Shopify for e-commerce sites (read more on how to determine which one you need).
    • Vitest, Playwright, axe, and Lighthouse for testing
    • PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redis, and ElasticSearch for various database needs.
    • Supabase for BaaS.
    • Terraform for IaC
    • Cloudflare, Azure, or Flywheel for hosting.
    • New Relic for monitoring.
    • Matomo for analytics

    Tags: About, Technology