Author Archives: NCN Technology

Sharepoint: A Collaborative Effort in Healthcare

Sharepoint: A Collaborative Effort in Healthcare

Sharepoint Solutions: A Collaborative Effort in Healthcare

With healthcare impacted by regulations and competing factors, Sharepoint solutions include clinical protocols, training policies, and HIPAA compliant platforms.

We all want what is best for our loved ones. As older adults enter senior communities, it’s becoming harder for facilities to update their software. Sharepoint provides state-of-the-art software that is easy to install and get going right away.

Let’s talk about why Sharepoint delivers streamlined solutions for senior communities and why you should use it for your residents.

What Exactly Is Sharepoint?

Sharepoint is a powerful content management system tool that makes information sharing simple. It’s easy to set-up, and you can connect your facilities; pc’s and cell phones to make transferring relevant documents more streamlined between team members and departments. Users can share several types of materials, as well as create custom forms using templates.

It can protect your patients’ information from data loss caused by breaches and file corruption with encryption. Sharepoint is HIPAA compliant, which is essential to protect your information. Healthcare security is the number one priority for patients and the ones who take care of them.

What Kind of Information Can I Share?

There are many types of files that you can share with your teammates on Sharepoint. From new patient intakes to medical records, Sharepoint does it all. You can choose who can view and access specific files, so your vital information can go to the right group of people.

You can also set-up your profile to add libraries, blogs, lists and much more. The sky is the limit, and it’s easy to manage what you want to add and share.

Sharepoint and Security

Content management software that medical facilities use has to be HIPPA compliant, especially with the rise in data breaches. It is essential to keep your patients’ privacy and data as safeguarded as possible. Below, I will share some tips, so Sharepoint Solutions can keep your patients’ information secure and protected:

  • Control User Access
  • Audits Your Account
  • Policy Framework to Reduce Security Risks
  • You Can Put Your Browser on Lockdown
  • Data Loss Prevention From Office 365

Sharepoint takes healthcare security seriously and hence ensures that you can protect private data with innate security tools.

Is There a Learning Curve with SharePoint?

Most people do not have any trouble learning Sharepoint, because it is like Microsoft Office. But, if you want to learn more advanced Sharepoint strategies, there are a lot of training courses to choose from on the internet. Some courses offer certificates of completion while others don’t.

Conclusion

Streamlining your patients care is vital for effective decision making regarding their health. With Sharepoint Solutions, you can share relevant documents with your teammates that is secure and efficient.

If your senior living community is ready to upgrade to a more efficient solution, then NCN Technology is here to help. We specialize in custom software and Sharepoint Consulting. Keep up with the competition and let us help you make the right choice for your organization.

The Benefits and Challenges of Healthcare Interoperability

The Benefits and Challenges of Healthcare Interoperability

How do you know if you can trust the healthcare system? Interoperability is the communication between medical centers and organizations that will potentially allow you to do so. The benefits of interoperability are simple: accountable healthcare, streamlined efficiency, and more accessible information. However, the challenges of healthcare interoperability, however, aren’t just technical. Often times, these challenges are social, political, and economic. 

What is Healthcare Interoperability?

Simply put, healthcare interoperability is a means to communicate between healthcare centers so that patient information is readily accessible and accurate. However, it is more complex than this.

Interoperability is the ability for two or more systems to exchange and interpret the information exchanged. There are three main types of healthcare interoperability. 

  • Foundational Interoperability- A basic form of interoperability which allows one system to exchange data, but not interpret it. 
  • Structural Interoperability-Data can be exchanged and interpreted at a base level but the clinical or operational purpose of the data is concealed. 
  • Semantic Interoperability- The highest form of interoperability. Two or more systems can exchange information.  Full information on the patient is usable and interpretable. 

Political Obstacles of Healthcare Interoperability

In 2015, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a report to Congress on healthcare information blocking.  The report stated that healthcare providers and IT developers use of technology was a conflict of national interest.

In 2016, President Obama signed the MACRA (The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act). It aims to establish culpability among healthcare providers and incentivize better healthcare procedures. 

Healthcare interoperability is integral in the quest for streamlined ethical healthcare. There are some, however, who are concerned with security issues. With technology, comes technical difficulties. 

That being said, there are many technological solutions in progress to ensure the safety of your medical information.  

Technical Obstacles of Healthcare Interoperability

Although this should seem obvious, you are not usually worrying about sensitive information such as healthcare records every day. You’re usually worrying about other aspects of life. 

There’s still a trust issue surrounding interoperability and this lack of trust is because there isn’t a specific standard for record sharing. Data is still be transferred with incompatible fonts, proprietary fields, and external data fields. If data can’t be transferred correctly, what’s the point in transferring it at all? 

The good news is, there’s plenty of systems making it easier to sanitize data and make it compatible across systems. Similarly, there’s no standard way of dealing with errors across systems. So providers are having a tough time dealing with technical issues that vary from system to system. 

The technical issues facing interoperability are a bit of a paradox. Most of them could be solved by improving interoperability. However, that’s easier said than done.

Healthcare Interoperability is Still the Wave of the Future  

Healthcare interoperability is here to stay and the exchange of data will become more accurate over time. Improved healthcare and more liberty in choosing which healthcare provider is best for your current situation is just a small part of the discussion of interoperability. Trust is the main thing that stands in the way. 

Since so many people feel slighted by the healthcare system, it’s natural for them to want security. Interoperability symbolizes the security healthcare organizations can provide.  

Check out these other informative blogs on technology!

How Healthcare Technology is Improving Senior Care

How Healthcare Technology is Improving Senior Care

Baby boomers are aging, and as a result, we have a swelling population of seniors. In fact, the Census Bureau recently reported that 13.3 percent of the residents in the United States are seniors. 

As healthcare improves and baby boomers continue to age, the number of seniors will continue to grow. Seniors are benefiting from the growing field of healthcare technology. There are many solutions now available for seniors and their families to manage different aspects of their health.

Let’s take a look at three ways healthcare technology is improving senior care. 

Healthcare Technology – Smartphone

Software companies have worked hard to produce applications improving patient outcomes and ultimately improving health care overall. Seniors can use apps to manage their healthcare on their computers or phones. 

Smartphones alone have led to some pretty revolutionary developments in healthcare. Seniors can download apps that help them keep track of their medication or set calendar reminders. Additionally, smartphone apps that track exercise is being used by seniors to improve overall health.

Another technology that can help to improve health is the use of Skype or Facetime. Seniors can see children and grandchildren who live far away. This type of interaction boosts moods and will help prevent depression and subsequent health problems. 

Healthcare Technology – GPS

Adult children with senior parents have a genuine concern when their parent exhibits signs of dementia and begins to wander and lose track of his or her surroundings. A GPS tracker can be added to a parent’s phone. 

In addition to trackers on a phone, senior monitoring systems now exist that help adult children keep their parents safe and healthy. Children of seniors can also use in-house sensors to keep track of their parents’ movements. 

Bed sensors and motion sensors developed specifically for the purpose of keeping a senior safe now exist. So for example, if it’s noon, and the senior hasn’t moved from his bed, an adult child living states away can call a neighbor to check on his mom or dad. 

Healthcare Technology – Security Cameras

In addition to motion sensors and GPS to keep track of a senior, security cameras are another healthcare technology available to seniors and their families. This technology provides peace of mind by being able to monitor a family member.

When you live hundreds and even thousands of miles away, you wrestle with the guilt that you cannot be there with an aging parent. So you rely on trustworthy caregivers, neighbors, and nurses to provide care. Sadly, not everyone is trustworthy. 

Small cameras similar to nanny cams can prevent a senior citizen from sustaining abuse or deception.  

Healthcare Technology Means a Better Senior Life

Technology is helping to keep seniors safe and well cared for in their own homes or a senior facility. As discussed, the senior population is growing and access to technology is improving the quality of life for seniors.

Contact us for more solutions that help serve our aging population overall. 

Preventative Patient Care with Clinical Decision Support

Preventative Patient Care with Clinical Decision Support

Cardiovascular screenings alone save tens of thousands of lives each year.. Yet, millions of Americans aren’t getting regular care that could prevent them from dying of treatable causes. How can we fix this?

A valuable resource that can improve patient preventative care is Clinical Decision Support (CDS). CDS tools give targeted information to clinicians, administrators, caregivers, and even patients.

How can the implementation of CDS save lives through prevention? Read on to find out.

Streamlining Data

Elderly patients often see many specialists, doctors, surgeons, and caregivers. This results in an enormous amount of digital data, including test results, medication lists, and more. 

Medical professionals who use Clinical Decision Support (CDS) technology have access to a full spread of patient data. These intelligent tools can analyze data from across multiple providers to check for medication interactions, potential problems, or duplicate treatments.

Avoiding repeat tests and increasing awareness between providers creates a comprehensive picture of a patient’s health. This allows their team of doctors to be on the same page about preventative care. Together, they ensure more targeted treatments and effective patient strategies.

Better Communication

CDS tools offer a variety of features, such as reminders and notifications. Depending on the specific needs of the provider and patient, these alerts could be delivered to all individuals in the chain of care. 

Administrators receive notifications to schedule patient reminder calls or annual checkups. Patients receive automated services through smartphone apps, patient portals, emails, or calls. Electronic health records update in real time depending on the results of evaluations. 

CDS will only trigger these communications based on appropriate criteria. These predictions ensure follow-up measures get communicated to staff and patients at the right time, instead of creating notification fatigue.

Disease Prediction

Not only does CDS offer a comprehensive view of patient data, but it also uses AI to monitor changes and predict future complications. Machine learning can alert clinicians to underlying medical issues and help improve diagnosis time.

For example, CDS tools reduced the diagnosis time of sepsis in patients by 12 hours. Consistent evaluation of patient analytics can increase early and accurate diagnoses of complex issues with better accuracy. Real-time surveillance informs doctors signs of deterioration that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

Decrease Hospital Readmission

Especially in the elderly population, complications often result in trips to the hospital. Studies show that the use of CDS reduces hospital readmission and length of hospital stays. Medical professionals without CDS systems in place saw a 14% higher readmission rate and 6.2% increase in hospital stay time. 

These programs also decrease care cost per patient. The estimated savings per patient with CDS adherence was approximately $1000 each.

Clinical Decision Support: The Future of Medicine

As technology improves, so does the quality and value of patient care. Clinical Decision Support is not intended to replace a clinician’s professional medical expertise. However, using it can assist in significantly improving patient outcomes.

Deep machine learning can supplement preventative medicine by performing more accurate data tracking and predictions. Through the use of advanced analytics, providers have successfully reduced costs, hospital stays, dangerous medication interactions, and repeat testing.

NCN Technology is here to help you improve relationships with your patients and their health. Contact us today for more on developing a CDS solution that is tailored to your needs. 

 

Mobile Healthcare Applications: Improving Patient Experience

Mobile Healthcare Applications: Improving Patient Experience

Technology once carried an intimidating stigma for healthcare. A focus on digital solutions, mobile healthcare applications are transforming patient experience.

Healthcare made simple? There’s an app for that.

2019 is looking like the year of the patient-centric approach. And healthcare apps are assisting with the patient experience. It’s no wonder the market for medical-related phone applications is worth $2.4 billion.

Healthcare providers have been searching for new ways to improve patient satisfaction. And healthcare apps may be exactly what they need to do it.

Want to know how mobile healthcare applications are helping providers put patients first? Get to know what’s happening in the industry here.

Healthcare Mobile Apps and the Patient-Centered Approach

In the past decade, healthcare mobile app development has been focusing on how to improve the patient experience.

Physicians are required to take an oath to put patients first. But with so many patients and so little time, this requirement is sometimes easier said than done.

That’s why easy-to-use healthcare apps are so exciting for patients and providers alike. They offer physicians and nurses the ability to communicate with patients more easily. And they offer patients the opportunity to take control of personal health records.

From weight management to women’s health, there are applications to track every aspect of well-being. Smart bands to more easily measure heart rate and blood pressure have been around for a while. But people can now interface those results to inform doctors about their vitals.

Applications to remind both doctors and patients about appointments help reduce confusion. Some apps also help patients communicate with doctors in-app via a chatbox or over a video call.

All these capabilities are making it easier for patients to be heard. And there are statistics that show it’s working. More than 75% of people love using mobile healthcare apps to supplement their needs.

With an excellent mobile application, healthcare providers can improve patient satisfaction. And they can do it at no cost or inconvenience to doctors and nurses.

More Benefits of Mobile Healthcare Applications

Mobile apps for health care aren’t just helping providers improve patient satisfaction. They’re benefiting almost every aspect of the medical world.

Here are 3 more ways they’re improving the patient experience.

  • Telemedicine improvements
  • The democratization of access to health records
  • Faster and more convenient payment

Mobile medical apps provide transparency to patients who want to be more involved in their health and wellness. This will lead patients to feel more empowered, connected, and in control of their own health.

The Future of Healthcare Application Development

As the mobile health application market continues to grow, the focus will turn from the development of products. Instead, efforts will focus on marketing and training.

Training is especially important for Senior citizens. This demographic isn’t as familiar with mobile apps. But developers recognize this problem and are making healthcare apps simpler to use.

Mobile healthcare applications aren’t the only technology affecting senior citizens. Visit our blog for more updates on the technology affecting you and your health.

Why Images Are Crucial to Websites and Marketing

Why Images Are Crucial to Websites and Marketing

There is an old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, which seems to hold true even in today’s fast-paced world. Infographics, images, and digital graphics are important to your marketing strategy. Let’s look at the impact images will have on your business.

Images and the Human Brain

Humans are particularly responsive to visual cues such as pictures. The power of images lies in the general makeup of our brains. We’re wired to notice, remember, learn from, and respond emotionally to visuals. Nearly two-thirds of people have identified themselves as visual learners.

Research has shown that people have an attention span of fewer than nine seconds, that’s less  than a goldfish! On average, when asked to recall something three days hearing it, people remember only 10% of the information/details. However, adding a picture can improve recall to 65%, thus making images far more important than ever, especially on social media.

                                                                                      Figure 1 MDG Advertising

Effects of Images on Business

Why is it of interest to you, from a business perspective? Because consumers are significantly more likely to think favorably of advertisements that emphasize photography, over those that are predominately text. Images can incite feelings of happiness, excitement, sadness or curiosity among other things. We can remember a famous brand just by looking at their image/logo, and can even reminisce decades into the past, simply by viewing an old picture. This is because a large part of the brain is focused on visual processing, allowing us to process images at an incredible speed. The human brain can recognize a familiar object in milliseconds, making images the perfect way to communicate in today’s crowded digital environment.

6 Reasons Why Images Are Important

There is quite a bit discussion about the value of images and why they should be a part of your marketing strategy. Here are some reasons why images are important:

  • Articles with images get 94% more total views.
  • Press releases are more likely to be viewed when a photo and a video are included (increases views by over 45%).
  • Consumers are 60% more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in local search results.
  • In an eCommerce site, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing a product.
  • Photos receive a 37% higher level of engagement over text on Facebook.

Visual Indicators

Images can also warn us or give us clues about what’s to come. Magazines understand our inability to ignore powerful images. Along with powerfully emotional headlines, pictures that capture stunning moments in time can have an arresting impact and even change our mood instantly.

Images On Your Website

Images are powerful on their own, but when mixed with text they become even more impactful. Audiences consistently respond well to the combination of words and visuals. As noted above, articles with relevant images get 94% more views, on average, compared to articles without images.

Adding a picture to an article or a post can add several advantages to your website.

  • Images convey emotion about what you are talking about, in a powerful sensory-based way, and give additional depth to your content.
  • Good images make people want to read the article.
  • If your visitors can relate to and connect with your images, they are likely to return.
  • Images can create a personality for your website and help your brand stand out from competitors.
  • Images give your visitors and readers a break from all the text content.

To further maximize the effect of images in articles, optimize all accompanying captions, metadata and alt text.

Images In Your Social Media

Social media is a crowded space and using images is a great way to grab attention. A social media post accompanied by a photo is ten times more likely to get engagement. This is because our brains respond so quickly to images and color, in comparison to other types of information. For example, images on Facebook receive 20% more engagement than videos and 352% more engagement than links.

The images selected need to be of interest to your target audience. Find out what visuals affect responsiveness through research.  Although there are several sources for royalty-free stock images but it is advised to check that competitors aren’t using the same ones. You can add some purchased images or hire a photographer to provide professional pictures that are unique to your business.

Consistency Builds Identity

Consistent branding is important to building your business. When you post on a variety of platforms(website, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook), follow branding guidelines so your audience will identify those images with your business. Remember to be consistent with images, colors, and patterns across platforms, for brand recognition.

Images Effect Online Searches

A key benefit of images often overlooked is their online search impact. Visuals are highly valued by both search audiences and search engines themselves. Consumers respond strongly to images in search results. Thus, search engines understand this preference and increasingly prioritize visual-heavy content. Optimize your website using high-quality images to give your business a competitive edge.

Images the Right Way

Pictures are powerful and when used in the right way they can influence your readers and customers. The images must flow cohesively with the content, enhancing the branding. Otherwise, they may end up leaving a bad impression.

If you’d like expert advice on adding visuals to your website, contact NCN Technology by email consulting@ncntechnology.com or phone 703-757-2209.

Sources

 http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

http://www.fromdreamstolifestyle.com/why-a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words/

https://medium.com/@onlinelogomaker/why-images-are-so-important-to-social-media-b9411dd678a8

https://www.jeffbullas.com/6-powerful-reasons-why-you-should-include-images-in-your-marketing-infographic/

Is A Smartphone App Important For Your Business?

Is A Smartphone App Important For Your Business?

How many times do you look at your phone each day? Whether it’s checking your bank balance, reading Facebook updates or playing a game of solitaire that number is adds up pretty quickly.

According to a study by Deloitte, Americans view their smartphone over 50 times per day. So it’s not surprising that businesses are leveraging this user behavior in their marketing strategies and customer loyalty programs. Customized smartphone apps are becoming more common for even Subject  Matter Experts (SMEs) to deploy. With development costs of apps becoming more affordable, it’s not just for “the big guys”. Let’s look at some of the statistics that support this shift in marketing and business.

Work vs. Play
According to the Deloitte study, there is an increasingly “blurred line” between mobile phone usage during work and non-work hours. For example, 35% of participants reported that they used their phone “very/fairly often” for work during non-work hours. On the other side of that coin, a whopping 59% said they use their personal smartphone “very/fairly often” during normal work hours.

A Handy Tool
How are people justifying the use of their mobile phones during work hours? We all know there are a multitude of things one can do with a smartphone, so what are the top work uses?

  • Email (56% of respondents)
  • Making standard calls (52%)
  • Calendar management (37%)
  • Navigation (34%)
  • Communication with colleagues/clients via instant messaging (24%)

Keeping on Task and in Touch
Along with our work use of mobile phones, we also have smartphone apps that help us manage our schedules, remind us of important events and appointments, and send reminders to those we’re set to catch up with. We’re also using them for our communications as we keep in touch with our friends and family via the internet rather than traditional land-line options. As a matter of fact, all of the ways mobile phones are used for communication have been on the increase.

  • Texting was the most popular at 91%
  • Voice calls, up to 86% after a four-year decline
  • Emails at 81%
  • Social networks at 72%
  • Video calls at 30%

Big Business
So what does all of this mean for you, as a business owner? How do these statistics stack up when it comes to influencing your bottom line? While people are looking at their phones, their eyes are taking in all of the icons that have been downloaded. If your smartphone app is one that has been added to their phone, you now have the opportunity to engage with them, gain more top-of-mind-awareness, build on your relationship with them and secure them as loyal customers.

When you consider that 77% of Americans owned a smartphone in 2018, there are a lot of opportunities or “eyes” you could be reaching several times a day, simply by having an effective application for your business. Additionally, there is a growing share of Americans now using smartphones as their primary means of online access at home. The use of traditional broadband services has slowed. This fact is validated by a study by the Pew Research Center showing that one-in-five adults are “smartphone-only” internet users with no traditional home broadband service.

Leveraging Smartphone Dependency
As people become more dependent on their smartphones, businesses will need to be proactive in harnessing the available “real estate” on those device screens. Apps are where it’s at!

But not just “any” app will do. The market is saturated with apps. There are  approximately 2 million on each of the leading app stores (Google Play and Apple App stores). (source: statista.com). So before getting started on developing an app for your business, spend time researching what works, what hasn’t and what your consumers may want or expect.

Should your business take advantage of the growing smartphone dependent market? It’s a big task to tackle, but as you can see, the potential benefits are worth exploring. Growth will continue as smartphones and other mobile devices become our all-in-one tool for life.

Should Your Business Develop An APP?
NCN Technology can provide information on how to get your business app developed and launched into this growing market. Even if you’re not sure how an app could be applied to your business, we’ll talk through ideas and determine the best features to offer your consumers. This can be your year to “tap” into one of the biggest marketing tools available to you. Contact NCN Technology today by email consulting@ncntechnology.com or by phone 703-757-2209.

Choosing the Best Enterprise Storage Solution

Choosing the Best Enterprise Storage Solution

Your people are the heart of your business, but data is the lifeblood that keeps it operating. That means finding the right data storage solution for your business requires a lot of consideration. To find the best solution for your business, we’ve put together some important factors to use in your evaluation.

Selecting your storage options boils down to two main things to consider: how and where you will store your data. Your business has individual and specific data requirements which will drive what choice you make. Let’s look at six questions to help guide your decisions.

What is your budget?

When establishing your budget you need to understand what is essential for your business in selecting a storage solution. A couple of questions to consider include:

  • Are you looking to improve performance or more interested in building resilience?
  • How will you manage the infrastructure- in house or a managed service provider?

Once you have those elements decided, you can then begin to build your budget.

What requirements does your new storage solution need to meet?

Again, this involves factors like resilience, performance and capacity. You should consider the following questions as you build your requirements:

  • What is it you are aiming to improve?
  • Do you need encryption services?
  • Is a single storage solution enough or will you require multi-site storage?
  • What about cloud-based storage, or does your business need to contain full security control through an on-premise infrastructure?

Perhaps you can use a hybrid system that incorporates a partial cloud-based solution.

Technology is another key factor for any organization to consider. For one business, backup storage will be the main priority. Another may see encryption as the essential performance need. Create a checklist that your business can build on, including things such as features, functionality, servers and site solutions.

How will you protect your data?

Cyber attacks and ransomware are evolving daily. However, so are the demands for data storage and its retrieval. There are questions you will need to answer when thinking about protecting your data:

  • What happens in the event of an attack?
  • What plans are in place regarding Backup and Disaster Recovery?
  • How will you protect your business’s continuity and reputation?

What does your current environment look like?

By evaluating the applications you use, your operating systems and software packages, you can outline the exact needs of your Enterprise IT Solutions. You also should consider the following:

  • Have you identified the specific challenges your business faces?
  • How do they affect your business?

How will you migrate to your new system?

There is a lot to consider when migrating your business data. You will need to evaluate the following:

  • How much data needs to be migrated
  • What type of data it is. What time frame does the project need to be completed
  • What tools will use for the migration.
  • Who will be in charge of migration?

And finally, consider whether you will need to migrate all of your data or if there are things that can be eliminated.

How long will you need support?

Changing such a critical and complex system as data storage is not something that will be accomplished quickly. A long-term plan should be developed to include the objectives over a three to five year period. Also identify:

  • How is your new system expected to grow and scale over time?
  • What changes may be needed and how might your data solution need to adapt?

New Technologies Bring New Solutions

In addition to considering the individual challenges and needs of your business, you’ll want to look at what new technologies to keep your system current with today’s market. Plus, new technologies will help to future-proof your system for business growth as well as potentially save costs. Let’s look at a couple of technologies:

Software Defined Storage (SDS) allows businesses to become more agile in how they utilize virtualization, without requiring the purchase of new hardware. It enables the use of multiple types of storage hardware to provide an easy-to-use platform that can readily be upgraded. Software Defined Storage presents greater flexibility to suit individual data storage needs and can be an ideal solution for organizations looking to integrate existing IT equipment with new storage capacity.

Tiered Storage Solutions is a technology that is changing the way we manage data. With this option, different categories of data can be assigned to various types of storage media, allowing businesses to adopt the most appropriate technology to suit the data being stored. Ultimately, this reduces total storage costs.

Planning Ahead = Planning Well

With the ever-changing data landscape, it can be difficult to plan what your business is going to need over the next three to five years. You must carefully evaluate your business’s needs, plan accordingly and seek expert advice and assistance when needed.

NCN Technology can help you in selecting the proper storage solution for your business. We bring you the necessary tools to plan and execute your migration seamlessly with agile components that allow your storage to grow with your needs. Our professional team is here to implement a system that is best for your business now, and in the future.

Contact NCN Technology for more information, either by phone – 703-757-2209 or email- consulting@ncntechnology.com.

Responsive Web Design: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

Responsive Web Design: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

Whether you’re updating your current website or considering building a brand new one, you will be hit with the topic of Responsive Web Design (RWD). With the increased use of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, more people are using their smaller screen devices to view your web pages. The user experience should always be kept in mind so implementing RWD is important in website development or redevelopment. The purpose of RWD is to allow you to have one site that has the flexibility to function when viewed on all devices, regardless of their screen size.

Websites Before Responsive Web Design

Before RWD, the transition from a website on a computer to a mobile device was not optimal. A traditional “fixed” website on a desktop computer may have three columns of information. However, this layout on a smaller device might force you to scroll horizontally which is inconvenient and not displayed properly. Also, there’s a good chance some elements of your website might be distorted or even hidden from view completely. Another challenging aspect is that hand-held devices usually have the option of being viewed in portrait or landscape mode. A poor user experience can also occur if images are too large to load on smartphones or would “break” the layout.

What is Responsive Web Design?

The use of Responsive Design technology has improved the user experience.  When RWD is implemented, your website automatically adjusts to the device the viewer is using. A tablet version of your website may display just two columns making content readable and easy to navigate. The same material might appear as a single column on a smartphone screen, perhaps stacked vertically.  Alternatively, the user might have the ability to swipe over to view other columns. When it comes to viewing images on a site implementing RWD, they will automatically resize instead of distorting the layout or getting cut off.

How Does Responsive Web Design Work?

Responsive sites use fluid grids. This allows all page elements to be sized by proportion, rather than pixels. So if you have three columns, you wouldn’t say exactly how wide each should be, but rather how wide they should be in relation to the other columns. For example, you could set Column 1 to take up half the page, column 2 to take up 20%, and column 3 to take up 30%.

This also applies to media, such as images and infographics, which can also resize relatively. That way an image can stay within its column or relative design element, regardless of the device or orientation of viewing.

Other Factors to Consider

Mouse vs. touch:
Designing for mobile devices also brings up the issue of mouse versus touch. On desktop computers, the user normally uses a mouse to navigate and select items. On a smartphone or tablet however, the user mostly uses fingers when touching the screen. A Web Designer must take into account that what may seem easy to select with a mouse, may be hard to select with a finger on a tiny screen.

Graphics and download speed:
Users have come to expect websites to load quickly. Therefore, download speed and graphics are big considerations when developing your website. On mobile devices, it may be wise to display fewer graphics than the desktop version so that a site doesn’t take too long to load on a smartphone.  

Apps and “mobile versions”:
Responsive Web Design accommodates all users of various devices that visit your site. In the past, you might have thought about creating an app for your website–one that accommodated iOS or Android users. However, there are so many different devices and operating systems, it’s getting harder to create apps. Designing your website using RWD is the most desirable option for the user experience.

Why Even Small Businesses Need to Switch to Responsive Web Design

A recent report by Pew Research Center shows that in 2018, 77% of Americans now own smartphones. That is a large group of the population who are carrying the internet around in their pockets, purses, backpacks and hands. People are searching for information while they’re “on the go”. Businesses that have websites that are difficult to view on all platforms will lose customers.

To make it easy for customers to view your website, be sure you’re taking advantage of the benefits Responsive Web Design has to offer. At NCN Technology, we always keep this at the forefront of our Web design process and we are happy to assist you with your website if you feel it is needing improvements.

Call us today for a free consultation at 703-757-2209, or email us at consulting@ncntechnology.com.

Customer Experience and User Experience: How to Make Them Count

Customer Experience and User Experience: How to Make Them Count

Customer Experience and User Experience: How to Make Them Count

Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX) sound similar, but what are they and why are they different? Surely our users are our customers and therefore they are the same thing – except, of course, they’re not.

In previous articles, we have talked about the importance of this aspect of your website; whether you are rejuvenating an existing one or preparing a completely new website. Visitors want to use sites that are easy to navigate. So, what is the difference between CX and UX?

What is User Experience?

The UX is how people interact with your product and the experience they receive from that interaction and generally refers to the digital interface, i.e. your website’s usability, information architecture, navigation, comprehension, visual hierarchy, etc.. All of these elements combine to create the UX, whether positive or negative. UX is measured with metrics like success rate, error rate, abandonment rate, time to complete tasks, and clicks to completion. The ultimate goal of your website’s UX should be to provide efficient and enjoyable solutions.

What is Customer Experience?

CX has a greater scope. It encompasses all the interactions a person has with your brand; an umbrella concept encompassing all channels and all products within the same brand, and how the user feels about them. It might be measured in overall experience, the likelihood of continued use, and possibility of recommending to others. In essence, UX is part of a broader CX, but CX contains some aspects outside of a product that UX does not.

Good UX

A good digital user experience gives a user/customer the ability to:

  • Find information on a website quickly and easily
  • Complete a desired task with ease
  • Search web pages with ease

Good CX

A comprehensive customer experience might include:

  • A professional, helpful, satisfying interaction with the organization/company representatives
  • An overall positive experience with that organization/company and everything associated with it

Why they are both important

You might have the best advertising, brand recognition, sales team, customer service representatives, and organizational structure (all CX-related items), but if customers’ interactions with your website, mobile app, software or other product (all UX-related items) create barriers in completion of the desired tasks, overall CX fails.

You can see how UX is really a component of CX, and each play an important role in the overall success of a program, the reputation of your brand, and customers’ loyalty to your brand. Failures in either area leads to a bad customer experience overall. Think about this as you develop products and services, and make sure to have the customer in mind.

Website

Remember, always consider WHO you’ve created your website for, and WHY it exists; it’s aimed at meeting a client’s needs in order to grow your business.

Here’s a quick set of bullet points to check from our article on building a new website:

  • Review who your target audience is, and make sure your message is crafted for that market segment.  
  • Know what’s topical in your industry.  Educate yourself on the latest (useful) trends, technological advances and tools in your area of expertise.
  • Begin and end with UX.  If something doesn’t have a reason for being there, drop it.  If it isn’t useful, drop it.

Also consider the overall branding of your company and ensure there is seamless identification from website, store, and products to staff and stationery. In order to have a positive, subtle influence on CX, it all needs to have the same look and feel–unified parts of your company.

4 Ways UX Improves CX

Have no doubt about the importance of UX, it is one of the strongest overall influences on the CX. Here are four UX techniques that can have a direct impact and improvement in CX:

  1. Easy customer feedback

Make sure your communication with your users is as easy and open as possible; don’t bury the customer helpline in a hard-to-find place. Create clear and readily visible calls-to-action, or even ask for feedback. Customers enjoy being heard, but it’s up to you to open that line of communication. From a UX position, the aggregate feedback will also reveal insights for product improvement.  

  1. Provide responses to feedback

As much as we have suggested that customers appreciate being heard; the complementary part of that is giving them feedback that their comments are being implemented, or at least were read. And remember to keep the tone consistent from product and website through to your customer support responses.

  1. Combine channels in the right context

A multi-device experience is always a solid strategy, considering that 90%* of users complete a single task on more than one device. Apply this to CX by linking customer service or other relevant services/products at the correct touchpoint. For example, Citibank, like many other sites (like Amazon), allows instant messaging with customer service reps as part of the existing user flow, a huge time-saver for anyone that’s taken advantage of it. 

  1. Provide context across teams

Customer service or supply chain teams certainly shouldn’t dictate the product design, but they must be involved in the product design process. You could seek their input on feasibility and explain how their roles help fulfill the product promise (and how they can salvage it should issues arise). Customer journey maps then help everyone visualize the entire experience. 

Overview

User experience must always be seen in the bigger context of customer experience or it’s entirely possible that your effort will be wasted even when the work is brilliant.

A positive UX is an integral part of a good CX; both are important and complement each other. Whilst UX has its focus on the product itself, CX focusses more broadly on the (overall) multi-channel experience that a user or customer has with a company, both online and offline. For an organization to create a good and long-lasting relationship with their customers, an appropriate strategy both for UX and CX is important for success.

NCN Technology has experts in both web design AND development. We understand the many platforms that are available and can help you choose what is best for your business. If developing the right UX is part of your strategy, let us support you with your website developments.

If you’d like expert advice, get in touch. We’d like to help you make your user experience the most efficient and user-friendly.