Thoughts on programming, web development and design.

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Month: February 2013

4 Tips to Help You Build Better Software

Code listingHow do you build better software? Building better software means knowing why projects fail, making them secure and building a product that people will use. The following articles help you to improve how you approach software development.

  1. Software projects can fail. The way we build software can help to create a project failure. Ulrika Park, Scrum Master at Smart Bear, has complied a list of 50 ways software development can “fail”. She explains what we can do to fix the issue and what we need to stop doing.
  2. When building software or web applications, security can be overlooked. Sometimes you are so excited by an idea, that you jump into writing code that you forget to secure your project. Use these 10 Tips for Secure Development. By keeping your development environment and project secure, you can lessen the cost of dealing with exploited code and reputation management.
  3. Better products consider their users. They choose to use new technologies and programming languages and database that have a supportive developer community. The product is easy to use. Want to build a product that stands out? Here are three tips to build a better product.
  4. When you have poor or badly written code, it can affect the performance of your software. If your users don’t like the performance or even look of the product, you may loose people to your competition. How do you improve you your code? By writing, clean code. Here are the Top 9 qualities of clean code.

How much should you charge?

Whether you are an independent consultant or a web development agency, you need to figure out how much to charge for your services. At a recent Milwaukee Web414 Meetup, Rob Martin talked about how to figure out what to charge? He suggested to not use fixed pricing. Some projects are easier and less complicated than others. If you under estimate a project, it could cost you both money and reputation. While working with his wife in her company, they developed this formula. Rob called it the CRV Model. CRV stands for Complexity, Risk and Value. When considering a project, you need to consider how complex is the project, what are the risks and the value.

The goals of using the model are:

“Pursue the right work. Avoid the wrong work. Mitigate risk. Charge according to value.” – Rob Martin

 The CRV Model

The CRV Model requires math. Not simple math either. It is a scary looking mathematical formula.

CRV Model - Rob Martin

CRV Model created by Rob Martin (version2beta)

In order to calculate a price, you have to consider overhead, complexity, risk, value, estimate in days and materials. Each one of these factors can affect the price of the project. It can help you to spot projects that you should stay away from. Rob Martin broke down the model and described each part and provided examples on how to use this formula. You can see the detailed break down in his slides on the CRV Model. He also made a CRV Factor Calculator. You can use this calculator to help figure out what to charge.

Have you found a better formula for figuring out what to charge you clients?

WordPress Tips from Milwaukee Meetup

WordPressAt the Milwaukee WordPress Meetup, we discussed tools and tips for managing and enhancing your sites.

Managing WordPress

Every web site requires maintenance. WordPress is no exception. The following tools will help you maintain your WordPress site.

  • When you manage multiple WordPress sites, it can be time-consuming to update each one. ManageWP helps you to manage your sites easily. You can choose a pricing plan that fits your needs.
  • Not all Plugins work for your site. When you delete them, they may leave tables in your WordPress installation. You can use Plugins Garbage Collector to clean up the extra tables.
  • You may have some options in Plugins that you don’t use. Options Optimizer lets you turn off unused options.
  • Sometimes WordPress sites load slowly. One cause may be a plugin. You can use Plugin Performance Profiler to tell you how efficient your plugins are. Not all plugins run as well as you need them to. If you have a problem, you can use Plugin Performance Profiler to determine the troublemaker.
  • To speed up a WordPress site, use WordPress caching. Plugins like WP SuperCache or W3 Total Cache.

What about SPAM?

Unfortunately, you need to deal with SPAM. In WordPress, you have a couple of options. You can:

  • Turn off comments. No comments means no SPAM.
  • Use a Plugin called Disqus to manage comments and discussions on your site.
  • Use FaceBook comments. The comments appear on your Fan Page.


WordPress continues to fix bugs, security issues and add new features. An out of date WordPress site can be open to getting hacked. We discussed two things that you can do to help make your sites more secure:

  • Keep WordPress, Plugins and Themes up to date. You can use Automatic Updater to help keep your site up to date.
  • Be careful when selecting themes or Plugins. Some Plugins or themes may hide malicious code. You can scan your WordPress site for malicious code by using free or paid tools.


WordPress has many options for themes. You can create your own or use themes built by others.

Learning More about WordPress

When you want to learn more, where do you go? You have many options for yourself and your clients. You may want to look at:

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