Wissmiller Computer Services
Wissmiller Computer Services is a very small (myself and some backup) computer consulting business specializing in small office computer needs analysis, set up, maintenance, training, database development, small network set up and web site development.
I don’t wish to compete with larger computer firms so I try to specialize in a market they don’t address well. I have a very financially streamlined operation and use older equipment and try not to "re-invent the wheel” for each project. I prefer to modify things I've developed in the past for new customers at a fraction of the cost. I actively control my overhead - work out of my home etc. I provide no nonsense, real world, inexpensive systems, solutions and advice to small business customers and non-profit clients.
I don’t use contracts. Contracts beget lawyers and I prefer to keep things simple. I prefer we sit down and get a good idea of what you want. I then give you a price that I will not exceed. If we are agreeable so far, I develop the site or software to the point you can see what it will be - not complete and not tested but viewable and functioning. At that point you can either “buy” the site by paying me for the time I already have in it and we will continue or not in which case there’s no charge. Keeps it nice and simple and I have yet to have a problem with this system. Pretty much zero risk for the customer.
Once you’re started paying me you own the site. Some developers maintain that the software and/or sites they develop belong to them and if they and the customer part ways the customer loses the software or site. I don’t. We both get a copy and all related material if we part ways. Plus, regardless of how we part ways, I’ll help whoever takes it over get started with it.
While I will work with any business or individual whose needs coincide with the services I offer I tend to specialize in working with and for older computer users and non-profit organizations. I also work with a lot of non "state of the art" equipment.
Computerization is not for everyone. I've gone into several offices and, after becoming familiar with the operation, suggested that since things worked well as is computerization might not be cost effective for them.
I'm a retired police officer so I am extremely conscious about the security of my clients' information. Security involves at least three concerns:
Protecting sensitive data from misappropriation
Protecting data from unauthorized modification
Backing up data in case of equipment failure
I also, almost instinctively (after 26 year in police work), evaluate the general security of any office I’m working in. If you like I can make recommendations.
Being a "one man shop" raises concerns about my ability to provide support when I'm indisposed or on a vacation etc. I am not often indisposed - I’ve taught for 8 years now and have yet to miss a class. I have a brother and son who are both capable of and willing to supply support if I am out of town. I tend to shy away from clients who will want "emergency services" - phone calls after hours and on weekends etc. Larger consulting services with more employees are better suited for those needs.
I use the weak link test. The least capable person you expect to use the site or software should be able to navigate it easily. I wrote a lot of software for police officers to use. I wrote it with few menu options per page, large print, short words, logical structure and consistent navigation procedures. Most cops are quite computer literate however we had one guy - real good cop - who was pretty much marginally literate and had to use the sites so I designed with him in mind.
Some basics about the services I provide:
Small Office Setup
I provide assistance with computer related purchases, transport and set up the equipment, and software set up. I can also handle any reasonable remodeling needed to accommodate the equipment (I built my own house).
I use M.S. Windows networking. This is all most users really need and it’s included in the price of windows.
I do a lot of teaching and training and can provide any training or assistance needed to get up to speed on a system. My training is task specific so there’s no time spent learning things you don’t need. The best way to train is immediately before you start using the system so you won’t forget.
I’ve done some very large and complex projects including the report writing software for a city police department. I specialize in MS Access development. As with all my development I prefer to write applications that are extremely user friendly. Using the computer should make your job simpler not be a additional project in itself.
Web Site Development
The following is how I like to set up sites and why however, while the customer is not always right, the customer ALWAYS makes the final decision. We’ll set the site up the way you want it. These are just suggestions.
Most internet users still use dial up modems so access speeds are still
relatively slow. Therefore sites need to be set up recognizing this. Even an attractive site will get real tedious if it loads too slowly. I like to use text as much as practical. Text loads almost instantly. When pictures are needed I like to limit size and resolution to increase loading speed. There’s no point in making the picture bigger or better than it needs to be especially if it’s going to make it load slowly.
Websites should use a common and simple navigation format and use it consistently. You’ll probably navigate your site easily - you helped design it and use it often. Most users, however, will visit your site only once, are marginally computer literate and in a hurry. A site needs to be quick, simple and consistent. This is one of my priorities.
If you look at other sites the ones with multiple fonts and font colors etc. tend to look “cluttered”. Italics, bolding, and different sizes can highlight text and provide some variety without the “cluttered” look. Simple, straightforward formats tend to come off as more “professional”. Emphasis on the information and not on being cute.
If you feel the need for a fancy, glitzy part (and sometimes there’s a legitimate need for this) there is a concept called a splash screen. It’s generally a very graphics intensive, fancy and therefore slow loading introductory screen with a very simple way to move into the rest of the site. Gives people a desired first impression and then gets down to business.
Good general rules:
.PDF (Adobe Acrobat Reader)files are a real good way to present documents - especially if you intend for them to be printed out.
Animated graphics, if any, should be VERY small - they load very slowly
Menu options should be detailed enough to be very easy to use.
Menus with more than 6 or so options should be sub divided.
Backgrounds should quietly enhance the site - not interfere or overpower it.
Site priorities are content, ease of navigation and, last but not least, basic organization.
I do not handle collecting funds (credit card payments etc.) through any sites I’ve developed. I could and might in the future but don’t currently. I’d have to reorganize my business a bit if I started doing that.
Systems need maintenance and occasional repairs. I can do all of it or show you how to do the routine parts and do the rest. A solid backup system is a critical part of any maintenance system.