Your Guide to Cloud Hosting

In our world today, we hear a lot about storing information on the  cloud. But did you know there are different types of cloud storage? In this blog, we will explore what cloud storage can be used for and what the differences are between each type.

What is cloud storage?

All types of cloud storage allow you to access information remotely. The advantage of cloud storage is that files are not taking up any extra room on your computer or servers. Any time you access information remotely, you are using one of the different types of cloud storage.

Cloud computing can be broken up into two basic categories: private or public hosting. On a private cloud, you are responsible for saving the data yourself whereas a public cloud allows you to save data with a larger third party company. Let’s examine each of these types of cloud hosting in more detail.

Type 1- Private Cloud:

A private cloud works much the same way a business would operate its own traditional data center. If you are accessing information on platforms like IBM Cloud, you are likely accessing this information from a private cloud. On a private cloud, the user saves data himself on a hard drive at home or server at the office.

Private cloud is the riskiest of the cloud storage types in terms of security. Without the added security of a big company supporting your data, you may run into problems like:

  • Interruptions
  • Data Security
  • Improper Configuration

To help secure your private cloud, you can take a few simple steps such as using strong passwords and two-factor authentication, enabling account recovery, and signing out when not using your accounts.

Type 2 Public Cloud-

Public cloud is becoming increasingly popular with business owners. Some forecasts for usage of public cloud storage in 2021 are predicting that as many as 60% of companies will use public cloud platforms. Public cloud means that the user does not personally own the server. Rather it is hosted by a third party, often a large company, such as Microsoft’s Azure.

One benefit of hosting on a public cloud is cutting the cost associated with physical hardware. Purchasing a server can cost thousands of dollars and maintaining servers can cost thousands more. Hosting on someone else’s server will likely be closer to a fee of hundreds of dollars.

Another benefit of public hosting is that it removes office limitations. A physical server is limited as to the number of users it can support. Once a business gets to a certain size or expands into multiple offices, it will need a system to support their growth. Cloud storage provides the elasticity needed to grow and change with the company. Cloud hosting is also good for remote work because it allows for easy access, collaboration, and working from multiple locations.

Public hosting is also safer because you are using higher quality servers supported by a full time team of experts. When your server is supported by a full-scale team of qualified engineers, they are less likely to fail. To increase security when hosting on a public cloud, be sure to download backups of any data stored there to protect from security risks if one of their servers goes down.

Public Cloud Subtype: Software as a services (SAAS)

One of the popular subtypes of public cloud hosting is software as a service (SAAS). Software as a service will allow you to export your data for you to download. Well known SaaS companies like Microsoft 365 and Dropbox allow you to periodically download information so you have a hard copy backup. Software as a service is the most commonly used type of cloud hosting because this cloud can be accessed using only a browser. This is the most convenient and efficient type of hosting.

Typically, software as a service does not fail. Other risks to consider when choosing software as a service include low control over your data, dependence on the internet, and speed/ performance.

Which do we recommend you use?

ADVYON is an expert in every type of cloud storage. We believe that private clouds, physical servers, and hosted cloud storage are all highly beneficial for different applications. For most customers, we recommend using a good software as a service provider because they have web interface through browsers, regardless of hardware. Hosted cloud has more limitations because it still requires a stationary machine complete with keyboard and mouse. This makes SaaS most convenient for our highly mobile customers, especially as more of them transition to remote work.

Final Thoughts:

Cloud storage has made a huge impact on the way businesses function from day to day. Private cloud storage allows you to save data on a private server at your home or office, but is vulnerable to the most security risks. Public hosting removes office limitations, allows for mobility, and supports more users with increased expertise from third party support. The type of public hosting we recommend is software as a service, which allows you to store data on a large company’s server using only a browser.

If your business is looking to explore the exciting future of cloud storage, please contact our experts at ADVYON. We work with every type of server and are experts in cloud hosting, so we can answer any further questions you may have! We look forward to working with you on your cloud storage needs.

Try Turning it On and Off Again

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” It’s no secret that this phrase is a favorite of IT professionals. In fact, popular British sitcom, The IT Crowd opens their first episode by giving this line to one of their main characters. But, as the old saying goes, “in every joke, there is a grain of truth”, and it’s no different for this joke. Our ADVYON IT experts really do always ask if you’ve tried rebooting your machine. Why? Because it works!

Rebooting Can Cure Many Common Issues

Tamra Dubis, one of our IT Support Technicians, explained: “I’m passionate about rebooting… It’s important for your computer’s health. A computer needs sleep just like you and I do” According to Tamra, many of our clients’ most common issues including printer and program errors and network connection can be helped by rebooting. There’s almost never a bad time to try rebooting, as long as all files are saved and you aren’t in the middle of an update.

Experts say that rebooting can help with issues such as:

  • Computer Running Slowly
  • Unexpected Freezing
  • Driver Error
  • Hardware Error
  • Slow Internet Speeds
  • Software or Hardware Installation

Rebooting is critical for the speed, storage, and security of your computer. Let’s examine each of these issues more closely to see the difference that rebooting makes.

Issue # 1- Speed

Restarting your computer increases its overall speed. As you go about your work day, you probably open and close browser windows and computer programs without even thinking about it. What many of us don’t realize is that these programs leave a digital footprint in the form of background processes or programs that didn’t close all the way. These unseen programs can take up resources needed for you to perform new tasks quickly. Rebooting your machine sweeps away all the footprints from those programs.

Rebooting is also key to boosting internet speeds. Restarting your router wipes away the current state of your machine, including any bugs that are associated with the way it is working. When you reboot, your routerfrom before any issues that occurred.

Issues # 2- Storage

Rebooting also maximizes storage space for your computer. When you open and close programs on your computer, some of that information is stored in the random access memory (RAM). When this storage space fills up, your RAM can have a memory leak. Restarting clears the RAM, freeing up that needed storage space. A hard restart can also temporarily clear cache and free up storage space for your phone and computer.

Issue #3- Security

Finally, rebooting is vital to the security of your computer. If you leave your computer logged in, this can leave your computer open for security breaches. Restarting can also be crucial for program updates. For instance, Windows releases regular security patches. These patches provide updates to security programs not covered by large scale updates of Defender, etc. The longer it takes to apply these patches, the higher the risk of potential breach. Applying the patches without rebooting could lead to other attacks.

When Should I Reboot?

So, when should you reboot? Our technician, Tamra, recommends that you restart your computer on Friday afternoon. This allows plenty of time for updates and rebooting without disturbing your workday. At the minimum, experts recommend restarting your machine every 30 days.

Tamra also emphasizes that restarts and updates are different from one another. Some software can be updated due to a restart, but an update doesn’t usually have anything to do with the internal workings of your machines. Updates are also different from upgrades. Tamra cautions that an old version of Windows 10 can be just as much of a security risk of Windows 7.

Final Thoughts:

So, if you’re looking to boost the speed, storage, and security of your computer, remember to turn it off and on again. Rebooting your computer is important to restore everything to ideal working conditions without any problematic cache or half-opened programs. If you’d like to know more about why and when you should restart your machine, call our experts today.


Animal Medical West: Website Design and Content Writing

Website Design and Content Writing

What We Did For Them:  Website Design, Content Writing

Industry: Veterinary Clinic

The Website: 

When creating the new website for Animal Medical West, we prioritized making the website look friendly. We put a lot of thought into the aesthetics of the website because we wanted people to feel safe with the caring staff of AMW just by looking at their website. It can be hard for people to trust someone to care for their pets, so every design choice was made to create that feeling of trust for new customers.

The first design choice we made was the overall color scheme for the site. The main colors for the site include turquoise, orange, yellow, and red. These colors are designed to be vibrant, but not overwhelming, and are complementary to each other. Once we had the colors selected, we used them to create geometric shapes throughout the website. For any shape, we made sure that there were no harsh edges to ensure that the design was still welcoming, inviting, and friendly. We used a rounded angled border for the featured image in the header of each page, and rounded elements throughout the design. This was a subtle design choice that contributes to the friendly feeling of the site.

At the top of the page, we highlighted the most important information for pet owners. We included the phone number to allow clients to quickly have their questions answered. We also included directions to get to the office easily. Finding a veterinarian close to home is a priority for pet owners, so we were sure to give maps and directions high visibility throughout the site. We also included a “schedule an appointment” button in several different locations on the website, including the header, page load area, and middle. We made booking an appointment easy because it is the most common action customers want to complete on this site.

For our contact information, reviews, directions, and scheduling appointment buttons, we used yellow icons to create a unified appearance. We also created a unique paw print effect for the menu. When you hover over each page of the website, a different pet’s paw print appears. We also created a sticky menu with more information. This menu sticks to the top of the window while the user scrolls down the page. It showcases a small logo as well as the pages for each specific service. The sticky menu is colorful against a white background to match the rest of the site. We also included a “schedule an appointment” button in the sticky menu so that the customer can complete this action no matter where they are on the site.

After the initial page load, the next section we designed were the icons for each of the main service pages. We made this section large, graphic, and eye-catching because we wanted it to be easy for pet owners to find the main services offered by the veterinary clinic, including medical, boarding, grooming, and emergency services. Under the icons, we recapped the major services again for search engine optimization purposes, but made sure that this area still contributed to the overall design by utilizing colorful text and a yellow box.

We also created an overview of the company. This “keep your pet happy and healthy” section gives more details about the character of the company to create further trust. Under this information, we included the map so that pet owners in the area can easily find the office. We originally put the map toward the bottom of the page, but we decided to move it higher because location is one of the most important factors when choosing a veterinarian.

The next section is the testimonials section. This section showcases reviews from current clients, including pictures of their pets. This personalized touch creates trust in the staff and showing real pets adds an extra layer of social proof for new customers.

In the footer, we created an image slider with more pictures of animals and staff. This works as a reminder of the friendly, inviting aspects of the veterinarian’s office. The footer also includes important links, including the patient portal. These links will take the client to forms, special deals, and additional links. People are able to easily find the section of the website that they’re looking for. We put special thought into breaking up the footer so that it would look unique compared to other veterinary websites.

For the rest of our service pages, we chose to design a top-level navigation menu. Many websites choose to do a dropdown menu to save space, but creating a top level navigation menu that shows all of the services is better for search engine optimization and for users. It is easier to find out what services are provided by the vet and to easily learn about the practice without having to search for the right page. Each of our main service pages uses more images of the staff to show that they are friendly and dependable. Each service page also has a sidebar with links to other services to encourage continued clicking. Users don’t have to think about where they will go next, they can continue seamlessly learning about Animal Medical West by following links on any of the pages.

Our “patient portal” page holds most of the important information for clients. It houses forms including the schedule appointment form, online form for new clients, and drop-off and boarding forms. Each form can be filled out online or downloaded as a PDF to print and fill out later. The “current specials” page will be used for future growth as the vet offers more seasonal deals. Consistently updating this page will bring search engine optimization benefits for the company as they continue to grow.

We also modified the previous website’s “about us” page. This page now tells the story of AMW and includes biographies and photos of each of the staff members. Having a photo and fun facts about the people who work at Animal Medical West shows them to be approachable and competent. This creates further trust for pet owners who are able to see the people taking care of their beloved animals.

We also created sections to highlight AMW’s app. This unique app allows clients to look at their pet’s records, send messages to their vet, schedule an appointment, and get refills on medications. The app had never been highlighted on the company’s previous site, so we created a section on the patient portal page with information about the app and a pop-up on the homepage to drive more people to download the app. The pop-up was designed so that if someone clicks on one of the download options or on the exit arrow, the popup will not reappear for a week. This makes the pop-up informative without interrupting the user’s experience.


While Animal Medical West had a previous website that was well-written, we wanted to increase the search engine optimization value for the content. We thoroughly proof-read the entire site and added more detailed information about the services provided at AMW. We made sure that it was clear to customers and to search engines what services are provided by the vet and where they are located. These details will make it easier for local pet owners to find the Animal Medical West website at the top of their Google search results and quickly get the information they need.

Final Thoughts:

Creating this fun, friendly website was an enjoyable project for our team. We enjoyed creating the unique color scheme, geometric design elements, and showcasing many pictures of the staff and the adorable pets they treat. We were able to take the existing work of the AMW team and bring attention to their amazing team and the excellent veterinary services they provide. From the moment pet owners click on the site, we believe that they will feel certain they have found the perfect kind, thoughtful, and qualified veterinarians to care for their furry friends.

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US Water Recovery: Website Design and Content Writing

Website Design, Content Writing, and Search Engine Optimization

What We Did For Them: Website Design, Content Writing 

Industry: Wastewater Treatment

The Website: 

The main goal of the US Water Recovery (USWR) website was to highlight the water recovery facilities and to make the information on the site more visually appealing. Since USWR focuses on restoring nature by removing oil and other impurities from water, we began our design by choosing colors from nature for the site. USWR used blue in  their logo, so we added green and yellow (both abundant in nature) to accent the blue.

In laying out the website, we wanted to bring attention to two items: the location of the treatment plant and the 24-hour emergency services offered by US Water Recovery. We highlighted both of these items in the header at the top of the page. We also made sure that the contact information was readily available. This will help new customers looking for wastewater treatment to get in touch with USWR easily. We used yellow icons to bring attention to the contact information.

Throughout the rest of the home page, we wanted to ensure that the content had a good flow and was easy to read. At the top of the site, we highlighted the main services offered by US Water Recovery, including wastewater treatment, water and oil recycling, and transport services for industrial and marine organizations. Underneath, we created tabs to take the user to specific pages for each of these services so customers can quickly find the service they are looking for. 

We created several different icons to make navigating the website easier. This process began by finding the perfect set of contact information icons illustrating where best to get the email address, phone number, and address for the company. On the tabs for our service specific pages, we designed icons to match those used for the contact information and added a water droplet to each of these icons. The USWR logo already used a water droplet, so incorporating that droplet effect into the other icons helped create a unified look. 

The rest of the home page was designed to show pictures of the facility with straightforward information. The “Our Process” and “Our Facility” sections explain the process for treatment and how the facility is laid out. The page ends by showcasing the partners US Water Recovery works with. This allows new users to build trust with the company by seeing that organizations like the US Coast Guard and DHEC have worked with USWR before.

One of the main features of the website was our unique animation of flowing water at the top and bottom of the page. This effect was created with a unique code to give a wow factor to the website that would not take away from the important information on the site. The header at the top of every page also showcases a picture that fades to white while the user scrolls down the page. This clean fade effect reminds the user about the important work US Water Recovery does in cleaning impurities from natural water. 


Writing for this site required explaining many complicated procedures. USWR handles many treatment processes, including water treatment for the US Navy and Coastguard, DHEC, shipyards, and industrial machinery as well as emergency response to oil spills. We wanted to be sure that customers who were not familiar with the wastewater treatment process were able to understand what USWR can do, but we also wanted to make sure that experienced customers knew that USWR are experts in the field. Our content writer worked closely with the owner of US Water Recovery to ensure that everything was explained in a way that would make sense for every customer from casual viewer to wastewater expert.

Final Thoughts:

The US Water Recovery website was an engaging challenge for our team. It took careful consideration to share information from an industry that we had not worked with before. We feel that the animation, natural hues, understandable layout, and photos of the facility were able to capture the beauty that USWR contributes to the world by cleaning our water. The copy explains the process well for newcomers like us while still capturing all of the important technical FAQs for other wastewater treatment experts. With this clean new website, US Water Recovery is able to easily showcase their facilities and to explain their important work.

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Blue Waters Residential and Commercial Pool Maintenance

Website Design, Content Writing, and Search Engine Optimization

What We Did For Them: Website Design, Content Writing, Search Engine Optimization

Industry: Pool Maintenance Services

The Website: 

Overall Design: When creating the Blue Waters website, we wanted to capture the essence of what pools are all about: having fun. Pat Provost, the late founder of Blue Waters often said, “Nobody goes to the pool to have a bad time.” The goal of Blue Waters is to remove all the stress of keeping up with a pool so that home and business owners can focus on creating a good time for everyone who visits their pools.

Blue Waters wanted to appeal to hardworking homeowners in their design, specifically women who are home caretakers. We were inspired by the 1940’s and 1950’s pinup style images of hardworking housewives. This style is beloved by many of the women who use Blue Waters to maintain their pools and it uses the fun, vibrant colors that we wanted to incorporate into the design. From the images to the font and the colors used on the pages, we made sure that every element of the site had the feeling of a vacation in the 40’s-50’s.

At the top of the home page, we displayed rotating images showing every member of the family enjoying time at the pool. We included teenagers, young children, whole families, and of course, mom enjoying time alone relaxing in her pool. We curated these images to allow customers to see themselves represented in the site, no matter what stage of life.

The main color of the website is blue because it reminds the user of the company’s name– Blue Waters– and reminds them of how inviting a clean, cool, beautiful pool can be. We used both light and dark blues from the company’s logo and used orange to draw the eye to important buttons. Orange is a common color in many of the vintage images we used, is complementary to blue, and is a fun color that reminds the user of a day in the summer sun.

Functional Layout: In addition to making the home page beautiful, we wanted to make it easy to navigate. We believe that a website should be both beautiful and functional, so we were sure to create an understandable overall layout of the website and flow of the home page. The first thing the user sees are the most important actions (leave a review, get a quote), then before and after photos, reviews from other customers, history of the company, a breakdown of residential and commercial pool services offered by the company, job openings, and brands and associations.

The most important things customers typically do on the Blue Waters website are leave a review or look for reviews about the company to read and request a quote, both of which they can easily do by clicking buttons at the top of the page. 

Leaving a review will help Blue Waters grow their reputation for excellent service. Client reviews create social proof. Social proof is created when a new user who doesn’t know about the company gains a level of trust by seeing the successful results the company has provided to others. Reviews are the most reliable way to create social proof, so it was important to feature reviews in several locations on the Blue Waters website. 

Requesting a quote for service is the most common action Blue Waters customers want to complete on the site. We made the process extremely simple to allow customers to quickly get an estimate for their specific project. First, the customer clicks the “request a quote” button at the top, middle, or bottom of the home page. Then, the customer simply takes a picture of their pool and sends it via text or email. Finally, a representative from Blue Waters calls them back to discuss the details of the project and provide an estimate. The entire process can also be completed over the phone. The quote process is designed to adapt to the way of contact that is most comfortable for the customer.

We were able to show potential customers what a difference maintenance from Blue Waters can make by including a before and after slider on the home page. When a user drags the arrow over the image to the left, they can watch the pool transform from full of leaves to clear, clean, and inviting. This image makes it obvious what Blue Waters pool can do for their customers and it is situated right above the featured reviews from previous clients. The combination of the image and reviews creates a strong case for choosing Blue Waters.

Following the image slider, we wanted to create a section describing the history of the Blue Waters company. We included the company’s history as a trusted pool repair and maintenance company in Charleston, South Carolina since 1991 and described some of the major services offered by the company, including pool filters, heaters, pumps, repairs, and remodeling. We ended this section with a “contact us”‘ button to make it easy for the customer to learn more about the company.

At the bottom of the home page, we included a number of brands and associations that Blue Waters works with. When searching for a pool maintenance company, customers often need someone who can work with a specific type of equipment. Rather than searching for “salt chlorine generator maintenance,” they will search for “autopilot salt chlorine generator maintenance.” We wanted to make it easy for these customers to find the specific services they are looking for. 

We also included the certifications held by Blue Waters. They are certified by the National Swimming Pool Foundation and by the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance. Seeing these important certifications helps the customer build even more trust.

Finally, we wanted to make sure that the footer (the very bottom of the site) was just as beautiful and functional as the rest. We designed it to mimic the shape of a postcard to remind the user of a 1940’s-1950’s vacation. From the footer, you can still complete the most important actions for the site- you can request a quote or leave a review here, or you can navigate to any of the other pages by simply clicking on the name of the page as listed in the footer. 

From the home page through the rest of the site, we applied the same understandable buttons and vintage design while giving more in depth information about commercial pool services, residential pool services, history of the company, and special offers. 

Content Writing and SEO:

Blue Waters is a family-run business with a long history in Charleston, so we wanted to be sure that we got the content for the website exactly right. We sat down with the current owner of the business to make sure that each line of each paragraph accurately represented the company and highlighted the services she wanted to bring more attention to. We enjoyed working closely with the owner on this project and were glad that we were able to share the story of the company in a meaningful way. 

When writing for this website, it was important to optimize the content to show up on the first page of Google search results for the terms “commercial pool maintenance,” and “residential pool maintenance,” as these are the services on which Blue Waters is focused. We wrote all of our content and performed basic search engine optimization to ensure that this website appears reliably on the first page of results for these key phrases.

Final Thoughts:

The Blue Waters Residential and Commercial Pool Maintenance website was a very enjoyable and rewarding project for our team. It is different not only from the websites of many other pool companies in our area, but also from the previous websites we have created. This site incorporates many visually enticing elements including vintage photos, animated page load effects, and bright colors, all of which reinforce the message that “no one goes to the pool to have a bad time.” We believe that the design we created as well as the user-friendly layout makes the Blue Waters website an enjoyable experience, just like taking a dip in a clean pool on a hot summer’s day!

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What we Learned from the Lightform LF2 Projection Mapping Device

What is Lightform?

Lightform is a projection mapping device. It allows the user to scan a three dimensional surface and create a map of that surface to project custom designs on. This is the same technology that Disney World uses to create a magical show where Mickey and friends sing and dance on the side of Cinderella’s castle. 

For many years, if you wanted to create custom animations on a 3D surface, you had to put the entire program together in Adobe After Effects or a similar editing software. This process was not user friendly as it required graphic design skills and took a lot of time. Lightform appeals to artists and business owners alike as a simpler way to create a beautiful, custom 3 dimensional design. 

Our company discovered Lightform through our CEO, Brian Anderson. Lightform created a great series of Facebook ads that immediately caught his interest. Anderson said, “I’ve always been obsessed with light. I’m attracted to things that use different forms of light. So [when] I saw this used at an EDM concert where they lit up a skyscraper to match the beat and on Facebook using augmented reality to create shifting blocks,” he knew he had to try it. 

What Can You Do with Lightform?

What could you do with your new Lightform? The possibilities are endless. For personal use, Brian Anderson envisions the product being used for creating elaborate Christmas and Halloween displays projected onto the side of your house. For commercial spaces, “You can have objects that shimmer or increase product placement like glasses with a beach scene that comes to life in the lenses or a fish tank on the wall.” 

We plan to use our Lightform to create a few exciting new projects. For his first task using the Lightform, Anderson plans to create a light-up display of a scene from the movie Tron. If you’ve seen the film, you can probably already picture the glowing motorbikes lit up with the Lightform’s animation. Then, our CEO plans to tackle bringing a skeleton logo for the band The Grateful Dead to life on his wife’s skateboard. 

After we’ve perfected our techniques with these personal projects, we aim to use Lightform as a digital billboard on the side of our office. We plan to showcase the websites we’ve built with animations scrolling through them and to light the building up to attract new customers.

Do We Recommend the Product?

While Lightform is much easier to use than elaborate animation software, Anderson cautions that it still requires some basic knowledge of graphic design, wifi networks, and Bluetooth pairing. “Importing external video and hiding layers were very easy and the initial setup was pretty straightforward. It was hard once the device was paired to pair it with a second device.” 

Anderson also noted that since the technology is still so new, some of the editing tools were fairly basic. “Using the pen tool works best, but as with any art tool, it takes some practice.” 

We advise that if you’re interested in purchasing one of the Lightform projection devices but you have no prior experience in graphic design or you don’t work much with wireless networks that you seek help from an expert. There are not yet many videos explaining how to set up the product yet, so it would be best to talk to someone who’s been through the process before. 

We wanted to try Lightform because of the overall benefit that trying new technology can have on your business. When asked if he believes that it is important for businesses (whether or not they’re in the technology) to try new technology, our CEO, Brian Anderson gave a resounding yes saying, “Businesses that are  innovative are typically more productive, have a better office culture, drive more revenue, and are typically more successful.” 

Key Takeaways:

Our Lightform LF2 projection mapping device has inspired us to continue to be curious about the technology around us. We look forward to perfecting our skills with the Lightform LF2 to create a digital billboard on the side of the building. The LF2 has also given us the opportunity to work on our skills with graphic design and network pairing and to bring an artistic tool to our workplace. Beyond the practical applications and opportunities for professional growth that the Lightform has brought us, we’ve already enjoyed getting to start more conversations with our coworkers about this technology and the other technology that inspires us. Based on this experience, we recommend that you engage with this product and with the conversation- around new technology in your workplace!

Our Review of the Top Video Conferencing Tools for Remote Work

Like many other businesses, ADVYON has been figuring out how to adjust our normal operations to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis. For our team, it was crucial to continue to keep in touch during the week, so we decided to schedule weekly video calls every Friday. However, as we tried different video conferencing tools, we discovered that not all video conferences are created equal. Here are our official reviews of the tools we tried in April and May: Zoom,Slack, Jitsi_Meet, and Teamviewer.

Zoom: Zoom has taken the remote workforce by storm during  the COVID-19 crisis. Zoom now has around 300 million users, which is an increase from just 10 million users last December. According to Zoom’s website, Zoom boasts usability, access from any device, and meeting security.

Pros: We agree that Zoom is very user friendly. Our employees were able to join the meeting from computers or cell phones. One person must host the meeting and send a code or link to other participants. 

Zoom’s website states that the site also has HD audio and video. We found that both audio and video were reliable if the participant has a steady internet connection. Like all web-based platforms, Zoom may experience video lag or issues connecting to your computer’s audio, but these interruptions were minimal.

We were also able to reliably use built in tools like chat, file sharing, and screen share. Zoom meetings can also be recorded and saved to listen to or watch later. The recordings can be stopped or started anytime during the meeting, can be saved in an mp4 format and can be transcribed using Zoom’s built-in audio transcribing tool.

Cons: Hosting was our only difficulty with Zoom. The basic version of Zoom allows meetings 40 minutes long up to 100 participants. We needed to change hosts during the meeting and got disconnected a few times because the free meeting time had run out.

Users should also be aware of security issues. Due to Zoom’s rapid rise, the platform was unprepared for security risks. Toward the end of March, users started to report unwelcome visitors to their Zoom meetings. Security was an especially big risk for school children and minors as well as healthcare or government organizations who need to keep information secure.

Following these Zoom hackings, several new security measures were added. Zoom encourages adding pre-meeting security like waiting rooms, passwords, and joining by domain. Zoom also has security features during the meeting such as shutting off screen share for participants, locking the meeting, or removing participants. Read more about Zoom’s privacy and security measures here.


Slack: ADVYON uses Slack everyday to chat and send files. It’s an online communication hub where team members can communicate over direct messages and channels. Slack also has a built-in calling feature in which team members can call using voice, video, or screen sharing.

Pros: The video during our Slack call was the clearest of all the video conference tools we used, however video is not available on the app for either iPhones or Androids. This makes the video calling feature less accessible than Zoom.

Since Slack is built to prioritize chat, file sharing and chat services are seamless from Slack calls. Slack also allows for recording calls. These can be saved on or off the platform. Finally, Slack can also be used reliably for screen-sharing.

Cons: Free usage of Slack’s platform only allows for one-on-one voice or video calls. According to Slack’s Help Center the paid plans allow for calls up to 15 participants only. Slack seems to be more focused on building out their chat features rather than expanding video calls.

We were able to use Slack for a group call, however, we had issues with the audio during our call. Our microphones lagged and overlapped when trying to talk. We had to turn off all microphones and only allow one person to talk at any given time. Slack notes that if you are using a third-party app within Slack to make the call, Slack may not be granted access to your microphone when you switch between the two apps. 

We find that Slack is very useful for calls between two people, but when making a group call, Slack was not reliable. We prefer the chat features for which Slack has been prioritized.


Jitsi_Meet: Jitsi_Meet is a third party app which we installed with Slack for video calls. Jitsi boasts being a free, open-source video app which does not require an account. Jitsi prides itself on being developer friendly, so it can be customized to your company’s needs. 

Pros: Jitsi_Meet is completely free. It can host over 100 guests without requiring any accounts or payments. It allows for real-time and private chats. Jitsi is equipped with HD audio for impressive sound quality. It is also safe because conversations are encrypted by default.

Cons: Jitsi is not available for iPhone or Android, so it is not 100% accessible. It must be installed on your computer in order to work. It is limited for presentation as well. Capterra reports that Jitsi_Meet does not allow for screen sharing or recording. Jitsi also does not have any training available so it may be difficult to install.

Jitsi_Meet is a good solution for a tech-friendly workspace. It is not as user friendly as Zoom or Slack, but if it’s important to create a long-time customizable solution for your workplace that is secure and safe for your users, it may be the right choice.


Teamviewer: Teamviewer is a trusted software for remote desktop access. Teamviewer has created a video-conferencing software that is available across a variety of different platforms and operating systems.

Pros: Teamviewer is very secure. The host of the meeting needed to set up our new team members with a link to activate a Teamviewer account within the company. This ensures that there will be no uninvited guests in any Teamviewer meeting. It is the most secure option we tried.

Teamviewer allows for easy screen-sharing and recording, since this is how the software is optimized. It also allows for straight-foward file-sharing and cooperation across operating systems. 

Cons: Teamviewer requires a download of the app to use the video conference tool. There is no mobile app available, so you must create an account and download the app on your computer. This requires a few minutes of setup ahead before you can join the meeting, making it a complicated process to participate in the meeting. Teamviewer states that only 10-25 participants may join a video conference call.

The meeting began with participants automatically seeing the host’s screen. While this caused no long term-repercussions to our meeting, it did take a few minutes to figure out how to do a normal video call with no screen sharing or remote access enabled. If your team’s priority is security for a small group, Teamviewer is a great choice. It may not be user friendly to new team members or to the meeting’s host, however.

Overall, we were impressed with the number of video conferencing tools available to help aid in our adjustment to working from home. We enjoyed experiencing the user-friendly interface provided by Zoom, easy one-on-one calls in Slack, the free customization of Jitsi_Meet, and the security of Teamviewer. By only reviewing a few video conferencing tools, we found that an impressive amount of tools are available to help businesses reach different goals and we will use many of them even after we go back to the office.

Brand Standards: What Are They, and Do I Really Need Them?

As a business owner, how many times have you heard the term “brand standards”, or been told they are an important part of your marketing efforts? Is it just another term to you, jargon which goes in one ear and out the other? Why does it matter?

We’ll tell you exactly why brand standards are important and what you need to be looking for in a company when developing brand standards. 

“I already have a logo, isn’t that enough? Do I really need brand standards?”

We see so many people who have a logo and think, “OK, I have a brand, I’m all done!”. However, just having a logo is not enough. Sure, you can put it on anything, but it doesn’t necessarily represent your business in a clear, recognizable way. 

Think about the well-known, established brands you can recognize instantly — Nike, Starbucks, etc. Those brands have a distinctive look and feel you recognize, and it’s because of more than simply seeing their logo. They have a marketing style, ads crafted to perfectly reflect the company and brand you recognize and know. You could walk into a Starbucks, and even if there wasn’t a logo on anything anywhere, you would know you were in a Starbucks.

Take this ingenious ad, for example:

Well known, globally recognized brands take a while to establish. Doritos didn’t get started overnight. It starts with one thing: brand standards. Brand standards are the glue holding your brand identity together. It helps create a cohesive, recognizable public identity for your business which acts as more than just your logo applied to something.

The overall point of brand standards is for people to know you, your business, who you are, what you provide. For instance, when you see a Nike swoosh and you think about good shoes, it’s not because their logo, the swoosh, is literally equivalent to shoes. It’s because Nike has carefully developed their brand identity more than their logo. They’ve spent years creating a clear, consistent brand message with a guideline of exactly how they should be visually represented. And it all starts with brand standards.  

Brand standards enable you to develop more recognition, so people can start remembering your business and unique brand. If it’s consistent, the more people see it, the more they remember it. There are a lot of different businesses out there and brand standards are a crucial way for you to stand out. It makes your company look more professional, more established, and provides you with the ability to compete against all the other businesses providing similar services.  

“What should be included in brand standards?”

When it comes to your business, you don’t want to waste a single dollar. If you’re paying someone to develop brand standards for you, make sure the following elements are included:

  • Clearly defined logo usage, lockup, spacing, and colors
  • Specified colors & fonts
    • Make sure the colors and fonts are outlined for use in all instances. For example, for colors, you want to be sure to have CMYK, Pantone, Hex, and RBG versions. For fonts, make sure weights and styles are specified as well as close alternatives for digital vs print. 
  • Style guidelines for photography & graphics
  • An overall standards for how your brand’s message should be represented

Brand standards are a set of guidelines which set the parameters for usage of creative elements like your logo, colors, and fonts so your brand is represented in a recognizable way, even in completely different contexts. There are many other things which can go into brand standards, but as a basic starting point, all brand standards should at least include the above elements. 

Once you’ve developed brand standards, it also makes it easier when creating and designing anything new for your business – whether it’s a website or an ad. Having brand standards gives graphic designers a clear direction on how to create what is best for you and your brand. 

Having a brand already developed makes creating new ideas more efficient and effective – since the base is already outlined, the creator can focus on enhancing rather than creating anew. Brand standards help to reign in the creative possibilities and focus the artist’s vision.  

“When is the right time to be thinking about developing brand standards?”  

It’s best practice to develop brand standards right from the start. Of course, having brand standards from the start doesn’t always happen, but it’s difficult to build something out of nothing. 

Ultimately, brand standards are especially important for growth. Whether you are just starting out or your company is growing, brand standards are crucial for developing your business and presenting it to new people. 

Even if you already have brand standards, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are set in stone and will never change. As your company grows, your brand standards will develop based on the industry, trends, and your target market. Take for example once more large brands like Nike and Starbucks. You can see over the years how they have changed and grown – it’s still their brand, but it’s developed and evolved over the decades. 

How do you know if it’s time to revisit your brand standards?

If you’re working with a new designer and they have new ideas. If they try something you haven’t tried before or didn’t fit with your brand standards but is really good, maybe it’s time to consider adjusting. Or, if your company has grown into a different target market. 

For example, we have a client we have worked with for years. He started as a handy-man Mr. Fix-It and had a brand that reflected that. From there we wanted a more professional appearance to start handling larger projects like home renovations and remodels. Over time, his business has grown and developed; when he began his business, he was serving residential clients and handling smaller-scale projects. 

Eventually, his business evolved and he decided he was in a spot where he wanted to pursue larger-scale commercial projects. He realized he would need to modify his brand and message again to attract his new target market, so helped take everything to the next level. We created new a new logo and brand standards, capable of relating and appealing to his current business as well as attracting the new perspective market of commercial construction.

Is your company growing? Do you want to start developing a clear consistent marketing message? Do you need to create brand standards? Contact us today and we can help you get started. 

Contact Us Today!

Edisto Blackwater Boogie: Website Design, Development, & Hosting, Logo Design & Branding

What We Did For Them: Website Design, Website Development, Website Hosting, Logo Design & Branding, Print & Digital Graphic Design, Content Writing, Social Media Management 

Industry: Nonprofit

The Edisto Blackwater Boogie was a unique project and involved the efforts of several different members of the community. We got involved when one of our current clients asked if we could help with designing and creating a website. Ultimately, we ended up as a part of the festival committee and offered to help sponsor the event by donating all marketing services.

The Logo

When creating the logo for the Edisto Blackwater Boogie, our graphic designer concentrated on portraying what the festival is about. The Edisto Blackwater Boogie is a music and outdoor festival, so it was important to create something appealing to the types of people who are interested in similar festivals, without alienating people who may not typically attend such festivals. 

We wanted the logo to be aesthetically pleasing while tying together the different elements of music and the great outdoors. At the same time, we had to make sure the logo we designed would translate well across several different mediums, including screen printing. 

Above all, we wanted to make a unique logo that would look great on merchandise like T-shirts, a logo people would be excited about and would be happy to wear. 

Consequently, our graphic designer chose specifically two colors which looked good on both dark and light backgrounds, specifically keeping budget for screen printing in mind. She also focused on elements of the festival itself; there’s a moon because the Edisto Blackwater Boogie takes place over a full moon weekend. There’s a guitar shape because there will be live musical performances. There’s a sprinkling of stars to represent the night sky. The curve of the body of the guitar in the logo is a subtle reference to the Edisto River itself. She also chose a font suited to a folk/bluesy tone. 

The Website

The festival planning committee was comprised of people with very different backgrounds and specialties, so we were the group with the most experience with web design and development. 

We took note of what features everyone on the committee wanted to be included on the website and designed it to meet all of the diverse needs. 

The main purpose of the website for the Edisto Blackwater Boogie was ticket sales, so we made sure to make the option to purchase tickets as visible and easy as possible.  

Beyond ticket sales, there were several different aspects festival committee members wanted to focus on. Consequently, we needed to figure out a way to organize an overwhelming amount of information in an approachable way. 

The schedule of events, artist/band lineup, different activities available at the festival, volunteer information and sign up, and sponsorship information (both opportunities and current sponsors) were all other important highlights. We designed a finished product capable of showcasing a wide breadth of information in an interesting way without distracting from the overarching goal of ticket sales. 

One of the ways we were able to display a large amount of information without making the user experience confusing was by having a clear, concise navigation menu. The homepage has a balance between the large display of the logo as well as relevant event info, including a countdown, the date, time, location, as well as buttons promoting sponsorship, ticket sales, and event activities—and it’s all right there when you first load the page.   

In addition to making sure the website worked well and made sense, we designed the website to be appealing and visually striking. Since the Edisto Blackwater Boogie is a celebration, we wanted their website to be very trendy and fun. 

Each page has sliding background images featuring images of the Edisto, of the campgrounds at Givhans Ferry State Park, of musicians—each image represents the experience someone can expect to have during the festival. We made sure the picture transitions were slow enough to make the background very subtle yet still engaging without being distracting. 

The website for the Edisto Blackwater Boogie leaned heavily on advanced CSS, which enabled features like the sliding background images, the color overlays, and the style of the footer with its outline of the trees (which reflect the actual treeline of the state park). Nothing about the website is generic—every detail reflects an aspect of the event.

Social Media Management and Content Writing

The Edisto Blackwater Boogie required a broad range of content for their marketing leading up to the event. Services we provided ranged from creating and managing pages on social media to writing content for their website, handouts, and magazine editorials. We also designed any handouts and posters they needed — basically, we provided them with all the same features as a full-service marketing agency.  

We also managed Facebook Ad and Google Ad campaigns based on a predetermined budget. Since the funds were from a nonprofit, we had more restrictions on how we could use them. We decided how to best allocate funds by analyzing data from initial campaigns and constantly evaluating our approach.   

The Edisto Blackwater Boogie was a large project with many moving parts, but in the end, we successfully coordinated with several other organizations to manage the marketing efforts for a very exciting event! We plan to be a large part of the Edisto Blackwater Boogie in the years to come. 

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IT and Computer Network Hurricane Preparation List

IT and Computer network preparations for a Hurricane, high wind or water event.

When facing a storm like a hurricane, preparation is key to weathering a stressful storm.  We’ve compiled a list below of best practices to protect your network from wind, water, and the worst!

For all of our Total Care support clients, we physically check and double-check onsite and offsite backups and making sure everything is working well as a part of our storm preparations. We will ensure your networks are safe if anything were to befall them.

On your final day of departure, either to go home or to evacuate for the storm, don’t forget to properly prepare your business, too! Follow the procedure below to secure your network.

1.  Turn off your computers & servers.

2.  Turn off your battery backups.

3.  Make sure your server, computers, and battery backups are off of the ground if you are in a single-story unit.  The Lithium in the batteries of a UPS are flammable and they are potentially explosive when exposed to air and especially to water.

4.  Take your external backup plugged into your server home with you.  Keep it in a safe location.

5.  Cover your computers, servers and IT components with plastic.

6.  If you have VoIP phones, take the main reception phone with you and plug it into your internet wherever you have evacuated to.  If you do not, forward your phones to your cell phone or download your provider’s cell phone app and login with your provider username and password.

7.  Before you leave, make sure to take pictures of everything. Take pictures of all the computers, the inside of your business, the outside.

Things to note:

  • Remote access will not work when your computers, internet, or server is offline. Take the files you need with you.
  • When you restart the network upon your return, start the network equipment first, next your server, then the rest of the computers so they connect to the server properly.
  • If you travel, make sure your mobile devices are secured.  Storms are a great time to have iPads, iPhones, laptops stolen out of cars!

How to forward your Landline Phones:

  • Dial *72.
  • Dial the phone number (including area code) where you want your calls to be forwarded to (e.g., *72-908-123-4567).
  • Press the Call button and wait for confirmation. You should hear a confirmation tone or message.
  • End your call.

How to forward for Nextiva customers:

Nextiva Partner Support:  (800) 659-0208 – Please note only the account owner can call and should have a PIN ready.

You can also download an app to your mobile phone with a username and password for your login.

How to forward for Jive customers:

Jive Support: 877-548-3003

You can also download an app to your mobile phone with a username and password for your login.

iPhone & Android:

Check with your business insurance before you leave.

  • Call your business insurance provider and confirm your policy and your coverage before you go. Check to see what your coverage is for hurricanes. Ask what is covered on your policy and check the coverage amounts – if your business has grown in the past year, you may need to increase the coverage amounts. Make sure that everything you want to be covered is on your policy.
  • If you have any important documents, it’s a good idea to put them in a safe or take them with you.
  • Before you leave, make sure to take pictures of everything. Take pictures of all the computers, the inside of your business, the outside – you want to be sure to be able to document everything for insurance purposes.

Above all, be safe! If you have any questions, we will be available for calls. Please dial (843) 324-5824 for questions.