Archive for the ‘Joomla’ Category

Can content management systems (CMS) make all your website changes easy?

jce_smOne of advantages of content management systems (CMS) is the ability to edit content easily and in real time. While this is true at face value, it may not be as simple as it sounds. Here are some of the changes that laymen cannot make:

Change in content type– Suppose most of your pages have a small amount of text (50 pages) and perhaps an image. If you want to replace that page with a video or add a large image to the text it as an example, you need to be aware of several things. Will adding the content require another technology tool such as a video player? Will the content be too much so that it looks out of place?

readmoreMost CMS systems allow you to add a “Read More” link, which may help address the issue. But it is always advisable to consider the overall impact before replacing the content.

Clashes between new content and the design framework– As you select images be especially aware of colors that clash with the website accent colors and for images that are cropped inconsistently. It is always best to establish and maintain the standards for content especially graphics and video. Any new content should follow these standards. If there are new silos of content e.g. divisions, develop common standards for content. If the content is inconsistent, you lose the sense of competency that a CMS framework creates through common style sheets.

Content that suggests a change in navigation– If new content reflects a change in services, business strategy, etc. it is always best to consider how that content relates to the whole site. If a customer sees a new product on your site but there is no link to “get more information” form, the new content is not serving your needs as it should. Be careful not to underestimate how important it is to create a consistent look.

PHPmyadminContent managed by database functions– Most CMS have the ability to interrelate several sets of content according to rules you define. The relationship between content is managed through a database and may be done by custom programming or through CMS tools. If you understand that relationship between the data, you can make the edits successfully; otherwise you may not accomplish what you want.

Content linked within the site– To help users find related content easily and to improve SEO, a good website key phrases from one page to related pages. If you change the names of your linked pages, you will also need to change the links in the related pages. It’s not difficult but if you forget, you will have broken links. This hurts your site’s appeal and SEO.

Joomla has a set of these tools generically called content construction kits. The most popular examples are MosetsTree, SobiPro, K2, and Zoo. Some are easy to add categories, some allow easy import of other database content and some are allow the layout of information to be customized easily. A good developer will understand the strengths and use the right tool.

Here are some tips to make the update process easier:

1. Make good decisions before you launch or re-launch you site. Define the basic layout of your site for the long term.

2. Work with developers who inform you of options before you build the site. Ask them questions about maintenance. Ask them what you change and what you cannot without help. Ask them about training.

3. Know your website’s CMS and train your staff to follow your style guidelines.

Is your website ready for mobile devices?

One of the topics that has created a great deal of buzz is the importance of mobile devices:

  1. How important is this option to my website?
  2. How do I make my website mobile friendly?
  3. What will it cost to do this?
  4. What else do I need to consider?

There is no single answer to any of these questions but there are some guidelines:

1. First know your desired user. If your customers or employees use mobile devices frequently or if they do/ want to use a smart phone or tablet, this topic is really important. In general, the trend is towards using the web more on mobile devices: http://marketingland.com/report-nearly-40-percent-of-internet-time-now-on-mobile-devices-34639. This is especially true for younger age groups, entertainment and sports content and products/services whose marketing relies on social networking.

2. The major challenge to using the web on mobile devices is that the amount of space is smaller on these devices. Desktop monitors are typically 24 inches or larger with screen resolutions that are typically twice that of even newer iPads. There are two main ways to address this: responsive design and mobile menu integration.

A responsive website is designed so that it adjusts to the size of the display. Each element and piece of content is reduced in size to conform to the device used to display it. If your website is built that way AND if your content is not too dense, your website may be well received as is. If your content is too dense, it would be wise to add mobile menus. Mobile menus change how users navigate a site. This reduces the need to magnify the screen or scroll multiple times to see content. The best examples of content dense websites are news organizations. The BBC website is a good example. I reproduced the mobile vs. desktop version below.

Desktop

Desktop

bbc_mobilehomebbc_sectionsmenu                 Mobile menus were used to make the screens less cluttered and still allow users to get to the content. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to read on a small screen?

So for your website, the key is how much information appears on any one page. This is subjective of course. If it does not overload your users, you may not need to create a mobile menu. You still need to use technology that works on mobile devices or else replace it with mobile friendly content. There were plans to integrate Flash into mobile players but that dream never materialized. With the ability to render images in javascript or derivations of it, Flash should be avoided.

3. The question of cost depends on how your website is made currently. If your site was not created as a responsive design and the appearance is poor, we would recommend it be changed. If your site was made in html only, it will need to have code inserted into them to detect the device in use. Then a different display will have to be created for each device. Many content management systems (CMS) have be upgraded to include that code. This includes Joomla, Drupal and WordPress among open source CMS. If your site needs a mobile menu, the steps to create mobile menus are similar. The costs will vary depending. We recommend you discuss the current need, the future and the return on investment with your developer and marketing team and avoid a hasty decision.

4. Mobile phones seem to be standardizing around the Droid and MAC operating systems. Tablets seem to be standardizing around the iPad and Kindle operating systems. The screen sizes on each device and each platform determine the screen size and resolution available. So it is worthwhile to stay informed on these specs periodically. Aside from that, how your site displays on a particular mobile browser depends on the age of the device and how the user has it configured.

911 – “My website is down!”

No one is happy when the day begins with a customer calling to say they get an error message when visiting your website.  A visitor may see a message indicating that the website is not found, the domain is available for purchase, a database cannot be accessed or that the website is offline. Here are the most common reasons websites don’t display and how to avoid it.

  • The hosting or domain fees have not been paid
    If you catch either of these issues quickly, you may be able to remedy them by simply paying the bill.  Many web hosts and domain registrars set you account to renew automatically.  If that is the case, your credit card information may not up to date.
  • The host server is down
    The easy solution is to contact your hosting company or by checking with your IT group for internally hosted sites.  A professionally hosted site should have redundant servers and be able to get your site live quickly.  If you continue to experience downtime and if the downtime is over an hour, look for another hosting solution.  Sometimes shared hosting environment are prone to downtime so consider upgrading your hosting plan to a VPS or dedicated account.  Sometimes a new hosting company is appropriate.  Look at our hosting recommendations  if you need to consider that option.
  • Your visitor is inside a restricted network
    It is not unusual for visitors who are inside a firewall to loose access to your site because the security settings or workstation settings have changes.  Sometimes public wifi networks have similar issues.  So ask your visitor if that may be the case.I attempted to access the internet in talking to a potential client from their office and could not access many public websites because of this.  (Needless to say, I didn’t gain that client.  It is hard to tell a client that their IT is poorly configured.)
  • Something in the basic website code failed
    This may be because of an incorrect edit to these files.  Occasionally files become corrupted because of many unknown reasons.  These reasons include corruption on the host servers and read/write errors from accessing files.  These types of issues are unpredictable.  If your host does not provide a good backup, plan look for another host.  Regardless of your host, you should have a backup process that stores backups apart from the host server.  Akeeba provides a good backup option within Joomla.  Check with your developer to see what options are available for your site.
  • Someone “hacked” or maliciously interrupted your website
    Just as viruses can find their way onto your local computer, websites can be compromised too.  Public and internally websites should be protected in a variety of ways.  If you have a Joomla site, check our recommendation.  Many of the principles also apply to websites overall.

How you recover from a hack or virus depends in part on your host’s security measures.  Some hosts quarantine websites they detect as compromised.  Your first steps are to check the date of your locally stored backup and then seek assistance if you are unsure what to do.

Black Friday 2011: Hosting Deals Too Great to Resist!

If you don’t sleep late from over-consumption of turkey, you have to check out these incredible Black Friday deals on website hosting! These companies have gone all-out to make you their next new client. So log onto your computer and steal yourself some great deals!

FatCow hosting specialFatCow Holiday Hosting Special!

  • Begins: after Thanksgiving
  • Ends: 11/27/11
  • Deals: The promotion is for 65% OFF their Basic Hosting plan. No promo code required.

FatCow is 100% wind generated electricity, so a 100% green choice for hosting! They are considered one of the best hosting options for Joomla. Sign up for FatCow hosting >

Hostgator Black Friday 2011 Deals!

  • Begins: 12 am CST on Friday, November 25, 2011
  • Ends: 11:59 pm CST on Friday, November, 2011
  • Deal: 50% off EVERYTHING the entire day!

This includes ALL accounts. You could get hosting for $.99 per month! We’re very happy with Hostgator for our Joomla accounts, and we’re certain you will be too! Buy hosting with Hostgator >

Interactive Online Black Friday Special!

  • Begins: 11/25/11
  • Ends: 11/27/10
  • Deals: The promotion is for 1 year of hosting for $9.95 on our Shared Hosting Service.

If you’re wondering which host to choose for Joomla, read our blog post What is the Best Hosting for Joomla to make your choice.

2011 Black Friday Deals for Joomla Extensions, Templates & Hosting

blackFridayBlack Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States. The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is often an indicator of how the Christmas shopping season will fare. Retailers often offer deep discounts to entice shoppers into their stores.

Joomla developers are jumping on the bandwagon and offering some amazing deals on Joomla Extensions, Templates and Hosting.

Visit the Joomla 2011 Black Friday Deals page for a list of all the deals! They include specials from: