Informative, entertaining, engaging and... a key revenue source! These are just some of your expectations regarding your Magento 2 blog, right? Well, then, get ready to check them all off your “wishlist” digging through my shortlist of can't-believe-its-free Magento 2 blog extensions. From SEO-oriented to shipping-focused features, from functionalities centered on social media to those geared at enhancing page loading speed, these 9 extensions are, each, extra functionalities to inject into your blog. So that it (your blog) should serve your specific needs and help you reach your goals. And that without having to “stretch” your budget (there are only 100% free extensions in this list)... Oh, yes: and they're all wearing the signatures of certified Magento partners! And now, let's get straightaway to these must-have Magento 2 extensions that you should be turbocharging your blog with: all of them “spoiling” you with configurations that make customization unexpectedly easy … blending perfectly into your blog's design and fitting into your codebase (no need to depend on an “army” of coding experts) 1. Magento 2 Image Slider Let's review a visual/aesthetics-oriented extension first things first. For, as above-mentioned, a “money-making” blog shouldn't be purely informative and helpful, but... engaging, visually-arresting, as well. So, imagery does play its major part here! Now here are a few of this extension's key features: supports no less than 10 sliders built-in support for inserting video text, image one of those fully responsive free Magento 2 blog extensions provides tons of animations, with Live Preview, for you to select from supports OWL Carousel conveniently intuitive UI you're free to display it anywhere on your blog with CMS & Widget 2. Facebook Live Chat A blog is the ultimate channel of communication with your brand's audience. With your e-store's regular and potential customers. Well, then moving from standard communication to... instant communication is a must if you want to meet their expectations. And this is what makes Facebook Live Chat one of the must-have free Magento 2 blog extensions. It's that chatbox incorporated into your blog that's powerful enough to turn “just” guests into loyal customers. And now, let me point out to you some of its most powerful features: there's a Like button and a store profile incorporated into the chatbox user statistics capabilities unlimited History Chat you get to set upcoming events, define greeting text and integrate your e-store's Facebook profile into the chatbox simple backend operations for enabling/disabling the chatbox displayed on your blog familiar UI; a Facebook Messenger Interface-alike chatbox 3. Magento 2 Lazy Load A must-have extension for your Magento 2 blog if you care enough about the user experience that you provide there. And page loading speed does play a key role in improving/negatively impacting it. Moreover, besides optimizing your blog's performance, Magento 2 lazy load creates some aesthetically-pleasing image transitions influencing the UX. But let's get deeper into details and “unearth” all those advanced features that make this extension one of the must-haves: it helps you save your web server resources — saves bandwidth and minimizes server requests it creates smooth, blurring effect transitions for your lazy load images … and a smooth, visually-pleasing transition when users keep scrolling down your pages it gives your blog a ranking boost by creating friendly code strings it optimizes your blog's page loading time you're free to enable/disable the “Lazy Load” mode for each one of your blog's pages you get to set advanced time point for loading pages 4. Better SEO, One of the Free Magento 2 Blog Extensions You Should Be Using Inject Better SEO into your blog and... propel it in the search engines results! And it's not “just” packed with clever features, but ideally easy to use, as well. Built to fit into your blog's existing code structure and to empower you to customize it to serve your SEO goals in detail. I'm talking here about: meta descriptions meta keywords … that this extension's flexible enough to allow you to insert quick and easy. Now that we've settled that Better SEO makes an ideally customizable, blog/store-friendly extension, let's check out its powerful features: SEO checklist — a more than handy “TO Do” list, pointing out to you the SEO tasks to complete for reaching a high SEO score its detects duplicate content issues advanced HTML/XML sitemaps — one for the users, the other one to be used by search engines structured data — implements schema structured data metadata template rules — easy to define mass and dynamic metadata for your pages, categories, layered navigation provides you with actionable SEO reports rich snippets preview cross links social optimization 5. Exto Analytics Applying a marketing strategy that lacks the proper data-fuel is like aiming at a target... blindfolded. So, if relying on pure chance doesn't define you and if you want to go beyond the data provided to you by the native Magento 2 reporting functions, go with Exto Analytics. Here are some more heavy-weighing reasons to do so: real-time mobile dashboard, so you should remain “connected to” your data anytime anywhere convenience at its best when it comes to handling your reports — you get to sort data by specific columns and even to turn off the columns feature itself date range picker — compare and evaluate your blog's performance on different periods of time your previous data gets added to your reports, as well, once you install the extension a chart, enabling you to visualize all data reports in parallel 6. Magento 2 Admin Theme From user experience to... admin experience. As your own blog's admin, you should also consider making your dashboard's more user-friendly and intuitive. For a high level of convenience on your side will bubble up, eventually, in the experiences that you'll create for your visitors. But let's see specifically what makes Admin Theme one of the best Magento 2 blog extensions to use: mobile optimized easy to use and quick to customize retina ready clean, neatly structured code a different interface for Login & Forgot Password admin icon font translation-ready 7. Magento 2 Infinite Scroll It does precisely what its name says: it keeps loading content, without interruption, as your blog guests scroll down. Fluidity in the way you present content to your readers translates into improved user experience! And now, let's scan through this extension's specific features: you can display and easily change the “Show” button, along with its loading text the navigation bar can be placed anywhere on the page you can implement it both on your category page and in the search page the pages that your readers land on get automatically loaded while scrolling down, your blog guests know, at all time, what section on the blog they're on you get to customize your progress bar to your liking users get to share the links of those specific pages that they reach during their scrolling (for instance, if they're on page 8 of your blog, they can bookmark/share the link of precisely that page) 8. Better Blog Now, let's imagine that you don't own a blog yet, “only” an e-store. And that now you want to integrate a simple blog, as well. One that should: be conveniently easy to configure have a beautiful layout design to “wow” your readers with load fast come packed with much-needed backend features, making updating content unexpectedly easy for you, the admin Checked, checked, checked! The Better Blog is undoubtedly one of the must-go-to Magento 2 extensions no matter the size of your current e-commerce site. Once integrated into your Magento store's backend, you'll get to manage both your store and your blog from the very same place. Here are the main reasons why it still is one of the best Magento 2 blog extensions: SEO friendly: SEO-friendly URLs, metadata information, XML sitemap open source code layered navigation, with a significant impact on UX (your blog guests get to quickly track precisely those posts that they're looking for out-of-the-box comment functionality: Disqus Comment, Facebook Comment blog topics built-in product recommendations feature: "Who Bought This Also Bought", "Auto Related Products", "Frequently Bought Together" the option to integrate your store or your blog's sitemap responsive design social sharing buttons blog widgets: show your (recent) posts on your site's homepage (sidebar here included) In short: you get to integrate a simple blog with your e-store with no need for a third-party framework! Moreover, you'll be managing comments, categories, posts, right from your Magento 2 admin, quick and easy. And you'll get informed each time when a blog guest has posted a comment, not to mention that the extension grows into a powerful “ally”, supporting your SEO efforts. One of the must-have Magento 2 extensions without question! 9. Magento 2 SMTP A powerful extension to “turbocharge” your Magento 2 blog with so you: gain total control over your email customization process get enabled to run test sections on your Magento 2 SMTP server And it does all that by providing your blog with configurable port and host. Now, let's go through its cool features: it stores all sent emails logs built to support 20+ SMTP service providers enables you to test how well your current email setting's doing it empowers you to customize your emails in the slightest detail The END! These are the 9 best Magento 2 blog extensions that you should be using. Scan them through, “weigh” their feature loads while setting them against your own needs and growth plans for your blog and... go for the most suitable ones!
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 27'2018
RADU SIMILEANU / Apr 26'2018
Whether you're "constrained" to migrate content to Drupal 8 or you're just eager to jump on the Drupal 8 bandwagon and harness its much-talked-about advanced features, the most important “warning/advice” to keep in mind is: Don't migrate mindlessly! Meaning that before you even get to the point of: triggering the Migrate module's capabilities and adjusting them to your migration project's needs and requirements selecting and combining all the needed contrib modules writing down your YAML files for carrying out your content migration process You'll need to think through every little aspect involved in/impacted by this process: your goals your growth plan your current site visitors' complaints and suggestions That being said, here's more of a “backbone” or summary of the migration workflow, one that highlights the: main phases to go through the right approach to the whole process Drupal-specific concepts and tools to use Do NOT expect a very detailed, highly technical tutorial, though! As for the Drupal concepts that you'll need to be already (more than) familiarized with once you launch your migration process, maybe you want to have a look at this guide here, on Understanding Drupal And now, let's delve in: 1. The Migration Workflow: 4 Key Phases to Consider Here's the entire process in 4 steps (so you know what to expect): first, you'll need to migrate your data into the destination nodes, files and paragraphs on the newly built Drupal 8 site then you'll migrate data into date, image, taxonomy, address fields and file next, you'll move your precious data from JSON and CVS files and finally, you'll complete your migrations from the UI and the terminal 2. Are You Upgrading from Drupal 6 or 7 or Migrating From a Different System? And here's what to expect depending on your answer to the above question: if you migrate content to Drupal 8 from an older version of Drupal (6 or 7), then you're quite “spoiled”: a lot of hard work has been done, by the Drupal community, for turning this migration process into the official path to Drupal 8; you could say that the solid framework has already been set up, so all there's left for you to do is to... take advantage of it! if it's from a whole different system that you're migrating your site (let's say WordPress or maybe Joomla), then... expect it to be a bit more challenging. Not impossible, yet more complex 3. Plan Everything in Detail: Think Everything Through! Now with the risk of sounding awfully annoying and repetitive, I feel like stressing this out: Don't migrate... mindlessly! Plan everything in the smallest detail. Re-evaluate the content on your current site and its “load” of features. Take the time to define your clear goals and to put together your growth plan (if there's any). Then, do lend ear to what your current site visitors have to say, filter through all their complaints and suggestions and tailor your final decisions accordingly. It's only then that you can go ahead and set up your content architecture. 4. Start With the Structure: Build Your Drupal 8 Site First “But I haven't picked a theme yet!” you might be thinking. No need to! Not at this stage of the migration process. You can still build your Drupal 8, from the ground up, even without a theme ready to be used. You can add it later on, once you have the final version of your content! But the site itself, its solid structure, this is a “must do”. It's the very foundation of all your next operations included in your migration workflow! 5. Deep Clean & Declutter! Take Time to Audit Your Content Don't underrate this very step! For moving over all that clutter, that heavy load of unused, outdated features and all those chaotic, crummy pages will only impact your Drupal 8 site's performance from the start. So, now it's the right time to do some... deep cleaning! Audit your content, your features, plugins and other functionalities included in your site's infrastructure and... trim it down by: relevance (are you using it?) quality: keyword-stuffed, unstructured pages (a heavy pile of them) will surely not give your new Drupal 8 site any significant jumpstart in rankings! 6. About the Migration Module Included in Drupal 8 Core Using this dedicated module in Drupal core to migrate content to Drupal 8 comes down to implementing the: Extract- Transform-Load process Or simply: ETL. In Drupal — as related to the Drupal migrate module — these 3 operations come under different names: the source plugin stands for “extract” the process plugin stands for “transform” the destination plugin stands for “load” 7. Time to... Migrate Content to Drupal 8 Now! Now it's time to put some order into that “pile” of content of yours! To neatly structure Google Sheets, XML files, CVS files etc. And here's the whole “structuring process” summed up to the 3 above-mentioned plugins: source, process and destination. Source: XML file SQL database Google Sheet CVS file JSON file Process: iterator default_value migration_lookup concat get Destination: images users paragraphs nodes files And here's a specific example of how to “glue” data for a neater and ideally structured content architecture: Before the migration: A: First Name- Kevin B: Last Name: Thomson C: Department- Commerce After Migration: A: Name- Kevin Thomson B: Department- Commerce 8. 4 Contrib Modules to Incorporate Into Your Migration Workflow As already mentioned, the migrate content to Drupal 8 process also involves using a combination of contrib modules. Speaking of which, allow me to get them listed here: Migrate Tools Migrate Source CVS Migrate Spreadsheet Migrate Plus The END! This is the tutorial on how to migrate content to Drupal 8 trimmed down to its bare essentials. To its core phases, key steps to take, main Drupal concepts to “joggle with”, right approach/mindset to adopt and best tools/modules to leverage for a smooth process! Any questions?
RADU SIMILEANU / Apr 24'2018
They use the same platform, Magento 2, therefore (theoretically) they all leverage the same functionality, same features, and loading performance, right? And yet, there are e-stores that... stand out! There's no secret here: it's the powerful extensions that “fuel” their success, extending their functionality. And which are the best Magento 2 extensions for you to consider? Which of them best fit your own e-commerce site? For we're talking here about 1,500+ extensions for Magento 2. So, needless to add that there's a dedicated tool for pretty much any specific e-commerce requirements that you might have: to easily manage your inventories to streamline all your customer & supplier-involving operations via a centralized system to easily monitor and quickly track sales for creating invoices to have tracking metrics and in-depth marketing analytics at hand In short: it's the Magento 2 extensions that supercharge your e-store with even more functionality; that help you provide your customers with that ideally convenient and feature-rich shopping experience that they're expecting. The one that will translate into... boosted sales! And now, without further ado, here's the shortlist of 5 best Magento 2 extensions for you to evaluate: 1. Deliver Date Scheduler It's in the (little) details: Winning your customers' trust and eventually their loyalty and … spiking your sales. “Details” like this can't-live-without Magento 2 extension here which practically: takes the unknown and the uncertainty out of the equation (out of the entire order delivery process) “empowers” your customers, who get to choose the most convenient dates for their products to be delivered; and it's you, the admin store, who'll make the date suggestions, based on your product availability and shipping provision And there's more! This extension's a toolkit all by itself, actually, packed with various features ranging from: the option to trigger reminder emails for your customers the option to select a calendar view and a particular format for that delivery date and time of arrival that will be displayed to them the option to enable your customers to keep a close track of and to constantly monitor their ordered products' delivery process 2. Magento 2 Store Credit And here's another one of those feature-rich, “Swiss knife” type of tools on our list of best Magento 2 extensions! One loaded with so much “store credit-centered” functionality that it would be a pity not to have it on your e-store. Here are just a few examples of what it can do and how precisely it's going to enrich and make your customers' shopping experiences even more convenient: customers get to use their credit for purchasing any available product, anytime you, as the store owner/admin, get to refund your customers by credit they get to spend it for paying their shipping fees, taxes they even get to share their store credit with their friends, family customers can either earn or buy their credit you, the store admin, get to easily add/subtract the specific credit values right from the backend an easy way of keeping track of the store credit balance & history in the same place And, surprisingly enough, this list goes on and on. Now with so many powerful features, all bundled into one extension, each one adding a different layer of “convenience” to your customer's shopping experience, you just can't afford overlooking Magento 2 Store credit! 3. Best Magento 2 Extensions: Use the Follow Up Email as Your “Trump Card” And you hit the nail right on the head with this extension here! Whether it's: discreetly guiding your customers back on the “right track”, the one leading to a purchase turning customers into your brand's advocates, winning their loyalty through perfectly tailored, strategically set up follow up emails … this Magento 2 extension here is your most reliable ally. But let's talk facts/functionality. Let's see what is it that the Follow Up Email extension can help you achieve: shopping cart triggers: guide your customers back to their temporarily abandoned carts trigger wish lists: shared, product added customer triggers: billing and shipping address, logged in, subscriber, birthday set up your own custom schedule and automatically send emails on those specific dates use Google Analytics to monitor your email marketing campaign's performance support multiple pre-created emails for each event type custom-tune the design of your emails' templates to your liking define as many rules and conditions for each event type, that you create your emails for, as needed And the list of conveniences for you, the store admin goes on (e.g. test emails that you can send) and those with an impact on your customers goes on. In short: the Follow Up Email is one of those Magento 2 extensions that can make a difference between just “selling” and clever, targeted sells. Between a shopping cart abandoned for good and a completed purchase order. Between a one-time shopper and a regular customer... 4. Hide Price Another powerful extension, whose functionality you should fully “exploit” when setting up your pricing policy. One that perfectly fits your store's specific e-commerce requirements and needs. And its functionality comes down to: enabling you to manage price display on your product and category pages and to hide prices for guest visitors or certain customer groups Now, if I am to detail a bit on this functionality, it's an entire collection of advanced features that I'll eventually dig up: remove/replace the standard “Add to cart” button with a custom button text that should instill your customers to perform the action you want them to (e.g. to register for getting the price) restrict price visibility to particular customer groups get notified of any new quote requests … send email replies to those requests trigger pop-ups whenever your store guest clicks your custom Add-to-cart button, pop-ups geared at collecting user data so you can tailor your product prices accordingly hide price for particular products hide your “Add to cart” button for the non-logged-in visitors on your website Adjusting your prices to your customer's needs and expectations — and you can do that only after you've collected enough relevant user data — is what will stand behind your customers' loyalty and your high conversion rate. And it's Hide Price, one of the best Magento 2 extensions, that can “fuel” your strategically thought out pricing policy! 5. Reward Points High-quality products/services, phenomenal customer service, and hard-to-resist-to prices aren't enough for engaging (and hopefully converting, as well) your store visitors. In this respect, the Reward Points Magento 2 extension is a true... game changer! One to add to your wealth of resources at hand for boosting your sales and “luring” returning customers. It enables you to reward them in multiple ways! And now, let's pass in review some of its most powerful features: several ways for your customers to spend their credit points you're free to set up different spending & earning point rates customers get to earn credit points if/once they've referred to a friend they also get to keep a close track of their transactions' history and points' balance right from their “My account” page set up your rewarding policy by product, behavior, catalog, cart, you name it define a maximum no. of points that a customer can gain or spend on a particular product The END! These are the very best Magento 2 extensions: powerful enough to “fuel” your growth plans, advanced enough to help you enrich the shopping experience that you provide on your e-store. Contact Optasy for professional Magento 2 services in Toronto.
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 23'2018
Conveniently customizable, ideally flexible and unexpectedly feature-rich... No wonder that you consider moving your site to Magento 2. Or having your brand new e-commerce site built on the latest version of Magento. And now you must be wondering: which are the best free Magento 2 themes to choose from? And let me guess, your “feature wishlist” goes something like this: responsive (it goes without saying) functionality-rich visually-appealing flexible enough capable to accommodate both medium and large-sized online store (you need to consider your growth plans, too, when choosing your theme, right?) Oh, and yes: most probably time is not your best ally, am I right? Therefore, you can't afford to invest too much of it in comparing, weighing pros and cons, setting up a never-ending list, then trimming it down to the very best themes for Magento 2. Well, no need to, for I've got your back! Here's a top 10 for you, including only those themes with the best user reviews, themes that strike the perfect balance between great looks and powerful functionality: 1. Ves Yume Feature-packed, fully responsive and... free of charge. What more could you possibly ask for your theme? And speaking of its features, although they do come with no price tag on, they're unexpectedly powerful. For example: gallery image product detail off-canvas menu & header link Ajax cart checkout improvements font awesome a handful of static blocks In short: a full-collection of features and functionalities for providing both rich and convenient online shopping experiences to your customers. 2. F2 If it's a sleek & clean web design, suitable for a professional e-commerce site, that you're aiming at, then F2 is the theme to power your plans with! One which — although designed by the latest web trends — doesn't trade functionality for visually-striking looks. And speaking if its features, let me point out to you the most tempting ones: responsive design sticky header drop-down cart multiple product types configurable swatches Moreover, it's one of those best free Magento 2 themes that are surprisingly flexible, as well. You're free to adjust it to perfectly fit your Magento project's type and size. Tip: where do you add that — although looks play a major role here— F2 is NOT overburdened with visual effects. Effects that would negatively impact your online store's performance! 3. Best Free Magento 2 Themes: Ketty, One of the “Oldest” Ones, too “Oldies, but goldies!” For, even if it's one of the “oldest” Magento 2 themes, Ketty's packed with some truly powerful features. And thus capable to “rival” much newer/younger themes. Now, if I am to highlight some of its attention-worthy features: Ajax cart product zoom user-friendly admin panel with a new design highly customizable configurable swatches improved checkout cross-browser support Also, F2 is one of the responsive Magento 2 themes, in case you were wondering... 4. Absolute One of Magento's “star” themes for 4 years now, Absolute's now available for Magento 2, as well. A highly professional theme overloaded with options to suit your every feature need. If I were to name just some of these hard-to-resist-to ones: image slider theme editor featured product slider newsletter subscription my cart and compare product blocks on the homepage quick product overview A responsive theme that has already earned itself a “reputation” among Magento users, conveniently packed with features to answer all your e-commerce requirements. 5. BizKick BizKick's made it to almost all users' personal lists of best free Magento 2 themes. And for 3 strong reasons: it's responsive it “spoils” them with a whole collection of advanced features it “tempts” them with a handful of clean and classy layouts 6. Ves Need Is it health spa services, glasses, beauty products, handbags, shoes or maybe clothes that you'll be selling on your Magento 2 e-commerce site? Then you might want to consider Ves Need. It comes with an elegant, neat & clean design that will surely appeal to your (mostly) female audience. And where do you add that it's free, too! 7. Ves Fasony Designed with the customer's needs and expectations in mind, Ves Fasony is a responsive theme for Magento 2 built with Bootstrap 3.x. The key reasons behind its listing on this exclusive top here — featuring the very best free Magento 2 themes — are the following: it's built with online customers' needs and expectations in mind; it anticipates their requirements and delivers an amazing shopping experience it's optimized for touch drag and drop it comes with an owl carousel controlling the image slider Moreover, Ves Fasony's ideal for women and men fashion, watches and bags stores. So, do keep this aspect in mind when you're evaluating the themes listing in this top, looking for the one that best fits all your e-commerce requirements. 8. FreeGo, One of the Best Free Magento 2 Themes It has the functionality — since it comes packed with a full set of powerful features — and it sure has the looks: a clean-elegant (almost minimalist) design. Moreover, FreeGo's fully responsive and puts a powerful back-end panel at your disposal. One that you can use for customizing your theme to suit your Magento 2 project in the slightest detail. And now, when it comes to its “load” of powerful features: sold out label extension touch optimized slideshow child theme ready features product list (showcasing featured products) child theme ready all browser compatibility off-canvas menu 9. Ves Kasitoo A Magento 2 theme with a product-oriented and therefore attention-grabbing design, perfect for the following types of online stores: glasses equipment fashion... Moreover, it's turbocharged with a plethora of advanced features to power your e-commerce website with: retina-ready images featured block on the homepage touch optimized deal products carousel off-canvas menu social media buttons product tabs carousel 10. Ves Vigoss If you have a “guilty weakness for cutting-edge, clear design, you'll definitely love this Magento 2 theme! Apart from its great looks, it comes with a full set of outstanding features to tap into: brand logo slider Ajax cart front interesting quick view it's fully responsive checkout improvements And to this list of features, I cannot but add the Magento 2.0 UI and the Bootstrap 3.x layout components, as well. The END! So, now that you've scanned through this list of best free Magento 2 themes, which is the perfect fit for your own e-commerce web project? Which one of them supports all your feature needs?
Silviu Serdaru / Apr 20'2018
So, you've got so used to that IT support guy who's been “stopping by” your workplace on a regular basis, for a few years now. Or with that tech support guy, from your IT services provider, who's been... supporting you and your team, on-site, for some time now. You've met his family, he hasn't missed any of the company's Xmas parties... So, why should you even consider switching to this new managed IT services support model? How cutting down his visits could actually mean improved technical support services? And you can't even say that you're grappling with the pros and cons, since you can't really put a finger on any “pros” for upgrading to this new type of technical support. So, let's talk... benefits then! 5 of the strongest ones, actually: Now and Then: The Managed IT Services Support Model vs The Legacy Model Now let's have a look at the 2 most common situations where you'd leverage the “traditional” way of providing/getting IT support: A. There's that technical consultant that pays his/her pre-scheduled visits to your workplace — who also comes when you call to report a sudden technical problem — and... “saves the day”. B. There's an engineer from your IT services provider “glued” to his/her server, who provides your team with in-house technical support and preventive maintenance. Now, let's have a look at our second scenario, where you will have already upgraded to the managed IT services model : By leveraging a whole suite of remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools, your engineer provides you with technical support and maintenance right from his... service desk. And, in many cases, it's him who'll alert you of emerging issues, before you even get to detect them yourself. The 3 main benefits deriving from this new model? there's a fixed-price engagement (instead of the pay per hour-based partnership, where you get invoiced for every “additional” intervention or extra hours) remote monitoring and management tools guarantee you a more effective preventive and maintenance program reactive work is no longer done on-site, but in a more timely manner, right from your provider's central location That being said, let's get straight to the 5 clincher arguments for moving to the managed IT services support model: 1. From “Need More RAM!” Discussions to a Digital Transformation Strategy Or, to put it into a more down to earth language: Your conversations with your service provider will no longer be centered exclusively on how to address this or that technical problem, but rather on the measures to implement for digitally transforming your business. For standing out in an increasingly competitive landscape, keeping up with the neck-breaking speed of disruption in your industry (across all industries). It will no longer come down to putting together that standard list of issues and technical hurdles to be shown to your designated engineer next time he visits you. Instead, you'll get to engage in real conversations with a... strategic consultant this time. And your conversations will no longer focus on repair and maintenance, but on the initiatives to take for digitally transforming your business (translating into more relevant products for your customers). Not on whether you need more... RAM or not to boost your workstation's performance. 2. Managed IT Services Support = Custom Scripting & Proactive Repairing Does this scenario here seem (too) familiar to you? You, the user, detect a technical issue... you give the service desk a call right away... a call that will then result in a... ticket for resolution. It's only afterward, after some time, that someone at your service provider's central place will take notice of this ticket (depending on their own schedule and staff availability). And eventually come to your “rescue”. A discouragingly toilsome process, don't you think? Now, here's how things would play out if you embraced the managed services support model: Leveraging a proactive repair approach, your service provider — thanks to the used RMM tools — will automatically detect any suspicious issue. Then, it runs its custom script/procedures to get it fixed. And all this without you, the user, even noticing that there had been a problem in the first place. Custom procedures (custom script) can be deployed either proactively or reactively, keeping this unwanted event's impact on your day-to-day business operations to a minimum. Now, how's that for a change? Compared to the : Issue tracking... alerting the service desk... having a ticket created for it and... waiting for this issue to be finally tackled … kind of process? 3. Take the Worries of Managing Onsite IT Support Staff Off Your Back That's right, moving to managed IT services support means that: there'll be no need for an in-house technical support team to be sent over by your provider you'll no longer need to assign staff management tasks to someone in your team (paid time off, benefits, salary etc), regarding these technicians sent over to your workplace also, you'll no longer need to manage their task list “Outsourcing” is the best one-word definition for the managed IT services model! Onsite support, along with all its inconveniences and staff management extra work, turns into off-site, “invisible” support. Where issues get tackled from a distance before they even become… visible to you! 4. Simplify Your Auditing & Inventory Processes and Automate... Everything Now you do agree that if: you don't aim for high efficiency for carrying out your business processes and you don't make “automate all the things” your ultimate goal ... you can't even be talking about digitally transforming your business. About turning disruption in your industry from a challenge into a success story (your own). Luckily, conveniently automated processes is what the managed IT services support model is based on. Let me give you just a few examples of how the right RMM tools will help your service provider and benefit you, the client/user: patching operating systems and apps get automated managing the anti-malware gets automated monitoring (and altering) your system's health gets automated software deployments get automated Hands-on support will be kept to a bare minimum since most of the operations can be handled right from your service provider's central place... automatically. And there's more! Along with automation comes... simplification. This means that by using a whole suite of digital tools, your service provider will be able to access any device in your workplace... digitally. No need to have someone from their technical support staff come over for an inventory of issues and technical hurdles (and to eventually add/remove issues listed there). This will simplify processes such as: asset allocation warranty renewals hardware lifecycle management software license tracking and implicitly: your regular auditing and budgeting processes 5. A Fixed Price Engagement Motivates Your Provider to Get Prevention-Focused Let's see if this example of a “pay per hour-based” engagement, along with its limitations and inconveniences (for you) resonates with you: A hardware failure has just struck or you're facing ransomware. What do you do? Well, you call the “emergency team”. Which do come, but... at a cost. One by the hour. Now, as compared to this type of contract, the managed IT services support is based on a fixed budget. So, no matter what unexpected events might occur, your provider will address them, right away, at no additional cost. Needless to add that it's precisely this fixed fee model that motivates them to prevent those issues to occur in the first place. So, they'll adopt a prevention-oriented approach. Resulting in a win-win situation for both of you! And this fixed-fee engagement, along with the prevention-focused mindset, will inevitably entail a whole new world of... benefits for you: you'll no longer need to limit yourself to the level of technical competency of that particular IT support guy sent to you on a prescheduled visit; instead, you'll get to tap into a wider range of expertise, right from your provider's own workplace you'll no longer have to wait for that prescheduled visit or to expect to get invoiced differently for any intervention that's “outside” the schedule The END! What do you think now: is it worth it to move to this whole new way of providing/receiving IT support?
RADU SIMILEANU / Apr 19'2018
So, you've (finally) overcome your skepticism regarding it: artificial intelligence does have the potential to propel your business right into the future! To drive productivity, enhance efficiency and flexibility and, overall, to transform your brand from the ground up. But how do you know what AI technology to go with? What are the AI use cases perfectly suited for your own business? And this is where artificial intelligence consulting comes in! An AI consultant/AI consulting company's role is precisely that of answering all your questions and pointing out to you the right AI approach, the AI-powered solution(s) suitable for your own business: Which artificial intelligence technologies should you integrate (according to your industry, specific challenges and opportunities, data & analytics capabilities, tech know-how, growth plans, budget etc.)? Which are the most valuable AI use cases for your own company? What is the current and future potential of AI? And now let's talk facts, shall we? Let's see what are the typical artificial intelligence consulting activities that such an expert would engage in during your collaboration. But Why Is There An Increasing Demand (and Low Supply) for AI Consultants? There's an entire cause-and-effect circuit here, leading to: a high demand for AI-powered products too many companies with huge potential that aren't leveraging AI to their/its full potential And why is that? What's behind this intriguing paradox? Well, studies revealed the following 2 key aspects: companies do see all the opportunities deriving from the “do more with less” principle of the AI technologies and they nourish high expectations from AI yet, they're having trouble choosing the right AI services provider/AI product(s) for them The result: too many companies, with significant potential, that aren't leveraging low complexity, high-benefit AI use cases. A disappointing reality of an unbelievable potential left unexploited! Yet, one that artificial intelligence consulting experts can change. Artificial Intelligence Activities: Developing a Long-Term Strategy How precisely should you be using artificial intelligence? This is the question that your consultant will try to answer while identifying the strategy to be developed. And it all comes down to identifying the AI-centered, business-specific initiatives to implement. A strategy which he/she won't be able to put in place until he doesn't: fully understand your company's current strategy … the specific challenges that you're dealing with … the opportunities opening up for you … and your data & analytics capabilities With the results of his “investigations” at hand and his understanding of AI's present and future potential, your artificial intelligence consultant can “detect” the most valuable AI initiatives for your organization. Note: a wise enough consultant will suggest you to rethink your existing strategy from the ground up instead of just “tweaking” it to your present AI needs. For some AI technologies might just “take over the future”: Just imagine Google translate reaching human-level translation capabilities in 5-10 years! Hence, you need to future-proof your current strategy, making sure it will still be “relevant” enough to stand... the wind of change blowing its way on a longer term. Artificial Intelligence Consulting Activities: Implementing The Suggested AI Initiatives During the strategy developing process your consultant will identify a certain number of initiatives to be implemented: by the AI consulting company itself or in-house, by your team(s) And speaking of such recommended AI-powered activities, let me point out to you a few of the most relevant examples: project management planning business processes improving, so they should level up, in terms of efficiency and productivity, to your current AI project vendor selecting development And even if: it's in-house implementation that you'll choose (even global tech firms care for their budgets and relying entirely on an AI consulting company for implementation can get costly) but your team lacks the tech know-how to implement some pressing initiatives … your consultant can intervene and speed up the implementation process Artificial Intelligence Consulting Activities: Staff Training on the New AI Technologies Now don't think that such an AI consulting professional will just: come in put together your company profile develop an AI-strategy accordingly point out to you the initiatives and AI technologies to be implemented and... that's it. Of course that your team will still be lacking the skills and the know-how to properly leverage the suggested new technologies. And so, it goes without saying that training your staff on the recommended emerging technologies is one of your consultant's key responsibilities. “Training” and instilling the right mindset and proper approach to innovation and innovative tools and technologies. Final Word Artificial intelligence can't go anywhere else but... up. With more products to be launched, more technologies aimed at boosting productivity and enhancing efficiency to emerge. Hence, the future belongs to those (companies) wise enough to see some powerful advisers in these artificial intelligence consulting experts. And bold enough to implement their advice, as well!
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 17'2018
“Empower... anyone who wants to build his own website!” This is how modern web builders' “motto” could sound like. And how could you not embrace this kind of “liberalization” in web development? Yet, the question that arises now is: with so many options, how do you choose the best WYSIWYG website builder for you? … for your own: specific feature needs: will you be implementing video content, as well? Is blog functionality crucial for you? Can't imagine your website without an e-commerce plugin? Will you be “juggling” with multiple types of galleries on your site? future plans: dreaming big? Then scalability is a must-have functionality and main criterion for narrowing down your options. budget: facing a shoestring budget? Then you need to make sure that your free WYSIWYG web builder is suitable enough for your feature needs and growth plans And besides zero coding expertise and no skills as a web designer, time is not on your side either, right? So you can't afford to spend too much of it running your own “investigations”, looking for the best web builder for you... Then, here's a top 5 list of WYSIWYG website builders to choose from and jump-start your site building project with: But First: What Is a WYSIWYG Website Builder Anyway? And How Does It Work? Before I reveal to you which are the 5 most “irresistible” (meaning “feature-rich”) options for building your own website this year, let me answer these 2 basic questions first: a. "What is a WYSIWYG web builder?" It's a tool empowering you to go ahead and create that “dream” website yourself. And that quick and easy, with no help whatsoever from a coding “guru” or a highly gifted (and “pricey”) web designer. And here is how this site building process looks like, summed up in just a few simple steps: select your theme select your template add all kinds of content without the fear that you might mess up your code … along with any available apps, plugins or special widget that you need to integrate b. "And how does it work precisely?" It uses a graphical interface which shows you how your website will look like in real time. For the “what you see is what you get” driving principle is precisely that: What you see as you drag, drop and customize different templates and as you add content is precisely how your website will look like in the web browser, too. Jimdo Website Builder I start with a WYSIWYG website builder that slightly drifts from the drag-and-drop “mainstream” approach. Instead, Jimdo “tempts” you with stackable content blocks. Blocks that you can select from and arrange to your liking. Note: do not expect your “load” of templates to be as heavy as is the case for the following 4 website builders on my list here. Still, do expect high-quality templates only. “Templates” that, moreover, you get to tweak and fine tune to suit your needs and preferences in the slightest detail (colors, fonts, backgrounds, you name it). And that you can replace at any time, with no risk of losing your work. Main strengths: free plan available (and I'm not talking about just a trial here) free blogging and social media tools HTTP encryption out-of-the-box mobile app “injecting” on-the-go editing functionality low learning curve Note: speaking of the free plan, you should know that there are 3 pricing plans in total: JimdoFree, JimdoPro and JimdoBusiness. You can upgrade your plan at any time and keep your work intact while doing that. Weak points: limited scalability it's not really a drag and drop website builder limited styling capabilities MotoCMS Website Builder From an “out of the box” web builder, we'll switch to a powerful “beast” loaded with no less than 2500+ templates, suitable for 60 different topics. Therefore, it goes without saying that no matter the size or the complexity of your site building project, MotoCMS can power plans of all “flavors” and sizes. From a simple landing page to a full-featured, powerful e-commerce machine... Strong features: built-in blog functionality 100% responsive and cross-browser compatible templates integrated SEO and social media tools a rich collection of widgets that you can inject additional functionality into your website with Note: in addition to these MotoCMS strengths to consider when you're choosing the best WYSIWYG website builder, do consider its loading speed, as well. Tests (the Pingdom website speed test) prove that sites using MotoCMS templates stand out in terms of performance. Wix: The Best WYSIWYG Website Builder for Absolute Beginners How does it address the needs of a non-experienced & non-skilled (yet enthusiastic) site builder like you? Through its Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) feature. It's designed to ask you all the key questions and to draw your “absolute beginner in need of a website” type of profile. This way, it collects the most relevant information that will help it set up precisely that website that you have in mind. Quick and easy: just let yourself interviewed! Moreover, the Wix website builder is the most popular one in the site-builder industry (with no less than 90 million users). And there must be some strong reasons behind its “fame”. It's true, though, that at a very first glance, the interface might be a bit discouraging. Yet, do give it some time, get to familiarize yourself with the environment and you'll discover that: what scared you at first is precisely what will make you “addicted” to this web builder. meaning that once you've familiarized yourself with this software's UI, its “overload” of customization functionalities proves to be conveniently empowering in fact! they enable you, the complete non-tech-savvy site builder, to put together and tweak every little aspect of your website. And there's more! What “entitles” Wix to compete for the... title of “the best WYSIWYG website builder in 2018” is the tempting App Market that it provides. You get to choose from a wide range of apps (200+) storing extra functionality to be implemented on your website, such as: Site Booster (powering your SEO strategy) Wix stores (you'll get empowered to manage your own online store) Wix forum Some of them are free, while others come with a price tag on. Features “to die for”: text (and other elements) animating functionality a (really) heavy load of stock images to scan through and to choose from you get a free version, as well, perfect if it's a small, low-budget website that you're building fully customizable, top-notch templates it auto-generates the mobile version of your website outstanding support Limitations to consider: there's no option for you to switch templates later on (that Jimdo, for instance, does provide you with) no access to your site's source code you can't export your website Squarespace Website Builder Squarespace ranks high in two categories: best WYSIWYG website builder for creating visually-appealing websites most expensive web builder In other words: if “beauty” is the main criteria when choosing your web builder software, Squarespace should be on top of your list. Pixar is one of its clients... if you know what I mean! A strong enough proof that creating visually-striking websites is what Squarespace aces at. But it does it at a cost! So, don't expect to get a fully-functioning free version. Powerful features: great analytics and SEO tools full-featured e-commerce support fully-responsive, top-notch templates, with pre-built integrations phenomenal presentation: in-browser image editing, video backgrounds, lightbox presentations If it's a beautifully designed website that you're dreaming of, Squarespace is the software to “fuel” and shape that “dream” with! Weebly Website Builder Weebly seems to be “rivaling” Winx in popularity: It's one of the most-used site builders, with millions of site owners leveraging its functionalities. Therefore, its popularity is a strong enough evidence that its features, design and capabilities are... above the average (to say the least). It's a conveniently easy to use web builder, yet powerful enough for building complex websites. An intuitive WYSIWYG website builder, with an “overwhelming” collection of website templates. And that seamlessly incorporates any 3rd party provider of your choice. This is Weebly in short! Top features: powerful e-commerce features the option (200+ apps) to implement 3rd part integrations: forms, table elements, FAQs etc. free, responsive, sleek-looking themes to choose from a community of 30 million users worldwide Note: the newest version of Weebly, Carbon, comes equipped with an even richer collection of templates, a heavier toolbox and revamped UI. The END! This is the shortlist to keep at hand when you're choosing not the best WYSIWYG website builder, but the right web builder for your own web project! Would you have added (or maybe even excluded some) any other solutions for building a website with no help from an expert — be it developer or web designer?
Silviu Serdaru / Apr 16'2018
Has that time come yet? The “time” when you realize that your once a start-up business, involving just a few processes and people, has gradually grown into a hard to manage infrastructure? One having plenty of... “holes” to be plugged for better efficiency? Then it's a fact: you need to look for a business process consultant! But what is business process consulting anyway? And this is just one of the questions that I'll do my best to answer in today's post. Besides this, I'll be: pointing out to you, as clearly as possible, what a business process consultant does, more precisely how a business process consulting campaign works, from step A to step Z 5 reasons why you should opt for such services (or 5 “benefits” that you'll reap from opting for such services, if you prefer) So, shall we delve right into it? First Things First: What Is Business Process Consulting? Take it as a “diagnosis & prescription” applied to your business process. It's a process where an external consultant: comes in to closely analyze all the processes being carried out within your organization … and to identify any inefficient use(s) of resources, redundant processes that could get easily automated etc. then present the results of his/her “investigations”, along with his recommendations to you, top management And, if requested, he could also run simulations to test the suggested process improvements. That's the whole process broken down into its essential steps! And... How Does It Work? The Entire Process in 4 Simple Steps Now don't imagine your business process consultant running his/her investigations “undercover”. Or locked somewhere in an office, studying documents, infographics and stats and “thinking up” his recommendations for your business workflow. For it doesn't work like that! He/she will need to get out there and to actually observe your team “in action”. To detect, on the spot, any proofs of inefficient use of time or simply to understand how each process works. For, you can't improve something that you don't “intimately” understand. Now that we've settled this, here's a business process consulting campaign... broken down into 4 steps: a. The business process consultant starts by doing what it takes to gain a deep understanding of all the processes that your business's based on. And his/her methodology could involve tactics ranging from: interviewing your team members to watching them closely as they carry out their regular tasks b. The observation phase and the issues-detecting phase take place simultaneously. Therefore, once your business process consultant identifies all the areas of improvement and the “weak links”, he'll start putting together his “battle plan”. His list of recommendations for clearing all those detected inefficiencies. And these “efficiency holes” could be: bottlenecks, leading to work getting piled up in one specific area from the whole workflow system inefficient use of resources (time being the most valuable of them all) too complex layouts that might delay the completion of certain tasks repetitive processes that could be automated areas where lack of accountability or bad communication impacts productivity c. The business process consultant presents his/her report to you, along with his process-focused recommendations for improving efficiency d. You might want to see those suggested improvements applied to your workflow and the new system “in practice”. This is an optional step where you require a test to be set up. What Does a Business Consultant Do? He/she puts together an accurate and realistic picture of the workflow within your organization and points out all the “cracks” in this picture. And eventually delivers you the solutions for...filling them in. And this definition could be an equally viable answer to the question: “What is business process consulting?” Now to sum up a business process consultant's “mission” to even fewer words, it would go something like this: He/she documents your business processes, “equipping” them with clear sets of instructions, so that each member of your team should know, at any phase, what are the next steps to take Why hire a business process consultant instead of assigning someone in your team to handle all this documenting and structuring your workflow into repeatable processes? Because in case of overly complex infrastructures, with tasks, varying a lot, depending on too many factors, documenting and organizing them gets unexpectedly challenging. Especially if you (your team) don't have the know-how or the needed time for analyzing, in detail, every single little operation in your workflow. 5 Reasons to Use Business Process Consulting Services Now let's talk... clear advantages! Here are the main benefits that you'll reap from opting for such services: 1. Less Time for Managing Details, More Time for The Big Picture Do the math yourself: How much of your time do you waste/invest in managing all kinds of day-to-day... details? Now just imagine how much time you'd save if you took all these burdening tasks, all these time-consuming responsibilities, off your back! And this is precisely what the business process consulting services are aimed at: helping you stop “wasting” time on details … by automating all those day-to-day management tasks … so you can focus more on those new projects that you have been postponing, on exploring new revenue opportunities … and on your customers, too 2. A Consultant Will Instill Responsible Attitudes Within Your Team Without every member of your team motivated to adhere to certain quality standards and best practices... any attempt to improve efficiency is useless. And this is another valid answer to your “What is business process consulting?” It's all about motivating your team to feel some sort of ownership over the results of the tasks they perform. A business process consulting not only that will “detect” those team members who: skip a few (maybe crucial) steps when performing a task come up with their own shortcuts for carrying out certain tasks, which might impact the final product's overall quality … but he/she will also work on motivating your team to adopt the recommended best practices and a certain work ethic. For one of his/her key responsibilities is to make everyone in your team feel responsible for his work. 3. You'll Be Expanding Your Capabilities as an Organization And it's a “cause and effect” process if you come to think of it: More efficient business processes lead to enhanced capabilities in every sphere. And I'm talking here about enhancing efficiency when it comes to: scope scalability (by seizing and leveraging opportunities for improving your infrastructure, your organization gets to grow internationally, as well) 4. You'll Be Simplifying All Your Business Operations Mobile media, cloud computing, social media... and all the latest technologies will only give your business processes a major efficiency boost. And it's that business process consultant that you'll hire who'll be: handling the IT assimilation process selecting the right technology(s) for each process reducing the IT complexities simplifying and automating workflows 5. You'll Be Cutting Down Costs And here you get another valid answer to your “What is business process consulting?” question: "It's process-re-engineering." … during which all the business processes included in your workflow get closely audited, evaluated and properly optimized. And a certain hierarchy set up: resources get reallocated to more important projects and a plan for investing in technology (for automating key processes) is put together Time to Let an Expert Document & Improve Your Processes Now! Now that you know what business process consulting is, it's time to: stop using the budget “excuse” and consider all the resources of time and money that you'll be saving … or the “dangers” menacing your business if you allow it to run on undocumented processes (anytime someone in your team could make a mistake from lack of a well-structured workflow & a set of clear instructions) realize that such a complex process does call for an expert
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 14'2018