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Take your daily dose of (only) relevant news, useful tips and tricks and valuable how to's on using the latest web technologies shaping the digital landscape. We're here to do all the necessary information sifting for you, so you don't have to, to provide you with content that will help you anticipate the emerging trends about to influence the web.

Modular Content Components: How Do They Work? Why Use Them?
Let's start by imagining the “bad” scenario! The one where you don't implement modular content components in the creation/editing process on your website! It will only lead to a poor editorial experience, where editors/content authors:   depend on your technical team for every little tweak that they need to apply to content on your Drupal site; which will obviously slow down the processes of updating content and sending it to your various distribution partners       are forced to learn HTML and thus to focus less on creating and polishing content and rather on acquiring some sort of technical “expertise”   Granting your editorial team (even more) flexibility will benefit:   you, as an organization, since they'll be empowered to run all the necessary updates, in due time, with great ease   your site builders and Drupal developers who will then win more time to focus on their own tasks (no one wants to get interrupted from his/her work each time there's content to be added or to be edited on the website).   So, it's a sort of win-win-win type of situation ( where you, as an organization, your content authors, and your team of developers gets to win)!  And now let's detail the concept of “flexible modular content components”, and point out why they shape the future of content creation:   1. How Should The Content Creation Process “of The Future” Be Like? First of all, it should definitely go beyond:   the "box body" concept   the content management framework that your Drupal development team can program to do anything by using just the proper custom site-building techniques   The future of content creation lies in a redefinition of content in CMS and in putting the spotlight on the creation experience itself! It's that improved creation experience that will easily lead to a unique, easy to personalize user experience. And there's more:   content of the future should be a “cluster” of modular content components of rich media   creating and editing content should be a simple, few-steps process with no technical “burden” involved   content of the future should be exchangeable across platforms and to support multiple forms of media   content of the future should easily adjust to the requirements of a multi-channel publishing context   Needless to add that a weakened creation experience, where the content writer/editor/publisher is fully dependent on the technical team, will only lead to slow site updates. And you definitely don't want to fall behind with your updates!   2. The Content Creation Process of the Present  Now, before we highlight for you the benefits that you can reap from adopting a structured modular content on your Drupal site, let's take a look at the “current” issues that modular content components come to solve:   the “one and only WYSIWYG” standard   content writers aren't granted as much “independence” as they should in order to create/edit content without any technical support from the development team   leaving content creators no option but to put together layouts within the WYSIWYG editor and to learn HTML   3. But What Is Modular Content After All? Making your content modular means switching from the practice where you edit a page, on your site, as a whole, to that where it gets automatically generated from other content items. For instance, an example of “content item” could be the “recipes” one on a farmers market website. The key benefit of adopting modular content is that you're granted consistency across the content on your site and that the entire editing process gets automated. For instance, once a piece of vendor information gets changed, all the pieces of content on your website that display that particular information gets instantly updated. Step into the future of automated content updating and leave behind the irksome manual updating process! Moreover, you get to leverage the power of modular content for putting together page sections and composite web pages, too!   4. What About Modular Content Components? What Are They? You could see them as “tools” empowering your content creation and editing team to:   easily add new sections without the help of the technical department in your organization   send their pieces of content to several distribution channels (sending them, each, specifically those content formats that meet their requirements).   And all this in just one single step!   5. “Should I Be Integrating Modular Content Components in My Content Creation Process, too?” It depends! It depends on whether it's crucial for the whole workflow within your team that your content editors should be able to update content on the fly and to send it to your network of distribution partners “in the blink of an eye”. If it's the case, then you should definitely leverage the modular content components' functionality on your Drupal site, too! This way, you'll be empowering your editorial team with a simple, yet highly effective drag-and-top tool that they can use for adding new content components quick and easy.  The next step is to send it to your content distribution partners, whether it's Facebook, AOL, or Apple News, or none of these three.   6. Key Modular Content Functionalities Worth Your Attention 5.1. Consistency Across Your Website  And you can't underestimate the advantage of keeping a consistent branding throughout your Drupal site! This is precisely what you can achieve using modular content components:   you'll eliminate those situations where your team uses inconsistent layouts when publishing content, taken from legacy website designs   re-branding your website will turn into a streamlined process with a solid and scalable architecture as its foundation; it will be a lot easier to “implement” the new look and feel across your website and to achieve a consistent branding   the current situations where content authors just drop “slices” of HTML into the WYSIWYG editor will become “history” on your new future platform, a highly maintainable and nicely structured one; a modular content components-powered one!   5.2. Easily Adjustable Content According to Your Distribution Partners' Restrictions It will be far easier for your content editing team to tailor it to their specific restrictions! Since with modular content components they get to edit and update content with such ease!  Whether it's:   links that they need to remove in order to comply with your distribution channels' requirements   certain formats that they should stick to   any other special requests that they need to meet while creating or editing their articles   … with Modular Content components integrated into their article creation process, it all gets much more streamlined!   5.3. Marketing Power  And you surely can't afford to underestimate digital marketing-oriented tools that help you build targeted and ideally creative advertising campaigns:   you have the Double Click for Publishers module   you have flexible ad tags that you get to use for implementing your campaigns   you have built-in identifiers helping you achieve your “smart targeting” goals through your campaigns   Need we add any more reasons that modular content components make the future of content creation? Are you ready to embrace the future? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 15'2017
Cloudwords for Drupal 8: Translation at Scale Gets Automated 
If content is king, then content personalization sure is queen! Which leads us to content globalization, an ever increasing demand that many organizations strive to adapt their marketing technology stack to. Yet manually getting heavy loads of content translated not just in one, but in several languages, and then sending it out precisely to their target audiences, at high speed and ideally scaled, is almost a “mission impossible”. And this is the particular context that the Cloudwords for Drupal 8 was launched in! It's the answer to organizations' challenge of dealing with users' expectations for personalized experiences while striving to spare their valuable resources of time, as well! For users do expect to be “served” promptly, you can't compromise on quality (by delivering them poorly translated content) and you surely can't waste their time (delivering them the translated version of the content on your website weeks or months later). And this complex workflow involving:   large teams of content authors loads of content being constantly moved in and out of the Drupal website(s) a whole network of translation vendors to send it over to and to receive it from   ... has its limitations!  Therefore, integrating Cloudwords with Drupal 8 comes to turn all this from a cumbersome, time-consuming process into a fully automated workflow!  Now let's get into more details about the “happy marriage” of these two innovative web technologies, Clowdwords and Drupal 8:   Why Drupal? Why Drupal 8? What Does This CMS Bring To The Table? As you probably already know, it's been a while since we've got to use the Cloudwords for Drupal module. Why was Drupal “chosen” for the happy union? It's pretty logical: back then it was and still is large organizations' top favorite content management system! The one “equipped” with all the capabilities (flexibility, scalability, extensibility and all the other crucial “ity”-s) that are crucial for content-packed websites! So, since now we have Cloudwords for Drupal 8, a more than valid question would be: “But Why Drupal 8 in particular?”  “Because it's been built with content globalization in mind! It provides companies with multilingual support right in its core!”   What is Cloudwords? What Does It Bring to the Table? Simply put: Cloudwords is a software that automates the entire global content localization process! Basically what it does is eliminate all those resources-consuming tasks, that are now being carried out manually by “armies” of teams, and deliver a highly enhanced visibility into the projects' statuses. A “dream come true” for all the digital marketing teams involved in the production and the delivery of personalized content within large organizations. Like yours! Cloudwords's key role in this integration with Drupal 8 is precisely this one: turning your Drupal website's localization into a streamlined, automated workflow! Far easier to monitor and far easier to handle!  Workflow automation + Unmatched project management capabilities   The Challenge  More often than not enterprise organizations need their websites' content translated in several languages (not just one or two) and also have not just one multilingual site to manage, but an entire “constellation” of sites. So, as you can imagine (since you're probably facing the same challenge) monitoring the entire translation process, promptly updating it whenever new content gets added to the website and adding new and new multilingual websites to the group is resources-consuming and prone to error! And this is the challenge that Cloudwords in Drupal 8 comes to help your own organization respond to!   Cloudwords for Drupal 8: A Big Leap Ahead Into the Future of Content Globalization Now that we've:   glided through each one of the two technologies' key capabilities relevant for this integration pointed out the “problem” that this “union” comes to solve   … let's have a close look at this groundbreaking solution, shall we? First of all, what we can easily state is that it speeds up the whole website localization process. And that it protects it from human error, too, obviously! Since the entire workflow (implying the creation and the delivery of personalized content) gets automated, living up to higher and higher standards of speed, quality and scaling gets so much easier. Secondly, we're talking about efficiency in terms of quantity, as well: a high volume of web pages can now get translated at high speed, to more and more users located in different corners of the world and in more and more languages, as well. In short: accelerating translation at scale, that's what you'll achieve, within your enterprise, once you start leveraging Cloudwords for Drupal 8's capabilities!   And How Exactly Does It Streamline Content Marketers' Workflow? The very first “present” that content marketers get is an increased visibility into their content translation projects! A key benefit coming to complete all the other ones deriving from the fact that all the time-consuming tasks, otherwise manually handled, are eliminated from the whole process. “Automated convenience”, that's how we could call Cloudwords for Drupal 8 from content marketers' standpoint! And there's more! The future has in store even more (more or less “surprise) “goodies” for content authors and editors:   improved multilingual support (since we're talking about Drupal 8, after all) improved content authoring and editing experience    CloudWords for Drupal 8: Features That You'll Want to Use Now let's outline specifically those key functionalities that you'll be using the most in your translation at scale projects:   enhanced visibility into each project's status (a feature that we've just talked about) OneReview: in-content review functionality collaboration among all the teams and vendors involded, across departments, too; and good collaboration sure is a touchstone of any large scale project!   How Does It Work? “You simply select the content on your Drupal site that you want to localize and let Cloudwords for Drupal 8 handle the rest!”  The translation vendor that you'll choose for the job will get the content to be translated, then it will have it delivered into Cloudwords. A step-by-step website localization process that Cloudwords will streamline for you, taking an incredibly heavy burden off your team's shoulders! Moreover, it will also automatically detect and point out to you those specific translations that are outdated, as well as the new ones. And this is how Cloudwords for Drupal 8 works! Looking forward to hearing from you your very first impressions once you start integrating it into your organization's translation at scale processes!  ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 14'2017
Drupal-Powered Digital Signage? Yes, That's Possible!
Standard web pages have ceased to be the only data delivery medium available! And there's no way around it. You either respond to users' “pressing” expectations to be delivered up to the moment data, context-based data only, or, well, you'll be left behind! In this respect, Drupal-powered digital signage systems might just be the best solution to meet your customers' “new” needs and to remain relevant in your business! There's no reason to “act surprised” or be skeptical about Drupal being the right technology to go for! You have:   data-rich APIs   outstanding content management functionalities   … so collecting data, turning it into “relevant”, contextual data, detecting a whole network of devices and sending out that data following a certain content model already looks like a plan. A solid plan for you to build your first digital signage system on! But let us dive into more details, (hopefully) answer all your legitimate questions and deliver you some of the key information you need for getting started with your digital signs project:   Digital Signage Systems: A Few Examples What forms do these new types of digital experiences take? Where do we interact with digital signage in our day-to-day lives? Here are some representative examples:   mall kiosks   touch screens placed in various means of transportation (planes, cars, trains)   voice interfaces   These are all real-data delivery means! Digital signage solutions that we interact with daily (even if only visually) and which have already become indispensable to us.   But Why Drupal? Why a Drupal-Powered Digital Signage System? … when you have Angular, Node, Amber React and the whole “suite” of cutting-edge, modern technologies at your disposal? The answer lies in Drupal's whole “culture” of empowering the end-user! In other words: Drupal provides an improved user experience compared to other modern technologies focusing mostly on enhancing exclusively the developer's experience instead. As simple as that! You need to build your signage system with your client (his team of content editors) in mind! It's them who will need to be able to grow independent once you pass them over the device; to be able to edit everything about it with the utmost ease. And Drupal excels at empowering the non-developer, the non-technical user!   Real-Time Data Streaming = Managing Content With Great Ease And Drupal's well reputed for its capabilities as a content management system. It empowers those “in charge” with content with a whole structure of features and functionalities aimed at better organizing the editorial team, at handling and “refining” the delivered content (making it context-sensitive, as well). Now, let us point out some of its “star” capabilities:   its whole “infrastructure of roles and permissions   its revisioning feature   its translation functionality   its content types building tool   How Does Drupal Handle External Data? Having data “flooding in” from “outside” providers is something to consider when you decide to develop your Drupal-powered digital signage system! This data can range from:   social media   to weather data   to stock data   to news   to all kinds of crucial (for the passengers) public transportation-related data   And the way Drupal 8 copes with this “flood” of data goes like this: the provider API is sent out to collect this data, then Drupal gets it processed according to the content model. Note: If content is king, then context is queen! Make sure you contextualize the data you deliver via your digital signs, that you perfectly adjust it to the given context (you don't want to send out information about a train's schedule on the “wrong” platform or data news from Baltimore to people living in L.A. etc.)   Getting Started: How to Use Drupal for Powering Your Digital Signs  Here are the very basic steps to take:   enter the right command in Drush for collecting your data   next store your credentials in Drupal 8   “trigger” caching (yet, be cleverly selective about what you cach, since you can't, obviously, cach everything when it's real-time data that you need to deliver)   parse your collected data, using Drupal 8 to “spread” it to all the right devices, following the right content model path   Getting Data from Drupal to Your Digital Signs: How Does It Work? Before you go ahead and pick the obvious answers to this question, “pull” or “push”, you'd better consider all the “pieces of the puzzle”:   you can't really rely on the pull method since that would put a tremendous pressure on your server's shoulders (and heat up your devices)   you can't rely on a “multiple APIs” method either, since real-time data restricts you to a to a highly selective caching (unlike on web pages)   you can't reload as many times as needed, like on the web   there's limited or no user interactivity involved (the huge blue screen can be viewed by thousands of people and the only thing they can do is just... stare at it)   “Can't do this, can't do that: but what is it that I CAN do to make this data transfer work?” “You use websockets!” It's this solution that will provide you with an almost instantaneous, two-way type of communication for a longer time!   It's One of Those Perfect Contexts of Use for “Exploiting” Drupal's Scalability Apart from being incredibly flexible, Drupal's highly scalable, too! We all know it, even those that don't use Drupal know it! A Drupal-powered digital signage system is the perfect “context” for leveraging this scalability. And it's going to be of great help when you think of the whole network of devices involved here! Drupal's powerful enough to send out the collected data via one of the websocket channels that you'll use for transferring your data to your devices. Moreover, it can multiply that data for as many devices as your network has. Unlimited scalability!   Think Beyond Content Model: Think “Device Model”, Too! … for Drupal has the right capabilities for collecting, processing data and following the content model, yet you need to “give it some hints” regarding the devices, too. The devices that those digital signs will get displayed on. Let it know what is it that these devices can do, which messages get “triggered” by which one of the digital signs. In short: a well structured, crucial information-stuffed device model's needed, too!   Overall: What Does Drupal Need to Know? If you want your Drupal-powered digital signage system to work at its full potential, then you need to “empower” Drupal 8 with all the key information:   1. what data goes to which one of your interconnected digital signage devices 2. the format that Drupal needs to display that data in (along with language, size screen, and other related key data)   And now in order to “proof” your data, to ensure that it's just your own devices that have access to it, you can:   whitelist your digital signage system (leveraging the metadata that Drupal can collect for you)   establish TFA for all the involved users   ensure that your services of choice (whether it's Google, Amazon or another one) ask devices for authentication   How Does a Drupal-Powered Digital Signage System Handle Security? And this is, indeed, a “sore point” when dealing with digital signs! They're particularly vulnerable in case of cyber attacks. Now that we've pointed out the “problem”, let's jump to the possible solutions that you have:   1. this is a no-brainer and yet, we feel like adding this “rule of thumb”, too: always change the passwords that your devices ship with! 2. consider restricted access to them 3. ensure that the software you're using comes along with a patch/updates schedule, too, and that you remember to run those updates, periodically 4. secure your source data: get it validated and audited before you “release it out into the wild” 5. use SSL    And now all there's left for us to add is: good luck with your first Drupal-powered digital signage system! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 10'2017
The Group Module: Setting Up User Groups Is Now Easier Than Ever
Back in the old days, when we didn't have the Group module to “save the say”, whenever we needed to set up a certain user group hierarchy and a more or less intricate structure of group roles, with different levels of permission and different types of content to be accessed by each one of these groups, we used to call the Organic Group module for “help”. It used to be the one and only solution to our “challenge” actually. Yet, no matter how familiarized we already are with it, we still cannot ignore its “flaws” and “aspects that could be improved” (that we'll be tackling in this post in a bit). And so, with an enhanced Drupal site builder's and developers' experience in mind and due to the context of a slightly flawed Organic Groups module, the Group module was built! A so much more than just an “alternative”: a soon to be the norm whenever developers deal with user groups on Drupal social sites. Now let's give you some key arguments for why you should consider using it for creating and managing user communities on your website and some guidance on how to harness its full power:   First of all: Which Are The Contexts of Use for the Group Module? Which are those “scenarios” that call for the creation of user groups with shared content and shared permissions precisely to that specific content? Let us point out some of the most common ones:   1. a (high) education Drupal website, where a professor having an admin role, too, can group his own students into communities and share certain resources, certain information with them exclusively while keeping them hidden from the other visitors on the site   2. a library with multiple branches, where the staff from a physical location is given access to specific dedicated sections and, therefore, to specific content only on the library's website   3. a speaker's website where he/she also organized online conferences and needs to group the participant and grant them (paid or not) access to informative content and resources     What Makes It a Better Alternative to The Organic Groups Module? You can't ignore the Organic Groups module's “sore points”, even if it might have turned into a “familiar” tool to use each time time you're in a “setting up granular permission” type of situation:   it hasn't always leveraged Drupal's new functionalities in core   it doesn't “spoil” us with API   And now, let's “dig up” all those improvements brought to the Group module which easily turn it from “just” an alternative into a replacement module for Organic Groups:   1. Better Structured Data “Tempting flexibility”, that's how we could call this improvement.  Remember how in the Organic Groups module everything was intertwined, interconnected? User groups had to be attached to a node or a taxonomy term or to a... Well, not anymore! In the Group module, each user community is an “independent” entity and this is where the “tempting flexibility” derives from.   2. A More Intuitive UI And this is, no doubt, one of the Group module's most heavy weighting improvements. We're talking about Drupal after all, with a “culture of empowerment”, so a clear and super intuitive UX was a must! Practically you'll be provided with everything you'll need to use, served to you right on a “silver plate”: once you've installed the module, simply look for the “Group” section “neighboring” the “People” section! Your admin toolbar will provide you with all the tabs/options that you need to navigate through and select from. Therefore, don't expect a whole “marathon” of tabs and pages and sub-tabs that you would need to swim through for configuring your Drupal 8 site's user groups! A simple UI grants you a “fewer clicks” experience!   3. It Provides Group Roles to Choose From and Assign To It's a “new” concept that this Drupal 8 module introduces. Well, almost new, for these roles are very similar to Drupal's user roles and their functionality is the same. Except that they're applied to group types instead (not to individual users)! They fall into 3 types:   member: a member of the user group with a user account on the website, too   outsider: not a member of that specific “community”, yet he/she has an account on the website   anonymous: has no user account on the given website   4. Site builders Can Define Permission Sets for Each Type of User Group Basically, this functionality that the Group module provides site builders with eliminates the risk of group members “not playing fair”. The set of permissions can be configured and then assigned to each group instance.   5. An Improved Developer Experience  The Group module in Drupal 8 “spoils” Drupal developers with a well-documented code.This way they get quickly familiarized with it and do the right tweaks for extending the module's functionality. And now speaking of its extensibility feature, we have some really good news /spoiler alerts for you:   you get the Group Node module, too, out-of-the-box, once you install Group in Drupal 8; this enables you to quickly add your nodes and grant access to that specific private content exclusively to the members of the group that you will have created   it “plays well” with other Drupal 8 modules, too   thanks to its plugin system, it turns the writing of a module into a matter of just a few lines of code; developers get to easily enhance its functionality     How to Use the Group Module in Drupal 8? The whole step-by-step process, from the very first step, where you enable the module itself (a 3-in-1 module, actually), to the very last one, where you add your groups, is very well detailed HERE. What tabs to click on, what drop-down menus to unfold and selections to make, it's all there. So, we won't go on rephrasing the whole tutorial in this post, since you'll find all the steps (screenshots there included) that you'll need to complete explained there:   you install and enable your module   you set up your group types (for instance: content editors, publishers, content creators, interns)   you link group types to content types, too   you pick groups from the group types that you will have created as step 1 and populate them with members   There are a couple of key aspects of this Group module installation, enabling and properly configuring process that we'd like to draw your attention to:   once you get started with the installation, you'll be “warned” that you need to rebuild your permissions   you get to create custom fields for each one of your group types (it's you who'll decide what personalized content goes there: that specific user community's logo, its location, etc.)   And that's it! You can now step into and enjoy a new era of user groups creating and granular permission granting made easy!  Have you tried the Group module on your Drupal 8 site yet? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 08'2017
Progressive Web Apps: How Precisely Do They Benefit Your Business?
Before we delve any deeper into the topic of progressive web apps, let's highlight the context that “produced” them: the limitations of the web itself (poor internet connection, low performance and so on). Therefore, a solution was needed so that users (and here we're referring mostly to users from emerging markets, although poor internet connection is a “sore point” for users from other countries, as well) faced with this type of drawback could enjoy some native-ish, app-like experiences, too. And so, evolving from the “standard” web-hosted apps and “rivaling” native apps in feature-rich user experience, loading speed and (most of all) unmatched accessibility, progressive web apps “were born”! Now let's get to the bottom of the growing “fascination” for this “new” type of apps, pointing out why they're preferred by developers (front-end developers in particular), by users and by organizations (Google being this web technology's most “notorious” advocate) to the same extent.      But First: What Exactly Are Progressive Native Apps?  And this leads to another another legitimate question: in what way are they different from “conventional” web apps? “Web browser APIs”, this is the answer! It's this feature alone that makes all the difference! Progressive web apps are “clusters” of multiple modern web technologies, the great majority of them deriving from the web API's itself. Basically this opens a whole new web era for developers, an era where they can build powerful dynamic web apps using web APIs. Where they can deliver native-ish user experiences without the need of using hybrid frameworks.  “Progressive enhancement” (or “brewing” top performance even from the early stages of development), this is how we can call the whole development process that sets this type of apps apart from web apps and gets them so close to native apps. Developers get to add new enhancements/features progressively, while users get to enjoy some native app-like experience, irrespective of their internet connection's quality or of the mobile browser that they're using. A win-win situation! And now, let's point out the key “requirements” for a “regular” web app to “level up” to a progressive one: to be responsive: a progressive web app runs on any type of device (any browser)   to run offline relying on service workers (to be connectivity-independent): one of the main reasons why these apps have gained so much ground so quickly; “poor or no internet connectivity” is the issue that progressive web apps have been created to compensate for after all   to feature an architecture enabling progressive enhancement (developers should easily add on new features, new functionalities hassle-free)   to be be easy to install locally, on the user's home screen, on smartphones and tablets   to be re-engageable: via features such as push notifications   to be built on HTTP, therefore addressing the security issue   to be easily accessed via one basic URL   And the list could easily go on and on with features deriving from these very “requirements”: they're app-like (with content and functionality playing, each, its separate role)   they're discoverable (since Google and other search engines can easily track them down identifying them as “apps”)   they feature dynamic app-like pages with separate URLs, etc.   What's most important for you, as a Drupal site owner and as an organization, is the aspect of ACCESSIBILITY! Being responsive, progressive and connectivity-independent, these new-generation type of apps (the “future of web apps”, as many call them) is a huge leap forward into the future of web. Once there the user's freed from the chains of performance and other types of dependencies (platform dependency, internet connection dependency...)                 And Again: How Precisely Do Progressive Web Apps Benefit Your Own Business? Is your organization's future projects include seizing business opportunities in the emerging markets (for, after all, they are “responsible” for 70% of the global growth, according to Forbes)? Markets which are known as having the mobile in their DNA while they face, at the same time, poor internet connectivity challenges? Then progressive web apps come as a sure “recipe” for your business' growth! As for your direct customers, it's all the new possibilities that this type of apps, built with unmatched accessibility in mind, unlock. Your users will be able to access your PWAs from any device (PWAs put an end to Android's “dictatorship”), from any network access (or none) and still enjoy a native-ish experience. They no longer need to limit themselves to “super light” type of mobile apps or to access their favorite apps only for short periods of time.   Progressive web apps can be adjusted to these particular customers' context of poor network performance and used devices. An enhancement that will smooth your access through and ensure your business' growth in a 3.9 billion person market. From our own team of Drupal developers' standpoint: they'll get to focus on configuring your company's web apps for 2G only, thanks to their “connectivity-independency” feature. Now if we are to point out some business stories of success, we could mention Jumia and Konga. The two companies operating in Africa have both implemented progressive enhancements into their their web apps' development process and they've both succeeded to increase their conversion rater and to reduce data usage. To Sum Up: your users don't need to compromise a rich native app-like experience in order to save their data or due to a poorly performing network   you'll make your web apps accessible to everyone (increasing visibility for your own brand)   you'll manage to cut down your bounce rate (no more “annoyed” users unable to access your app or constrained to access it for a shorter period of time)   you'll be able to more effectively safeguard your data       Service Workers: What Are They and How Can They Improve Your PWA? First of all we feel like adding that: service workers are indispensable when building progressive web apps! They're the JavaScript-like scripts handling everything data-related: where it comes from, how it should be structured and cached in the background, where it should be pulled to etc. Each time your users perform an action, it's these service workers that makes the right data requests in the database and transmits it between views. They coordinate all the background processes that go from data requests to content delivery. And speaking of service workers, we need to stress out that it's the Service Worker API that's the truly indispensable service worker that you should be using for ensuring a connectivity-independent PWA. It makes the very foundation of your progressive web app! Start with the Service Worker Api and build on it; take it from there and continue to enhance your app!   For inspiration, we recommend you to visit Service Workers Cookbook, a great source of “enlightening” demos and great examples for you to learn from!  A Few Words About The App Shell That Progressive Web Apps Use If you're familiar with the native app's architecture, then you surely are familiar with app shells.   They're the pre-established patterns that guarantee the clear separation of the UI from the data and code. It's also the true “culprit” of native apps' high performance, of their undeniable power: the interface remains visible and identical for the user, while different sets of data can load each time. It can be cached locally, making it easy for it to load with each access of your app, and guaranteeing a dynamic content: data and functionality filling in the views can differ depending on various factors. And this shell-like structure remains identical on every single page of your app. It's only the data/functionality that vary, creating that sense of dynamics and ensuring the best loading times, too. And that's it for today! This is our short 2-in-1 presentation and pledge for adopting progressive web apps. What do you think? Are they the future of the interweb or you don't see their potential?   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 06'2017
Data-Driven Web Design: Make (Only) Smart Design Decisions
It's time you embraced the DATA! That's if you still want a leads-generating website and not just a “pretty painting on a wall”, in an art gallery, that, well, everyone's briefly looking at, but no one's buying! The days of aesthetics' “dictatorship” and of the instincts and personal preferences-based decisions are over. It's time you leveled up and took ONLY smart, data-driven web design decision within your organization! It's data, cold facts and numbers that will hep you get your website from “just pretty” to “both effective and pretty”. It's data, again, that will speed up the design decisions making within your organization and help you launch your Drupal site on time and on budget.  It will filter all your options down to those that are numbers-backed-up. Those that you can then leverage for ensuring a hassle-free, enjoyable user experience on your website. And now, let us point out to you the main questions that you should be asking yourself and the key mindsets that you should adopt once you engage in a data-based website designing process. 1. Which Are The Specific Results That Your Website Should Target? Do you want to attract more subscribers via your website? Or maybe you want to convert your website visitors into customers? Or you aim, instead, for social media sharing or for the downloading of the materials that you're offering on your website? In other words: which is your specific conversion goal? The one that you're trying to achieve via your website? It's the answer to this basic question that will make the keystone of your whole web design strategy! 2. Move the Spotlight From Your Business Goals to The User's Tasks First of all, let's get one aspect straight: you are not your website's target user! Therefore, all the data-driven web design decisions that you will make should target the “real” user's needs, pain points and expectations and not yours, as a company! Now, speaking of expectations, in web design we prefer to call them “user tasks”. The tasks that your website visitors need to complete (to make a booking, to buy a product, to subscribe to a newsletter, to read blog posts etc.) Your “job”, as the “entity” behind the “front store”, which is your Drupal site, is to make carrying out these user tasks as effortlessly as possible:   design with user experience in mind   stick to the generally-accepted design conventions, thus creating a sense of familiarity   And it's precisely on those pages on your site where their tasks and your business goals, as an organization, intersect, that your main sources of conversions will be (let's say subscriptions: they can be both something the users need to do, some filling-in forms tasks, and your objective as the website owner, as well) 3. Set Up Your Data-Collecting Tasks, a Key Step in a Data-Driven Web Design “OK, OK, I get it; I need to make data-based web decisions only, but how do I collect that usable, key data?” you might ask yourself. Glad you asked, actually! Here are some examples of tests you could run and to-do tasks you could set up and assign to different members of your Drupal team:   identify your users' current pain points, determine the causes why you're losing conversions on your website, it's own weak points (run some surveys, rely on your customer service team's gathered feedback from your clients etc.)   analyze your competitors' own sites, see what works and what doesn't in your own industry   turn Facebook Audience Insights into a powerful tool for getting to know your users better   try identifying the reasons why your users won't convert: find what the key differences are between your visitors and your customers 4. Make Empathy-Driven Design Decisions Welcome everyone on your website! Users with disabilities here included! Especially since Drupal makes it so simple for you to meet the web accessibility standards.  Therefore, you have no excuse left for refusing to empathize with your users and, this way, for knowingly refusing to achieve your conversion goal.   5. Guarantee Your User a “Painless” Visit  And by “painless” we actually refer to common-sense design “rules” that are constantly being broken by organizations, on their websites, for the sake of innovation. Remember: when aesthetics interferes with website usability, it quickly turns into a “trap”! Don't fall into it! Now here are those “common sense rules” that we were referring to:   always choose context-sensitive icons with meaning (no need to demand your users to “solve mini-puzzles” for figuring out what action each icon triggers)   resist the temptation of breaking the tried & true conventions ensuring usability on your website (place your shopping cart, your sing in button, your navigation bar and all the other key elements on your web pages precisely where your visitor's used to finding them)   always “bid on” high contrast for your written content   guide them through the steps of their tasks with the help of gestural interactions   We're more than sure that these web design conventions are nothing new to you. Nevertheless, what we're trying to point out by enlisting them here is that: you should never compromise usability for the sake of innovation, of breaking the norms! Serve your users' needs of usability first and impress them later!   6. Keep Key Information Above the Fold Although some might argue and feel like going against this convention, keeping the top benefits, the key information above the fold still is a more than relevant “rule”. You might be thinking that not revealing your products'/services' “luring” benefits from the very beginning builds up suspense, yet you'd better handle your visitors' time with great caution. The more time you ask them to invest in the visit on your website, the fewer your chances to convince them to convert will get. To sum up: display all your main benefits, your CTA elements and all the other crucial information above the fold. The deeper you'll bury them, the better you'll hide them from your users, “bidding” on suspense, the more frustrated they'll get. 7. Go for an Ideal Number of Choices, A Key Rule in Data-Driven Web Design And by “ideal” we mean that too many options could get their decisions making process way too cumbersome and challenging. While too few will only confuse your users and make them feel not properly cared for and attended to. How do you achieve this ideal number of choices? Well, here are some simple tips you can easily put into practice:   create filters that will help them “swim through” the whole set of options, but make sure you make them as specific as possible and that you add them to the most popular (and therefore the choices-packed ones, too) categories on your site   opt for simple, straightforward categories   structure them in a hierarchy by assigning priorities   8. Tailor A Personalized Experience for Each One of Your Users Is there any point in stressing out that we're living in a personalization-dominated digital world? Users already expect you to “orchestrate” some perfectly tailored experiences for them on your website, so... there's no hiding from this trend anymore. How do you comply with it while ensuring that all this effort will translate into conversions? Well, by studying your visitors and collecting a whole load of key data regarding their browsing histories on your website, regarding their geolocation, their purchasing histories etc. Next, you get to leverage all that data for crafting your personalized content (in the format of personalized recommendations) for each one of them. It's not going to be a quick and easy process, we won't hide this from you, yet a personalized content marketing strategy still remains THE most effective one. If Amazon keeps using personalized content for boosting their sales, then it must be (still) working, right?   9.Leverage The Power of Video Content on Your Website We won't be focusing on this aspect, since we've already dedicated it a two-parts blog post on this site. Using video content on your Drupal site is not even a matter of a “web design trend”, but a data-driven web design decision. It's plain, "cold" data that supports the usage of video content. 10.Use Social Proof For Building Credibility Testimonials, previous partnering companies' logos, an “impressive” number of sign ups, customer reviews, these all make the type of data that the user, too, collects before he makes his own decision while on your website. So, make sure you have them all there, displayed and visible enough for your users to easily spot them. This type of social proof is the type of credibility evidences that your users expect to see on your website! 11. Constantly Monitor Your Data and Make The Due Adjustments So you've launched your website, created based on data-driven web design decisions only. What now?  Well, now you get back to work and you collect even more data! Site monitoring never ends and designing your website's a continuous process.  Therefore, always be ready to make some small adjustments here and there if the data you'll collect via GoogleAnalytics, Hotjar or via any other business intelligence tool that you prefer indicates that you should:   monitor your users' clicks and scroll behavior   leverage all the information that the heat mapping process delivers you and make the right changes on your Drupal site   How about you? Have you already incorporated and turned data into a key component of the web designing processes within your organization? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 01'2017
Types of Video Content for Every Stage of the Customer Journey- Part 2
And we're back, as promised, with more types of highly effective types of video content that you should be using on your Drupal site and which work best at specific stages of your potential customer's journey.  3. “About Us” Videos  Or “culture captures” or “”culture videos”, whichever term prefer, this type of video content's role is not exclusively that of recruiting new people. You'd be surprised of how many visitors, with no intention of getting themselves hired into your organization, are accessing your About page on you Drupal site right now! They want to know the team behind your website's front store, the team behind your products/services. If, in the previous stage of your customers' journey you've managed to stir their curiosity and to win their trust, at this point it's vital that you... make them LIKE you.  And you can easily do this via an About Us video. It's, by far, one of the most effective types of video content. One that showcases your brand's values, the culture and personalities of your team. If they manage to make themselves “likeable”, you'll succeed to speeding up the whole process of turning a visitor into a future customer. Remember what we've talked about it the first part of this blog post: “People don't buy “just” products/services. People buy the shared values that come along with a particular brand's services/products!” In other words: make yourself LIKEABLE. And by “yourself”, we do mean both your brand and your team, as well! 4. Testimonial Videos (or “Case Studies”) So, by now you've checked “trust” and “likeability” off your list. At this point in your customer's journey it's time to focus on conveying a sense of AUTHENTICITY, too! You're at a one-step distance from turning your website visitor into a customer and this very last step should be tackled with great care! It's the step where your potential customer looks for recommendations, for testimonials coming from real people, other than members of your team. For “real stories” where your product/service plays a key part. And even though your visitors might not personally know the “testifier”, he/she still remains a “real person” for them. This “detail”, combined with the video's capability, as a medium, to easily transmit human emotions, the impact that your product had on the speaker's life, make the surest “recipe” for building an aura of authenticity around your brand. Here's a testimonial video example that we've hand picked for you:   Types of Video Content for The Decision-Making Stage of The Customer's Journey This is the step of your website visitor's shopping experience where he/she has already identified what his problem/need is, has already selected the best solution for solving it and now's looking for the right “solutions provider”.  1. Personalized Videos (or One-to-One Messages) We are living in the age of hyper-personalization, no doubt about that! Of personalized content! Now if to this “huge wave” of creating perfectly tailored user experiences you add the one of video content, the result can't be but a highly effective tool for you to use on your Drupal website! Your potential customer will feel cared about and he/she'll experience pretty much the same feeling that we all experience (if we still have the chance) when we go to our favorite barber's shop or hair salon and the barber/hair stylist knows our names, our preferences and dislikes to the slightest details. We don't have to repeat them each and every time to go there. Not to mention that a personalized piece of content, once transposed into a video, will instantly get much more “impactful”, it will feel much more... real. 2. Demo/Instructional Videos  It's time to “grow” those seeds of trust that you've (hopefully) started to plant, through multiple types of video content, from the very beginning of your customer's journey. How? By using an instructional video! It's the type of video content that not only that will emphasize your product's functionality, but will reassure them (your future customers) that you won't forget all about them once they've made their purchase. That, whatever difficulties they may face when using your product/service, this instructional video, which is part of your whole reliable customer service strategy, will be at their full disposal. In this respect, here's a demo video from IKEA “training” both the potential and the “already a” buyer how to assembly one of their products:           3. FAQ Videos Instead of filling in your FAQ page with a whole list of possible questions-answers pairs, how about trying “filmed answers”? There's no “mystery” around this type of video content's effectiveness, if you come to think about it. Your future customers will get that powerful feeling that the answers have been tailored especially for them. That the person showing up in those quick videos is addressing them and them only. And you can't underestimate the power of “personal touch” that FAQ videos get enriched with: Here's an example of one FAQ video taken from an entire “collection” of filmed answers to customers' anticipated questions: Types of Video Content For The Retention Stage of Your Customer's Journey  In fact, it's just "one type" of video content that we've selected to talk to you about in this section: the "Thank You" video! Congratulations! You've just succeeded to turn your potential customer into a... customer! “Now what?” you might ask yourself! Well, now you focus on crafting another type of video content. One that will turn your (now a ) customer into... a customer loyal to you brand! Thank You Videos This is the true role of a “thank you” video content! It's your chance to convey positive energy. To express your gratitude to your customer for having trusted you, your products/services and to ensure that he/she will remain loyal to your brand. You could also see this type of video content as a “reminder”: it reminds your customers why they chose your brand in the first place. Why they LIKED you. Here's an example:   THE END! This is our list including types of video content to use on your Drupal site (as well as in your emails, on social media etc.) suitable for each stage of your potential customer's journey.  Does your current content marketing strategy include any video content? Are there types that we haven't included in our two blog posts on this topic and which you've found to be of a tremendous help speeding up the whole process of turning website visitors into customers?  ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 31'2017
Video Content for Every Stage of The Customer Journey- Part 1
Content is no longer king: video content is! And getting ourselves engaged in a long chat around the importance of video content, about how it completely reshaped the digital landscape and companies' content marketing strategies is as relevant as chatting about the sun's vital role in our lives.These days the need for creating video content has evolved into a need for crafting the most suitable types of video content to integrate in each stage of your potential buyer's journey. Effectively integrating this type of content into your digital marketing strategy and adapting it to each one of its key components, now this is the “puzzle” that you should strive to solve these days! “Just” video content, with no deep thought about the context of your customers' journey won't get you too far. And you should consider context-adaptability, if you give enough credit to all the digital marketing “gurus” talking about the future of content marketing. Judging by their content marketing predictions, it will get increasingly challenging “There’ll be fewer winners with much bigger jackpots” ( Larry Kim, Wordstream). Now let's get to the “core” of today's post and reveal to you the types of video content that you should consider using on your site: Types of Video Content for The Beginning of Your Customer's Journey It's that step of your website visitors' journey where they have already experienced a problem, where they do “sense” a certain need, but they can't quite identify it yet. And it's your “job” to help them put a name on it. 1. Video Documentaries This type of video content is a “newcomer” and you should consider being an early adopter since its potential in turning prospects into customers loyal to your brand is huge. Here's why:   its enhances its educational/informational role with its emotion-targeting, storytelling side    its highlights particular (otherwise banal) features of a product/service and with the help of storytelling (it's precisely the stories that these product/service features get “wrapped in” that make all the difference) and stunning imagery it succeeds to intrigue and captivate the watcher   its makes a wonderful “tool” for you to portray your brand as a leader in your market (carefully craft the story behind it!) and to reinforce the values of your brand            To exemplify this type of video content, here's a remarkably effective video documentary from Patagonia! They succeed to inform their audience about their products' top features through a highly compelling documentary-like story that sticks: 2. Brand Films Branding plays a key role in 2017's digital marketing context, too. Successful brand stories continue to be the decisive factors that turn visitors into fans/followers (and ultimately into customers). And what better medium to use for getting your engaging story across to your audience, for getting them familiarized with your brand's values and mission, than video, right?  And so, brand stories and videos “gave birth” to this type of highly effective promotional videos: brand films. People don't buy “just” products/services. People buy the shared values that come along with a particular brand's services, products! And if you manage to master the video's toolbox of visuals, storytelling and sound for portraying your brand as one that they can easily resonate with (while, of course, you're discreetly showcasing your services/products' top features and benefits), you'll manage to banish most of their doubts.  3. How To's and Whiteboards (or ChalkBoards) Remember that we're still at the very first stage of your customers' journey! Therefore, it's only logical that from all the types of video content available you should go for one that helps you win their trust. Illustrating your brand as a trustworthy one and, moreover, as an authority in its industry, is crucial for speeding things up. For giving your potential customer the right impulse to get to the next stage of his/her journey. And what better way to win trust and to portray your company as an expert in its field than through an educational/how to video/whiteboard type of video content? It delivers value they can leverage, expert advice free of charge, and it's a tremendous means for you to build trust.  Now here are 2 tips, coming from our team here, at our web development company in Toronto, to consider when making your chalkboard video:   make it short and simple, easy to “digest”   add an entertaining, personal touch (no need to go for a monotonous, academic tone in order to share your knowledge as an expert)   Now if you want to learn from the very best, those from MOZ, with their famous “Friday Whiteboard” series, definitely make THE best source of inspiration. They already are an authority in the “art” of educational video crafting: 4. Explainers or Explainer Animations Explainer videos make such effective overviews of the key problems that your product/service comes to solve for your customers! Whether you opt for an animated explainer or for a video explainer, it enables you to focus on presenting your product's features (rather than on your brand, like the other types of video content aforementioned), on putting them in the context of your customers' already identified needs and in relation to the solution that it delivers them. Here are just a few reasons why explainers make such an effective and handy tool for ensuring that your potential customers move on to the next step of their journey:   they're centered around your website visitors' needs/problems that they need to solve   they're quick overviews, succinct presentations of your products'/service's features   they briefly present your product “in action”   they make a handy tool for you to present your solution to your customers' “problems”   they discreetly familiarize them with your brand's tone and values     Types of Video Content for The Middle of Your Customer's Journey Your potential online shoppers have, by now, manged to put a name on their needs/problems. It's now that they move on to the next stage of their journey where they engage in research. They now start to scan through the available solutions to their problem! 1. Videos in Email  It's such a handy, yet effective means for you to reinforce your brand. A large, eye-catching image and a “play” button might be the simplest way to engage with your potential customers. If you: add the surprise factor, too (since the “dull”, conventional emails are still the norm) to the equation   then the win-win nature of this type of video content (you'll be simultaneously ensuring your brand a “top place” in their minds and “luring” them to come visit your site and check out other products, too)   … you'll instantly get one of the most effective types of if video content that shouldn't miss from your content marketing strategy. 2. Product Videos This is such a powerful type of video content! What it does (if it's masterfully created, if it manages to trigger the need for sensory feedback) is no just present your product/service while it's being used, but making the watchers imagine them using that particular product. It's a “tool” that will help you “plant the seed of desire” in your video's watchers: visualizing themselves trying on your products will automatically make them want to turn this “vision” into reality. To be continued, in our next post, with other types of video content you should use... ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 31'2017
How to Cleverly Craft Your 404 Error Page to Keep Users on Your Site
“Little things done right matter”. And there's no point denying that you, too, consider the 404 error page on your website a “little thing”. Something not worth investing too much thought and creativity into, right? But what if you did focused on its UX? What if instead you managed to reduce the “shock” your users might experience when finding themselves stranded on your 404 Page not Found page? What if you turned this “accident” or “incident” (that you can't 100% avoid, it happens to all of us) into an opportunity to show them that you care about little things being done right? Especially when these neglected “details” involve their own time and can affect their experience on your Drupal site? A cleverly designed 404 error page will turn into a:   surprise for your visitors   opportunity for you to “show off” the (other) high quality content on your website   an opportunity to build trust (showing them that you pay attention to such usually underestimated details involving them will no doubt pave your way to their loyalty for your brand)   And now, without further ado, here's “the anatomy” of a cleverly crafted 404 page that won't drive users off your website from the very first second:   1. But First: How Do Users Land on Your 404 Error Page? As online users we've “wandered” on 404 pages a few times (at least) ourselves. As Drupal site owners/developers/designers we had to face this frustrating reality: our site users landed on this “no man's land” page on our websites.  Links do break, pages get removed from our website, so “cracks” like these, where users risk to fall, do appear.  The most common causes are:   the user mistyped an URL   the user clicked on a broken link   the page he/she wanted to navigate to has been moved (yet the visitor has not been redirected to the right page) or even removed             2. Instead of Leaving Your User Stranded, Give Him/Her Some Directions  No need to “punish” your website visitors for having landing on your 404 error page! They must be feeling confused or frustrated already! So, instead of making them feel as if they've just landed landed on a “stranded island” and simply leave them find they way out of there, how about throwing them some “ life rings”? How about giving them some suggestions on where to go next and thus keeping them on your website? Here are the most common solutions you could rely on for turning this opportunity (that they've accessed your site) from a potentially lost one (since they're on your 404 No Found Page after all and they risk to leave your website) into a regained one:   make it super easy for them to reach your homepage (they might have landed on your site from another website, for instance); a visible link to your front page can do wonders. “tempt” them with links to the content on your site that you're most proud of (they could be links to the most frequented category pages on your site or to your most popular blog posts etc.)   suggest them a couple of related products (if it's an e-commerce website that you own) or bestsellers in your attempt to determine them to continue to enjoy their shopping spree on your website   consider including a menu on your 404 error page, one that would include several possible paths they could follow for reaching other parts of your website    consider including an “issue reporting form” on this page   In other words: there are plenty of quite basic and obvious “remedies” for helping your visitors find their way out of your 404 page, but not out of your website. Just put a little effort in finding the “rescue” paths that are most suitable for your audience and your site's particularities, too.    3. Throw Them a Life Ring: Add a Search Box To Your 404 Error Page Not Found And speaking of “life rings” to throw to your users, as you imagine them as being on a stranded island once on your 404 page, adding a search box (or even a sitemap) is such an efficient little “trick”! Again: don't “punish” them for having had the bad luck to land there! It happens to the very best of us! If it's your Drupal website's an old one, for instance, chance are that you removed some of its pages of redirected them. So, why not making it super easy for your visitors to just search for the pages they wanted to access in the first place? Although opinions can vary, we here at OPTASY still prefer this solution to that of automatically redirecting your user on a different page. Let him/her be the one to decide where to go next! 4. Make It Context-Sensitive  And since we've used the “stranded island” expression twice already, the following “tip” for cleverly crafting your 404 error page is: don't make it look like a “stranded island”! That's right! Aim for consistency and make sure that this particular page, too, sticks to your website's overall design guidelines! Keep the same colors, fonts and style, making it look like a component of your website and not like “the black sheep” of your site. And, speaking of making your 404 error page not found “context-sensitive”, you should consider adapting its content the given context, too. For instance, let's say you have a visitor landing on this 404 page from one of the category pages on your Drupal website, while trying to access a particular category page that no longer exists. In this case you could consider placing a (or several) link to another one of your popular category pages. Adjusting your 404 error page to your site's particularities in terms of design and branding and to your users' search experience (what page your user was searching for, what page did he/she visited last before landing on your error page etc.) is crucial if you want to keep your visitors on your website!   5. Use Humor Cautiously: It Can Get Annoying and Outshine Functionality We do know that throwing in a bit of humor and adding some proofs of creativity is a huge trend in 404 error page design these days. Yet we advise you to handle humor with great caution! Especially when it risks to affect your page's overall functionality! First of all that no user will find it funny to have his/her time wasted as he/she has to wander on an error page.  Secondly, turning their frustration/confusion into a joke will only amplify it! And here's a more than suggestive example of a highly “risky” usage of humor on a 404 error page: In other words: think twice next time you decide to just throw in a video starring a cute pet or to just put a “funny” drawing on your 404 error page with no explanation of why your visitor has landed there and where he/she can go next. Instead of aiming to make them smile, you'd better adopt a more practical approach: help them leave your error page while still continuing their journey on your website! And these are our suggestions for you on how to cleverly design a 404 error page that should keep your users on your website. How does the “anatomy” of an effectively design error page look in your opinion?                    ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 26'2017