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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.

How to Create Role-Specific User Registration Forms in Drupal
More functionality, more possibilities, right? Yet it can also lead to more complexities and more challenges that you need to face as you start harnessing it (the enhanced functionality!). For instance: Drupal's entire ecosystem of user roles and, implicitly, of permissions! On one hand it streamlines your efforts to put together an organizational infrastructure and a solid security policy within your enterprise, on the other hand: what do you do when you need to create role-specific user registration forms?  Well, then you start your research work and dig into Drupal's heavy load of modules! Or you aim for efficiency instead! You “reap” the benefits of our own experience as a digital agency in Toronto and simply run through our here below selection of 3 modules that are up for the job. And here are these Drupal modules which, once combined into a powerful trio, will help you solve your “how to build a custom user registration page” puzzle:   1. Build Your Role-Specific User Registration Forms with Multiple Registration It's not for no reason that we've put this Drupal module on top of our list of “tools” that will help you build your role-specific user registration forms. This is the module that will be playing the leading role in your little “orchestra” of 3 modules fit for this “job”. Now let's find out what it does precisely:   it enables you to create your custom user registration forms, adapted to the particularities of each one of the user roles currently existing on your Drupal site    it allows you to add specific fields, fields that you don't want to enable for the “standard” or “general” registration forms, as well    moreover, its functionality extends beyond the registration form: it empowers you to add fields to your “target” users' (having “special” user roles) edit pages, too; fields that you don't want to get displayed on their registration pages, as well. You can do that, too, once you start running this module at its full potential.   How to install it:   you install it (obviously) and once the installation's compete, you access your Roles page (admin/people/permissions/roles)   once on your Roles page, you'll see that you're enabled to add a custom user registration form to each one of the user roles listed there; in other words: to create your role-specific user registration pages   for “assigning” your registration pages to your “target” user roles, simply enter the pages' paths there   Note: needless to mention that before you rush in to add your custom registration forms to specific user roles... you should first of all put together the hierarchy of user roles on your Drupal site. You should have your roles created BEFORE you start “attaching” them custom registration pages! If everything went well, it's here that you should be able to see all your role-specific user registration forms: admin/config/people/multiple_registration! Last but definitely not least: access the needed field settings form and “assign” it to your recently created custom registration page. 2. Registration Role With Approval  You most definitely need to trigger this module's functionality if you (and we're pretty sure you do) need a “tool” helping you to determine which user roles needs your approval, as your Drupal site's admin. How does it work precisely? It's pretty straightforward: the user gets all the available user roles listed on his own registration form and gets to select the role he/she'd like to “play” on your site.  If the selected role is listed as “needs admin's approval”, his account gets blocked until you, the admin, has checked his request and assigned him that specific user role.  Maybe, let's say, you don't want any user, having any type of user role on your website, to instantly gain access to all information stored on your website. Therefore, being able to approve, beforehand, the requests for some of the “critical” roles, is a huge “empowerment”. A much needed tool to help you organize your whole “infrastructure” of user roles on your Drupal site, don't you think? How to install it:   Start by copying the module folder to your Sites/All/Modules directory   Next, enable it at Admin/Build/Modules   Then navigate to Site Configuration -> Registration Role With Approval   There you get to determine which user roles will get displayed on the users' registration forms and also (most importantly) you get to specify which ones of them need admin's approval before users can use them   Save   Once you log out and navigate to user/register, if your module installation process has run smoothly you should be able to see your Role checkbox list    So, it looks like you've just added one more useful Drupal module to your list of “3 tools” that will help you build your role-specific user registration forms. 3. Profile2 Registration Path Why would you need a third module, as well, for the job? Well, because you don't want the same user registration form to be presented to two different user profile types from, from two different audiences (let's say that you have the “doctors” and “the visitors/patients” audiences, if it's a Drupal-powered health portal that you own). The solution to this “problem” is the Profile2 Registration Path module itself, which enables you to set unique registration paths for each Profile2 profile type. And it's these unique paths that make sure that the users registering via them will get precisely the fields corresponding to their own profile types. How to install it:   Enable your module   Navigate to Admin/Structure/Profiles for editing a profile type   Once there, check the “Enable unique registration path” option   Type an URL path for this profile type   Save and log out and next check your [your-path]/register   Key Features:   You get automatically generated registration blocks for each profile type on your Drupal site   Custom confirmation message once the user registration has been successfully completed    You're enabled to either: build a distinct registration environment for each profile, with forgot password pages and separate login   simply add a new registration tab to the already existing user path    And there you have it: your “emergency kit” of Drupal modules to use when you need to create some role-specific user registration forms! Not only that you'll get to build the needed custom forms, themselves, but to add all kinds of “refinements”, as well, such as admin approval functionality and unique paths. You have "problems", we have solutions! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 19'2017
Decoupled Drupal: What Does This Mean for Your Own Site?
Should you decouple? When? How? What are the risks that a decoupled Drupal site involve? What are the undeniable, hard-to-resist-to advantages of “teaming up” your Drupal site/mobile/native app with a fast, cool JavaScript framework and of using Drupal as a back-end content repository “only”? And, most importantly: is a “headless” build suitable for your own web project?  Our web development team here, in Toronto, comes with its very first piece of advice for you now, when you're facing all these crucial questions: always use the context of your very own web project to filter all the “trends” seeming to dominate the digital landscape at some point or another! Before deciding to go for a decoupled implementation, make sure that all the members of the team involved (Drupal developers, project managers, content editors) clearly understand what a decoupled Drupal architecture is. And whether the technical risk involved is worth the effort. Whether this approach is exactly what your web project needs. Now, let us help you find the answer to your legitimate decoupling-related questions: 1. “But What Is a Decoupled Drupal Architecture, After All?” To put it simply: decoupling Drupal means separating the back-end of your website/app from its front-end (either partially or totally). Now if we are to detail a bit, we would have to add that:   in a decoupled Drupal context we would have Drupal playing its role in the back-end, that of storing and sending forward pure data   the front-end (aka, the “responsible” of everything related to the user experience) role will be played by a JavaScript framework (e.g. Backbone.js, Angular.js)   the presentation layer can range from Alexa to Raspberry PI, to pretty much anything that can consume the data sent over by the Drupal-powered back-end   Drupal's “role” can easily resume to what the content producers...produce, while the coupled front-end framework will be “responsible” for what the users see on your site/app. Responsible for creating a faster and richer user experience. In other words: Drupal will be handling the editorial, content creation and administrative tasks, while the coupled framework will be handling the front-end, communicating with the Drupal back-end via API. The obvious “points of attraction” of such an API-only approach are the unlimited freedom and flexibility granted to front-end developers.  Unchained from the “need” to know how to write or to decipher Drupal-specific code each time they need to improve the look and feel of a website, front-end developers get to choose from different approaches of building a website. They're free from the monolithic Drupal architecture with the presentation layer backed in through the Drupal theme itself. Free from the tightly interconnected back-end and front end. 2. “Why Should I Decouple? What's In It for My Own Site/App?” Now this is a more than legitimate question that you should be asking yourself once you've fully understood what a decoupled Drupal build is. Here are some key advantages if you decide to go for a “headless” Drupal site/app:   it allows you to create some truly interactive user experiences (it's the browser who'll take over the user experience responsibility and so all the back-and-forth interaction will be a real-time one; a key aspect to consider when developing in-browser apps)   it grants your team of front-end developers almost unlimited creative power; no more restrictions coming from the back-end + total freedom for front-end developers to use their native tools and to craft the user experience while they still get to harness Drupal's power via APIs   it enables you, as a decoupled Drupal site owner, to future-proof your website; once you decide to redesign it, you can do that without having to re-implement your whole  back-end, too. And vice versa. Flexibility and convenience!   it enables you, the site owner, to hire non-Drupal specialists, too, since front-end developers won't need to be Drupal experts, as well. You will no longer be limited to collaborating exclusively with developers having a deep understanding on the Drupal back-end architecture, of the Drual-specific code. Even more flexibility for you! 3. “What Type Web Projects Would Benefit Most from Decoupling Drupal?” And this might just be the best headless Drupal-related question you've asked yourself so far! It's definitely a matter of: “Is this solution a perfect fit for my own site/app, too?” See if you can identify your own type of Drupal web project in the examples here below and you'll have the answer to your question. So, decoupled Drupal is best used for:   Native mobile apps, especially now, that you're “spoiled” with RESTful services in Drupal 8 core, creating clean APIs is easier than ever. Your mobile apps users won't even need to interact directly with your Drupal site when accessing your native app. Your website's front-end will be using the same APIs as your native mobile app! Also, you get to build new and new mobile apps without the need to access the data that your back-end stores.    Web projects involving front-end developers with no Drupal expertise   Web projects that include multiple development teams   Web projects with front-end teams depending on unlimited freedom for structuring and displaying the content   Web projects where the presentation layer combines data coming from several API sources: social media, CMSs, video management systems   Web projects with multiple content consumers that are live simultaneously (e.g. a Drupal site plus several mobile apps, as well) 4. “Which Are The Main Drawbacks of a Decoupled Drupal Site?” “So, do you suggest that I should just go... headless, that Drupal 8's new them layer is just something I can easily do without?”  This might just be the question bumping into your head right now, isn't it?  Well, it's true that going headless comes with its drawbacks. You risk to throw away some of Drupal 8s' “goodies”:   permissions a well-enhanced, seamless admin experience in Drupal 8 user authentication   The best approach is the “moderate decoupling” or, if you prefer, the “progressively decoupled Drupal”. This means that instead of going reckless and losing all of Drupal 8's out-of-the box flexibility and power as you go for a fully decoupled Drupal site, you should:   Still leverage Drupal's theme layer's power, using it to render most of a given web page   Decouple only SOME of the web page's components, mostly those that require a faster and richer user experience    In a nutshell: moderation is key! No need to waste time, energy and a good “load” of incredibly powerful Drupal elements and... reinvent the wheel! And now, to support our pledge for the progressive approach to decoupling, let us back it up with one single example: NBA.com! This site's using Angular 2 for rendering only certain parts of its web pages, while their static components are rendered by Drupal! And speaking of this site using the “hybrid” approach, here's a Drupalcon Baltimore 2017 session filled with all the details and “enlightening” infos that you might find useful:   https://goo.gl/4jEhhu In Conclusion: It's not for no reason that decoupled Drupal makes such a tempting type of CMS architecture, but you should first of all:   not take API-fist Drupal 8 for an API- only CMS   give it a very deep thought, lest you should decouple too much of your site and lose some of the already-built, powerful Drupal tools.          ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 18'2017
Keep Information Density Under Control on Your Website
Of course that we all know “the middle way” is the safest path to follow and yet... it's not that easy to find it or to stick to it, right? How do you know how many choices to tempt your website users with? How can you tell when content becomes “too much content” or when the delivered information is discouragingly scarce? Striking a balance, when it comes to information density is, undoubtedly, the work of a “chemist”: pouring precisely the ideal dose so that the final “potion” is, indeed, useful to your users! There's no such thing as one-size-fits all principles to follow here. Yet, there still are some more-then-useful guidelines to consider when it comes to achieving the proper dosage of content to greet your visitors with on your Drupal site. Ready? Here they are:   1. Information Density DOES Have a Huge Impact on the Overall UX So, before we go any deeper into the whys and hows of keeping information density under control on your Drupal site, you should first acknowledge its high influence on: usability navigability user experience  How come? Well, it's pretty obvious: the amount of content that you deliver via your website, to your users (taking the form of written content, images, color, controls, textures) will determine whether he/she will keep navigating or leave your site in frustration. Moderation is key, lest you want your heavy load of information to bog him/her down or the lack of information to drive him off your site! Always have the USER in mind wen you create your wireframes! Web design trends and movements should come second.   2. Information Clutter and the Paradox of Choice A whole collection of visually-striking images... attention-grabbing videos... multiple calls to action... testimonials... rates... recommended products... super long copy... and, in this overcrowded web page (for yes, this content, in all its forms, is displayed on a one single web page) “sprinkle” some, let's say, celebrity endorsements, too! Can you visualize this heavy-content page? Can you easily “digest” all that “virtual” content and effortlessly make your way through it? So, you get our point: always put yourself into your Drupal site visitors' shoes and always anticipate whether you risk to deliver excessive information, to offer them way too many choices. Which will automatically “paralyze” them, instead of engaging them. You'll end up confusing them! “Bombarding” your users with way too many options and too much visually-distracting information for them to “digest” will only result in a bad user experience. One of the possibly winning formulas: Headline + An Image + A Description + The Price +A Call to Action + Some Reviews Per Product.    3. Balancing Information Density: Tips and Tricks  Now, before we go on with our list of tips and tricks, let us share with you a couple of key questions that will indicate you the right path to take for achieving... perfectly balanced information density: "What Is The Goal I Want to Achieve With this Web Page (Landing Page)?"   "What Tasks Should My Drupal Site Visitor Carry Out?"   "What Information Does He/She Need in Order to Complete These Tasks?"   There! Once you have the answers to these 3 key question, you'll step on the good path to properly adjusting the amount of the information that you'll present on your website. And now, the promised tips and tricks for pulling off a reasonable information density: attention-grabbing call to action button persuasive, clear and concise call to action text  clean and neat design with a strategic use of white space  fluid, intuitive user flow and path to reaching your web page's goal  visual hierarchy (masterfully use texture, color, white space to direct the user's eye where you want to guide his/her attention to)   And since text without exemplifying images is like cake without frosting, take a look at this example of clean design and information structuring leading to zero ambiguity or paradox of choice: A few elements, that clearly communicate to the user which are the company's available services = good UX!   4. When Minimalism in Web Design Becomes a Pitfall Just because it's “trendy”, it doesn't mean that it's going to serve your site's goals of usability and navigability! Do keep this in mind when you decide to “declutter” and to overly simplify your Drupal site's design! Less sure is more, no doubt about that! Just make sure you don't turn “less” into “scarcely enough”! When in doubt, go for a “moderate minimalism” formula: An eye-catching headline + The value proposition + The description + The tagline + A concise and attention-grabbing call to action!   And, as a golden rule: always consider the nature of your Drupal site, its audience and their expectations before you “blindly” adhere to one web design ideology or another. Needless to add that if it's a magazine's website that you're working on, adding just a few “teasing” lines of text on each page will greatly affect the UX.   5. And Yet: High Information Density's Not Always a No-No Surprised that we're actually suggesting you to go “against the tide”? In fact, we're just asking you to take some time to consider these possible good aspects of an information-heavy web page: users don't need to keep scrolling down for reaching the information they're looking for. It's all there, on the very same page!   since it's in the users' habit now to almost unconsciously use the “Control+F” combo of keys to find the information they're searching for really fast, you'll be actually streamlining their quick on-page searches   you'll create the impression of abundance and especially if it's a e-commerce Drupal site that you own/design, greeting your users with an entire collection of striking images, articles and items on promotion will undoubtedly give the impression of abundance (again: always adjust the information density to the very nature of your own site)   In conclusion: what you should avoid, at all cost, is not really high information density, but poorly organized, crammed on-page content! "Clutter” will always discourage users. High information density is necessary for certain websites (news sites, for instance), so you can't afford risking to fall into the “pitfall” of minimalist design. And not delivering the content that your visitors land on your site for in the first place. Now speaking of efficiently structuring information on a web page, take a look at the example here below: although it's a content-heavy page, you can still fluidly “navigate” trough the displayed content!     6. How to Design for High Information Density Now that we've see that high information density is something you shouldn't avoid at all cost, given the nature of your own Drupal site (if it's precisely information that your users visit it for) and that poor alignment and information “clutter” is what you should stay away from, let's discover together how you can pull if off right by using some web design “tips and tricks”: cluster similar content: this way you'll manage to efficiently structure large amounts of information, “asking” your users to invest a lower amount of effort for reading and assimilating it   go for a basic, “familiar” layout: when your web pages is “heavy on content”, the last thing you want is to “exploit” your users' attention with an overly complex, innovative layout. Keep it simple and go for a common one instead, one that all users will instantly understand: the standard horizontal area on top standing for the main navigation, a column on the left playing the role of a secondary navigation...   rely on graphics for breaking up text-packed copy: font variations, pictures, graphic elements strategically “sprinkled” in your text will make it easier for users to “digest” it   effectively use the white space on the page: and since white space is “gold” on a content-heavy web page, use it wisely for breaking your long passages of text into smaller, “airy” chunks   use color for enhancing navigability and readability: using the same color for the same type of content will instantly make the entire information load on your web pages look more structured, more organized and... easier to follow. The mental effort that you'll challenge your users to invest will be significantly lower.   So we've tackled issues of good alignment, effectively grouping content and all kinds of web design tricks for making a content-packed web page as little mentally exhausting for the user as possible. Now let us continue with a “bad example” for supporting our “pledge” for perfectly structured, organized content. Here it goes:   Wrapping Up Moderate minimalism is the right path to follow!   High information density is not always a bad thing, yet crammed, cluttered and poorly organized content is!   When the nature of your website requires for a considerably heavy “load” of information to be delivered, rely on web design tips and tricks for breaking your content into smaller chunks and for efficiently organizing it!   There are cases when high information density is definitely a no-no: when accessibility is a critical issue to consider when your site addresses a senior audience when your site is marketing/branding-focused and thus aiming to visually delight the users rather than delivering them their daily “dose” of information ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 16'2017
Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes: 7 Most Popular
Speed, high performance still play their leading roles on the “online stage”. And yet, their “dictatorship” wouldn't be possible without other factors, in supporting roles, such as looks/web design. So, taking an informed decision when it comes to “putting a face on” your website, selecting from the overwhelming wide collection of Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes available out there, is crucial. And here is where we, the OPTASY team, come in to trim your discouragingly heavy load of Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes to the “five-star” ones. To those 7 ones that are both on Drupal themers and Drupal 8 website owners' top favourite lists.  Still, before we go on with our list, let us answer the legitimate question that might be “bugging” you right no: “But why a Bootstrap theme?” Here is why:          it's THE truly powerful front-end HTML framework for building interactive web pages it aligns with Drupal 8's mobile-first approach it's actively maintained: its popularity is backed-up by numbers: from all the Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 themes installed on March 2017 over 140,000 have been Bootstrap-powered And now, let's proceed with our list of 7 best Drupal 8 bootstrap themes, ranging from the best rated ones to the best selling ones so far in 2017:   1. TICO, Head of the Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes List And no wonder why it's head of the list: it has something for everyone: a modern look and feel for the website visitor a fully responsive design a whole set of cool tools for Drupal site administrators to use and streamline their work with a slider, block builder... an easy to use drag and drop site builder for Drupal themers to quickly put together and turn into reality the web designs they have in mind it's powered by some of the latest web technologies (CSS3, Bootstrap 3, HTML5 etc.) for Drupal developers to easily implement all the desired functionalities with   2. AKLAS This clean and modern template manages to kill two birds with one stone: both those looking to give their company websites' a professional, rather corporate look and those working in a creative industry, looking for a clean and neat design that would best showcase, without outshining, their portfolios.  Other features you can't ignore: it's 100% responsive it runs on modern technology: SASS (“spoiling” the Drupal web development team behind your website with power and easiness of use) and... the Bootstrap front-end framework (of course!)   3. JOURNAL 8  This is the only theme from our list which is designed especially for Drupal 8! Not just adapted to, but created for Drupal 8 from the ground up and, this way (as you can just guess) incorporating all of Drupal 8's “goodies”: the in-line WYSIWYG editor Views as part of Drupal's core So, if you want to power your website with a theme that reflects all the best Drupal 8 practices, Journal 8 is THAT one.   4. VANESSA Now, this is a cool “booster” for any start-up company's site, app or other web product! It's a light landing page theme, mobile-first and with a modern design. The perfect boost you need for propelling your business in the fiercely competitive online world! And there's more! Since, as a start-up, you shouldn't implicitly settle for basic functionality and rudimentary design. No sir: it's HTML 5 and CSS3-powered it grants you unlimited power of customization: you get to “play with” Drupal 8's custom blocks, such as Taxonomy, Views, Content Types and the rest of “crew” for personalizing your site's look to perfectly fit your company's unique needs it comes “loaded” with a collection of 630 icons for you to scan through and pick from it comes backed up by extensive documentation it grants you Video & Image Backgrounds   5. UNIVERSH If it's a template that should meet the specific needs (of functionality and design) of an education website, that you're searching for, then Universh is the ONE! Not only that it's been designed with your education Drupal site's particularities in mind, but also as a whole tool-set of customization options for you to choose from and to mix and match to your liking: a collection of more than 10 one-page layouts to dig through for choosing the most suitable one for your site's homepage a whole “load” of predefined headers, footers and menu styles to scan through and select from 30+ ready-to-use widgets And to all these customization-oriented tools put at your disposal, add the CSS3, HTML5 and Bootstrap 3.3.5 technologies: the 3 cherries on top!   6. PORTO, One of the Best Selling Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes Beauty and convenience that's how this theme could be easily described! Its increasing popularity's due, to a great extent, to its easiness of use. Practically it empowers you to get your Drupal 8 site up and running in... just a few hours. With powerful functionality and spectacular design already out-of-the-box, your job will resume to taking just a few minor decisions. To simply choosing from all the options put at your disposal. Some of this theme's tempting features would be: you're free to change your background colour from light to dark or the other way round, by simply adding an HTML class the same surprisingly easy and fast method applies when it's your site's layout that you'd like to change: from wide to boxed or vice versa it's fully responsive  it comes with pre-built view support and template for Drupal Commerce  it's written in a clean code  it's masterfully configured it offers you first-class support     7. RHYTHM Out-of-the-box commerce theme... built with unlimited extensibility in mind (your site's “bugs-proofed” when you need to add new Drupal 8 modules, new features to it)... it targets both site admins/content editors with its “easy to find and edit” content tools and site builders thanks to its clean code, highly customizable background, content, color schemes and “power” coming right out-of-the-box. There you have it: a short list of the main reasons why you should consider Rhythm, too, when you're drafting your own list of best Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes to consider for your own site. And... cut! This is where we turn off the spotlights that we've put on THE most popular Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes. Now don't feel compelled to go for precisely one of these 7 themes The “perfect match” for your own website might not even be listed here. Nevertheless, it cannot be for no reason that particularity these ones have already won the appreciation and the good rates from most of the Drupal site owners and developers, right? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 12'2017
An Ecommerce Mobile App? Why Not Just Stick to a Mobile Site? 
So you (your web development team) have done your optimization work right and now your ecommerce website looks great and works smoothly on all mobile devices, as well! Great for you! And yet: now it's time to move on to the next level if you want to remain competitive in this fierce “arena” which is ecommerce. And “upgrading to the next level” means: opting for an ecommerce mobile app.   “But do I really need a mobile app?” you might still ask yourself.  You sure do IF (and only “IF”): you do see the true potential of social sharing in ecommerce you aim at seeding and nourishing a sense of loyalty for your brand you do see the true power of tailor-made, highly personalized shopping experiences  you do realize that convenience is a key driver in ecommerce And now, let us support our statement that your ecommerce business does need a mobile app with 7 unbeatable (so we think) arguments:   1. Can't Fight Statistics: Mobile Shoppers Prefer Apps over Mobile Browsers So, you either adapt to this “trend” or you witness your customers “flock” straight to your competition. Who does see a real potential in ecommerce mobile apps. And it's no wonder why apps have rapidly gain so much popularity among mobile users: it's all about ease and convenience during shopping! This is the main reason why users prefer to access their favorite brand's online store via their corresponding apps rather than via their mobile browsers. No “shocking discovery” here! Your users won't need to remember your website's URL or to log themselves in each and every time they want to check out what's now on your online store.  CONVENIENCE! This is a term you should adapt your whole ecommerce strategy to. It has the same “power” as the notion of “customization”!   2. Ecommerce Mobile Apps Encourage Social Sharing  You can't afford underestimating the “power” of social sharing! The need to set up the right context for your customers to turn into your own brand's advocates. Apps make it even easier and faster for your users to “spread” the news to their friends on social media channels about your own promotions and special offers! These days users could not even perceive mobile apps for ecommerce other way than as some “bundles” of social sharing features. Which, moreover, are easier to integrated into an app! Free advertising for you and a bundle of convenience right in their own pockets on the mobile users' end!   3. Easy Payment, Easy Checkout We couldn't be talking about a streamlined shopping experience without a simplified payment and checkout process, right? This is this aspect where your ecommerce mobile app “beats” your company's mobile website! It will turn the whole payment process into a faster and more secure process. A win-win situation after all: the fewer risks you take of turning this process into a true “ordeal”, with dozens of boxes to check or to uncheck, of personal data to enter and lots and lots of options to go through, the lower your cart abandonment rate will be. Simplified payment process and fast checkout: the perfect formula for a great shopping experience! Moreover: you get to easily turn your app into a whole bundle of functionalities, as well. Your team of Toronto developers can easily incorporate secure payment options and (this is gold!) also to program it to remember the specific payment options that different users prefer. This way you'll get to customize and to streamline these users' future shopping experiences on your app!   4. Ecommerce Mobile Apps Load Faster … and page loading time still is the name of the game in the digital landscape! And app will always be lighter and therefore, will always “score” better page loading times than a website. No matter how much hard work you'd put in optimizing it for speed!   5. You Get to Integrate Push Notifications into Your Mobile App  And these are, no doubt, some really powerful marketing tools and sales boosters! Basically, you get to send quick “alerts” to all your mobile users, informing them of new special sales, updates about their recent orders, tempting time-limited  promotions and all kinds of key store events. And there's more! Since “personalization” is everything in modern ecommerce, you get to play your “customization card” via the push notification options that you'll include in your mobile app. You can make them location-based and, this way, send users quick “alerts” whenever they're close to one of your physical stores. And, we're getting back to the CONVENIENCE factor: your mobile customers don't even need to be logged into your app or to access their mobile browsers for getting your offer/news notifications! So, we have convenience, we have tailor-made shopping experience and we definitely can't ignore the advantage of brand consistency. By keeping your customers constantly connected to your brand's whole ecosystem of store events, sales, special offers, freshly added content, your app will help you build brand consistency.   6. You Get to Tailor The User Experience by Device And this is another great advantage of ecommerce mobile apps over mobile website. Admit it: responsive design follows the “one size fits all types of devices, as long as they're mobile” rule. Now when it comes to mobile apps, you gain much more control over their interfaces' design, over the whole user experience after all! Since each platform comes with its own particularities and with its own users' expectations, your mobile app will enable you to adapt your app's interface to them. To tailor your customers' shopping experiences to their preferred platforms.   7. Mobile Ecommerce Apps Build and Increase Brand Loyalty Take it this way: your mobile users will be virtually connected to your brand almost 24/7 via your app. It will be in their pockets, purses, on their desks at work, practically part of their lives. Therefore, it will inevitably nurture a sense of familiarity (in the first place) towards your brand. Which will evolve into brand loyalty, if you're willing to put some effort, as well: to keep them informed, through your push notifications, about your special offers or coupons designed exclusively for your brand's mobile shoppers... for them   to leverage the data analytics that your app will provide you with for tailoring some shopping experiences personalized to your users' different backgrounds, different preferences, in the slightest details   to make sure you deliver seamless shopping experiences to your mobile users, irrespective of the type of devices that they access your app from And though the list of unbeatable arguments on why you need an ecommerce mobile app is almost endless (we could go on pointing out the advantage of using a mobile app in offline mode, as well, for instance), we shall end it here.  So: have we managed to help you find a straight answer to your “dilemma”: mobile app vs mobile ecommerce website?        ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 11'2017
How and Why to Backup Your Drupal 8 Site 
Getting ready for a Drupal site upgrade “event”? Or maybe you're facing a Drupal update challenge or an even more complex process: a migration from your current version of Drupal to the latest “bundle of Drupal functionalities”? And even if there's no “major” changes-implementing event in your schedule, you still have to regularly backup your Drupal 8 site! Is your web host providing you with a backup plan? Great! Even so, you don't need to be some sort of “visionary” to see that it's crucially important to run your own backups, as well. You still need to back it up yourself! You can't depend entirely on your web hosting provider's safety net for your own invaluable data. You need to weave your own net! And we're not going to keep “bugging you” you with the three back-ups rule (“if it doesn't exist in three different...) anymore.   Here are just 3 dark scenarios that you'd be avoiding:   the upgrade/update/moving files process fails, you'll be left with no database and no files to restore... with no Drupal 8 site, after all the ever-more sophisticated hackers manage (God forbid!) to find and to exploit a security vulnerability on your website and... you know that this is no happy ending story your web server crashes and, as you can guess, your company website can't escape the inevitable domino effect   You see what we're trying to point out here right? Now, let us proceed to detailing the two backup methods available to you. Yet, in many cases the web server narrows down to one option. 1.The GUI-Based Backup Method It's the most straightforward method of the two, granting you full control and easy access to your own database.  Basically you'll get to use:   your phpMyAdmin a browser-based MySql interface any FTP client  … to manage your database and to easily transfer your files from your server or your desktop to your Drupal 8 site Now the GUI backup method is a two-step one: A. You'll create a backup of your Drupal 8 site: just connect to your server (via the FTP client that you prefer) and copy your website folder to a cloud drive or to your local machine B. You'll Backup Your Database (via PHPMyAdmin) Now you've reached the step where you cautiously “shelter” your database, your website's most valuable “asset”! Is your server hosting service provider offering you with a native database manager? Putting you, this way, in control of your own database? There are just a few simple tasks to carry out for successfully backing up your database:   Log into your PHPMyAdmin (obviously!) Select your database (it's right there, on the left, in the, in the dropdown box) Click “Export” Click “Select All” Check “Data” and “Structure” Click “Save as File” desktop Click “Go” and save your .sql file to your desktop   Turn this good practice into a habit whenever you backup your Drupal 8 site: always save your database in the same folder as your Drupal files (the ones you've just backed up) 2. The CLI-Based Method to Backup Your Drupal 8 Site Do you feel comfortable working with a command line?  Then backing up your Dupal 8 site will be nothing but a of short sequence of simple commands to enter into your command shell. In case you haven't yet used Drush before, you should know that it's simple to install on your computer or to add to your server. It “empowers” you to easily control various aspects of your Drupal installation.  The steps to take, when you back up your Drupal 8 site via Drush, are surprisingly (or not) similar to those specific to first backup method: A. You'll Create a Local Copy of Your Site's Folder  First things first: you'll need to copy your live site files to a new (a test) directory (make sure you give it a suggestive name). For this, it's this command that you'll need to enter:   cp -rp /path/to/drupal_site /path/to/backup_dir   Remember to check whether the .htaccess file will have got copied, too! B. You'll Backup Your Database And here's the command that you'll need to enter for backuping up your priceless database: mysqldump -u USERNAME -p'PASSWORD' DATABASENAME > /path/to/backup_dir/database-backup.sql   And you even have an alternative one that you could use:   drush sql-dump > /path/to/backup_dir/database-backup.sql   There! No more “sleepless nights” for you! Your Drupal 8 site, with all its files and its valuable database, is now safely backed up and “shielded” from the “unexpected events” factor! Tip: always date your backups (you can just imagine the chaos you'd need to deal with if you had to restore your “latest” backup and dig through a whole “pile” of undated backup folder). To Sum Up How often you'll backup your Drupal 8 site is up to you. Try to estimate the value of all the digital data stored on your website, of your company's digital identity, after all, and come up with a frequency that best suits your website. As already mentioned, no need to turn it into a process to be carried out exclusively around “big” events planned for your Drupal site (upgrades, updates, migrations). A cyber attack or a web server problem are just two dark scenarios that have nothing to do with Drupal upgrades and all the preparation taking place around these key “events”.   Let your host service provider run its own backup and make sure you run yours, too, in parallel.  As you've already seen, both methods are more than straightforward, so you have no “excuse” for neglecting your site backup routine. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 08'2017
How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search
       Be honest: did you really anticipate that the search voice trend would turn into such a phenomenon? Statistics just come to confirm what we've been already suspecting for a while: already 40% of adults use voice interaction on a daily basis. Are we witnessing the dusk of classic text-based search?  Can't forecast that, but what we can easily tell is that: the voice UI trend can't go anywhere else but UP! Face it, adapt to it or be left behind! And once you've accepted this new reality shaping the digital landscape, it's time to take measures! To properly optimize your website for search voice.  How? Adopting these 5 key SEO tactics aimed at directing not just visitors using voice search, but qualified prospects to your own website.  Ready? Here they are, in no particular order: 1. Go for Natural, Conversational Language Instead “Instead of” the typical language that you would have used for driving people using text-based search into your website.  Lose the “too” succinct, “too” precise type of language and admit that users don't write the same way as they talk. They're more inclined to type in “to-the-point”, brief search terms and to utter far more conversational search phrases. See the difference? Try vizualizing these 2 scenarios:   A. You're at home, in the evening, getting cozy after a hard day at work. You surf online for a software/app that would help you better organize and prioritize your tasks at work, starting with the next day. Normally you would type in something like “best productivity apps”. B. You're awfully late for work! You've already missed your first subway and you need to take your daughter to school first, then to stop by the dry cleaner, as well, before you head to the office. And, what's worse: you haven't even had the chance to have at least one sip of coffee this morning and you're stressed out about this deadline coming soon. There's a discouraging “pile” of tasks to be carried out, ASAP, awaiting for you at work.  In this case, normally you would utter, rapidly, something that sounds far more natural like “Get more things done in less time” or “Get more things done in a day”.   The trick is that: there's no surprise trick! It's more than predictable if you come to think of it: if you want these users to land on your website instead of your competitors' once they've made their spoken search queries, you need to get content written in a conversational, “human” tone on your website! 2. Get Your Website Local Search-Friendly Make sure your company website's listed on the right local listings! Why bother? Well, because people using voice search aren't just looking for generic information to enrich their knowledge with or simply to fill in their free time with. They're looking for quick solutions to their pressing needs. And meeting their needs quickly, definitely means “meeting their needs locally”. No user opting to make a voice search query would be interested to get his flat tire fixed in a different state or to find a good place to grab something to eat in another city. They won't utter “What's the best place to grab a pizza?”, but “What's the best place to grab a pizza in X city?”. Now speaking of getting your site local search-friendly, here are our 3 optimization tips for you:   Properly handle your customer reviews. Meaning that you should kindly ask your happy customers to reward you with positive reviews and to promptly answer the negative feedback using the utmost diplomacy   Submit your website (only) to relevant local business listings (e.g. Google My Business). And make sure to constantly update your business' key details (e.g. phone number, opening hours, prices) as soon as you change any of them. Just go back to your older listings and make the right corrections...      Add schema markup to your website.The strategically structured data will help search engines quickly recognize the above-mentioned key information about your business (opening hours, address etc.) and to easily turn it into informative results for the users. 3. Go For Longer Keyword Phrases  And this is THE gold SEO tactic that you should put on top of your list when you start to optimize your site for voice search! It's common sense if you think of it. Just try a little empathy and step into the shoes of these two generic users here:   A. User “X” uses the classic text-based search method. He's about to use his keyboard for typing in the search terms that would get him a list of auto repair shops. Now you surely can imagine him/her, facing a “broken engine” situation, right as he was in a big rush to get to point B. He's impatient and engaged in other little activities simultaneously (searching for his map, trying to call his wife on the other phone, maybe even trying to ask another driver some key information etc), as well. As you must surely guess: he'll be typing in the fewest number of words that would get him the right solution to his problem quickly and effortlessly: “car repairs”. B. User Y” is about to make make a voice request, so normally (imagine him all nervous and stressed out!), his search instinctively gets more wordy. He'll naturally add some more details to his request. He'd utter something like “Find me the auto repair shop nearest to... “ or “Where can I get my engine fixed for under xxx dollars and that it's open on Sunday evening at 22.00 p.m?”. Or at least something similar.   So, you do see what we're trying to point out here, don't you? As humans we all are a bit more concise when we write and a lot more wordy when we say our request/queries out loud. To sum up: make sure to target longer-tail keywords on your site! Not only that you'll be driving in those customers using voice search, but you'll be driving precisely qualified prospects into your site! Users making voice requests are far more likely to convert into customers, they're facing with more pressing needs, than those using text-based searches.  4. Make Sure Your Content Answers Their Questions  Most likely the users will land on your website via searches with a question format rather than through brief search terms or phrases. So, what do you do? You adapt your content to this specific format! You craft it around those specific search questions. “But how do I know what questions my potential website visitors will be uttering for making their searches?”, you might say. Easy! You go to “life-saving” websites such as StoryBase or Answerthepublic and type in relevant keywords. You'll then get your lists of possible questions your users might be using when they make their searches.The right prepositions here included! “And what do I do next? Do I just “stuff” my website's content with questions, risking to make it sound fairly unnatural?” Our answer is: make the most of your FAQ page! Turn it into a go-to page on your website, where your visitors will find all the questions they might be asking themselves, as well as their accurate and useful answers. Now, speaking of questions, here are two other tips for you:   Direct the users asking “What's the difference between X and Y” type of questions to the informative pages on your website. These “researchers” aren't yet ready to commit, yet they need to be encouraged and convinced/assured by delivering them precisely the information they're searching for.   Direct the “What's the closest X in...?” or the “Where can I find the cheapest Y?” type of  searchers right to your landing page.These are not just “qualified prospects”, they're the “ready to commit” type of visitors. So make sure you don't risk losing them by leaving them “astray” on your site, forced to make a whole detour before they can close the deal. Target these specific type of questions with your PPC ads!   5. Optimize It For Mobile, THEN Optimize Your Site for Voice Search  The balance between desktop users and mobile users making voice searches is tremendously disproportionate! But we're quite sure that this is no surprise discovery for you! So the right sequence of optimization processes is this: first you get your website mobile-friendly, you make sure that it looks and works well on mobile devices. And it's then that you start to optimize your site for voice search by applying all the above-mentioned SEO tactics! And here are some mobile optimization tips and tricks from our team here, in our digital agency in Toronto, for you:   Aim high, really high when it comes to its performance! Even if you manage to welcome users on your website, they'll remain extremely exigent when it comes to page loading speed! You'll have no excuse for not carrying enough for their time by not getting your images properly compressed! Also, keep an eye on their number, as well, and avoid heavy weighting “clutter”!   Keep your content as succinct and as easy to “digest” as possible! Get it nicely portioned into smaller paragraphs and remember not to get excessively wordy, either! Invest your skills as a copywriter and digital marketer into the attention-grabbing heading, next keep your content brief, yet effectively informative.   Give your website a mobile usability scan! You can rely on a more-than-useful tools like Google's Mobile Friendly Tester for that. It will provide you with an “enlightening” screenshot of the mobile version of your website. Seeing how it looks on mobile devices and which are its weak points (e.g. small fonts, stretched out images or the use of Flash), you can... get to work and put together your list of improvements!   “LARGE”... everything! Go for large buttons, large links! You either make the content on your site highly visible for your digital visitors or you'll lose them!   Now, “armed” with this list of SEO best practices, get to work! Optimize your site for voice search and get the most out of this (not so) new source of traffic! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 03'2017
The Beginner’s Guide To Drupal 8 Development
Drupal 8 came out just a few months ago and made quite a commotion with lots of updates and more than a few really, really cool features. That’s why it’s amazing news for users, businesses, and Drupal 8 development professionals. Drupal is an amazing CMS and development environment. It’s more powerful and versatile, with better integration and SEO capabilities than Wordpress and Joomla, the older kids on the block. After only four years on the market, it now has thousands of developers and millions of websites worldwide. And that’s just the beginning. So what exactly is new in Drupal 8? Here’s a list of main new features that the update proudly boasts: Mobile First! The new Drupal 8 module skeleton is a 100% responsive. Whereas before (and in other CSM platforms), each template had to be adjusted for mobile and came in desktop first, Drupal 8 works perfectly on any device. You can even edit and develop comfortably from a small handheld device on a development interface which is responsive as well. Ultimate Language Compatibility Drupal has websites all over the world, and to make things easier for users and developers, this new version allows to translate your website to any language with ease. The translation is done in a built-in interface, making international Drupal 8 development easy and seamless. The interface gives access to over 100 languages and comes with language detection, suggestions and many more useful features. Meet the Twig What’s Twig, apart from it being a funny name for anything? Well, it’s a theming engine that will revolutionize CMS development for years to come. With several components adapted from Symfony2 and a whole array of new features, Twig is now the fastest, most reliable theming engine. If you take a look at the top Drupal 8 themes, you’ll see they were all created in Twig. Not bad for a new engine, not bad at all. Improved Content Management The new CKEditor makes editing, publishing and managing content even easier than it was before. You can save drafts, edit-in-place right from the front end, drag-and-drop buttons, insert images by dragging them in, and more amazing workflow improvements. HTML5 Magic Drupal is fully integrated with HTML5 in all its glory; multimedia support, customizable data attributes, powerful UI enhancements, effortless HTML content editing, front-end libraries and much, much more. Drupal 8 development makes full use of all those elements and features. Finally, the best news is that migrating to Drupal 8 is easy, with the built-in, user-friendly migration modules. If you’d like to move to this amazing new world, let us know and we’ll help you out! In the meantime, feel free to take a look at this Drupal custom module example. Enjoy!... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Apr 21'2017
See You at DrupalCon 2017 Baltimore!
Still wondering how the weather will be next week in Maryland! It's “crucial” information for us, you know, since these days we're packing our bags for next week's DrupalCon 2017 Baltimore!   About DrupalCon 2017 Baltimore Needless to add that the Drupalcon North America is THE “peak” of all the other Drupal-themed meetings, events and camps taking place all over the globe, year-round. This year it's Baltimore's turn to host the event (and to welcome the no less than 3000 Drupalists and Drupal enthusiasts who'll be attending it), from April 24-28. And for living up to the scale of this event, it's the Convention Center, on One West Pratt Street, that it puts at the Drupal community's disposal!   OPTASY at DrupalCon 2017 Baltimore We have exciting news! This year OPTASY'S both one of the attendees and one of the sponsors who'll “power” this mega gathering! And we have to admit that we're, still, so proud of this opportunity (with the risk of slightly “breaking” the laws of modesty)! Therefore, do feel free to stop by our booth #140 and get to know the OPTASY team! We're ready to answer to all your questions, whether they'll be closely related to our work or to the “must-see” attractions in Toronto.   A Multifaceted Event With A Jam-Packed Program No matter how hard we've tried, we just couldn't put together a hierarchy! A calendar, yes, but not a hierarchy. We'd love to attend all the sessions at DrupalCon Baltimore, ALL the sprints, all the summits all the social events, all the special events (not exactly realistic, we know that)! In other words, we're looking forward:   to Dries Buytaert's keynote, on the 25th of April to attending community discussions to participating to the sprints (oh yes!) and be part of all those knowledge sharing, creative thinking challenging and innovative ideas spreading types of Drupal-y gatherings to attending trainings (so that we can get the bags that we're packing these days loaded with great tips, strategies, trends to watch in 2017, Drupal best practices, know-how, demos, etc. from the Drupal legends themselves) to attending some cool social events (definitely!) to attending community sessions (getting ourselves informed about Acquia's latest products, about its planned roadmap for 2017 and exchanging ideas with members of the community is, after all, one of the reasons why we attend DrupalCons) to attending session tracks on UX, PHP, project management, DevOps and the list of tempting topics can go on and on. A quick recap See you next week in Baltimore, at booth #140 and at all the other “can't miss” events listed in the event's jam-packed program! Now, let us continue with our bags packing and weather forecasting... ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Apr 21'2017