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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
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