Drupal is a new but extremely promising web development platform. This article explains why you need a Drupal agency to help with your Drupal project, especially with the release of Drupal 8 and all the added power and functionality it offers. Websites like the Economist, Arizona University and even the New York Government are all based on this great CMS platform. Drupal 8 is capable of creating and managing large websites that you can’t possibly generate with the same ease using more common but relatively modest CMS platforms like Wordpress. If you’re aiming for a stronger online presence, getting a Drupal agency is the best choice you can make. There are many reasons to go for Drupal development services. Here are just a few of them: Open Source Software The core Drupal engine, most of its modules, and a lot of its themes are a 100% free. This means choosing Drupal development services will always cost less. Customizability Features, layout, design, and operations in Drupal are highly customizable. This allows your Drupal agency to take any template and turn it into a custom design. Wordpress and Joomla sites, for comparison, are much more rigid and hard to customize to the same extent. Rapid Deployment With Drupal, you can deploy core functionality and features quickly, and then work out the details, which can also be easily deployed on the fly. This is probably one of the strongest reasons why you'd want to have your website built by a Drupal 8 agency. No more downtime for maintenance during which the website is N/A. Everything is live, all the time. Changes are done in the background and then published with a click of a button. Full Enterprise Software It’s flexible, scalable, adjustable and easily managed. Integrations with other applications are simple and its security is of the highest quality. Basic users get all of this with no need to pay for a “pro” version like in so many other CMS platforms. SEO Friendly Most businesses aim to boost their SEO. Drupal makes it easy. It is, in fact, one of the main features of the Drupal CMS. It displays the content in a way that search engines favour, and tells you when and what requires improvement. Mobile First Development In this new world of mobile marketing, Drupal is leading by a great margin. Its themes are not just mobile friendly, but mobile-first, a crucial factor for lead generation, especially for small businesses. Get a Drupal Agency If you wish to get your business to thrive online, getting a Drupal agency for it is the best choice you can make. Get in touch with us, one of Toronto’s most prominent Drupal CMS development companies, and see the results for yourself.
Adrian Ababei / Apr 15'2017
One of the main challenges all businesses face is getting clients. Unlike most anything else, this one question is a constant struggle and requires innovation, perseverance and quite a bit of your time. There are many approaches to generating leads to increase your client base, and quite frankly, there is no way a business owner can possibly cover all of them and have enough time left to actually run their own business. That’s why hiring a Toronto marketing agency is the best, most cost-effective approach for generating leads and expanding their operation. Here are just a few of the things a Toronto digital marketing agency can do for you. Simplify Processes When your clients have a simple process to place an order, select an item or simply get their questions answered, everybody benefits. A Toronto digital agency can create an easy online solution for visitors to use. It can be a price calculator, color matching template, customizing tool and anything else you can think of for the line of business you’re in. Simplifying things for clients is always good, because it brings them closer to the selling point. Tools like these help convert traffic into real leads. Set up on YouTube A picture is worth a thousand words. If so, a video is worth a million. It’s a fact that businesses with YouTube channels get more traffic and higher quality leads. Answering your clients’ questions, giving extra information about your product or service - those are things people like and appreciate. A Toronto internet marketing agency has the expertise to research the market and help you set up a channel to address your audience, converting them to actual clients. Social Media Boost We all know how important social media is for business, but running a social media account takes time and effort. Moreover, it’s not enough to just generate a post a few times a day. You have to actually know what to do. There’s analytics to follow, lots of monitoring to do and audience responses to predict. The top advertising agencies in Toronto know that, and put a lot of effort into studying this segment of the market in order to increase productivity and bring you the best results. Optimize and Repurpose Content Old blog posts may be reused and revamped to fit new SEO guidelines, increasing their outreach. Crossposting high ranking posts on social media accounts is also a viable strategy. Adding new titles and keywords to existing posts is something that can and often should be done. You get the picture. This is not mentioning the things that can be achieved by restructuring your website, getting more active keywords into your old content and much much more. Call us now and get your game to a new level with one of the top advertising agencies in Toronto.
Adrian Ababei / Apr 14'2017
Need to create a visually stunning slideshow for your Drupal 8 site? One that you should be able to effortlessly customize to your liking? Luckily, this rhetorical question suggests to you its own answer: the Views Slideshow module in Drupal 8! An empowering tool which enables you, after just a few intuitive steps to take for setting up the right context and for pulling off the due configuration, to create your own slideshow (of any type of context, not exclusively images).The one to appear in a View. Moreover, it grants you almost unlimited power of customization, as well! Practically you get to put together a personalized “combo of settings” for each one of the Views that you'll create. Now let us proceed with our step-by-step guide on how to build a slideshow in Drupal 8 using the Views Slideshow module (had to specify this, since there's also the Slick method for building slideshows in Drupal): 1. First and Foremost: Install All The Needed Modules and Libraries First things first: before you rush in and “play” with all the settings put at your disposal, you need to properly download and enable everything you'll need for building your slideshow. Well, these are the main steps to take: 1. Start by making up your mind on how you'll download your Views Slideshow module, (its Drupal 8 version obviously): will you download it directly from its module page on Drupal.org or by using Drush? If you prefer the Drush alternative, these are the lines what you'll need to enter: drush dl views_slideshow then drush en views_slideshow -y (for enabling your module) 2. Now if you've chosen the first method instead, simply unzip the file you will have downloaded from the module page and paste it to your Drupal 8 site's directory: yoursitesname/module 3. Keep in mind that you'll need to enable Views Slideshow Cycle, as well 4. Can you spot the “Download ZIP” button on the top right corner of your screen? If so, just click on it! 5. Unzip the library that you've just downloaded 6. Once you've unzipped it, create its future folder, naming it "jquery.cycle" 7. Now pay particular attention to this step (since it's in this aspect that the two apparently identical installations processes, Drupal 8's and Drupal 7's, differ): you'll need to upload your resulting files to the libraries/ folder in the root of your website 8. And this is what you should be looking at right now if everything went well with all the downloading and enabling steps you've completed so far 9. Now you'll need to create a brand new content type that should contain your slides: Structure > Content Type > Add content type 10. Next, you'll inevitably get to the Manage Fields section. Go to “Add a Field” and make sure you'll have a content type with an image field attached. 2. Build A Views Block 1. Head to Structure > Views > Add new view 2. Think of a suitable name for it 3. Click on “Create a Block” 4. In the block's settings- “Display format”, select “Slideshow” 5. “Save and edit” 6. Can you spot the “Field” section, on the left side of the screen? It shows only “Content:Title” by default right now; feel free to delete that default title if you don't find it necessary to have it displayed on your Drupal site 7. Click on the “Add” button 8. Next, look for your image field, then scan through all the available fields there and select the one(s) you'd like to include in your slideshow 9. Then click on “Add and configure fields”. Also, in order to set up your slideshow's style (all its future effects here included, as well), go click on "Slideshow", under “Format”. 10. Click on “Apply” 11. There! Now you should be able to vizualize your recently added image in the Preview section that you have in the bottom of your page! 12. As soon as you're done adding all the fields that you consider a “must” to your slideshow, just click on “Save”. And voila! You've just built your Views block! Let's move on to the next key step to take as you build a slideshow in Drupal 8: 3. Configure and Then Publish Your Slideshow Block Finally! You're closer than ever to getting your View displayed on your Drupal 8 site: 1. Go to Structure > Block layout 2. Once there, click on the "Demonstrate block regions" 3. Next, carefully select the area on your website that you'd like your slideshow to show up. Do you want it displayed in “Sidebar first” or maybe in “Content” or rather in the bottom of the page? 4. Once you've decided upon the region that you'd like it published on, just click on the “Place block” button (you'll find it next to “Content”) 5. Another more key selection to make are we're almost done! Choose the page that you'd like your slideshow to get published: scan through the list of web pages displayed under “Pages” and... make up your mind. 6. If you're dealing with a block region including several regions, ensure that your block is properly placed, as well! 7. Once you've made your decision, click the “Save block” At this point you must be looking at your slideshow published on your Drupal site! 4. Set Up Image Styles for Your Slideshow By now you must have already noticed that the images that you will have included in your slideshow are of different sizes. The solution, so that they should all fit into the block region? Creating an image style! 1. Go to Configuration > Image styles > Add Image style 2. Name your image style 3. Next enter a "Machine readable name" 4. Click on the “Create new style” button 5. Next go to “Effect” and select an image effect from those listed in the drop-down menu (Crop, Resize or... another one) 6. Then set up your image's width and height (keep in mind that they will depend greatly on your chosen block region's sizes) 7. Finally click on “Update effect” 8. Now it's time to edit your View 9. Click on your image field (under the “Fields” area) for getting it edited 10. Next in the “Image Style” field simply select the style you've just created Click “Save” and feel free to check your slideshow on your website. Useful Tip: in case you're facing the challenge of building a responsive slideshow in Drupal 8, remember to enable the “Responsive images” module in Drupal core. 5. Add Some Controls, too, As You Build a Slideshow in Drupal 8 Since it must be more than just a visually impressive slideshow that you might want to put on your Drupal 8 site, but a user-friendly one, too, aimed at enhancing users' navigation on your website, some controls are definitely a must. Therefore, here's how you add them: 1. Go back to the screen where you get to edit your view 2. Click on “Settings” (neighboring “Slideshow”, under Format) 3. There, select your controls: go for a pager, a counter or for previous-next buttons... TADA! This is how you build a slideshow in Drupal 8! Give it a try! If we've skipped adding any crucial information to our our step-by-step guide, feel free to “warn” us. Also, if you encounter any type of problems through the process, don't hesitate to let us know. We're ready to use our Drupal expertise to “save the day”, your day!
Adrian Ababei / Apr 13'2017
15 years! 15 years since Drupal's been turbocharging websites with cutting-edge features! 15 years during which the open source platform has been shaping mentalities and has been daring innovation-driven developers and organizations to embrace “change”! And, ironically, it's precisely its lead developers' openness to innovation that made it increasingly challenging for its end users to keep up with its major upgrades. It looks like Drupal's own innovative nature is the one “sabotaging“ it: turning the upgrading from one major Drupal version to the next into such a cumbersome, often discouraging process. Therefore: a new way of applying website upgrades in Drupal was greatly needed! And so, this need easily turned into a commitment for its founder and his team, who've been making progresses in setting up a way of synchronizing their “thirst” for innovation with Drupal users' efforts to assimilate the platform's upgrades. To implement them into their own web projects/websites. This is when the “continuous innovation” idea sparked and soon turned into a “movement” about to turn, now, into a whole working method to revolutionize the way we're upgrading our websites from one Drupal version to another. Let's dig into details: 1. The "Continuous Innovation" Model The model is nothing new to you, we're sure about that, just that maybe you haven't yet put a name on it. It's been around since Drupal 8, in fact, and it's strongly related to the Drupal community's “commitment” to release a new minor upgrade, for the same version of Drupal, every 6 moths. Just think of the improvements in terms of functionality between Drual 8.2 and Drupal 8.1, for instance. BigPipe, layouts, workflows have been all improvements in the platform's functionality which have been added gradually from one new upgrade to the other. This way you, as a Drupal developer/Drupal user can continuously upgrade your website with new sizable improvements. It gets a lot easier to incorporate all these minor upgrades in Drupal than if you had to wait a couple of years for all these minor upgrades to be released all at once, upon the launch of a new major Drupal version. “Continuous upgrade” is THAT solution to the challenge that Drupal developers used to face every few years, when they had to embark on a tedious, overly complex upgrading “adventure”. 2. Applying the New "Minor Upgrade" Model to Major Upgrades, too! It's the overall success of the continuous innovation model applied to minor upgrades that convinced Drupal's core developers to extend its benefits to the major upgrading process, as well. Such as upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, for instance. What would this project imply? a continuous release of new features (minor upgrades) for the open source platform, that developers will have to adopt and adapt to; yet: old systems and new systems will continue to cohabit making regular backwards-compatible changes to Drupal 8 Implicitly, as new functionalities get added to Drupal 8, with each and every new minor upgrade's release, its load of deprecated code will get heavier and heavier. Up to one the point when this version will be replaced with Drupal 9. All this while the upgrading process will be an “organic”, less “traumatizing” one for Drupal developers and Drupal users. By the time Drupal 9 gets released, all Drupal 8 websites will have already incorporated its new features. In other words” Drupal 9 will be nothing but Drupal 8 minus its overload of code which will have already become deprecated. There will be no need for an overly complex migration process as we know it today! 3. “I'm a Drupal Developer: What Does The Continuous Innovation Model Mean For Me?” Glad you asked! In order to gain full benefits from integrating this innovative upgrading model into your workflow, you need to start (if you haven't already) adopting the best practices: regularly remove deprecated code and replace it with updated one run updates to the latest APIs on a regular basis By including these 2 key best practices into your web development routine you'll be actually ensuring that Drupal 9.0 will be compatible with your website from its very first day of release! 4. “I'm a Site Owner: What Does This Way of Applying Upgrades in Drupal Mean for Me?” Well, as a site owner, the very best practice you could adopt (as you “prepare” your site for Drupal 9's release) is to migrate it to Drupal 8 if it still runs on Drupal 7. Thus, your team of Drupal developers will be able to apply all the Drupal 8 minor upgrades every few months, getting it ready for Drupal 9's release. 5. Any News About Drupal 9's Release? The news is that there is no big release news! According to Drupal's founder, Dries Buytaert, Drupal 9.0 won't be released any time soon! Meanwhile, regular minor upgrades will be released for Druipal 8, according to their release schedule, so be sure to catch up with those. In conclusion, as already stated in this post's title: “future looks good” for us, the ones living on “planet Drupal”! Running major upgrades in Drupal will never be the same again once the “continuous innovation” method will have been fully implemented for streamlining the whole process of moving websites from one major Drupal version to another, as well. What do you think? Do you see it as a truly viable solution to the ever-challenging way of migrating websites from one Drupal version to the next one or have you already identified some of its possible limitations?
Adrian Ababei / Apr 11'2017
Here you are, facing a big challenge: which one of all the Drupal teams “seducing” you with their whole array of migrating services to go with? Which one is THE one to upgrade your site to Drupal 8? Which are the key questions to ask them before you take your decision? Your “questionnaire” should turn into a powerful tool during the selection process! Just think that it's more than a migration “marathon” that this company will undertake (migrating you site's content, all its modules etc.), but a whole website redesigning “marathon”, as well! In other words: don't go for your most “seducing wooer”! Now in order to streamline your selection process and to reduce the risk of taking a wrong decision to a minimum, we've put together a list of “clues” for you. “Clues” that will help you identify your future Drupal partner. Ready? Here it goes: 1. Get Clear Evidence of Their Experience Before You Upgrade Your Site to Drupal 8 References from their previous customers here included! It's a more than “clue”, we know that, but even so, we still felt like putting it on top of our advice list: make sure that the Drupal agency who'll be handling your migration project has enough experience working with Drupal! And not just with Drupal 6 or 7, but with Druipal 8, as well. It's already been a while since November 2015, when Drupal 8 was released into the wild. So every Drupal agency worth its salt (and your attention), should have already added at least a few Drupal 8 projects to its portfolio. Never accept that your company should be anyone's “guinea pig”! Ask for clear evidence of their work with several versions of Drupal, as well as references from their clients. And this should be the very first step to take during your selection process! 2. You'll Want a Team Actively Involved in the Drupal Community And it's this community involvement proof that might just be THE “tie breaker”! The one that will differentiate the Drupal agencies that you should keep on your list for further checking from the ones that you should... well... take off your list! Just think about it: the more active a team is, as a contributor, the more up to date and familiarized with the latest projects of the Drupal's “ecosystem ” they are. The more reliable will their decisions be once they handle your migration project. You won't risk “ending up” with a Drupal company wasting too much of your valuable time (and money!) on coding PHP instead of relying on the latest future proof approaches! And this is just an example! In a nutshell: check whether the Drupal team that you're considering to hire to upgrade your site to Drupal 8 is active in the Drupal community! Also, if you come to think of it: it's precisely the team behind Drupal 8, that group of developers working on its core and modules, seeing that the open source platform keeps up with the ever-growing digital needs of all companies operating in the online world that are the real “culprits” of its cutting-edge features. Therefore, the more a Drupal agency stays connected to this community of Drupal developers and designers, the more reassured you can be that its team knows what it's doing. Simply put! 3. Make Sure Your Project Is Not Their Very First Drupal 8 Migration Project Remember our previous advice: “Never accept that your company should be anyone's “guinea pig”!? No matter how temptingly cost-effective their estimate might be! Therefore, make sure you don't skip this part where you ask for clear evidence of their experience not just of working in Drupal 8, but in migrating websites to Drupal 8, as well! Get information about and analyze the reviewed company's previously Drupal 8 migration projects! 4. Ask Them How They'll Be Handling Each One of Your Crucial Current Modules And this “chic chat” around the critical modules/features on your current website should no way miss from your selection process! You're entitled to point out to each one of the interviewed agencies which are the modules/ functionalities/sections on your company's website that you “stubbornly” want to keep. Ask for specific migration plans that they would develop for each one each one of these key features on your site! When there's no correspondent module in Drupal 8, ask for alternatives! Either way, have this open discussion with each one of the Drupal teams that you're interviewing, challenging them to come up with sustainable solutions to your requests. Leave no room for compromise risking to impact your website's functionality. No room for surprises that you would be “forced” to accept once the migration project has been started! 5. Be Skeptical About Speedy Estimations Time is money, no doubt about that! But when it comes to Drupal 8 migration project estimations, too little time spent in an in-depth analysis of your site will, on the contrary, be more harmful to your budget on the long run! In other words: don't go with the hastiest, overly confident and overly “enthusiast” Drupal team! One that will immediately give you an estimate “on the go”, without feeling the “need” to dig in deep into your website. If a company won't take a close look at the whole content architecture on your Drupal website, won't “delve” into its custom code or analyze its theme CSS& JS, you should instantly “turn on your alert”. It means their estimation is riskily superficial and that you should jump straight to the next Drupal agency on your list. No point in taking such a risk! Tip: if an in-depth analysis of your website means a way too risky process for you, you can always go for a “temporary account” solution. Give the reviewed Drupal team this account, then, once they've completed their “digging”, just cancel it. These are our 5 clues that will hopefully streamline the process during which you select the Drupal agency top upgrade your site to Drupal 8. Do you have other key criteria or key questions on your list, as well?
Adrian Ababei / Apr 10'2017
How can you be sure that your website's or your app's design has been created for the USER? It might seem as a silly question to you: “of course that everyone's designing with the “user” in mind!”All web designers embark on their designing adventure with good intentions, meaning that they do start their projects with the User in mind, but what if they lose their “designing for the user” mindset somewhere along the way? How do you know whether your web product reaches out to users, if, let's say, it's just your team that will have played the role of the “user” during testing? Is your company falling into one of these 2 categories? companies that don't see the point (or that find it too time-consuming and budget-challenging) in turning usability testing into an essential step to take before any new web project's launch companies that over-complicate the usability testing process and which can't rip the major benefits Then this blog post is for you! It's a two-purpose post, so to say: it's meant to answer all your dilemmas on whether usability test does worth your effort or it's just an unnecessary part of your web development process it's also a step-by-step guide on how to plan, conduct and document your usability tests. Thus clearing away all the confusion surrounding this process. So, let's proceed, shall we? Why Should You Even Bother Running a Usability Test? As a company owner, just try stepping into your your team's web designer(s) shoes: you're charged to do some sort of “hocus pocus” in order to ensure the ideal overall experience of the website/app that you're working on! And try to carry out your task as you're fully aware that “user experience” is an overwhelming vague and, at the same time, highly comprehensive component of your design and that flaws do happen during the design process. There's no point in denying that! How do you pull off this “ideal overall experience”? How do you know which are the “ideal parameters” of this “overall” experience? Get it? Without some reliable UX research results at your disposal, you'll be relying exclusively on guessing and “finger crossing” strategy as you put together your design. This is why usability testing makes such a powerful tool, when handle rightly! A tool that will point out to you the UX flaws in your design and, implicitly, the solutions for overcoming them, as well. Now let's continue with our step-by-step guide to usability testing: Set Your Goals One first caveat: avoid vague goals such as “understanding how the new navigation menu works”! You goals can go from broad to specific (e.g. “which checkout method increases conversion rate on our website”). Either way, do keep in mind to avoid “shooting two birds (or more) with one stone”, if you know what we mean! Don't lose focus! Meaning that you should sift through your super long list of questions, to cut it down to the truly essential ones about your web product. The more accurate the questionnaire, the more accurate will your usability test results be. Same for your objectives: it's better to go for a short list, one tackling only the most relevant issues of your product. Determine The Type of Usability Test That You'll Conduct Before we jump straight to classifying the usability tests that you can choose from, we feel like highlighting the fact that: there's no such thing as “better or worse”! Only a matter of “suitable or not”. A matter of whether it's the appropriate one for your specific goal! This being said, these are the tests you can select from and incorporate into your usability session: scripted: which allows you to target specific goals; your test participants' interactions with your web product are determined by a clear set of instructions, this enabling you to aim at and to analyze individual elements (e.g. a tree test, a hallways usability test) natural (or near-natural): a test where you analyze and interpret the user's behavior in his/her natural environment, thus collecting more accurate impressions and data (A/B testing, diary studies etc.) decontextualized: it targets more generalized concepts and triggers broad opinions rather than pinpointing your specific web product (user interviews, surveys etc.) hybrid: quick exposure memory testing, adjective cards, participatory design; in other words tests aimed at grasping the test participants' mentality(s) The next step to take once you've determined which usability test(s) is appropriate for your own user testing process, is to go ahead and to put together a document for your whole team. One summarizing your tactics and a plan of how the whole usability session will be carried out. Start Working On Your User Tasks What exactly will you get your test participants to do? This is THE question! Now before you start to actually put together your user tasks, keep in mind that everything will impact the way they'll carry out their tasks: from phrasing to content, even the slightest details can hinder a proper understanding of your questions! Stay away from bias! With that aspect in mind, decide whether it's “closed” or “open” tasks that you'll challenge your users with. Or maybe both! Let's detail: open user task: offers participants multiple ways for completing it, leading to qualitative results closed user tasks: come with “success or fail” type of question, nothing in-between, no room for interpretation Two extra tips to consider when writing your user tasks: handle the power of verbs rightly: ask your users “to describe” or “to demonstrate”, therefore do stay away from tricky verbs deviating you from your “pathway to accuracy”, such as the verb “understand”. Some of the “good” verbs that you could insert in your user tasks are the “call to action” ones: “demonstrate”, “evaluate”, “describe”, “organize” establish what you want your test participants to achieve by the end of this test. What should they be able to do by the end of this usability session? Try answering this question before you start creating your user tasks! Tip: try sticking to 5 test users! It's the “magic” number, so to say, when it comes to usability testing. Less participants won't signal all the possible UX flaws that your design might have, while more than 5 users will automatically lead to experience overlap. To users signaling the same problems! Who said this should be a time-consuming, overly complex process? Nonsense! You get the best results by just sticking to a sequence of 5 user tests. That's all! No need for a “marathon” here! Boil an UX Research Plan Document A one-page document will do. No need to “stuff” it with information and unnecessary details, lest you should discourage everyone from your team, from marketers to developers to executives. Here's what this plan should include: the reasons why such an UX research was needed (keep it short: one paragraph will do) the usability session's essential objectives to be reached the questions prepared for your test participants the tactics involved: when, where and how you'll run your usability test a few words about each one of your 5 participants the timeline the test script itself (https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/01/ux-research-plan-stakeholders-love/#a-sample-ux-research-plan) Make it as concisely and “easily digestible” as possible, but without risking to leave out anyone of these key sections or crucial information to be added to each one of them. Now Go Ahead and Conduct Your Usability Test And this is it: after all the planning, selecting the right test participants, running your own UX research, putting together your timetable and writing the test documentation, you'll be finally conducting your usability session! As for the testing process itself, our team of Toronto developers has some key advice for you: make your test participants feel comfortable: reassure them that it's not them that you'll be testing, they're not the “target” (so there's no right or wrong answers) but your product's design itself record your usability session give them them space collaborate: allow your test participants to record their own interpretations, as well, so they can compare them, later on Write a Usability Report and Share It With Your Team Now it's time that you make sure that everyone in your team is on the same page. That they're all well informed about the results of your usability test, so that they can steer their work-related initiatives and decisions accordingly. Now speaking of this report, we've put together a list of tips and tricks to consider when you start drafting it: prioritize the problems signaled during the test: no need to include even the slightest, the obvious issues be explicit: stay away from vague phrasing and try to be clear and concise explaining the very “root” of every issue recommend a few possible improvements to be made Now if you allow us some more recommendations: don't limit to a one-page report, but feel free to include any charts or graphs, the questionnaire itself, audio tracks and so on into your report. Go for a whole folder-report, not just for a simple file-report. And this is it! Hopefully we've managed to give a clear answer to the “Why Bother With a Usability Test?” question and to put together a helpful step-by-step guide on how to conduct your next usability session. One last piece of advice: no need to wait until your web project is nearly ready to be launched! Do run several usability tests during its development process, so that you can collect enough insightful data and to use them for improving your website/app before it's too late.
Adrian Ababei / Apr 07'2017
Why should you depend on your managed IT service provider for every minor update that you need to make to your Drupal 8 core? Especially if we're talking about updates that would require no more than a couple of minutes of your time, a few “precautions” to take beforehand and a couple of simple commands for you to enter? Therefore, take this “tutorial” here as a “DIY” type of guide: one empowering you with knowledge on how to update your current Drupal 8 to its latest version. Or, better said: “take this tutorial here as 3 DIY separate guides”, or rather as a 3-in-1 guide, since we'll do our best to explain to you the three different methods available to you for updating your Drupal 8 core yourself. And, before we proceed, just a quick specification only to make sure that we're on the same page: on “Drupal planet” upgrade refers to leveling up to a major version of the CMS (e.g. from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8), whereas update refers to leveling up to a minor or patch version of Drupal 8 (e.g. from Drupal 8. 2.6. to Drupal 8.2.7). OK, so now that we've got this tiny detail straight, let's start with the list of “precautions” that we've just mentioned here before we jump straight to detailing the 3 methods for you to update your Drupal 8 core with: Precautions to Take & Extra Info to Consider Before You Update take it as a best practice, as an important piece of advice or as a “warning”, but mind you never skip this critical preliminary step: make a full backup of your database and of all your files before you proceed with the update; also, remember to activate the maintenance mode from your admin panel, before you go ahead and apply changes to your Drupal 8 website. These 2 apparently negligible precautions can actually make the difference between an event-less updating procedure and one leading to critical data loss and leaving you with no backup solution to retrieve them! consider updating a test copy of your site first, prior to running the update on its live version. You never know what impact those seemingly minor updates that you'll be running can have on your site's behavior. Better safe than sorry! this as a useful tip: each new release of Drupal comes with its own release notes listing not just all the improvements/changes applied to that specific version of Drupal, but also guidelines on how to update or to upgrade it to future releases, as well. So, you may want to have a quick look at those notes, as well, before you jump straight to the updating process. Update Your Drupal 8 Core Via Drush Just a few words about Drush: it's Drupal's shell interface that enables you to perform your administrative tasks, quick and easy, right from your command line (how familiar are you with working in a command-line tool?) And these are all the steps you need to take if you choose the Drush-way for updating your Drupal 8 core: First and foremost: you install Drush (obviously!). With the risk of being overly “annoying”, we need to stress, once again, that it's vital for you to backup your site before you make any changes (and especially since it's core changes that you'll be making in this case here). Use Drush for that: run the drush archive-drump command. Also, as already mentioned, you need to activate the maintenance mode prior to the update process itself. Why should you run any risk, especially when there's just one simple Drush command for you to enter: drush sset system.maintenance_mode 1? It's now that you actually run the update procedure itself, through another Drush command: drush pm-update. Finally, you just need to put your “freshly” updated Drupal 8 website back online and this is the command to type in Drush for triggering this action: drush sset system.maintenance_mode 0. Et voila! Some simple commands to enter and a couple of quick essential steps to take and you're running the latest release of Drupal 8 on your website! Update Your Drupal 8 Core Via Composer This is, no doubt, the “speediest” method of them all! Note: remember to backup (there! we've said it again!) and to use maintenance mode on production. Also, we, the OPTASY team, advise you to go for composer install rather than running your update on production! And, of course, a few words about Composer: it's a package management tool, a truly powerful one, that you can use for managing your PHP based applications. OK, now let's get back to our step-by-step guide on how to update your Drupal 8 core via Composer. Well, in fact, it's a “one step” procedure: simply enter the “composer update” command into your command-line interface and let it run the update for you: Loading composer repositories with package information Updating dependencies (including require-dev) Update Your Drupal 8 Core Manually This is, indeed, the most tedious of all the 3 methods for you to update your Drupal 8 core with, but it's also the most thorough of them all. And this is the sequence of steps involved: First, you go ahead and download the newest version of Drupal 8 Next log in to your site's admin panel, either as a user having the “administer software update” permission or as an admin You make a backup of your database (for example through PHPMyAdmin) Once you have your database backup, you need to activate the maintenance mode (Administration > Configuration > Development > Maintenance mode), exactly like you would if you'd be using Drush instead Remove and then replace the vendor and the core directory from your website with the ones that you will have already downloaded upon downloading the latest version of Drupal 8: composer.lock, licence.txt, robots.txt, index.php, web.config, autoload.php. Note: do not override your “older” directories with the new ones, as this will just cause a WSOD error! Remember to remove, also, all the files from your website's top-level directory. Keep the ones that you've manually added to your website, the ones that you've made changes to (like error log file, Google, Bing verification file). Do keep your modules, profiles, your themes, and site directories, as well! Upload the core directory from the new Drupal 8 version that you will have downloaded (see step 1!) Extract and copy the composer.lock, the composer.json and the .htaccess files from the newly downloaded version of Drupal 8 Upload the “new” vendor directory to your website Head to yourwebsite'sdomainname.com/update Just follow all the on-screen instructions given to you there And that's it! Wrapping Up As you can see for yourself, no matter which one of the three methods you might go for, updating your Drupal 8 core is no rocket science. It's no super complicated procedure that you, as a Drupal 8 website admin/owner can't perform it yourself. Have you already tried any one of these methods? Have you encountered any unexpected errors? If so, do share your experience in the comments below so that we can identify the “culprit” and come up with a solution for your specific updating case!
Adrian Ababei / Apr 05'2017
Google's been not just “a” member of the open source community, but one of its leading members. It's been advocating for the usage of open source as a sure path to innovation for a while now. This is no breaking news for anyone! Therefore, hearing that the California-based giant has taken a big leap forward in terms of “openness”, in terms of “exposing “behind-the-scene” details of its relationship with open source software, hasn't surprised us, the OPTASY team, all that much! “Not so surprised” and yet: we can't deny that we're still excited about Google's announcement! It practically opens a large window for us, the “outsiders”, to “peep into” the company's code and other “in-house” code created for developing their open source projects. The website's not just a repository of key information on Google's projects and processes, but it gives away details on how precisely they're being used inside the company. The revealed code will co-exist both on Google's own self-hosted git service, as well as on GitHub. And, in this equation Opensource.google.com will play the role of a central directory for them. And “feasting” on the information showcased there is not just for “fun” or for mere curiosity, but you should take it as an opportunity: it actually offers an insight into the best practices when it comes to developing open sources projects! And this is just the beginning for, Will Norris, Open Source Programs Office at Google declared: “it also contains something unexpected: a look under the hood at how we “do” open source”. Google's planning to showcase there information about project life cycle and they commit to keep adding new and new details on how they approach open source “in-house”. So, no need to put on your “binoculars” and try “spying” on what's happening “behind the closed curtains”, at Google. No need to strive to get your insights on their open source projects! The future looks bright for you! For it seems that the company's willing to put its inside information “on a silver plate” for you. Meaning: under one single handy URL! About Google's Own Open Source Philosophy … revolves around one essential principle: everyone can benefit from open source! In Google's own “philosophy” open source sets the perfect context for teams to collaborate, to share information and to work together for creating new technologies. The company sees open source as a sure path to innovation, as we've already stated! “Collaboration” is, therefore, the main word behind Google's idea of open source. And “collaboration” goes hand in hand with the idea of “community”, with the idea of “the community of developers participating” in developing open source projects together. In addition to this, Google has revealed its other key principles supporting its open source philosophy: the “more is better” one. What does it mean? It means that the company's committed to showcasing as many open source projects as possible on their newly launched website. And this because they agree that they do not know, from the very start, which ones of them will have a larger audience. Therefore, they're decided to keep posting code, this leading to a repository of thousands of open source projects that developers can “scan through” and select the information they need. Opensource.google.com: What's Its Purpose? One of the clarifications that the Google's officials have made was that their new site isn't designed with a one and only purpose in mind: to showcase the company's open source projects. It's supposed to be a “tool” that developers can use to discover how these projects are used internally. Both overviews of these projects and explanations on how they're being used are provided there. Also, another mention they've is that developers shouldn't take their showcased code and explanations on how this is being utilized inside the company as “absolute” how-to guides.They're just “starting points” or “inspiration” on how the company approaches open source. They're aimed at empowering you to venture yourself on the open source-provided path to innovation. An incentive to collaborate for creating new technologies. But What Type of Information Will Go Public More Precisely? You're more than entitled to ask yourself right now: “But what type of topics will the information on Google's new site be covering?” And, also: “How will the content get structured on Opensource.google.com?” In this respect, let us detail a bit. Here's what Google's public collection will include: information on how to submit patches to other open source projects Google's policies regarding third-party open source projects key information about Google's release processes for its new open source projects Up to now Google's new site sums up 2000 projects. When it comes to content structuring and facilitating the user's/developer's access to certain information, a search feature has been added (besides the drop-down menu displaying the categories available on the website). This turns out to be a more than useful tool in case you already know what you need a certain project for, but you don't have your mind set on a specific bit of software. In Conclusion: Judging by how other Google open source projects, such as TensorFlow and Kubernetes have evolved (turning into “constellation” type of projects, each with its own set of ecosystems gravitating around it), the documents piled up and made public on this website are a major opportunity from a developer's standpoint. No doubt about that! It also delivers inspiration for other companies to embrace open source and to showcase their own “behind the closed door” code. How about you? How do you perceive the new Google site's release and how do you position yourself, as a company, when it comes to open source? Do you see any opportunity in revealing your internal code to “outsiders”?
Adrian Ababei / Apr 03'2017
And we're back! Ready to put the spotlights on some 6 more powerful ecommerce trends that will shape the online shopping landscape in 2017. Which could either shake up or skyrocket your business. It's up to you! As you'll see, none of them will come as a surprise to you! They're all actually complementing the “movements” pointed out in our previous post: the user-friendly content comes to enhance the ultra-personalized shopping experience a quicker payment process actually complements the whole “simpler UX” ecommerce trend whereas the multi-channel shopping experience is nothing but a result of the mobile-first mentality that players in the ecommerce “arena” will have to embrace. Or be left behind! Therefore, let's stop with our “teasing” here and let's dig into our list of ecommerce trends with a huge impact on your own business in 2017: 7. Safeguarding Your E-business with Fraud Management Tools Is a MUST In 2017 handling security issues half-hardheartedly has become a colossal risk for you to take! Just think about all the critical cyber attacks that have shaken up the online world in 2016: LinkedIn, Yahoo, Mark Zuckerberg's account have all turned into “vulnerable victims”. Want to have your company name listed there, as well? If not, then putting your Drupal ecommerce website under the shield of fraud management tools is a must! Use them for tracking down any fraudulent activity on your website. Use them for winning your visitors' trust. Who'll otherwise take a step back if your ecommerce company conveys the unwanted message that you're taking security and privacy concerns way too lightly. That they risk to be left exposed while they browse through and shop on your website. In other words: put HTTPS encryption on top of your priority list in 2017! There's no other way around it. 8. Voice Search Optimization Is No Longer Just an Option Numbers tell it better than we could ever do it: 20% of search requests have been made through Google's voice search facility in 2016. And this trend is not going anywhere in 2017. Anywhere but... up! So, what do you do? You get your Drupal ecommerce website voice search optimized! What does that mean? Well, it means that you make sure to sprinkle conversational long tail requests throughout the user-friendly content on your site. “User friendly”and “attractive” content: do keep that in mind! This way, you're creating the perfect online shopping context for those potential shoppers who'll be using the search voice facility for placing requests on your website. It might look like just an emerging trend to you know, but be better than that: future-proof your e-business by anticipating this voice search trend turning into a megatrend in 2017! 9. The Streamlined Product Return Experience: One of the Influencing Ecommerce Trends in 2017 It's no just through your fraud management tools that you build a sense of security in your website visitors/potential customers. You'll manage to do that with the help of a clearly formulated and streamlined product return feature, as well! Accept it: there will be online shoppers who'll return the products bought on your website! No need to get discouraged, no need to turn your back on this “harsh” reality! Instead, turn it into an opportunity to keep them engaged (ironically!): anticipate it and be prepared for it! Before they've had the “chance” to return their products, you will have already won your customers' trust. And so, their loyalty for your brand won't end after their first return if you turn this process into an agreeable experience! 10. Reader-Friendly, Engaging Content: An Evergreen Ecommerce Trend Trends emerge and seem to have the potential to shape the online shopping landscape for many years to come and yet many of them quickly fade away! Still, engaging, attractive content (as opposed to the impersonal, generic one) is.. here to stay! … and to dictate how online retailers connect with their customers for a long time from now on! Therefore, if you haven't yet spiced up your Drupal ecommerce website with lively, attractive and user-friendly content, you shouldn't lose any more precious time. Accompany stunning product imagery with engaging copy. Tell your products' story in a way that would captivate your visitors. And don't stick to your website only! Blogs, newsletters and live chats make some great engaging content “environments” that will help you reach out to your customers and tell your story! Storytelling, another “power” word that will shape the online shopping landscape in 2017 more than ever! 11. Omni-Channel Shopping Experience: An Ecommerce Reality in 2017 And you can't deliver an omni-channel shopping experience without setting the right context for a multi-channel shopping experience, right? Therefore, in 2017, more than in 2016, focus on getting your ecommece business “equipped” with features such as real-time stock information or multichannel wish lists. Then, once you've put together your rich collection of shopping channels to “wow” your potential customers with, make sure you keep your brand's message consistent across all of them! Tip: turn omni-channel selling into an opportunity for you to gather priceless behavioral data about your customers (data coming from multiple sources): dta on their shipping option preferences, what products they like best, their shopping patterns and so on. 12. Speeding Up The Checkout Process Turns Into a Top Priority After they've rewarded you with their time and since are now ready to reward your brand with their money as well, you can't be as reckless as to discourage your customers with a multi-page, super long payment process! Do your best to simplify it, then... simplifiy it some more! “N” fill in forms to complete, an overload of data to deliver, too many boxes to check and pages to go through will, no doubt, be discouraging for your website visitors. Therefore, aim at delivering them a hassle-free shopping experience! Which would be impossible in the context of a way too demanding, overly complex payment process. It's now that we can say that we've reached the end of our list of 12 ecommerce trends to adopt and to adapt to in 2017. Only if you still want to “say afloat” in the ever-changing, ever-transforming online shopping landscape. Have we left out any powerful trend from our list? Do feel free to “scold” us, if so!
Adrian Ababei / Mar 30'2017