The design and development industry continues to grow more competitively over the years. Agencies that have specific niches and all-around firms are popping left and right. Aside from those, there are also different types of development and design works. As a player in this game, we are driven by our clients’ reception. We value their success and their feedback more than anything else because that’s how we will continue to thrive and grow. We are OPTASY, a digital commerce, marketing, and web development agency based in Toronto. With 16 years of experience under our belt, we’ve experienced so many ups and downs that equipped us with the knowledge we need. We’re an internationally renowned and award-winning team that continues to work hard for our clients. With that said, it has just recently come to our attention that we’ve been selected by Clutch, an established B2B review agency, as one of our nation’s industry leaders. Our team has ranked among the top Drupal and Magento designers and developers because of our spot on projects. "We are thrilled to have been chosen as one of the leading web developers by Clutch!" - Adrian Ababei, CEO of OPTASY, Inc. Clutch also created a list of the top fifteen companies. They measured agencies’ ability to deliver and service focus to determine the industry leaders — and OPTASY ranked sixth on their Leaders Matrix. In addition to that, our team is also found on The Manifest’s, Clutch’s sister site, top 100 mobile app developers in Canada list. This helps us prove that we can handle different projects and deliver phenomenal results. These two recognitions are igniting our drive to further our success this 2021. We are grateful for those who support us, especially our clients. This means so much to the whole OPTASY team. What can we help you with? Contact us and let’s start collaborating!
Adrian Ababei / Feb 15'2021
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 26'2020
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 25'2020
A bit stuck? Are you looking to roll out your online store, but… you’re struggling with a Magento vs Shopify 2020 dilemma? Which solution works best for the size and the type of your eCommerce business? Which one covers most of your feature needs? In today’s post you’ll get your answers to the following questions: How are they different? Why would you choose Shopify over Magento? What are its strongest selling points? What are the cons of Shopify? What are the pros and cons of Magento vs Shopify? Which eCommerce platform works best for your type of business? 1. What Are the Major Differences Between Magento and Shopify? The main reason why you’re torn between Magento and Shopify is that: You don’t have a clear picture of the essential differences between them. So, let me expose them to you: 1.1. Magento is an eCommerce solution for enterprise-level online stores. It’s robust and flexible enough to power fully customized eCommerce websites, built from scratch — that you can further expand to fit your growth plan — by teams of Magento developers. 1.2. Shopify, on the other hand, is self-managed. You don’t need any specialized skills — or server-side techs — to set up a Shopify store. A front-end developer and a designer, at most, will do. “How easy is it to use Shopify?” Shopify is best-known for being beginner-friendly. In short, the “Magento vs Shopify” dilemma comes down to: Flexibility and customization vs Ease of use. Which one's more important to you? 2. Magento vs Shopify 2020: Why Would You Choose Shopify? What makes Shopify a candidate for the title of “the best solution for creating an eCommerce website in 2020"? Here’s why Shopify could be the better choice for your online store: you have no (or limited) coding skills the idea of having a huge app marketplace at your disposal to browse through sounds tempting to you you need to get your e-Store up and running… now: the drag-and-drop website builder allows you to set up a new store in… minutes it’s an end-to-end eCommerce solution that you’re looking for, one that enables you to roll out and manage your online store with no technical experience it’s easier to use: its interface is famous for being particularly user-friendly you run a small or medium-sized eCommerce business page loading time is critical for you: Shopify’s just… fast Overall, it’s much less of a headache than Magento and usually the go-to option for small eCommerce business owners, with no web development experience, who need to get their websites rolled out fast. 3. What Are the Cons of Shopify? What could make you hesitate to choose Shopify for your eCommerce website? For there are, indeed, some limitations to consider before going for this particular platform: You’d be trading some of the control over your online store for… ease of use and the convenience of setting up your eStore quick and easy, with no technical expertise You do get a huge collection of plugins to choose from but… they all come with a price tag on; one that you’ll need to consider when planning out your budget You won’t be able to customize every single aspect of your website. By comparison, Magento puts no limitation on the configurations that you can make to your site Shopify provides you with weaker SEO features It charges a transaction fee per… sale 4. Why Would You Choose Magento over Shopify? When dealing with a Magento vs Shopify 2020 dilemma, what could make you opt for Magento? Lots of reasons... Here are the strongest ones: It enables you (or your team of Magento developers in Toronto) to customize everything about your eCommerce website, from theme to checkout process, to main menu, to email template, to... You get to build custom functionality for your website, that’s not available on the market You have lots of extensions available to choose from — Magento being open-sourced — and to customize your online store You benefit from its strong SEO capabilities You get to tap into its multi-store functionality: Magento enables you to manage all your online stores from one central dashboard “In fact, according to eCommerce Platforms research Magento SEO scores 95 out of 100, and that is great result!” (source: Cart2Cart ) In short, you’d want to go with Magento because it enables you to build pretty much anything that you might need for your eCommerce website. 5. What About the Cons of Using Magento? For you need to be aware of the disadvantages of using this eCommerce solution, as well, before you make any decision. Now, here are the most… discouraging ones: Building a fully customized website in Magento takes time and requires web development experience and Magento expertise; you can’t get away without a team of back-end Magento developers to handle the whole process and all the customization wok You do have a large and thriving community to rely on, but no 24/7 dedicated support (like you have with Shopify) You’ll need to optimize your Magento website on a regular basis to make sure it keeps performing at its best You’ll need to take into account the cost of all the extensions that you might want to add, of the web hosting service, and the Magento expertise needed 6. Magento 2 vs Shopify vs... Shopify Plus: Which One’s the Best Fit? Considering that, starting June 2020, Magento 1.0 is no longer supported, your Magento vs Shopify 2020 dilemma turns into: “Magento 2 vs Shopify”. What new features does Magento 2 bring to the debate? simplified navigation (even) better customization capabilities better performance a more admin-friendly panel drag-and-drop layout editing improved checkout “And what about Shopify Plus?” you might then ask yourself. Here are some of the enhancements that Shopify Plus ships with, so you can see for yourself whether it’s the best fit for what you’re looking for: It gives you greater control over your online store: you gain more customization freedom It’s robust enough to handle more than 10,000 transactions per minute, which makes it a viable alternative to Magento 2 for enterprise-level eCommerce businesses You’re free to edit your checkout page (a feature that’s not available in Shopify) You get your own launch manager: basically, a dedicated Shopify Plus team will handle everything for you, from implementing the custom Shopify theme that you need to code writing 7. Which Commerce Platform Works Better for Your Type of eCommerce Business? Now that you have a clear(er) picture of the pros and cons of Magento vs Shopify, how do you know which one’s the best fit for you? For your business goals and size? It’s simple: just pick the answer(s) that best fits your scenario from the following ones: You’ll want to use Magento if: you have a large product catalog your customization needs are… above the average (i.e. complex product configurations): you want a fully customized online store built from the ground up you need a commerce platform robust enough to support your entire network of vendor/supplier fulfillment channels you have qualified Magento developers in your team (or the budget to hire some professionals, who know what they’re doing) You’ll want to use Shopify over Magento in 2020 if: it’s a small to medium product catalog that you need to set up being able to integrate/cross-sell on multiple platforms is a crucial feature for you you need to get your storefront online as quickly as possible Does this head-to-head help you with your Magento vs Shopify 2020 dilemma? No matter which one’s the “winner”, the next question stays the same: “How do I get my Shopify/ Magento website built and suited to my needs?" Just drop us a line and we’ll have either our Shopify or our Magento ecommerce developers assigned to your eCommerce project! Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 18'2020
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 16'2020
Drupal 9 Modules Readiness: How Hard Is It to Find Compatible Modules and Build a Website in Drupal 9?
Is it (still) too early to give Drupal 9 a try? To start fresh and build a website from scratch in the latest version of Drupal? Should you stick to Drupal 8 for... a little longer and upgrade later? How difficult will it be for you to find compatible Drupal 9 modules (and themes)? Let's find out: 1. But First: Why Drupal 9? What are the biggest benefits of Drupal 9 over Drupal 8? Why would you choose precisely this version of Drupal to build your new website with? because of the automated updates that it makes possible because of the headless support that it ships with because of the robust multilingual capabilities because of the improved performance: your web pages will load faster thanks to the BigPipe technology because it removes a lot of the legacy code because of its layout features because of its extensibility: you get to incorporated third-party systems quick and easy because of its media library and robust media functionality because of the new, Twig-based theme engine because it's easier to use: you can make the most of its in-place editing (CKEditor) And particularly because there will be no more major re-builds (aka "major pains to upgrade"). Instead, a set of new features gets released every 6 months, including new improvements and additions to be incorporated seamlessly into your Drupal 9 build. 2. Most Drupal 9 Modules Don't Change at All So, stay assured: you won't be having a hard time finding compatible modules for your new Drupal 9 website. Many of the modules on Drupal.org have been, are being made, and will be made compatible with Drupal 9. There's a collective effort coming from the Drupal community in this direction. And where do you add that the process is pretty straightforward: Same code, but without the deprecated APIs. 3. But What About Those that Do Need Changes? For there have been changes under Drupal 9's hood. Changes in coding with a direct impact on some modules and APIs. Which means that some modules have turned from Drupal core modules to... outside dependencies: this is good news, considering the performance gains you get but also a challenge if you were relying precisely on those modules for your Drupal 9 website Luckily, you have at least 2 helpful tools at hand that you can use to: identify the Drupal modules that still need to get updated apply the fixes needed to make those modules compatible with Drupal 9 3.1. The Upgrade Status Module Why use it? Because it offers you a view of all that has been changed in Drupal. Source: Drupal.org You have links to the modules' pages there, that you can access to review those changes. 3.2. The Upgrade Rector Module The great thing about this tool is that it provides you with automated code fix suggestions to help you make your target modules Drupal 9 compatible. Source: Drupal.org 4. Some Module Get Removed from Drupal 9 Now, there are a few Drupal modules that didn't get the chance to grow into Drupal 9 modules. And I'm talking here about: Simple Test, that's now replaced by PHPUnit Place Blocks, now replaced by the Layout Builder As you can see, in both cases you get to use better alternatives. So, it's just a matter of favoring more powerful solutions. Good to know! Expect other modules and themes (i.e. the Classy theme, the Stable theme) to get deprecated and removed by the time we reach Drupal 10. 5. What About the Contributed Modules? What if you need more than the out-of-the-box Drupal 9 modules to build your new website? What if you depend on particular contributed modules? Or on... many contributed modules? Well, then things get a little more challenging... Because many of the contributed Drupal modules still need to be made compatible with Drupal 9. They need some time to catch up with the new version of Drupal. Take for instance: updating tests to PHPUnit or updating deprecated API usages. Now, what you can do is give a helping hand to accelerate the updating of these modules. And the steps/best practices to follow are pretty simple, as suggested in this guide on Drupal.org : use the patch referred to here, create an issue in the module project (first, make sure it doesn't exist already), and choose a title suggestive enough to let the maintainer know that it needs to be tested for Drupal 9 deprecations add an explanation for the signaled issue ... and follow all the other steps suggested in that Drupal.org guide. Tip! Ask that contributed module's maintainer how he/she would like to address the issues you're signaling. Because the guidelines available for Drupal core aren't always relevant for addressing contributed module issues, as well. The END! Now, assuming that: you only need a limited no. of contributed modules for your new Drupal 9 build it's not a heavily customized website that you're building ... how do you get it up and running in? We're here to help. Just drop us a line! We've been building Drupal websites since... Drupal 5. Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 28'2020
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to take the Acquia Site Studio (formerly Cohesion) Certification exam. In this post we are going to discuss why I took this exam and more importantly, how I passed it and became an Acquia Certified Site Studio Site Builder. Optasy and its commitment to quality through knowledge You already know that quality is part of the corporate culture of Optasy. For us quality is a key factor to protect our clients' investments and guarantee them a high ROI. But having a good QA department is not enough. Actually, it's often too late when the QA team detects an issue. At Optasy we prefer to ensure quality at the early stages of our projects, analyzing deeply the needs of our clients and transform them into effective digital experiences but we also know that the quality of the code we produce comes from the experience and the skills of our developers. That's why Optasy has an internal 'skill knowledge acquisition program' to help its employees (optasians) to acquire new skills or improve them. This program gives to each optasian one day off per month (paid by the company) to study a particular field. As a way to ensure knowledge acquisition and validation, optasians also receive paid leave to study and give their Acquia certification exams. This includes the exam cost too, that’s why many of the optasian developers are actually Acquia Certified developers or Acquia Certified site builders All things considered, it was a pretty easy choice for me to take the exam, not only do I get to improve my skills, but I get paid for it too! What are the Acquia certification programs? Acquia is a preferred Optasy partner that delivers a cloud-based digital experience platform built on Drupal that enables organizations to build experiences that scale. Acquia is committed to facilitating certification programs allowing developers to validate their Drupal skills year after year. Acquia certification exams are administered at Kryterion Testing Centers in more than 750 locations across the globe. Exams are also available as online-proctored tests and are often offered at DrupalCons across the world. What is Acquia Site Studio? Acquia Site Studio (formerly Cohesion) is a low-code solution for building and editing Drupal sites. As an Acquia partner, our team got the chance to become an early adopter of the technology. Acquia Site Studio is a sort of layout builder on steroids without writing any line of code. Not only can you build layouts or templates, but also you can build whole websites from the headers to the footers, and everything in between, like components and widgets, just by using the interface. No code required! It's a kind of atomic design system (like Pattern Lab) where you can create and preview CSS style guides, components, template layouts, page layouts or view layout from a visual user interface with simple “drag and drop”. And all of this within your Drupal site! To be fair, Acquia Site Studio is an amazing tool allowing designers and marketers to create and modify any layout component without calling the development team. If you’re a designer with no coding knowledge you’ll be able to create totally unique layouts based on your designs using intuitive drag and drop layout builder. If you're an editor, you may choose the layout you want to use and add all the pre-designed components you wish. Want to add a slider or a 'Related Articles' block? You drag and drop it in your layout! 5 tips to successfully pass your Acquia Certified Site Studio exam As other Acquia Certification exams, the Certified Site Studio exam requires both experience and knowledge. Though the test is not difficult, it’s not something you want to run into unprepared. From my experience, the questions ranged from a very low to medium range of difficulty, there were barely any difficult questions. This exam validates your ability to: Understand the features and functionality provided by Site Studio Install and configure Site studio environment on new or existing websites. Build a website using Site Studio style builder, components and website structure design elements. The official description of this exam can be found on Acquia's certification overview page. But in short: The tests are all multiple choice. They don't require that you actually configure a Drupal site or write any code. They are available in person at a testing center, or at home by installing the exam software on your computer. The price was $155 (In my case, Optasy paid for the test) Get a good understanding of Drupal Layout Builder As I mentioned earlier, Acquia Site Studio is a Layout Builder on steroids and many concepts are the same, so having some experience with this Drupal module will help you a lot, like the inline editing tools or the concept of drawing element into the layout. This is not mandatory, but I felt really comfortable with Site Studio having this previous experience. Read carefully the contents of the exam On Acquia's certification overview page you'll find the blueprint of the exam like the following: But below it, you'll find the content itself. Read it carefully and repeatedly. This should be your guideline during your study. This will help you focus on what really matters but also to recap and structure your notes. Read and study the documentation While there are really good videos on the Acquia Academy site about Site Studio, watching all of them won't be enough. If you don't have prior experience with Site Studio, it's a good starting point. But it definitively won't give all the knowledge you need to pass the exam. Reading the documentation should sound obvious, but you'll really need to read and study all the documentation in depth. Don't leave anything behind cause the exam covers all the aspects of Site Studio, from the basics to more advanced topics. This will also give you the right vocabulary to understand the questions of the exam, since sometimes they can try to trick you changing just one word. So the technical vocabulary has an important role, and that's where the documentation comes into play. Write down some notes after reading each section. This will help you a lot during the recap! Train on the Acquia Site Studio demo environment You can request an online demo environment for free at the bottom of this page The main benefit is that you won't need an API key or an Agency key, so you can test Site Studio for free, the environment acts just like a normal Drupal website. and the site will be all yours to experiment on. This site will be your friend during your study, you should test everything you learned in the documentation here. Do it several times and try different cases. The night before the exam, after reading back your notes, try to build a site from scratch in this environment to recap all the main concepts. This is key! Don't forget the 'Miscellaneous concepts and features' part These three concepts are not placed in one section, they are dispersed in the documentation. Study and practice all of them because you'll have a question about each one. They are only three, it doesn’t sound like a lot but they are worth 15% of the exam! That is a quick and easy win! A bonus tip What really worked for me was to read a section, practice the concepts of this section in the demo environment, read again the same section and take some notes. The day after, read all the notes of the previous day, do the same 7 days later, reading back your notes and practicing again on the demo site. That way, 80% of what you studied will stay forever in your memory. Conclusions Acquia Certification Site Studio Site Builder can be a good way to validate your skills and knowledge There are barely any difficult questions Study all the documentation because the exam is based on it, but also because the exam will cover all of it. Practice a lot, recap a lot.
Karim Boudjema / Aug 27'2020
How precisely does a user journey map help you improve the user experience on your website/app? What are the benefits of customer journey mapping? Should you expect a direct impact on your conversion rate? In other words, why would you bother creating one? In this post, I've listed the 7 best answers (or “benefits”, if you wish) to your legitimate question: “Why use customer journey mapping?” 1. But First: What Is a User Journey Map? What exactly is a customer journey? And why should you bother... mapping it? It's a timeline that shows all the touch points between the user and your website or application, along with the emotions, motivations, and thoughts that he/she experiences at each step of the process. A shorter “definition” would be: A user journey map is the visualization of an individual's relationship/experience with your website/app across different channels that he uses to interact with it, over time. Does this answer your question: “What is user journey mapping in design thinking?” With this map at hand, it becomes easier for you to... locate the weak spots, where you need to improve the user experience... Too many teams focus almost exclusively on the user experience at the top and on the bottom of the sales funnel and underestimate the steps in the middle. So, they ignore precisely those touchpoints that drive conversions... 2. Why Use User Journey Mapping? Top 7 Benefits What's the purpose? Why and when to use a user journey map? What design problems does it help you solve? Here are 7 strong reasons why you'd want to bother mapping users' journey on your website: 2.1. It urges you to adopt a more user-centric approach to web design In short, you get to see your website/app through the user's eyes. From his/her point of view. You step into the user's shoes, see how the user interacts with your site, and detect those areas of the user experience that... could be better. 2.2. It helps you answer your “What if...?” questions In other words, with all the valuable information of a customer journey map at hand, you're free to brainstorm ideas. To plan new features, ambitious updates for your website that would: improve the user experience increase engagement with your website and eventually... boost conversions 2.3. It enables you to make strategic recommendations backed up by UX data Are you monitoring quantitative KPI metrics in your company? If so, then a user journey map will help you back all your future recommendations for improving your site's performance with user experience data. 2.4. It helps you see where exactly your website doesn't meet the user's expectations By mapping the customer journey, you get to detect those specific systems and processes — part of the user's journey on your website — that are not aligned with his/her expectations. And to address these inconveniences that are costing you sales. 2.5. It helps you identify opportunities and pain points in the user experience Opportunities that, otherwise, you might just... overlook. And which you can now tap into for... further research (the “what if” question, remember?) A customer journey map helps you visualize both successes — where your website performs best from a UX standpoint — and areas where you could make an impact. 2.6. It gives you a realistic picture of the user experience on your website Maybe you're convinced that you're doing a great job, yet users are having a really bad experience. Mapping the user journey will provide you a realistic evaluation of the situation from the user's perspective. 2.7. It helps you evaluate the impact of the changes that you make to your website A user journey map makes a great tool for measuring the impact of the updates that you make. Updates that you'll decide to implement based on the information that such a map will provide you with. To sum up, here's a short inventory of the benefits that you get from mapping the user journey: you improve your website's/app's design you improve conversion funnels you can compare the experiences of different audience segments you get to “fuel” your user research you get to measure the impact of touchpoints 3. How to Create a User Journey Map: 8 Steps Now that you know why you'd want to map your user's journey on your website, let's see how you do that. What key stages should your user journey map template include? And I've broken the whole process down into 8 simple steps: Step 1: Set a scope for your customer journey map Which could go from a high-level map — the end-to-end user experience — to a more elaborated map, that focuses on one specific user interaction (i.e. filling in the check out form). Step 2: Create your user persona To put together an accurate persona profile, you need to do some user research. Collect as much relevant information about your target audience as possible before putting together the user persona's profile. Step 3: Determine the scenario and the user expectations For instance, a scenario could be: buying an item from your store using your eCommerce app. Whereas the user expectation, in this case, could be: having that item delivered in 2 days at most. Step 4: List the touchpoints It's that step in creating your user journey map where you make a list of all the user actions and interactions with your website/app, as well as of all the channels associated with them. Step 5: Define the problem that the user's trying to solve What's the user's motivation/intention? What drives him/her to interact with your website? Is he/she looking for more information on your products/services? Or has he accessed your website to buy a specific product? Step 6: Make a Sketch of the User Journey With all the information you've collected up to this point, put together a step-by-step interaction map. Where each “step” stands for a specific experience that the user persona has when interacting with your website. Step 7: Pinpoint the user's emotional state at each step in the journey What does the user feel at each step of interaction with your website/app? This empathy map will help up visualize the “ups” and “downs” in the user experience, so you should know where to... intervene. Step 8: Validate and adjust the user journey accordingly Rely on the information you will have collected during your usability testing sessions and from your app analytics to put your user journey map against a real use case. No matter how truthful your map might look to you (since you know it's based on intensive user research), it's crucial to validate it and to... adjust it, if needed. 4. User Journey Mapping vs User Story Mapping “Is a user journey like a user story?” Well, there are some key differences to be aware of. What's a user story? user stories describe small, specific tasks a group of user stories forms an “epic” they're essential for user acceptance testing and agile development The standard formula for creating a user story statement if the following: As a..., I want to..., so that I...” For instance: As an SEO specialist, I want to keyword-optimize this text, so that the website ranks higher in Google search results. And how is a user journey map different from a user story? When you map a customer journey you start with post-in notes on a whiteboard. You: determine who your website/app addresses to sketch the big picture detail each “epic” define a release strategy define a learning strategy (small experiments to minimize risks) define a development strategy Is it much clearer to you now why you need a user journey map for improving the UX on your website, but the process seems too... time-consuming to you? Just shift the burden to us then... Drop us a line and let's identify all those opportunities for improving the experiences your users have when interacting with your site/app.
Silviu Serdaru / Aug 26'2020
How to Approach User Experience Design: The 8-Stage Process (with specific activities and deliverables for each phase)
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 24'2020