LATEST FROM OUR BLOG

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

Artificial Intelligence Consulting: What Are the Typical Activities?
So, you've (finally) overcome your skepticism regarding it: artificial intelligence does have the potential to propel your business right into the future! To drive productivity, enhance efficiency and flexibility and, overall, to transform your brand from the ground up. But how do you know what AI technology to go with? What are the AI use cases perfectly suited for your own business? And this is where artificial intelligence consulting comes in! An AI consultant/AI consulting company's role is precisely that of answering all your questions and pointing out to you the right AI approach, the AI-powered solution(s) suitable for your own business:   Which artificial intelligence technologies should you integrate (according to your industry, specific challenges and opportunities, data & analytics capabilities, tech know-how, growth plans, budget etc.)? Which are the most valuable AI use cases for your own company? What is the current and future potential of AI?   And now let's talk facts, shall we? Let's see what are the typical artificial intelligence consulting activities that such an expert would engage in during your collaboration.   But Why Is There An Increasing Demand (and Low Supply) for AI Consultants? There's an entire cause-and-effect circuit here, leading to:   a high demand for AI-powered products too many companies with huge potential that aren't leveraging AI to their/its full potential   And why is that? What's behind this intriguing paradox? Well, studies revealed the following 2 key aspects:   companies do see all the opportunities deriving from the “do more with less” principle of the AI technologies and they nourish high expectations from AI yet, they're having trouble choosing the right AI services provider/AI product(s) for them   The result: too many companies, with significant potential, that aren't leveraging low complexity, high-benefit AI use cases.  A disappointing reality of an unbelievable potential left unexploited! Yet, one that artificial intelligence consulting experts can change.    Artificial Intelligence Activities: Developing a Long-Term Strategy How precisely should you be using artificial intelligence?  This is the question that your consultant will try to answer while identifying the strategy to be developed. And it all comes down to identifying the AI-centered, business-specific initiatives to implement. A strategy which he/she won't be able to put in place until he doesn't:   fully understand your company's current strategy … the specific challenges that you're dealing with … the opportunities opening up for you … and your data & analytics capabilities   With the results of his “investigations” at hand and his understanding of AI's present and future potential, your artificial intelligence consultant can “detect” the most valuable AI initiatives for your organization. Note: a wise enough consultant will suggest you to rethink your existing strategy from the ground up instead of just “tweaking” it to your present AI needs. For some AI technologies might just “take over the future”:  Just imagine Google translate reaching human-level translation capabilities in 5-10 years! Hence, you need to future-proof your current strategy, making sure it will still be “relevant” enough to stand... the wind of change blowing its way on a longer term.   Artificial Intelligence Consulting Activities: Implementing The Suggested AI Initiatives During the strategy developing process your consultant will identify a certain number of initiatives to be implemented:   by the AI consulting company itself or in-house, by your team(s)   And speaking of such recommended AI-powered activities, let me point out to you a few of the most relevant examples:   project management planning business processes improving, so they should level up, in terms of efficiency and productivity, to your current AI project vendor selecting development   And even if:   it's in-house implementation that you'll choose (even global tech firms care for their budgets and relying entirely on an AI consulting company for implementation can get costly) but your team lacks the tech know-how to implement some pressing initiatives   … your consultant can intervene and speed up the implementation process   Artificial Intelligence Consulting Activities: Staff Training on the New AI Technologies Now don't think that such an AI consulting professional will just:   come in put together your company profile develop an AI-strategy accordingly point out to you the initiatives and AI technologies to be implemented and... that's it.   Of course that your team will still be lacking the skills and the know-how to properly leverage the suggested new technologies. And so, it goes without saying that training your staff on the recommended emerging technologies is one of your consultant's key responsibilities.  “Training” and instilling the right mindset and proper approach to innovation and innovative tools and technologies.   Final Word Artificial intelligence can't go anywhere else but... up. With more products to be launched, more technologies aimed at boosting productivity and enhancing efficiency to emerge. Hence, the future belongs to those (companies) wise enough to see some powerful advisers in these artificial intelligence consulting experts. And bold enough to implement their advice, as well! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 17'2018
What Is the Best WYSIWYG Website Builder in 2018? A Top 5 List
“Empower... anyone who wants to build his own website!” This is how modern web builders' “motto” could sound like. And how could you not embrace this kind of “liberalization” in web development? Yet, the question that arises now is: with so many options, how do you choose the best WYSIWYG website builder for you? … for your own:   specific feature needs: will you be implementing video content, as well? Is blog functionality crucial for you? Can't imagine your website without an e-commerce plugin? Will you be “juggling” with multiple types of galleries on your site? future plans: dreaming big? Then scalability is a must-have functionality and main criterion for narrowing down your options. budget: facing a shoestring budget? Then you need to make sure that your free WYSIWYG web builder is suitable enough for your feature needs and growth plans   And besides zero coding expertise and no skills as a web designer, time is not on your side either, right? So you can't afford to spend too much of it running your own “investigations”, looking for the best web builder for you... Then, here's a top 5 list of WYSIWYG website builders to choose from and jump-start your site building project with:   But First: What Is a WYSIWYG Website Builder Anyway? And How Does It Work? Before I reveal to you which are the 5 most “irresistible” (meaning “feature-rich”) options for building your own website this year, let me answer these 2 basic questions first:   a. "What is a WYSIWYG web builder?" It's a tool empowering you to go ahead and create that “dream” website yourself. And that quick and easy, with no help whatsoever from a coding “guru” or a highly gifted (and “pricey”) web designer. And here is how this site building process looks like, summed up in just a few simple steps:   select your theme select your template add all kinds of content without the fear that you might mess up your code … along with any available apps, plugins or special widget that you need to integrate   b. "And how does it work precisely?" It uses a graphical interface which shows you how your website will look like in real time. For the “what you see is what you get” driving principle is precisely that: What you see as you drag, drop and customize different templates and as you add content is precisely how your website will look like in the web browser, too.   Jimdo Website Builder I start with a WYSIWYG website builder that slightly drifts from the drag-and-drop “mainstream” approach. Instead, Jimdo “tempts” you with stackable content blocks. Blocks that you can select from and arrange to your liking.  Note: do not expect your “load” of templates to be as heavy as is the case for the following 4 website builders on my list here. Still, do expect high-quality templates only. “Templates” that, moreover, you get to tweak and fine tune to suit your needs and preferences in the slightest detail (colors, fonts, backgrounds, you name it). And that you can replace at any time, with no risk of losing your work. Main strengths:   free plan available (and I'm not talking about just a trial here) free blogging and social media tools HTTP encryption out-of-the-box mobile app “injecting” on-the-go editing functionality low learning curve   Note: speaking of the free plan, you should know that there are 3 pricing plans in total: JimdoFree, JimdoPro and JimdoBusiness. You can upgrade your plan at any time and keep your work intact while doing that. Weak points:   limited scalability it's not really a drag and drop website builder limited styling capabilities   MotoCMS Website Builder  From an “out of the box” web builder, we'll switch to a powerful “beast” loaded with no less than 2500+ templates, suitable for 60 different topics. Therefore, it goes without saying that no matter the size or the complexity of your site building project, MotoCMS can power plans of all “flavors” and sizes. From a simple landing page to a full-featured, powerful e-commerce machine... Strong features:   built-in blog functionality 100% responsive and cross-browser compatible templates integrated SEO and social media tools a rich collection of widgets that you can inject additional functionality into your website with   Note: in addition to these MotoCMS strengths to consider when you're choosing the best WYSIWYG website builder, do consider its loading speed, as well. Tests (the Pingdom website speed test) prove that sites using MotoCMS templates stand out in terms of performance.   Wix: The Best WYSIWYG Website Builder for Absolute Beginners How does it address the needs of a non-experienced & non-skilled (yet enthusiastic) site builder like you?  Through its Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) feature. It's designed to ask you all the key questions and to draw your “absolute beginner in need of a website” type of profile. This way, it collects the most relevant information that will help it set up precisely that website that you have in mind. Quick and easy: just let yourself interviewed! Moreover, the Wix website builder is the most popular one in the site-builder industry (with no less than 90 million users). And there must be some strong reasons behind its “fame”. It's true, though, that at a very first glance, the interface might be a bit discouraging. Yet, do give it some time, get to familiarize yourself with the environment and you'll discover that:   what scared you at first is precisely what will make you “addicted” to this web builder. meaning that once you've familiarized yourself with this software's UI, its “overload” of customization functionalities proves to be conveniently empowering in fact! they enable you, the complete non-tech-savvy site builder, to put together and tweak every little aspect of your website.   And there's more! What “entitles” Wix to compete for the... title of “the best WYSIWYG website builder in 2018” is the tempting App Market that it provides. You get to choose from a wide range of apps (200+) storing extra functionality to be implemented on your website, such as:   Site Booster (powering your SEO strategy) Wix stores (you'll get empowered to manage your own online store) Wix forum   Some of them are free, while others come with a price tag on. Features “to die for”:   text (and other elements) animating functionality a (really) heavy load of stock images to scan through and to choose from you get a free version, as well, perfect if it's a small, low-budget website that you're building fully customizable, top-notch templates it auto-generates the mobile version of your website outstanding support   Limitations to consider:   there's no option for you to switch templates later on (that Jimdo, for instance, does provide you with) no access to your site's source code you can't export your website   Squarespace Website Builder Squarespace ranks high in two categories:   best WYSIWYG website builder for creating visually-appealing websites most expensive web builder   In other words: if “beauty” is the main criteria when choosing your web builder software, Squarespace should be on top of your list. Pixar is one of its clients... if you know what I mean! A strong enough proof that creating visually-striking websites is what Squarespace aces at. But it does it at a cost! So, don't expect to get a fully-functioning free version. Powerful features:   great analytics and SEO tools full-featured e-commerce support fully-responsive, top-notch templates, with pre-built integrations phenomenal presentation: in-browser image editing, video backgrounds, lightbox presentations   If it's a beautifully designed website that you're dreaming of, Squarespace is the software to “fuel” and shape that “dream” with!   Weebly Website Builder  Weebly seems to be “rivaling” Winx in popularity: It's one of the most-used site builders, with millions of site owners leveraging its functionalities. Therefore, its popularity is a strong enough evidence that its features, design and capabilities are... above the average (to say the least). It's a conveniently easy to use web builder, yet powerful enough for building complex websites. An intuitive WYSIWYG website builder, with an “overwhelming” collection of website templates. And that seamlessly incorporates any 3rd party provider of your choice. This is Weebly in short! Top features:   powerful e-commerce features the option (200+ apps) to implement 3rd part integrations: forms, table elements, FAQs etc. free, responsive, sleek-looking themes to choose from a community of 30 million users worldwide   Note: the newest version of Weebly, Carbon, comes equipped with an even richer collection of templates, a heavier toolbox and revamped UI.  The END! This is the shortlist to keep at hand when you're choosing not the best WYSIWYG website builder, but the right web builder for your own web project! Would you have added (or maybe even excluded some) any other solutions for building a website with no help from an expert — be it developer or web designer? ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Apr 16'2018
What Is Business Process Consulting? 5 Reasons Why You Should Use These Services
Has that time come yet? The “time” when you realize that your once a start-up business, involving just a few processes and people, has gradually grown into a hard to manage infrastructure? One having plenty of... “holes” to be plugged for better efficiency? Then it's a fact: you need to look for a business process consultant! But what is business process consulting anyway? And this is just one of the questions that I'll do my best to answer in today's post. Besides this, I'll be:   pointing out to you, as clearly as possible, what a business process consultant does, more precisely how a business process consulting campaign works, from step A to step Z 5 reasons why you should opt for such services (or 5 “benefits” that you'll reap from opting for such services, if you prefer)   So, shall we delve right into it?   First Things First: What Is Business Process Consulting? Take it as a “diagnosis & prescription” applied to your business process. It's a process where an external consultant:   comes in to closely analyze all the processes being carried out within your organization … and to identify any inefficient use(s) of resources, redundant processes that could get easily automated etc. then present the results of his/her “investigations”, along with his recommendations to you, top management   And, if requested, he could also run simulations to test the suggested process improvements. That's the whole process broken down into its essential steps!   And... How Does It Work? The Entire Process in 4 Simple Steps Now don't imagine your business process consultant running his/her investigations “undercover”. Or locked somewhere in an office, studying documents, infographics and stats and “thinking up” his recommendations for your business workflow. For it doesn't work like that! He/she will need to get out there and to actually observe your team “in action”. To detect, on the spot, any proofs of inefficient use of time or simply to understand how each process works. For, you can't improve something that you don't “intimately” understand. Now that we've settled this, here's a business process consulting campaign... broken down into 4 steps:   a. The business process consultant starts by doing what it takes to gain a deep understanding of all the processes that your business's based on. And his/her methodology could involve tactics ranging from:   interviewing your team members to watching them closely as they carry out their regular tasks   b. The observation phase and the issues-detecting phase take place simultaneously. Therefore, once your business process consultant identifies all the areas of improvement and the “weak links”, he'll start putting together his “battle plan”. His list of recommendations for clearing all those detected inefficiencies. And these “efficiency holes” could be:   bottlenecks, leading to work getting piled up in one specific area from the whole workflow system inefficient use of resources (time being the most valuable of them all) too complex layouts that might delay the completion of certain tasks repetitive processes that could be automated areas where lack of accountability or bad communication impacts productivity   c. The business process consultant presents his/her report to you, along with his process-focused recommendations for improving efficiency   d. You might want to see those suggested improvements applied to your workflow and the new system “in practice”. This is an optional step where you require a test to be set up.   What Does a Business Consultant Do? He/she puts together an accurate and realistic picture of the workflow within your organization and points out all the “cracks” in this picture. And eventually delivers you the solutions for...filling them in. And this definition could be an equally viable answer to the question: “What is business process consulting?” Now to sum up a business process consultant's “mission” to even fewer words, it would go something like this: He/she documents your business processes, “equipping” them with clear sets of instructions, so that each member of your team should know, at any phase, what are the next steps to take  Why hire a business process consultant instead of assigning someone in your team to handle all this documenting and structuring your workflow into repeatable processes? Because in case of overly complex infrastructures, with tasks, varying a lot, depending on too many factors, documenting and organizing them gets unexpectedly challenging. Especially if you (your team) don't have the know-how or the needed time for analyzing, in detail, every single little operation in your workflow.   5 Reasons to Use Business Process Consulting Services Now let's talk... clear advantages! Here are the main benefits that you'll reap from opting for such services:   1. Less Time for Managing Details, More Time for The Big Picture Do the math yourself: How much of your time do you waste/invest in managing all kinds of day-to-day... details? Now just imagine how much time you'd save if you took all these burdening tasks, all these time-consuming responsibilities, off your back! And this is precisely what the business process consulting services are aimed at:   helping you stop “wasting” time on details … by automating all those day-to-day management tasks … so you can focus more on those new projects that you have been postponing, on exploring new revenue opportunities … and on your customers, too   2. A Consultant Will Instill Responsible Attitudes Within Your Team Without every member of your team motivated to adhere to certain quality standards and best practices... any attempt to improve efficiency is useless. And this is another valid answer to your “What is business process consulting?” It's all about motivating your team to feel some sort of ownership over the results of the tasks they perform. A business process consulting not only that will “detect” those team members who:   skip a few (maybe crucial) steps when performing a task come up with their own shortcuts for carrying out certain tasks, which might impact the final product's overall quality   … but he/she will also work on motivating your team to adopt the recommended best practices and a certain work ethic. For one of his/her key responsibilities is to make everyone in your team feel responsible for his work.   3. You'll Be Expanding Your Capabilities as an Organization And it's a “cause and effect” process if you come to think of it: More efficient business processes lead to enhanced capabilities in every sphere.  And I'm talking here about enhancing efficiency when it comes to:   scope scalability (by seizing and leveraging opportunities for improving your infrastructure, your organization gets to grow internationally, as well)   4. You'll Be Simplifying All Your Business Operations Mobile media, cloud computing, social media... and all the latest technologies will only give your business processes a major efficiency boost. And it's that business process consultant that you'll hire who'll be:   handling the IT assimilation process selecting the right technology(s) for each process reducing the IT complexities simplifying and automating workflows   5. You'll Be Cutting Down Costs And here you get another valid answer to your “What is business process consulting?” question: "It's process-re-engineering." … during which all the business processes included in your workflow get closely audited, evaluated and properly optimized. And a certain hierarchy set up:   resources get reallocated to more important projects and a plan for investing in technology (for automating key processes) is put together    Time to Let an Expert Document & Improve Your Processes Now! Now that you know what business process consulting is, it's time to:   stop using the budget “excuse” and consider all the resources of time and money that you'll be saving … or the “dangers” menacing your business if you allow it to run on undocumented processes (anytime someone in your team could make a mistake from lack of a well-structured workflow & a set of clear instructions) realize that such a complex process does call for an expert   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 14'2018
Collecting Requirements for Your Project: Best Tools and Techniques
Instead of stubbornly keeping yourself stuck, thinking that “Clients don't really know what they want”, how about you... give them a hand? Helping them identify and clearly articulate their needs! Especially since there are so many effective, tried-and-tested tools and techniques that grant you success when you're collecting requirements for your project. And it sure is worth all the effort. Or, to put it this way: It will cost you/your project a lot if you're doing it wrong. In this respect, numbers make the most reliable proofs: Behind the great majority of project failures, there's a lack of clarity on requirements. Therefore, learning how to collect requirements for your project:   instead of jumping straight to the design phase way before developers start defining their own scenarios for functional tests   … is crucial to the overall success of your project. And now, here's the “arsenal” you should tap into and use to its full potential: The most effective tools and techniques to “power” your collecting requirements process with.   What Is This Process? What Is Involved in Collecting Requirements for Your Project? And it seems only natural to attempt to define this whole process, first things first: Collecting requirements is the process of identifying and documenting (and managing) the stakeholder needs and requirements. This way, you're determining and documenting all the key features and functions of the product that you're due to develop. As well as identifying all the processes that you'll need to carry out for achieving the project scope. Speaking of which: this is the process that helps you clearly define the project's scope itself. “And how come (so) many teams fail at it?” Mostly because development teams don't have a good process for effectively collecting requirements set up in the first place. And a “good process” starts with proper segmentation, into multiple key steps to take, such as:   elicitation analysis specification ...   Also, another strong reason behind IT teams-clients communication failure is underrating the iterative approach to defining requirements: A highly effective technique, since requirements are often quite “blurry” early in a project   The Facilitated Workshop: Enhance Cross-Functional Team Collaboration The purpose behind it? There are several in fact:   bringing different stakeholders together will help you identify and better understand their difference of opinion (if there's any) you'd be improving cross-team communication from the very start you'll be “unearthing” inherent challenges that different stakeholders face and that involved parties, by themselves, aren't even aware of   In short: conducting a facilitated workshop does what its name says, it facilitates stakeholders to identify and clearly articulate their requirements.   Interviews: One-On-One Meetings With Different Types of Stakeholders Prepare a different set of questions, for each one of your target stakeholders, and have some one-on-one meetings. Each of them is differently impacted by the “problem/need” that your team should come up with a solution-product for. Therefore, interviewing them all, separately, will only help you gain both: in-depth and comprehensive understanding of that specific problem/need   Leverage the Participant Observation Method A highly effective technique used in the collecting requirements process. And it becomes particularly useful when stakeholders are having difficulties identifying and clearly articulating their requirements.  Or when the given system/process is too complex and you need to actually observe people in action for analyzing it and understanding how it works. And what its limitations are. In these 2 cases, it's only by observing the participant “in action” that you can properly record requirements. In this respect, a “kindred” method that you could use during the collecting requirements for your project process is the “participant-observer” one. Where you get to actually test that system/process yourself, too.   5 Group Creativity Techniques to Explore 1. Idea mapping “What is the scope of this process?” you might ask yourself. By putting together all the different stakeholders' ideas into a mind map, you'll gain a bird's-eye view of them all! On how they're connected to one another, which are the best of them, what are their pros and cons? And speaking of grouping ideas into a “mind map”, there are several types of maps that you could set up:   archival strategies data transfer mechanism data formats   2. The nominal group method Using this method to collect requirements inputs will save you loads of time. Basically, you set up a group of stakeholders, ask them to share their ideas, and... submit them all to vote. Only those scoring the most votes will be further taken into account. And this will just streamline the entire decision-making process!   3. Related ideas diagrams  Probably the best way to neatly categorizing that huge pile of ideas that you will have collected! How does it work? You simply write down all those ideas on separate cards, then pair the similar ones together, till there's no “isolated” card left. And you end up with a diagram of ideas, nicely structured into different categories. Starting there, you can put together your cause-and-effect diagrams.   4. Brainstorming "What are the best ways to gather requirements?”  Brainstorming is (should be) on top of any To-Do list for a collect requirements process! Schedule brainstorming sessions with different focus groups of stakeholders and challenge them to share their ideas. You'll end up with a whole “pile” of diversified “steamy fresh” ideas to work on.   5. Group decision making Let's say you get several alternatives for the very same requirement. What do you do? How do you filter the best one? You set up a decision-making group and... ask them to give their inputs. It will be a collaborative decision-making process. In the end, it's the requirement that they all (or the majority) agree on that will get selected.   Benchmarking Mind you don't underrate this technique!  For, as “banal” as it may seem, it's surprisingly effective: Compare the current project with a similar one and try to identify the best practices and key processes. And to even come up with better methods to solve certain challenges, while you compare the 2 projects.   Document Analysis: One of The Collect Requirements Process's Key Steps Another great way to determine the requirements for your project is to analyze all the documents at hand:   system use cases proposal legal requirements user documentation design documents system use cases …   Create Context Diagrams Here's just one of the best answers to the following question: “What are some basic requirements gathering tools and techniques?” By putting together context diagrams, you're creating a visual representation of the whole system. Its interaction with users and other external systems here included! What's the point?  By visualizing the entire system it'll be easier for you to spot all those business scenarios that you might have overlooked. Scenarios for which you haven't collected and documented any requirements yet.   Come Up With Prototypes This technique comes in handy in your whole collect requirements process if:   your client just can't envision and thus can't articulate the requirements the system/product/process you're due to put together is too new, too complex    Setting up and then providing your client with a simple working model, with basic functionality, will help him/her get a clearer picture of how it should work. And give him the chance to “taking it for a spin”, to experiment it. Once the stakeholders have tested it, they'll be more confident to provide you with relevant inputs.The ones you'll need to actually get this new system developed.   Get a Grip on The Gherkin Syntax  Consider learning to speak Gherkin fluently in order to guarantee the success of your requirement collecting process. The main benefit that you'll be “reaping” is a record of utterly explicit requirements. And it's the Gherkin syntax that constrains them to be so. For instance, have a look at this example here, from Neoteric.eu, of the Gherkin syntax being used for collecting scenario-specific requirements only: Feature: Logout from application Scenario: Given I am logged in When I click “log out” button Then I am informed about successful logout And I am redirected tologin page See? Zero ambiguity! Both the:   business analyst(s) developers   … in your team will benefit from leveraging this language. The first will end up with perfectly explicit requirements, while the latter will get the clear information needed for setting up functional test scenarios. A win-win situation.   The END! Does this answer your “What is involved in collecting requirements for your project?” kind of question?  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 11'2018
Top 10 Drupal Security Best Practices: Effective and Easy to Implement
With popularity comes trouble... In this case here meaning: security vulnerabilities and risky over-exposure to cyber threats. And this can only mean that securing your website, that's running on the currently third most popular CMS in the world, calls for a set of Drupal security best practices for you to adopt. And to stick to! There's no other way around it: a set of strategically chosen security measures, backed by a prevention-focused mindset, pave the shortest path to top security.    Stay assured: I've selected not just THE most effective best practices for you to consider adopting, but the easiest to implement ones, as well. Quick note: before I go on and knee-deep into this Drupal security checklist, I feel like highlighting that:   Drupal still has a low vulnerability percentage rate compared to its market share the majority of Drupal's vulnerabilities (46%) are generated by cross-site scripting (XSS)   And now, here are the tips, techniques, and resources for you to tap into and harden your Drupal site's security shield with.   1. The Proper Configuration Is Required to Secure Your Drupal Database  Consider enforcing some security measures at your Drupal database level, as well. It won't take you more than a few minutes and the security dangers that you'll be safeguarding it from are massive. Here are some basic, yet effective measures you could implement:   go for a different table prefix; this will only make it trickier for an intruder to track it down, thus preventing possible SQL injection attacks change its name to a less obvious, harder to guess one   Note: for changing your table prefix you can either navigate to phpMyAdmin, if you already have your Drupal site installed, or do it right on the setup screen (if it's just now that you're installing your website).   2. Always Run The Latest Version of Drupal on Your Website And this is the least you could do, with a significant negative impact on your Drupal site if you undermine its importance. If you neglect your updating routine. Do keep in mind that:   it's older versions of Drupal that hackers usually target (since they're more vulnerable) the regularly released updates are precisely those bug fixes and new security hardening features that are crucial for patching your site's vulnerabilities.   Why should you leave it recklessly exposed? Running on an outdated Drupal version, packed with untrusted Drupal modules and themes? Especially since keeping it up to date means nothing more than integrating 2 basic Drupal security best practices into your site securing “routine”:   always download your themes and modules from the Drupal repository (or well-known companies) regularly check if there are any new updates for you to install: “Reports” → “Available Updates”→“Check manually”      3. Make a Habit of Backing Up Your Website And here's another one of those underrated and too often neglected Drupal security best practices! Why should you wait for a ransomware attack and realize its true importance... “the hard way”? Instead, make a habit of regularly backing up your website since, as already mentioned: There's no such thing as perfection when it comes to securing a Drupal site, there's only a hierarchy of different “security levels” that you can activate on your site And backing up your site, constantly, sure stands for one of the most effective measures you could apply for hardening your Drupal website. Now, here's how you do it:   make use of Pantheon's “one-click backup” functionality test your updates locally using MAMP or XAMPP or another “kindred” software harness the Backup and Migrate module's power, currently available only for Drupal 7 export your MySQL database and back up your files “the old way”... manually   There, now you can stay assured that, if/when trouble strikes, you always have your backup(s) to retrieve your data from and get back “on your feet” in no time!   4. Block Those Bots That You're Unwillingly Sharing Your Bandwidth With No need to get all “altruist” when it comes to your bandwidth! And to share it with all kinds of scrappers, bad bots, crawlers. Instead, consider blocking their access to your bandwidth right from your server. Here's how: Add the following code to your .htacces file and block multiple user-agent files at once: RewriteEngine On RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^.*(agent1|Wget|Catall Spider).*$ [NC] RewriteRule .* - [F,L] Or use the BrowserMatchNoCase directive as follows: BrowserMatchNoCase “agent1” bots BrowserMatchNoCase "Wget" bots BrowserMatchNoCase "Catall Spider" bots Order Allow,Deny Allow from ALL Deny from env=bots Use the KeyCDN feature for preventing those malicious bots from stealing your bandwidth! 5. Use Strong Passwords Only: One of the Easiest to Implement Drupal Security Best Practices More often than not “easy” doesn't mean “less efficient”.  And in this particular case here, simply opting for a strong username (smarter than the standard “admin”) and password can make the difference between a vulnerable and a hard-to-hack Drupal site. For this, just: Manually change your credentials right from your admin dashboard:  “People” → “Edit”→ “Username” while relying on a strong password-generating program ( KeePassX or KeePass)    6. Use an SSL Certificate: Secure All Sensitive Data and Login Credentials Would you knowingly risk your users' sensitive data? Their card information let's say, if it's an e-commerce Drupal site that you own? And how about your login credentials? For this is what you'd be doing if — though you do recognize the importance of using an SSL certificate —  you'd still put this measure at the back of your list of Drupal security best practices. In other words, running your site on HTTPs (preferably on HTTP/2, considering all the performance benefits that it comes packaged with) you'll be:   encrypting all sensitive data that's being passed on, back and forth, between the server and the client encrypting login credentials, instead of just letting them get sent, in crystal-clear text, over the internet.   7. Use Drupal Security Modules to Harden Your Site's Shield For they sure make your most reliable allies when it comes to tracking down loopholes in your site's code or preventing brutal cyber attacks. From:   scanning vulnerabilities to monitoring DNS changes blocking malicious networks identifying the files where changes have been applied   … and so on, these Drupal modules will be “in charge” of every single aspect of your site's security strategy. And supercharging your site with some of the most powerful Drupal security modules is, again, the easiest, yet most effective measure you could possibly enforce. Now speaking of these powerful modules, here's a short selection of the “must-have” ones:   Password Policy: enables you to enforce certain rules when it comes to setting up new passwords (you even get to define the frequency of password changes) Coder : runs in-depth checks, setting your code against Drupal's best practices and coding standards Automated Logout: as an admin, you get to define the time limit for a user's session; he/she will get automatically logged out when the time expires SpamSpan Filter: enables you to obfuscate email addresses, thus preventing spambots from “stealing” them Login Security: deny access by ID address and limit the number of login attempts Content Access: grant permission to certain content types by user roles and authors Hacked!: provides an easy way for you to check whether any new changes have been applied to Drupal core/themes Security Review Module: it will check your website for those easy-to-make mistakes that could easily turn into security vulnerabilities; here's a preview of this module “at work”     8. Implement HTTP Security Headers Another one of those too-easy-to-implement, yet highly effective Drupal security best practices to add to your Drupal security checklist: Implementing (and updating) HTTP security headers “Why bother?” Cause:   first of all, their implementation requires nothing more than a configuration change at the web server level their key role is letting the browsers know just how to handle your site's content … thus reducing the risk of security vulnerabilities and brute force attacks   9. Properly Secure File Permissions Ensure that your file permissions for:   opening reading modifying them   … aren't too dangerously loose. Since such negligence could easily turn into an invitation for “evil-minded” intruders!  And it's on Drupal.org's dedicated page that you can find more valuable info on this apparently insignificant, yet extremely effective security measure    10. Restrict Access To Critical Files  Told you this was going to be a list of exclusively easy-to-implement Drupal security best practices. Blocking access to sensitive files on your website (the upgrade.php file, the install.php file, the authorize.php file etc.) won't take you more than a few minutes. But the danger you'd avoid — having a malicious intruder risking to access core files on your Drupal site — is way too significant to overlook.   END of the list! These are probably the easiest steps to take for securing your Drupal site. How does your own list of Drupal security tips, techniques, and resources to tap into look like? ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Apr 06'2018
How to Set Up Google Analytics on Your Drupal Site: A Dead-Simple Step-by-Step Guide
Who are your visitors? Where do they come from? And what do they do precisely during their visits on your Drupal site? How long are their visits? What content on your site do they linger on and what content do they “stubbornly” ignore? Needless to say that for getting your answers to all these questions you need to set up Google Analytics on your website. Since: “This data--aka analytics--is the lifeblood of the digital marketer.” (Jeffrey Mcguire, Acquia, Inc. Evangelist) The good news is that integrating it is nothing but a quick and simple 3-step process. And the great news is that: Drupal's got you covered with its dedicated Google Analytics module, geared at simplifying the otherwise tedious and time-consuming process. So, shall we dive into the installation guide?   1. But First: Why Web Analytics? And Why Precisely Google Analytics? In an UX-dominated digital reality, that takes personalization to a whole new level, user behavior data turns into... superpower. And by “user behavior data”, I do mean web analytics. Therefore, injecting a web analytics service into your Drupal site is like... injecting true power into its “veins”. But why precisely Google Analytics? Why set up Google Analytics on your Drupal site instead of another web analytics tracking tool? Is its popularity a strong enough reason for you to jump on the trend? To answer your question, I do think that its own key features make the best answers:   audience demographic reporting: discover where your site visitors come from, their native languages, the devices and operating systems they use for accessing your website... goal tracking: monitor conversion rates, downloads, sales and pretty much all stats showing how close (or far) you are to reaching the goals that you've set for your website acquisition reporting: identify your site's traffic sources; where do your visitors come from exactly? on-site reporting: gain a deep insight into the way visitors engage with specific pieces of content on your website, so you know how to adjust the experience your deliver them on your site/app to their specific needs  event-tracking: tap into this feature for measuring all activities carried out on your Drupal site   And the list of features could go on and on. Providing you with a high-level dashboard and enabling you to go as deep as you need to with your “data digging”. For Google Analytics is only as powerful as you “allow” it to be. It empowers you to dig up both surface and “in-depth data”. Moreover (or better said: “thanks to...”), being such a feature-rich tracking tool, Google Analytics's highly versatile, too. From email marketing to social media marketing, to any type of marketing campaign that you plan to launch, it's built to fit in just perfectly. To power all forms of marketing strategies. And where do you add that it's been a while now since we've been having Google Analytics for mobile apps and the Google Analytics 360 suite, too! 2 more powerful GA tools to add to your web analytics “tracking arsenal”.   2. The Drupal Google Analytics Module and How It Will Make Your Life (So Much) Easier Let me try a lucky guess:  Your Drupal site has... X pages (have I guessed it?) The “standard” way to add Google Analytics to your Drupal site would involve: Copying the tracking ID that Google Analytics provides you with and pasting it on each and every page on your website. A hair-pulling monotonous and time-consuming process, don't you think? And it starts to look even more cumbersome if you think that you have the alternative to set up Google Analytics on your Drupal site using the dedicated module. But how does it streamline... everything more exactly?  You'll just need to paste that Google Analytics javascript snippet for tracking data right to this module's Configuration page and... that's it! The module will take it from there! It will distribute it itself to all the pages on your website. Less effort, less time wasted for carrying out in a tedious and repetitive activity. And more time left for customizing all those statistics features to perfectly suit your goals and your site's needs. Luckily enough, the Drupal Google Analytics module puts an admin-friendly UI at your disposal precisely for that:   use it to track down key data  use it for tailoring your web analytics-tracking activity to your needs: by user role, by pages etc.   3. Set Up Google Analytics on Your Drupal Site In Just 3 Simple Steps  As promised, here's a “dead-simple 3-step guide on how to add Google Analytics to your Drupal site (“leveraging the power of the dedicated Drupal module here included”)   Step 1 The very first thing you'll need to do is sign up for a Google Analytics account if you don't have one already. And then to add your Drupal site (obviously!). And here are the quick steps to take:   go to www.google.com/analytics hit “sign in” (you'll find it in the top right corner) and select “Google Analytics” from the unfolding drop-down menu click “Sign Up” and just follow the given steps for setting up your new account next, follow the instructions for setting up web tracking   Now you should be able to see your Drupal site displayed under your account, on your admin page in Google Analytics. And it's now that you should be able to retrieve your site's “Tracking ID”, as well. You'll find it in the “Property Setting” section.   Step 2 The next major step to take as you set up Google Analytics on your Drupal site is to actually go back to your site and... install THE module itself. Since I've already praised its “superpowers” and how they “conspire” to make your life easier, I'm not going to point them out once again. Instead, I'll go straight to the steps to take once you've enabled the module on your website:   access its configuration page (you'll find the “Configuration” tab on top of the page, “flanked by” the “Modules” and the “Reports” tabs) there, right under the “General Setting” section, just enter your “Web Property ID” … which is precisely the Google Analytics tracking code that you've just retrieved at Step 1   And this is precisely the “magic trick” that's going to add the Google Analytics tracking system site-wide. A monotonous, multiple-step process turned into a one-step operation. This thanks to the Drupal Google Analytics module!   Step 3 Here you are now, ready to save your settings and to officially harness the power of Google Analytics on your website! Normally you should be just fine with the default settings that the service provides you with, right out-of-the-box. Yet, if you need to “refine” your searches, your entire tracking activity, feel free to do that. To explore all the options stored in the “Tracking Scope” tabs for you. Speaking of which, let me give you just a few examples of how deep you could narrow down your “investigations” and customize the modules:   roles: a setting which lets you define which user roles to track (and which roles the system should ignore) domains: indicate whether it's a single or multiple domains that you need monitoring privacy: it enables you to make visitors' IP addresses anonymous pages: indicate precisely which pages on your website you need to track messages: track and monitor the messages displayed to your site visitors search and advertising: keep track of your internal site searches and AdSense advertisements; do keep in mind, though, that some additional settings might be needed!   And... more! You actually get even more power for configuring your JavaScript setting and adding custom variables. The END! This is how you set up Google Analytics on your Drupal site in 3 dead-simple steps, a streamlined process powered by the dedicated Drupal module. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 05'2018
Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch: How Are They Different? How Do You Decide? Part 2
And I'm back, as promised, with 5 more key differences meant to help you solve your Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch dilemma. To help you properly evaluate the 2 open source search engines and, therefore, to identify the perfect fit for your own use case and your project's particular needs.   6. Node Discovery Another aspect that clearly differentiates the 2 search engines is the way(s) they handle node discovery.That is, whenever a new node joins the cluster or when there's something wrong with one of them, immediate measures, following certain criteria, need to be taken. The 2 technologies handle this node-discovery challenge differently:   Apache Solr uses Apache Zookeeper — already a “veteran”, with plenty of projects in its “portfolio” —  requiring external Zookeper instances (minimum 3 for a fault-tolerant SolrCloud cluster). Elasticsearch relies on Zen for this, requiring 3 dedicated master nodes to properly carry out its discovery “mission”   7. Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch: Machine Learning Machine learning has a way too powerful influence on the technological landscape these days not to take it into consideration in our Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch comparison here. So, how do these 2 open source search engines support and leverage machine learning algorithms?   Apache Solr, for instance, comes with a built-in dedicated contrib module, on top of streaming aggregations framework; this makes it easy for you to use machine-learning ranking models right on top of Solr Elasticsearch comes with its own X-Pack commercial plugin, along with the plugin for Kibana (supporting machine learning algorithms) geared at detecting anomalies and outlines in the time series data    8. Full-Text Search Features  In any Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch comparison, the first one's richness in full-text search related features is just... striking! Its codebase's simply “overcrowded” with text-focused features, such as:   the functionality to correct user spelling mistakes a heavy load of request parsers configurable, extensive highlight support a rich collection of request parsers   Even so, Elasticsearch “strikes back” with its own dedicated suggesters API. And what this feature does precisely is hiding implementation details from user sight, so that we can add our suggestions far more easily. And, we can't leave out its highlighting functionality (both search engines rely on Lucene for this), which is less configurable than in Apache Solr.   9. Indexing & Searching: Text Searching vs Filtering & Grouping As already mentioned in this post, any Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch debate is a: Text-search oriented approach vs Filtering and grouping analytical queries type of contrast. Therefore, the 2 technologies are built, from the ground up, so that they approach different, specific use cases:   Solr is geared at text search Elasticsearch is always a far better fit for those apps where analytical type of queries, complex search-time aggregations need to be handled   Moreover, each one comes with its own “toolbox” of tokenizers and analyzers for tackling text, for breaking it down into several terms/tokens to be indexed. Speaking of which (indexing), I should also point out that the two search engine “giants” handle it differently:   Apache Solr has the single-shard join index “rule”; one that gets replicated across all nodes (to search inter-document relationships) Elasticsearch seems to be playing its “efficiency card” better, since it enables you to retrieve such documents using top_children and has_children queries   10. Shard Placement: Static by Nature vs Dynamic By Definition Shard replacement: the last test that our two contestants here need to pass, so you can have your final answer to your “Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch” dilemma. In this respect, Apache Solr is static, at least far more static than Elasticsearch. It calls for manual work for migrating shards whenever a Solr node joins or leaves the cluster.  Nothing impossible, simply less convenient and slightly more cumbersome for you:   you'll need to create a replica  wait till it synchronizes the data remove the “outdated” node   Luckily for you, Elasticsearch is not just “more”, but “highly” dynamic and, therefore, far more independent. It's capable to move around shards and indices, while you're being granted total control over shard placement: by using awareness tags, you get to control where those shards should/shouldn't be placed by using an API call you can guide Elasticsearch into moving shards around on demand The END! Now if you come to think about it, my 10-point comparative overview here could be summed up to 2 key ideas worth remembering:   go for ApacheSolr if it's a standard text-search focused app that you're planning to build; if you already have hands-on experience working with it and you're particularly drawn to the open-source philosophy go for Elasticsearch if it's a modern, real-time search application that you have in mind; one perfectly “equipped” to handle analytical queries. If your scenario calls for a distributed/cloud environment (since Elastic is built with out-of-the-ordinary scalability in mind)   ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Mar 16'2018
Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch: How Are They Different? How Do You Decide? PART 1
Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch, the 2 leading open-source search engines... What are the main differences between these technologies? Which one's faster? And which one's more scalable? How about ease-of-use? Which one should you choose? Which search engine's the perfect fit for your own:   use case specific needs particular expectations?   Obviously, there's no universally applicable answer. Yet, there are certain parameters to use when evaluating these 2 technologies.  And this is precisely what we've come up with: a list of 10 key criteria to evaluate the two search engines by, revealing both their main strengths and most discouraging weakness. So you can compare, weight pros and cons and... draw your own conclusions.   But First, A Few Words About The Two “Contestants” I find it only natural to start any Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch comparison by briefly shading some light on their common origins: Both open source search engine “giants” are built on the Apache Lucene platform. And this is precisely why you're being challenged with a significant number of similar functionalities.   Apache Solr Already a mature and versatile technology, with a broad user community (including some heavy-weighting names: Netflix, Amazon CloudSearch, Instagram), Apache Solr is an open source search platform built on Lucene, a Java library. And no wonder why these internet giants have chosen Solr. Its indexing and searching multiple sites capabilities are completed by a full set of other powerful features, too:   dynamic clustering faceted search  NoSQL features & rich document handling full-text search  real-time indexing   Elasticsearch  It's a (younger) distributed open source (RESTful) search engine built on top of Apache Lucene library. Practically, it emerged as a solution to Solr's limitations in meeting those scalability requirements specific to modern cloud environments. Moreover, it's a:   multitenant-capable distributed full-text ...  search engine, with schema-free JSON documents and HTTP web interfaces, that it “spoils” its users with. And here's how Elasticsearch works: It includes multiple indices that can be easily divided into shards which, furthermore, can (each) have their own “clusters” of replicas. Each Elasticsearch node can have multiple (or just a single one) shards and the search engine is the one “in charge” with passing over operations to the right shards. Now, if I am to highlight some of its power features:   analytical search  multi-tenancy grouping & aggregation  distributed search    1. User and Developer Communities: Truly Open-Source vs Technically Open-Source A contrast that we could define as: “Community over code” philosophy vs Open codebase that anyone can contribute to, but that only “certified” committers can actually apply changes to. And by “certified” I do mean Elasticsearch employees only. So, you get the picture: If it's a fully open-source technology that you're looking for, Apache Solr is the one. Its robust community of contributors and committers, coming from different well-known companies and its large user base make the best proof. It provides a healthy project pipeline, everyone can contribute, so there's no one single company claiming the monopoly over its codebase. One that would decide which changes make it to the code base and which don't. Elasticsearch, on the other hand, is a single commercial entity-backed technology. Its code is right there, open and available to everyone on Github, and anyone can submit pull requests. And yet: it's only Elasticsearch employees who can actually commit new code to Elastic.   2. What Specific Use Cases Do They Address? As you can just guess it yourself: There's a better or worse fit, in any Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch debate, depending exclusively on your use case. So, let's see first what use cases are more appropriate for Apache Solr:   applications relying greatly on text-search functionality complex scenarios with entire ecosystems of apps (microservices) using multiple search indexes, processing a heavy load of search-request operations   And now some (modern) use cases that call for Elasticsearch:   applications relying (besides the standard text-search functionality) on complex search-time aggregations, too open-source log management use cases with many organizations indexing their logs in Elasticsearch in order to make them more searchable use cases depending on high(er) query rates data stores “supercharged” with capabilities for handling analytical type of queries (besides text searching)   … and pretty much any new project that you need to jump right onto, since Elasticsearch is much easier to get started with. You get to set up a cluster in no time.   3. Apache Solr vs Elastic Search: Which One's Best in Terms of Performance? And a performance benchmark must be on top of your list when doing an Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch comparison, right? Well, the truth is that, performance-wise, the two search engines are comparable. And this is mostly because they're both built on Lucene. In short: there are specific use cases where one “scores” a better performance than the other. Now, if you're interested in search speed, in terms of performance, you should know that:   Solr scores best when handling static data (thanks to its capability to use an uninverted reader for sorting and faceting and thanks to its catches, as well) Elasticsearch, being “dynamic by nature”, performs better when used in... dynamic environments, such as log analysis use cases   4. Installation and Configuration Elasticsearch is a clear winner at this test: It's considerably easier to install, suitable even for a newbie, and lighter, too. And yet (for there is a “yet”), this ease of deployment and use can easily turn against it/you. Particularly when the Elasticsearch cluster is not managed well. For instance, if you need to add comments to every single configuration inside the file, then the JSON-based configuration, otherwise a surprisingly simple one, can turn into a problem. In short, what you should keep in mind here is that:   Elastricsearch makes the best option if you're already using JSON if not, then Apach Solr would make a better choice, thanks to its well-documented solrconfig.xml and schema.xml    5. Which One Scales Better? And Elasticsearch wins this Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch test, too. As already mentioned here, it has been developed precisely as an answer to some of Apache Solr well-known scalability shortcomings. It's true, though, that Apache Solr comes with SolrCloud, yet its younger “rival”:   comes with better built-in scalability it's designed, from the ground up, with cloud environments in mind   And so, Elasticsearch can be scaled to accommodate very large clusters considerably easier than Apach Solr. This is what makes it a far better fit for cloud and distributed environments. And this is the END of PART 1. Stay tuned for I have 5 more key aspects “in store” for you, 5 more “criteria” to consider when running an Apache Solr vs Elasticsearch comparison! Still a bit curious: judging by these 5 first key features only, which search engine do you think that suits your project best? ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Mar 16'2018
7 Essential Things to Look for in Your Potential eCommerce Services Provider
Contending with the... paradox of choice? With a handful of tempting options in terms of ecommerce services providers that seem to be fitting your project's needs entirely? And choosing gets frustratingly challenging since they all “tempt” you with:   a visually-arresting design “backed up” by an ideally simple navigation structure a team fluent in SEO, ready to propel your site right on the “highest peaks” of Google rankings an impressive experience in implementing e-commerce-specific features and functionality 24/7 assistance: both pre- and post-launch issues and nasty bugs stand no chance to escape their team's vigilance module, theme, and plugin customization skills to suit your ever-growing needs   … and the list goes on So, how do you decide when all your choices seem to be equally... promising?  What's the proper evaluation system to use on all these “candidates”? How do you narrow down your own checklist of “must-have experience and expertise“ to the essentials? And what are the essential things to look for in a potential e-commerce services provider anyway? Keep on reading...   1. Use This Checklist to Rate Other eCommerce Websites from Their Portfolio Engage in some research work first, starting with the candidate's own portfolio. Look for other ecommerce websites listed there and start evaluating the following aspects/site components:   the overall design: as a first-time visitor on those websites, do you find them visually-appealing enough? navigation: it should be as simple and, therefore, intuitive, as possible; easily navigable inventories here included imagery and particularly product images: are they high-quality? is there any type of interactive chat system integrated, that users can use for dropping their questions? is there a review system implemented; are customer testimonials displayed and visible enough? checkout: the simpler the better; in this respect, the single-step checkouts, with visible “Add to cart” buttons, leading you straight to the payment page, make the surest “bet” is there a status bar informing customers know just how many more steps there are left till they complete the checkout process?   All these are crucial aspects to check off your preliminary checklist, so mind you give them due consideration. Track down all the above-mentioned elements (adding a “minus” to your evaluation list if they miss), then take your time to analyze and to rate them one by one! The completed projects of an ecommerce services company are filled with valuable “hints” in regard to how your own project might end up looking/performing!   2. Does The Platform Suit Your Budget and Back-Office Administration Experience? And you might want to start your conversation precisely with this question: “What ecommerce website development platform would you use for my project?” From WordPress to Magento commerce, to PrestaShop, to OpenCart, to Drupal Commerce, the range of possible answers to this key question is wide enough to get you thinking. ... to get you pondering on whether their platform suits:   your planned budget for this ecommerce project the time you're planning to invest  your team's skills and hands-on experience in back-office management   Do you want your online store to be up and running in no time? Conveniently easy-to-use and overall... simple?  Or is it a big ecommerce website, with a large inventory, incorporating a whole infrastructure of complex ecommerce functionalities, that you have in mind? There's a specific platform to go with for every type of need and goal that you might have. Make sure your potential ecommerce services provider has already built itself a reputation working with that particular platform that best suits you and your project!   3. Put SEO Expertise High on Your List When Choosing Your eCommerce Services Provider Need I add more? The expertise and time invested in building a visually-arresting, ideally easy-to-use website gets reduced to... wasted efforts if they're powered by an effective SEO strategy. Now it's the perfect time to tackle specific SEO goals that your potential partner would have to meet:   putting together SEO-friendly URLs integrating meta tags relevant to each page achieving mobile responsiveness using certain page load time optimization techniques   And the list of SEO-oriented goals and aspects to evaluate at this phase continues with the analytics tools that this ecommerce services company has in its toolbox. In short: look for proofs that this company's proficient in turning key customer-behavior data and valuable stats into... actionable insights for you to leverage.   4. Carefully Consider Their Time Estimate: Do They Leave Any “Room” for Extensive Tests? In other words: “fast” could also mean:   “Let's skip or reduce the pre-launch testing to bare minimum!” It's a trap, don't fall for it! Make sure that the time estimate that they'll give you:   complies with your own release schedule does cover the pre-launch testing period, too   A time needed for them to do their own testing, for your own team to run theirs and, of course, for this partner team to get all the identified bugs and issues fixed.   5. Do They Commit to Crafting High-Converting Copy, too? If so, look for relevant “samples” of copy they've already crafted for past clients. Is their copy:   persuasive enough? clear, concise, yet informative? simple, yet engaging?   Does it efficiently outline/tell those products', those brands' unique features/stories? Then, you might just have a “winner”. Still, there still are 2 more essential aspects to check off your list before you can give your final “verdict”. Keep on reading...   6. Can They Meet Your Current and Future Customization Needs? Maybe a standard turnkey solution doesn't suit your ecommerce project's specific needs. Maybe those plugins need some tuning work to meet your specific requirements.      Or maybe you want that free Drupal 8 ecommerce theme that you like best to be perfectly adjusted to your own needs. Is this ecommerce services company IN for customization, too? Or do they stick to assembling pieces provided by an open-source platform when putting together your ecommerce website? Be skeptical when you're being offered “one size fits all” solutions! When you detect proofs of zero experience or total lack of enthusiasm at the perspective of having to custom-tune those:   ecommerce theme plugins modules   … to your project's particularities and to your own future goals.   7. How About Post Launch Support? What if You “Detect” New Issues Then? Is it a “full-option” type of ecommerce services package that they'll provide you? Will they be there, ready to intervene, if, after your website' launch, you detect any bugs that escaped the pre-launching testing phase? Or if new issues breakthrough? Now it's the perfect time to let them know about all your expectations regarding post-launch assistance.   The END! Time to evaluate some “candidates” now and, with this evaluation system at hand, to choose the ecommerce services provider that makes the perfect fit for your project's needs! ... Read more
Serge Karpyuk / Mar 15'2018