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Is Magento Commerce Cloud the Best Option for Your E-Commerce Store? Key Benefits and Reported Downsides
But why should you even consider Magento Commerce Cloud as an option for your e-commerce store in the first place? What makes it any better than JetRails or Rackspace or even... Magento Commerce? What are its biggest selling points? And are there any reported downsides so far? Any drawbacks to consider and to weigh against its upsides before making your final choice? Now, let's get you some answers:   1. What Is Magento Commerce Cloud? How Is It Different/Better than Magento Commerce? Some might just reduce it to this basic formula: Magento Commerce + bundled hosting (or cloud infrastructure) Yet, I'm not one of “some”, so my definition would be: It's a full-managed, automated hosting platform for Magento Commerce — the once Enterprise Cloud Edition — that ships with some additional powerful features. Now, let me try and point out some of these features:   integrated source control management system (GIT), which translates into automatic build, deploy and management; it provides you with development, staging and live production environments streamlined development cycle quick and continuous deployment entirely customizable components enhanced security: the inherent security benefits of cloud computing + using WAS (Amazon Web Services) as the underlying infrastructure platform + tapping into the shared responsibility security model + leveraging the Fastly Web Application Firewall +... continuous availability: a particularly important feature for online stores, with a huge impact on user experience, the overall traffic and the level of security that your eStore guarantees its customers   2. 10 Main Reasons Why You'd Want to Run It on Magento Commerce Cloud Now, let's put its biggest selling points into the spotlight! Those benefits powerful enough to influence your decision and to make you opt for this cloud-powered e-commerce solution:   2.1. It's a Centralized Point of Management & End-to-End E-Commerce Solution Of all the Magento Commerce Cloud features, this must be one of the most “luring” ones:   you get to orchestrate your whole “infrastructure” of online stores from one single centralized point/store from marketing to analytics, to commerce across industries, it allows you to handle every specific operation, every aspect of the customer experience delivered on your e-commerce website   2.2. Inventory Order Management No more “out of stock” scenarios. At least not on your web store, since this feature allows you to always be one step ahead of customer demand and to... restock.   2.3. A Vast Ecosystem of Third-Party Extensions to Explore Another one of Magento Commerce Cloud's biggest selling points is its impressive marketplace of extensions. From:   Amazon Sales Channel to Google's Smart Shopping to lots of machine learning-based extensions   … you get to select from a huge ecosystem of add-ons to create a feature-rich, highly interactive shopping experience across your store.   2.4. It's Perfectly Equipped to Power Your PWAs Thinking about reaching out also to those potential customers who don't (always) benefit from fast-speed internet connection? Thinking about building a PWA for your online store? Good news: MCC is designed precisely with such a challenge in mind. It makes the best option for powering a PWA development plan.   2.5. High Scalability The hosting platform's built to accommodate the needs of both big retailers and small e-commerce businesses. And, in this respect, I should add 2 specific features that translate into enhanced scalability:   being a cloud environment, it grants you the freedom and the flexibility to allocate more memory and CPU, when needed it ships with an ece-tools package   2.6. It Supports Intuitive Experiences for Both Store Admins and Customers All the enhancements that Magento Commerce Cloud comes packed with bubble up to the user experience: both the “staff” user and the end-user. Meaning that all the tasks included in the store management process and the shopping process are well thought-out to be... highly intuitive.   2.7. Designed to Power Multi-Site Architectures Planning to go... global? Don't let your hosting platform stop you! In this respect, Magento Commerce Cloud allows you to:   update an entire ecosystem of online stores from one centralized point (I know, I've already pointed out this powerful feature) “conquer” new markets fast and surprisingly easy, with no major intervention from a tech-savvy team tap into the local knowledge expertise that Magento provides and to create some highly personalized, ideally localized experiences for multiple audiences exploit the advantage of the +150 languages available   And you get to run all your “globalization through localization” type of operations, to orchestrate your entire multi-site architecture, from one single point of management.  Note: speed and agility are 2 additional benefits that you can “reap” from using a cloud-based hosting platform; they become crucial when you want to enter new markets at high speed.   2.8. Built-in B2B Quote Management Feature Just imagine: a tool incorporated into your hosting platform “in charge” with everything... quotation-related. You can skip that time-consuming sequence of operations aimed at setting a price for a product.   2.9. Built-in Image Optimization Tool Magento Commerce Cloud provides you, right out of the box, with a tool to optimize your images and to boost your page loading speed...   2.10. It Easily Integrates With Fully-Managed Services Another great news is that it “plays well” with full managed services. From Redis to MySQL, to RabbitMQ, to Elasticsearch, it allows you to easily incorporate the service of your choice.    3. 3 Main Downsides Reported by Magento Commerce Cloud Users For, although this managed platform is still relatively new and so we can't yet be talking about a whole “pile” of user reviews, the reported drawbacks gravitate around the same issues:    slow support certain limitations of the underlying technology: Platform.sh the need to invest time and effort to get everything live   3.1. Support... Could Be Better Most of the Magento Commerce Cloud users have signaled it: support is slow. Therefore, expect to be put on a lengthy waiting list till you can actually get hold of a hosting engineer. Do you need permission changes? Is there a hosting issue that you're “grappling with” and you need the support of someone with expertise in platform.sh?  You might need to invest a bit more time than predicted to get the support you need.   3.2. Running Updates and Upgrades Takes too Long Not everyone's thrilled about the Platform.sh technology that MCC runs on. Quite enough users have reported that each time they need to:   add new CSS upgrade their e-commerce stores run certain feature updates   … the underlying system takes too long to process. And, during all this time, their online stores are... down.   3.3. It Takes More to Get Everything Up and Running More time and "X" times more effort.  At least that's what some of the users say.   The END! Does this answer your question(s)? Are these benefits and drawbacks solid enough to help you decide whether Magento Commerce Cloud is the best option for your online store? Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 23'2019
World-Famous Brands that Have Their Online Stores Running on Magento: Top 10-Part 2
Ready to discover 5 more world-famous brands that are tapping into Magento's capabilities — scalability, robust built-in features, high level of customization? 5 more high-trafficked online stores running on Magento? From Seat to Canon, from Helly Hansen to Jaguar and NGC, here some of the globally-known companies “advocating” for Magento through their own e-commerce stores:   6. Helly Hansen           The e-commerce website of the highly-reputed Norwegian manufacturer of textile and sports gear, trusted by professionals worldwide, is the perfect example of: Globalization through localization... And here's what I mean by that:   we're talking about an “ecosystem” of 30 online stores (of +30,000 products each) 6 different languages a unified look for the whole “cluster” of stores, yet the customer experience delivered on each store is highly personalized, with multi-language and multi-currency features implemented   See what I mean?  We're talking about a worldwide retailer leveraging Magento's robust features to the full to:   provide its shoppers with multiple payment and shipping methods make its product available in 19 different countries   Furthermore, Helly Hansen's Magento cloud project has been one of the most notorious ones back in 2016.   7. Sergio Rossi             Another one of those worldwide known online stores running on Magento. Sergio Rossi's leveraging Magento's full potential to:   “awe” its online customers with visually-striking, beautifully designed product pages enrich their shopping experience with engaging features like the on-page “heel height” selector   8. Seat                           The Spanish car manufacturer turned to Magento with some specific needs in mind: to deliver a fast and friction-free mobile experience to its young customers. Luckily, Magento's perfectly equipped with mobile-responsive functionality, which bubbles up to the user experience provided on Seat's mobile version of the website:   fast-loading pages a contrasting color palette that enhances readability intuitive website navigation efficiently structured and visually-appealing text blocks   9. Canon, One of the Most Popular Online Stores Running on Magento                  Did you know that the Australian division of the giant brand of consumer and professional-level photography equipment faced quite a challenge when they decided to make their products available online, as well? Well, they're currently running their e-store on Magento, which helps them deliver a feature-rich and highly interactive experience to their customers:   users can check products' compatibility, a critical feature particularly for amateur photographers  in addition to the “bulky” product catalog, users can go through an impressive collection of photo books, helpful tutorials, useful reviews of specific products... the services provided there include “immediate assistance”, as well, for anyone passionate about photography, who's thinking about... getting started and needs at least some sort of professional guidance the cross-sell functionality integrated into their online store guides photography “enthusiasts” towards buying the perfectly compatible items   That, instead of leaving a beginner to deal with N types of lenses or N types of memory cards alone, trying to figure out which one's compatible with the items he/she's already selected/bought...   10. Jaguar and NGC     Did you know that the e-commerce website where customers could buy the first fully-electric Jaguar car was Magento-powered? The giant automotive brand is capitalizing some of the platform's powerful capabilities to deliver a fully interactive experience to its users. And here, I'm thinking of the four-step progress bar available on their e-store, which allows customers to select:   their preferred model of electric Jaguar their preferred design features   This way, they can witness the “birth” of their entirely-customed cars. Where do you add that they get the price at every phase of the self-design cycle and that they get to select both the dealer and the payment method of choice, as well? In short, the brand takes full advantage of Magento's high level of customization. Moreover, it transfers it to its own online customers, “tempting” them with multiple options and the chance to... design their own prototypes of Jaguar.   The END! These are 10 of the worldwide-known online stores running on Magento. 10 giant brands tapping into this e-commerce platform to power their complex, feature-rich e-stores and to create some unique experiences for their online customers. What other brands would you have added to the list? Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 20'2019
World-Famous Brands that Have Their Online Stores Running on Magento: Top 10- Part 1
It's flexible, it grants users total freedom of customization, it's robust enough to power large, complex e-stores, it ships with a heavy load of powerful built-in e-commerce features and it's backed by a large, thriving community. And still, there are no better advocates for this platform than all those world-famous brands having their online stores running on Magento, right? But which are these global brands more precisely?  And I'm sure that their big names alone wouldn't be enough to inspire you, right? You're looking for leading e-commerce websites that:   deliver an outstanding, highly interactive customer experience have a visually-striking design   With these 2 main criteria in mind, here's a top 10 worldwide-known Magento e-commerce websites:   1. Liverpool FC   The globally-famous, century-old football club is using Magento to power its online store... And it exploits the e-commerce platform's robust features to the full for crafting highly immersive, rich user experiences:   it leverages the power of storytelling on its front page it personalizes the services provided to its customers it “bids on” user-generated content to engage and to secure its online fans' loyalty   In short, the team behind Liverpool FC's online store taps into Magento's high level of customization to create some unique experiences for its customers.   2. Nike, One of the Most Trafficked Online Stores Running on Magento   The world's giant manufacturer and supplier of sportswear is exploiting Magento's robust features to run its high-trafficked e-store. And when it comes to the customer experience delivered there, there's one particular feature that stands out: the product configuration tool. Basically, any shopper can select a product from the catalog and design it himself/herself. He can get creative and style it so that it perfectly meets his preferences. Moreover, users can see the results live, in real-time...   3. Ford   Ford Motor's yet another global brand that decided to partner with Magento for powering its own ideas of personalized online customer experiences. Speaking of which, here's but one example from the company's e-store:  Say a potential shopper selects a specific car model on the front page. Next, Ford's product catalogue will adapt to that particular selection, displaying results accordingly... Personalization at its best, to say the least...   4. Kurt Geiger   The major challenge for the well-known UK-based shoe retailer has been to efficiently “joggle with” multiple languages and currencies. And they turned to Magento for that... With its built-in multi-lingual support, Magento makes the ideal e-commerce platform for their localization requirements. Now, here's how this functionality is being leveraged on the Kurt Geiger online store: Once a customer selects a country, he/she'll get accurate delivery time and shipping fee displayed across the website... Note: search functionality and layered navigation are another 2 aspects where this e-store rocks supreme, thanks to the e-commerce solution that it is leveraging.   5. Paul Smith    Another one of those highly popular, most-trafficked online stores running on Magento. On Magento 2, to be more accurate. And the stellar customer experience delivered on this e-store makes the best proof that... Magento suits it:   lightening fast checkout process thought-out main navigation layout a “Model Wears” functionality integrated into the product detail pages that enable users to shop/steal a whole look featured in an image   END of Part 1! These are just 5 of the 10 most popular online stores running on Magento. 5 leading brands whose unique ways of implementing certain features of this robust e-commerce platform are great sources of inspiration for anyone still thinking about getting started with Magento. Image by Megan Rexazin from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 17'2019
Magento vs Shopify 2019: 10 Most Important Evaluation Criteria to Consider- Part 2
Here I am, as promised, with 5 more important criteria to use when running your Magento vs Shopify 2019 evaluation and weighing these 2 e-commerce platforms' pros and cons. Or, better said: weighing the benefits and limitations that result once you've put their features against your own particular needs and use-specific priorities.  So, without any further ado:   6. Extensions and Add-Ons Available The ratio between the 2 platforms is of +100 vs +5000. There's no question about it: Magento reigns supreme in this category... And with no surprise, if you remember that it's an open source e-commerce platform, backed by a thriving community of developers. As for Shopify, it might not provide as many apps and add-ons, yet it provides some perfectly curated ones:   you don't need to worry that you'd be implementing buggy, risky extensions on your e-store from email marketing to loyalty programs, to accounting, you'll find apps and add-ons for pretty much any type of functionality that you might need to integrate to your online store...   7. Magento vs Shopify 2019: The Price Factor When using the pricing strategy as a criterion for your Magento vs Shopify 2019 analysis you'll realize that:   Shopify doesn't charge any fee for e-store setup and installation; moreover, it grants you a 14-day free trial Magento is, by definition, a free e-commerce solution; and yet, you'll still need to pay for your hosting and payment gateway   Speaking of transaction fees, you should know that Shopify comes with zero costs if you decide to use their out-of-the-box payment gateway. Whereas in case of Magento you'll need to pay the fees charged by your gateway provider. No extra costs from Magento in this case, but no built-in payment gateway either... In short: Shopify charges you a monthly fee, that covers both the hosting platform and the payment gateway for your e-store. On the other hand, Magento's a free, open-source platform, that still “surprises” you with inherent hosting costs...   8. Inventory Management Another “tricky” category, since it looks that both Magento and Shopify allow you to enter an unlimited number of products into your e-store. And to easily manage your inventory... Nevertheless, you'll still identify some key differences:   in Shopify, you're limited to fewer options when it comes to administering your inventory Shopify integrates easily with third-party dropshipping inventory apps (e.g. Oberlo) since Magento doesn't provide the hosting of your e-store, as well, adding too many items to your store might, at some point, have a negative impact on your host server's performance (and, implicitly, on your page loading speed...)   9. Customization Opportunities Once you've reached this criterion while running your Magento vs Shopify 2019 evaluation you'll realize that:   Shopify scores better when it comes to its highly intuitive theme editor; you can easily drag and drop content elements across your website Magento grants you total freedom of customization — you can fine-tune every single aspect of your e-store — but at a cost: you depend on a team of experienced Magento developers to do all that customization work.    In other words, while both platforms are designed to power complex customization scenarios, Magento scores better since it's open source. Therefore, it allows you to custom-tune the look and feel of your online store and to extend its functionality any way you want to. While both platforms ship with user-friendly, thought-out UIs that empower you to edit your HTML/CSS code directly, Shopify comes with a menu-driven editor. One that you can use to play around with fonts, colors and other attributes of your theme.    10. Multi-Lingual Support While Magento provides you with multi-lingual support right out of the box, Shopify depends on third-party apps for this type of functionality. Or, you can always custom-write your code to include multilingual features... Localization, based on a “cluster” of multilingual online stores,  is not one of Shopify's strong points, that's for sure.  The END! What do you say now: judging by your own Magento vs Shopify 2019 analysis, which e-commerce platform best suits your feature needs and best serves your priorities? Do you value ease of use more than... freedom of customization? Is an impressive collection of advanced e-commerce features more important to you? Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 15'2019
Magento vs Shopify 2019: 10 Most Important Evaluation Criteria to Consider- Part 1
It's either one or the other: you're either planning to set up your eStore or to port it to a new platform. So, the question “haunting” you right now must be: "In a Magento vs Shopify 2019 debate, which one's the most suitable for my e-commerce website?" For, it's a “no-brainer”: There's no such thing as “the best” eCommmerce platform, but "the best suited one for one's specific e-commerce feature needs". For his/her particular niche specifications and business requirements. In this respect:   on one hand, you have the “all-in-one” Shopify, a hosted e-commerce solution, famous for its ease of use and high level of convenience for novice e-store owners … basically, if you have no coding skills or a dedicated web development team and it's a small-medium size store that you have in mind, Shopify empowers you to set it up quick and easy while on the other hand you have powerful Magento shipping with a heavy load of extensions and advanced eCommerce features, perfectly equipped to power complex, large eCommerce stores   A simple, intuitive UI vs a rich collection of built-in robust features. Ease of use vs a high level of customization... A paid e-commerce solution or a free, open-source one, but with auxiliary costs (e.g. hosting)? Now, here are the 10 most important criteria to properly evaluate the 2 e-store creation and management solutions. Note: with each factor that you'll consider, do keep in mind to always look at those results against your own feature requirements, priorities, and limitations.   1. Basic Web Store Functionality From checkout modules to shopping carts, to product pages, both e-commerce platforms provide you with the essential functionality that you need to get your store up and running. And still, there are differences that you'll most likely identify when evaluating them based on this criterion:   Shopify is easier to use; thanks to its simple, conveniently intuitive user interface, you can create your new e-Store, unlock and leverage all that basic functionality in no time Magento goes far beyond the basic functionality that you need to get everything set: it provides you, right out of the box, with all those advanced features that, in case of Shopify, you can benefit from only after you've first added the corresponding extensions   2. Available Themes and Templates Any Magento vs Shopify 2019 comparison would reveal to you that: both e-commerce platforms are “spoiling” their users with their rich theme and template collections. And I'm talking here about responsive templates, as well (both free of charge and... with a price tag on). In this case: how do you rank them differently? First of all, although Shopify provides fewer free themes than Magento, they're considerably more modern, more visually appealing, compared to Magento's free themes... Furthermore, there's also another factor that sets them apart: while Shopify provides premium themes starting from $80, Magento's premium themes are way cheaper (starting from... $1) 3. SEO Capabilities This is one of the categories in this “duel” where... there's no winner. Both Magento and Shopify ship packed with extensive SEO-friendly features, that you can power your e-store with and... give your rankings a boost.   4. Magento vs Shopify 2019: Supported Payment Gateways A category from this “competition” of the 2 most popular e-commerce platforms where Shopify seems to outshine its... competitor. It supports +70 payment gateways, while Magento could only reach that record via integrated 3rd party apps.   5. Ease of Use  Another aspect where Shopify steals the spotlight away from its “rivaling” platform.  Although both of them ship with well-designed, intuitive user interfaces, Shopify:   provides you with a wizard to help you set up your e-store in no time; no web development experience needed is a fully-hosted, fully-managed e-commerce solution; unlike Magento, that requires you to find your own hosting and to approach it with some level of technical expertise in order to set up your store...   END of Part 1. Stay tuned, for I have 5 more important criteria to share with you. Criteria that will allow you to run an accurate  “Magento vs Shopify 2019” evaluation and to identify the most suitable e-commerce platform for your specific needs and priorities... Image by suju from Pixabay. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 14'2019
What Is the Best Magento 2 Page Builder Extension? Here Is a Top 6
Let's take this scenario: you need to create a landing page for your Magento 2 website. You have no coding experience, you need it built fast and preferably as easily as... dragging and dropping some builder elements. “What's the best Magento 2 page builder extension?” you then ask yourself... Now, let me try and guess the other key features on your “must-have” list for this page builder:   to provide a drag and drop interface (definitely!) to be optimized for speed to come packed with powerful customization options to support responsive design and mobile-ready layout to make it easy for you to change the layout elements and build new blocks to be integrated with Magento WYSIWYG  to provide a rich collection of widgets for you to “joggle with” to be compatible with other Magento themes and extensions   Have I guessed most of your “wishes”?  Now, here are 5 Magento 2 page builders that meet your expectations of performance and ease of use:   But First: What About the Built-In Page Builder in Magento 2.3?  First of all, you should know that you'll get this page builder out of the box with the Magento 2.3 Enterprise Edition edition only. The Community edition doesn't provide it. So, if your eCommerce website's running on the EE edition, the default Magento 2 page builder gets automatically installed. It provides you with powerful content creation tools and visual drag and drop page builder to create and to easily edit your pages.   1. Landing Pages for Magento 2, from Amasty   A flexible module for creating landing pages in Magento 2.  Expect to get “spoiled” with lots of powerful functionalities aimed at boosting conversation:   it allows you to create custom sub-selections of your products/services, for each page … custom meta tags … Google friendly URLs it enables you to put together unique and engaging content for your landing pages   Key features:   it allows you to display your custom CMS blocks at the top/in the bottom of your landing page it allows you to create page-specific lists of products by leveraging the flexible conditions that it provides it allows you to list your landing pages to your sitemap it allows you to create a wide range of landing pages 2. Bluefoot CMS & Page Builder for Magento 2   In your “quest” for the best Magento 2 page builder extension, you'll definitely want to consider Bluefoot, as well. It's a content management system and page builder that empowers you to create custom, feature-rich webstore pages, with zero technical knowledge (either PHP or Magento template system related...). Using it is unexpectedly easy:   its interface resembles the already familiar admin panel in Magento 2 just use Bigfoot once you have the WYSIWYG in Magento popping up   Key features:   drag & drop page builder easy third-party content integration: from Google Maps to Youtube, building feature-rich web pages, posts and categories becomes surprisingly easy a whole collection of styling options  Magento WYSIWYG integration static block integration open source code   In short, with Bluefoot CMS and Page Builder, creating custom web pages turns into a matter of... minutes.   3. Magento 2 Page Builder, from Landofcoder   The best Magento 2 page builder extension if you fancy the idea of creating and configuring your (complex, feature-rich) pages right at the front-end. No admin panel needed... Easy to use, convenient and highly intuitive. Key features:   create an unlimited number of page layouts easily change your layouts a collection of +50 popular Magento widgets a built-in element builder to create your own content elements and mix and match them to your liking visual drag & drop admin interface CSS skin builder, that grants you full control over your web pages' looks block builder: create your blocks, then assign them to specific positions on your pages top performance; it's built with page load time in mind 4. CleverBuilder   Simple, intuitive, flexible and fast. What more expectations could you have from the best Magento 2 page builder extension, right? Key features:   intuitive interface: just swipe through and select out of hundreds of content elements and templates an all-baked-into-one solution: manage your whole web design workflow from one place live front-end editor & inline editor: apply changes to your webstore pages (and test the end-results) in real-time top performance 100% visual design: simplicity & flexibility at its best    5. Front-End CMS Page Builder, from Magesolution   From homepages to content pages, to ads pages, to landing pages, this page builder allows you to create your CMS pages right at the front-end, by just dragging and dropping content elements. Key features:   +30 builder elements enhanced speed for your newly created web pages highly intuitive drag & drop interface that display the updates you're making in real-time responsive design options compatible with other extensions and themes    6. Page Builder for Magento 2, from Magezon   Another candidate for the title of “the best Magento 2 page builder extension”. And no wonder why: Magezon's page builder empowers you to create custom page layouts in no time. With zero coding experience required... From adding descriptions to your products to putting together your website's structure, you're free to configure everything about your layout. Key features:   +50 content elements drag & drop page builder fast performance with cache ready-made templates Magento WYSIWYG editor a wide range of plugin integrations a wide collection of customizable options   The END! Needless to add that it's not the best Magento 2 page builder extension that you should be looking for, but the most “suitable” one for your own needs. So, what features do you value most? Would you trade ease of use for... lightning fast performance? Is it flexibility and freedom of customization more important for you than simplicity and an intuitive interface? Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / May 10'2019
What Are the Best Popup Plugins for WordPress in 2019? Top 5
Disliked by users, controversial, yet a constant presence on WordPress websites and a holy grail of high conversion rates if leveraged in the right context... But how do you know which of the best popup plugins for Wordpress is the perfect match for your own use case? Well, you first identify your expectations in pop-ups. What exactly are you looking for in a popup plugin?   out-of-the-box responsiveness? a handful of highly customizable templates and design features to choose from? smooth integration with the software that you're currently using on your WordPress website? a dead easy to use, drag-and-drop popup builder? page selection and trigger option features? that it should be conveniently lightweight and fast? real-time analytics? advanced targeting options? A/B testing functionality?   Once you've articulated your needs, start digging into this shortlist of 5 best rated Wordpress popup plugins in 2019:   1. Ninja Popups     If you're looking for one of the best popup plugins for WordPress that should:   provide you with a solid, yet conveniently lightweight drag-and-drop-builder  … one that enables you to easily set up and fine-tune your popups in the slightest detail (even if you have zero coding experience) ship with tons of features to choose from allow you to either create your custom popup from scratch or to choose out of a large collection of built-in popup themes   … then Ninja Popups is the plugin that meets all your specific requirements. It's powerful, loaded with advanced features and flexible enough to empower you to customize your popup till it perfectly fits your needs. You even get to select the color and size of your popup. Other key features:   A/B testing responsive highly flexible enhanced customization a data-rich analytics page +74 animation options +73 pre-built themes an easy to use visual builder   Note: if lots of customization power is too overwhelming for you, you can always opt for its more lightweight builder and simply place your text inside one of its pre-made templates... 2. Elementor Pro     Elemenentor Pro makes another great option if the popup that you want to create is more complex than... an email opt-in, for example. Just like the Ninja Popups plugin, this one, too, allows you to build both:   popups from scratch, from a... blank slate, that you're free to custom-tune to your exact needs popups on top of one of its already pre-made templates (and it ships with +100 of popup templates...)   Full control over your popup and unmatched flexibility, thanks to all its robust features, from which its trigger/targeting options help it stand out. For example, you get to configure it so that it triggers your popup:   after a defined number of sessions after a defined number of page views based on scrolling, exit intent, clicks, inactivity, page loading   Furthermore, you to target specific content on your WordPress website where your popup should get triggered:   specific blog posts specific post formats and types certain authors, tags, categories specific devices user logged-in status   Also, the types of popups that you get to build with Elementor Pro range from:   modal forms to full-screen overlays to top/bottom notification bars to slide-ins   And the list of options doesn't end here. It's not for no reason that this is one of the best popup plugins for WordPress. It provides you with an extensive range of styling options and widgets to include in your popup:   registration forms buttons contact forms countdown timers   Notes:   it integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce you can configure it so that it triggers your popup for non-logged-in users only its most notable limitation is analytics: it doesn't provide you with A/B testing functionality and built-in analytics tools   3. OptinMonster, One of the Best Popup Plugins for WordPress      “Flexibility at its best” must be the most accurate definition for this popup builder:   it provides you with an extensive range of targeting and triggering rules … an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor … loads of functionality to scan through and to choose from   Like the other WordPress popup plugins on this list, it enables you to either build your popup from the ground up or to tap into one of the pre-built templates... Powerful trigger features   exit-intent triggers; and this functionality is its "specialty": it tracks and analyzes your website visitors' browsing behaviors to determine when they're most likely to leave a specific page so that it triggers the popup user inactivity time click (two-step opt-ins)   Advanced targetting features   you can adapt your offers based on whether the targeted user has already converted on one/some of your popups or not; no need to "bug" one of your website visitors with an email opt-in if he/she has already signed in to your list... you can target your popups by cookie, adblock usage, referrer, page, new vs returning visitors, device   Moreover, its easy to use builder, loaded with tones of advanced features, allows you to create other campaigns, as well, not just popups:   footer bars  in-line forms floating headers scroll triggered boxes welcome gates slide-in forms   Other "tempting" features:   A/B testing widgets that you can select from to put together your popup you even get to configure your popups to be triggered at specific times it "plays well" with your email marketing software   4. Bloom       It's with the visually-appealing interface that Bloom manages to set itself apart from the other 4 best popup plugins for WordPress here. But also with the lack of some key features:   it doesn't ship with a popup builder, so you can't use it to create popups from scratch it's designed precisely for email opt-ins it doesn't provide an exit-intent trigger option it offers fewer targetting features compared to the other WordPress plugins listed here   Nevertheless, you can still choose from over 100 pre-built templates and customize the:   text borders and edges colors form details animations images    Also, since I've mentioned that email opt-ins are its specialty, here are the 6 ways that you can display them when using Bloom:   as inline opt-in forms as widger area forms as automatic popups as required opt-in for content unlock (you can restrict access to premium content on your website, thus encouraging users to opt-in first...) as automatic fly-ins as below content forms   Its most “luring” features:   a great-looking dashboard it allows you to set up view analytics A/B testing some unique trigger options (that I'll talk about in a bit)   Trigger features:   scroll depth inactivity time after purchasing triggers: you can display a popup as soon as the user has completed the checkout process after commenting triggers: you can display a popup after one of your website visitors has submitted a comment   Content targeting features:   by specific posts  by post types by post categories 5. ConvertPlus     Another great choice if you're more into tweaking pre-built templates rather than building popups from scratch. And we're talking about +100 templates to “delve” into. Once you've selected the perfect one for your popup, feel free to leverage the real-time customizer to tweak its:   colors animations form field/labels text   Not really fond of the idea of merely customizing a pre-made template? Then you can always upgrade to Convert Pro and get your drag-and-drop builder... Now, here are some of the types of popup forms that you can create using ConvertPlus:   email opt-ins sidebar widgets notification bars full-screen popups slide-ins top/bottom bar information sticky boxes   Key trigger options:   exit-intent user inactivity time scroll depth launch after content (triggering the popup only after the user has reached the end of the content in question) click (for two-step popups)   Finally, ConvertPlus includes detailed targeting/trigger options, as well as built-in A/B testing and analytics to help you optimize your popups. Main targeting options:   logged-in users referrer detection (you can build popups specifically for visitors coming from a partnering website) device page level targeting new vs returning visitors   Other robust features:   +700 fonts to select from custom CSS, background settings, animations real-time analytics it integrates seamlessly with Zapier, WooCommerce, Contact Form 7, WP Registration Form   The END! These are the 5 best popup plugins for WordPress in 2019. Those that:   ship with tons of powerful trigger/targeting options grant you full control over the look and feel of your popup   Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 01'2019
Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform: Choosing Between Drupal Most Popular Form Builders
Simple or custom-made? Is it a quick-to-assemble, rather “prototypical” form that you need for your website? Or a more complex, custom-made one? In a Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform “debate”, which Drupal form builder best suits your data collection requirements? On one hand, you have the convenience of creating your web forms in no time: simple, straightforward, “conventional” web forms. On the other hand, you get to scan through a never-ending list of advanced options and come up with a complex, fully custom-made web form. That, of course, if you don't mind the time you need to invest in going through all those different form elements and available features and the risk of getting... overwhelmed by tons of field customization options. Ease of use vs unlimited capabilities... The convenience of getting your forms up and ready to collect user data in no time vs the chance to tailor some more advanced forms, ideally customized, carrying lots of different field values. Decisions, decision... Now, to help you decide, here's a more detailed Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform comparison. Weigh each one of the 2 form modules' benefits and drawbacks, set them against your own needs and... make the choice: 1. The Contact Forms Module  Being part of Drupal core, there's no need to download and install the module. Just go to Structure>Contact forms. Next, choose either to opt for the default form or to set up a new one: click the “Add contact form” button. Once in the form creation screen, enter your form's values in the predefined fields that you have there:   give the form a name in the “Label” field enter the email address where all the form submissions will be sent to (most probably your site admin address) in the “Recipients” field enter your “Thank you” text in the “Message” field there; this will be the “thank you” text line your users will see once they hit the “submit/send” button  in the “Redirect path”, enter the URL to the page that you want them to get forwarded to after they've submitted the forms (that if you don't want them to be redirected back to the homepage, by default) click “Save” and there you have it: a simple form, with all the basic, must-have field values, added to in no time   Of course, that doesn't mean that you can't further explore the given features and maybe add a few more fields and even styling options. For instance, you could “Edit” your newly created form. Just select it in the “Contact Forms” screen and, scrolling down the options in the drop-down menu opening up, click the “Manage fields” option. Click “Add field”, then “select a field type” – Text(plain), let's say – enter the “Label” and configure its settings. Furthermore, if you want to style your form a bit, hit the “Manage form display” tab and... opt for a placeholder, for example. Next, explore the options available in the “Manage display” screen. For instance, you get to decide if you want your field label to be hidden, inline or visually hidden... In short: in a Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform comparison, the first form builder will always outshine the latter when it comes to ease of use. It empowers you to set up a simple form quick and easy...   2. The Webform Module Now, if Contact Forms is a rather minimalist form builder, the Webform module is a feature-rich, powerful one. The customization features that it ships with go from email notifications to fine-grained access, from statistic collection of data to delivering results in a CSV format. From exporting data in various formats to... conditional sorting and filtering. In other words, with Webform sky is the limit when it comes to the contact form that you can create. It can go from a basic one to a highly complex, multi-page form. One made of lots of elements, advanced options for the user to select from, settings and features for you to leverage in the back-end... But, let's keep in mind that it's a contributed module, so you'll first need to download it from Drupal.org. Next, go to “Structure” and hit the “Webforms” tab. Then, click the “Add webform” button and, in the next screen popping up, give your new form a name (enter it in the “Title” field). You'll be automatically forwarded to the “Build” tab, which is where all the “magic happens”. Once you click the “Add element” button, you'll get to “swim through” a sea of lots and lots... and lots of form elements (known as “fields” in Contact forms) to choose from. Ranging from basic to really advanced ones... Let's assume that you'll want to add a “Text field” element. Click the “Add Element” button corresponding it, then scan through all the new customization options listed up in the “Add Text field element” screen opening up next... Feel free to add other elements to your webform: a “text area” maybe, an “email” element, as well...  Note: do keep in mind that, once you've settled for the final fields/elements to be included in your web form, you can always change the order to get them displayed in. Just drag and drop them till they fit that predefined order in your mind... Also, you can check/mark them as “Required” and turn them into “must fill in" fields, as opposed to optional form fields. Note: feel free to edit that “Thank you” page that your webform will automatically forward users to. How? By clicking “Back to form”>"Settings”>"Confirmation” and selecting from the different options that you have there:   enter your own Confirmation title (e.g. “Thank you!”) customize your Confirmation message   3. Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform: Key Differences Now that we've run our spotlight over each one of these 2 form building tools, let's make an inventory of the differences that we've identified:   first of all, it's obvious that the Webform module gives you more control over your web forms' design   also, unlike Contact Forms, it supports conditional emails; you get to send an email to a specific user in your list based on conditions associated with the value of certain elements in your form   Webform enables you to add basic logic to your web forms   … it comes packed with tons of advanced options, ranging from JS effects to conditional logic, to submission handling, etc.   Contact Forms, on the other hand, allows you to set up a simple contact form in the blink of an eye; you skip the tedious process of scanning through lots and lots of options, settings, and complex features   Webform allows you to create your forms either in a YAML file or in its the admin-friendly UI   also, Webform comes as a “cluster” of submodules – Webform REST, Honeypot, Webform Views, SMTP, Webform Encrypt, etc. – which are “responsible for” its multiple capabilities   4. In Conclusion... The conclusion of this Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform “debate” is quite simple:  If you need a basic form on your website and you need it built fast, go with Contact Forms. Being included in Drupal 8 adds convenience... But if you want to customize your form (and you have the time), to style it to your liking and “turbocharge” it with advanced features and options, go with Webform.   It's a much more powerful and feature-rich form builder, perfectly suited for your complex requirements... Image by Tumisu from Pixabay ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Apr 24'2019
What Are the Key Benefits of Using Kubernetes? Why Would You Use It? How Is It Different (Better)?
How is Kubernetes any better than... standard virtual servers? What are those unquestionable benefits of using Kubernetes? What are its features, first of all?  And what are... containers? What specific needs does a container orchestration tool come to address? In this respect, why would you use Kubernetes over... Docker, for instance?  Let's dig up its unique features and most compelling benefits:   1. But First: What Are Containers More Precisely? Before we (even) attempt at defining Kubernetes we need to... define containers, right? They're (mini) virtual machines that deploy ready-to-run applications on other virtual machines (or host OS)... The conveniences they provide?   they're smaller, lighter (considering that apps usually need just the bare essential in terms of operating systems to run on) they streamline app deployment they're the guarantee that those virtual machines are used at their full capacity  they can be run just like any VM template: with no configuration (or hardly any)   Note: you can find tons of preconfigured Docker images in Dockerhub. The bundles of convenience come from the fact that you're free to scan through and download the needed nginx as well as complex items without worrying about configuring them. Other developers have invested their time and knowledge to set up all the due software configurations for you... 2. What Is Kubernetes in Simple Words?  Going back to containers, we're faced with a specific need: that of keeping a close track of them. How do you monitor your virtual machines? How do you identify, let's say, those that keep running pointlessly? Without doing... anything in fact?  Also, by keeping track of your current containers, you'd be able to easily spin up a few more when you need more CPU, storage or memory... This is where a cluster container orchestration tool comes in handy. A tool like... Kubernetes. What it does, precisely, is to streamline the whole process of managing your containers, enabling you to leverage their full potential. In short, by using Kubernetes you can easily deploy your containers to clusters (“ecosystems” of virtual machines). You get just one interface that you can use for deploying your containers to:   virtual machines physical machines multiple types of clouds...   And where do you add that it's designed to manage a wide range of container types. Not just Docker containers. Note: Google, its creator, has been using it for 10 years. Now, just try to imagine all their heavy systems running on this particular container management tool! They must have “stuck” to Kubernetes for a good reason... Luckily for us, Kubernetes joined the “club” of the open source technologies 2 years ago. Furthermore, it's now a managed service on Azure and Google Cloud, as well.   3. Why Should You Care? 7 Key Benefits of Using Kubernetes Why would you use Kubernetes? The long-term payoffs must to be more than “tempting”, considering that the learning curve is quite steep. And they are... Here, I've selected the 7 best possible answers to your “Why should I use Kubernetes?” question:   3.1. It works smoothly with Node apps Which means that you get to run any type of application with it.   3.2. It reduces and simplifies... 2 of the main benefits of using Kubernetes is that:   it cuts down cloud computing costs it simplifies operations and trims down your container architecture...   3.3. It helps you get the most of your hardware resources And here I'm referring to network bandwidth, memory, storage I/O...  How does it help you maximize the way you use them?   it helps you automate the whole process of updating your cluster (and respectively rolling back those updates, when necessary) it bundles together, on the very same hardware, all those apps that use minimal resources  it places those applications "in need for" more resources on systems that can better cope with their “needs”   In short: Kubernetes will optimize the use of hardware resources.   3.4. It's easy to use Compared to other container management engines and despite its high learning curve.    3.5. It speeds up the development process This is another one of the undeniable benefits of using Kubernetes. How precisely does it boost the development cycle?   it runs all the needed updates it performs automated deployments, operations across multiple clusters of hosts, scaling... it manages all your apps and services included in your infrastructure with minimum downtime   3.6. It ships with a self-healing mechanism From re-scheduling to auto-restarting, to replicating containers, Kubernetes' self-healing system is one of its strongest points. Basically, it lifts the time-consuming burden of keeping your app up to date and perfectly adapted to users' latest expectations. It will restart services when trouble strikes: it will address all the “health issues” that might occur and get your app automatically “cured”.   3.7. You Can Run Your App in Both Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments           Just imagine: Kubernetes enables you to leverage features specific to multiple individual clouds.  Basically, you're free to run your Kubernetes application in any cloud or “combo” of public or private clouds.  Using its own set of primitives — federation — it's designed to synchronize multiple clusters, placed across different clouds and regions...   4. When Is Kuberentes the Best Choice? First of all, Kubernetes makes a great choice when it's a highly available distributed system that you have in mind. Secondly, choose it when the convenience of using the same CLI for orchestrating all your different systems is of particular importance to you. Just think: is it crucial for you to have just one CLI for pushing your containers to various different clouds (the Amazon cloud here included), to your physical and in-house machines...? The END! Are these 7 answers on the benefits of using Kubernetes convincing enough for you? Image by RSunset from Pixabay  ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Apr 19'2019