Adrian Ababei

Adrian Ababei

Adrian is our CEO, a full stack Drupal web developer with no less than 14 years of experience in designing, implementing and supporting interactive websites and applications. Completing his Drupal expertise with project management skills, as well, he's the one ensuring that we deliver all the Optasy's projects on time, within budget with no compromise on quality whatsoever.

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5 Ways to Harness the Power of AI on Your Ecommerce Site
“Viva la revolution!” Since we keep reading/hearing how AI revolutionizes the way people shop online, the way retailers leverage their user data to personalize the shopping experiences they provide, how AI revolutionizes the entire ecommerce space. So, how are you harnessing the superpower of AI on your ecommerce site? Your set of options includes:   chatbots   virtual personal shoppers   ultra-personalized shopping experiences   AI-based search queries   machine learning-powered search results   … and the list is an ever-growing one! Now you're probably disoriented: how do you know which one(s) of these revolutionizing forms of AI fits your own company's ecommerce strategy?  Well, let us put each one of them into the spotlight and hopefully help you identify the forms of AI in ecommerce that best suit your goals:   1. AI Virtual Shopping Assistant The “Relax and enjoy your shopping experience!” turns into: “Relax, your virtual assistant will do the shopping for you, purchasing precisely the item(s) you need at the best possible price(s)”. In short, as you implement this form of AI on your ecommerce site, you're actually leveraging both the valuable user data that you will have collected and the set ups that your customers will make (for instance a certain day of the week/month when he prefers his virtual assistant to “go shopping” for him/her). Let's fancy this possible virtual shopping assistant-powered scenario: “you already have a load of priceless data on a customer's preferences and an enabled “sales” alert option. By leveraging this valuable information his online personal shopper can easily purchase that particular product/service precisely the day when the price drops down”. See the 2 main differences? The customer:   doesn't have to type in a whole string of relevant keywords in the search box on your site, looking for the product he'd like to buy (for his virtual assistant already knows what items he'd like to purchase)   won't be constantly notified (and eventually annoyed) whenever prices drop.    The shopping experience without the time-consuming hassle! Moreover: the AI virtual shopping assistant can curate the products/services your customers would want to purchase, depending on their browsing and shopping histories! So, we're talking about proactively assisting your customers, ensuring future conversion, too!   2. Machine Learning for More Relevant Search Results Relevancy is key when it comes to search results, wouldn't you agree? But what if you could reach “the utmost relevancy” in the search options that you deliver to your online customers? You can reach it: by leveraging the machine learning technology on your Drupal site!  Instead of relying on the conventional keyword matching technique, you'd better harness the power of machine learning AI and deliver the perfectly adequate search results to your potential customers!   3. A New Type of Search Query: AI Processing Natural Language  Searching for products/services on a given ecommerce website is getting “out-of-fashion”! AI technology steps on the stage and steals the spotlight as it's equipped with natural language processing capabilites. Capabilities that the traditional way of searching for items on a given online store can't possibly compete with! Therefore, instead of typing several relevant keywords, which may or may not display the relevant search options, AI can “interpret” customers' natural language. It can recognize and decipher their natural expressions and thus display only the most relevant search results.   on one hand we have a series of keywords that get, successfully or not, matched with their corresponding products/services   on the other hand with have search results determined by the process of “deciphering” natural expressions   See the difference?   4. Voice Search: Implement This Key Form of AI on Your Ecommerce Site  AI-powered voice search has ceased to be a striking novelty for some time now. It slowly and surely turns into a “must-have” technology for every ecommerce site/app! Are you ready to leverage this form of AI on your ecommerce site, too? It's the epitome of convenience: users can just utter the items they want to visualize and eventually purchase and the AI technology implemented on your website does all the rest. Yet it's much more than “utmost convenience”: it's a way of deep-personalizing your customers' overall shopping experiences on your ecommerce website! By using voice-triggered searches you'll practically tailor, to their own needs, the search options that you'll display. The “traditional” way of personalizing shopping experiences (to the search terms that users enter in the search box on your site) can't possibly rival with this AI-powered type of personalization, don't you agree?   5. Evolving Content  And we do mean “in real time”! A whole new dimension for the concept of in-depth personalized content going hand in hand with a perfectly tailored shopping experience. In other words: what this AI technology does is adjust the content on your ecommerce website LIVE, as the customers navigate through! The data collecting, followed by the content tailoring is no longer a viable tactic in today's ecommerce landscape. Content evolving in real-time is the new level of personalized customer experiences!  And not only that it helps you craft an “ultra” personalized online shopping experience, with a high level of interactivity, but you're actually taking the burden of A/B and layout testing off your team's shoulders. As you leverage this AI technology, based on evolutionary algorithms, you'll be actually improving your online shopper's experience “on the spot”!   And the list can easily go on and on! Visual search would have to be the next AI technology on our list, followed closely by... Yet, since it's a list that gets constantly enriched, we shall end it here. Do tell us now: have you already leveraged any of these forms of AI on your ecommerce site? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 28'2017
Speed It Up: Use the Image Lazyloader Module on Your Drupal Site!
Lazy loading (images, in this case) leads to energy preserving, which leads to a significantly improved site performance! Pretty ironic, isn't it? Well, this is precisely the logic on which the Image Lazyloader module in Drupal has been developed! Saving your website's energy goes hand in hand with increasing its page loading times. It goes hand in hand with “sparing” HTTP round-trips and taking some heavy load off the browser's “shoulders”, which otherwise would be “pressured” to relentlessly load thousands of images, even before they would be visible in his/her window browser. Basically what this module does is both unexpectedly simple and impressively smart : it loads images on your Drupal site only when they're in visitors' viewports.  In other words: when there's no one opening them up in his/her browser, why bother loading an entire “cargo” of images? Why put an unnecessary pressure onto your site and the browser? And now let us detail to you this “energy-saving” tool that Drupal puts at your disposal and which we encourage you to leverage in the name of a... faster loading website:   The Image Lazyloader Module: How Does It Work Exactly? What Makes it a Speed Booster? The whole “mechanism” behind this Drupal module is surprisingly simple, if we come to think of it: it loads images (lots and lots of them) only when they're displayed in a site visitor's browser window. Not before! And this is a “dream come true” especially for web designers, who're constantly dealing with the challenge of optimizing heavy loads of images. As you can surely guess it yourself, the module's an incredibly useful tool precisely for those Drupal website carrying heavy “cargos” of images. For no matter how many they might, how heavy the load is, the Image Lazyloader module's capable to... lazy load them all and therefore to keep your site's performance at optimum parameters.   How Do You Use It? How Do You “Exploit” Its Full Potential on Your Drupal Site? Now allow us to give you a few tips and tricks or, better said, a step-by-step guide on how to fully leverage this module on your Drupal site:   Step 1: you download (and install, obviously) the module itself along with the Libraries module in the sites/all/modules/contrib; the latter is, in fact, a dependency for 2.x branch  Step 2: next you download your echo library and place it in sites/all/libraries Step 3: it's time to enable your Image Lazyloader module now Step 4: don't forget to clear your cache   Essentially all these preliminary setups will actually grant you the much-needed freedom to quickly enable and to disable your Lazyloading module any time you want to. Which turns it into such a powerful convenience when you just need to run some tests on your website, for instance. And speaking of “empowerment”, there's an entire array of options to choose from and setups to enable, depending on your site's needs and on your purposes:   you have the loader icon letting you know if the images are not (yet) fully loaded   you get to set the distance from the viewable screen part and to go for a placeholder image of your choice   you're even enabled to select those particular web pages on your Drupal site where there's no need for an image lazy loading process to be performed   And voila! These are the answers to your “why” and “how" to use the Image Lazyloader module! Questions deriving, of course, from the main one: “how can I boost my Drupal site's performance?” Feel free to test its image optimization power and to determine how much faster your web pages will then load.  ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 27'2017
How Google Treats the Legitimately Hidden Content on Your Site
It sure seems like it was... last century or in some sort of "prehistoric age of the web" when website owners or (even worse) SEO “gurus” would pile up their target keywords in the bottom of their web pages, going for white font against white backgrounds or for the all-black shady alternative. This was the “illegitimate” type of hidden content, now just a bad example from the “troubled” past of SEO. It's the “legitimate” hidden text, instead, that prevails in the digital landscape of the present! That type of content popping up before your site visitors' eyes only once they've made a certain action. More often than not we're talking about clicking on a “Read more” link inserted in your article content. And it's no trick, no intention to “fool” the visitor, to trick him/her into clicking on that link. Instead, he honestly wants to:   dig in for some more manufacture details about a certain product   gain access to extra informative content about a certain topic   or maybe to some product/service reviews etc.   But now the question that arises is: does Google weight this particular type of content, the legitimately hidden content, any less than the non-hidden one? We all know it doesn't mark it as spammy and who would be more entitled to ensure us of that if not Google itself, through one of its representatives: “It’s not deceptive, no one is trying to be manipulative, it’s easy to see that this text is intended for users. And so as long as you’re doing that, I wouldn’t be too stressed out.” (Matt Cutts) And yet: does “legitimate” or “non-spammy” implicitly mean “valued equally”? Let's shed some light on this “mystery” here and then allow us to offer you some possible solutions you could consider when you do need to use hidden text, loaded via CSS or JavaSript, on your website, but you still want to make sure Google won't “discredit it”. At least not as much as it will discredit it “by default” (for that's a “cruel” reality that you need to accept and to adapt your site's content and SEO strategy to):   But First: Why Do We Use JavaScript and CSS Hidden Content After All? If we all (let's admit it!) have at least some remnants of doubts “lurking” in the back of our minds that hidden text (although legitimate) might not be weighted as high as the visible by default text, why is it such a big “trend” to hide certain parts of our content on our Drupal sites? To keep using all kinds of cool JavaScript or/and CSS technology for technically hiding parts of our content and trigger it under certain, well-defined circumstances only (as already stated: when the user performs a certain action). Let's point out 3 of the most common reasons:   it makes a handy tracking method   it works as an analytics tool, helping you collect user engagement-relevant data   it can enhance user experience (an otherwise overly long piece of content can thus get shortened and it's the user who decides whether he clicks on the “read more” link and delves deeper into the text or not)   Visible Content By Default vs (Legitimately) Hidden Content from Google's Perspective Let's assume that:   on one particular page of your Drupal website you have a fully-visible piece of content (page A)   on another page you have its shortened version along with the “Read more” link (page B)    The link will, nevertheless, “unveil” the rest of the content on this last page from our example. So, you're trying to rank for the same keyword on both of them and you have no “guilty” conscience that you might be doing something SEO-forbidden on page B. It's just technically hidden text and the user knows it! Yet, Google will always treat these two types of content differently! And by “differently” we do mean “preferentially” when it comes to page A! Just think about it: it has its text fully visible, entirely displayed, along with that target keyword that you're ranking for. Instead, on page B, your keyword might appear a couple of times precisely on the hidden part of its content which, obviously, gets disadvantaged by Google. Whenever you decide to hide a piece of content on your website Google will atomically start treating it as “less important”. Just ponder on this for a while before you jump on the trend of using all kinds of cool Javascript or CSS stuff in the name of web design and user experience! Try and figure it out for yourself whether it's worth the compromise! A nice, minimalistic web page (with less heavy content) can also mean a poorly ranked one in Google. To sum up: if it's important content (one carrying crucial keywords or any other type of data that you'd want Google to parse and give your website the due credit for) don't hide it! Not even if it's JavaScript or CSS technology that you're using for loading it!  And, surprisingly enough, this “injustice” only happens in Google! Bing and Yahoo do treat legitimately hidden and non-hidden text equally!   But What if We Still Need to Use Hidden Content? Are There Any Safe Practices? Let's imagine a real-life scenario where your SEO team has no choice but to give in to the strong arguments that their colleagues from the web design and content writing teams give them: certain texts on your company website should get hidden from users' view using CSS or JavaScript modern “tricks”. What options do they have to strike this “compromise” without harming your online presence? Your company's whole SEO strategy? Here are 2 best practices to consider:   A brief, easy to close overlay always makes such an “innocent” little compromise (it won't harm your SEO plan and it still manages to carry out the “mission” that it will have gotten charged with: to hide a certain part of your text). Take it as engagement statistics 'collector”, too, as more than 90% of your visitors will rush in to click the “x” on your overlay before they rush in to scroll down.   Consider placing the most “valuable” elements of your content (keywords, key phrases, key information), the ones that weight heavily in determining your site's ranking, in the non-hidden section of your text. Don't “sabotage” yourself by sprinkling these crucial elements across the post-loading content.    In other words: if you do need to hide some of your text, don't hide the key ranking “boosters” and, also, consider going for an overlay element.  It's not a question of “Google refusing to display your hidden JavaScript of CSS text”. It will still show up in search engine results page! Just that it will be slightly disregarded and not equally ranked ! Now it's you who'll decide whether this compromise, although supported by the 2 aforementioned SEO best practices, is worth “sacrificing” your site's Google rank! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 26'2017
5 Modules for Building Popups in Drupal
You know what they say: “there's always a module in Drupal for... pretty much any type of functionality you might need!”. And pop-up messages are no exception! You have a whole “arsenal” of modules for building popups in Drupal, each one of them “specialized” in providing you with a certain type of “refinement” or  set of particularities that you might need to leverage on your site. You might want to trigger a pop-up taking the form of:   an announcement displayed in an overlay   a redirect pop up message   or maybe you simply need a pop-up opening up a form   There's a dedicated module to suit any type of site-specific expectation you might have. And now, without further ado, let us “unfold” before you eyes the list of 5 useful modules for building popups in Drupal:   Popup It's not without premeditation that we've put this particular module on top of our list. In terms of pop-up building “tools” in Drupal the Popup module can easily get perceived as an entire “toolkit” at your disposal! Therefore, it's much more than just a stand-alone module, but rather a “cluster” of sub-modules, each one of them adding its own functionality to the whole suite.  As a whole, it helps you (your team of Drupal site builders) trigger menus, nodes, blocks, forms, php-generated content and views as pop-ups. Taken individually, these sub-modules are:   Popup descriptions: turns item descriptions into popups   Popup filter: puts an input filter at your disposal, one turning popup tags into popups in filterable content   Popup: delivers a couple of basic popup styles and the basic popup framework, as well   Popup block: the one “responsible” for the block configuration options (the ones that make every turning of a block into a popup possible)    Popup menu: which, as you surely can already guess, provides the needed blocks of popup menus corresponding to each menu within your system    Popup UI: “dealing with” all the display formats, integrating node-reference fields and handling cck, as well    Take the Popup module as some sort of “Swiss army knife” standing out from the group of modules for building popups in Drupal. Just name a pop up-related functionality that you need to leverage on your site and this suite of sub-modules is ready to provide you with!      Popup Message It's the answer to your “How can I display a pop-up messages, one per each browser session, to my Drupal site visitors?”. And here's how you configure it so you can “harness” its functionality:   you navigate to admin/settings/popup_message where you define your message's body and title   next you navigate to admin/user/permissions in order to set your permissions    Note: if it's a Drupal 8-powered site that you own/administer, then you should know that the team of developers behind this module is working hard on its migration to Drupal 8 as we speak. In short: is patience one of your virtues?   Pop-Up Question Redirect  Here's another module that shouldn't miss from your “toolbox” when you need to display a pop-up window to your Drupal site's visitors! You get to leverage its functionality for:   informing them about a certain promotion running on your website   getting them to complete a survey   putting a certain (new) page or section on your site into the spotlight!   The moment the user clicks on the “Yes” button included in your pop-up window, he/she will get automatically redirected to that specific page that you're trying to draw his/her attention to! And speaking of them, your visitors, here are the 3 user-oriented functionalities that this module provides:   The “Yes” function, which guides your visitors to the page that your pop-up is targeting   The “No, remind me later” function, which will trigger the pop-up window, once again, after a certain amount of time   The “No, don't show this again” function, which blocks the pop-up   As for all the needed configuration “backstage hocus pocus” that you need to make in order to fully “exploit” this module's functionality, it's actually just a 3-step procedure:   Just define your popup title and message   A textfield where you need to enter a redirect link   Set the time for the “remind me later” functionality   Note: you even get “spoiled” with a more-than-useful “extra” functionality, that of being able to exclude certain user ip's; this way you decide which ones of your visitors shouldn't be “bugged” with your pop-up message.   Popup Forms, One of the Key Modules for Building Popups in Drupal  First things first: you should know that this module doesn't “trigger” any pop-ups itself, instead what it DOES do is provide API for themes or/and modules! So, it displays any given type of Drupal form as a popup, via an jQuery UI dialog. Compared to other “kindred“ modules, the Popup Forms module does not display any type of popping-up content except FORMS. This being said, let's see which are the key features that you'll want to use:   It can easily integrate multi-step forms   It enables you to set up various parameters to your form callback   It can pop up https forms from non-secure pages, too   As aforementioned: it uses a jQurery UI dialog for displaying your pop-up forms   Once your forms are successfully submitted, you gain unlimited access to the $form_state from Javascript   Note: you'll need the jquery.postmessage plugin for “harnessing” this module's power on your Drupal site!   Pop-Up Announcement It's the handy tool to rely on whenever you have an announcement to make; whenever you need to establish this type of interaction with your website visitors. Basically it enables you to communicate with them via pop-up announcements displayed in overlays. And it's you who'll determine on which ones of their visits on your site these pop-ups should appear (on their first visits, their third, their fifth; it's you who'll define this parameter). Moreover, you even get to determine which is that specific page on your site that your announcement should pop-up on, as well! In short: when you say Pop-Up Announcement you say “utter flexibility”! Basically you get to customize your pop-up interaction with your users the way you like it! And now, just a quick overview of its most “tempting” functionalities:   The pop-up announcement shows up in an overlay   You'll get your own admin page, your own “control tower” where you get to manage all your announcements   Your announcement pop-ups can be written in html, too   As already mentioned here: you get to define on which ones of your users' visits your announcements should get triggered; and it's on your dedicated configure page that you get to make all these key set ups.   And speaking of functionalities and parameters that you're empowered to define yourself: you even get to set up a specific visibility for each one of your announcement messages; for instance you can have different degrees of visibility on different sections of your site   Note: OK, so you're granted tones of flexibility and power of customization, but there still are some limits, as well. 2 actually: you can't set more than one announcement pop up per page or more than one pop-up per user visit! As for the configuration part, just navigate to admin/config/popup_announcement/list and make all the right selections and set ups for tailoring your announcement pop-ups to your site's needs! It looks like our list of useful modules for building popups in Drupal ends here! Do you happen to have other “favorites” that haven't made it to our list? Which one of the 5 modules mentioned here do you find most effective, most feature-rich and helpful for your own team's pop-up building “tasks”? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 23'2017
Why and How to Use Google Data Highlighter on Your Drupal Site
It's data that shapes today's digital landscape! This is no news for any player in the online arena! From big data to small data, from data-backed-up decisions to data-fueled digital strategies and data-driven web design, the online revolves around... DATA. And yet, not just around powerful “raw” data, but around perfectly structured, easy to parse through data. And in this respect, the Google Data Highlighter makes such an easy to use webmaster tool for setting up precisely these ideal data structures that Google can easily “crawl” through in order to better “assimilate” websites' particularities.    It's been designed with easiness of use, low budgets, and close to zero coding expertise in mind! So, it's meant to empower any webmaster/admin to get his/her Drupal site a big push up the search engine page results. It's meant to help site admins grow independent of the technical team, of time and budget constraints in their endeavor to put their Drupal sites into Google's spotlights! Now, let's find out:   Why you should be using Google data highlighter tool   Which are the key advantages of this SEO webmaster tool   How to use it for implementing structured data on your Drupal site   Which are the imminent drawbacks that you should be aware of in order to make an informed decision when you add this tool to your whole SEO “arsenal”:   1. Why Do You Need Well Structured Data on Your Web Pages After All? “Because Google doesn't have, not just yet, information of critical importance about your site and you should deliver it to the search engine." Or better said: you should enhance its access to this information! And this is some of the crucial data that you should make as easy to access and “interpret” as possible:   your target audience   the frequency of web page updates on your Drupal site    how accurate your website is    And it's by tagging the main fields on your site, so via so-called “microdata”, that you can easily deliver this key information about your site and in an easy to “digest” format, too.  We're talking here about articles, event names, software applications, products and so many other types of information that you can turn into microdata and “serve on a silver plate” to Google itself! So that Google gets to know your site and gains an in-depth understating of its content, goals, and target audience. Of all its other key particularities. And the better it gets to know your website, the higher are its chances to increase its rankings in SERPs.  In other words: don't wait for your website to “be discovered”, but strive to enhance and to speed up its discovery! This is precisely what this tool here, supporting a whole variety of structured data, does!   2. The Key Benefits That You'll Reap From Using Google Data Highlighter  Now let's point out and pin up all the key advantages for leveraging this tool; advantages that we've just more or less vaguely mentioned already: It's easy to use! Basically it enables you to tag fields on your Drupal site via simple mouse point and clicks. Just select your products, articles, events or/and any other types of data on your website that you'd like to mark up and then select from the drop-down menu their corresponding types ( article, title, event, etc.). Unbelievably user friendly!   It's free! A benefit you just can't afford to ignore when you have a limited budget. It's a money-saving tool whose whole potential you get to “exploit” as we speak (so, a time-saving tool, as well). Money and time: you're practically saving your most valuable resources!   No coding experience required! And this makes Google data highlighter such a handy tool for everyone, the non-technical site owners/administrators here included! Not to mention (although we already have) that it's ideally user friendly, too: mouse select, right-click and tag your data in the blink of an eye!   3. How Do You Use Google Data Highlighter? How Do You Highlight a Web Page? Now that we've tackled the “whys” and the “which”, let's tackle the “how”, as well! Let us try a step-by-step guide on how to use this tool for marking up structured data on your Drupal site: 1. First things first: you log into your webmaster account (the one where your site is added as a property, of course) 2. Next click on the property whose pages you want to “Google highlight” 3. Access Search Appearance –> Data Highlighter (from the drop-down menu) 4. Next click on “Start Highlighting”; it will open up a dialogue including queries regarding the type of information displayed on that specific web page, an option for auto-selecting other similar pages, too (so that you don't have to go through this process over and over again for pages with similar formats), queries about the web page value, too 5. Then enter all the relevant info 6. Once you've entered the URL of your target web page and selected its type, as well, feel free to click on “Tag this page and other like this”; this way you'll be tagging pages with similar layouts and streamlining this process at the website's level 7. Once you've clicked on the “OK” button, a horizontal bar, divided into 4 tabs/sections, will pop up. These are (as you shall see):   Tag First Page    Create Page Set   Tag More Examples   Review and Publish 8. The “Tag First Page” is the preliminary (and the key one) stage where you actually select pieces of content on your target web page and with a simple right-click on your mouse (which will unfold a drop-down menu) you get to select the category corresponding to each piece of content (Article, Image, Category, Author, Data Published). Keep doing this till you've tagged each micro-data on your web page! 9. Once you click the “Done” button you'll get to the next stage listed in your horizontal top bar: “Create Page Set”. It's now that you get to select those pages having similar layouts for streamlining the whole tagging process. As you will see, you're also provided with an option that automatically selects all the similar pages for you.  Feel free to use it or to ignore it and choose to create your own custom page set instead. 10. Once you've clicked on the “Create Page Set”, you'll automatically get to the next step: “Tag More Examples”. It's on this page that you get to review your tagged web pages and make any needed fixes.  11. Click “Next” and check the web page tagging one by one, next click on “Review and Publish” the pages. And this is how you highlight and tag your Drupal site's web pages using the Google Data Highlighter tool!    4. “Are There Any Drawbacks That I Should Be Aware of?” Yes, there are a couple of disadvantages, as well! And it's only fair that you take them into account so that you can ponder both the pros and the cons of using this tool for structuring the data on your website's pages:   Probably the most discouraging of them all is that your entire data highlighter breaks down as soon as you apply a small change to your site's template or code. And then... well... you need to set it up, once again.    The data highlighter that you will have put together is relevant for Google only! No other search engine (Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, etc.) will be using your structured data markup.   It might be quick and easy for you to nicely structure your data, yet it will take Google a little more time to assimilate your data pattern and then to present your structured data in a more attractive way. So, on one hand, you save time putting together your data highlighter, but on the other hand you “lose” some of that time as you wait for Google to... notice it and “fructify” it. You will have already marked up structured data on multiple web pages on your site by the time Google has fully understood them!   Patience is a virtue, so they say! As a closing piece of advice: a team of developers is always the best solution when it comes to optimizing your Drupal site. Yet, for those instances when you need to rely on a limited budget and on even lower resources of time, there's Google Data Highlighter! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 19'2017
Modular Content Components: How Do They Work? Why Use Them?
Let's start by imagining the “bad” scenario! The one where you don't implement modular content components in the creation/editing process on your website! It will only lead to a poor editorial experience, where editors/content authors:   depend on your technical team for every little tweak that they need to apply to content on your Drupal site; which will obviously slow down the processes of updating content and sending it to your various distribution partners       are forced to learn HTML and thus to focus less on creating and polishing content and rather on acquiring some sort of technical “expertise”   Granting your editorial team (even more) flexibility will benefit:   you, as an organization, since they'll be empowered to run all the necessary updates, in due time, with great ease   your site builders and Drupal developers who will then win more time to focus on their own tasks (no one wants to get interrupted from his/her work each time there's content to be added or to be edited on the website).   So, it's a sort of win-win-win type of situation ( where you, as an organization, your content authors, and your team of developers gets to win)!  And now let's detail the concept of “flexible modular content components”, and point out why they shape the future of content creation:   1. How Should The Content Creation Process “of The Future” Be Like? First of all, it should definitely go beyond:   the "box body" concept   the content management framework that your Drupal development team can program to do anything by using just the proper custom site-building techniques   The future of content creation lies in a redefinition of content in CMS and in putting the spotlight on the creation experience itself! It's that improved creation experience that will easily lead to a unique, easy to personalize user experience. And there's more:   content of the future should be a “cluster” of modular content components of rich media   creating and editing content should be a simple, few-steps process with no technical “burden” involved   content of the future should be exchangeable across platforms and to support multiple forms of media   content of the future should easily adjust to the requirements of a multi-channel publishing context   Needless to add that a weakened creation experience, where the content writer/editor/publisher is fully dependent on the technical team, will only lead to slow site updates. And you definitely don't want to fall behind with your updates!   2. The Content Creation Process of the Present  Now, before we highlight for you the benefits that you can reap from adopting a structured modular content on your Drupal site, let's take a look at the “current” issues that modular content components come to solve:   the “one and only WYSIWYG” standard   content writers aren't granted as much “independence” as they should in order to create/edit content without any technical support from the development team   leaving content creators no option but to put together layouts within the WYSIWYG editor and to learn HTML   3. But What Is Modular Content After All? Making your content modular means switching from the practice where you edit a page, on your site, as a whole, to that where it gets automatically generated from other content items. For instance, an example of “content item” could be the “recipes” one on a farmers market website. The key benefit of adopting modular content is that you're granted consistency across the content on your site and that the entire editing process gets automated. For instance, once a piece of vendor information gets changed, all the pieces of content on your website that display that particular information gets instantly updated. Step into the future of automated content updating and leave behind the irksome manual updating process! Moreover, you get to leverage the power of modular content for putting together page sections and composite web pages, too!   4. What About Modular Content Components? What Are They? You could see them as “tools” empowering your content creation and editing team to:   easily add new sections without the help of the technical department in your organization   send their pieces of content to several distribution channels (sending them, each, specifically those content formats that meet their requirements).   And all this in just one single step!   5. “Should I Be Integrating Modular Content Components in My Content Creation Process, too?” It depends! It depends on whether it's crucial for the whole workflow within your team that your content editors should be able to update content on the fly and to send it to your network of distribution partners “in the blink of an eye”. If it's the case, then you should definitely leverage the modular content components' functionality on your Drupal site, too! This way, you'll be empowering your editorial team with a simple, yet highly effective drag-and-top tool that they can use for adding new content components quick and easy.  The next step is to send it to your content distribution partners, whether it's Facebook, AOL, or Apple News, or none of these three.   6. Key Modular Content Functionalities Worth Your Attention 5.1. Consistency Across Your Website  And you can't underestimate the advantage of keeping a consistent branding throughout your Drupal site! This is precisely what you can achieve using modular content components:   you'll eliminate those situations where your team uses inconsistent layouts when publishing content, taken from legacy website designs   re-branding your website will turn into a streamlined process with a solid and scalable architecture as its foundation; it will be a lot easier to “implement” the new look and feel across your website and to achieve a consistent branding   the current situations where content authors just drop “slices” of HTML into the WYSIWYG editor will become “history” on your new future platform, a highly maintainable and nicely structured one; a modular content components-powered one!   5.2. Easily Adjustable Content According to Your Distribution Partners' Restrictions It will be far easier for your content editing team to tailor it to their specific restrictions! Since with modular content components they get to edit and update content with such ease!  Whether it's:   links that they need to remove in order to comply with your distribution channels' requirements   certain formats that they should stick to   any other special requests that they need to meet while creating or editing their articles   … with Modular Content components integrated into their article creation process, it all gets much more streamlined!   5.3. Marketing Power  And you surely can't afford to underestimate digital marketing-oriented tools that help you build targeted and ideally creative advertising campaigns:   you have the Double Click for Publishers module   you have flexible ad tags that you get to use for implementing your campaigns   you have built-in identifiers helping you achieve your “smart targeting” goals through your campaigns   Need we add any more reasons that modular content components make the future of content creation? Are you ready to embrace the future? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 15'2017
Cloudwords for Drupal 8: Translation at Scale Gets Automated 
If content is king, then content personalization sure is queen! Which leads us to content globalization, an ever increasing demand that many organizations strive to adapt their marketing technology stack to. Yet manually getting heavy loads of content translated not just in one, but in several languages, and then sending it out precisely to their target audiences, at high speed and ideally scaled, is almost a “mission impossible”. And this is the particular context that the Cloudwords for Drupal 8 was launched in! It's the answer to organizations' challenge of dealing with users' expectations for personalized experiences while striving to spare their valuable resources of time, as well! For users do expect to be “served” promptly, you can't compromise on quality (by delivering them poorly translated content) and you surely can't waste their time (delivering them the translated version of the content on your website weeks or months later). And this complex workflow involving:   large teams of content authors loads of content being constantly moved in and out of the Drupal website(s) a whole network of translation vendors to send it over to and to receive it from   ... has its limitations!  Therefore, integrating Cloudwords with Drupal 8 comes to turn all this from a cumbersome, time-consuming process into a fully automated workflow!  Now let's get into more details about the “happy marriage” of these two innovative web technologies, Clowdwords and Drupal 8:   Why Drupal? Why Drupal 8? What Does This CMS Bring To The Table? As you probably already know, it's been a while since we've got to use the Cloudwords for Drupal module. Why was Drupal “chosen” for the happy union? It's pretty logical: back then it was and still is large organizations' top favorite content management system! The one “equipped” with all the capabilities (flexibility, scalability, extensibility and all the other crucial “ity”-s) that are crucial for content-packed websites! So, since now we have Cloudwords for Drupal 8, a more than valid question would be: “But Why Drupal 8 in particular?”  “Because it's been built with content globalization in mind! It provides companies with multilingual support right in its core!”   What is Cloudwords? What Does It Bring to the Table? Simply put: Cloudwords is a software that automates the entire global content localization process! Basically what it does is eliminate all those resources-consuming tasks, that are now being carried out manually by “armies” of teams, and deliver a highly enhanced visibility into the projects' statuses. A “dream come true” for all the digital marketing teams involved in the production and the delivery of personalized content within large organizations. Like yours! Cloudwords's key role in this integration with Drupal 8 is precisely this one: turning your Drupal website's localization into a streamlined, automated workflow! Far easier to monitor and far easier to handle!  Workflow automation + Unmatched project management capabilities   The Challenge  More often than not enterprise organizations need their websites' content translated in several languages (not just one or two) and also have not just one multilingual site to manage, but an entire “constellation” of sites. So, as you can imagine (since you're probably facing the same challenge) monitoring the entire translation process, promptly updating it whenever new content gets added to the website and adding new and new multilingual websites to the group is resources-consuming and prone to error! And this is the challenge that Cloudwords in Drupal 8 comes to help your own organization respond to!   Cloudwords for Drupal 8: A Big Leap Ahead Into the Future of Content Globalization Now that we've:   glided through each one of the two technologies' key capabilities relevant for this integration pointed out the “problem” that this “union” comes to solve   … let's have a close look at this groundbreaking solution, shall we? First of all, what we can easily state is that it speeds up the whole website localization process. And that it protects it from human error, too, obviously! Since the entire workflow (implying the creation and the delivery of personalized content) gets automated, living up to higher and higher standards of speed, quality and scaling gets so much easier. Secondly, we're talking about efficiency in terms of quantity, as well: a high volume of web pages can now get translated at high speed, to more and more users located in different corners of the world and in more and more languages, as well. In short: accelerating translation at scale, that's what you'll achieve, within your enterprise, once you start leveraging Cloudwords for Drupal 8's capabilities!   And How Exactly Does It Streamline Content Marketers' Workflow? The very first “present” that content marketers get is an increased visibility into their content translation projects! A key benefit coming to complete all the other ones deriving from the fact that all the time-consuming tasks, otherwise manually handled, are eliminated from the whole process. “Automated convenience”, that's how we could call Cloudwords for Drupal 8 from content marketers' standpoint! And there's more! The future has in store even more (more or less “surprise) “goodies” for content authors and editors:   improved multilingual support (since we're talking about Drupal 8, after all) improved content authoring and editing experience    CloudWords for Drupal 8: Features That You'll Want to Use Now let's outline specifically those key functionalities that you'll be using the most in your translation at scale projects:   enhanced visibility into each project's status (a feature that we've just talked about) OneReview: in-content review functionality collaboration among all the teams and vendors involded, across departments, too; and good collaboration sure is a touchstone of any large scale project!   How Does It Work? “You simply select the content on your Drupal site that you want to localize and let Cloudwords for Drupal 8 handle the rest!”  The translation vendor that you'll choose for the job will get the content to be translated, then it will have it delivered into Cloudwords. A step-by-step website localization process that Cloudwords will streamline for you, taking an incredibly heavy burden off your team's shoulders! Moreover, it will also automatically detect and point out to you those specific translations that are outdated, as well as the new ones. And this is how Cloudwords for Drupal 8 works! Looking forward to hearing from you your very first impressions once you start integrating it into your organization's translation at scale processes!  ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 14'2017
Drupal-Powered Digital Signage? Yes, That's Possible!
Standard web pages have ceased to be the only data delivery medium available! And there's no way around it. You either respond to users' “pressing” expectations to be delivered up to the moment data, context-based data only, or, well, you'll be left behind! In this respect, Drupal-powered digital signage systems might just be the best solution to meet your customers' “new” needs and to remain relevant in your business! There's no reason to “act surprised” or be skeptical about Drupal being the right technology to go for! You have:   data-rich APIs   outstanding content management functionalities   … so collecting data, turning it into “relevant”, contextual data, detecting a whole network of devices and sending out that data following a certain content model already looks like a plan. A solid plan for you to build your first digital signage system on! But let us dive into more details, (hopefully) answer all your legitimate questions and deliver you some of the key information you need for getting started with your digital signs project:   Digital Signage Systems: A Few Examples What forms do these new types of digital experiences take? Where do we interact with digital signage in our day-to-day lives? Here are some representative examples:   mall kiosks   touch screens placed in various means of transportation (planes, cars, trains)   voice interfaces   These are all real-data delivery means! Digital signage solutions that we interact with daily (even if only visually) and which have already become indispensable to us.   But Why Drupal? Why a Drupal-Powered Digital Signage System? … when you have Angular, Node, Amber React and the whole “suite” of cutting-edge, modern technologies at your disposal? The answer lies in Drupal's whole “culture” of empowering the end-user! In other words: Drupal provides an improved user experience compared to other modern technologies focusing mostly on enhancing exclusively the developer's experience instead. As simple as that! You need to build your signage system with your client (his team of content editors) in mind! It's them who will need to be able to grow independent once you pass them over the device; to be able to edit everything about it with the utmost ease. And Drupal excels at empowering the non-developer, the non-technical user!   Real-Time Data Streaming = Managing Content With Great Ease And Drupal's well reputed for its capabilities as a content management system. It empowers those “in charge” with content with a whole structure of features and functionalities aimed at better organizing the editorial team, at handling and “refining” the delivered content (making it context-sensitive, as well). Now, let us point out some of its “star” capabilities:   its whole “infrastructure of roles and permissions   its revisioning feature   its translation functionality   its content types building tool   How Does Drupal Handle External Data? Having data “flooding in” from “outside” providers is something to consider when you decide to develop your Drupal-powered digital signage system! This data can range from:   social media   to weather data   to stock data   to news   to all kinds of crucial (for the passengers) public transportation-related data   And the way Drupal 8 copes with this “flood” of data goes like this: the provider API is sent out to collect this data, then Drupal gets it processed according to the content model. Note: If content is king, then context is queen! Make sure you contextualize the data you deliver via your digital signs, that you perfectly adjust it to the given context (you don't want to send out information about a train's schedule on the “wrong” platform or data news from Baltimore to people living in L.A. etc.)   Getting Started: How to Use Drupal for Powering Your Digital Signs  Here are the very basic steps to take:   enter the right command in Drush for collecting your data   next store your credentials in Drupal 8   “trigger” caching (yet, be cleverly selective about what you cach, since you can't, obviously, cach everything when it's real-time data that you need to deliver)   parse your collected data, using Drupal 8 to “spread” it to all the right devices, following the right content model path   Getting Data from Drupal to Your Digital Signs: How Does It Work? Before you go ahead and pick the obvious answers to this question, “pull” or “push”, you'd better consider all the “pieces of the puzzle”:   you can't really rely on the pull method since that would put a tremendous pressure on your server's shoulders (and heat up your devices)   you can't rely on a “multiple APIs” method either, since real-time data restricts you to a to a highly selective caching (unlike on web pages)   you can't reload as many times as needed, like on the web   there's limited or no user interactivity involved (the huge blue screen can be viewed by thousands of people and the only thing they can do is just... stare at it)   “Can't do this, can't do that: but what is it that I CAN do to make this data transfer work?” “You use websockets!” It's this solution that will provide you with an almost instantaneous, two-way type of communication for a longer time!   It's One of Those Perfect Contexts of Use for “Exploiting” Drupal's Scalability Apart from being incredibly flexible, Drupal's highly scalable, too! We all know it, even those that don't use Drupal know it! A Drupal-powered digital signage system is the perfect “context” for leveraging this scalability. And it's going to be of great help when you think of the whole network of devices involved here! Drupal's powerful enough to send out the collected data via one of the websocket channels that you'll use for transferring your data to your devices. Moreover, it can multiply that data for as many devices as your network has. Unlimited scalability!   Think Beyond Content Model: Think “Device Model”, Too! … for Drupal has the right capabilities for collecting, processing data and following the content model, yet you need to “give it some hints” regarding the devices, too. The devices that those digital signs will get displayed on. Let it know what is it that these devices can do, which messages get “triggered” by which one of the digital signs. In short: a well structured, crucial information-stuffed device model's needed, too!   Overall: What Does Drupal Need to Know? If you want your Drupal-powered digital signage system to work at its full potential, then you need to “empower” Drupal 8 with all the key information:   1. what data goes to which one of your interconnected digital signage devices 2. the format that Drupal needs to display that data in (along with language, size screen, and other related key data)   And now in order to “proof” your data, to ensure that it's just your own devices that have access to it, you can:   whitelist your digital signage system (leveraging the metadata that Drupal can collect for you)   establish TFA for all the involved users   ensure that your services of choice (whether it's Google, Amazon or another one) ask devices for authentication   How Does a Drupal-Powered Digital Signage System Handle Security? And this is, indeed, a “sore point” when dealing with digital signs! They're particularly vulnerable in case of cyber attacks. Now that we've pointed out the “problem”, let's jump to the possible solutions that you have:   1. this is a no-brainer and yet, we feel like adding this “rule of thumb”, too: always change the passwords that your devices ship with! 2. consider restricted access to them 3. ensure that the software you're using comes along with a patch/updates schedule, too, and that you remember to run those updates, periodically 4. secure your source data: get it validated and audited before you “release it out into the wild” 5. use SSL    And now all there's left for us to add is: good luck with your first Drupal-powered digital signage system! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 10'2017
The Group Module: Setting Up User Groups Is Now Easier Than Ever
Back in the old days, when we didn't have the Group module to “save the say”, whenever we needed to set up a certain user group hierarchy and a more or less intricate structure of group roles, with different levels of permission and different types of content to be accessed by each one of these groups, we used to call the Organic Group module for “help”. It used to be the one and only solution to our “challenge” actually. Yet, no matter how familiarized we already are with it, we still cannot ignore its “flaws” and “aspects that could be improved” (that we'll be tackling in this post in a bit). And so, with an enhanced Drupal site builder's and developers' experience in mind and due to the context of a slightly flawed Organic Groups module, the Group module was built! A so much more than just an “alternative”: a soon to be the norm whenever developers deal with user groups on Drupal social sites. Now let's give you some key arguments for why you should consider using it for creating and managing user communities on your website and some guidance on how to harness its full power:   First of all: Which Are The Contexts of Use for the Group Module? Which are those “scenarios” that call for the creation of user groups with shared content and shared permissions precisely to that specific content? Let us point out some of the most common ones:   1. a (high) education Drupal website, where a professor having an admin role, too, can group his own students into communities and share certain resources, certain information with them exclusively while keeping them hidden from the other visitors on the site   2. a library with multiple branches, where the staff from a physical location is given access to specific dedicated sections and, therefore, to specific content only on the library's website   3. a speaker's website where he/she also organized online conferences and needs to group the participant and grant them (paid or not) access to informative content and resources     What Makes It a Better Alternative to The Organic Groups Module? You can't ignore the Organic Groups module's “sore points”, even if it might have turned into a “familiar” tool to use each time time you're in a “setting up granular permission” type of situation:   it hasn't always leveraged Drupal's new functionalities in core   it doesn't “spoil” us with API   And now, let's “dig up” all those improvements brought to the Group module which easily turn it from “just” an alternative into a replacement module for Organic Groups:   1. Better Structured Data “Tempting flexibility”, that's how we could call this improvement.  Remember how in the Organic Groups module everything was intertwined, interconnected? User groups had to be attached to a node or a taxonomy term or to a... Well, not anymore! In the Group module, each user community is an “independent” entity and this is where the “tempting flexibility” derives from.   2. A More Intuitive UI And this is, no doubt, one of the Group module's most heavy weighting improvements. We're talking about Drupal after all, with a “culture of empowerment”, so a clear and super intuitive UX was a must! Practically you'll be provided with everything you'll need to use, served to you right on a “silver plate”: once you've installed the module, simply look for the “Group” section “neighboring” the “People” section! Your admin toolbar will provide you with all the tabs/options that you need to navigate through and select from. Therefore, don't expect a whole “marathon” of tabs and pages and sub-tabs that you would need to swim through for configuring your Drupal 8 site's user groups! A simple UI grants you a “fewer clicks” experience!   3. It Provides Group Roles to Choose From and Assign To It's a “new” concept that this Drupal 8 module introduces. Well, almost new, for these roles are very similar to Drupal's user roles and their functionality is the same. Except that they're applied to group types instead (not to individual users)! They fall into 3 types:   member: a member of the user group with a user account on the website, too   outsider: not a member of that specific “community”, yet he/she has an account on the website   anonymous: has no user account on the given website   4. Site builders Can Define Permission Sets for Each Type of User Group Basically, this functionality that the Group module provides site builders with eliminates the risk of group members “not playing fair”. The set of permissions can be configured and then assigned to each group instance.   5. An Improved Developer Experience  The Group module in Drupal 8 “spoils” Drupal developers with a well-documented code.This way they get quickly familiarized with it and do the right tweaks for extending the module's functionality. And now speaking of its extensibility feature, we have some really good news /spoiler alerts for you:   you get the Group Node module, too, out-of-the-box, once you install Group in Drupal 8; this enables you to quickly add your nodes and grant access to that specific private content exclusively to the members of the group that you will have created   it “plays well” with other Drupal 8 modules, too   thanks to its plugin system, it turns the writing of a module into a matter of just a few lines of code; developers get to easily enhance its functionality     How to Use the Group Module in Drupal 8? The whole step-by-step process, from the very first step, where you enable the module itself (a 3-in-1 module, actually), to the very last one, where you add your groups, is very well detailed HERE. What tabs to click on, what drop-down menus to unfold and selections to make, it's all there. So, we won't go on rephrasing the whole tutorial in this post, since you'll find all the steps (screenshots there included) that you'll need to complete explained there:   you install and enable your module   you set up your group types (for instance: content editors, publishers, content creators, interns)   you link group types to content types, too   you pick groups from the group types that you will have created as step 1 and populate them with members   There are a couple of key aspects of this Group module installation, enabling and properly configuring process that we'd like to draw your attention to:   once you get started with the installation, you'll be “warned” that you need to rebuild your permissions   you get to create custom fields for each one of your group types (it's you who'll decide what personalized content goes there: that specific user community's logo, its location, etc.)   And that's it! You can now step into and enjoy a new era of user groups creating and granular permission granting made easy!  Have you tried the Group module on your Drupal 8 site yet? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 08'2017