Adriana Cacoveanu

Adriana Cacoveanu

ADRIANA CACOVEANU, Content Writer

Adriana is the OPTASY team's digital content creator and copywriter. Her “mission” within our team is to masterfully blend the 2 main ingredients' listed in any valuable blog post's recipe (valuable information + the reader-friendly writing), as well as to craft informative and engaging content promoting our work: study cases on Drupal.org, fresh content for various pages on our company website, e-book content etc.
 

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Magento vs Shopify 2020: Which Platform Should You Use for Your eCommerce Store? And Why?
A bit stuck? Are you looking to roll out your online store, but… you’re struggling with a Magento vs Shopify 2020 dilemma? Which solution works best for the size and the type of your eCommerce business? Which one covers most of your feature needs? In today’s post you’ll get your answers to the following questions: How are they different? Why would you choose Shopify over Magento? What are its strongest selling points? What are the cons of Shopify? What are the pros and cons of Magento vs Shopify? Which eCommerce platform works best for your type of business? 1. What Are the Major Differences Between Magento and Shopify? The main reason why you’re torn between Magento and Shopify is that: You don’t have a clear picture of the essential differences between them. So, let me expose them to you: 1.1. Magento is an eCommerce solution for enterprise-level online stores. It’s robust and flexible enough to power fully customized eCommerce websites, built from scratch — that you can further expand to fit your growth plan — by teams of Magento developers. 1.2. Shopify, on the other hand, is self-managed.  You don’t need any specialized skills — or server-side techs — to set up a Shopify store.  A front-end developer and a designer, at most, will do. “How easy is it to use Shopify?” Shopify is best-known for being beginner-friendly.  In short, the “Magento vs Shopify” dilemma comes down to: Flexibility and customization vs Ease of use. Which one's more important to you? 2. Magento vs Shopify 2020: Why Would You Choose Shopify? What makes Shopify a candidate for the title of “the best solution for creating an eCommerce website in 2020"? Here’s why Shopify could be the better choice for your online store: you have no (or limited) coding skills the idea of having a huge app marketplace at your disposal to browse through sounds tempting to you you need to get your e-Store up and running… now: the drag-and-drop website builder allows you to set up a new store in… minutes it’s an end-to-end eCommerce solution that you’re looking for, one that enables you to roll out and manage your online store with no technical experience it’s easier to use: its interface is famous for being particularly user-friendly you run a small or medium-sized eCommerce business page loading time is critical for you: Shopify’s just… fast Overall, it’s much less of a headache than Magento and usually the go-to option for small eCommerce business owners, with no web development experience, who need to get their websites rolled out fast. 3. What Are the Cons of Shopify? What could make you hesitate to choose Shopify for your eCommerce website? For there are, indeed, some limitations to consider before going for this particular platform:   You’d be trading some of the control over your online store for… ease of use and the convenience of setting up your eStore quick and easy, with no technical expertise   You do get a huge collection of plugins to choose from but… they all come with a price tag on; one that you’ll need to consider when planning out your budget   You won’t be able to customize every single aspect of your website. By comparison, Magento puts no limitation on the configurations that you can make to your site   Shopify provides you with weaker SEO features   It charges a transaction fee per… sale   4. Why Would You Choose Magento over Shopify? When dealing with a Magento vs Shopify 2020 dilemma, what could make you opt for Magento? Lots of reasons... Here are the strongest ones:   It enables you (or your team of Magento developers in Toronto) to customize everything about your eCommerce website, from theme to checkout process, to main menu, to email template, to...   You get to build custom functionality for your website, that’s not available on the market   You have lots of extensions available to choose from — Magento being open-sourced — and to customize your online store   You benefit from its strong SEO capabilities   You get to tap into its multi-store functionality: Magento enables you to manage all your online stores from one central dashboard   “In fact, according to eCommerce Platforms research Magento SEO scores 95 out of 100, and that is great result!” (source: Cart2Cart ) In short, you’d want to go with Magento because it enables you to build pretty much anything that you might need for your eCommerce website. 5. What About the Cons of Using Magento? For you need to be aware of the disadvantages of using this eCommerce solution, as well, before you make any decision. Now, here are the most… discouraging ones:   Building a fully customized website in Magento takes time and requires web development experience and Magento expertise; you can’t get away without a team of back-end Magento developers to handle the whole process and all the customization wok   You do have a large and thriving community to rely on, but no 24/7 dedicated support (like you have with Shopify)   You’ll need to optimize your Magento website on a regular basis to make sure it keeps performing at its best   You’ll need to take into account the cost of all the extensions that you might want to add, of the web hosting service, and the Magento expertise needed   6. Magento 2 vs Shopify vs... Shopify Plus: Which One’s the Best Fit? Considering that, starting June 2020, Magento 1.0 is no longer supported, your Magento vs Shopify 2020 dilemma turns into: “Magento 2 vs Shopify”. What new features does Magento 2 bring to the debate? simplified navigation (even) better customization capabilities better performance a more admin-friendly panel drag-and-drop layout editing improved checkout  “And what about Shopify Plus?” you might then ask yourself. Here are some of the enhancements that Shopify Plus ships with, so you can see for yourself whether it’s the best fit for what you’re looking for:   It gives you greater control over your online store: you gain more customization freedom   It’s robust enough to handle more than 10,000 transactions per minute, which makes it a viable alternative to Magento 2 for enterprise-level eCommerce businesses   You’re free to edit your checkout page (a feature that’s not available in Shopify)   You get your own launch manager: basically, a dedicated Shopify Plus team will handle everything for you, from implementing the custom Shopify theme that you need to code writing   7. Which Commerce Platform Works Better for Your Type of eCommerce Business? Now that you have a clear(er) picture of the pros and cons of Magento vs Shopify, how do you know which one’s the best fit for you? For your business goals and size? It’s simple: just pick the answer(s) that best fits your scenario from the following ones: You’ll want to use Magento if: you have a large product catalog your customization  needs are… above the average (i.e. complex product configurations): you want a fully customized online store built from the ground up you need a commerce platform robust enough to support your entire network of vendor/supplier fulfillment channels you have qualified Magento developers in your team (or the budget to hire some professionals, who know what they’re doing) You’ll want to use Shopify over Magento in 2020 if: it’s a small to medium product catalog that you need to set up being able to integrate/cross-sell on multiple platforms is a crucial feature for you you need to get your storefront online as quickly as possible Does this head-to-head help you with your Magento vs Shopify 2020 dilemma?  No matter which one’s the “winner”, the next question stays the same: “How do I get my Shopify/ Magento website built and suited to my needs?" Just drop us a line and we’ll have either our Shopify or our Magento expert team assigned to your eCommerce project! Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 18'2020
Why Use Node.js with React? 11 Reasons Why You Should Hook Up Your React App with a Node Back-end
So, you’d like to build an app with React. And, while weighing your back-end options, you ask yourself: “Why use Node.js with React?” Why would you go with Node for hosting and running your web server? Why not… Ruby on Rails? Or maybe Python/Django? This is precisely what you’ll find in this post: the 11 main reasons why you’d want to choose Node.js as a backend for your React web app: 1. But First: What Is the Difference Between ReactJS and Node.js? We already have a blog post focused precisely on the React vs Node dilemma, so in today’s post I’ll only pinpoint, briefly, the main differences between the 2 technologies:   While ReactJS is a front-end library, Node.js is a highly popular choice for back-end development (thanks to its event-driven nature and to being asynchronous and highly scalable)   While React provides you with a language to describe the user interface of your web application, Node.js helps you with all sorts of (back-end) things like setting up your server, building CLI tools, scripting; a key difference to help you solve your “React vs Node.js” dilemma   While ReacJS helps you build your UI components, Node.js stores your app’s data in the backend   While React is web app developers’ top choice to address challenges like low performance and slow user interface, Node.js is the go-to technology for creating enterprise-level solutions based on WebSockets, event quests, and microservice architecture. 2. Does ReactJS (Really) Require Node?  In other words, do you need to have a Node.js backend to run React? No, you don’t. Node.js is not required for running Reactjs. So, why use Node.js with React? There are certain use cases and reasons why you’d want to pair the 2 technologies for building your app: you cut down on your web app development time (which always has a major business impact) the Node.js and React duo is your ticket to scalable and efficient code … But more on the strongest reasons why you’d use Reactjs with Node down below... 3. Why Use Node.js with React? 11 Top Reasons Now, going back to your initial question — “Why do you need Node.js for React?” — here are the key reasons why you’d go with this “duo”: 3.1. Because they’re both JavaScript: you can execute them server-side and client-side The benefits you get from having a JS-based technology in the back-end, as well, are obvious: you only need to be familiar with JavaScript (no Ruby or Python expertise needed) same language means… same packages same language means that you get to speed up your app’s development process 3.2. Because you get to inject V8 engine performance into your React app In other words, your React app will be perfectly equipped to handle bulk requests with no compromise on quality. The V8 engine that Node.js uses grants your app the best page load times. 3.3. Because you get a collection of NPM packages to choose from With the NPM CLI at your disposal, you get to install any of the packages available in the registry quick and easy. 3.4. Why use Node.js with React? Because the “duo” helps you address high server load issues  They work perfectly together to help your app handle multiple client requests while striking a server load balance. 3.5. Because Node.js bundles your app into a single, easy-to-compile file Using various modules along with Webpack, Node Js bundles your app into one file. One that can get compiled much easier... 3.6. Because it’s a real-time, data-intensive React app that you’re building. Does your React application depend on Data Streaming or Data-Intensive, Real-Time management? Is interactivity a major requirement for your web app? Is it a real time application that you have in mind? Then Nodejs makes the best choice for continued server connection in a context of intensive computation. 3.7. Because you get to run React.js code straight in the Nodejs environment 3.8. Because you get to scale your React & Node.js app to much higher loads A Node.js back-end will help your app accommodate many more users and many more future calls.  It's your best option for building scalable applications. The 2 giants are using Node.js precisely for its great scalability potential. 3.9. Because you get to build JSON APIs for your app much easier when using Node and React together How come? You get to share and reuse code in React.js quick and easy when you pair it with Node.js in the back-end. 3.10. Because rendering server-side becomes a more streamlined process Since React DOM comes with components built to work with Nodejs out of the box, you get to cut down on the lines of code.  Which translates into streamlined server-side rendering.   3.11. Because it’s a single-page React app that you’re building The “React with Node.js” duo makes the best choice for building a SPA. The lightweight Node backend will be in charge of handling asynchronous data loading via callback functions. 4. In Short, You’d Want to Use React and Node.js Together Because... “Why use Node.js with React?” As a conclusion, we could narrow down the entire list to just 2 key reasons:   Convenience: same language in the back-end and the front-end; Node.js makes the go-to option for running and hosting a web server for your React app   ReactJS depends on Node and npm (Node Package Manager) to notify the native side (iOS/Android) of the packages that you need to use in your app; then, it can add all the needed dependencies. The END! Now that you know why and when you’d want to use React with Node.js: how do you build that high-performance, conveniently scalable React & Node.js app? We’re here to help you get the most of these 2 technologies. Just drop us a line to have a team of React and Node Js developers handle your project. Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 16'2020
Drupal 9 Modules Readiness: How Hard Is It to Find Compatible Modules and Build a Website in Drupal 9?
Is it (still) too early to give Drupal 9 a try? To start fresh and build a website from scratch in the latest version of Drupal? Should you stick to Drupal 8 for... a little longer and upgrade later? How difficult will it be for you to find compatible Drupal 9 modules (and themes)? Let's find out: 1. But First: Why Drupal 9? What are the biggest benefits of Drupal 9 over Drupal 8? Why would you choose precisely this version of Drupal to build your new website with? because of the automated updates that it makes possible because of the headless support that it ships with because of the robust multilingual capabilities because of the improved performance: your web pages will load faster thanks to the BigPipe technology because it removes a lot of the legacy code because of its layout features because of its extensibility: you get to incorporated third-party systems quick and easy because of its media library and robust media functionality because of the new, Twig-based theme engine because it's easier to use: you can make the most of its in-place editing (CKEditor) And particularly because there will be no more major re-builds (aka "major pains to upgrade"). Instead, a set of new features gets released every 6 months, including new improvements and additions to be incorporated seamlessly into your Drupal 9 build. 2. Most Drupal 9 Modules Don't Change at All So, stay assured: you won't be having a hard time finding compatible modules for your new Drupal 9 website. Many of the modules on Drupal.org have been, are being made, and will be made compatible with Drupal 9. There's a collective effort coming from the Drupal community in this direction. And where do you add that the process is pretty straightforward:  Same code, but without the deprecated APIs. 3. But What About Those that Do Need Changes? For there have been changes under Drupal 9's hood. Changes in coding with a direct impact on some modules and APIs. Which means that some modules have turned from Drupal core modules to... outside dependencies: this is good news, considering the performance gains you get but also a challenge if you were relying precisely on those modules for your Drupal 9 website Luckily, you have at least 2 helpful tools at hand that you can use to: identify the Drupal modules that still need to get updated apply the fixes needed to make those modules compatible with Drupal 9 3.1. The Upgrade Status Module Why use it? Because it offers you a view of all that has been changed in Drupal.  Source: Drupal.org You have links to the modules' pages there, that you can access to review those changes. 3.2. The Upgrade Rector Module The great thing about this tool is that it provides you with automated code fix suggestions to help you make your target modules Drupal 9 compatible. Source: Drupal.org 4. Some Module Get Removed from Drupal 9 Now, there are a few Drupal modules that didn't get the chance to grow into Drupal 9 modules. And I'm talking here about: Simple Test, that's now replaced by PHPUnit Place Blocks, now replaced by the Layout Builder  As you can see, in both cases you get to use better alternatives. So, it's just a matter of favoring more powerful solutions. Good to know! Expect other modules and themes (i.e. the Classy theme, the Stable theme) to get deprecated and removed by the time we reach Drupal 10. 5. What About the Contributed Modules? What if you need more than the out-of-the-box Drupal 9 modules to build your new website? What if you depend on particular contributed modules? Or on... many contributed modules? Well, then things get a little more challenging... Because many of the contributed Drupal modules still need to be made compatible with Drupal 9. They need some time to catch up with the new version of Drupal. Take for instance: updating tests to PHPUnit or updating deprecated API usages. Now, what you can do is give a helping hand to accelerate the updating of these modules. And the steps/best practices to follow are pretty simple, as suggested in this guide on Drupal.org : use the patch referred to here, create an issue in the module project (first, make sure it doesn't exist already), and choose a title suggestive enough to let the maintainer know that it needs to be tested for Drupal 9 deprecations add an explanation for the signaled issue ... and follow all the other steps suggested in that Drupal.org guide. Tip! Ask that contributed module's maintainer how he/she would like to address the issues you're signaling. Because the guidelines available for Drupal core aren't always relevant for addressing contributed module issues, as well. The END! Now, assuming that: you only need a limited no. of contributed modules for your new Drupal 9 build it's not a heavily customized website that you're building ... how do you get it up and running in? We're here to help. Just drop us a line! We've been building Drupal websites since... Drupal 5. Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 28'2020
How to Approach User Experience Design: The 8-Stage Process (with specific activities and deliverables for each phase)
Should you start by analyzing your competitors or... by building the user persona for your new software product? Then, should you jump straight to paper sketching or...? How to approach user experience design, more precisely? What are the key steps to include in this process? And what's the right order to carry them out? What are the specific activities to perform? What deliverables should you create at each step? Let's get you some answers now. Here's how our own UX design process looks like. Take it as a tried-and-tested 8-point checklist. One that you can use to make sure that you complete the end-to-end cycle when designing the user experience for your apps (or websites). But First: What Is User Experience Design? “If UX is the experience that a user has while interacting with your product, then UX Design is, by definition, the process by which we determine what that experience will be.” (Source: usertesting.com) Let's try an ultra concise, yet comprehensive definition: UX design is... design has the user's experience at its very core. So the process of designing the best experience for your users calls for a step-by-step approach where you: do extensive research, trying to understand your users' needs and problems collect a whole lot of data that'd help you figure out how users interact with your product (so you can anticipate common user flows) plan out everything, all the elements that go into your software product are thought through and designed from the user's viewpoint run extensive user tests on your prototype The whole point of this step-by-step user experience design process? (or why is user experience design important?) It helps you answer your “Why”, “What”, and “How” questions related to your product before you go ahead and... develop it: Why would target customers use your product? Does it help them perform a specific task? Or does it reflect some of their personal values, maybe (i.e. Apple users identify themselves with people who “think differently”)   What helps them perform the actions that they expect to perform with your product (which of your product's features and functionalities)?   How do they perform those actions? Does your app provide an easy and aesthetically pleasant way for them to carry out their tasks? Source: usertesting.com 1.1. User Experience Design vs User Interface Design: How Are They Different? Take UI as everything that the customer comes into contact with when using your app. From the graphics he sees to the on-screen buttons he touches, to the mental concepts he's using while interacting with your app... And take the UX as the overall experience of that interaction. “Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While Something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.” (source: careerfoundry.com) “And what is good user experience design?” you might ask yourself. Good UX helps users do what they want to do when interacting with your business. But measuring the success of your UX design process isn't that straightforward, though: you need to get your target customers to... experience your app/website then you need to keep refining it; to adjust it to the changing needs and new challenges they face, making sure it remains user-friendly over time Now, let's see which are the 8 typical stages of a user experience design process.  Stages which might be swapped in and out, depending on your team's familiar workflow and your project's specific requirements. Let's dive in: Stage 1: How to Approach User Experience Design: Ground Your Work in User Research   “What is the first step of a UX design process?” you ask?  Get to know your target customers as much as possible. What type of people will be using your app? What are their motivations, behaviors, needs, and goals? Designed with "Make My Persona". And having just “an idea” is not enough. It's at this stage of the process where you gather and analyze as much data as possible on your app's target users: run some web analytics take user interviews conduct online surveys put together your user persona profile, which is no more than an archetypal representation of your target users (their goals and behaviors) that helps you validate all your future design decisions Dive deep into all the data you've collected so far and start looking for patterns and trends. It's these common patterns that'll help you distill this huge pile of data and see who the “average user” for your product is.   Stakeholders involved UX design team Deliverables: usability studies user personas user stories Stage 2: Define the Problem That the User Is Having “What are the most important things to understand throughout a UX design process?” The problem that you're trying to solve with your product. And why solving that problem would be beneficial to your business. In other words, how the user’s problem aligns with your business goals. Articulating a clear problem statement is one of the UX design process best practices. Figure out what the user needs (or what problem he's dealing with) and plan out your product as a solution to those needs. For example: It's not a shopping cart that your online store's customers NEED. What they need is an overview of the items they've selected and of their total cost. The shopping cart is the solution to precisely these 2 customer needs.  Here are 4 helpful questions to focus on: What problem do we want to solve? What are our users' needs and why are these particular needs important to them? Are there any existing or anticipated limitations to address? What are the benchmarks for success? Source: uxdesign.cc Stakeholders involved product manager product design team Deliverables: a clear user-need statement that includes: a user, his problem or need, and his goal storyboards customer journey map Stage 3: Do Some UX Competitive Analysis  Who are your competitors? And what approaches have they adopted for their own products? How are they different/better than yours? How well do other software products, with similar features, perform? This is that stage of the process where you run extensive research on: your target market your competitors the latest UX/UI trends Stakeholders involved design team  Deliverables: market research competitor analysis Stage 4: Sketch Out a Wireframe    Another valid answer to your dilemma — “How to approach user experience design” —  is:  You put together a low-fidelity wireframe for your software product. It'll be the link between: your app's/website's visual design and its information architecture And it's also a quick and effective way to get your idea across all the teams involved. At this stage you: brainstorm ideas  explore possible solutions to that user's problem/need that you've identified in stage 2 (and hopefully come up with a better solution than your competition)  explore several ways of displaying different types of content and information identify the content that you need to prioritize, according to how important it is for the user journey No need to invest too much time (and creativity) into something too detailed. Whiteboard photos, pencil sketches on paper will do since at this point you'll be focusing exclusively on: the main functionality the user experience … on every screen Stakeholders involved design team Deliverables: user flows hand-drawn sketches wireframes sitemap lots and lots of sticky notes with ideas written on, that you can sort by hierarchy and group by theme Stage 5: Create a Prototype Another one of the UX design process best practices to follow. That's because you'll want to have a draft version of your product that users could test before you do any coding. The great thing about prototypes is that they simulate the real experience — you touch the “Next” button and it takes you to the next screen— so that testers can have a real feel of how the real app will function. They get to experience its design in... real-time. Stakeholders involved design team Deliverables: paper prototype design images icons design specifications such as colors, typography, theme, guidelines, styles low-fidelity prototype high-fidelity prototype interactive prototype Stage 6: Have It Tested by Real Users  How to approach user experience design? You collect as much feedback as possible on your product prototype. And here are 3 battle-tested methods: usability testing remote user testing A/B testing And you sure don't run short of means to make the most of user testing: from simple observations to surveys to questionnaires  to interviews … there are “n” ways to get your valuable feedback from real users. Deliverables: user feedback usability report analytics report audit reports on the prototype's UI lists of areas that need improvement (or features that should be removed/replaced) Stage 7: Develop and Launch Time to bring the developers in! Now it's their time to shine. To implement the designs and: structure the database build the server build the back end functionality tie the back-end to the UI  One of the UX design process best practices to follow here is having the design team... stick around. They might need to intervene and make small tweaks to their design or simply to communicate any issues that arise while developers are implementing it. Stakeholders involved development team design team Deliverables:  a high fidelity version of the user interface with functionality and user experience baked in Stage 8: Evaluate  Time for a new round of... analysis. And here are a couple of questions to guide your evaluation process: How do users respond to our product? Do they find it easy to use? Where does it get it right, in terms of user experience, and where does it... fail? Does it manage to solve their problems/meet their needs? Stakeholders product manager design team Deliverables: new feature ideas that might need to get implemented lists of issues reported Final Word: The UX Design Process Comes Down to Learn.Think. Make So, to give you a final answer to your question — “How to approach user experience design?”: Many of the stages included in our process are debatable and perfectly... optional (i.e. you might feel like skipping the wireframing part if you have a solid design system set in place). Feel free to swap stages in and out and to adjust the process to your own business, your teams, and your specific project requirements. What you should not consider as optional is the 9th step in designing the user experience that I haven't included here: The UX design process is an... ongoing one. You'll need to constantly improve and to polish your designs to fit new circumstances, new contexts, future user challenges... No UX experts in your team to hand over all these tasks to? We're here to help! Just drop us a line and let's design the best user experience for your app/website. Image by William Iven from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 24'2020
Why Cloud-Native Apps? How Exactly Can Cloud Native Applications Benefit Your Business?
For it all comes down to this: what's the return that you'd get from switching to this new way of developing applications? Why cloud-native apps? How does migrating from cloud-hosted to cloud native applications translate into clear benefits for you? For your own business? We've listed them, then... shortlisted them to the 6 biggest benefits that you can expect from developing cloud native apps. Or, if you wish, the top 6 reasons why you'll want to use a cloud-native architecture from now on. But First: What Are Cloud Native Applications More Precisely? They're collections of independent, loosely coupled microservices, each one performing a single service or business function. Unlike the traditional "monolithic" app architecture, where you have a single... block. So that whenever you needed to apply even a small change, you had to interrupt the entire app. And it's precisely this intrinsic constraint of the monolithic approach — translating into limited scalability and flexibility — that has made the cloud-native model so "tempting": it allows you to develop and deploy each microservice independently so, whenever you need to apply changes, you're no longer constrained to wait first for all the components to get updated you can incorporate the new features (in many cases, suggested by users themselves) and deliver the app to your audience right away #1: You Get to Incorporate User Feedback into Your App in... Real-Time Why cloud-native apps? Due to their high availability: You get to make real-time changes to your applications... on the fly. ... to respond to users' expectations of specific new features and functionalities faster than with the traditional app development model. "Continuous improvement" is the key phrase here:   You're free to add and roll back new features and enhance its performance... constantly. On the go. #2: You Benefit from a Higher Developer Productivity And this is another one of the key cloud native application benefits. The cloud-native architecture: speeds up the development process helps your team save time, that they'd otherwise need to spend trying to solve various infrastructure issues and handling critical business requirements instead enables easy remote access to their system, irrespective of their location #3: Why Cloud-Native Apps? Because You Can Build, Update, and Deliver them Faster The cloud-native approach enables you to scale your resources and comply with user demand way faster than the monolithic approach: You get to bring new features online — requested by your users — more quickly. To roll out changes and start marketing your app much faster. In short, you get to be more responsive to user demand and more relevant with the updates you make to your app in… real time. #4: You Save Time and Money From all the cloud native applications advantages, cost-savings must be the most tangible one. And it’s pretty obvious if you come to think of it: Since the cloud-native approach to developing applications allows you to build and release them much faster, you’re practically left with more time. More time to focus on your other revenue-generating tasks. #5: You Can Make or Roll Back Small Changes Without "Freezing" the Entire App Why cloud native applications? Because you can minimize downtime when you need to update your app. #6: You Get to Run Your App on Multiple Platforms Cloud native applications run on both public and private platforms without you being forced to make any major changes. For “flexibility” (along with “efficiency” and “high availability”) is another word for cloud-native. So, Why Cloud-Native Apps? It’s simple: You get to innovate faster and to react to users’ changing needs and trends... faster. Do you already have an app idea and you just need the right team to, ask the right questions, grasp your vision, and… make it happen? Just drop us a line, let’s hear all about it and let's... build it! Image by Ashish Bogawat from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 15'2020
Rank Math vs Yoast SEO: Is Rank Math Better than Yoast? (pros, cons, and when to choose one plugin over the other)
You've just started your WordPress site and you're facing a "Rank Math vs Yoast SEO" dilemma. Which plugin should you use? Or maybe you've already been running a WordPress site for a while now and you've been using Yoast during all this time. But recently you've been having doubts that you're using the best tool: what's all this fuss about Rank Math? Is Rank Math better than Yoast?  Which one should you choose? And how do you choose?  In this post, you'll get straight answers to questions like: "What do I get when I choose Rank Math?" "When exactly would I choose Rank Math over Yoast SEO?" "Are there any reasons not to use Rank Math over Yoast?" "What do I get when I choose Yoast?" "When is Yoast a better solution for me?" 1. What You Get When You Choose Rank Math: Top Features Expect to get far more features for free. Here are the most powerful ones: Rich snippets   A dedicated SEO audit tool: you get a site-wide SEO analysis tool integrated right into your WordPress dashboard; it evaluates your pages based on... 40 SEO factors, so expect a much more detailed technical insight into your web pages   a visually-attractive UI: unlike Yoast SEO, Rank Math doesn't trade aesthetics for functionality; you have all your options organized into categories, which makes each operation far more intuitive   full schema support (for any type of content on your WordPress site, from Article to events, to video, product, and... recipe)   the option to noindex certain pages as you publish them   the option to optimize the same page for up to... 5 focus keywords (for free...): you get to check the SEO score for all of them   auto-link suggestions   redirects and 404 monitoring   local SEO    Google search control integration    clearer content analysis: instead of rating your content as "OK", "Good", or "Bad", Rank Math uses numbers in its SEO scores, making its analysis more to the point, more accurate So, getting back to your dilemma — "Rank Math or Yoast?" — from a feature set standpoint we can say that: Rank Math offers you much more functionality... out of the box (i.e. free of charge). 2. Rank Math vs Yoast SEO: You'll Want to Bet on Rank Math If... you know your way around SEO, so you can use it to its full potential by checking every little setting you have there you want to cut down on your plugins: since you get so much built-in functionality "by default", you don't need so many plugins (i.e. plugin for scheme support) or to get yourself tangled up in additional coding 3. 2 Reasons NOT to Choose Rank Math over Yoast SEO For there are a few... inconveniences of using Rank Math that you should be aware of when you run a "Rank Math vs Yoast 2020" comparison: indexing: it won't show up under your site:mydomain.com, so you'll need to go and click "Request Indexing" in the Google Search Console yourself too many features: checking every single setting there might get a bit... overwhelming, especially if you're new to technical SEO or you just don't have that much time at your disposal 4. What You Get When You Choose Yoast SEO Now, since it's a "Rank Math vs Yoast SEO" dilemma that you're struggling with, let's put the spotlight on the latter, as well. Here's why you'll want to go with Yoast: 70% of its features are free you can add unique tags, meta titles, and descriptions to all your web pages you get to rank your WordPress website quickly (and, once it's reached a decent position, to level up to its premium version, maybe) you can generate a sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console  5. You'll Want to Go with Yoast SEO If... "Should I use Yoast?" You should if you're an SEO beginner. Or simply not familiar with all the technical aspects of SEO (maybe your WordPress site doesn't need that much SEO work done). Then, Rank Math's heavy load of powerful features might seem too discouraging and... unnecessary for you. In that case, you might want to use Yoast. It's beginner-friendly, it helps you start your website ranking quickly and... it's backed by a huge community of WordPress site owners who've been using it for years. The END! Do you now have a clear answer to your "Rank Math vs Yoast SEO" dilemma? But what if you do have a personal winner, yet just the thought of having to carry out all those SEO tasks recommended by your plugin is enough to... stress you out? Maybe you don't have enough people available in your team to handle them. Or the time needed to complete them. If so, just shift the burden to us. Drop us a line and let's get your WordPress site evaluated for SEO issues and areas to be improved. With that list at hand, we're ready to come up with its best version for both search engines and visitors. Image by Surote Wongpaiboon from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 13'2020
10 Best Tools for Conducting a Drupal 8 Site Audit (to evaluate its performance, security, and stability)
You want to audit your Drupal website's infrastructure, SEO, best practices, security, stress, overall performance... And you ask yourself: Are there tools that help you run a Drupal 8 site audit? ... and generate the reports you need? There are quite a few, actually. To narrow down your too many options, we've made a list of 10 tools and Drupal modules that you can use to test your website's performance, security, and stability. 1. 3 Best Tools to Run a Website Security Audit 1.1. Coder     What does it do? it checks your code to see whether it meets the industry standards it checks your text, so you'll know whether i's properly sanitized or not quite In short, a Drupal 8 audit module you'll want to have in your toolbox when conducting a website security audit. 1.2. Qualys SSL Server Test Another tool that you'll want to use during your Drupal 8 security audit process. Why? Because it performs a thorough analysis of a public SSL certificate and generates a grade for you. 1.3. Security Kit How does it work?  It provides you with a set of security-hardening options, that strengthen the shield around your site against CSRF, XSS, and clickjacking attacks. 2.3 Best Tools to Run a Drupal 8 Site Audit Focused on Its Performance 2.1. PageSpeed Insight, YSlow, GTMetrix  Take these 3 website performance audit tools as your the "swiss army knife" in your toolbox.  They run multiple tests on your website and generate a whole set of practical recommendations on how you can boost its front-end performance. Here are just some examples of recommendations: cut down on the number of elements the browser's forced to parse by simplifying the DOM cut down on the number of requests  by aggregating your JS files or using image sprites 2.2. New Relic An all-into-one Drupal site audit module that helps you monitor different sections on your website: from infrastructure to server, to browser and application. Now, here's precisely why you'll want to keep it close at hand while assessing your website's performance: it allows you to set up multiple customized dashboards that show graphs and charts of your website's performance data it enables you to keep an eye on your website's traffic and performance in real-time it allows you to isolate bottlenecks and set up alerts for key events 2.3. Performance Monitor   Let's say you've just moved your Drupal website to another hosting and you now feel that it has slowed down. And that the new server needs to be optimized for Drupal. This is precisely where this module comes in handy: It gives you a clear picture of how your website's performing now, while comparing different servers/hostings. Here are some of the features you'll love: it checks the Mysql status and variables (and provides recommendations) it tests the overall system performance (it runs database, CPU, and file operations performance tests) it evaluates the "Performance score"  3. 4 Best Tools to Evaluate Your Website's Stability 3. 1. Behat, PHPUnit, Nightwatch Or you can put together your own "combo" of unit and functional testing tools. Automated testing will improve your website's stability... in the long-term (and nothing can beat the peace of mind that you'll get). 3.2. Code Sniffer Whenever you need to assess your code's quality, just reach out for this Drupal 8 audit tool. It will... "sniff on" your code and signal you if it doesn't meet the coding standards.  Also, while testing your code's stability, you'll want to have a look at: the quality of your links the cycles of peer review for codes the factors that influence the SEO the access and breadth of documentation the modules you have on your website: are there any outdated ones? 3.3. Tugboat You save time and money using Tugboat (or an alternative continuous integration tool). Here's how: it runs the automated and linting tests that you will have set up and generates a report to your developer before even merging or reviewing the code it builds a completely working website that incorporates that new feature you've added or has that specific bug fixed before it gets merged A true time-saver that you'll definitely want to have in your toolkit when testing newly added code for stability.  3.4. Linting Tools How do they help you increase the stability of your Drupal website? they get all the developers in your team on the same page when it comes to the code format to be used they (i.e. Drupal Code Sniffer) enforce the Drupal coding standards once integrated to your developers' text editors Tip! Make sure you incorporate your linting tools into your automated testing routine, the one that gets performed on each pull request. The END! These are your best options when it comes to the Drupal 8 site audit tools to include in your toolkit. But what if you dread the idea of digging deep into your code, checking every single one of your Drupal modules, evaluating the CPU performance... What if you could still get a clear picture of how you're website's performing without the dread of going through all these tedious, time-consuming tasks? Just shift the burden to us! Drop us a line and let's get your Drupal website checked for all the issues and bottlenecks affecting its performance, security level, and stability! Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 06'2020
What Is the Best eCommerce Platform for Small Business in 2020? Your 6 Best Options
You need to launch your small eCommerce business fast and without breaking the bank... if possible. So, what's the best eCommerce platform for small business in 2020? And, most importantly: Which is the best eCommerce option for your store? The one that meets your specific needs? For, let me guess: your wishlist doesn't end there. You also want it to: give you enough customization freedom so you can personalize every aspect of your website    be scalable, to accommodate all those big plans that you have for your store be easy to use both for you, as you build your storefront, and your customers provide you with robust sales features (and advanced SEO tools) be fast have great software integration; you want to be able to add all the extra apps and tools that you might need quick and easy Now, let's see which of these 6 best eCommerce platforms for startups ticks most of the boxes on your list: 1. Squarespace What makes Squarespace one of the first solutions to evaluate first when choosing the best eCommerce solution for your small store? It gives you total creative control over how your website will look. Squarespace stands out from this list with its sleek, modern templates. Templates that are flexible enough to enable you to DIY your online store exactly how you want it to look. With no coding skills or additional plugins needed. Key Benefits you get unlimited creative control you get an entire collection of beautifully-designed templates, as well as tons of flexibility to further customize them to your liking you get to sell your products on Instagram, as well Main Drawbacks you're not free to add any extra sales features to those that you get out of the box; there's no app market you're quite limited when it comes to payment options; there are 3 options only: Apple Pay, PayPal, and Stripe its multi-channel selling offering is limited to Instagram its sales features aren't as powerful as those of other eCommerce solutions for small businesses You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Squarespace If... it's a visually-arresting storefront that you want to create you want total creative control over your website's design 2. Best Platform for Small Business in 2020: Wix Wix is any small-scale seller's (with little to no tech knowledge) dream come true. You get: an easy to use drag and drop system to put together your store (just drag text boxes and images and position them anywhere you want on the page) tons of creative freedom over your website's looks: make your website look exactly like the one in your head the chance to build your store with... zero costs (pay when you start to actually sell products/services on your newly built website) What more could you want from a solution of eCommerce for small retailers! Key Benefits  you can build your first online store in no time: you just drag and drop elements on the page you're free to design it exactly how you want it to look you get to add product videos, too Main Drawbacks you can't sell your products across multiple social channels you get a less robust inventory, compared to other platforms (i.e. you can't bulk upload products) Overall, the eCommerce tools that you get aren't as powerful as those of other platforms (i.e. Shopify).  You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Wix If... you're looking for an affordable eCommerce solution you want it to be super easy to use you want to be able to personalize every little aspect of your store  3. Weebly  Image by Hannes Edinger from Pixabay If you're looking for a 100% beginner-friendly and budget-friendly solution, Weebly is the one. You get to: sell for free (and upgrade later to one of its eCommerce plans) set up your small-scale eCommerce website with no tech skills Key Benefits  you get to build your online store on a budget: it doesn't get any cheaper than Weebly you can get your website up and running in no time: Weebly's the most beginner-friendly eCommerce solution you'll find Main Drawbacks you're not free to customize your checkout page (a crucial page on your eCommerce website) it doesn't provide you with multichannel selling features You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Weebly If... you have a really small inventory, so you don't really need any advanced selling features 4. BigCommerce It's one of the best eCommerce options for small businesses with... big ambitions. Why? Because: you get lots of powerful eCommerce features from the get-go (robust SEO tools and selling features); you don't need to look for (and pay for) any extra apps if you need to incorporate specific selling features into your website it is the most scalable eCommerce platform for a small business Key Benefits  you get to grow your small business... fast you get to expand your store's reach and keep your costs within budget by selling across various platforms (BigCommerce comes with lots of multi-channel integrations) Main Drawbacks its advanced tools come at a cost: a steep learning curve  it's not as beginner-friendly as the other eCommerce platforms on this list: don't expect to get your BigCommerce store live in... a matter of hours if you don't plan to grow your business any time soon, you'll find yourself paying for powerful features that you just... don't need You'd Choose to Build Your Website with BigCommerce If... you have big plans for your small eCommerce business and you want to make them a reality... fast 5. Square Online Store  Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay  What makes it the perfect candidate for the title of “the best platform for small business in 2020”? it's affordable it's easy to use, for any beginner trying to launch his/her first online store on his own it taps into AI to help you make the best choices when building your site  Key Benefits  you get to build your website and start selling with... zero costs: Square Online Store does offer you a free plan  the AI tech that it uses makes it so much easier (and faster) for you to build your store (i.e. you save valuable time when loading your products since it points out what categories they fit into) it's the “best value for money” type of eCommerce option for small-sized businesses  Main Drawbacks you're not 100% free to customize your website you'll find its selling features to be quite... basic if you're planning to grow your small business You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Square Online Store If... you want to be able to combine your offline sales with your online selling strategy you're on a shoestring budget and you have zero tech skills, so you're looking for a really affordable and easy to use eCommerce platform to build your small online store... fast 6. Shopify New to eCommerce and you're looking for a turnkey solution to launch your business fast? Shopify could be the best choice for you: it's easy to use and code-free it ships with 50+ different store themes (the Shopify themes are some of the best-looking ones in the marketplace) you have lots and lots of apps to choose from to incorporate precisely the functionality that you need into your store The whole process of building your eCommerce website with Shopify could get summed up to 3 simple steps: you select the store theme you add on your content you import your products' CSVs There! You're now ready to launch your Shopify store. Key Benefits  you get a huge app market and the most advanced sales-specific features on the market you get multichannel selling options (Amazon and eBay integrations here included) you can sync your inventories if you're already selling on another platform: centralize your inventory management you get a robust inventory system (i.e. you get alerted when one of your products is out of stock) you get built-in dropshipping tools, essential when you run a small business on a budget and you don't have storage for your products yet Main Drawbacks  it's not exactly the most budget-friendly eCommerce platform for a small retailer expect to be charged transaction fees on your sales, unless you use its in-house payment gateway: Shopify Payments You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Shopify If... you're committed to building a successful eCommerce business (you're not selling just a couple of products) you want to create a solid foundation for your store: Shopify provides you with powerful tools to build and manage your store and a big app store to browse through and grow your business The END! The best eCommerce platform for small business in 2020 is on this list, but the real question bugging you is: “Which one's the perfect choice for my own store?” It really depends on what you value most:  a low price? powerful sales tools and features? creative freedom to customize your product listings, your checkout page, your...? If what you need is a visually-appealing, easy to manage online store, equipped with advanced eCommerce features that best fit your needs, then what you need is Shopify. Now, if the idea of: digging through a huge app store browsing through a big collection of store themes to pick the one that suits your niche and store's personality setting everything up (optimizing it to rank high in search results here included) ... seems too time-consuming for you, we're here to help. Just drop us a line and let's get you that Shopify store that engages and drives sells.   Image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 29'2020
The SEO Shopify Checklist: How to Get Your Store to Rank Higher Fast in 10 Simple Steps (Part 2)
See? We are a team of our word. As promised in Part 1, we're back with 5 more steps to add to your SEO Shopify checklist. And to boost the ranking of your new Shopify store (and its traffic, and the sales, and... all the "good stuff" that comes from an effective SEO strategy). So, let's dive right in. Here are the other 5 simple, yet effective improvements that you can make to your eCommerce website: Step 6: Optimize Your Product Pages "How does a Shopify store rank on Google?" It "bets" on a mix of unique product descriptions and on-product-page SEO best practices. "Often times product pages don't have the content that they need to perform well in the SERPs" (MOZ.com) With so many eCommerce brands still striving to get the most out of these 2 totally ineffective tactics: using the same description on multiple product pages across their websites displaying the manufacturers' descriptions on their product pages ... you stand high chances to get your own product pages to rank higher in the SERPS. Now, let's get specific.  6.1. 4 Best Practices to Increase Engagement on Your Product Pages add unique content to each page (don't be that Shopify store owner who uses the same content across all his/her product pages!) write your own product descriptions (and make sure to create one for each product in your inventory; focus on their best features and benefits) add product reviews and highlight ratings add high-quality images and videos of your products link to related products Source: spiegel.medill.northwestern.edu   Tip! One of the best SEO Shopify apps that you could use at this point is Product Reviews. It'll add SEO-friendly scores to all your product pages. 6.2. 3 Best Practices to Keyword Optimize Your Product Pages include your target keywords in the title tags, product descriptions, and meta descriptions remember to add it to your ALT text for images, as well make sure your keywords fit naturally into the text And, again, I can't stress enough the importance of original and unique product descriptions! Step 7: Add a Blog, Another Critical Step On Your SEO Shopify Checklist "If you’re seeing that Google is ranking more blog/article types of content for the keywords mapped to your Shopify store, your best bet is to go out and create that content yourself." (MOZ.com) Now, let's say that, as you're building the SEO for your Shopify store, you're trying to rank for quite a lot of informational keywords ("How to...", "What's the best...", etc.). You've already mapped them all to your store (i.e. to your product and your category pages) and... nothing. Your Shopify store's still on... page 10 in the searches for those keywords. But what about those stores that do rank high for the same keywords with informational intent? Is it their product/category pages that Google ranks? Or rather post from their blogs, that include those keywords? Mystery solved. If you want to have your store rank high for keywords with informational intent you need to add a blog to your Shopify site. It's there that you can write informational (and epic) content around those specific keywords. "Google is starting to prefer to rank more informational content above transactional. " (MOZ.com)  7.1. 4 Reasons Why You'd Want to Start Blogging on Your Shopify Store    face it: only a ridiculously small percent of your website's visitors access it with a clear intention to buy. To increase chances to turn them from visitors to customers, you need to... educate them; to provide them with informational content for each stage in the buyer's journey once you write high-quality content on your blog you can send some of that authority to your product and category pages (which, otherwise, are so hard to link to); internal linking still is on of the best SEO tips for Shopify that you should make the most of blog posts make great tools for "pitching" your products (just make sure you target the right keywords) a blog is a perfect place on your website to add informational content that Google ranks high   "But what should I blog about?" Glad you asked. Here are 3 simple ways that you can come up with some killer blog post topics: a. Ask yourself how your customers could get more value out of your product. For instance, you might be selling... hand blenders. Then, you could come up with recipes on "how to make creamy tomato soup in just 3 minutes" using a particular feature of your blenders. b. When you do your keyword research, make a list of all the user questions around those keywords. Then, go ahead and "exploit" them: write blog posts around the questions that your future customers have. c. Or, you can... brainstorm those questions. Ask yourself what inquiries and dilemmas related to your products your customers might be dealing with. For instance, you could be selling clothes made of a... revolutionary type of linen. Your potential customers could be wondering: "What makes it so revolutionary?". Or "Why is linen so expensive?" or "What's the difference between cotton and linen?" Step 8: Find and Fix all the Duplicate Content Issues Removing all duplicates is one of the crucial steps to take for improving the SEO of your Shopify store. It's also one of those issues common to Shopify stores in particular: 2 versions of your domain (with the same content) get indexed: the myshopify one and the custom domain one. Tip! When you add your custom domain to Shopify, make sure to check that all the traffic gets automatically redirected to your primary domain. How? Just go to Online Store > Domains and, if the message that you get there is “Traffic from your domains is not being redirected to this primary domain.”, click "Enable redirection". If it says “Traffic from all your domains redirects to this primary domain", then you're safe. But it's always best to check first. This way, you avoid the scenario where you're making it harder than necessary for Google to rank your Shopify store. For it won't know which of the 2 indexed versions is the "official" one. And speaking of the "duplicate content" danger that's greater in the case of Shopify websites, here are 2 ways that this eCommerce platform duplicates content. 8.1. It duplicates collection pages via pagination Meaning that it duplicates the first product category page in a series. You'll see “?page=1” included in the URL to the first page in that series.  And this URL is highly likely to have the same content as the first, non-parameterized URL. So, when working on the SEO for your Shopify store, make sure to identify and to remove all the duplicate paginated URLs. 8.2. It duplicates product pages  You'll have your product pages rendering at 2 different URL paths: the canonical one: /products/ the default, non-canonical one: /collections/.*/products/ Basically, Shopify creates several links for each category that a product is in. How to fix that? You can address this issue right in your theme's .liquid files. Just follow the step-by-step guide there to get it fixed. Step 9: Use an Alternative to Robots.txt File to Control Google's Crawl  Why would you want to add this point to your SEO Shopify checklist? Because in Shopify you cannot adjust the robots.txt file.  And, since you don't want Google to crawl the content on your website altogether, you'll need to look for alternatives. You could, for instance, consider canonical or "no follow" tags. Step 10: Build Links to Your Shopify Store It's sill is one of the most challenging parts when doing SEO for Shopify in 2020. But it's also one of the most powerful tactics, that can make or break an effective SEO strategy. Still, no need to get discouraged. There are a few simple and effective ways to get quality, relevant links to your Shopify store and boost its authority:   guest blog on relevant websites (remember to add a link to your online store in your blog post) reach out to those websites that have already mentioned your brand (your products, your brand's name, etc.), but "overlooked" to include a link to your website, as well form partnerships with publishers or other eCommerce businesses in your industry  find out who's linking to your competitors' stores and reach out to them   Our Recommendation for You Is... ... to balance out your SEO efforts and your efforts to provide the best user experience. Your mail goal, as a Shopify store owner, should go beyond that of achieving a higher ranking: More sales is your ultimate goal. And for that, delivering the best user experience (a fast loading site, helpful image descriptions, useful content, etc.) is critical. So, in addition to these 10 points on your SEO Shopify checklist, be sure to add another one: Provide users with what they're looking for on your website. And make it easy for them to find it. The better their experience will be, the higher your chances to have your site pushed up in the rankings. Now, if you'd want to have your store bumped up in the search results, but without having to: get tangled up in link building tactics be on the lookout for duplicate content issues come up with a unique and keyword-optimized description for every single product in your inventory ... just shift the burden to us. Drop us a line and let's start building out the SEO strategy that'll set your Shopify store up for success! Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 17'2020