“Mysterious” pop-ups that you did not initiate, inexplicable auto-linking keywords, frequent freezing of your website... These are all but clear signs that your WordPress site has been hacked! Now what? Where should you look for the “infection”? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to fix a hacked WordPress site. And it goes without saying that the very first step to take is to: Keep calm! Next, you'll need to figure out how precisely that malicious individual has found his/her way into your site. What security vulnerability has he detected and exploited? Once you've determined how your WordPress website's got hacked, figuring out how to remove the malware is already a half-solved problem. So, let's dig in before this hypothetical infection has spread out throughout your entire website: Step 1: Identify the Hacked Files (and Change Your Password) Remember what we've already agreed upon, that the very first step to take is precisely not to panic? So, while keeping your cool, start your “investigations” by asking yourself 3 key questions — this, of course, after you've already asked yourself “How to remove malware from my WordPress site?”: Are you able to access your admin panel? Is your site already marked as insecure (by Google)? Is your site redirecting automatically to another website once you log yourself in? At this point, I also strongly recommend that you changed your password, as well. And this before you jump to the next step of your investigation. Note: remember to change it again after you've cleaned up your website, as well. 1.1. Give Your Site a Thorough Scan Using a Security Tool/Plugin And I do think that it never gets redundant for me to stress out: Turning on a powerful WordPress security plugin on your website is one of the best shields that you could activate around it. In case of an emergency situation, like this one here, you'd simply enable it to scan your site remotely and track down malware locations and malicious payloads and, most of all: A good security plugin would identify and alert you, in real-time, of all the changes made to your website. Note: everyone knows it, yet most website owners stubbornly ignore the importance of keeping their loads of WordPress themes and plugins updated regularly. They just overlook the fact that out-of-date files are by far hackers' “top favorite” security vulnerabilities. 1.2. Check Whether Your Core Files Have Been Compromised And since they're by far the most valuable files on your site, it's only normal to check their integrity first things first: wp-includes root folders wp-admin Most of these core files should never ever be modified. And there are 2 ways of checking them: you either use the diff command in your terminal or you check them manually, via SFTP If they're unchanged and therefore clean, move on to the next step of this “how to fix a hacked WordPress site” guide: 1.3. Check the Integrity of the Recently Modified Files It may also be that precisely the recently modified files on your WordPress site are the “corrupted” ones. To know for sure, identify the files that have been recently modified. And again, you have 2 options at hand for this type of “investigation”: the manual check running the right commands in your Linux terminal For manually identifying these newly changed files that might have been hacked just go through these steps here: log into your server (use the SSH terminal or an FTP client) if it's SSH that you're using, then it's this command that will automatically list all the files that got modified the last 15 days: $ find ./ -type f -mtime -15 if it's SFTP that you're using, just scan through the last modified date column for all files on your server … detect any files that recent changes have been made to Now for tracking down these possibly “infected” recently modified files using the terminal, just follow these 2 simple steps: run this command in your terminal: $ find /etc -type f -printf '%TY-%Tm-%Td %TT %p\n' | sort -r next, if you want to identify the directory files, enter this command: $ find /etc -printf '%TY-%Tm-%Td %TT %p\n' | sort -r Are there any unexplainable changes made to those files in the last 7-30 days? 1.4. Check the Diagnostic Pages A conveniently handy way to remove a virus from your WordPress website is to “track it down” using Google's or another website security authority's tool to give your site a deep scan with. Has yours already been blacklisted by one of these authorities? Then simply run the Google Transparency Report: go to Safe Browsing Site Status website enter your website's URL there check both the Site Safety Details and the Testing Details sections It's a quick and easy way to collect valuable information about any suspicious downloads, redirects, and spams on your site, as well as priceless data about Google's recent scan that ended in malware being detected. Note: another way of identifying malware that's within your reach is by using a free webmaster tool — Google Webmasters Central, Norton SafeWeb, Bing Webmaster Tools etc. Step 2: How to Fix a Hacked WordPress Site: Removing the Detected Malware After all your preliminary investigations, you should put together your battle plan for actually removing the identified hack from your WordPress site. And for restoring it to its pre-hack clean state, too, obviously. For this, here are the most effective measures at hand for you to apply: 2.1. Is a Clean Backup Available? Use It to Compare Pre-Hack to Post-Hack Files Is there any need for me to stress out that: You should back up your website on a daily basis! And the very situation that you're in now is by far one of the strongest reasons to do that: “How to fix a hacked WordPress site” will get reduced to: “simply comparing a clean backup to the current hacked version of your site!" Identify the files that have been modified and get them removed. It goes without saying that you risk losing some of your files — those added/updated after the last backup — but you do want a clean website now, don't you? 2.2. Remove the Identified Infected Files from Your Website Once you've restored your WordPress backup, you can easily remove any suspicious plugin, theme or other types of file. Note: do handle core files with utmost caution, though! Mind you don't accidentally overwrite your wp-content folder or your wp-config.php file. When it comes to infected custom files, you could replace them with a clean recent backup or with fresh new copies. “But how do I remove “malicious” code manually?” you might ask yourself. Let me go briefly through all the key steps required: log into your server (via SSH or SFTP) back up your website track down the recently modified files replace any suspicious files with copies from the WordPress repository use a text editor for opening up any custom files there and remove any suspicious code that you'll detect test your newly cleaned up website Word of caution: manually removing a malware infection from your WordPress site does call for special safety measures. Never remove corrupted code without first backing everything up! 2.3. Remove All Malware Infections from Your Database Tables, as Well Now, you do agree that a “how to fix a hacked WordPress site” tutorial couldn't possibly skip the step where database tables get cleaned up of any malware infection. Here's how you do it: connect to your database using your database admin panel create a backup of your database give it a deep scan looking for any suspicious content if detected, open the table containing that specific link or spammy keywords manually remove that infected piece of content give your website a “post database clean up” test remove any tools that you might have used specifically for this operation — Adminer or maybe Search-Replace-DB 2.4. Check All The User Permissions: Look for New, Unfamiliar User Accounts My advice to you, when it comes to user accounts, to user roles and permissions on your WordPress site is to: Keep just one single admin user and stick to the essential user roles (and granted permissions): author editor contributor etc. This is one of the most effective prevention measures that you could take so you don't end up asking yourself “How to clean up a hacked WordPress site?” Now, coming back to our investigation here, here's how you remove all the unfamiliar WordPress user accounts from your website: first, back up both your site and your database log into your admin panel and click the “Users” tab track down any unfamiliar new user accounts there, hover over them and delete them Note: another wise thing to do is to re-check each user's roles and permissions. If you feel like updating them, simply use the users' role editor plugin. 2.5. Detect and “Close” all the Backdoors And you want to treat this aspect with maximum seriousness. Otherwise, following each and every step indicated to you in this “how to fix a hacked WordPress site” tutorial becomes... pointless. For the attackers would always have this “secret passage” to infiltrate themselves into your website over and over again. “But what are backdoors more precisely?” you might ask yourself. They're files similar to your site's core files — wp-config.php and key directories such as /uploads, /themes, /plugins — yet strategically placed in the wrong directories. Here are some PHP functions that you could recognize them by: str_rot13 assert base64 move_uploaded_file eval system stripslashes gzuncompress Word of caution: keep in mind that there are plugins on your WordPress website that could be legitimately be using these PHP functions; therefore, make sure you test all those "apparently suspicious changes" before rushing to remove the so-called "malicious" functions. Otherwise, by removing benign functions, you might just break your website. 2.6. Request a Review of Your Site, to Have all Malware Warnings Removed Now, once you've repaired all the damage caused on your Wordpress site, it's only but logical to... let the blacklisting authorities know that your site's clean now. For this, you can just request a review of your recovered website. 2.7. Change Your WordPress Salt Keys The very last step to take in this “How to fix a hacked WordPress site” process is to change the security keys from your wp-config.php file: This way, even if a potential attacker stole your password, he would get automatically auto-logged out once you've changed your WordPress salt keys. Next, you can just change your password, as well as the ones of other users on your site. Or, Just Cut All These Steps Down to a Single One: Preventive Maintenance Which means adopting a WordPress maintenance and support plan tailored just for you and your specific security feature needs. This way, not only that you'd save the time (and spare your nerves) that you'd otherwise invest in carrying out all the steps included in a tedious “how to fix a hacked WordPress site” process, but: From running regular updates to on-going maintenance of your website's core components to regular security audits, you wouldn't need to... move a single finger. Our WordPress maintenance and support team would handle it for you. “Prevention is better than cure” is so much more than just a saying...
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 19'2018
There's no way around it, not anymore: with Google's index now mobile-first, adopting a mobile-first approach when building a new Drupal site (or redesigning a legacy one) is… a must! It no longer depends on a specific project's needs or on the used technology. The need to develop a mobile-first content strategy has gone from particular to universal. And facing the challenge of: (re)creating optimizing structuring … content on your Drupal website means conforming to those specific patterns that mobile users have developed for reading content on their smartphones. In short: developing a fully responsive Drupal site comes down to centering your mobile content strategy around the idea that: It's for the smallest screen sizes that you should plan your content for, first things first … then scale it up from there. Now, let's see precisely what it takes to develop a mobile-first content strategy. What focus points and must-have components to include: 1. Take the Smallest Screen Size as the Starting Point In other words: think mobile-first! And by “mobile” I do mean “smartphones” — the smaller the screen size, the better. This way, you'll be adjusting your content so that it makes the most of the smallest interface. Starting “small” is the best way to stick to the “keep it simple” approach: Thinking through every content-related decision in the light of the viewport size challenge will constrain you to keep the truly essential content elements only. Hence, this “spartan” way of eliminating the unnecessary will reflect on your site's desktop design, as well: It will turn out cleaner and lighter. 2. Use Visual Content Wisely: Weigh Your Choices of Images The golden rule when it comes to the imagery that you'll use on your responsive website is: If an image doesn't enhance and complement your content, then you're better off without it! And I know what you must be thinking: “But people remember what they see far more easily than what they read.” True, you need to keep in mind that visuals do come at a cost, though: Those stunning, visually-arresting images on your website risk to divert your users' attention from the message itself. And still, probably the most heavy-weighing reason why you should use images wisely when you develop a mobile-first content strategy is: weigh. Visuals risk to take up valuable screen space and thus: outshine your calls to action themselves impact your site's overall performance (leading to frustration) Now that doesn't mean that you should strip your content off ALL the visuals! Absolutely not! Just to be cautious and weigh your every choice, think through your every decision involving the usage of an image. Once you've selected the truly essential ones, keep in mind: not to no resize them (or optimize them in any other way) before uploading them to your CMS: let Drupal do the heavy-lifting here to leverage the Responsive Image module's (Drupal 8) capabilities for resizing them to fit the given screen sizes 3. Content Before Design This is the right sequence to follow when you're designing (or re-designing) your Drupal site with mobile users in mind: First, you create and strategically organize your content and upload it to your Drupal 8 CMS. It's only then that you focus on styling and developing a responsive and visually-striking web design. If it's legacy content that you're dealing with, trying to convert it to mobile, the very first step to take when you develop a mobile-first content strategy is: Removing all the design elements from your written content. 4. Create a Hierarchy of Your Calls to Action Making the most of a small interface means also setting your priorities in terms of calls to action: Pair each one with a corresponding objective, evaluate them all wisely, then select THE call to action that's most critical for you and place it — and it alone — above the fold. 5. Organize and Optimize Your Content for Mobile Devices I'll briefly list all the key requirements that mobile-friendly content should meet — aspects to pay attention to when writing content for mobile devices — for I'm sure they're nothing new to you: the phrases should be kept short and concise, thus eliminating the burden of “never-ending-scrolling” the content should be sharp, targeted and skimmable, so users can easily “digest” it and modular, so that users can swiftly browse through it “modular” meaning made either of multiple clear paragraphs — each one standing for one thought — or chunks of 3 paragraphs at most 6. Optimize Media, too, When You Develop a Mobile-First Content Strategy And there are a couple of essential steps that you mustn't overlook when it comes to mobile-optimizing your media: always go for thumbnails instead of video players that your users would have to load and thus strain on your site's valuable resources don't ever use autoplay on your audio and video content optimize your sound, image and video files both for large and small devices 7. Trim Down Your Navigation Menu In other words: when you develop a mobile-first content strategy, consider simplifying your navigation to its truly essential links. No user would gladly scan through a “beefy” navigation menu taking his device's entire screen: flatten your navigation: stay away from the technique of piling up submenus, layers and navigation points feel free to place the links that you'll remove on other places on your website (or even to turn them into calls to action) 8. Convert Your Legacy Content to Mobile-Friendly Content If it's a legacy Drupal website that you need to restructure and to adapt to your mobile users' specific patterns for browsing through and consuming content on their smartphones, then it's time you: dug into your static HTML … and cleaned it up And by “cleaning it up” I do mean: removing inline media removing the fixed-width tables eliminating floats with content breaking it down into skimmable chunks of content … that can be easily structured into content fields. The END! These are the 8 main aspects to focus on when you develop a mobile-first content strategy. Now time to test the “saying” that: “Creativity strives under constraints.” … and to make the most of those small interfaces.
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 11'2018
Content is a way too valuable asset not to handle it with utmost care — from its creation to its revision, all the way to its... distribution. And with utmost efficiency, as well! But how do you choose the business software to “orchestrate” your entire content workflow? Since, on one hand, you have the top enterprise content management systems in 2018 and, on the other hand, you have... Drupal? And the dilemma that you're facing right now could be summed up like this: Choosing between a complex ECM system with a load of powerful tools that comes at a cost and a feature-rich one — already famed for its robustness and customization options — with no price tag on... Now to ease your decision-making process, let's compare these enterprise information management solutions, the top rated ones, to Drupal, by weighing their feature loads and costs. 1. But What Is an Enterprise Content Management System More Precisely? First, let's try to define what we mean by “content” in relation to a content management software: Content is all the written pieces of information entering and “moving about” your organization. It comes in the form of: internal process documents content for your company website (or blog) sales-focused content targeted, custom content available to paying cutomers only ... and the list goes on. As you can see, I've intentionally left out graphical and audio-visual content. And this because it's only text-based digital content that a CMS would handle. Now, coming back to our initial question: An enterprise content management system is a software geared at managing all the processes in your content's lyfecycle: creation, revision, publication, distribution to multiple channels, promotion etc. Packed with different sets of tools designed to automate all your content-based processes, an ECM system is a... “Swiss knife” type of business software. The one you'd use to streamline your content workflow(s). 2. M-Files, One of the Top Enterprise Content Management Systems in 2018 Introducing the enterprise-leveled information management solution of the year: M-files! The promise that it makes? To break the “siloed information” pattern and enable users to access specific content from any buiness system, any device. … to easily access it, but also to organize it, to manage it, to identify particular information/documents, to set up custom workflows and even to manage document reviews. Top features version control automated workflows pre-built search engine: you get to track documents by type, name, keywords; it provides within-text search features as well notifications: users get alerted whenever they'll need to review or approve changes made to documents approval processing permission management and offline access integration capabilities: it easily integrates with Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, SAP, Salesforce document collaboration tools: co-authoring features and check-in/check-out tools Price Mi-files is one of those enterprise content management vendors that leverage the quote-based method for pricing their services. Basically, there are no standard prices, as there are no standard packages that they offer, only tailored content management solutions. Cons The great majority of negative user feedbacks revolve around the M-Files mobile app's limited functionality. 2. OnBase Another one of the top enterprise content management systems in 2018 is OnBase: An all-in-one software coming “equipped” with: business process management tools integrated document management tools records management tools And before I “expose” to you its most heavy-weighing features, I feel that I should put the spotlight on its versatility feature first: You get to easily configure your OnBase ECM system to fit any environment of choice. Top Features approval process control indexing version control built-in search engine document management Cons Do expect a steep learning curve! So, be prepared to invest a significant amount of time in growing comfortable with using it. In learning to “juggle” with all its apps and functionalities. Price You'll need to contact the OnBase team for a custom pricing plan. 3. Box Box is a cloud content management platform built to assist you with: online sharing your files storing your files integrating content across your entire “infrastructure” of digital tools via open APIs collaborating within your team Top Features granular access permission easy integration with other platforms advanced security capabilities: device trust, watermarking, data governance easy integration with other platforms collaboration tools: a document management system that enhances collaboration among end-users on various file types and devices; tools which also enable them to choose the right storage place, to set up metadata-driven content workflows etc. Cons Even top enterprise content management systems manage to collect their own “pile” of “bad reviews”. What users reproach OnBase here, for instance, is its user-based pricing model. In other words, if you have +100 people in your company, expect to get charged separately for each email domain... and thus to overstretch your budget over time. Price Box pricing plans start from €4.50 per user/month (we're talking about a starter business plan here) and can go up to $500 per month or more if it's a “build with BOX platform” plan that you'll select. 4. Drupal And now that we've put the top-rated ECM systems in 2018 into the spotlight, let's see what Drupal here has to offer. How it can counterbalance all these heavy loads of tools, features, and functionalities. Drupal's Key Features advanced integration capabilities: Drupal “spoils” its end-users with conveniently accessible API, backed by a rich collection of modules built precisely for 3rd party integrations no maintenance effort required: since it runs in Acquia Enterprise cloud, Drupal gets automatically updated; maintenance is already included in the Enterprise support costs plan feature richness: and we're talking here about features, plug-ins (thousands of them) and content management tools that you get right out of the box modular architecture: which goes hand in hand with the unlimited freedom of customization that you'll get to leverage high performance: Drupal's already famed for its robustness and capabilities to withstand high influxes of traffic unmatched scalability a full toolbox (contributed modules here included) put at editors' disposal: Drupal's also won its reputation as a CMS that's been constantly improved to enrich the experience; all the in-built content-handling tools speak best of its “empower the content creator/end-user” philosophy Price license costs: unlike the top enterprise content management systems previously outlined, Drupal's open source; there are no license costs, only support costs associated with the Acquia Enterprise Platform vendor lock-in: all modules and plug-ins that you might select and mix and match to custom-tune your CMS are free development costs: Drupal resources are available to anyone who wants to build and then to custom tune and scale up its CMS In conclusion... … Drupal comes feature-packed and, moreover, it “spoils” you with unlimited freedom of customization. And all this without putting a price tag on. On the other hand, some of the top enterprise content management systems do tempt you with their feature richness, but at a cost. One that can go up precisely if you feel like customizing your ECM solution or scaling it up sometime in the future. In short: you do get your share of customization freedom... but not for free. So, it's not really an “apples vs oranges” type of dilemma that you're facing, but rather an: Apples vs Apples with a price tag on
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 29'2018
Informative, entertaining, engaging and... a key revenue source! These are just some of your expectations regarding your Magento 2 blog, right? Well, then, get ready to check them all off your “wishlist” digging through my shortlist of can't-believe-its-free Magento 2 blog extensions. From SEO-oriented to shipping-focused features, from functionalities centered on social media to those geared at enhancing page loading speed, these 9 extensions are, each, extra functionalities to inject into your blog. So that it (your blog) should serve your specific needs and help you reach your goals. And that without having to “stretch” your budget (there are only 100% free extensions in this list)... Oh, yes: and they're all wearing the signatures of certified Magento partners! And now, let's get straightaway to these must-have Magento 2 extensions that you should be turbocharging your blog with: all of them “spoiling” you with configurations that make customization unexpectedly easy … blending perfectly into your blog's design and fitting into your codebase (no need to depend on an “army” of coding experts) 1. Magento 2 Image Slider Let's review a visual/aesthetics-oriented extension first things first. For, as above-mentioned, a “money-making” blog shouldn't be purely informative and helpful, but... engaging, visually-arresting, as well. So, imagery does play its major part here! Now here are a few of this extension's key features: supports no less than 10 sliders built-in support for inserting video text, image one of those fully responsive free Magento 2 blog extensions provides tons of animations, with Live Preview, for you to select from supports OWL Carousel conveniently intuitive UI you're free to display it anywhere on your blog with CMS & Widget 2. Facebook Live Chat A blog is the ultimate channel of communication with your brand's audience. With your e-store's regular and potential customers. Well, then moving from standard communication to... instant communication is a must if you want to meet their expectations. And this is what makes Facebook Live Chat one of the must-have free Magento 2 blog extensions. It's that chatbox incorporated into your blog that's powerful enough to turn “just” guests into loyal customers. And now, let me point out to you some of its most powerful features: there's a Like button and a store profile incorporated into the chatbox user statistics capabilities unlimited History Chat you get to set upcoming events, define greeting text and integrate your e-store's Facebook profile into the chatbox simple backend operations for enabling/disabling the chatbox displayed on your blog familiar UI; a Facebook Messenger Interface-alike chatbox 3. Magento 2 Lazy Load A must-have extension for your Magento 2 blog if you care enough about the user experience that you provide there. And page loading speed does play a key role in improving/negatively impacting it. Moreover, besides optimizing your blog's performance, Magento 2 lazy load creates some aesthetically-pleasing image transitions influencing the UX. But let's get deeper into details and “unearth” all those advanced features that make this extension one of the must-haves: it helps you save your web server resources — saves bandwidth and minimizes server requests it creates smooth, blurring effect transitions for your lazy load images … and a smooth, visually-pleasing transition when users keep scrolling down your pages it gives your blog a ranking boost by creating friendly code strings it optimizes your blog's page loading time you're free to enable/disable the “Lazy Load” mode for each one of your blog's pages you get to set advanced time point for loading pages 4. Better SEO, One of the Free Magento 2 Blog Extensions You Should Be Using Inject Better SEO into your blog and... propel it in the search engines results! And it's not “just” packed with clever features, but ideally easy to use, as well. Built to fit into your blog's existing code structure and to empower you to customize it to serve your SEO goals in detail. I'm talking here about: meta descriptions meta keywords … that this extension's flexible enough to allow you to insert quick and easy. Now that we've settled that Better SEO makes an ideally customizable, blog/store-friendly extension, let's check out its powerful features: SEO checklist — a more than handy “TO Do” list, pointing out to you the SEO tasks to complete for reaching a high SEO score its detects duplicate content issues advanced HTML/XML sitemaps — one for the users, the other one to be used by search engines structured data — implements schema structured data metadata template rules — easy to define mass and dynamic metadata for your pages, categories, layered navigation provides you with actionable SEO reports rich snippets preview cross links social optimization 5. Exto Analytics Applying a marketing strategy that lacks the proper data-fuel is like aiming at a target... blindfolded. So, if relying on pure chance doesn't define you and if you want to go beyond the data provided to you by the native Magento 2 reporting functions, go with Exto Analytics. Here are some more heavy-weighing reasons to do so: real-time mobile dashboard, so you should remain “connected to” your data anytime anywhere convenience at its best when it comes to handling your reports — you get to sort data by specific columns and even to turn off the columns feature itself date range picker — compare and evaluate your blog's performance on different periods of time your previous data gets added to your reports, as well, once you install the extension a chart, enabling you to visualize all data reports in parallel 6. Magento 2 Admin Theme From user experience to... admin experience. As your own blog's admin, you should also consider making your dashboard's more user-friendly and intuitive. For a high level of convenience on your side will bubble up, eventually, in the experiences that you'll create for your visitors. But let's see specifically what makes Admin Theme one of the best Magento 2 blog extensions to use: mobile optimized easy to use and quick to customize retina ready clean, neatly structured code a different interface for Login & Forgot Password admin icon font translation-ready 7. Magento 2 Infinite Scroll It does precisely what its name says: it keeps loading content, without interruption, as your blog guests scroll down. Fluidity in the way you present content to your readers translates into improved user experience! And now, let's scan through this extension's specific features: you can display and easily change the “Show” button, along with its loading text the navigation bar can be placed anywhere on the page you can implement it both on your category page and in the search page the pages that your readers land on get automatically loaded while scrolling down, your blog guests know, at all time, what section on the blog they're on you get to customize your progress bar to your liking users get to share the links of those specific pages that they reach during their scrolling (for instance, if they're on page 8 of your blog, they can bookmark/share the link of precisely that page) 8. Better Blog Now, let's imagine that you don't own a blog yet, “only” an e-store. And that now you want to integrate a simple blog, as well. One that should: be conveniently easy to configure have a beautiful layout design to “wow” your readers with load fast come packed with much-needed backend features, making updating content unexpectedly easy for you, the admin Checked, checked, checked! The Better Blog is undoubtedly one of the must-go-to Magento 2 extensions no matter the size of your current e-commerce site. Once integrated into your Magento store's backend, you'll get to manage both your store and your blog from the very same place. Here are the main reasons why it still is one of the best Magento 2 blog extensions: SEO friendly: SEO-friendly URLs, metadata information, XML sitemap open source code layered navigation, with a significant impact on UX (your blog guests get to quickly track precisely those posts that they're looking for out-of-the-box comment functionality: Disqus Comment, Facebook Comment blog topics built-in product recommendations feature: "Who Bought This Also Bought", "Auto Related Products", "Frequently Bought Together" the option to integrate your store or your blog's sitemap responsive design social sharing buttons blog widgets: show your (recent) posts on your site's homepage (sidebar here included) In short: you get to integrate a simple blog with your e-store with no need for a third-party framework! Moreover, you'll be managing comments, categories, posts, right from your Magento 2 admin, quick and easy. And you'll get informed each time when a blog guest has posted a comment, not to mention that the extension grows into a powerful “ally”, supporting your SEO efforts. One of the must-have Magento 2 extensions without question! 9. Magento 2 SMTP A powerful extension to “turbocharge” your Magento 2 blog with so you: gain total control over your email customization process get enabled to run test sections on your Magento 2 SMTP server And it does all that by providing your blog with configurable port and host. Now, let's go through its cool features: it stores all sent emails logs built to support 20+ SMTP service providers enables you to test how well your current email setting's doing it empowers you to customize your emails in the slightest detail The END! These are the 9 best Magento 2 blog extensions that you should be using. Scan them through, “weigh” their feature loads while setting them against your own needs and growth plans for your blog and... go for the most suitable ones!
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 27'2018
They use the same platform, Magento 2, therefore (theoretically) they all leverage the same functionality, same features, and loading performance, right? And yet, there are e-stores that... stand out! There's no secret here: it's the powerful extensions that “fuel” their success, extending their functionality. And which are the best Magento 2 extensions for you to consider? Which of them best fit your own e-commerce site? For we're talking here about 1,500+ extensions for Magento 2. So, needless to add that there's a dedicated tool for pretty much any specific e-commerce requirements that you might have: to easily manage your inventories to streamline all your customer & supplier-involving operations via a centralized system to easily monitor and quickly track sales for creating invoices to have tracking metrics and in-depth marketing analytics at hand In short: it's the Magento 2 extensions that supercharge your e-store with even more functionality; that help you provide your customers with that ideally convenient and feature-rich shopping experience that they're expecting. The one that will translate into... boosted sales! And now, without further ado, here's the shortlist of 5 best Magento 2 extensions for you to evaluate: 1. Deliver Date Scheduler It's in the (little) details: Winning your customers' trust and eventually their loyalty and … spiking your sales. “Details” like this can't-live-without Magento 2 extension here which practically: takes the unknown and the uncertainty out of the equation (out of the entire order delivery process) “empowers” your customers, who get to choose the most convenient dates for their products to be delivered; and it's you, the admin store, who'll make the date suggestions, based on your product availability and shipping provision And there's more! This extension's a toolkit all by itself, actually, packed with various features ranging from: the option to trigger reminder emails for your customers the option to select a calendar view and a particular format for that delivery date and time of arrival that will be displayed to them the option to enable your customers to keep a close track of and to constantly monitor their ordered products' delivery process 2. Magento 2 Store Credit And here's another one of those feature-rich, “Swiss knife” type of tools on our list of best Magento 2 extensions! One loaded with so much “store credit-centered” functionality that it would be a pity not to have it on your e-store. Here are just a few examples of what it can do and how precisely it's going to enrich and make your customers' shopping experiences even more convenient: customers get to use their credit for purchasing any available product, anytime you, as the store owner/admin, get to refund your customers by credit they get to spend it for paying their shipping fees, taxes they even get to share their store credit with their friends, family customers can either earn or buy their credit you, the store admin, get to easily add/subtract the specific credit values right from the backend an easy way of keeping track of the store credit balance & history in the same place And, surprisingly enough, this list goes on and on. Now with so many powerful features, all bundled into one extension, each one adding a different layer of “convenience” to your customer's shopping experience, you just can't afford overlooking Magento 2 Store credit! 3. Best Magento 2 Extensions: Use the Follow Up Email as Your “Trump Card” And you hit the nail right on the head with this extension here! Whether it's: discreetly guiding your customers back on the “right track”, the one leading to a purchase turning customers into your brand's advocates, winning their loyalty through perfectly tailored, strategically set up follow up emails … this Magento 2 extension here is your most reliable ally. But let's talk facts/functionality. Let's see what is it that the Follow Up Email extension can help you achieve: shopping cart triggers: guide your customers back to their temporarily abandoned carts trigger wish lists: shared, product added customer triggers: billing and shipping address, logged in, subscriber, birthday set up your own custom schedule and automatically send emails on those specific dates use Google Analytics to monitor your email marketing campaign's performance support multiple pre-created emails for each event type custom-tune the design of your emails' templates to your liking define as many rules and conditions for each event type, that you create your emails for, as needed And the list of conveniences for you, the store admin goes on (e.g. test emails that you can send) and those with an impact on your customers goes on. In short: the Follow Up Email is one of those Magento 2 extensions that can make a difference between just “selling” and clever, targeted sells. Between a shopping cart abandoned for good and a completed purchase order. Between a one-time shopper and a regular customer... 4. Hide Price Another powerful extension, whose functionality you should fully “exploit” when setting up your pricing policy. One that perfectly fits your store's specific e-commerce requirements and needs. And its functionality comes down to: enabling you to manage price display on your product and category pages and to hide prices for guest visitors or certain customer groups Now, if I am to detail a bit on this functionality, it's an entire collection of advanced features that I'll eventually dig up: remove/replace the standard “Add to cart” button with a custom button text that should instill your customers to perform the action you want them to (e.g. to register for getting the price) restrict price visibility to particular customer groups get notified of any new quote requests … send email replies to those requests trigger pop-ups whenever your store guest clicks your custom Add-to-cart button, pop-ups geared at collecting user data so you can tailor your product prices accordingly hide price for particular products hide your “Add to cart” button for the non-logged-in visitors on your website Adjusting your prices to your customer's needs and expectations — and you can do that only after you've collected enough relevant user data — is what will stand behind your customers' loyalty and your high conversion rate. And it's Hide Price, one of the best Magento 2 extensions, that can “fuel” your strategically thought out pricing policy! 5. Reward Points High-quality products/services, phenomenal customer service, and hard-to-resist-to prices aren't enough for engaging (and hopefully converting, as well) your store visitors. In this respect, the Reward Points Magento 2 extension is a true... game changer! One to add to your wealth of resources at hand for boosting your sales and “luring” returning customers. It enables you to reward them in multiple ways! And now, let's pass in review some of its most powerful features: several ways for your customers to spend their credit points you're free to set up different spending & earning point rates customers get to earn credit points if/once they've referred to a friend they also get to keep a close track of their transactions' history and points' balance right from their “My account” page set up your rewarding policy by product, behavior, catalog, cart, you name it define a maximum no. of points that a customer can gain or spend on a particular product The END! These are the very best Magento 2 extensions: powerful enough to “fuel” your growth plans, advanced enough to help you enrich the shopping experience that you provide on your e-store. Contact Optasy for professional Magento 2 services in Toronto.
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 23'2018
So, you've (finally) overcome your skepticism regarding it: artificial intelligence does have the potential to propel your business right into the future! To drive productivity, enhance efficiency and flexibility and, overall, to transform your brand from the ground up. But how do you know what AI technology to go with? What are the AI use cases perfectly suited for your own business? And this is where artificial intelligence consulting comes in! An AI consultant/AI consulting company's role is precisely that of answering all your questions and pointing out to you the right AI approach, the AI-powered solution(s) suitable for your own business: Which artificial intelligence technologies should you integrate (according to your industry, specific challenges and opportunities, data & analytics capabilities, tech know-how, growth plans, budget etc.)? Which are the most valuable AI use cases for your own company? What is the current and future potential of AI? And now let's talk facts, shall we? Let's see what are the typical artificial intelligence consulting activities that such an expert would engage in during your collaboration. But Why Is There An Increasing Demand (and Low Supply) for AI Consultants? There's an entire cause-and-effect circuit here, leading to: a high demand for AI-powered products too many companies with huge potential that aren't leveraging AI to their/its full potential And why is that? What's behind this intriguing paradox? Well, studies revealed the following 2 key aspects: companies do see all the opportunities deriving from the “do more with less” principle of the AI technologies and they nourish high expectations from AI yet, they're having trouble choosing the right AI services provider/AI product(s) for them The result: too many companies, with significant potential, that aren't leveraging low complexity, high-benefit AI use cases. A disappointing reality of an unbelievable potential left unexploited! Yet, one that artificial intelligence consulting experts can change. Artificial Intelligence Activities: Developing a Long-Term Strategy How precisely should you be using artificial intelligence? This is the question that your consultant will try to answer while identifying the strategy to be developed. And it all comes down to identifying the AI-centered, business-specific initiatives to implement. A strategy which he/she won't be able to put in place until he doesn't: fully understand your company's current strategy … the specific challenges that you're dealing with … the opportunities opening up for you … and your data & analytics capabilities With the results of his “investigations” at hand and his understanding of AI's present and future potential, your artificial intelligence consultant can “detect” the most valuable AI initiatives for your organization. Note: a wise enough consultant will suggest you to rethink your existing strategy from the ground up instead of just “tweaking” it to your present AI needs. For some AI technologies might just “take over the future”: Just imagine Google translate reaching human-level translation capabilities in 5-10 years! Hence, you need to future-proof your current strategy, making sure it will still be “relevant” enough to stand... the wind of change blowing its way on a longer term. Artificial Intelligence Consulting Activities: Implementing The Suggested AI Initiatives During the strategy developing process your consultant will identify a certain number of initiatives to be implemented: by the AI consulting company itself or in-house, by your team(s) And speaking of such recommended AI-powered activities, let me point out to you a few of the most relevant examples: project management planning business processes improving, so they should level up, in terms of efficiency and productivity, to your current AI project vendor selecting development And even if: it's in-house implementation that you'll choose (even global tech firms care for their budgets and relying entirely on an AI consulting company for implementation can get costly) but your team lacks the tech know-how to implement some pressing initiatives … your consultant can intervene and speed up the implementation process Artificial Intelligence Consulting Activities: Staff Training on the New AI Technologies Now don't think that such an AI consulting professional will just: come in put together your company profile develop an AI-strategy accordingly point out to you the initiatives and AI technologies to be implemented and... that's it. Of course that your team will still be lacking the skills and the know-how to properly leverage the suggested new technologies. And so, it goes without saying that training your staff on the recommended emerging technologies is one of your consultant's key responsibilities. “Training” and instilling the right mindset and proper approach to innovation and innovative tools and technologies. Final Word Artificial intelligence can't go anywhere else but... up. With more products to be launched, more technologies aimed at boosting productivity and enhancing efficiency to emerge. Hence, the future belongs to those (companies) wise enough to see some powerful advisers in these artificial intelligence consulting experts. And bold enough to implement their advice, as well!
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 17'2018
Has that time come yet? The “time” when you realize that your once a start-up business, involving just a few processes and people, has gradually grown into a hard to manage infrastructure? One having plenty of... “holes” to be plugged for better efficiency? Then it's a fact: you need to look for a business process consultant! But what is business process consulting anyway? And this is just one of the questions that I'll do my best to answer in today's post. Besides this, I'll be: pointing out to you, as clearly as possible, what a business process consultant does, more precisely how a business process consulting campaign works, from step A to step Z 5 reasons why you should opt for such services (or 5 “benefits” that you'll reap from opting for such services, if you prefer) So, shall we delve right into it? First Things First: What Is Business Process Consulting? Take it as a “diagnosis & prescription” applied to your business process. It's a process where an external consultant: comes in to closely analyze all the processes being carried out within your organization … and to identify any inefficient use(s) of resources, redundant processes that could get easily automated etc. then present the results of his/her “investigations”, along with his recommendations to you, top management And, if requested, he could also run simulations to test the suggested process improvements. That's the whole process broken down into its essential steps! And... How Does It Work? The Entire Process in 4 Simple Steps Now don't imagine your business process consultant running his/her investigations “undercover”. Or locked somewhere in an office, studying documents, infographics and stats and “thinking up” his recommendations for your business workflow. For it doesn't work like that! He/she will need to get out there and to actually observe your team “in action”. To detect, on the spot, any proofs of inefficient use of time or simply to understand how each process works. For, you can't improve something that you don't “intimately” understand. Now that we've settled this, here's a business process consulting campaign... broken down into 4 steps: a. The business process consultant starts by doing what it takes to gain a deep understanding of all the processes that your business's based on. And his/her methodology could involve tactics ranging from: interviewing your team members to watching them closely as they carry out their regular tasks b. The observation phase and the issues-detecting phase take place simultaneously. Therefore, once your business process consultant identifies all the areas of improvement and the “weak links”, he'll start putting together his “battle plan”. His list of recommendations for clearing all those detected inefficiencies. And these “efficiency holes” could be: bottlenecks, leading to work getting piled up in one specific area from the whole workflow system inefficient use of resources (time being the most valuable of them all) too complex layouts that might delay the completion of certain tasks repetitive processes that could be automated areas where lack of accountability or bad communication impacts productivity c. The business process consultant presents his/her report to you, along with his process-focused recommendations for improving efficiency d. You might want to see those suggested improvements applied to your workflow and the new system “in practice”. This is an optional step where you require a test to be set up. What Does a Business Consultant Do? He/she puts together an accurate and realistic picture of the workflow within your organization and points out all the “cracks” in this picture. And eventually delivers you the solutions for...filling them in. And this definition could be an equally viable answer to the question: “What is business process consulting?” Now to sum up a business process consultant's “mission” to even fewer words, it would go something like this: He/she documents your business processes, “equipping” them with clear sets of instructions, so that each member of your team should know, at any phase, what are the next steps to take Why hire a business process consultant instead of assigning someone in your team to handle all this documenting and structuring your workflow into repeatable processes? Because in case of overly complex infrastructures, with tasks, varying a lot, depending on too many factors, documenting and organizing them gets unexpectedly challenging. Especially if you (your team) don't have the know-how or the needed time for analyzing, in detail, every single little operation in your workflow. 5 Reasons to Use Business Process Consulting Services Now let's talk... clear advantages! Here are the main benefits that you'll reap from opting for such services: 1. Less Time for Managing Details, More Time for The Big Picture Do the math yourself: How much of your time do you waste/invest in managing all kinds of day-to-day... details? Now just imagine how much time you'd save if you took all these burdening tasks, all these time-consuming responsibilities, off your back! And this is precisely what the business process consulting services are aimed at: helping you stop “wasting” time on details … by automating all those day-to-day management tasks … so you can focus more on those new projects that you have been postponing, on exploring new revenue opportunities … and on your customers, too 2. A Consultant Will Instill Responsible Attitudes Within Your Team Without every member of your team motivated to adhere to certain quality standards and best practices... any attempt to improve efficiency is useless. And this is another valid answer to your “What is business process consulting?” It's all about motivating your team to feel some sort of ownership over the results of the tasks they perform. A business process consulting not only that will “detect” those team members who: skip a few (maybe crucial) steps when performing a task come up with their own shortcuts for carrying out certain tasks, which might impact the final product's overall quality … but he/she will also work on motivating your team to adopt the recommended best practices and a certain work ethic. For one of his/her key responsibilities is to make everyone in your team feel responsible for his work. 3. You'll Be Expanding Your Capabilities as an Organization And it's a “cause and effect” process if you come to think of it: More efficient business processes lead to enhanced capabilities in every sphere. And I'm talking here about enhancing efficiency when it comes to: scope scalability (by seizing and leveraging opportunities for improving your infrastructure, your organization gets to grow internationally, as well) 4. You'll Be Simplifying All Your Business Operations Mobile media, cloud computing, social media... and all the latest technologies will only give your business processes a major efficiency boost. And it's that business process consultant that you'll hire who'll be: handling the IT assimilation process selecting the right technology(s) for each process reducing the IT complexities simplifying and automating workflows 5. You'll Be Cutting Down Costs And here you get another valid answer to your “What is business process consulting?” question: "It's process-re-engineering." … during which all the business processes included in your workflow get closely audited, evaluated and properly optimized. And a certain hierarchy set up: resources get reallocated to more important projects and a plan for investing in technology (for automating key processes) is put together Time to Let an Expert Document & Improve Your Processes Now! Now that you know what business process consulting is, it's time to: stop using the budget “excuse” and consider all the resources of time and money that you'll be saving … or the “dangers” menacing your business if you allow it to run on undocumented processes (anytime someone in your team could make a mistake from lack of a well-structured workflow & a set of clear instructions) realize that such a complex process does call for an expert
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 14'2018
Instead of stubbornly keeping yourself stuck, thinking that “Clients don't really know what they want”, how about you... give them a hand? Helping them identify and clearly articulate their needs! Especially since there are so many effective, tried-and-tested tools and techniques that grant you success when you're collecting requirements for your project. And it sure is worth all the effort. Or, to put it this way: It will cost you/your project a lot if you're doing it wrong. In this respect, numbers make the most reliable proofs: Behind the great majority of project failures, there's a lack of clarity on requirements. Therefore, learning how to collect requirements for your project: instead of jumping straight to the design phase way before developers start defining their own scenarios for functional tests … is crucial to the overall success of your project. And now, here's the “arsenal” you should tap into and use to its full potential: The most effective tools and techniques to “power” your collecting requirements process with. What Is This Process? What Is Involved in Collecting Requirements for Your Project? And it seems only natural to attempt to define this whole process, first things first: Collecting requirements is the process of identifying and documenting (and managing) the stakeholder needs and requirements. This way, you're determining and documenting all the key features and functions of the product that you're due to develop. As well as identifying all the processes that you'll need to carry out for achieving the project scope. Speaking of which: this is the process that helps you clearly define the project's scope itself. “And how come (so) many teams fail at it?” Mostly because development teams don't have a good process for effectively collecting requirements set up in the first place. And a “good process” starts with proper segmentation, into multiple key steps to take, such as: elicitation analysis specification ... Also, another strong reason behind IT teams-clients communication failure is underrating the iterative approach to defining requirements: A highly effective technique, since requirements are often quite “blurry” early in a project The Facilitated Workshop: Enhance Cross-Functional Team Collaboration The purpose behind it? There are several in fact: bringing different stakeholders together will help you identify and better understand their difference of opinion (if there's any) you'd be improving cross-team communication from the very start you'll be “unearthing” inherent challenges that different stakeholders face and that involved parties, by themselves, aren't even aware of In short: conducting a facilitated workshop does what its name says, it facilitates stakeholders to identify and clearly articulate their requirements. Interviews: One-On-One Meetings With Different Types of Stakeholders Prepare a different set of questions, for each one of your target stakeholders, and have some one-on-one meetings. Each of them is differently impacted by the “problem/need” that your team should come up with a solution-product for. Therefore, interviewing them all, separately, will only help you gain both: in-depth and comprehensive understanding of that specific problem/need Leverage the Participant Observation Method A highly effective technique used in the collecting requirements process. And it becomes particularly useful when stakeholders are having difficulties identifying and clearly articulating their requirements. Or when the given system/process is too complex and you need to actually observe people in action for analyzing it and understanding how it works. And what its limitations are. In these 2 cases, it's only by observing the participant “in action” that you can properly record requirements. In this respect, a “kindred” method that you could use during the collecting requirements for your project process is the “participant-observer” one. Where you get to actually test that system/process yourself, too. 5 Group Creativity Techniques to Explore 1. Idea mapping “What is the scope of this process?” you might ask yourself. By putting together all the different stakeholders' ideas into a mind map, you'll gain a bird's-eye view of them all! On how they're connected to one another, which are the best of them, what are their pros and cons? And speaking of grouping ideas into a “mind map”, there are several types of maps that you could set up: archival strategies data transfer mechanism data formats 2. The nominal group method Using this method to collect requirements inputs will save you loads of time. Basically, you set up a group of stakeholders, ask them to share their ideas, and... submit them all to vote. Only those scoring the most votes will be further taken into account. And this will just streamline the entire decision-making process! 3. Related ideas diagrams Probably the best way to neatly categorizing that huge pile of ideas that you will have collected! How does it work? You simply write down all those ideas on separate cards, then pair the similar ones together, till there's no “isolated” card left. And you end up with a diagram of ideas, nicely structured into different categories. Starting there, you can put together your cause-and-effect diagrams. 4. Brainstorming "What are the best ways to gather requirements?” Brainstorming is (should be) on top of any To-Do list for a collect requirements process! Schedule brainstorming sessions with different focus groups of stakeholders and challenge them to share their ideas. You'll end up with a whole “pile” of diversified “steamy fresh” ideas to work on. 5. Group decision making Let's say you get several alternatives for the very same requirement. What do you do? How do you filter the best one? You set up a decision-making group and... ask them to give their inputs. It will be a collaborative decision-making process. In the end, it's the requirement that they all (or the majority) agree on that will get selected. Benchmarking Mind you don't underrate this technique! For, as “banal” as it may seem, it's surprisingly effective: Compare the current project with a similar one and try to identify the best practices and key processes. And to even come up with better methods to solve certain challenges, while you compare the 2 projects. Document Analysis: One of The Collect Requirements Process's Key Steps Another great way to determine the requirements for your project is to analyze all the documents at hand: system use cases proposal legal requirements user documentation design documents system use cases … Create Context Diagrams Here's just one of the best answers to the following question: “What are some basic requirements gathering tools and techniques?” By putting together context diagrams, you're creating a visual representation of the whole system. Its interaction with users and other external systems here included! What's the point? By visualizing the entire system it'll be easier for you to spot all those business scenarios that you might have overlooked. Scenarios for which you haven't collected and documented any requirements yet. Come Up With Prototypes This technique comes in handy in your whole collect requirements process if: your client just can't envision and thus can't articulate the requirements the system/product/process you're due to put together is too new, too complex Setting up and then providing your client with a simple working model, with basic functionality, will help him/her get a clearer picture of how it should work. And give him the chance to “taking it for a spin”, to experiment it. Once the stakeholders have tested it, they'll be more confident to provide you with relevant inputs.The ones you'll need to actually get this new system developed. Get a Grip on The Gherkin Syntax Consider learning to speak Gherkin fluently in order to guarantee the success of your requirement collecting process. The main benefit that you'll be “reaping” is a record of utterly explicit requirements. And it's the Gherkin syntax that constrains them to be so. For instance, have a look at this example here, from Neoteric.eu, of the Gherkin syntax being used for collecting scenario-specific requirements only: Feature: Logout from application Scenario: Given I am logged in When I click “log out” button Then I am informed about successful logout And I am redirected tologin page See? Zero ambiguity! Both the: business analyst(s) developers … in your team will benefit from leveraging this language. The first will end up with perfectly explicit requirements, while the latter will get the clear information needed for setting up functional test scenarios. A win-win situation. The END! Does this answer your “What is involved in collecting requirements for your project?” kind of question?
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 11'2018
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 05'2018