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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Drupal 9 vs Drupal 8: Or Is It Rather Just “Drupal 8 vs... a Cleaner Version of Drupal 8”?
What's in a name... after all? Or... in a number in this case. Wouldn't a "Drupal 9 vs Drupal 8" comparison be identical with a "Drupal 8.x vs Drupal 8.y" comparison, except for one number? So, why is there a need to... change numbers (too)?  Because Drupal depends on the vendor support lifecycles of PHP and Simfony. As simple as that. Therefore, Drupal 9 will mark not just the moment when Drupal 8 has been "fully" sanitized of all its deprecated code, but an upgrade to a newer version of Simfony (and Twig). Note: starting Nov. 2021, Simfony 3, now at the heart of Drupal 8, will no longer receive security patches. Now, let's have a look at some of the Drupal 9 features in relation to Drupal 8's well-known features, paradigms, and approach to upgrades.   #1 Drupal 8: The Last Version that Breaks with Its Predecessors The Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration was the last hair-pulling upgrade. So they promise us... Can you sill remember all those high hopes you've had regarding shiny new Drupal 8, its innovation model and all those oh! so tempting improvements? Then you must surely remember that moving to Drupal 8 quickly turned into an... ordeal. The other side of the "innovation coin" that it seduced us with was that:   It was too different from its predecessors.   So different that... your Drupal 7 contributed modules weren't compatible with it and lots of custom code had to be rewritten. Well, that was the last cumbersome migration in Drupal. If you've already got rid of all deprecated APIs by the time Drupal 8.9 turns into Drupal 9, the upgrade will be... silky smooth.   #2 Drupal 9 vs Drupal 8: Expect Simfony 4/5 and Twig 2.0 Image source: Drupal.org Some of the key differences between the two are the versions of Symfony and Twig that they use/will use. Since Simfony 3 will go end-of-life in November 2021, Drupal 8, as well, will need to be "sacrificed" for a newer major version of Drupal. One that should use upgraded versions of these PHP projects (Twig and Simfony).   #3 Drupal 9: The First One Backward Compatible with Its Predecessor Image by MoteOo from Pixabay And this is a huge difference and leap forward from Drupal 8. For it's precisely this incompatibility with Drupal 7 that... caused so many headaches during the previous upgrade.  In this respect, Drupal 9's built, from the ground up, to be backward compatible with Drupal 8 from day 1. That, of course, if you keep your current Drupal 8 website up to date and "well-groomed". Cleaned up of all out of date code...   #4 Contributed Modules Will Be Compatible with Both D8 and D9 "The compatibility of contributed modules is historically one of the biggest blockers to upgrading, so we will also make it possible for contributed modules to be compatible with Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 at the same time." (source: Dries Buytaert's' blog)   In short: if you stick to your update routine and keep removing deprecated code, your Drupal 8 contributed and custom modules will be compatible with Drupal 9, as well. #5 Drupal 9 vs Drupal 8: Without vs With Deprecated Code There's a major inconvenience that stems from Drupal 8's continuous innovation model:   Innovative features keep... piling up, at high(er) speed.   With every improvement brought to these new features, certain code gets automatically... deprecated and just left there to linger. So, this is one of the critical differences between the 2 versions: the newer one will be stripped of old code.   #6 Drupal 9 Will Have Updated Third-Party Dependencies That's right, not only that Drupal 9 will remove support for all code marked as deprecated in Drupal 8, but it will use updated third-party dependencies.   # Final Word Any Drupal 9 vs Drupal 8 comparison would have to include 2  key differences:   different approaches to upgrades different versions of the underlying technologies   We're quite curious what's your opinion about the promises made regarding the Drupal 9 release:   that contributed modules will work on both versions of Drupal? that, since it'll be completely backward compatible, the upgrade will go... uneventful?   Are you confident, sure or skeptical that moving to Drupal 9 will go... hassle-free? Main image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 23'2019
What’s New in Drupal 9? Any Game-Changing Features to Expect and... Prepare for?
These days, this is the question on the lips and minds of anyone developing/designing/creating content in Drupal or (just) managing a Drupal website: "What's new in Drupal 9?".  The "fear" is there and it's legitimate... For the (bad) experience that you've had with upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 is still haunting you, isn't it? You just cannot forget that the whole process quickly turned into a rewriting of Drupal from the ground up...   Your contributed modules were not compatible with Drupal 8 and there was a ton of custom code to be rewritten...   So, how would an honest "Drupal 9 vs Drupal 8" comparison look like? What completely revolutionary and therefore high-impact features should you expect and... plan for (at least psychologically)? And I bet that you don't settle for the "The great news is that... there's no breaking news at all" type of answer, either. That's why we've gone beyond this explanation that everyone seems to have embraced by default and dug deeper.  The result? An inventory of all the changes (for there will be, even if not as dramatic as those that we've got used to from the previous major Drupal releases), ranging from:   upgrades of the underlying technology to a paradigm shift in the Drupal upgrading process itself to contributed modules that are every likely to get replaced with others to changes with an impact on Drupal 8's current "load" of third-party dependencies   So, let's dive right in, shall we? 1. Upgrading to Drupal 9 Will Be... Buttery Smooth (Unlike with D8) And this is the most exciting "no big news, yet a significant mind-shift" type of answer to your "What's new in Drupal 9?" question. It looks like the Drupal community has learned from its past mistakes... the hard way and it's determined to prevent them. What does this mean for you? It means that beginning with Drupal 9 all major Drupal software releases will be seamless, painless and... buttery smooth. Basically, Drupal 9 is Drupal 8 stripped off all its deprecated code.   If you've removed all old code and dependencies by Drupal 8.9, upgrading your website to Drupal 9 will be as hassle-free as... any Drupal release.   Image source: Drupal.org   2. What's New in Drupal 9? Newer Major Versions of Symfony and Twig  Ready to say goodbye to Symfony 3? It will get replaced with Symfony 4 or 5 after November 2021.  Also, expect an upgrade to Twig 2.0.  These upgrades can only translate into higher performance, improved developer experience, and enhanced security. Tip: you might want to take Symfony 4 for a short test drive on your Drupal 8 website, just to see how well it handles the new version. 3. Drupal 9 Drops Support for All Deprecated Code in Drupal 8 Another valid answer to your "What's new in Drupal 9?" question is:   It won't support any code marked as deprecate in Drupal 8.   Tip: since this "sanitizing" process is going to be a long, ongoing one, we suggest you turn it into a routine; keep removing out of date code from your Drupal 8 website to make sure that upgrading it to Drupal 9 will be as... buttery smooth as possible. Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay     4. Contributed Modules: Expected to Work in Both Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 Now, this is definitely a standout change, that breaks away from the "the news is that... there is no news" opinion. Practically, there are high chances that contributed modules share a single codebase so that they can work both on Drupal 9 and Drupal 8 websites. And that's...new in Drupal. A whole new paradigm.   5. Drupal 9 Will Cut Down on Third-Party Dependencies With all deprecated functionality getting removed by the time Drupal 9 gets released, its load of dependencies will get significantly lighter. 6. Panelizer Is Expected to Get Removed and Replaced "What's new in Drupal 9?" Well, most likely Panelizer will get replaced with the Layout Builder, the "rockstar" module of the moment. So, you'd better consider letting go of this module. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay   7. The Majority of Drupal 8 Modules Will Be Compatible with Drupal 9 Call it a change, a new approach or... just "something" that sets Drupal 9 apart from its predecessor: By the time it'll get released, all Drupal 8 contributed modules will be fully compatible with this new major version of Drupal. Almost half of the Drupal 8 modules turned out to be compatible with the analysis run in April this year, so... the future looks highly promising. 8. Final Word The "nothing new in Drupal 9" shared opinion isn't 100% accurate. Ok, if we compared this upgrade to the previous one, all these mind-shifts and new approaches in Drupal 9 are, indeed, no painfully disruptive changes. No new dramatic paradigms of development. But they are, nevertheless... changes. Differences... Not so much between Drupal x and Drupal 9, but between an old and a new model of upgrading Drupal. Main photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 19'2019
What Are the Best Google Site Search Alternatives? Top Reasons to Consider Cludo
What are some powerful Google Site Search alternatives? On-site search solutions that should be:   flexible effective versatile (easy to use on any CMS) quick to set up easy to configure  cloud-based AI-powered   … and to provide you with actionable insights on your visitors' search behavior. How about... Cludo, an internal search engine, and insights generator? Now, you might want to keep your “feature wishlist” at hand as you evaluate this competitor to Google's custom search solution.    1. But What Is Cludo? It's a robust on-site search tool that you can easily set up on your website, no matter what CMS you're using. This way, you add a search interface where you can pull relevant data on your visitor's search behavior. Its greatest strength? Its ease of use: It empowers you, irrespective of your technical level, to set it up and to further optimize the content it delivers, quick and easy. Unlike other Google site search alternatives, with Cludo you get easy access to actionable analytics. With a simple to use dashboard, you can pull powerful data and use it to constantly improve users' site search experience without having to be a... data analyst expert.   2. What Makes Cludo One of the Best Google Site Search Alternatives? And still: “Which are those unique features that Cludo provides?” For there must be other key reasons why it's now rivaling Google's own custom site search solution... Well, let me highlight just some of its most powerful features:   customizable index: you get to customize the criteria so that certain pages get pushed forward; you even get to specify what type of content should and shouldn't be searchable   machine learning-based autocomplete: it provides users with robust suggestions and corrects their misspellings in real-time   actionable search insights: it provides you with key data on who your website visitors are and what precisely they're searching for; you can tap into this information to deliver engaging and relevant content, to further optimize users' site search experience   an easy-to-use interface: Cludo's UI is designed so that even if you're not a technical user you should still be able to configure your on-site search solution quick and easy   semantic search: it delivers accurate and relevant results even if your website visitors type in words that are totally different from your anticipated search terms; Cludo taps into intelligent semantics, uses bigrams and synonyms to deliver the most comprehensive search results   3. Cludo vs Google Custom Site Search Engine    What if we confronted the two powerful site search solutions? Which would be the Google limitations that we would see exploited and counterbalanced by robust Cludo features?   3.1. Google Custom Search Engine  Its functionality is pretty straightforward: thanks to the search bar added to your website, your visitors can look for specific content quickly. Now, when it comes to its limitations, there are a few:   fewer customization options it doesn't provide you with the tools (e.g. actionable analytics) needed to constantly improve and customize the site search experience delivered on your website   3.2. Cludo Now, when it comes to Cludo, it does ship with some unique features that come to “exploit” Google Site Search's lack of them:   first of all, it's equipped with all the features you need for customizing the site experience: you get an easy to use dashboard where you can pull relevant analytics on your users' behavior and specific needs … this way, you can tailor the delivered content accordingly and provide them a fully customized site experience it ships with a banner analytics feature: you can add banners to your results page for... upcoming events, key search terms, etc. The END! Summing up now: If, when evaluating some of the Google Site Search alternatives, you value particularly those features that enable you to customize the user experience, then Cludo might just be the solution you're looking for. Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 29'2019
What Are the Most Famous Node.js Applications? 4 Large Scale Apps Built with Node.js
"What are some of the biggest companies using Node.js?" Some Node.js applications trafficked by... millions of users, on a daily basis, processing huge loads of data in record time... Those globally-known projects that are currently leveraging this JavaScript runtime's most powerful advantages: top performance and unmatched scalability... A legitimate question to ask yourself if you're toying with the thought of creating your own project on Node.js these days.  In this respect, here are 4 such global players who've switched over to Node.js to get inspired by:   1. LinkedIn The business-oriented social network, with over +450 million members, has been one of the first global players to feature a mobile app backend built entirely on Node.js. Why Node.js?   because it scales like no other because it outshines Ruby on Rails, the technology that the company switched from, from a performance standpoint because it's the best for calling other services; and it was critical that their app should communicate seamlessly with their database and the platform API   Main benefits for using Node.js:   they doubled their traffic capacity they speeded up the development process: both front-end and back-end mobile developers can now tap into their JavaScript skills and merge into one single team they've freed their resources, reducing the number of servers from 15 to... 4 they've boosted their app's performance on the client-side; it now runs up to 10 times faster   2. Paypal   200 million users, transactions in +100 currencies... Now, that says something about Node.js's built-in capabilities to withstand huge amounts of traffic and to overcome major data processing challenges. No wonder that this globally-known online payment service is now featuring a client-facing side web app on Node.js. Why Node.js?   because it enables development teams to use the same language, JavaScript, for both the browser and the server … and this speeds up the development lifecycle dramatically (removing the need to use Java, on one hand, and JS, HTML, CSS, on the other hand)   Main benefits for using Node.js:   they've built their application 2 times faster it's one of those Node.js applications that's got significantly lighter; it now includes 40% fewer files and 30% less code the “new” network app now serves twice as many requests per second   3. Netflix, One of the Highest Traffic Node.js Applications  Netflix's user interface is the perfect example of how Node.js's built to cope with massive loads of traffic and data-intensive streaming scenarios... In short: you have a global streaming service, a heavy network infrastructure of 130 million users, with its server-side rendering powered by Node.js. Why Node.js?   because it simplifies and streamlines the whole development process: developers now get to use JavaScript for both client-side and server-side coding because it ships with a rich collection of modules for any functionality they might need to implement because it's just... fast; speed and load time sure are some critical aspects to consider in case of a high traffic video content provider like Netflix   Main benefits for using Node.js:    a modular, lightweight and fast application: load time has been reduced by 70% they've cut down their build times dramatically (with JavaScript now being the only language used for both the back-end and the front-end of their app) user customization is now possible   Note: Netflix's UI is, no doubt, one of the most successful Node.js projects out there and it's not just their app's skyrocketing popularity that confirms it, but the company's own intention to move their data access layers to Node.js, as well.   4. Uber Connecting drivers and passengers worldwide, the ever-growing online transportation network dependeds on a system with outstanding data processing capabilities. And Node.js excels at I/O-intensive tasks...  Why Node.js?   because it scales like no other, coping with an increasing demand for mobile taxi services because it's designed to support distributed systems sending a heavy load of network requests because it gets constantly and continuously upgraded by its dedicated open source community because it's built to process massive amounts of data in record time, risk-free because it provides quick error analysis and almost instant code deployment; programs get scanned through and new code deployed in... no time   Main benefits for using Node.js: Uber is one of those Node.js applications processing +2 million remote procedure calls within one second; even when challenged to withstand high spikes of traffic...   The END! Are these heavy-weight names convincing enough? Are these 4 large scale and top performant Node.js projects inspiring enough for you? Photo by Marianne Krohn on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 25'2019
Laravel or Drupal 8? What Are the Key Differences? Which One Best Fits Your Use Case Scenario?
What does Drupal 8 do that Laravel does not? What key functionalities, that Drupal ships with, do you need to build from scratch in Laravel? And how would opting for Laravel benefit your specific type of project? In short: Laravel or Drupal 8? “It's like comparing apples to oranges” some might say since one's a framework and the other one a CMS. Even so, if it's unclear to you what are their particular use cases and their built-in features, you won't know whether it's a CMS or a framework that best suits your project type, right? That best serves your project-specific needs:   to be super fast to leverage a solid, off-the-shelf content management system for publishing different pieces of content on the website to feature an easy to scale database to support multisite to tap into robust user and content management features that are already implemented to be built on top of a solid framework acting as a reliable back-end application to leverage a highly intuitive admin user interface to be 101% secure to leverage a mixture of server and client-side logic   Now, keep your list of project requirements and constraints at hand to evaluate these 2 technologies' pros and cons against it:   1. Drupal 8: Top Benefits, Main Drawbacks, and Specific Use Cases If a robust user and content management system is critical for your project, then Drupal 8 makes the smartest choice. It's that “thing” that Drupal excels at that, which would take you a whole lot more time to do in Laravel. And it's not just its robustness that might “lure you in”, but the level of convenience that it provides: a lot of the essential features and functionalities that you might need are already built-in. Moreover, you can easily manage them and custom-tune them via your admin interface... By comparison, you'd need to build these functionalities, from the ground up, if you chose to go with Laravel.   Top benefits:   you can rest assured that your website runs on a particularly robust, Symfony-based CMS there's a huge, dedicated community backing it up you get to create various content types, for different parts of your website, assigned with different roles; unlike basic CMSs, that enable you to write... posts and to create new web pages you can set up different editorial workflows and assign specific user roles, with fine-grained access control you can always further extend its CMS-specific functionalities: extensibility is one of the strongest Drupal 8 benefits   Main drawbacks:   you do need a team of Drupal experts (senior-level preferably) to keep an eye on your Drupal 8 website/app and keep everything properly maintained you can't get away with a “get it up and running and... move on” type of philosophy; Drupal 8 is a more of a long-term commitment: there's always a newly launched promising module to consider adding on, a new update to run...   Specific Use Cases for Drupal 8:   large-scale projects that depend on a robust and reliable content management system; one that withstands an intense, ongoing process of creating, editing and publishing lots of fresh content Laravel or Drupal 8? Definitely the later if it's a multi-site, multi-language web project that you plan to develop; not only that it streamlines content publishing  across your whole network, but it significantly speeds up localization thanks to its server-side caching capabilities   It means that no matter the place on the globe where that your users might be located, they get to access your web pages and have them loaded... instantly.   2. Laravel: Pros, Cons, and Project Types that It's Best Suited For Laravel stands out as a highly reputed, powerful PHP framework.  If:   maintainability is one of your biggest concerns you're looking for a robust framework you need to carry out your project fast enough you need a framework that ships with all the latest functionalities   ... then Laravel is what you need.   Top Benefits:   a fast-growing, devoted community you can easily integrate LDAP authentication  it leverages the Model-View-Controller architecture it's just... fast provides you with a great admin user interfaces it “spoils” you with intiutive, beautifully written code it ships with a heavy “toolbox”: scan through and pick the most suitable one(s) for your project in-built code for social login and sending out emails everything you might need to set up during the development process is right there, already integrated into your code: cron jobs, database queries, routes...   Main drawbacks:   more often than not identifying performance issues isn't that straightforward upgrading to the latest version of Laravel can turn out to be quite a challenge: be prepared for “buggy scenarios” and for the need to rewrite code you can't just jump straight to Laravel: learning the basics of OOPS first things first is a must   Specific Use Cases:   your project needs a back-end application (rather than an off-the-shelf CMS) when the benefits of the MVC architecture (faster development process, suitable for large-scale projects, multiple views, etc.) are critical for the given project  whenever you need to mix client-side with server logic whenever time is the main concern for you: you just need your project developed super fast   3. So... Laravel or Drupal 8?  Now, I'm sure that you already anticipate my answer: The choice depends strictly on your project requirement and objectives. On your own hierarchy of priorities in terms of features and functionalities. And depending on these key aspects, that should be clearly defined, one technology will benefit you over the other. So... what type of project are you looking to build? Photo by Raquel Martínez on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 20'2019
How You Can Improve the On-Site Search User Experience: 8 Simple Best Practices- Part 2
Have you got the chance to apply the simple tweaks and techniques shared with you in the first part of this post? Ready now to further improve the on-site search user experience by focusing on the usability of your internal search results? For, in vain you make your search box fully visible and usable if the options that the user gets once he/she enters his search phrase are just... irrelevant, unhelpful. That's why in today's post we'll be shifting focus from the search box to the internal search results themselves: What can you do, as a website owner, to ensure that your search functionality triggers the most relevant, most useful options only?   5. Improve Your Page Load Speed “Don't make your website visitors search for the... search bar!” is equally critical as: “Don't keep your users waiting too long for the search results to get displayed!”  Speed is crucial, so make sure you've applied all the due techniques. And there sure are a lot, ranging from common sense ones to truly sophisticated performance tweaks to keep your page load speed below... 3 seconds. Note: If loading takes more than 2-3 seconds, just get resourceful. Display a progress indicator or a suitable animation to keep users distracted from the waiting process.   6. Prepare a Back-Up for the “No Results to Display” Scenarios How are you planning to manage the “empty searches” situations?  For, there will be instances when there's no content on your website that could possibly match the users' search terms. In this case, you can always apply the 2-step “emergency plan” to improve the on-site search user experience:   first, you make sure that your search functionality has scanned your entire website content: PDFs and other file formats, CMS pages and full copy here included, not just metadata, etc. you present them alternative search options related, to some extent, to their entered queries: broad matches, contextual category links, etc.   Word of caution: providing a list including all the categories on your website or displaying top searches do not qualify as alternative search suggestions that could boost the UX.   7. Improve the On-Site Search User Experience: Add Filtering Options Another one of the highly effective internal site search best practices is adding filters that narrow down the user's options to the most relevant ones. For instance, you could segment their search options into “Blogs”, “Support”, “Products” etc. and thus speed up the search process. Note: set up your analytics so you get the most of them; the most relevant data that you can then use to constantly optimize your filters   8. Leverage Semantic Search to Provide More Relevant Search Results Tune the result relevancy and you'll improve the on-site search user experience.  In your quest for relevancy, semantic search makes your most powerful ally:   the whole process taking place “behind the curtains” will be much more than a mere keyword matching, thanks to natural language processing. you avoid the risk of frustrating the user by returning too many search results instead of displaying the most relevant ones only you won't convey the message that you have no regard of the user's effort to enter a specific, long-tail query a semantic search implementation leverages a “context vs intent” formula and generates results that are 100% relevant to the user's search intent...   Note: if you can't make use of semantic search on your website, there's always a better alternative than the free text search box. For instance, you could set up a constrained search and guide the user towards the most relevant search phrase... The END! These are the last 4 simple techniques that you can apply to improve the on-site search user experience.  Now, to sum up the key advice that we've shared with you in this 2-part blog post:   search result relevancy should be your main goal a well-designed UI is worthless without a well thought-through logic behind it predictive and semantic search should be the pillars that you base your on-site search function on... Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 17'2019
How You Can Improve the On-Site Search User Experience: 8 Simple Best Practices- Part 1
Are you using your website's search functionality to its full potential? Do your users always get the most relevant site search results? Do you think... it could be better and you wonder how you could improve the on-site search user experience? Now, let me guess: you'd want to optimize it quick and easy, by just incorporating some simple internal search best practices into your optimization routine. It can be done. We've already selected 8 easy-to-apply techniques to boost the user experience from the on-site search standpoint.  But first, let's clear up a few key aspects:      optimizing the internal search user experience doesn't mean just checking that your search box gets, displayed on your targetted web pages and that it delivers some... results opting for an on-site search tool that ships with built-in search functionality doesn't automatically guarantee you the best on-site search user experience your implemented site search tool won't just work on its own, by default, with no “tweaking” effort from your side   In short: there's more to the user experience than the user interface (the fact that the well-designed search box gets displayed is not enough).  And in this respect, the relevancy of your site search results is key and, in order to achieve it, you need to consider the whole logic behind the UI, as well. Now, let's pinpoint these 8 best practices that'll help you improve the on-site search user experience. They're aimed at enhancing the usability of both your search box and your search result page.   1. Make Sure Your Search Box Has a Clear Call to Action  Is the user action of your search box... self-evident? Is it obvious for your website users, the instant they land on that page, that that is a... search bar? Now, here are a few tips to ensure that your search box does have a clear call to action:   support your text prompt with a “Find” or “Search” button or with a magnifying glass icon pay attention to your search box's design; make sure it leaves no room for ambiguity over what role it serves enter a placeholder text (“Find events”, “What are you looking for” etc.) in your search bar 2. Give Users Predictive Search Suggestions on Their Entered Queries Another effective way to optimize the on-site search user experience is by giving them a helping hand with... entering the right input. Predictive search suggestions and autocomplete drop-down menus will narrow down their search term options and speed things up.  What you can do is to make sure that:   your drop-down suggestions display “in category” search results your autocomplete suggestions partly disclose specific content (maybe even pairing it with images, as well)   Note: in order to enhance readability, feel free to highlight the matching parts between the user's entered query and the query suggestions provided by your search function.   3. Improve the On-Site Search User Experience: Make It Visible An apparently insignificant UI improvement like:   making your search box wider putting it on a more visible section on a web page or even site-wide   … will definitely boost the user experience. And here are some actionable tips for you to make your search box more visible:   make sure the input field is wide enough to accommodate a minimum of 27 characters don't “bury” it in a hamburger menu don't reduce it to a small, easy to miss icon don't put it too close to boxes triggering different CTAs (e.g. the sign in box) display it on every relevant web page on your site   And also, a few simple best practices on how to make your search box more... usable, as well:   consider triggering search interface in a separate window if your website's a multiple-category one (e.g. an online store) consider opting for an overlay search window if you have infinite scrolling functionality implemented on your website make sure the search bar changes its color/size when the user hovers over, just to signal its functionality use a flashing cursor to prompt the user to enter his/her query   4. “Train” Your Search Function for Imperfect User Input Scenarios Another basic, yet effective way to improve the on-site search user experience is by preparing your search function to handle the imperfect search queries... gracefully. In other words, it should be perfectly adapted to deliver search results even when users enter:   synonyms stop words singular or plural variants casing numbers misspellings   … in the search bar.  Note: remember to display the user's original misspelled phrase, as well, and to accompany it with a clear search option, relevant for his/her initial query...   END of Part 1. Stay tuned, for we have 4 more tips to share with you on how to improve the on-site search user experience. “Tips” that address search result page usability issues, as well. Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 07'2019
Using Drupal for Project Management and Team Collaboration: 2 Drupal Distributions to Consider
“Can I use Drupal for project management?” Definitely.  Given all its content-oriented baked-in capabilities — file management, version control, easy content creation, and editing — Drupal makes the perfect software for:   managing your projects the easy and the... smart way streamlining communication among your team members and with your contractors   In this respect, Drupal provides its own feature-rich distributions to help you put together your robust setup in no time. “Distributions” that come already packed with a set of useful sub-modules and themes, that all support the core functionality: project management (and smooth collaboration). And without further ado, here the 2 most popular Drupal distributions for project management and team collaboration for you to evaluate first: RedHen and Open Atrium.   1. RedHen CRM       Loaded with robust and modern features, this Drupal-native CRM is designed with flexibility in mind. Meaning that it integrates seamlessly with the enterprise solution that you're using (Blackbaud, Salesforce) and it supports a wide range of use cases... And speaking of its functionalities:   engagement tracking and monitoring data management: information about your contacts, the relationships among them and with your own company (e.g. memberships) event registration integration one-page donation forms to custom-tune to your liking   As for those many use cases that this Drupal distribution's built to accommodate, let's pick just a few real-world examples:   It's the best choice if smoothly integrating your CRM with your other enterprise solutions is critical for you   It streamlines tracking interactions with your contacts and organizations. Furthermore, since you can easily integrate it with your website, you get to leverage the provided data in order to adjust the user experience accordingly...   It allows you to customize it and thus to give it a Drupal-like look and feel: to integrate it with modules like Rules or Views, to go for the same field creation UI, etc.   Is your contacts list a huge one? This CRM comes to your rescue with some powerful baked-in tools: an efficient find-and-dedupe interface, an automated filter built in the UI, that you can use to filter your contacts by specific fields, etc.   It automatically syncronizes data in your Contacts list with any newly updated data on your Drupal Users list   In short: RedHen CRM makes one of the top choices when you consider using Drupal for project management purposes. It's a lightweight, self-contained framework, more of a “cluster” of multiple specialized modules:   Organization Activity Fields Organization Group Dedupe Registration and a few more...   2. Open Atrium    Looking for a Drupal-native distribution built around the team collaboration functionality? One that should be:   convenientyly extensible “loaded” with robust collaboration and information sharing features?   Then Open Atrium fits the profile in the slightest detail. Built on top of the Organic Groups and Panopoly modules, it's a framework flexible enough to support discussion configurations by key criteria like team, project, organization... And here are some more powerful features worth considering when you're still thinking whether you should use Drupal for project management:   an access control system, that grants granular control to certain sections of your project a drag and drop layout with plenty of widgets to select from for customizing your landing pages and dashboard file storing and sharing features built-in Events, Files, Discussions, Issue Tracking, Document Wiki an easy to customize, responsive theme   The END! These are but 2 viable answers to your “Can I use Drupal for project management and team collaboration?” type of question. 2 of the options available that best meet some of your main requirements when looking for a project management software:   to be easy to use to ship with an entire collection of file management and communication features to be flexible enough and allow quick customization and seamless integrations   Have you tried other Drupal modules/distributions built around this functionality so far?  Image by jessica45 from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 06'2019
Is Magento Commerce Cloud the Best Option for Your E-Commerce Store? Key Benefits and Reported Downsides
But why should you even consider Magento Commerce Cloud as an option for your e-commerce store in the first place? What makes it any better than JetRails or Rackspace or even... Magento Commerce? What are its biggest selling points? And are there any reported downsides so far? Any drawbacks to consider and to weigh against its upsides before making your final choice? Now, let's get you some answers:   1. What Is Magento Commerce Cloud? How Is It Different/Better than Magento Commerce? Some might just reduce it to this basic formula: Magento Commerce + bundled hosting (or cloud infrastructure) Yet, I'm not one of “some”, so my definition would be: It's a full-managed, automated hosting platform for Magento Commerce — the once Enterprise Cloud Edition — that ships with some additional powerful features. Now, let me try and point out some of these features:   integrated source control management system (GIT), which translates into automatic build, deploy and management; it provides you with development, staging and live production environments streamlined development cycle quick and continuous deployment entirely customizable components enhanced security: the inherent security benefits of cloud computing + using WAS (Amazon Web Services) as the underlying infrastructure platform + tapping into the shared responsibility security model + leveraging the Fastly Web Application Firewall +... continuous availability: a particularly important feature for online stores, with a huge impact on user experience, the overall traffic and the level of security that your eStore guarantees its customers   2. 10 Main Reasons Why You'd Want to Run It on Magento Commerce Cloud Now, let's put its biggest selling points into the spotlight! Those benefits powerful enough to influence your decision and to make you opt for this cloud-powered e-commerce solution:   2.1. It's a Centralized Point of Management & End-to-End E-Commerce Solution Of all the Magento Commerce Cloud features, this must be one of the most “luring” ones:   you get to orchestrate your whole “infrastructure” of online stores from one single centralized point/store from marketing to analytics, to commerce across industries, it allows you to handle every specific operation, every aspect of the customer experience delivered on your e-commerce website   2.2. Inventory Order Management No more “out of stock” scenarios. At least not on your web store, since this feature allows you to always be one step ahead of customer demand and to... restock.   2.3. A Vast Ecosystem of Third-Party Extensions to Explore Another one of Magento Commerce Cloud's biggest selling points is its impressive marketplace of extensions. From:   Amazon Sales Channel to Google's Smart Shopping to lots of machine learning-based extensions   … you get to select from a huge ecosystem of add-ons to create a feature-rich, highly interactive shopping experience across your store.   2.4. It's Perfectly Equipped to Power Your PWAs Thinking about reaching out also to those potential customers who don't (always) benefit from fast-speed internet connection? Thinking about building a PWA for your online store? Good news: MCC is designed precisely with such a challenge in mind. It makes the best option for powering a PWA development plan.   2.5. High Scalability The hosting platform's built to accommodate the needs of both big retailers and small e-commerce businesses. And, in this respect, I should add 2 specific features that translate into enhanced scalability:   being a cloud environment, it grants you the freedom and the flexibility to allocate more memory and CPU, when needed it ships with an ece-tools package   2.6. It Supports Intuitive Experiences for Both Store Admins and Customers All the enhancements that Magento Commerce Cloud comes packed with bubble up to the user experience: both the “staff” user and the end-user. Meaning that all the tasks included in the store management process and the shopping process are well thought-out to be... highly intuitive.   2.7. Designed to Power Multi-Site Architectures Planning to go... global? Don't let your hosting platform stop you! In this respect, Magento Commerce Cloud allows you to:   update an entire ecosystem of online stores from one centralized point (I know, I've already pointed out this powerful feature) “conquer” new markets fast and surprisingly easy, with no major intervention from a tech-savvy team tap into the local knowledge expertise that Magento provides and to create some highly personalized, ideally localized experiences for multiple audiences exploit the advantage of the +150 languages available   And you get to run all your “globalization through localization” type of operations, to orchestrate your entire multi-site architecture, from one single point of management.  Note: speed and agility are 2 additional benefits that you can “reap” from using a cloud-based hosting platform; they become crucial when you want to enter new markets at high speed.   2.8. Built-in B2B Quote Management Feature Just imagine: a tool incorporated into your hosting platform “in charge” with everything... quotation-related. You can skip that time-consuming sequence of operations aimed at setting a price for a product.   2.9. Built-in Image Optimization Tool Magento Commerce Cloud provides you, right out of the box, with a tool to optimize your images and to boost your page loading speed...   2.10. It Easily Integrates With Fully-Managed Services Another great news is that it “plays well” with full managed services. From Redis to MySQL, to RabbitMQ, to Elasticsearch, it allows you to easily incorporate the service of your choice.    3. 3 Main Downsides Reported by Magento Commerce Cloud Users For, although this managed platform is still relatively new and so we can't yet be talking about a whole “pile” of user reviews, the reported drawbacks gravitate around the same issues:    slow support certain limitations of the underlying technology: Platform.sh the need to invest time and effort to get everything live   3.1. Support... Could Be Better Most of the Magento Commerce Cloud users have signaled it: support is slow. Therefore, expect to be put on a lengthy waiting list till you can actually get hold of a hosting engineer. Do you need permission changes? Is there a hosting issue that you're “grappling with” and you need the support of someone with expertise in platform.sh?  You might need to invest a bit more time than predicted to get the support you need.   3.2. Running Updates and Upgrades Takes too Long Not everyone's thrilled about the Platform.sh technology that MCC runs on. Quite enough users have reported that each time they need to:   add new CSS upgrade their e-commerce stores run certain feature updates   … the underlying system takes too long to process. And, during all this time, their online stores are... down.   3.3. It Takes More to Get Everything Up and Running More time and "X" times more effort.  At least that's what some of the users say.   The END! Does this answer your question(s)? Are these benefits and drawbacks solid enough to help you decide whether Magento Commerce Cloud is the best option for your online store? Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 23'2019