Category Archives: CMS

The Easy Way To Keep Your Web Site Up To Date

Shift One Labs Home Page

In today’s hyper-responsive, social media focused world, it may seem a bit antiquated to spend time updating your web site. The truth, however, is that regular website updates will help create a more expansive digital presence for you and your business. Thus, we suggest making updates to your web site on a monthly basis (or more often). This may seem challenging, but as we’ve highlighted below, with a CMS system in place this process can be done quite quickly and easily.

Get on the Carousel

One of the most useful current trends in web design is the carousel (for a sample, check out our home page). Not only does it present visitors with a changing screen (thus catching the eye more than a static page) it also allows for quick and easy website updates. Since many systems will allow you to create an additional page for the carousel, you can leave the others in place and simply add a new, more up to date item that covers a different aspect of your business. If you’ve launched a new product, added a new service offering or just have a new blog post, this is a great way to highlight the content not only to new customers, but existing ones that may not be familiar with the addition.

Blogging for the Win

If design constraints or costs limit your ability to regularly refresh your site, all is not lost. As we’ve often discussed here on the Weblog Blog, a blog is a great tool for creating new content that speaks to your current and future customer base and, given the variety of platforms can be done for little to no cost. If you already have a CMS system in place, such as Joomla! or Drupal, you can easily include a blogging add-on to your current system.

A Helping Hand from Social Media

A frequent problem with social media is the need to have something timely and important to say that doesn’t repeat what you’ve already talked about. One of the advantages of regularly updating your web site is that it allows you to then reuse that same content as a potential Twitter/Facebook/etc. update. Announcing a new product on Twitter and then providing a link back to your freshly created web page on that product allows new and current customers to get the exact level of detail they need – either a short overview with your tweet, or a more thorough product/service explanation on your web site.

No matter what kind of website (or budget) you’re working with, updating your website should be a key priority each month. If you need any help, feel free to reach out to us any time.

CMS Platforms – WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!…oh my!

CMS Platforms

Those new to the online CMS world are often inundated with new terminology, product and company names, as well as uncertainty regarding costs and fees. In order to help break through this initial wall of confusion, we wanted to provide readers with detailed information on the key differences between the major CMS platforms. Given our significant experience in web development and CMS, we hoped to provide some insight into these systems as they create the core of your content management strategy and are the key to driving increased and repeat business. As with any sector of the digital economy, there are countless numbers of CMS systems, thus our overview will touch on the “major players” in the industry and highlight a few advantages of each system.

WordPress – Out of all of the CMS systems, WordPress is one of the few that many web users may have come across or even used in the past. Whether it was a long-forgotten blog you made about trying every single pizza place in New York City or a more recently created website to provide guests information about your upcoming nuptials, WordPress (and Blogger, now owned by Google) are two of the most frequently used personal blogging platforms. WordPress has since grown to be a full featured and highly customizable website application and an incredibly powerful CMS system for business and is very easy to use, given its consumer focused roots. WordPress can be used for a variety of CMS applications including intranet/extranet, a community portal, a web store, as well as a resource directory for documents, images, media and an online ticketing system.

Drupal Drupal was created from the ground up as an enterprise level CMS system. It benefits from having an incredibly open and active open source community that contributes thousands of free add-ons and layout themes for others to use. Drupal can be used to meet a wide range of corporate and professional needs, including social networking, wiki/knowledge base, as well as standard content management including resource directories and organizational web presence needs. Drupal is able to scale to any size business or organization. In fact, the City of Los Angeles recently migrated 20 of its public facing websites from Oracle to Drupal. Not to be outdone, the Australian government’s Drupal based CMS system recently went live as well.

Joomla! – Joomla! is a key player in the CMS world. It has built a significant following since its founding in 2005 and today can boast that it’s been downloaded over 50 million times. Joomla! is highly extensible and has won numerous awards including multiple “Best Open Source CMS” commendations. Joomla! has a strong set of core modules and features as well as a wide range of open source add ons and plugins. Joomla!, like other systems, offers the ability to create a company intranet, a community portal, and a web presence for any size organization.

The single most important factor in selecting a CMS system is you. The current needs of your business, as well as the ability to build in future expansion options, are the most important criteria when selecting a CMS system. At Shift One Labs, we have a long history of working with our clients to design and build the ideal CMS system, whether it’s just for pizza or the entire government of Australia (or, more likely, somewhere in between).

 

 

CMS Marketing Advantages and Trends

marketing

At this point in the evolution of the web, if a company doesn’t have a web site, there is a great deal of confusion on the part of the potential customer. Did I not spell the name correctly? Did they change their name recently? Did they go out of business? The possibility that a website for a particular brand, company (and in many cases, even individuals) doesn’t exist is simply unfathomable. Surprisingly, many small businesses – as many as half in fact – do not have a web site.

Even those that do have a web presence often view their website as more of a “check box” – we have a website and it has our contact information on it, so no need to ever update it again! If you happen to be Warren Buffet you might be able to get away with that, but for the rest of us, a well designed, frequently updated website is a key marketing initiative that will help garner new customers and provide specific information for current ones.

At Shift One Labs we work with clients to help them build a strong online presence. A website is only as useful as its CMS (a database application that provides website text, images, and multimedia content). A well-implemented CMS system is just like the person at work that everyone turns to for help. Their title or official role may not be lofty, but they are the ones that can get things done quickly and painlessly. CMS systems are vital to a company’s marketing efforts since they help create a consistent customer experience across an organization’s online properties, as well as provide internal messaging for employees. Allowing both customers and employees to have a consistent, specific concept of your company is one of the easiest ways to distinguish yourself from your competitors and build brand visibility.

One of the long-term trends that will continue to make a significant impact for customers and employees going forward is the increasing use of mobile devices to access information. Whereas not having a web site used to be an issue, the lack of a mobile-friendly site is increasingly becoming a red flag for potential customers. Over time, this trend will accelerate even faster with additional non-desktop options becoming more common – including tablets, wearable devices (such as the forthcoming Apple Watch) as well as embedded and “constantly connected” devices. Furthermore, younger generations are increasingly accustomed to accessing vast amounts of information via their phone and using desktops only for homework – Millennials, for example are the largest group of cell phone owners and the adaptation rate is still growing. In order to properly leverage all of these changes, small and large companies alike will need to create a powerful content management system that not only takes your current needs into account, but is designed with future technologies and uses in mind. Combined, these tools offer companies a powerful marketing outlet that will have a significant impact on your marketing efforts and help increase ROI. In essence – if a potential customer is looking for you, make sure you can be found.

The Weblog Blog

Creating a name for a blog, much like a company (to say nothing of naming a child), carries with it a great deal of weight. For a new blog, the name should indicate the key topics that it will discuss (such as web development and e-commerce for example), and, hopefully, add a bit of personality as well. At Shift One Labs, we are big fans of Arrested Development and in honor of the Bob Loblaw Law Blog we’ve decided to name our blog the “Weblog Blog.” Much like our namesake we take our job very seriously, and much like the Arrested Development series itself, we try to find the humor in any situation.

While ubiquitous today, blogging is a relativity recent development. Just a decade ago the word was so new that it was named the “Word of the Year” by Merriam-Webster. The term “blog” is actually an abbreviation of the term “weblog” which itself is a combination of two terms: “world wide web” and “log.” Log, in this sense, meaning a list of activities that have taken place. The earliest blogs were, often times, simply a sequential list of updates to a website, in some cases to help users find particular pages or information that may have moved. At the same time, with the rise of personal web publishing tools (many of which allowed users to create websites without in-depth knowledge of HTML) combined with greater access to the internet led to a boom in personal web publishing – the “online diary” that is still very common on sites such as Tumblr.

Blogging today has grown and expanded far beyond its humble origins. Today, there are hundreds of blogging and CMS platforms to choose from. Key players in the industry include WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal. Each has its own particular set of features. Determining exactly which system is best for your business depends on a variety of factors as well as your long-term goals. At Shift One Labs we have extensive experience assisting clients with these types of decisions, whether you are in the process of implementing a large-scale CMS system or simply creating a humble law blog. No matter your goals, we can help make them a reality.

With the rise of social media, some have wondered if blogging is still a viable option to help increase brand visibility. There is a very easy way to test this – the next time you search on Google, see how often a specific tweet or Facebook post appears in the results. Most likely, they will be ranked below websites and blog posts on the same topic. While social media should certainly be part of your online presence, a well-written, regularly updated blog is one of the best ways to communicate with current and potential customers and allows for a more expansive forum to discuss your brand and value proposition. We’d love to help you build the perfect platform to help expand your business, and if you need a good lawyer, we can help you there too.