Nashville Web Design | Programming | IT | Atiba.com

Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

Web Development Employee Spotlight

Rachael Ghobrial Web Development Team

As part of a new series exploring our “Half-Human” side, we recently (virtually) sat down with Rachael Ghobrial from our Web Development team.

How long have you been with Atiba and what is your role?

I started just over a year ago. I joined Atiba is July of 2019 as the Web Development team lead. My main job is to ensure that our team is delivering high-quality website solutions to our clients to meet their business goals. Additionally, you may find me working as a project manager on some of our more complex custom solutions.

What is your favorite part about working at Atiba 

My favorite thing about working at Atiba is being able to build amazing solutions for our clients with a very talented team. My favorite parts of a project are the initial meetings with our clients to get to know them and understand what problems they need solved, so we can make their business and their lives better. Knowing that I can then turn around and execute that solution with such a dedicated and talented team is incredibly exciting.  

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?  

Honestly, the work itself. I genuinely enjoy coming to work, the team that I’m on, and the solutions we get to build. Atiba is a fun, collaborative, and fast-paced environment.  

What was the best vacation you ever took? 

This past year we had a beach vacation to Hilton Head with just my husband and two boys. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it is hands down the best vacation I’ve had so far. All four of us were able to relax and play. It was probably less exciting for the poor starfish that lost a leg. 

What’s one piece of wisdom handed down from a family member that you’ll always remember? 

Stop and enjoy the moment. Outside of work I have a very busy family life with two young boys. One of my favorite things to do after a long day is silence my phone and watch my boys discover life. They are joyous and curious little things and it is always a reminder of my purpose here today. 

If you were to start a blog, what would the blog be about? (Joke) 

“How to be a full time working parent in a global pandemic.”  

Post 1 – “5  Steps to restore your sanity”  

1. Don’t be a parent
2. Don’t have a job
3. Don’t be married
4. Your diet is now all sugar 
5. Cry into your body pillow every night 

The Top CMS Platform: WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal?

top cms platforms

There’s so much to consider when trying to find the right CMS platform for your website. Let’s start by defining the CMS platform. CMS stands for content management system. It’s the program you’ll use to create and manage your website. Today, we’re going to talk about the three leading CMS platforms that are out there: WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. 

They’ve all been around for quite some time and all offer unique features and traits to their users. While WordPress is by far the most popular platform, it might not be the best for you. Joomla and Drupal are both fantastic CMS platforms that offer the right users powerful, flexible, and secure options for web development. They both hold consistent market share and don’t show signs of fading away.

And while it seems like there’s not much space below those two platforms, there are dozens of dozens of other platform companies who’d love the foothold Joomla and Drupal hold. While we’d love to look at all of those today, we’re just going to stick to the top three.

Let’s jump in and talk about what’s great and not great about each platform.

Why WordPress?

wordpress pros and cons

 

Even if you’re new to web design and development, you’ve no doubt heard of WordPress. Many consider it to be the Coke or Kleenex of the CMS world. How did it get to be so popular?

It’s Easier to Find WordPress Experts

First, it’s popular because it’s popular. Brand recognition goes a long way. What do I mean by that?

Well, if you need someone to work on your website, it’s going to be much easier to find someone who works on WordPress because developers are more likely to be familiar with WordPress and its inner workings. When something is as well-known and used as WordPress is, it’s bound to attract more talent. So the fact that lots of people use it and know how to support it makes it all the more popular choice for folks looking for a platform. 

It’s Easy to Use

When it comes to learning the ins and outs, WordPress makes it easy for its users. There are still plenty of tools and tricks you’ll have to learn, it has the easiest learning curve out there. You don’t have to have an ounce of coding or programming knowledge in order to become a WordPress wiz. And because it’s so popular, there are plenty of places online to help you.

There are lots of forums, YouTube channels, and questions already answered online to help you get started.

Lots of Plugins

With more tools, plugins, and add-ons than the competition, WordPress stole the “there’s an app for that” from the iPhone and changed it to “there’s a plugin for that”. There’s everything from SEO assistant tools to structured data tools to even a plugin that will spout out Dolly Parton quotes.

From all these layouts to SEO tools, WordPress is designed to help you create a successful and attractive website. While WordPress isn’t as flexible or customizable as it’s competition, it makes up for that by offering a wide variety of plugins and tools. It’s a trade-off of custom vs semi-custom but for many users (especially those who don’t have the knowledge to code custom anyway) it’s a great solution. 

Bundles of Templates

While all of those tools are great, you won’t actually get to make the most of them if you don’t have a good looking website.

Luckily for you, WordPress is packed with loads of templates, both free and paid, that will give the website the look you’re looking for. The handy-dandy search option will help you sort and filter by theme and style. Plus, many of these free themes have customizable options so you can play with the color scheme, font, and more.

Why Not WordPress?

We’ve sung the praises of WordPress long enough, but why are people choosing other CMS platforms? There are some solid reasons people don’t choose WordPress. 

Not as Customizable as Many Would Like

You can do a lot to make a powerful, strong brand on WordPress. But you’ll never have the freedom you’d get from Drupal or Joomla. You’ll always be reliant on templates, plugins and add-ons. And while those libraries and options are enormous and available to all users, they can be rather limited. Plus, many plug-ins may not be compatible with certain themes, especially if you go about and build your own.

So while you can build the website of your dreams, the reality is it could end up looking a lot like someone else’s dream, too. So if being truly custom is important to you, it’s probably best to consider Drupal or Joomla.

Big Targets Are Easy to See & Even Easier to Hit

Hackers and criminals know that the best bang for their buck is to target as many sites as possible. So when they look for a target, they look for platforms that are popular. Since WordPress has significantly more users than Joomla or Drupal, it’s frequently more targeted.

In fact, one report found that in 2016 WordPress accounted for 76% of all infected platforms. It isn’t that WordPress doesn’t have security features as robust as the other platforms, but because of their size and the realities of allowing third party access (AKA plugins), there’s a lot for a hacker to gain and several doorways to try picking to get through.

It Can be Expensive

OK, so while all three platforms are technically free, if you really want an attractive and powerful website, you’ll discover pretty quickly that free is cheap and good comes at a cost. You need your own hosted site that’s not only going to look good to customers but will rank better on Google and load faster too.

Premium versions of plugins and add-ons can rack up a cost quickly. And since WordPress relies on those more than Joomla or Drupal which rely more on coding, getting the functionality and presentation you want for your site could be expensive. Of course, this depends on what you want and need on your site. But it’s a good rule of thumb to expect that the more you want the more you’ll spend.

Why Joomla?

joomla pros and cons

 

The Right Mix of Freedom And Hand Holding

In so many ways, Joomla is a middle ground between WordPress and Drupal. If you’re comfortable doing some programming, it can be more customizable than Joomla. But if you’re not a strong programmer, there’s a bit of a learning curve to implementing templates and other add-ons.

If you think you’re up for some challenge but you want a safety net, Joomla might be a good option for you. 

Flexible for Various Types of Content

If you’re looking at developing a site that doesn’t have the traditional forms of content, then Joomla may be for you. One of its specialties is displaying and customizing your non-standard types of content. You can manage content in a more efficient way.

Stronger Multilingual Support

While WordPress requires a third-party plugin to support other languages, Joomla comes right out of the box with multilingual support. This is especially helpful if you’re running an eCommerce store in multiple countries or have an audience spread around the globe.

Why Not Joomla?

The Middle Doesn’t Win or Lose

Although Joomla gives you some of what WordPress offers and some of what Drupal offers, it doesn’t really give you the best option on anything. We can call it the “master of none”.

It’s not as secure as Drupal, not as easy to use as WordPress, nor very popular with developers, making it hard to find help. While the middle ground means you don’t lose at anything, you don’t win either.

Many users feel like if they need programming knowledge to get started, so you might as well bite the bullet and go with Drupal to get the benefits of great security and customization. Those who don’t feel like they want to bother with programming or coding revert back to WordPress. 

Why Drupal?

drupal pros and cons

 

Optimal Security

There’s a reason Drupal is a popular choice for The New Yorker, Whitehouse.gov, and Mercedes Benz. It’s the Fort Knox of the three platforms.

In the same report that listed WordPress as accounting for 76% of all infected websites, Drupal accounted for only 2%. This puts it way above the competition when it comes to security. In fact, it even beat Joomla by double digits who accounted for 14% of all attacks.

You Can Build What You Want…If You Know How

There is tremendous flexibility in how you build sites in Drupal. The downside is, you have to know some coding. And by some, we need a lot. Your first rodeo shouldn’t be with Drupal.

That said, if you want a really custom site, Drupal is a great place to do it. Since there’s more flexibility in how you can code your site, getting customized features and functionality can be accomplished through code instead of plugins or add-ons.

Why Not Drupal?

A Learning Curve You Need Climbing Gear to Conquer 

Drupal is notoriously the most difficult platform to use as a beginner and relies heavily on the user having some, if not a lot, of programming knowledge. It leaves many users dependent on help from contractors or dedicating an employee to the development and management of the site. While that heavy dependence on programming acumen can seem discouraging, remember, it means the ability for greater customization. Just be aware that customization requires programming knowledge which could mean a lag in finding the talent you need. Speaking of talent…

Your Calls For Help Might Echo

Because Drupal is less popular than the other two platforms, many users who want to hire help might struggle to find someone who can actually do the work. There isn’t a huge pool of developers who are experienced in Drupal.

And since Drupal requires a good bit of programming experience and suffers a serious learning curve, make sure you know someone who is available and willing to help you if you need it before you embark on creating your secure, custom Drupal site.

Conclusion

In the end, choosing which platform works best for you might be more about who you are than what they offer. What kinds of challenges are you ready to tackle, and what service is the best platform for your business? While it’s tempting to say WordPress or Drupal are the two best options, Joomla still has its rightful place in the CMS world. Taking the time to investigate options and asking yourself what you really need and want from a platform is the best first step.

While the decision on which of the three is tough, the good news is there are lots of experts who can help you choose which platform to use, or migrate you if you change your mind later. Here at Atiba, we have experts who are familiar with WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. We have an experienced team ready to help you choose the platform for you and help you when you need it.

Reach out to us today for a free project quote. We look forward to hearing from you!

* Market Share results from W3 Techs Web Technology Surveys website that’s updated daily. All results cited in this post were pulled from the Usage Statistics of Content Management Systems Report on September 30, 2020.

The Value of Wireframes in Website Design

why wireframing is important

If you have a business, you need a website. Customers begin judging a business and its website as soon as they find it. Maybe the website is completely new. Maybe you’re redesigning an existing site. Regardless, you know you’ll be designing, building, and launching something new. As you embark on the journey to building your new website, the right planning and process can save you tremendous time and money. And if you’re committed to creating a website to help your business, the most valuable part of a web design process is wireframes. 

Websites can be incredibly flexible. The opportunity to find creative, unique solutions and experiences on the web can be exciting but also overwhelming. Where do you start when you want to create a website? There’s so much to think about when building a website. From how a user navigates from page to page and element to element. 

Wireframes are Flexible

That flexible complexity of the design and use offers so many opportunities for failure in design. And while having a website is compulsory for any business these days, well-designed websites stand out, help develop customer relationships, and build your business.

Poorly designed websites give customers an excuse to give their money to a competitor. 

With the value of a well-designed site so clear, it stands to reason that the fundamentals of design and the help of qualified experts can pay-off in spades. When it comes to your business, if you plan to go cheap on your website, you might as well just go home. 

website design fundamentals

Source: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/06/following-a-web-design-process/

The five milestones mentioned above are important but it leaves out the necessary attention to the design step. Wireframing is found in the design stage, which is a make-or-break milestone for any website. Wireframes align the website owner, designer, and development team on what will be built, how, and why. 

Why Wireframes Are So Important to Website Design

Without the agreement and clarity of wireframes, there will always be a gap between what was intended and what was created. Even a great idea for a website can fail if the team building the website isn’t aligned around a clear and comprehensive plan. And that’s exactly the function of a wireframe. Not only do you have to plan accordingly, but you have to make sure you’re following guidelines you may have not thought about earlier. 

Wireframes give structure, guidance, vision, and purpose to the designer and architect. They ensure that everyone knows where and why each part of the site exists and how the parts work together. Skipping this crucial process step can leave everyone involved feeling disconnected and lost. When people don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing, it’ll cost you time, money, and sanity.

Let’s talk about what wireframes are, how they work, why they’re the backbone of website design. 

Bad Web Design Equals Bad Experience

frustrated web design

If you’re running an eCommerce site, users are often showing up to your online store with their wallets out. A bad experience on your site is like a negative interaction with a staff member in your storefront. Confusing layouts, poor navigation, and more can lead to a bad experience that sticks around.

In a study by Akamai, “88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience” and “64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with their site visit will go somewhere else to shop.” So it’s clear that the majority of customers who don’t like a website will go somewhere else to spend their money. Yikes!

More often than not, companies skip the wireframes step as they deem it unnecessary and time-consuming. Had they invested in wireframes in the early stages of their website design, problems could have been identified: pages that were cluttered, page connections that looked like spilled spaghetti, and a lack of general organization or purpose. 

How Do Wireframes Help?

So how would a wireframe help?  If you Google “what’s a wireframe” you’ll come across countless articles all using the same metaphor. “Just like you have blueprints for a house you have wireframes for the construction of a website.” And the reason you’ll find that comparison almost everywhere is because it’s a solid description

Wireframes layout in black and white where everything is, how they connect, and how they function. They function just like blueprints for a house and like blueprints, they’re best when designed by a knowledgeable, experienced, expert.

You wouldn’t want your painter drawing up the blueprints for your house. You’d want an architect. 

The same goes for wireframes. Understanding how websites, code limitations, and user experience all play into designing a website. Add to that understanding what the owner wants to accomplish, with a set budget for build, design, and launch, and you have a very complicated but crucial part of your website design.

Skipping or skimping on wireframes is a surefire way to torpedo any web design project.

So don’t. 

What Do Wireframes Accomplish?

blueprints

OK, we got the how and why out of the way. Let’s talk about what a wireframe should accomplish. 

What

A wireframe will define the pages and structure of your site. This framework will show everyone what all the pieces are. It will outline what is text, image, and action. Showing the design and build team every component and where to put it in relation to the other pieces.

How

Once all the pieces are identified, a wireframe will also show you how they work together. Identifying things like what happens when you click a button and where it takes the user. It will explain if a user sees a pop-up or a redirect. This crucial element is how the design and development team understands the user experience.

Who

Once everyone knows what’s to be built and how they can assign the who to each part. Once people know their roles and responsibilities, they can provide accurate quotes for time, expense, and possible roadblocks.

From those three wireframe outcomes, the project can be fully realized for its scope. You’ll understand what your actual budget, timeline, and the finished product should resemble. You’ll understand how you’ll get there, who’ll contribute, and what they’ll each do.

That’s why skipping the wireframing step any website design process is such a risk. Without it, any design team, regardless of their qualifications or experience, will work without the guidance and alignment they need.

Getting Wireframes

getting wireframes

Ok, I hope I’ve finally sold you on the value of wireframes. So how do you acquire them?

If you’re embarking on a web design project and you don’t already have someone on staff who’s knowledgeable and experienced in building wireframes, I highly recommend you consider hiring someone who is. And let me explain why.

The person who creates a wireframe for a website can listen to all the goals, ambitions, and dreams of a website owner and translate those abstract ideas into a two-dimensional guide that manifests a vision into reality.

That’s heavy stuff and it takes a special person. The reasons you need a wireframe, all those opportunities for crossed wires and misunderstandings, are the same reason not just anyone can build them.

Qualities of a good wireframe designer:

  • Translate non-tech into tech. They have to have listening skills to take what a website designer says they want and need and put that into a schematic and framework IT teams need to create that vision.
  • Identify potential gaps and cliffs. This comes from experience. A good wireframe designer makes sure all loops and paths lead to the right places and that users are never led to an internet wasteland without a way back.
  • Passion for user experience. They should have a vision for how all the parts create the user experience the website owner is trying to accomplish.

Remember, a bad wireframe will result in a bad design. Good wireframe designers are worth paying for. Find the best person you can to help you build your wireframes. It’s absolutely an investment.

Here at Atiba, web design is one of our specialties. We not only work with wireframes but all parts of the web design process. Reach out to us today for a free quote!

 

What is the Best B2B eCommerce Platform?

best b2b ecommerce platforms

When it comes to eCommerce, there are countless factors to consider but one of the most important is which platform will be best for your business. In order to have a successful business, you need to make sure you have the right B2B eCommerce platform.

Last year, global B2B eCommerce grew by almost 20% which represented over $10.3 trillion dollars in sales. That means there is a ton of potential for your business but also a ton of competition. You want to stick out to your B2B customers, but how do you do that? What platform gives you the best chance for eCommerce personalization?

But there are plenty of options out there when it comes to choosing the ideal platform, where do you even start? How can you make sure that you’re choosing the best path for your business? Switching platforms is both costly and difficult so when you make your decision, you’re going to want to stick with it.

Let’s run through some of the platforms that you should be checking out, as well as their pros and cons.

Magento

magento ecommerce

We’ve talked about how Magento can help grow your eCommerce business and it makes our list without even a second thought.

Magento is a fantastic open-source B2B eCommerce platform and can work for almost any kind of business out there. We love Magento because in the topsy-turvy world of eCommerce, it provides a sense of customization and easy startup that puts users at ease.

There are some great features, like a flexible shopping cart system, total control over your website’s look, and functional selling options.

Plus, Magento was designed with businesses in mind. While there is plenty of overlap in the Venn diagram of B2B and B2C, Magento’s features were definitely designed to handle a business’s needs. That is also one of its downsides, however.

In order to make proper use of Magento, you need to have an experienced coder with you and the bandwidth to be able to take advantage of all the features.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Incredibly flexible, unique options
  • Made for businesses
  • Scalable for big and small businesses alike

Cons:

  • Needs experienced developers to take full advantage
  • A dedicated server is needed to properly host
  • Is a bit more expensive than others

Shopify

shopify ecommerce

It’s almost impossible to talk about eCommerce without mentioning Shopify. In fact, the snowboard store turned eCommerce-giant has recently teamed up with Walmart in order to go toe-to-toe with Amazon.

If you’ve got a small business, you might be thinking you’re not a big enough fish for the likes of Shopify. Many people consider using Shopify for their eCommerce platform like people use WordPress for their blogging platform.

So what makes Shopify so great?

For one, it’s quite user-friendly and doesn’t require a lot of knowledge to set up. It’s got a low start-up cost and the interface won’t have you frustrated. There are also plenty of free themes you can take advantage of to give your site the best look possible.

Shopify’s simplicity is also one of its shortcomings. In making a user-friendly platform, you won’t find the extensive customization you might find with other platforms. Its content marketing features are also noticeably weak.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Simple to use
  • Affordable pricing
  • Plenty of free plugins, themes, and apps to improve your website

Cons:

  • Customization can be limited and cumbersome at times
  • Basic content marketing
  • Lacks multi-language capabilities

 

WooCommerce

woocommerce ecommerce

If you’re a WordPress fan and comfortable with that platform, then WooCommerce might be the right call for you. WordPress already powers around 30% of the entire internet (including us here at Atiba!) and is also responsible for about 40% of eCommerce sites around the world. So, if you’ve got WordPress experience, then you’ll be quite happy with what WooCommerce has to offer.

What makes WooCommerce as a solid B2B eCommerce platform?

When it comes to the list of pros, it shares a lot of similarities with what WordPress is already doing well. It is incredibly easy to use, launch, and there are countless themes and plugins to check out. There are also tons of performance and SEO tools that come built-in so you can make sure your eCommerce site is ready for the World Wide Web.

Plus, as your business grows and evolves it’s quite easy to expand your site as well. It’s quite scalable.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Seamless integration with WordPress
  • 100’s of themes, plugins, and add-ons
  • SEO and performance tools

Cons:

  • Number of plugins can be overwhelming
  • Developer knowledge is needed to take full advantage
  • Limited customer support despite large community

Oracle NetSuite

netsuite ecommerce

Oracle isn’t a name that jumps at you when it comes to other B2B eCommerce platforms, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a look.

This cloud-based platform is ideal for businesses that have a storefront and various online stores. The multichannel capabilities are perfect for those looking to sell across different avenues and make the most of their business opportunities. It also has multi-country support if your business spans the globe.

NetSuite can be fully integrated with ERP and CRM technologies, making it easy to sync with other tools in order to save you both time and money when it comes to launching your site.

Unfortunately, NetSuite does have a steep learning curve when it comes to the initial stages. You will need an experienced developer or consultant to get you moving down the right track.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Global support for businesses that operate around the world
  • Multi-channel selling
  • Seamless integration with other technologies

Cons:

  • Steady price increases over the last few years
  • Limited support for some customers
  • Limited customization options

OpenCart

opencart ecommerce

Last on our list is another popular platform for the eCommerce world. OpenCart is a free and open-source software that comes with a number of powerful and useful tools to make the most of your online presence. OpenCart has been around for a while and they continue to make strides, most notably with their extension “OpenCart B2B marketplace”. This extension has made it much easier for B2B users.

OpenCart is also a multi-channel marketplace that will allow your business to access services across the web for easy and optimal wholesale selling. The platform is easy to update, extremely user-friendly and will help you set up a basic store even if you have little to no experience.

Of course, in order to take full advantage of the platform and all its features you’ll have to bring in an experienced developer or coder to help maximize your site’s opportunities. When it comes to payment and checkout, OpenCart has shown to be a bit limited as well.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and use, ideal for beginners
  • Simple metrics and reporting documents
  • Built-in email templates make marketing easy

Cons:

  • While not universal, is known to be a bit buggy
  • Noticeably slower checkout process
  • Limited long-term features

What’s the best B2B eCommerce Platform For You?

As with just about anything in the tech world, the answer is often those two frustrating words “it depends.”

It really does depend on the size of your business, the global scope, and how much control you want over your website. In order to determine which is the best for you, we recommend writing down a list of things that matter most to you for your eCommerce platform.

Your list should include things like:

  • Speed
  • Customization
  • Security
  • Setup ease
  • Support
  • Price
  • Features
  • And more

While we can’t put those in order for you, we can make a recommendation on our favorites. It’s no secret that we are big WordPress fans and as a part of that, big WooCommerce fans. We believe its functionality and ease make it a great option for eCommerce businesses.

If you’d rather not go the WordPress route, we suggest taking a look at Magento. It’s perfect for both big and small businesses and can go with your business if it continues to grow.

So if you’re looking to start your eCommerce website or just need help, reach out to our eCommerce team to help you get set up with all the tools you need. We look forward to helping you!

 

 

 

6 Mistakes to Avoid With eCommerce Website Development

ecommerce-web-development

The COVID pandemic hit a number of industries hard. There were some industries, however, that were able to withstand the global upheaval. One of these was eCommerce.

For proof, we don’t have to look any further than Amazon. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos saw his net worth grow by $25 billion during the pandemic. They also hired around 75,000 workers in order to keep up with the demand.

Although the growth of a colossus enterprise such as Amazon isn’t exactly shocking, eCommerce growth tends to be a national trend. In fact, US eCommerce sales rose by 14.5% from the previous year. With so much attention in the industry, it’s only natural that interest in starting an eCommerce business has risen over the past year as well.

Check out this graph from Google Trends on “how to eCommerce” grew over the last 6 months.

ecommerce-growth

 

So, what does that mean? It means a lot of people are trying to break into the eCommerce world and if you’re one of them, how do you stand out?

One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is by using sound eCommerce website development. Web development can be tough but necessary to keep visitors coming back to your website and increase sales over time. Web development plays a huge role.

When it comes to building the perfect eCommerce site, what web development mistakes do you need to look out for? Check out six things you should be aware of.

 

Consuming too Much Bandwidth

In today’s environment, people expect things ASAP and that’s never been more true than someone visiting a webpage. In fact, studies show that if your site or a page doesn’t load in three seconds, the user will bounce right off.

The average website is filled with high-quality images, banners, push notifications, and more. But if those items aren’t properly optimized, then your website will look like it’s trying to wade through mashed potatoes.

What are the processes and items you should be optimizing? For starters, you should:

  • Optimize all images, compress their file size so they load faster
  • Minify JavaScript and CSS. Too much on a page is going to slow it down
  • Lower the amount of HTTP requests

There are other things you can be doing, but it’s best to start off with those three. Not only will you have a fast-loading site, but you’ll also rank better in Google.

Speaking of ranking better in Google…

Underestimating the Importance of SEO

Get ready to see this little acronym everywhere when you start developing an eCommerce website. You might think that search engine optimization is all about on-page elements, such as content, title tags, meta descriptions, and more.

While those things are very important, there are plenty of other SEO aspects you should be concerned about.

On the web development side you have to ask yourself: is this site crawlable?

For a website to be crawlable, it needs to have a proper site structure, minimal redirects, proper canonical tags, no duplicate content, a sitemap, and much more. The easier you make it for Google to crawl your website, the more visibility you’re going to gain over time.

You can check how Google sees your website by making use of Google Search Console. It’s a free tool that can easily be connected to your site.

Ignoring Responsive Design

eocmmerce-responsive-design

Whenever you hear someone talk about web development, you’re almost guaranteed to hear them talk about responsive design. These two are the new peanut butter and jelly.

These days, the three devices people browse the internet on are: computers, mobile phones, and tablets (and iPod touches for those who were locked in a time capsule in 2008).

That means your website must be able to adapt to the various screens that people are using to browse the web. When it comes to building responsive websites, there are a number of proper practices and methods for doing so. WordPress will let you know if their themes are responsive or not.

However, even though you may be choosing a theme or design that says it’s responsive, there might be some more work to do on the development side to make it so. Oftentimes a theme or layout will look responsive but menus or other sections may not display properly, frustrating any visitors.

Being Browser Specific

Even though over 60% of web users have Chrome set as their primary browser, that doesn’t mean you should make your site Chrome-specific. Everyone has their favorite browser, but some of your users might be in that small percentage of people who still use Internet Explorer. If your website isn’t working properly for them, why would they stick around or ever come back?

It would be overkill to test out your website on every browser with every major change, but you need to be doing periodic checks in order to make sure your website is functional with each browser.

CSS is often a culprit in robbing you of all-browser functionality, so make sure you feel confident in your abilities if you jump into complex tasks.

Implementing Poor Web Security

ecommerce-web-security

“Identity theft is not a joke, Jim!” is just one of the many great quotes that Dwight Schrute had from The Office. But Dwight does have a point.

eCommerce websites with poor security can damage relationships with customers and torpedo your business efforts. When it comes to security, we often run into two words: authentication and authorization. What’s the difference?

Authentication is verifying the identity of a user and confirming who they are whereas authorization is giving said user access to a website, system, etc. More often than not, inexperienced eCommerce web developers will grant authorization without authentication.

Yikes.

In order to best protect users on your site, you need to implement proper security measures by using proper authentication and authorization methods. While the two words may be different, they must come together as one.

Sloppy Navigation

Above we mentioned some sound practices for making sure your website is crawlable by Google. Now we need to talk about how to make it easy for users. User interface and user experience will often fall onto the web design side. But you can make it easy for your web design team by thinking about navigation during the development process.

Plus, a crawlable website is much easier to navigate.

That means making easy-to-read menus, using simple structures, plainly distinctive categories, and a handy search function. The last thing you want to do is have visitors come to your site and be confused or frustrated while trying to navigate to a product page. Don’t count on users “figuring it out”. With thousands of other websites begging for their attention, they’ll just leave.

When it comes to eCommerce web development, there are plenty of mistakes that can be made. Some of them may be too complicated for those not fluent in web development. Here at Atiba, we have web development experts on hand to help you with any doubts. Make sure and reach out when you’re ready to take your eCommerce website to the next level.

 

 

 

Overwhelmed by Software Development

Software Development – Where to Start?

One would not generally associate custom software development and healthcare but stay with me here …

Having previously spent 15 years in healthcare it’s been my observation that many people don’t know what to expect before (or after) they, or a loved one, experience a health event.  They may become overwhelmed, frustrated, and even apathetic when a health professional talks to them regarding a change.

Apprehension and/or decision paralysis seems to set in and they put off taking that next step even though it might really improve their quality of life.

It is easy to be in that same boat when it comes to understanding technology and moving forward with custom software or website that could significantly improve your business.

It is a goal of the fantastic Half Geek Half Human folks at Atiba to help demystify technology and be customer-centric.  If you are thinking about custom software development or design, but are inundated by the information out there … hopefully, this article can offer a new perspective.

An Illustration

Using a general healthcare example, let’s say a person is thinking about getting a knee replacement.  This process is not as simple as walking into the hospital and requesting the surgery, is it?  <Insert Laugh Here>

There is the progression of doctor visits beforehand – likely the general practitioner examines and recommends some exercises and maybe an anti-inflammatory medication.  Then, typically, comes a prescription for physical therapy or stronger pain medication.

Eventually, there is a referral for surgical intervention.  A couple of orthopedist visits are likely next to determine candidacy for a knee replacement and what type of procedure needs to be performed, etc.  Consulting with insurance to see what will be covered and which providers are in-network is also part of the process.

As the journey continues, the surgery is scheduled (hopefully there has been a case manager involved by this point).  A list of best practice recommendations is often provided for maximum results.  Some of these directions may include a list of exercises, medication instructions, pre-registration information, pre-op bathing instructions, etc.

Decisions such as transportation to and from the surgery, time off work, and aftercare plans for therapy must also be made.  The surgery hasn’t even happened yet and there has been so much “front-end” preparation already.

It’s the day of surgery and the “back-end” work begins…no one can really see what’s going on inside the knee except for the surgeon & the team doing the operation.  The possible risks were explained and signed off on beforehand; such as the risk of undergoing anesthesia, risk of infection, risk of defective replacement appliances, etc.

Then the procedure begins and there may or may not be complications along the way.  For example, what may have been planned to take 2 hours, maybe takes 5 hours because of an unforeseen complication.

After the operation, the incision is inspected, ice packs applied, and precautions are put in place to minimize the risk of infection.  Immediate and continuous physical therapy must ensure to get an adequate range of motion back in the knee.  Perpetual monitoring and modifications to treatment are essential, including adequate nutrition, constant quality assurance, medication adjustments, reapplying bandages, etc.  All these little tweaks can be time-consuming and seem exhausting, yet, are vital to the overall success of the operation.

How again does this tie into software development?

Most custom software development requires a lot of planning and follow-up that many people may not incorporate into the initial cost or time expectations.  As with medical procedures, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process and frustrated with unexpected complications.  Good communication, like in healthcare, is essential on both sides of the equation.  Expectations need to be made clear, however, maintaining flexibility is also important.

As a Case Manager in healthcare, a Project Manager can be helpful in navigating the unknown territory.  Project managers can aid in establishing the timeline, being a single point of contact, and keeping the project on target.  However, just like with the above-mentioned surgery, unforeseen complications, or “bugs” can surface and delay even the best-planned project.

The Process

Think back to the knee replacement example given above…custom software development/web design can loosely be broken down into two parts … front-end and back-end development.

Front-end work usually includes design content and coding skills that affect what the user sees and interacts with on a web application, it also includes developing what is known as UX/UI experience.  It is the work done that makes the interactable part of software development user friendly & efficient.

User interface know-how is combined with languages like CSS, HTML, JavaScript, XML based languages, Java, Objective C, and iQuery to name a few. Deciding a CMS (Content Management System) platform (examples: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, or Magento to note a few) can be important if the data entered on the website needs to be pulled to a database.  Other programs like Photoshop and Adobe can also be utilized as well for front end work and design.

Back-end development involves making sure the web application can communicate with the server so that changes can be made in the desired database.  This involves making sure the code on the front end is supported and using additional programming languages (like PHP, Ruby, Python, ASP.net, C#, ColdFusion, Haskell, etc) on the back-end so information can be relayed to the servers and Database Management Systems.  Then when someone clicks on the website or is using the custom software program the information can be generated immediately when summoned for the user.

This construction takes time.

Continuous quality assurance and testing must be performed, either by the customer or the provider, but it must happen.  And just as the incision needs constant monitoring & cleaning so no infection sets in… the code will need frequent testing as “bugs” pop up and patching needs to occur for the program to be continually functional.  It will be an ongoing process that needs to occur over the lifespan of the code… (Which is why apps, programs, and operating systems need ongoing updates).

Software Development … The Take-Away

Yes, there are a lot of moving parts to technology, just as in healthcare.  As patients must trust doctors, hospitals, and healthcare teams, be assured that a project manager/software development team uses the best tools to create websites and custom software based on individual situations.

It can seem overwhelming, but just remember how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

Fortunately, the great folks here at Atiba can help get you started on the journey and walk you through every step of the way when it comes to custom software development and web applications!

Don’t put off improving and growing your business any longer!  Give us a call (615) 353-1921 or send an email to info@atiba.com

 

 

 

Drupal Basics from Nashville’s Drupal Developers

Drupal Developers

Updated September 21, 2020

A quick Drupal overview from Nashville’s Drupal Developers…

Drupal is free software, written in PHP, which has a wide and active community of users and developers who collaborate together in its improvement and expansion. Drupal is designed to be the perfect content management solution for non-technical users who need both simplicity and flexibility. This is achieved with a modular approach to site construction.  Unlike other CMSs, Drupal is not a prefabricated toy truck, but rather a collection of wheels, windshields, axles, frames, etc., that a toy manufacturer can easily assemble.

Drupal can be described both as a content management system and as a content management environment: a unified system that strives to have the advantages of both, without its shortcomings. In this way, if someone is looking to create a news site, an online store, social networks, blog, wiki, or something totally different, it is all about finding the right combination of modules.

This extension is possible because it is a modular system with a very consistent architecture, which allows modules created by any developer to interact with the core of the system and modules created by other members of the community. With Drupal, it is possible to implement a wide variety of websites: a personal or professional blog, a corporate portal, a virtual store, a social network or virtual community, etc … Directed to those people, with technical training or not, who want to start in the creation of Web Portals with Drupal. It is also very useful for companies or professionals who want to create their professional or personal web portal without external dependencies.

Drupal is an open-source program, with GNU / GPL license, written in PHP, developed and maintained by an active community of users. It stands out for the quality of its code and the pages generated the respect of web standards, and special emphasis on the usability and consistency of the entire system. Online help: A robust online help system and help pages for the ‘core’ modules, both for users and administrators.

Open source: The Drupal source code is freely available under the terms of the GNU / GPL license. Unlike other systems of ‘blogs’ or proprietary content management, it is possible to extend or adapt Drupal according to the needs.

Modules: The Drupal community has contributed many modules that provide features such as ‘category page’, private messages, bookmarks, etc.

Personalization: A robust personalization environment is implemented in the core of Drupal. Both the content and the presentation can be individualized according to the preferences defined by the user.

Friendly URLs: Drupal uses the mod_rewrite of Apache to create URLs that are manageable by users and search engines

 

Want to see if a Drupal site is right for your business? Contact us for a free quote.

WordPress Vs. Drupal: What’s The Right Choice For Your Business?

overhead of docked boats with some empty slips

Drupal and WordPress are both excellent Content Management Systems (CMS) to use as a foundation for a business website. But there are differences. If you are looking to build a new business website, you might be wondering which platform is right for you.

man looking at his phoneWordPress started as a blogging platform and is a great choice for most basic websites that need robust content and navigation, need to look good, and might need to be updated by you or a non-technical team member at your company quickly and easily. Good examples are tourist attractions, law firms, non-profits, event websites like music festivals or a beauty and fashion website. Those are just a few examples. Most basic businesses that need a website to get information out about what you do should consider using WordPress.

Drupal is the platform to use if your website is going to do a lot of heavy lifting. If your site is going to be very complex with a lot of content, like an eCommerce marketplace with a million items (SKUs), Drupal is probably the choice for you.

Similarly, having individual users on your site can be a very complex management task, especially if the user base is expected to be large and will need to be sorted by many different data points for different functions.

A lot of enterprise projects use Drupal, like government and school websites, because you can program several different sites (for different departments) with different databases, but still use the same Drupal base code.

This is a simple explanation to get you started thinking in the right direction. If you’re unsure, talk to a company like Atiba, with experts on staff in both WordPress and Drupal, to find out the best way to build a site for your business.

3 Ways Heat Mapping Can Improve Your Website

screen shot of heat mapping tool applied to Atiba homepageIf you’ve never used a heat mapping tool (like the ones offered at CrazyEgg or HotJar) you’ll probably be surprised, and maybe a little overwhelmed, at the amount of insight you can glean. Being able to see and digest user behavior, whether it be how far the average user scrolls or where most clicks are happening on a particular page, can be invaluable in understanding the effectiveness of content placement or calls-to-action.

These tools typically display data in a few ways. Areas of a web page that get more activity, whether it be through user scrolling patterns or actual click behavior, will be colored to help visualize the activity. Orange and Red are typically used for areas with more activity. Blue and Black are for “colder” areas that garner less attention from users.

We typically utilize heatmapping tools before a client’s website redesign, mostly because they can offer insights that may be harder to detect from Google Analytics. But there are also other reasons why this can be an incredibly effective tool.

Here are a few ways that these tools can offer actionable insights of your web page:

Deciding on the most effective placement of key calls-to-action

Seeing the scrolling patterns and click behavior of users is usually pretty eye-opening. It turns out, that call-to-action below the fold that you thought was beautifully written and incredibly intuitive? 90% of your users never see it. Understanding the placement of calls-to-action is just as important as how they are written and/or designed.

Ensuring the best possible user experienceheat mapping tool example

We often find that our clients are surprised when they see where clicks are happening on their site. Things like images, addresses, and phone numbers are usually assumed by the average user to be clickable. Using imagery and higher value content pieces as gateways into a conversion funnel can help nudge your user toward the end goal you’ve set-up. Seeing content pieces of a page (such as images or text) that are being frustratingly clicked on over and over that don’t link anywhere usually has the effect of jump-starting an audit of all page content.

Understanding the highest value referral sources

Though this information is available through Google Analytics, it can sometimes also be helpful to see the exact actions taken by users from a particular referral source. For instance, being able to visually map the users coming from Google as opposed to Bing, or your preferred paid marketing channel over organic traffic, as it relates to activities or clicks on a call-to-action can sometimes offer insights that are a little harder to deduce from looking at hard numbers or graphs in Google Analytics.

In summary, any tool that helps us gain actionable insight into user behavior for our clients is incredibly valuable to us. We’ve found that heat mapping tools can be an incredibly helpful resource in helping understand user behavior and assist our clients in making the necessary changes to raise conversions or meet marketing goals.

 

From New York to Nashville: Atiba Web Designer Jessica Hill

By Jessica Hill – Atiba Senior Web Designer

As a gal who was born and raised in NY, public transportation has always just been a part of my life. I grew up just outside of Manhattan, and I can’t tell you the number of times my mother would tell my sister and I to just take the train if we wanted to get somewhere. I have learned to read just about any bus or subway schedule you can imagine. I know which subway lines are the slowest. I know what a pain it is when you get on a express train or bus by accident and it flies right past your stop. I know what it’s like to fall asleep on the subway heading to Queens, but waking up at the Coney Island stop.

I have also found that many people I know will at some point ask me why I always carry a tote bag with me. My answer is “because I take the bus”. I often carry an umbrella, extra socks, some snacks, bandaids, things like that because I have learned it’s better to be prepared. I also use the tote bags if I have to stop at the grocery store or run errands on the way home. If you have ever had to carry a bunch of heavy plastic bags for more than a block, you will understand why tote bags are so awesome.

Because I had such easy access to public transportation , I never really drove much. I went to college in Philly where I would usually ride my bike, walk, take the train and then take the express bus back to the Port Authority in NY when I would go home to visit. So, again, I just never needed to drive.

When I came to Nashville, I noticed that public transportation was not as widely embraced. And I understand that. It can be a pain. You really have to plan your schedule around it. You have to be willing to wait. Sometimes it is horribly hot outside, other times you are stuck in the rain or freezing cold. But you learn to adapt. It’s actually a skill that has served me well.

But there are a lot of benefits to taking public transportation, or even using apps like Lyft or Uber. The biggest benefit for me is that is helps me actually meet people. I am very lucky to have a career doing what I love, which is web and graphic design. However, this also means I am happy to sit with my headphones in and work. I can easily go days without talking to anyone other than my dog. Public transportation helps me actually interact with people. And I have met some really great folks. Plus, there is a lot of diversity on the bus and it’s great to meet people from other neighborhoods nearby that you may never usually visit.

The other thing I love is that it gives me time to just let my mind wander. It’s nice to sometimes stare out the window, or just take a break from all the other things that are in my head. Sometimes it’s fun just to sit and listen to the many conversations happening. Most of the time, there are some pretty amusing ones going on!

I highly suggest if you have never taken public transportation before that you give it a try. It’s always good to see things from a different perspective. Plus, you won’t have to worry about parking, and who wouldn’t like a break from that?