Tears for Fears of the CMS

Best CMS

There are many different types of Content Management Systems in the digital Tears_For_Fears_1379683357_crop_550x366world, but not all of them are easy to work with. Personally I want to delve into this beast called WordPress. From all of the reviews that I have read it seems to be the reigning champion.

WordPress is a web software built by hundreds of community volunteers who contribute thousands of different plugins for endless customization. Sure, it’s a bit daunting but the fact of the matter is that WordPress sites are what clients and customers need.

As designers and developers, we need to be able to sell a product that people will buy. There really is no better way to do that than buy using WordPress as your CMS. It allows you to create a site up to the specifications of the client, then gives the client complete control over which content they wish to sell.wordpress-logo-simplified-rgb

What intrigues me the most about WordPress is the fact that there are literally thousands of different plugins that you can use to customize your site. Of course I’ll always be partial to the development process of the static HTML site, but the ability to add features like shopping carts and payment processing without any real need for hard-coding
looks like a nice change of pace.

In all, I hope that this semester’s crash course on different Content Management Systems will be an enlightening one.

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Cheers for the Next Step

So What Now?

This past semester has definitely been a learning experience to say the least. Before00053 I took this class I had never heard of Content Management Systems and always just assumed that WordPress was used to scam people into buying templates.

Not only have I learned that CMS’ are a powerful tool to have in your arsenal, but it’s also just as creative and rewarding as a static HTML site. Through WordPress, we as designers can develop beautiful looking sites that customers will not fully understand, be be able to manipulate with ease for their own particular business needs. That right there seems to be more than I ever thought I was capable of.

Whether or not designers should specialize is completely up to the individual. While it is incredibly useful to expand your education and knowledge of the ever-changing technological world, there will always be a need for those who choose to master their niche. unca coin

Personally I am planning on attending a the University of North Carolina Asheville  after my run at AB-Tech in order to broaden my horizons in the digital media world with a degree in New Media. After that I certainly hope that I will find what makes me happy with a degree in developing new things in the digital frontier.

Missing Feature

Harry Potter and the Missing Feature

One of the most frustrating things that a designer has to deal with is making the page look good. Whether it’s a factor of the design elements used or something in the back-end of the code, it always takes more time to fix than one desires. invisibility-cloak

As a group, we were definitely having troubles creating an aesthetically pleasing site to go along with the complicated ins-and-outs of the Woocommerce plugin. Eventually our teacher suggested we try a plugin called What the File.

What the File is a plugin that allows you to view what file and template parts are used to display the page you’re currently viewing. You can click the file name to directly edit it through the theme editor, though it is not normally suggested to try this with big changes. It is currently at a five-star rating on the WordPress rating and reviews page, while being last upwhatthefiledated in March of this year.

Following the installation of this plugin, we as a group were easily able to  find and fix almost every problem in our layout thanks to this great functioning plugin.

Life is like an Image Slider

Image Slider

What makes a site appealing comes down to a variety of components. When theseforrest-gump-profile components are thrown together in just the right way, something special can really happen (and of course by “thrown together” I mean fine tune and nit pick with every last detail).

One of the crucial elements to include on a customized CMS site would be an image slider. These are specific galleries of images that developers place on the home page of a site in order to advertise the very site you are visiting. In order to keep visitors on these sites, designers choose the best quality images along with eye-catching titles and descriptions.

The CMS that I am using in my group project is the almighty WordPress.org Here we have dozens of different types of image sliders to choose from. Our group has decided to develop a shopping site that sells high end shoes and footwear, therefore the appropriate thing to include in our slider would be something with a professional kick.

Looking through all of the different types of  sliders together, we decided on using the HUGE-IT slider. It is one of the highest rated image sliders based on the consensus from WordPress.org and fscreenshot-1rom the testing that we went through, it sure looks beautiful.

The HUGE-IT comes with unlimited amount of image space, a drag and drop functionality for easy to update customer service, and automated short-code for the easier process of adding the slider to a webpage.

Close Encounters of the Contact Form

Contact FormClose-Encounters-Ship-over-the-car

The contact form plugin found in the WordPress CMS is a great place to start when dealing with form. The Contact Form plugin allows you to implement a feedback form to a web-page or a post in no time. It is an extremely easy form, that doesn’t require any additional settings, though there are some available options. All you need is just to activate the plugin and insert the short-code needed into the text. There is also a premium version of the plugin with more useful features available.

To install this plugin all one has to do is upload the Contact Form folder to the WordPress content/plugins directory. After that you activate it using the “plugins” menu on the WordPress admin panel. Once activated, there are plenty of variations to which you can apply to your new found form.

The only criteria I am using to base my investigative work would be the knowledge gained frscreenshot-3om using it first hand. I am not going to say that I am an expert on the subject of Content Managing Systems, but I feel that if one spends enough time figuring the ins-and-outs of a particular system, then they will make progress eventually. Another useful tip comes from reading other people’s reviews from WordPress/reviews and trying to recreate their progress.

 

Indiana Jones and the Templates of Doom

CMS Templatesindy_oh_yes

When it comes to using a CMS, it’s usually best to customize an existing template rather than creating one from scratch. This puts less pressure on the developer and guarantees a working product for the client. After all, the reason why we’re learning how to develop these content managing systems is to eventually be hired by clients who want to be able to manage a site for their company (without the need of a programmer).

A site that I found interesting with it’s approach to design was orange.ch Here they have developed a a beautiful integration of information rich features with a modernized layout. Our project will consist of selling shoes to customers, so there’s going to have to be some changes, but I feel like this site definitely has the approach that I want to take.

I believe every site that is promoting a product needs to include a slider of some sort. Torangehat being said, Orange has created a visually stimulating slider and I believe that with the usage of high quality images and smooth transitions, our group project will be able to achieve the same effect.

As a group we decided to develop an ecommerce based site that includes several different types of products with categories, a shopping cart, and customer based reviews. To add these features to our site we looked at both the django  and the woocommerce  plugins. While both had very interesting features and options, we felt that it would just be easier to stick with woocommerce being that it doesn’t stray too far from the WordPress formula.

While brainstorming about all of the things that we wanted to include on our site, a lot of question came up about whether or not we could really make all of them work. with content rich sites it’s always a fear that we might not be able to create the best site possible. However, the beauty about WordPress is that as a CMS, it’s customizable almost to a fault. with limitless plugins and endless customizations at your fingertips, there should be no worry whether or not you can add something to your site. I suppose the only thing really holding you back is your ability to manage it.

 

CMS Introducción

Content Management SystemsMoving-animated-clip-art-dont-panic-picture

Certain features are crucial to make Content Management Systems (CMS) as effective as they need to be. First of all, a CMS is a program that allows users to manipulate, edit, and publish content for their site without having to know hypertext language or cascading stylesheets. Prominent customers of the CMS variety include blogs, news, and shopping sites.

Important Features

  • Single-source Functionality: each chunk of content is stored only one time in a single repository, enabling maximum content reuse and eliminating duplicate content.
  • Content Reuse: ability to reuse content across multiple documents without duplicating it and to have immediate access to reused content.
  • Integrations with editing tools: editors take advantage of the CMS functionality through a menu on the toolbar of their favorite authoring/editing software.
  • Remote access: remote users access the system through a secure Web interface.
  • On-site training and ongoing customer support: implementation goes smoothly and future questions get answered.

Additional Featureswordpress-logo-simplified-rgb

  • Graphical workflow: managers create a graphical representation of the workflow process with checkpoints and email notifications to alert users of the project’s status and next step.
  • Full Unicode support: unique character sets, such as Japanese, Russian, and Arabic, are supported in the system.

SEO

Any good CMS should allow for customization of page titles, meta description, meta keywords, and H-tags. These will optimize the chance of users finding your company while searching for relatable products.

Why learn more about CMS?index

Because content management systems are becoming more and more popular, it is very important for designers to learn all they can about them. Clients are looking for a more direct way to improve their online footprint, and hiring someone to watch over their site isn’t what they’re looking for anymore. These days they want access to their products without all of the hard work and effort that comes with web development.

The best way to make these clients happy is to give them what they want, and with all of options CMS’ provide they really can run their company (for the most part). Ways to learn more about CMS’ are through sites like wordpress.org and getsimple, there you can learn just about everything you need to start up you own content management system.

Top 3 Web Resources

There’s Always Money In the Banana Standarrested_development_kaypro10_1

Something every designer should have in their arsenal of online weaponry are web resources. These come in all shapes and forms from video to online blogs such as this. Here are a few of my favorites that I hold with the highest regard for both beginners and veterans.

Lynda.com

Of all of the sites that produce tutorials and instructions, Lynda.com certainly takes the cake. With over 2,500 different video course to choose from, there are limitless possibilities to yLyndaou can learn.

These courses range from digital media skills like 3D-Animation, photography, and web development to business skills and that can help you get a job.

Not only are their video tutorials educational and informative, but they are also made with some of the highest quality. Lynda.com is a company that prides itself on their professional know-how and there is better way of proving that they are the top quality than by producing a great looking product.

 

W3Schools

Certainly there are sites that are more colorful, attractive and welcoming than w3schools.com_02w3schools.com, but don’t be fooled, this site has saved designer’s lives more than they care to admit.

For beginners, this site will be your bread and butter because it has everything you need for lessons concerning HTML and CSS. It offers a steady progression of tutorials that explain everything in a language that anyone can understand. They even have a section for live mark-up so you can see the effects of what code can do to webpage.

 

Mozilla School of Webcraft

This is one that I haven’t had too much practice with, however from what I have been able to learn within the past few days, mozilla school of webcraft is one of the funnest tutorial sites I’ve ea48340799b547827a1094f737e27d600ver seen.

Mozilla School of Webcraft is a Peer to Peer (P2P) university that strives to be a learning organization outside of institutional walls.

Their values are openness, community, and peer learning.

Openness – everyone can participate and anyone can use it.

Community – driven by volunteers who are involved in all aspects of the project.

Peer Learning – teaching and learning by peers for peers. Everyone has something to contribute and  everyone can learn something new.

 

Secret (Change) Agent Man

Agents of Change

Change Agents are people with the vision and skills to implement a change in an organizational culture or business practice. Because there are so many different people involved in every aspect of the digital revolution, it is difficult to have a complete overview of the entire operation. Therefore change agents are looked at to spearhead their particular sector to reach its full potential whether it be in telecommunications, broadcasting, or media and computer programming.

The top four technologies that I can see having the most impact would have to be Adobe, Content Managing Systems, Social Media,  and Cloud Storage.

Adobe’s products havAdobe Creative Cloude been the bees knees for over the past fifteen years and they only seem to be getting better. with their latest leap towards innovation, Adobe Creative Cloud, they have given graphic designers the ability to save and share their content using the cloud storage system. This enables designers the freedom to have access their work from any computer with same software installed.

Content Management Systems are usually made up of two things: a Content Management Application (CMA) and a Content Delivery Application (CDA). The CMA is what allows the author of the site to add or remove information on the site without prior knowledge of any Hypertext Language needed. The CDA is an application that compiles all of the data given by the author along with the already existing code to produce the working site. With the need for companies to produce more and more original content/products, CMS are definitely the way of the future. It gives these companies an easy to use  and professional outlet for their business.social_media_management_tampa

Social Media has certainly blown up in the past decade, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. Popular social outlets such as Facebook and Twitter have become the footer for any business urging consumers to patron their products. As time goes on I believe that social media will continue to grow and become even more immersed with not only pop culture, but with political and social movements as well.

Cloud Storage is a way to store and share content through servers called data centers. These facilities are simply there to house ans store the information shared by the users. They can be anywhere from small operations to the size of a warehouse due the amount of equipment needed. Today’s social society is already used to simple cloud storage systems such as blog posts and social media sites. In the future it is quite possible that everything from music files to entire bodies of work will be uploaded to cloud storage systems and allowed to live forever in the digital frontier.

Am I Changing?
I don’t necessarily see myself as a change agent just yet. However, with the skills that I am currently mastering I hope to be someone worth taking note of in this field. The things we can accomplish in this day and age with the amount of technology being released every minute is staggering and overwhelming. In order to change along with technology, we as designers must accept that nothing ever remains the same.

 

 

Video Killed the Internet Star

cameraman_video_front

Elementary, My Dear Watson

According to Distilled.net websites are usually created with three major elements in mind:

  • Visual – created with images and CSS styling
  • Aural – created with music and voice-over
  • Conceptual – created with text

These presentational devices are used the exact same way today as they have been for thousands of years.

  • Visual – expressed in painting and sculptures
  • Aural – expressed in dance and song
  • Conceptual – expressed in literature and poetry

Video is the integration of these concepts. It is the image (visual), music (aural), and story (conceptual) all rolled into one. If a sculpture could be surmised as a three-dimensional painting, then video is a two-dimensional theatre.

Instead of thinking of video as an interchangeable format to text and images, it should be seen as an integration of all of these elements, demanding the audience’s undivided attention.

For What it’s Worth

Video Value is three-fold:

  1. Improved User Engagement
  2. Brand Awareness
  3. Search Engine Optimization

Value #1 User Engagement

Reading is an active experience  that gives the audience full control over the pace and cognitive process at which they read. You’re given the option to either read the text in its entirety, or skim through to find which elements are most relevant to you.

Video offers very little freedom in terms of consumption. The content is either seen in its entirety, or fails to hold the attention of the audience and they stop watching. Additionally, watching a video is a passive experience. When users press “play,” they are asking to be shown something; asking to be given the content in an integrated form, rather than finding the meaning themselves.

3PlayMedia

Value #2 Branding

Video is able to recreate the experience of being face to face with someone on a much closer scale than through audio, image, or text. Through moving likeness and recorded image, we can display much of who we are, as people, through physical and verbal expression. This has proven to be extremely important for it allows companies to show a more personal side considerably more efficiently  than through audio, image, and text.

Ice Portal states that online video can also indicate professionalism and brand quality. If a company has enough time, money and skill to create high quality video, then they are usually seen as a legitimate business.

Value #3 Positive Signals to Search Engines

Top Rank: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an extremely valuable resource that video can implement by:

  1. Generating more traffic through rich snippets
    Search engine result pages usually show links with thumbnail images attached to indicate that the webpage contains a video.
  2. Improving conversions
    Through increasing engagement and trust, video content can be a great way of driving greater conversions, particularly on commercial pages.
  3. Link Building
    Links are an important factor with which search engines determine the authority of a piece of content based on relevancy.
  4. Presence on Video Search Engines
    The only way to get a presence on Video Search Engines is to have video content and a channel which will drive brand awareness, referrals and sales.

Where’s an Outlet, Man?

Over the past decade, Youtube has become the mighty juggernaut in the video marketing game with its ability to allow users to create, edit, and publish as much content as they desire. From a video marketing standpoint, this can be both beneficial and overwhelming.

With literally millions of users producing endless amounts of content, how can one be sure that anyone will take the time to watch a video marketed towards their business? It all comes down to whether or not a story is being told involving the three major elements: visual, aural, and conceptual.

Conclusion

The goal of any video is to either entertain, instruct, or provide useful/interesting information. To succeed in this you need to think about who is going to search and watch this particular video. Keep in mind the fact that most users who see your videos through link sharing sites are unlikely to have prior knowledge of your business. Meaning that you will have to work for their attention by always producing creative and interesting content.