Mar 15 2018
Mar 15

Contending with the... paradox of choice? With a handful of tempting options in terms of ecommerce services providers that seem to be fitting your project's needs entirely?

And choosing gets frustratingly challenging since they all “tempt” you with:
 

  • a visually-arresting design “backed up” by an ideally simple navigation structure
  • a team fluent in SEO, ready to propel your site right on the “highest peaks” of Google rankings
  • an impressive experience in implementing e-commerce-specific features and functionality
  • 24/7 assistance: both pre- and post-launch issues and nasty bugs stand no chance to escape their team's vigilance
  • module, theme, and plugin customization skills to suit your ever-growing needs
     

… and the list goes on

So, how do you decide when all your choices seem to be equally... promising? 

What's the proper evaluation system to use on all these “candidates”? How do you narrow down your own checklist of “must-have experience and expertise“ to the essentials?

And what are the essential things to look for in a potential e-commerce services provider anyway? Keep on reading...
 

1. Use This Checklist to Rate Other eCommerce Websites from Their Portfolio

Engage in some research work first, starting with the candidate's own portfolio.

Look for other ecommerce websites listed there and start evaluating the following aspects/site components:
 

  1. the overall design: as a first-time visitor on those websites, do you find them visually-appealing enough?
  2. navigation: it should be as simple and, therefore, intuitive, as possible; easily navigable inventories here included
  3. imagery and particularly product images: are they high-quality?
  4. is there any type of interactive chat system integrated, that users can use for dropping their questions?
  5. is there a review system implemented; are customer testimonials displayed and visible enough?
  6. checkout: the simpler the better; in this respect, the single-step checkouts, with visible “Add to cart” buttons, leading you straight to the payment page, make the surest “bet”
  7. is there a status bar informing customers know just how many more steps there are left till they complete the checkout process?
     

All these are crucial aspects to check off your preliminary checklist, so mind you give them due consideration. Track down all the above-mentioned elements (adding a “minus” to your evaluation list if they miss), then take your time to analyze and to rate them one by one!

The completed projects of an ecommerce services company are filled with valuable “hints” in regard to how your own project might end up looking/performing!
 

2. Does The Platform Suit Your Budget and Back-Office Administration Experience?

And you might want to start your conversation precisely with this question:

“What ecommerce website development platform would you use for my project?”

From WordPress to Magento commerce, to PrestaShop, to OpenCart, to Drupal Commerce, the range of possible answers to this key question is wide enough to get you thinking.

... to get you pondering on whether their platform suits:
 

  • your planned budget for this ecommerce project
  • the time you're planning to invest 
  • your team's skills and hands-on experience in back-office management
     

Do you want your online store to be up and running in no time? Conveniently easy-to-use and overall... simple? 

Or is it a big ecommerce website, with a large inventory, incorporating a whole infrastructure of complex ecommerce functionalities, that you have in mind?

There's a specific platform to go with for every type of need and goal that you might have. Make sure your potential ecommerce services provider has already built itself a reputation working with that particular platform that best suits you and your project!
 

3. Put SEO Expertise High on Your List When Choosing Your eCommerce Services Provider

Need I add more?

The expertise and time invested in building a visually-arresting, ideally easy-to-use website gets reduced to... wasted efforts if they're powered by an effective SEO strategy.

Now it's the perfect time to tackle specific SEO goals that your potential partner would have to meet:
 

  • putting together SEO-friendly URLs
  • integrating meta tags relevant to each page
  • achieving mobile responsiveness
  • using certain page load time optimization techniques
     

And the list of SEO-oriented goals and aspects to evaluate at this phase continues with the analytics tools that this ecommerce services company has in its toolbox.

In short: look for proofs that this company's proficient in turning key customer-behavior data and valuable stats into... actionable insights for you to leverage.
 

4. Carefully Consider Their Time Estimate: Do They Leave Any “Room” for Extensive Tests?

In other words: “fast” could also mean:
 

“Let's skip or reduce the pre-launch testing to bare minimum!”

It's a trap, don't fall for it!

Make sure that the time estimate that they'll give you:
 

  • complies with your own release schedule
  • does cover the pre-launch testing period, too
     

A time needed for them to do their own testing, for your own team to run theirs and, of course, for this partner team to get all the identified bugs and issues fixed.
 

5. Do They Commit to Crafting High-Converting Copy, too?

If so, look for relevant “samples” of copy they've already crafted for past clients.

Is their copy:
 

  • persuasive enough?
  • clear, concise, yet informative?
  • simple, yet engaging?
     

Does it efficiently outline/tell those products', those brands' unique features/stories?

Then, you might just have a “winner”.

Still, there still are 2 more essential aspects to check off your list before you can give your final “verdict”. Keep on reading...
 

6. Can They Meet Your Current and Future Customization Needs?

Maybe a standard turnkey solution doesn't suit your ecommerce project's specific needs. Maybe those plugins need some tuning work to meet your specific requirements.     

Or maybe you want that free Drupal 8 ecommerce theme that you like best to be perfectly adjusted to your own needs.

Is this ecommerce services company IN for customization, too? Or do they stick to assembling pieces provided by an open-source platform when putting together your ecommerce website?

Be skeptical when you're being offered “one size fits all” solutions! When you detect proofs of zero experience or total lack of enthusiasm at the perspective of having to custom-tune those:
 

  • ecommerce theme
  • plugins
  • modules
     

… to your project's particularities and to your own future goals.
 

7. How About Post Launch Support? What if You “Detect” New Issues Then?

Is it a “full-option” type of ecommerce services package that they'll provide you?

Will they be there, ready to intervene, if, after your website' launch, you detect any bugs that escaped the pre-launching testing phase? Or if new issues breakthrough?

Now it's the perfect time to let them know about all your expectations regarding post-launch assistance.
 
The END! Time to evaluate some “candidates” now and, with this evaluation system at hand, to choose the ecommerce services provider that makes the perfect fit for your project's needs!

Mar 05 2018
Mar 05

Here's where you probably stand now: you need to integrate all your on-premise systems or cloud (or both) applications and to automate them in a perfectly orchestrated infrastructure! And you're asking yourself: “Should I go with Mulesoft's capabilities?” “What if I evaluated other integration solutions, as well?” “What are my other options?” “Which are the Mulesoft alternatives?”

Since it's been a while since Mulesoft's Anypoint Platform's been competing with other technologies for users' preference in the enterprise integration software landscape.

And competition sure is fierce, and so is your paradox of choice:
 

  • each technology comes with its own type of infrastructure 
  • … geared at delivering integration as a service
  • each one's packed with specific capabilities, designed to meet particular integration needs
     

A comprehensive, yet succinct definition would go something like this:

MuleSoft provides companies with a next-generation integration platform (Mule ESB & CloudHub) for connecting all their systems (SaaS and enterprise apps) both in the cloud and on-premise.

“And how does it work?” “What can you achieve by using it?” You might then ask yourself.

Here's my three-version answer to your legitimate questions:
 

  1. MuleSoft manages and secures the continuous data flow between all the existing systems in your organization
  2. it provides your team with self-serve exiting APIs, thus supporting their innovative initiatives
  3. it practically unlocks data via APIs, “injecting” it in the indicated external apps and systems from your enterprise infrastructure
     

Now, if I am to briefly point out some of MuleSoft Anypoint Platform's biggest advantages:
 

  • it enables you/your team to deploy your application on cloud with utmost ease
  • it enables your team of developers to easily put together some truly complex orchestration flows: all it takes is some drag & drop on the user-friendly dashboard
  • the containers that it provides and its conveniently simple, user-friendly graphics can only streamline developers' workflow even more
  • it supports interaction with other platforms via web or REST services
  • it complies with all major connection and data representation standards
  • it enables simple and fast APIs exposure 
     

And by far one of the biggest edge that Mulesoft has over its competitors:

It's an integration platform that enables different existing apps and systems to connect with each other, acting as a bridge transporting data back and forth between them; and this data flow takes place within your enterprise or across the internet

Mule ESB still is one of the most easily (and widely) integrated applications.

And now, it would be only fair to point out some of MuleSoft's limitations, as well, right?
 

  1. it is particularly suitable for complex integration scenarios (since it supports Java code, as well)
  2. in short: you'll need to consider having an experienced Mulesoft developer (with some Java background) in your team
  3. you might want to be able to interact with MuleSoft support right from the design environment (which is not yet possible)
  4. when it comes to dataweave mapping, you'll need to ensure, yourself, that all the fields are mapped, by inserting the right names; you can't rely on some sort of control mechanism to double check that for you instead
  5. structuring a process hierarchy is not exactly “piece of cake”, since you'll have to set up flows and sub-flows in the very same XML configuration files
     

Apigee: One of The Most Popular MuleSoft Alternatives

And what makes it such a popular alternative (and implicitly one of MuleSoft's biggest competitors) is the fact that almost all components can be scaled horizontally!

But there's more! More reasons why many companies choose Apigee over MuleSoft when looking for the best integration software to “power” their own integration scenarios:
 

  1. it provides very good documentation (plus a blog), covering all the details of the most “popular” failures and valuable advice on error handling
  2. it empowers new users to get started right away, with very little guidance needed: they get to develop a Proxy and APIs right away
  3. a conveniently easy to use console
     

Another “rival” that the Anypoint Platform needs to share its worldwide fame with! 

Here are some of the strong points that make Tibco BusinessWorks the no.1 choice for plenty of enterprises looking to seamlessly and effectively interconnect all their systems:
 

  1. it comes “packed” with lots of integration options: you get to test and to troubleshoot the whole process within the designer, you can write (a file activity), then automate a process in just a few hours and to easily deploy it in the Tibco Administrator
  2. it's conveniently easy to monitor
  3. it handles data manipulation and integration of heterogeneous systems remarkably
  4. it makes transforming and analyzing data, as well as managing error cases, ideally quick and simple
  5. you get to enable communication between multiple different systems without the need to set up custom APIs
  6. short time to market
  7. it supports legacy system integration
  8. it supports REST services development
     

What is JitterBit's edge over Mulesoft? What convinced me to add it to this list of “MuleSoft alternatives”?

It's easy to use! It's a simple way for enterprises to connect all their apps, devices and critical data that they need to get “flowing” for running their business!

"Simplicity" and "ease of use" are the 2 keywords to describe this integration solution.

And here are some more reasons why JitterBit's on this list:
 

  1. it's easily customizable
  2. it's built to connect a lot of different sources and targets in the “data flow” circuit (SQL  DB, Salesforce, CSV, iSeries, IBM)
  3. it enables your team to set up operations (and to apply changes to, when needed) quick and easy, so you can leverage your entire infrastructure within minutes
  4. not only that it sync data collected from multiple different systems, but it uses multiple data formats, as well (both for intake and output), which takes the burden of writing custom ETL scrips off your back
  5. no steep learning curve
     

How can Zapier here, one of the Mulesoft alternatives, meet your integration needs? 

It empowers you to automate tasks performed between other online services: Gmail, Salesforce, Basecamp, 249 etc.

And here's how Zapier's “arsenal” of features and functionalities looks like; the ones that you get to tap into for connecting and automating all your apps nice and easy:
 

  • automated & connect applications
  • automated workflows
  • easy automation
  • developer platform
  • fast build processes 
     

You sure aren't nickel and dimed in choices when it comes to data integration tools!

Informatica Cloud Data Integration is yet another full-featured, complex solution to consider:
 

  • it comes with all the capabilities needed for connecting all your on-premise/cloud applications and make them share data
  • no matter what type of apps, since it supports NetSuite integration, Eloqua, Salesforce, Workday, Marketo, SAP, Oracle
  • it enables you to extract data from your ERP systems, to transform it and then to “inject” it into your operational data stores
     

As its name “divulges”: it's Oracle's cloud-based integration platform that we're putting into the spotlight here!

Similar to the Mule app since it, too, provides a data environment in exchange, Oracle ICS's “job” could be summarized as follows:

It provides a user-friendly web-based interface which makes possible for “citizen integrators” to peform basic mapping between the interconnected (cloud) applications.

But the 2 key features that turn it into one of the Mulesoft alternatives are:

  • unlike Mule, Oracle provides an enterprise information integration, too (EII)
  • it provides several different adapters, suitable for a wide range of cloud-based business applications

Practically, with just a few clicks, you can set up a connection to the Oracle Sales Cloud, SAP, RightNow, Salesforce, Oracle E-Business Suite and the list can go on...

And now to mention just a few more of Oracle's strengths:
 

  • it's easy to use (and I've just mentioned here its user-friendly web-based UI)
  • it takes just a few clicks to access your integration platform; no need to bring your own servers or software to the table
     

Not only that it “spoils” its users with an easy to use UI, drag and drop convenience for creating new processes and excellent support, but there's a whole “pile” of other features that make Dell Boomi one of the Mulesoft alternatives:
 

  • it provides a multi-purpose PaaS
  • integration cloud 
  • cloud-to-cloud integration
  • B2B integration
  • multiple tenant platform
  • SaaS-to-SaaS integration 
     

Furthermore, if I were to highlight its biggest strengths, I'd pick up 3 main benefits that you can reap from choosing it as your integration solution:
 

  • getting a simple integration up and running will only take you about a couple of hours
  • great visual interface that will speed up most of your team's tasks
  • you get out-of-the-box connectors to Taleo, Salesforce, plus many other popular SAAS
     

But (for there is, indeed, a “but”) there are also 2 discouraging drawbacks that I have to point out to you:
 

  1. the XML split does cause some irritating issues
  2. it's overly “picky” when it comes to the data format and the data type that it accepts
     

Now, if I am to sum up this “MuleSoft vs Dell Boomi” comparison in just one succinct, yet complete phrase, it would have to be the following:

While Dell Boomi's geared at providing you with comprehensive solutions for cloud integration, Mulesoft's “specialized” in API-based integration.

This is the key difference between the two integration solutions!
 

In Conclusion 

Determine and evaluate your integration needs first! It all boils down to this...

And that way before you jump to weighting each one of these integration technologies' strengths and limitations!

For it's only after you've defined your needs that you should start looking for the software capable to meet them.

Feb 22 2018
Feb 22

So you've made up your mind: it's Magento “fuel” that will be powering your e-commerce website. And now you're facing challenge no. 2: Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community! 

Which one of the 2 Magento platform's editions is right for you? What are the key differences after all?

Which one's best suited to your current feature needs? And how about your daring goals and growth plans? Which one's scalable enough to accommodate your expansion plans?

The quickest/easiest/surest method to “find your match”: confronting your current requirements with each one of the 2 Magento editions' sets of features and functionalities.

Note: the method is the same if you're having a Magento vs Drupal Commerce "dilemma" instead, for instance.

Then draw the line and just do the math!

So, without further ado, let's dig up the:
 

  • Magento Enterprise features 
  • Magento Community features 
  • And draw the profile of the “ideal” online store for each one of the 2 Magento editions
     

1. Is Magento Free? Price Tag vs Value

With or without a price tag on.

This is the most rudimentary “Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community” comparison that one could make.The first one does come at a price, while the open source version is free to download off the internet and, implicitly, free to use.

And now the question that arises is: does the price tag come with added value, as well?

Without question!

The Magento Commerce edition —  merging, since June 2017, the Enterprise and the Magento Cloud Edition —  comes not with 1, but with 2 price tags on. Along with a heavy load of enterprise-level features and high-end functionalities.

And it's your own needs and goals that will tell you whether... it's worth it. Whether a free variant, with basic online selling capabilities or a bulky feature set, with a heftier price tag on, suits you best.
 

2. Top Magento Open Source Features 

The open-source community edition is Magento's downloadable version. And, as you can expect, it provides much of the same functionality, same basic performance and shares the core features with its enterprise counterpart.

And here are some of these core features that you can power your e-commerce business plans with and get your functional online store up and running in no time:
 

  • modern tech stack
  • regular updates
  • automated code merge
  • payment integrations
  • scalability
  • automated testing
  • flexibility (install the extensions of your choice to ramp up your site's functionality)
  • responsive layout
  • fast product import
  • integrated video & marketing tools integration
  • customizable & mobile-compatible admin dashboard
  • guest checkout
  • registered customers
     

A word of caution:

Determine your site's specific goals and needs right from its planning phases.This because implementing specific functionalities from your “wishlist” might require you to install additional plugins and to craft some custom code.  
 

3. Does Your e-Commerce Business Fit the CE Client Profile?

It does if your answer is “Yes” to most of the following questions:
 

  • Is it a small-scale e-commerce project that you're starting?
  • Are you planning to keep extension/plugins implementation to a minimum; can you already predict that there will be no need for custom modules in the future?
  • … no need for 3rd party design and web development teams to handle your not so complex site project?
  • Are you looking for an e-commerce platform that should provide you with the basic features needed for getting your store up and running?
  • On a shoestring budget?
  • No plans to grow from a small e-commerce site into an enterprise online store? Or to enter new markets?
  • Is it a versatile platform that you're looking for? One leveraging open source for delivering you a significant load of basic plugins and templates to custom-tune your store with?
  • … and to deliver rich experiences to your customers with?
     

In short: Magento's open source community edition (CE) is built, from the ground up, with the basic needs of small e-commerce business owners in mind.

It's a turnkey solution for small sites.

Note: having just a few products doesn't necessarily mean that your site's needs are basic. Therefore, this is no indicator that you should opt for Magento Open Source.
 

4. Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community: Do You Have Any Expansion Plans?

Just think these growth plans through and the sooner the better:
 

  • Would you like to enter new markets at some point in the future?
  • Would you like to ramp up and customize your site's current functionality at some point?
  • How much do you want it to grow? Is scalability a critical feature for you?
     

Do set up your e-commerce goals at this phase of the project!

For once you've got your site running on Magento Community (or Open Source), switching to Magento commerce will be more challenging than you expect:
 

  • the two editions' code bases are different
  • you'll need to give your website a full redesign
  • the Magento Open Source templates that you will have installed won't work in Magento Commerce
     

So, take some time to think about the future, your e-Commerce site's future...

Since “upgrading” it, later on, to Magento Enterprise, comes with inconveniences and compromises that you'll have to make (e.g. losing some of your team's hard work).
 

5. Top Magento Enterprise Features 

Magento Commerce — the 2-in-1 Enterprise & Cloud edition of the platform — provides you with enterprise-level features right out of the box. 

Along with the price tag comes the added value transposed into a set of online selling capabilities that you don't get with its open source counterpart. So, do consider this when you're having a Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community dilemma.

Capabilities geared at meeting your enterprise online store's complex demands from an e-Commerce platform.

And here are the enterprise edition's top features:
 

  • PCI compliance
  • MAP pricing
  • cloud hosting
  • 24/7 technical Magento support, including a dedicated account manager 
  • RMAs
  • visual merchandiser: drag & drop UI and sorting rules for easily organizing your product category pages by variables of your choice (best/newest products, by color etc.)
  • segmentation & targeted promotion features: personalize your customers' shopping experiences
  • full-page caching
  • improved UX: features such as wish lists and gift registry
  • advanced marketing features: it provides you with reward points that you can use for setting up your own customer loyalty programs
  • better performance: expect better page loading times as compared to Magento Open Souce
  • geo-targeting
  • B2B features: create custom catalogs and multiple payment options, set up multiple buyers, create several company accounts etc.
  • content staging
  • enhanced security out-of-the-box: PA-DSS payment bridge, credit card tokenization...
  • separate databases for Product data, Checkout, Order Management: a major performance boost
  • improved tax calculation functionality
     

In short: Magento Commerce offers you more out-of-the-box functionality as compared to Magento Community, where you'd need to engage in custom coding and extension implementation to have these features “injected” into your site)
 

6. Go With Magento Commerce If...

… you plan to launch a large, enterprise-sized online store or a small-scale one, but you're “nurturing” major expansion plans!

In this case, the Magento Enterprise vs Magento Community “dilemma” is an easy one: Magento Commerce (now including the enterprise version, as well) is perfect for you! 

For your big, “needy” website site, that you expect to:
 

  • accept non-standard forms of payments, too (e.g. check or cash in hand)
  • enrich your customers' shopping experiences with functionalities such as gift registries, wishlists, buy gift cards
  • provide you with advanced inventory management and detailed reporting functionalities, with no need to install any extensions (or to write custom code) for this
     

… definitely needs a more robust, premium-grade features-packed platform.

And Magento Commerce is the one. 
 
The END!

So, how about now? Do you find it any easier to decide for one of the 2 Magento editions? Do any of the eCommerce business needs and expectations that I've outlined here match your own?

If so, which of the 2 feature sets  —  Magento Enterprise's and Magento Community's — suits them best?      

Feb 17 2018
Feb 17

The future belongs to those that not only store their heavy load of documents in a conventionally digitized form, but also “maneuver” it with utmost efficiency: have instant access to it, track it, retrieve it, organize it. How? By leveraging the perfectly suited open source document management system!

Speaking of which, I'm sure you've already got your “feature wishlist” ready:
 

  • it should be easy to learn and to use 
  • it should provide you with version control
  • … with cloud access functionality
  • … with document workflow
  • … with document tagging
  • it should come be equipped with an intuitive, user-friendly interface
  • it should be free
     

But since it's open source document management software that I'll introduce you to in this post here, feel free to take this last “wish” off your list!

OK, so this is how the ideal, the one size-fits-all-contexts DMS looks like. But which one's the best for your own business?

The one that best meets your specific business needs'? Your organization's unique requirements?

For narrowing down your choices you should submit yourself to this quick questionnaire:
 

  1. What type of documents will you be storing though your future DMS?
  2. Where will you/your team need to access them? In a single office, across an entire infrastructure of offices scattered around the globe, on mobile devices?
  3. Is it a plug & play, a full-featured custom solution that you need or just the software to meet your needs? Which (your needs) are the “standard” ones, fitting into a particular market.
  4. What is your budget?
     

And while you're still pondering on some of your answers, let me narrow down your choices even more. To a list of 6 document management systems worth your attention:
 

1. Alfresco, On Top of The List of Any Organization Looking for The Right DMS

Geared, from the ground up, to meet the particular requirements of those enterprises having critical documents to store and manage.

What Open Source Document Management System to Choose- Alfresco

Therefore, the best answer to your “What Is Alfresco?” question would have to be:

"A robust enterprise open source document management system, fueled on open source, powerful enough to automate document-intensive processes within an organization"

And here are some of its most “tempting” features:
 

  • its complex user role system ensures effective collaboration across large teams/departments
  • robust content repository
  • freedom of customization: feel free to tailor custom workflows and content models to perfectly suit your specific needs
  • its collaboration web interface is geared at boosting team productivity
  • public source code: it leverages core open standards
  • access to a full set of add-ons and community-maintained extensions that you get to extend your DMS's functionality with
  • it seamlessly accommodates any productivity app \that you may want to integrate later on: Google Docs, Microsoft Office etc.
  • Alfresco mobile apps (for Android andiOS)
     

Should I also point out that NASA and the European Union, themselves, capitalize on Alfresco's:
 

  1. open standards
  2. unparalleled robustness in handling massive amounts of content
  3. convenient extensibility
  4. unmatched freedom of customization that it “spoils” its users with?
     

2. LogicalDOC Takes Open Source to a New Level

An open source document management system that comes in two flavors:
 

  1. Professional
  2. Community 
     

What Open Source Document Management System to Choose- LogicalDoc

A highly versatile one, that can be used in any web browser, perfectly “equipped” to:
 

  1. handle a significant load of documents
  2. boost the team's productivity while enhancing team collaboration, as well
     

Some of LogicalDoc's top features are:
 

  • quick & easy installation and intuitive use 
  • multilingual full-text indexing
  • task manager & events log
  • version control & document searching
  • local file system
  • reporting & statistics
  • task manager & events log
  • Web Services (SOAP & RESTful)
  • import from ZIP archives
     

And the list is literally an endless one! Do consider this feature-loaded, free open source document management software when looking for the right DMS to meet your requirements.
 

3. Seed DMS, A Powerful Open Source Document Management System

If for you “the best document management system” means “the most powerful one”, then you might want to take the Seed DMS for a test drive.

What Open Source Document Management System to Choose- Seed DMS

It's mature enough, so it's already built a strong reputation around it, and it's enterprise-ready. Built to store and to share huge loads of documents.

And now, here are its other strong points worth your full attention:
 

  • real-time collaboration
  • version control 
  • users & groups management
  • HTML documents editing
  • built-in metadata support (author, description, keywords)
  • document review & approval workflow
  • full-text search
  • functionality for creating online presentations 
  • multi-level content directory, which supports +32000 documents 
     

Should I go on? For, the deeper I delve into the pile of Seed DMS features, the more I find. Or even better: how about you give this open source document management system a chance and see whether these features do meet your organization's particular needs.
 

4. Feng Office: More Than “Just” a DMS 

Why “more”? Because you get so much more than just the “standard” document management and team productivity-enhancing features. 

What Open Source Document Management System to Choose- Feng Office

And these additional, beyond the “conventional” functionalities are:
 

  • Task management
  • Time tracking
  • Workspace management
  • Knowledge management
     

Its set of features also include:
 

  • automatic alerts & reminders
  • notes
  • calendar
  • timesheet
  • wiki & forum support
  • reports & tags
  • workflow processes
  • task templates
     

5. OpenKM, A Conveniently Extensible DMS

And extensibility, coming from its OpenKM plug-in architecture, is not its only “superpower”.

What Open Source Document Management System to Choose- OpenKM

Versatility comes right after, since it practically supports:
 

  • all web browsers
  • all major DBMS databases
  • all common file types (OpenOffice, PDF, Office, XML, HTML, JPEG etc.)
     

Moreover, it empowers teams to set their own rules (logic) for automating the documentation process. For example, imagine that you'll need to set up a rule specifically for moving a particular document to a new destination.

You can do that with OpenKM!

And now, the (almost) full list of features that this open source document management system has been supercharged with:
 

  • workflow
  • OpenMeetings integration
  • document encryption/decryption functionality
  • automatic key extraction
  • antivirus integration
  • web services API
  • OCR integration
  • HTML editor
  • a functionality to create new documents leveraging pre-built templates and forms
  • Dropbox integration
  • mobile interface & Google apps synchronization
  • metadata navigator (along with categories, thesaurus, keyword...)
     

6. Kimios, The Best Alternative to the Heavy Document Management Software

If it's an alternative to the robust, heavy “document managing machines” that you're looking for, lightweight Kimios makes the perfect fit for your needs.

What Open Source Document Management System to Choose- Kimios

And it's not just its lightness that convinced us to add it to this list of document management systems, but its entirely service-oriented architecture, too (among others).

This means that it follows the client-server model: Web client, Kimios for Office, Kimios Explorer and all the other supported third-parties are connected to the main Kimios server.

To its central server, “in change” with exposing the web service layer covering Kimio's features.

Speaking of which (this DMS's features):
 

  • repository customization using metadata
  • customizable search engine
  • document-centered functionalities: create, delete, update
  • check-in-/out feature
  • version control 
  • user rights management
  • bookmarks documents (along with creating bookmarks and advanced requests functionalities)
     

And it goes on and on... and on.

Note: Kimios does integrate with Microsoft and Windows Desktop environment, but only under commercial license!

The END! These are the top 6 open source document management systems that you should consider selecting the right one for you from. And this no matter how your own list of feature needs& specific requirements might look like. 

Jan 31 2018
Jan 31

About to get your Drupal 8 content migration project off the ground? Still a bit hesitant?

No wonder, since just the perspective of:

  1. setting up a thorough schedule, including all the major milestones and endless control points
  2. deep analyzing the entire source data “overload”
  3. setting up a detailed approach to content migrations
  4. actually building the new website
  5. but not before you've actually put together its Drupal 8 specific technical architecture (with all the Drupal 8 specific content types, modules, entities...)
  6. testing till you... drop
  7. then rolling back and testing some more

... can get quite discouraging.

So, let's simplify it! The entire Drupal 8 content migration process I mean! Let's break it down into multiple phases.

And in this blog post here I'll be pointing out to you, briefly, what goes into the:

  1. content audit phase (along with an audit of all the features/functionalities)
  2. documentation phase (including the project tasks assignment & checking off specific skills that your teams should have)
  3. estimation phase

With a focus on security best practices to adopt throughout the process. Shall we dive in?

1. What Does “Migration” Even Mean in this Particular Context?

It comes down to moving data from one supposedly outdated website to a new one.

And in our particular context here “outdated vs current” translates into “an old version of Drupal vs a newer version of Drupal”. The newer one is Drupal 8.

2. (Re)Considering Your Content: 2 Predictable Decisions You'll Take

I'm sure you already predicted this step of critical importance when planning your migration to Drupal 8.

A content audit is, without question, a critical step to take, yet it shouldn't be a pointlessly overburdening one. By “pointless” I mean spending too much time creating the perfect migration path for... outdated content.

Content that you won't be using anyway once you migrate it to your (or your client's) new Drupal site!

And so, these are the 2 actions you'll most likely take after auditing your content:

  1. you'll be pinpointing outdated, no longer relevant content on the “old” Drupal site, that you don't need to transfer onto your Drupal 8 site
  2. you'll be restructuring the current information architecture and covert your content chunks into a more semantic data format (think outside the conventional HTML contexts and about using content as API on your future site)

3. Which Features Stay, Which Ones Go?

Undertake a “brutally honest” audit of your current site's features and functionalities this time:

  • Which ones of them are your site's visitors actually using?
  • Which ones of them are they constantly... ignoring?
  • What brand should new functionalities you should implement on your new Drupal 8 website?

And speaking of this last question: you should start seeing your Drupal 8 content migration as a site rebuild, as well.

You'll be actually setting up, from the ground up, the proper environment in Drupal 8 with new functionalities added to! That should “welcome” and seamlessly accommodate the transferred content.

4. Assigning Your Drupal 8 Content Migration Project to the Right Team(s)

At this stage of the migration planning process — the documentation stage — 3 people, standing for 3 district roles in your team, should get co-opted:

  1. a project manager/analyst
  2. a marketing manager
  3. a developer

With a focus on the first 2 of them.You'll see why in a minute.

Now here are the skill sets and hands-on experience to look for when selecting these key people to work on your project:

  • the assigned project manager (or/and the analyst) should also be a competent information architect; well familiar with the usability principles that the content to be migrated need to comply with
  • they marketing manager (or senior content editor) should be the one deciding precisely what content gets migrated and the form it should take
  • your assigned teams (and this calls for the Drupal developer's expertise), should be well aware of each system's capabilities — your current sites and your future Drupal 8 site's  capabilities — and thus get a straight answer to the question: “What content is, indeed, transferable and how precisely?”
  • also, it's recommended that your team gain an in-depth understanding of your site's traffic and of its usage by the time this Drupal 8 content migration process starts
  • and also, one of them should have the necessary know-how and configuration management experience to set up &export content types and fields

As you can see, the Drupal developer's contribution to this documentation & analysis phase is minimal. And this because his technical expertise will be most needed in the next step of the process (when the data gets actually migrated).

It's then that he'll be... “stealing the show”.

Nevertheless, as already mentioned, his/her input should be asked for to make sure that content can be transferred to the target system. To ensure feasibility of the entire data migration process from a technical standpoint.

5. From “It Depends...” to a Rough Time Estimate 

That “Well... you know... it depends...” answer causes a lot of (legitimate) frustration, doesn't it?

But there must be some sort of guidelines to help you give a time estimate, right? Even if a very rough one.

And there are:

Node/User/Taxonomy migrations           1-5 content types     6-10 content types     11+ content types

Initial analysis                         16-24 hours          32-40 hours             48-56 hours

Content type creation & export           16-40 hours          40-80 hours             8 hours/type

Configuration Grouping                   16-24 hours          24-40 hours             24-40 hours

Content migrations                       16-40 hours          32-56 hours             8 hours/type

Testing                                  24-32 hours          40-56 hours             8 hours/type
Additional Migrations
 
Files & media migration                       32-56 hours

Other entity types                            16-40 hour per entity type

Migrations from non-Drupal sources            16-40 hour per source type


Once all the project management aspects of your migration are clearly defined, the process itself should go smoothly, according to the detailed schedule.

Also, as you can easily see, numbers state the obvious: the heavy weight of the entire Drupal 8 content migration process gets lifted right at this planning and documenting stage.

Implicitly, the developer will start reusing the same fields (or some pretty similar ones). Which leads to convenient code and configuration overlaps.

6. Make User Data Security Your Top Priority

And this should be the case when undertaking any web development project after all.

Looking on the bright side of a migration process: it's a one time project!

Therefore, at the end, you just disable all the custom modules you will have written precisely for this data transfer and leave no traces, no security breaches behind.

Yet, common sense precautions and best practices are definitely required! Especially when it's user data (along with other sensitive data) that you're handling.

Here are some critical safety measures to apply:

  1. ensure that no user data (XML files, database dumps etc.) gets accidentally sent around via emails (or any other unsecured form)
  2. ensure your database and development server infrastructures are upgraded to the latest standards
  3. ensure that your git repository isn't (God forbid!) public
  4. consider clearing your development database off all the email addresses and user accounts still lingering there

As you can see, these are nothing but common sense safety measures. Make sure your entire Drupal 8 content migration process complies with them and take no risks.

And this is how you, plan and put together your migration strategy, select and prepare your teams and give a close-to-accurate time estimate!

What do you say: what other key steps to take/best practices to apply at this stage of the process should I have mentioned here?

Jan 29 2018
Jan 29

We did it again! OPTASY's got featured on Clutch's latest research on the leading Drupal developers in Canada.

And there's more to it!

Being included in this research is already a confidence-boosting honor in itself. Yet... we can't hide that we feel like jumping for joy (literally) right now since we've also got recognized as “leaders” in web development.

Not just for one, but for 2 industries:
 

  1. Canada: Top Web Developers (ranked 7th)
  2. Top Canada eCommerce Developers (ranked 6th)

    OPTASY: A Leading Web Developer in Canada, According to Clutch
     

This is — with the risk of making it sound a bit like an inflated speech —  the most rewarding recognition of our work that we could get! Considering that Clutch's researchers and implicitly its tops, too, are conducted and based not just on the analyzed companies':
 

  • expertise in certain industries
  • presence on the market 
  • ability to deliver high-quality results to clients
     

… but on their past and current clients' feedback (although we're more fond of the word “partners”). That's why we're “overly” honored by this recognition!

For this cannot but certify that yes: we did succeed to live up to our partners' expectations. And so all the efforts that we've put in:
 

  • attracting only one particular type of people into our team: those who're far from “just” knowledgeable in their fields, but... curious and overly passionate about their work 
  • constantly striving to provide irreproachable customer service
  • always tailoring our approaches — to the web development process itself — to each project's needs and to each partner's particular requirements

… have paid off.
 

And have made our clients turn into our... advocates! Their recognition of our work is a huge push forward for us, both as a Canadian web development and as an e-commerce development agency! 

Moreover, seeing our five-star “neighbors” on those 2 Clutch tops has simply overwhelmed us (another big word, yet we cannot help it)...

Drupal development teams that we've been looking up to, that inspire us and challenge us to grow. And we're right next to them, among all these leaders, on Clutch! 

Now since we don't want to turn this post into a boringly long, slightly narcissistic type of award-winning speech, we feel like ending it now with an honest: “Thank you!”.

To all our partnering companies and organizations, who took the time to go on Clutch and to write down a feedback for their overall experience with us. And, of course, to the Clutch team itself for the time and efforts they've invested in this research.

Jan 19 2018
Jan 19

I'm back! Not empty-handed, but with 5 more e-Commerce trends in 2018 that you just can't afford ignoring and not capitalizing on.

Shall we proceed?

6. Encourage User-Generated Content Submission

Especially if you're targeting millennials (too).

Incentivize them to submit their own content to your social media account!

Not only will this strengthen their relationship with you - the online retailer showcasing and thus valuing their own unique content - but it also makes one of the most influential types of online marketing these days.

In short: entertaining, authentic-user-generated content attracts new potential customers. And this is what makes it stand out as one of the most powerful e-commerce trends in 2018!

How do you “tempt” your users to post their content? Get creative and come up with some hard-to-resist-to rewarding solutions for their effort.


7. Tell YOUR Story: Turn Shopping into a ... Unique Experience

Great stories will continue to set brands apart, to engage users, to make them identify themselves with specific brand identities, to create customer communities ...

In other words: great brand stories will continue to sell!

So, what's yours?

If you haven't put it into words and visual elements yet, you'd better start to:

  1. craft unique, authentic content — chapters of your brand's unique story — for your audience; content covering a range of relevant topics
  2. “tell” your story across all levels of your e-commerce business: from writing it down on the packaging itself, to telling it on your social media, to using it for turning a common process, such as an order confirmation, into an... experience

Since it all comes down to precisely this goal: using storytelling as a resource to tap into for turning shopping into a full... experience.

8. Chatbots: One of the e-commerce trends in 2018 Expected to “Explode”

Even if you ignore all the previous 7 trends in the e-commerce industry expected to get huge in 2018, you can't afford to ignore this one.

… to ignore and to “refuse to unlock its great potential.

Chatbots & messenger apps will make an invincible team among all other trends this year. So... you'd better jump right on it!

It's quite predictable if you come to think about it:

  1. implementing a chatbot with your e-commerce website will offer your customers instant support 24/7
  2. it suits you, the e-commerce retailer, as well: you'll get to use your messenger app-integrated chatbot to send your customers personalized content, special offers, custom-tailored shopping incentives

In short: if you're still looking for an impossible-to-argue-with reason why you should get on the chatbots bandwagon, how about statistics?

Over 1.2 billion people access Facebook's messanger on a mothly basis.

It's up to you now: will you be turning statistics into... gold and opt for a chatbot operating via a messenger app? Or stick to your current means for assisting and interacting with your customers instead?

9. The Rise of Voice Shopping: Aim for User Convenience at Its Best

Since convenience is the very reason why voice searches are expected to skyrocket in 2018! 

What more convenient way for users to order their food or look for a nearby resto then by... asking a question? Or just uttering a request?

Now if you want to “get a piece of the pie” yourself, too — to capitalize on this rising trend — then you'd better:

  1. make sure your Google My Business listings are optimized; your local pages should have unique URLs (and needless to add that they should be indexed if you want your business to EVER show in the search results)
  2. strategically adapt your content to searchers' queries and to the possible terms they would use for formulating their questions (empathy's your best ally here: what words would a searcher use in his/her query?)
  3. adopt a conversational/long tail type of approach

10. Video Content

Say Hello to your “old” friend: video content!

Although it never gets old. For it continues to be one of the most effective e-commerce trends in 2018, too.

Moreover, since the technology itself advances, with new apps and platforms emerging:

  • it will be easier than ever for your customers to create video content (speaking of user-generated content's “hegemony”, right?) to be posted on your social media (take Slidely, for instance)
  • it will be easier than ever for you, too, to identify precisely the moment(s) when your e-commerce site/app's users stopped watching one of your videos or, on the contrary, the parts of your videos that they did watch

Video content is, after all, the closest you can get to a face to face interaction with your (potential) customers, right?

Tip: particularly live video is getting huge this year. It's affordable and it's highly engaging, 2 heavy-weighing factors that quickly turn any “experiment” into a powerful trend in the e-commerce industry!

And it looks like I've reached the bottom of my 10 e-commerce commandments list!

Can't hide that I'm curious now: which one of these e-commerce trends is more appealing to you? Which one of them would you invest in trust? Trust that it's going to get highly influential this year, so you're getting ready to jump right on it and... tap into its potential?

And which trend(s) from my list do you think that I shouldn't have even included? It might be a trend that you predict to be fading away this year. Or maybe one that you don't consider powerful enough to grow into an influential trend in the e-commerce industry. A penny for your thoughts!

Jan 18 2018
Jan 18

Ready to.... stare into your crystal ball? To turn your visionary "superpower" on and... get a glimpse of the future of ecommerce? Not the distant future, but the future of 2018. And hopefully, identify the 10 ecommerce trends in 2018 that you should integrate into your digital marketing strategy and start capitalizing on.

ASAP, needless to add! Way before they even grow into powerful trends and competition in the digital marketing arena becomes a... throat-cutting one.

No need actually! For I've already sneaked a peek into the near future for you (no need to take out your crystal ball anymore, you can jump straight to turning information into gold). And I've identified the trends in the ecommerce industry that will rule in 2018

Here are your “10 ecommerce commandments”:
 

1. Unlock Customer Reviews' Full Potential (Even the Negative Ones')

Not joking: pushing forward, right into the spotlight, exclusively the positive customer reviews will just lower users' trust in your brand (ironically enough).

Perfection generates suspicion, right?

So, always “bet on”... transparency.

Well, of course, it goes without saying that a significant “load” of honest high scores does have a huge impact on your conversion rate and on your brand's overall reputation. 

Now getting back to customer marketing as one of the huge ecommerce trends in 2018: it's a strong proof that you're valuing your users' feedback.

Which leads to recurrent shopping and attracts prospects like a magnet: you'll be regarded as a trustworthy, transparency-valuing brand, that does “give ear to” its own customers' feedback.

In other words: strive to encourage your customers to review their shopping experiences with you. For instance, a redeemable voucher/discount could make a powerful incentive, don't you think?
 

2. Add an Augmented Reality Dimension to the Shopping Experience  

From a shopping experience to... experiencing shopping. Seize the difference?

If the use of VR/AR technology for retail purposes ignited in 2017, it will simply... explode in 2018. It will continue to be one of the most influential ecommerce trends in 2018.

So you'd better join brands' “race” for coming up with innovative visual ways of showcasing their products. And, thus, make it possible for your customers to interact with your products while enjoying that true-to-life feeling that... might just turn them into buyers.

Whether it's:
 

  • a virtual tour of your brick and mortar store
  • a new AR feature integrated into your online store, rivaling Ikea's own “Place” app
  • any other functionality for turning your users' shopping experiences into virtual interactions
     

… you'd better hurry up and start brainstorming ideas
 

3. Influencer Marketing Will Only Get More... Influential in 2018

That's right, influencer marketing will continue to dominate the retail landscape this year. It's an increasingly valuable resource for you to tap into.

In 2018 even so more, since influencer marketing software comes to streamline your efforts in this direction:

it's built to point out to you — the online store owner/digital marketer — precisely the suitable methods to use depending on the specific leads that you're targeting. 

Now, this is gold!
 

4. Community-Led Marketing: One of the Rising Ecommerce Trends in 2018

Watch for the “community-lend brands”! Or, even, better: become one!

And it's customers themselves — communities of customers, that start seeing themselves as “brand representatives” — that will be pushing these newly emerging brands right in the very first line this year.

How can you, too, capitalize on community-led marketing? 

Here are a few sure strategies to turn your customers into your own brand's advocates. Into your marketing strategy's driving force:
 

  1. set up the perfect contexts on your social media channels for your customers to actually discuss your products
     
  2. encourage them to share their honest experiences after trying/using your products (user-generated content turned into an incentive for new prospects!)
     
  3. allow them to actually test your products and let them answer other prospects' questions on your Instagram or Facebook account
     

A customer-centric approach with a focus on user-generated content! Or valuing user feedback to such extent, that customers eagerly turn into your brand's advocates.

This is what community-led marketing comes down to, and this is precisely why it will turn into one of the most powerful online shopping trends in 2018!
 

5. Don't JUST Be Present on Multiple Channels: Be Consistent!

“About 85% of online shoppers start a purchase on one device and finish on another” (Google)

Need I add more? Your “cluster” of presences on multiple platforms should turn into ONE consistent presence on them all. Into one seamless visual and UI experience for your customers.

And how do you achieve consistency while going omnichannel, omni-device and after you've integrated all your presences on different channels?

Here are a few common sense tips and tricks:
 

  • from navigation
  • to payment gateways
  • to the design itself
  • to all the branding elements 
  • and social media content
     

… make sure you stick to the same self-imposed guidelines. It's one and the same entity that your customers should feel like they're interacting with, not one having... multiple personalities.
 

End of Part 1! Till we meet again to analyze together the other powerful trends identified for you, do take your time to ponder on these first 5 ecommerce trends in 2018. 

Have you anticipated them already? Are they relevant enough to your own ecommerce business? Do you find them powerful enough for “fueling” your online marketing strategy this year or are you still a bit skeptical that they're more than just buzzwords? 

Jan 11 2018
Jan 11

Drupal user “complaints” turned into strategic battle-plans, resulting in groundbreaking improvements pushing Drupal forward. This is how Drupal 8 initiatives grow into stand-alone Drupal core features.

They signal the “sore points” for the Drupal community of developers to focus on. 

And from all the “user complaints” turned into new Drupal 8 features and functionalities so far we can't but mention:
 

  • Views, now part of Drupal core
  • the plethora of multilingual capabilities  
  • configuration management
     

OK, so these ones already developed into widely-leveraged Drupal functionalities. But which are the currently work-in-progress ones?

What's going on in the backstage?

What “surprises” to expect from the Drupal core maintainers? What best practices should you get a grip on so you can use capitalize on them during your next Drupal projects?

Since we kind of anticipated your “curiosities”, we've selected 5 of the Drupal 8 initiatives that you should be particularity interested in. As they're aimed at easing your life both as a Drupal developer and as a Drupal site/app owner.

Let's dive right in:
 

1. The Out-of-the-Box Experience Initiative 

A much-needed “promise”, I could call this initiative. The promise of an initiation for all newcomers to Drupal who, at the moment, don't get a very warm welcoming. 

They're left pretty much all alone on their discovery “adventure”, where they unveil Drupal's capabilities.

Therefore, the goal that this initiative serves is that of showing off Drupal 8's true potential, all its powerful functionalities and tempting features.

And all this nicely wrapped in a visually appealing theme and enriched with example content, as well.

In short, this out-of-the-box experience is geared at welcoming new users into the Drupal 8 world!

Take this scenario for instance:

You're facing the challenge of briefly showcasing some of Drupal's functionalities (which are perfectly suited to their project's needs, needless to add) to a potential customer. With the out-of-the-box experience initiative turned into a powerful Drupal 8 core functionality at hand, you'll be able to get a demo site up and running in no time and to... “enlighten” your audience. 
 

2. The Drupal Media Initiative: One of The Drupal 8 Initiatives Getting Loads of Attention

The Drupal 8 media initiative started as a reaction to all the content editors' complaints about:
 

  1. the cumbersome procedure of tracking down specific items from the media library
  2. the poorly intuitive media loading process taking place in Drupal's back-end
     

Moreover, this dissatisfaction risked turning into a reason for some to opt for WordPress, instead, better equipped to answer content authors' needs.

And being able to reuse file content is still one of their most pressing ones.
 

3. The Workflow Initiative 

And this is arguably the most ambitious of all the Drupal 8 initiatives in our selection here.

That is because it targets a whole lot of content management goals: a whole lot of content creation shortcomings that editors have been signaling for some time now.

To name a few:
 

  1. the content previewing experience: in case of a content-heavy Drupal website, the preview of the site won't give you an accurate preview of how content is going to look (just an interpretation of how it would look); and with new and new devices emerging, this inconvenience might risk turning into a serious drawback for Drupal 8's adoption   
     
  2. multiple publishing states (instead of just the basic published/unpublished duo): specific content creation scenarios call for specific publishing states ( e.g. “draft”, “archived”) and providing content writers with such kind of granular control is one of the goals that this Drupal initiative serves
     
  3. simultaneous workflow moderation/publishing of content items of the same group (nodes, menus, blocks): and this is when the concept of “workspaces” stepped into the spotlight
     
  4. granting different levels of role permissions when it comes to changing a content's publishing state (from draft to published or from archived to published etc.); the content creator would be granted his/her own level of permission, the editor and the content managers their own and so on 
     
  5. customizable workflows: so that content managers should be able to set up and juggle with multiple workflows per content types
     

Summing up:
 

  • the Workflow initiative in Drupal 8 means sustained effort and a huge amount of work invested in granting editors (even) more control over the content creation process
     
  • … in enriching the editorial experience with new, much-needed content sharing, reviewing and collaboration tools
     
  • … in improving the content workflow
     
  • … in getting Drupal 8 equipped with content editing, stagging and deployment capabilities
  •  
  • … in making it possible for content editors to stag content in a non-production environment and have it automatically moved to a production environment and get it published
     

4. The Migrate Initiative 

Imagine a world where:
 

  1. you would no longer need to be constantly on alert, posted on all the critical patches and upgrades to quickly “grab and install”
  2. migrations from other platforms to Drupal would run smoothly, requiring much less of your time and of your other resources
     

… "time" that you could then invest in customization tasks, in creating and tailoring unique features for the site/app that you're working on.

Well, it looks like this world is no longer just a product of your imagination, but a soon to become a real one! 

The Migrate initiative is geared precisely at streamlining both the migration and the upgrading processes in Drupal 8.
 

5. The API-First Initiative 

And this initiative comes to boost, even more, Drupal's already robust capabilities to integrate with other platforms and modules.

Now since these integrations are intermediated third-party services APIs, enabling data to be transferred both ways, the need for Drupal to provide its own APIs emerged.

Then, Drupal 8 would be able to make its own content easily accessible to other devices, services, and apps, as well.
 

End of list! I'm particularly curious now:

Which of these 5 Drupal 8 initiatives do you think that will have the biggest impact on your work as a developer or on your Drupal user experience once it grows into a stand-alone core feature?

Dec 08 2017
Dec 08

I know that one of the tips from my previous post was to start preparing for the event a month before or so. And yet: there's no such thing as “too early” preps for the Web Summit 2018

The future belongs to those who plan ahead, especially if you're a startup founder!

Nevertheless, irrespective of a company's size or for how long it's been on the market there's plenty of networking potential to be seized and to be leveraged at the conference. For everyone.

So, why not start your pre-conference preparation by going through my handful of valuable advice and top tips based on my experience there representing OPTASY? Tips on how to create your own networking opportunities and how to fully “exploit” them.

Hence, today I'll be sharing with you some of my experience at the Web Summit from a company's perspective, along with insights and advice from the standpoint of OPTASY's assignee there (me).
 

1. Do Your Pre-Conference Homework Like a Pro'

Plenty of research here included!

My advice, from the previous post on this topic, to take your time to properly prepare for the event applies, all the more, if you're attending the Web Summit 20918 as a company.

With so many big names and start-ups striving to maximize their opportunities to build connections and meet potential partners — before and while at the conference—  reaching out to people and scheduling meetings long time in advance becomes... common sense.

Read bios, make yourself a list of the people you'd love to “chat” with and... drop them a line. Make contact, schedule valuable meetings...
 

2. … and Do Show Up At Meetings With All Your Homework Properly Done

By “homework” I do mean 2 things:
 

  1. improvisation is definitely overrated; instead of relying solely on your personal charm and persuasion skills to win them over, try to collect (and to memorize) as much key information about the people (and their companies) you'll meet as possible: projects, shared values, success story, objectives, approach to disruptive technologies etc.
     
  2. don't deliver them just plain, rigid numbers and statistics, but tell a story, your company's unique story; in this respect, again, don't rely exclusively on your spontaneity, but craft and repeatedly polish your story long time in advance
     

3. Write Down Notes After Every Single Meeting: They Are True Lifesavers

“Specific” notes I should add. You can even write them down (the notes) right on the business cards that you'll receive.

OK, so you may not be interested, at first, in someone's plans to travel around the world or in his golden retriever's name, but, believe me:
 

These seemingly insignificant details will turn out to be powerful information once the summit ends and you go back to the office!
 

This is the kind of personal information that will “fuel” your follow-up emails to those people, helping you add that personal touch that's not to be underestimated.

Take these on-the-spot notes as the surest way to remember all those people that you'll chat with. To quickly put a face on each name written on a business card. 
 

4. Follow Up on The Very Same Day 

The best way to “carve” a meeting in your interlocutor's memory is to send him/her a follow-up email the very same day. One where you express, once again, your intention to help him/his company. 

Patience might be a virtue, but when it comes to fully exploiting your networking opportunities at the Web Summit 2018, quick reactions, real-time follow-ups, are a must.
 

5. Be Alert, Meet and Mingle

Once at the web summit: sharpen all your senses!

Keep your eyes “wide shut”, ready to:
 

  1. “detect” any “big” company/startup celebrity name on a badge
  2. listen to people chatting around you 
  3. mingle with the crowd
     

Networking opportunities are “floating” there, everywhere, the cafeteria here included!
 

6. Set Up a Goal and Never Lose Sight of It

Why do you plan to/will be attending the Web Summit 2018? What are you hoping to get out of your attendance to this major tech conference?

Is it for getting your company's name out there? Is it it for promoting your brilliant, innovative business idea? Is it for meeting potential clients/finding investors?

Or are you looking for an inspiring mentor maybe?

Just don't show up there without a goal! With nothing but pure... enthusiasm.

Define your main objective long time in advance and build your powerful strategy around it!
 

7. Try Out Different Networking Methods While at the Web Summit 2018

Remember: your time in the spotlight, when you get the chance to exhibit, lasts for just one day.

Therefore, it's crucial that you plan out the other 2 days left in detail. A highly effective approach to planning is to try a mix of different networking strategies:
 

  1. hand out fliers
     
  2. take a tour of all the booths there
     
  3. go to your scheduled meetings
     
  4. attend conferences and try reaching out to speakers after
     

And, most of all, as you “juggle” with all these networking methods, stay creative and you'll stand you! You'll get noticed!
 

8. Don't Formalize: Meet People Over a Drink

And speaking of “meeting and mingling”, don't hesitate to invite your interlocutors to chit-chat over a drink at one of those night events at the Web Summit 2018.

Turn the Pub Crawls, get togethers and, most of all, private dinner parties into some great (if not the very best) opportunities to make connections. 

Mingle with the crowd, a glass in your hand, and interact while trying to have some fun, too. To enjoy your experience there, as a (startup) company attendee!
 

And this is it! OPTASY's 8-step guide on how to network like a champ', how to seize and value all the opportunities of making new, valuable connections, as a company, at the Web Summit 2018. Good luck with that!

Dec 06 2017
Dec 06

My first time at the Web Summit! And it's been almost... “surreal”, I'm still having trouble believing that I did, indeed, attend it (has it been a month already?). 
    
You go over all the numbers (60000 names, 1200 speakers etc.), you scan through the overwhelmingly long list of participants (packed with awe-inspiring names) and you start to feel just like a... kid going to Disneyland for the first time:
 

  • Am I really going to attend these talks?
     
  • Be in the same room (even if in the very last row... these are just details) with all these... tech and business giants?
     
  • Get close to all these inspiring innovators (I know, I know: I start to sound like a fanatic)?
     
  • And last but definitely not least: get to immense myself in this astonishing city?
     

Of course, once you go through the list over and over again, you use the app day and night and you burst with over-excitement, you gradually... cool down and start doing your homework.

To properly prep for meeting all these influencers. For you do want to make the most of your staying there and not waste anyone's time.

But before I go on with my list of tips and advice on how to prepare for a Web Summit — whether you're a startup founder or a tech enthusiast — allow me to share with you some glimpses of my actual experience:
 

1. Got There Pumped Up for the Event and Left Head Over Heels in Love With... Lisbon!

For it's simply... breathtaking!

Lisbon lures you in to explore it, then it crawls into your heart and... gets stuck to it! 

The cosmopolitan city basking in the sun has been the host of “the best technology conference on the planet” for the second year in a row. And this after the conference had spent its “childhood” in Dublin and... well... got a bit... too much for the Irish capital city.

And organizers couldn't have picked a better “host”:
 

  • the city of Lisbon had the capacity to easily accommodate the heavy influx of participants
  • it took me about 40 minutes to get from the venue to the city centre, by subway
  • I got (thank God!) stable internet connection throughout my staying there
  • there were no discouragingly large crowds gathered around the exhibit stands
     

2. Attended Talks and Conferences: My Top Favorites

For even though some more experienced Web Summit participants might advise you to watch the speeches on YouTube —  and instead, while there, to network like there's no tomorrow (or a next web summit to attend) —  I stuck to my own schedule.

It would have been inconceivable for me not to attend the conferences and talks that I was so looking forward to.

And here's a short list of the ones that I loved best:
 

  1. Stephen's Hawking's Talk on Disruptive Technology, on how “Artificial intelligence comes, and this can become both a major success and the main failure of mankind “, that if it's not geared exclusively at SERVING humanity (and not the other way around)
     
  2. Bryan Johnson's (the CEO of Kernel) Talk on Prioritizing Humanity, above all, and the stringent need for people to learn to adapt to the newly emerging tasks that disruptive technologies assign to them
     
  3. Margrethe Vestager's, The European Union's Commissioner for Competition, Talk on Fair Play and Tech (filled with self-evident examples of invasive usages of technology and of tech giants engaging in tax invasion)
     
  4. Dana Settle's (Greycroft) and Jim Breyer's (Breyer Capital) Speech answering the legitimate “Where to Invest in 2018?” question: in core technologies, practical and simple apps, (e.g. virtual, personal health assistants) in AI, machine learning; a talk with a focus on China as the world's second largest AI development center
     

3. And Now: My Top Pre-Event Preparation Tips and Tricks 

Let me switch from what might look like me bragging about my experience at the Lisbon Web Summit 2017, to me sharing some practical tips with you.

Some advice on how to properly plan out your attendance and prepare like a pro' for the event:
 

  1. First of all: start your pre-conference preparations long time in advance (a month before or so)
     
  2. Next, download the Web Summit app; and this is a true power placed in your hands if you know just to harness its full potential
     
  3. Then, it's time you do your homework: delve deep into the wide list of participants (luckily you'll find them all right there, listed in the app), scan them through, read bios, do your research work and reach out to them (be perseverant), make connections, schedule meetings
     
  4. The event's app will be your most reliable ally thanks to its conveniently easy-to-use and time-saving filters: don't be afraid to use them
     
  5. Rely on keyword search, as well, and put together a list including ONLY those people whom you'd just die to meet and chat with, who inspire you, whose story you're fascinated with, who are most likely to provide you with information that's 100% relevant for your industry 
     
  6. Put together a schedule of meetings, for once you get there... you risk to be swept by the “whirlpool”. It will help you stay focused, stay organized and maximize all your networking opportunities once you're at the summit
     

In short: there's no easy way to properly prep for the Web Summit 2018; no quick trick or secret recipe to making connections and scheduling meetings so that you land in Lisbon with a solid strategy at hand, that you'll just need to... execute to perfection.

It's all about kneeing deep in the discouragingly rich database of participants, running a rigorous selection and reaching out to people. 
 

4. Web Summit 2018: My Advice on How to Make the Most of It

So, with your list of contacts plus your schedule of meetings in one pocket and your Web Summit app in the other one you... arrive in Lisbon.

Now what?

Here are a few tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your next/first web summit attendance:
 

  1. Schedule all the talks and conferences that you want to attend; in this respect, the recommendation feature and the event calendar —  2 of the app's key features —  make some really powerful tools
     
  2. Next, remember that people connect more easily outside conference halls and that networking at Web Summit doesn't end at sunset; be ready to attend some of the night events (parties here included!) scheduled for the Night Summit; pub-crawl, interact, make connections while you're having some well-deserved fun, as well, after a full, hectic day
     
  3. But probably the only really “strict” advice to follow while at the Web Summit is: Be creative! Don't be shy to reach out to people, you'll be surprised to discover that some of them are really willing to share their experiences/expertise (for that's why they go there after all, to network with people passionate about innovation, with disruptive technologies enthusiasts, like you, after all), to create your own networking opportunities

    My Experience at Web Summit 2017 : Night Summit

    And this is my (first) Web Summit experience in a few words and my tips for you if you're planning to hit the 2018's tech conference!

    Stay tuned! In our next post we'll be sharing with you a tried-and-tested step-by-step guide on how to network like rockstar — as a startup company — at Web Summit 2018!

Mar 10 2017
Mar 10

Choosing a company that provides web development services is not as simple as shopping for other services. If it’s your business you’re getting the website for, its success and reputation inevitably hinge on how good the website looks and functions.

Professional web development services are too often offered by people who are not necessarily a good choice to work with. It is, therefore, a critical hire. Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to make sure you make the right decision.

  1. Take time to notice personal qualities. Professional competence is important, but if the person is reliable, they will be truthful about their abilities as well. They will also stick to your spec, and deliver quality results on time. Look for drive, determination, and passion in the people you’re hiring. If all those qualities are there, you are on the right track.
     
  2. Try them out on a mini project. Before you up and spend your entire web development budget on what may turn out to be a bad choice, try them out. Website designers for small business are usually understanding and will take on a smaller job first. This will allow you to gauge the quality of their work and general performance before making a big commitment.
     
  3. Focus on the essentials. Experience and knowledge are not the same thing. Whether the Canadian web design company you’re interviewing can answer particular questions about JavaScript’s history or when PHP was created. What is important are things like:
    • How many developers do you have working on each project? How do they communicate, especially when editing the same website?
    • Do you have a designated web designer or is the development team responsible for web design as well?
    • What are the current design trends for businesses in our industry?
    • What are the steps you would suggest to take in our particular situation?
       
  4. Take the time in hiring, but once you did, keep an eye out on things. Even when you’re sure you made the correct choice, don’t be in a hurry to leave it all to the company. Web development services demand constant communication. Stay on top of things, make sure you get frequent updates and be ready to make a hard choice if things go off the rocker.

Keep those 4 things in mind when hiring a company for web development services, and you should be perfectly fine. Good luck!

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