Tom Ogden's blog

Choose a CMS

I am often asked to explain the differences between the different Content Management Systems. While I try to give an objective evaluation, you must know that I have chosen the Drupal CMS framework exclusively for all our work. This is after having built my own CMS from scratch and spending two years in search of the best possible platform. 

There are many CMS's, some proprietary, some opensource. I will focus on the most popular CMS frameworks, which are all opensource. 

Launch CSS3 NOW!

After so many years of fighting incompatible web coding standards, it's a relief to find a standard that doesn't break things in non-compliant browsers. With CSS, you can breath life into every button, take the stiffness out of graphics and even add animation--all without harming the look in older browsers, like Internet Explorer 8. 

Design

Take the Time

In projects of all sizes, the design aspect typically takes about half of all the time and all the resources allocated to the project. Sometimes, in an effort to cut corners, design is left out of a budget, only to reappear on the backside of the project because “it just doesn’t look right.” 

Information Architecture

 

Information Architecture (IA) is a deep and nebulous concept and should not be attempted alone. Choosing to avoid it is futile, since information architecture happens no matter if it is planned or not. 

Social Media in Drupal

 

It is no longer possible to maintain credibility in the marketplace and not have a social media presence. Working in multiple social networks is advantageous, so long as you can avoid simply diluting your efforts among them. 

E-commerce for Sales

About Übercart

The common e-commerce implementation within Drupal is Übercart. It is simple and has a huge number of contributed modules, including a few very obscure applications. The disadvantage is that it is not a particularly lightweight implementation, and navigation is limited to your ability to build views. However, if simplicity or functional flexibility are the important considerations, then Übercart excels in these. 

I18N - Internationalization

Drupal is, thankfully, fully setup for easy internationalization. Careful adherence to the t() function in the display of all strings helps to ensure that. 

Localization must be dealt with per locale as per your own marketing strategies. My own experience at international trade events is that most people prefer English, if they cannot get their own language. Thus, it follows that locales should follow a target population base, rather than trying to find a compromise.

Drupal Support

This is the most neglected area of web development. It applies to both users managing the website and to anonymous users or casual visitors to the website. Because web developers are often physically distant or inaccessible to their users, the users are too often frustrated and give up without ever resolving their issues. 

Training

 

Training is the single best investment a company can make. An hour of proper training can prevent days and weeks of struggling to find an answer or just plain doing things the hard way. Where a classroom situation is unrealistic, online webinars are simple to organize, cheap and easy to pull off. 

 

Development Basics

If I were to setup a Drupal Development effort at a client company, I would recommend the following basic steps. Note these steps are not very in depth or technical, since those making the decisions behind them typically are not experts in development.