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. 

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. 

Testing in Drupal

Recruit EVERYONE. There’s no such thing as too much testing. It’s to your advantage to engage everyone in the company. Ask for their help. Explain the definition of a bug (unexpected behavior) and give them your direct line to contact you immediately if they find something. Encourage company personnel to setup the company websites as their default home pages. 

Why Drupal

 

After eight years of writing proprietary CMS software, we decided to convert over to the more conventional system now available. Such options were not as attractive when we started in business so many years ago. We explored for two years before eventually settling on Drupal. Here’s why.

Mail Services

Spam Exposure

Rule number 1: never post your email address online. Anti-spam strategies, such as removing the link, rendering the address as a graphic or enclosing it into a PDF file, are all subject to fail. The best strategy is just to never expose it. 

Contact Forms

Contact forms are most useful in giving contact access to email without exposing the address. However, be aware that spam bots are adept at filling out forms and spamming you anyway, so you’ll need to take measures to prevent automatic submissions, such as a Captcha challenge.