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Does the Type of Database You Use Affect Your Visitor User Experience?

Posted on: 1/7/2010 12:28:26 PM under Web Design » Tips 
 

Sometimes you don't always need the best of the best...

When the military commissions a fighter plane, it often puts out a list of specs: must have this range, must travel this fast, must carry this many munitions, etc. As you would expect, that list of specs is often asking for the “best of the best” in technology, and ease of use is not exactly the highest priority.

The same is not true for website design and content management systems (CMS). The whole point of CMS is to make it easy for the non-tech user to update the company website. In fact in many ways, using cutting-edge technology like “the most advanced database system” can actually make a CMS less attractive. With all the setup involved, maintenance, and poking around the server, suddenly CMS is not as easy as it sounds.

That’s a big part of the reason why DMXReady has stayed with ASP and built-in Access databases. You might say that the Access database cannot handle the same load as MS-SQL or MySQL, and you would be right. But for small business and personal websites, traffic is not usually an issue. If you normally have 1-100 users visiting your website at one time, Access can easily manage it.

The best part is that with DMXReady applications, the pre-configured database is built in so that users don’t have to fiddle with backend settings. They simply upload and install the whole app right on their server, and they are ready to go!

As techies, we often get too wrapped up in trying to find out what’s next. As web designers and business people, sometimes what we really need to consider is how the technology will impact our clients – and it’s not always positive. If you are going to build an easy-to-use system, technology is not always the answer.

The DMXReady Team

 

 
 

Create Your Own Live Chat Help Service on Your Website with Olark

Posted on: 12/30/2009 4:20:02 PM under Web Design » Cool Tools 
 

You’ve seen them before on bigger websites (including DMXReady): Live Support, Online Help, Live Chat or some similar service that allows you to contact a live person through a chat system right on the web page. Well, now smaller businesses can add them to for a low cost – even free – using Olark.

Olark is a simple live chat that you can add to your website. It connects directly to your own IM system like GoogleTalk, so you don’t have to set up any backend systems. When someone is on your website and wants to ask a question, you get a message through your IM, just as if they were connected directly to you!

One nifty feature is that it can give you information about where the person is contacting you from, and lets you know if the person has contacted you before. You can also integrate Olark with Google Analytics for more in-depth stats tracking.

Best of all, Olark easily integrates with DMXReady CMS v2, Blog Manager v2, or any other DMXReady application. All you need is to add some code to the main page of your application, which you can easily do using the built-in Code Editors (in the case of our v2 apps) or using any HTML editing software like Dreamweaver.

Adding Olark to DMXReady CMS v2

Olark allows you to add its script anywhere within the BODY tags of a web page. These steps will add the script to your Footer area, which is as good a place as any.

  1. Go to your DMXReady CMS v2 Dashboard
  2. Go to Site Setup > Customize
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the “View Source” button.
  4. Get your customized code from Olark* and paste it at the bottom.
  5. Click the “OK” button to save and close the window.
  6. Click the “Save Changes” button at the bottom right.

Done! You now have Olark installed on DMXReady CMS v2!

*After you sign up with Olark, they will give you a string of code, much like Google Analytics does, that you add to your website. The code will look something like:


 

Find out more at www.olark.com

Happy Chatting (and a Happy New Year)!

The DMXReady Team

 
 

Catch The Wave

Posted on: 12/16/2009 11:42:04 AM under General » Browsers 
 

The way we communicate via the Internet is constantly changing. Email was the only two-way method in the beginning, but then there came guestbooks and bulletin boards, instant messaging, and now Twitter.

Google has added yet another method: Google Wave. Google bills this as “equal parts document and conversation.” What that means is that you can carry on conversations AND attach documents like Word docs, images, maps and more to the Wave. And although the conversation may be linear to a degree, you are actually creating a type of work space for each conversation that you can move through non-linearly.

For example, suppose you are working on a project with one or more people. In a real-world workspace, you would have a table in a meeting room with all your materials laid out: research, photos, data, etc. You could choose to look at any of these items at any time, and talk with other project members about them.

Google Wave lets you do that, but in the cyber-space. All your materials are electronic and attached to the Wave, just as if they were on a table. Conversations are real-time, more like instant messaging than email. Best of all, your conversations are recorded, so you can move through and view past comments easily.

Sounds like a very useful tool, and will definitely have its applications. But we’re not sure that this will be an email killer or Twitter killer quite yet. More likely – at least in its current form – Google Wave will turn into a project-based tool like BaseCamp and other multi-person platform. (Though it would be nice if it could capture tweets and emails into each Wave…)

As with many Google products at launch, roll out is by invitation only. To sign up for your invitation, go to:

https://services.google.com/fb/forms/wavesignup/

The DMXReady Team

 
 

A-Musing Design Help

Posted on: 12/7/2009 12:56:53 PM under Web Design » Tips 
 

Web design is always an exercise in inspiration. Sometimes though, the muses are not sitting on our shoulders, and try as we might that design just won’t bang into place.

Well, when the going gets tough, the tough get surfin’ – web surfing that is.

Here are a few sources of great inspiration to help you get on the right path with your own designs. Some of these, like Minimal Exhibit, are straight galleries and collections of great designs. Others, like Vandelay, are general design blogs that offer helpful tips and as well as galleries.

Check them out the next time you’re in a design funk:

http://minimalexhibit.com/
http://thebestdesigns.com/
http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/
http://www.outlawdesignblog.com/
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/
http://www.csselite.com/
http://adsoftheworld.com/
http://www.ventilate.ca/

Happy Creating!

The DMXReady Team

 
 

Web Fonts: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Posted on: 11/19/2009 8:58:08 AM under Web Design » Tips 
 

Since the dawn of time – well, at least since 1995 – web designers have been frustrated by lack of font choices. Computers have been getting faster, what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) display is so common now that it’s kind of like saying “color TV”, and yet we are still stuck with Arial, Times, Georgia, and Verdana to create websites.

But the problem isn’t really about the technology (in fact some browsers have been able to use embedded fonts since the 90s); it’s been about copyrights. Most fonts are treated like software, which is to say they have EULAs and are protected from unauthorized use. Like so many things in the digital age, it is hard to say whether or not that Aviano font on the website is being used by the web designer (who has the license) or the web page visitor (who probably doesn’t…)

The Good

Two things have helped move things forward. First, there is the fact that some fonts are becoming available for font embedding on web pages. A full list can be found here.

Second, there is now a CSS @font-face property, where you can designate fonts outside of system fonts. What happens is that you actually create a set of font files that are called in the CSS so that the font displays correctly in the web browser. This property also allows for a backup default font in case your new font can’t be displayed.

The Bad

That last sentence, “in case your new font can’t be displayed…” should have sent up a red flag. Yes, the truth is that not all web browsers support the @font-face property – at least not easily. Basically, Firefox-type browsers do, IE needs a special format, and Google Chrome has the property, but it is shut off by default due to a security vulnerability.

The Ugly

In other words, you’ll still have to pay careful attention to what your default fonts are to ensure that everything looks relatively pretty, which kind of defeats the whole purpose.

Of course, there are other methods of font embedding that are perhaps bulkier to use, but more stable (like the sIFR method we’ve discussed here). Not the perfect solution, but in certain circumstances reaching at least some of our visitors with non-system fonts will be worth the work. Either way, there will be compromises.

But hey, we’re web designers. We’re used to compromise…

Happy Fonting!

The DMXReady Team


 

 
 
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