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A review of the

Many years ago I was working on a project for a client. They were happy, I was happy and the project was moving along beautifully. Seeing how pleased I was, my client turned to me and said, "Just remember, John. One "aw sh**" wipes out ten atta-boys."

 

POW. I never forgot that. His statement stuck and has been a foundation for how I do things ever since. One area in particular where I put that lesson to use is in the planning of web application projects before production (coding) begins.

 

And by "application," I mean a website, a desktop app, a mobile app... it doesn't matter. Today it's best to think of everything as an app.

 

By "planning," I mean taking the time to wireframe and prototype the application to ensure there are no pitfalls, false expectations or problems that may crop up in the future. It's all about foreseeing and eliminating a devestating "aw sh**" moment that could later on effect the timeline, cost, stability or even success of the project.

 

So, what's a good wireframing and prototyping tool out there today? Recently we've begun using a new application called JustInMind. From the moment I started playing around with it, I fell in love.

 

JustInMind has managed to blend in a bit of both worlds: the design and the interactivity in wireframing and prototyping a development project. I can plot out the wireframe with clickable buttons, menus, etc. I can prototype workflow. And I can also develop a sense of the actual UI design.

 

Perfect for application development

Whether it's a website, a mobile app, a custom desktop app, etc., we have started using JustInMind to lay out the wireframe, UI/UX and flow of our client application development projects. What we're really liking is that our clients don't have to picture in their mind what the final product will look like. With this app, they can see, click, maneuver and prototype what the final product will be, along with an extremely accurate representation of what the application will actually look like, design-wise. 

 

Mobile friendly

One of the cool features in JustInMind is the ability to quickly jump back and forth in previewing between devices to see how the website or app will look and function. Create an app for an iPhone, then review it on an Android tablet, then a desktop. Quick and easy.

 

What's not to love?

Creating some interactivity functions can involve a steep learning curve. For instance, it took me several hours to figure out how to create a slide-out, pull-down menu for a mobile application design. I eventually figured it out, but the numerous steps involved seemed excessive for how common the function is on mobile devices. I'm hoping that will be rectified in future versions.

 

Regardless, this app is already saving our clients (and us) a tremendous amount of time and cost by reducing false starts, miscommunications or misaligned expectations.

 

That means more attaboys. Fewer "Aw sh**s."

 

Website link: http://www.justinmind.com/

 


 

DNN Evoq Training Services

Since 2004, i2Integration has designed, implemented and supported over 700 DNN websites worldwide. In that time, we have trained hundreds of organizations on the administration of DNN.

 

Whether our clients need basic admin training on the day-to-day content management of DNN, or advanced training including module and theme development as well as server maintenance, our staff of DNN experts are available when you need us.

 

Onsite or Remote DNN Training

 

i2Integration can provide either on-site training at your facility, train remotely via web conferencing, or utilize our on-site facility with capacity for up 100 attendees, along with web conference on our fiber network.

DNN Evoq Training Topics

 

Here’s a list of training topics typically covered:

  • DNN structure (theme, pane, module, container)
  • Admin modes
  • Page creation and management
  • Module placement and management
  • Theme management
  • Security management (users, roles, permissions)
  • Content administration
    • Core DNN modules
      • HTML, documents, links, images, anchors, video
      • Style sheet explanation
    • Add-on Modules
      • Third-party module training
    • Short code
      • Content coding within off-the-shelf theme
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • Page level
    • Content level
  • Site administration
    • Site settings
    • File management
    • Page management
    • Site log
    • Event viewer
    • Recycle bin
  • Advanced
    • New module installation
    • Modifying theme (skin), including pane creation and modification
    • Editing CSS
    • Server maintenance and support
    • New portal creation
    • DNS

 

Need DNN Evoq Training?

 

Call us at 517.371.3931


Email us at info@i2integration.com

 


 

Front-end, Back-end and Why It Matters

You need a web development company for your upcoming project. So who do you pick? A critical question to ask is: do you need a front-end developer, a back-end developer, or both? Matching the right company to the right need can make all the difference between your project’s success or failure.

 

First, what the heck is a front-end and back-end developer?

 

A front-end developer deals with what the user sees. We’re talking

  • Website design
  • User interface design and experience
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Design coding, including HTML, CSS stylesheets, Javascript, JQuery, etc.

 

 

This is everything to do with branding, look-and-feel, consistency and flow. You know: warm and fuzzy.

 

Then there’s the back-end developer. They come into play when the website “has to do something,” such as

  • Integrate with your CRM or an internal system (inventory, member database, etc.)
  • Establish single sign-on
  • Register, sell, create, process
  • Do custom reporting
  • Capture, push or pull data
  • Mobile app development

 

This is what we call the “heavy lifting” part of web development. Hardcore geek stuff.

 

Some website projects need both skill sets, of course. Others need emphasis on only one. For instance, if you’re looking at a refresh of your brand and design, finding a web development company that is weighted toward front-end development will yield better results, whereas that same company might struggle and fail if the project requires complex back-end programming.

 

Just like in medicine, things have become pretty specialized when it comes to web development -- and for good reason, as the fields of expertise and rate of technology change have become increasingly complex for any one firm. For that reason, some developers today aren’t afraid to partner with others in order to fill in where they are less experienced or staffed.

 

A successful project all comes down to choosing the right developer, or group of developers. Asking where their specialties are more focused (front-end vs. back-end) will allow you to make a far more informed decision… ultimately saving you time and the green stuff. Not to mention creating a much stronger product in the end.

 


 

Client Analytics: The Next Big Thing

If your organization is like most, you’ve probably got all these individual components you work with in a given day, clicking back and forth like a mouse-wielding ninja: your website, your client or member database (or both), your email marketing provider, and so on. And you wish there was a way to tie all that data together to get an accurate picture of the true engagement of your clients / members. Instead, you know only that you had X number of views on your website and that X number of people opened your last email newsletter, but none of that is tied to your client database. 

 

Cue the parting clouds and choir music. i2Integration is building tools to be able to tie all that together. Client analytics: This is going to be “a thing.”

 

Let’s say your association has an upcoming event. You create a registration page for the website and a Constant Contact campaign to promote it. By implementing these new tools, here are some things you could find out: that associate-level members opened the email, clicked on the link to the website but did not register, but affiliate-level members from Florida opened the email, clicked to the site and did register. Or that a majority of premiere-level members started the registration process but didn’t finish. Maybe affiliate members require a different email campaign? Maybe associate members would rather register by phone? This allows you, in real time, to analyze the data and make informed decisions in the future. And as you capture this data, you establish a level of engagement and track it over time. Wouldn’t that be nice to know when dues time rolls around?

 

None of this is “out-of-the-box” right now, because everyone is running a different combination of systems, which means it requires some customization via coding. 

 

Before you ask, no, this won’t require a second mortgage. But when it comes to saving you in more accurate segmented marketing, eliminating false starts, redundancies, errors and inefficiencies created by moving data from one medium to another, it will pay for itself very quickly.

 

Ten years ago, nobody knew what a content management system was. Now everyone does, and nearly everyone has one. In a matter of years, every website will be doing Client Analytics as a matter of course.

 

Want to know more? Just ask!

 

 


 

Four Ways to Trim Your Website Redesign Cost

Reducing costs shouldn’t mean sacrificing quality. And when it comes to web redesign, there are reasonable compromises that can be made in order to get what you need and keep the project within budget.

 

  1. Go with a template design. What used to be one of the major expenses in a website redesign was the actual design, because lo’ those many years ago, every website was created from scratch. Now there are thousands of templates available that you can leverage and with only minimal changes, can make them look completely your own. The nice thing also, is that most themes already have mobile-responsiveness and UI/UX goodies baked into them. Going with a pre-designed theme won’t completely eliminate design, but it will definitely reduce the time needed in coding the architecture of the design.
  2.  

  3. Migrate your own content. One of the major time-sinks in a site redesign is moving content from the old site to the new or placing new content. This isn’t usually a difficult and technical task, but just extremely time consuming. We see anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes per page to clean and move content. With a little bit of training, this task could easily be done in-house by your staff and potentially save hundreds of hours in cost.
  4.  

  5. Reduce custom development. As soon as you want to build anything custom, the ol’ cost-o-meter starts spinning. Is there a way to leverage something that’s already out there? And if what’s out there can’t do everything you need it to do, is there one that is open source -- meaning you get access to the original code -- , one that could be modified without having to build from scratch? One question to ask your developer when they tell you “This may be custom” is, “Is there something already out there we can modify?”
  6.  

  7. Think of your redesign as a sprint, not a stroll. If you keep the project within a tight timeline and have all your ducks in a row before the redesign begins, costs can be kept to a minimum. If, for whatever reasons, your schedule is more loose than it could be or you don’t have all your content ready, the timeline can drag out. In a lot of cases, drawing a redesign out over a longer period of time only draws out more costs. Making the timeline aggressive can keep costs in line.

 


 

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