How do you promote the use of traditional paper notebooks and planners in today’s digital age? One of our clients approached us with the need to deliver “pen and paper” product in a global digital store.
Blueline Incorporated has thousands of printed products – receipt books, accounting supplies, calendars, and notebooks with unique audiences in Canada, the United States and Mexico. After months of development, GlobeRunnerSEO has launched our most site ambitious to-date.
This project needed a proven Content Management System (CMS) with a commerce solution which could handle multiple currencies, multiple prices for each product depending on the country, and multilingual capabilities.
Since the client also has other branded websites with different product offerings, we needed to import the product catalogs from a single source to all of their brands (www.blueline.com, www.rediform.com, and www.brownline.com).
To achieve this, we used the Drupal 7 CMS (drupal.org) along with over 100 additional modules. Our team optimistically says “there’s a module for that – or there will be soon”. We relied heavily on Drupal Commerce, along with Multicurrency, UPS Shipping, and Feeds to import the products. We used the Internationalization modules to provide language translations to the site and also made every product and image translatable. The Omega theme framework was used as the backbone of the user interface.
To satisfy complex tax calculations, we used AvaTax, an integration provided by www.drupalsalestax.com . Where contributed modules did not satisfy our requirements we built custom modules to fit the business needs and preferences of our client.
In addition to modules, the site required complex configuration to provide GeoIP look-up to ensure Canadian visitors see Canadian products and US visitors see US products. Coupons, Promotional Campaigns, Tax calculations, and product availability conditions all require use of Drupal’s powerful Rules framework.
The primary site launched in April 2012 after 5 months of development. After launch additional changes continued until July. At first, we used Drupal’s Multisite feature – allowing numerous sites to use the same codebase. However, in order to add unique SSL certificates to all three sites, the sites were branched out to three separate servers. And since our developers build sites on their local machines, and also have a staging and production server for each site, at times we had nine variants of the application. Additionally, since the client was adding content and customers were purchasing items, we created a workflow to protect live data while adding new elements. For this, we turned to the best practices of using Drupal Features, Drush, and GIT version control.
Our themes were designed by Alex Fox, our in-house graphic designer. Chris Lee worked on the site planning and built custom modules. Bobby Dean was the lead developer and themer. The project was managed by Sean Freebairn. Customer relationship was led by Hector Hernandez. This project challenged our team on many levels and also helped us learn many new things. We are proud to be a part of the Drupal Association and look forward to using knowledge gained for our future clients.
Blueline Inc knows that paper products are here to stay. And because of this new series of websites by GloberunnerSEO, they can depend on their digital Drupal platforms for years to come.
YUI Compressor is a tool for compressing data transmission between a website and the client that reduces time to display a website.
Having that said, I was most pleased and excited to discover that you can install the YUI compressor quickly and instantly through ubuntu.
Regardless, you can just install it on ubuntu with one easy command:
sudo apt-get install yui-compressor
And pow! You can quickly use yui compressor! With this in mind you can integrate this easily with Phing, jenkins, or even just get down and dirty and write your own script to automate the process.
We recently had an issue where one of our inboxes was nearly full. So we reached out and did some research to find the best method of reliably backing up a Gmail inbox and clearing it. We found that the best method is with getmail, a Linux utility that fetches mail through IMAP. It is very powerful and flexible, providing a lot of options. There are several different methods as well (outlined below).
Overall, we recommend using getmail. By trying several different approaches, getmail is by far the best. It is a little confusing at first, but not a hard pill to swallow:
How do you install getmail?
sudo apt-get install dovecot-imapd getmail4
pacman -S getmail
yum install getmail*
Here are some resources for backing up gmail with Linux:
- Matt Cutts explains how to backup gmail with getmail
- Linode documentation goes over getmail setup
- Getmail documentation
- Configuring getmail
If you don’t like getmail there are several different options out there:
- Life hacker explains how to backup gmail with fetchmail
- Periodically backing up your email with fetchmail
This is just a compilation of our favorite #drupalcon tweets through out drupalcon denver thus far. Some tweets are big news for the drupal community!
- Video of Fabien Potencier, founder of symfony. He explains in the session why drupal is using some key symfony components. https://twitter.com/#!/jedihe/status/182652246356525056
- Drupalicon needs a patch https://twitter.com/#!/mu5a5hi_jeff/status/182600561659617280
- Good morning denver bear! https://twitter.com/#!/bronicat/status/182454208665108480
- Drupal 8 + drupalcon 2013 in PDX! https://twitter.com/#!/eizzumdm/status/182245242764935170 https://twitter.com/#!/robeson/status/182248282368647171
Live pdx 2013 site is here: http://t.co/YN6RWY7s
- Drupal poetry project by our fellow texan drupalists, four kitchens: http://t.co/Dl6HAwFN
Here are some nuggets of information from the second day:
- The marriage between symfony and drupal 8 is very exciting. It allows drupal to be compatible and interopable with other symfony projects
- View modes is the best practice before modifying the template file because that is the new drupal way
- The risks of non PCI compliance are fatal to businesses. Risks include lawsuits, loss of reputation, etc. It is something in the commerce field that shouldn’t be ignored
- Entities is the new future of drupal. Entities are used already largely in Drupal 7 with several modules: profile2, drupal commerce, etc
- Changing your innodb pool size can quickly increase your performance
- Make sure to utilize db query debugging in views it’ll allow you to quickly find slow query performance
- the views mini pager is one of the largest bottle necks when it comes to views output.
- entities allows drupal to have a unified crud controller.
- entities enables drupal to be flexible and interopable with other databases as well.
- each entity contains an id, crud controller and a property. The property contains meta data that ertains to the actual entity
- in drupal 7, entity bundles were introduced. entity bundles are things like: vocabularies, content types. Comments and users are possibly going to be slowly migrated to an entity bundle
Some a random list of things we’ve learned at Drupalcon:
- As always live demos can sometimes fail; regardless if you practice the night before
- Mobile will eclipse and be larger than desktop devices
- Panels will be integrated into core with the new intiative, Blocks and Layouts Everywhere
- Web services will be more and more important as the demand for native mobile apps are needed
- WSSCI is deprecated, part of it will be split up. The larger initiative of creating a communication layer, with the http foundation kernal
- The CMI initiative will not likely be completed in the drupal 8 in core.
- Drupal 7 approaching maturity as drupal 6 is near it’s end of it’s cycle
- Android devices internationally will reach 50% market share by 2015
After 13 hours, we’ve finally arrived in beautiful Denver. We’ve trekked hundreds of miles from Dallas all the way to Denver. Along the way, we experienced some beautiful purple mountains, hilly terrain of amarillo and rocked out to John Denver.
Often times we’re asked to provide Google Apps setup for some of our clients here in the Dallas area. After much googling, i’ve found it difficult frustrating to find what these values are quickly via google search.
I thought i’d just post them here for people so that they’re short an terse without having to dig through google forums support (arg):
If all this mumbo jumbo about DNS and MX records confuse you google actually has a great basic guide here about DNS: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=48090
A common problem we have here at Globe Runner SEO is optimizing one page landing pages. Our team did some research and decided to compile some information on how to achieve the best converting landing page. Here are some of our findings:
Anatomy of a Landing Page
We discovered this gem recently. If you haven’t seen this you must review this image. These guys at formstack break down the perfect landing page.
Must Read List for Landing Page Conversion:
We also found some great resources for information about converting landing pages. We compiled a short list (more to be added) of some great blog articles related to this subject.
- Landing Page Best Practices
- Search Engine Land: How To Create High-Converting Landing Pages
- Landing Page examples
- Search Engine Watch: The Art of the Landing Page: 7 Tips For Increasing Conversions
- Search Engine Watch: 5 popular tips could hurt your conversions
Using Belcher Button:
One idea that we’ve discovered, recently among our team, is the idea of the Belcher button. The belcher button is a marketer’s dream design of a button. It producing insane conversion rates. We found an excellent video that breaks it down:
- Vidler video on Belcher Button
Examples of great one page landing pages
It alarms me that often wordpress users will still use the exec-php plugin. It made sense when WordPress was fairly primitive and lacked functionality in terms of it’s templating system. Today, WordPress is fully enhanced enough that it should supersede the use of the exec-php plugin.
Today, it should be avoided at all costs. WordPress is sophisticated enough now that you should not need to use such a plugin. It poses various number of risks.
The plugin itself allows you to execute php commands.
Utilizing such a plugin is typically bad practice:
- Causes PHP to be stored in the database
- Creates a developer-dependant workflow. Thus, it requires a developer to maintain it; not an end user.
- Difficult to debug php errors.
- Poses increased problems for scalability
- Introduces performance problems. A database is called to retrieve the php code and then another php command must be executed.
- Poses many security risks. If someone knew your wordpress password they could essentially turn your wordpress site / blog into malware.
Ways around utilizing the plugin would be just good planning, executing best practices of web development and taking the time to develop more robust solutions. Exec-php should be only used as a last resort for stop-gap ephemeral solutions.
I thought i’d share with everyone a helpful solution to a nasty bug in drupal / drupal commerce
You’re excited. A new drupal module version is released. You’re trying to upgrade and now you’re ridden with a fatal error.
There’s a nasty bug in Drupal entity fields that is currently trying to be sorted out. When you upgrade you may be unable to fully upgrade because modules are unable to delete previous database fields. It’s best if you uninstall then reinstall particular modules. There’s no direct path to upgrading for some particular modules Dependant on the entity field system.
At this moment of writing, when you upgrade a module there’s not a way to delete existing entity fields in the database. They’re currently working on this issue in drupal 7/8.
Thus, when you upgrade modules there will be lots of zombie fields in your drupal database. So when you upgrade you’ll
- Backup your database.
- The only way of dealing with this issue is to manually delete all the database fields in drupal.
- Using a script remove the database fields: Commerce Clean up Script for versions alpha2-alpha4 (Use with lots of caution. I do not provide any warrantee for this script):
Google, Bing and Yahoo announced today that they all were adopting a new extended markup called schema.org.
This extended markup allows webmasters to add additional markup to their site to help search engines better understand their content.
The elements of your site that you can use the schema.org markup on are:
- Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TVSeries …
- Embedded non-text objects: AudioObject, ImageObject, VideoObject
- Place, LocalBusiness, Restaurant …
- Product, Offer, AggregateOffer
- Review, AggregateRating
Google has a rich snippets testing tool that will validate the code on your site.
We here at Globe Runner SEO anticipate that sites which utilize the schema.org markup will see increased traffic as the search engines more accurately place pages in search results. Search engines will give natural preferences to pages that give a clear window into their content.
Eric McGehearty: Hi, it’s Eric with Globe Runner SEO, and I want to talk about something new, it’s Schema.org. Today Google Bing announced jointly that they were going to use Schema.org. Schema.org is basically very similar to what I’ve talked about before, which is microformats.
It’s a language system, it’s an add on system to an HTML markup that you would have on your page and your website page that Google, Bing, Yahoo have all agreed to use. It’s going to continue to grow, it’s going to be a library of markups that we can add to a webpage. The whole idea is to make search engines smarter so they can better engage with your content.
Honestly, it’s really not that complicated. There are extra codes, extra tags that I can put next to specific types of elements that allows a search engine a greater depth of understanding. So for instance, the example that they give on Schema.org is “Avatar”. If I put in my website a headline that said “Avatar”, how does the search engine know that I want to talk about the movie “Avatar” or if I’m talking about an avatar for representing a person’s face, right? How do they know?
Well, I could put in, from Schema.org, these additional microformats that would then tell the search engine, “This page is about the movie ‘Avatar’.” I want to also put in some extra text in there and I could in a person’s name and I could specifically label that name using the microformats and say, “And the director is,” right? So I’m able to actually tell the search engine all the nitty gritty details about the pieces of content on my page.
Here’s what’s neat microformats have been used been used for a little while, but the initial push of microformats was, for instance, reviews were a big push on microformats so that the search engine could put star ratings next to search results. That’s certainly still part of it, but now there’s an emphasis on people, places and things as well. Events are still part of it, that was part of the initial microformats rollout.
Today, if you have a company page and you have your employee page, you can add microformats in there to say, “This is a person. Here’s their email address, here’s their contact information,” things like that. If you’re a small business, a local business, or if you have locations of any kind, this is a really great opportunity to tag your location. You can tag your phone number, you tag your address, tag your business name, and you can really optimize that content so that the search engine really understands that you’re referring to yourself.
Also, let’s say that you had your address and then an alternative location on that same page. Well, you want to make sure that you tag your address properly so in local search results you come up, but that other addresses on the page are tagged differently to represent that those are representing other places on web, other things that you’re listing on your page. So there’s a lot of ways you might think about using it.
There was one that I found particularly interesting as an SEO person. There’s actually a way, using these microformats, to indicate a link without having a clickable link on your page. So, for instance, if I was referencing something, and I wanted to reference the Wikipedia article so Google knew that I was talking about this specific thing that Wikipedia is talking, I could do that without linking to Wikipedia.
I don’t actually affect the user experience, the user doesn’t even see a link, there’s no clickable text on my page, but Google sees that there’s a link out to Wikipedia. That would almost certainly affect search results in the same way that links now affect search results as a vote or passing credibility.
So Schema.org, visit it. If you’re a web developer and you’re interested in SEO, it’s a must have. You must learn this stuff if you want to stay on the cutting edge. Here at Globe Runner, of course, we’re staying on the cutting edge for our clients, and we’re excited to start integrating this in. It was announced this morning and I look forward to talking to you again soon.