Our Ideas | VerticalWave Web & Mobile Development

31
May

Drupal CRM Integration: Automating Marketing and More

Drupal is without doubt one of the most versatile content management systems on the market when it comes to handle large content and user databases. B2B and B2C companies often look to convert such data, as well as website user engagement into leads and potential customers. This is where Drupal CRM Integration comes in extremely handy. Pairing Drupal with an optimally tailored CRM provides excellent business automation, allowing companies collect and manage crucial data and thus ensuring a better ROI.

Drupal can be integrated with various available CRMs, including the most popular ones such as SalesForce and Microsoft Dynamics. However, these CRM systems provide less flexibility and additional coding, as well as third party support might be required to ensure optimal implementation.

On the other hand, there are a few Customer Relationship Management systems that work almost “out of the box” when integrated with Drupal 7 and 8. This seamless integration is provided via dedicated modules and APIs, as well as custom codes, and widely supported by the Drupal developers’ community.

A successful integration creates a link between the two systems, ensuring successful field mapping, data transfer and management. Drupal can gather and send data collected through webforms or through user analysis in real time to the CRM to maximize marketing efficiency. To a certain extent, we can say that the outcome is a powerful 2 in 1 content management and marketing platform.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common CRM solutions that work best when paired with Drupal:

  • First we have Drupal’s native CRM module, which can handle contacts and form management and requires little coding to set up. The advantage when using Drupal’s own CRM system is that it can actively be updated and maintained with little cost. No third party hosting or configuration is involved when using it.
  • RedHen is another CRM that offers native Drupal integration. It offers lots of customizable features and is mostly used to track the interaction with people and institutions. Its flexibility makes it suitable for various business models.
  • CiviCRM is an open source constituent relationship management solution best used to track webform input, online subscription, contacts and more. Designed initially for non-profit and non-governmental entities, CiviCRM can also be set to accommodate B2B and B2C companies.
  • Zoho CRM is comprised of a powerful suite of business tools, highly scalable, designed to cover a wide array of features needed to enhance the marketing process. It uses an automated system to gather, keep track and assign leads and analyze product demand, customer data, as well as the entire sales process if needed.

As said, these CRM systems offer reliable integration with Drupal and provide lots of flexibility. However, implementing the best suited solution for a specific company or organization requires a careful analysis to highlight particular needs, depending on the business and organizational model.

3
Apr

E-Mentoring Halton Online Collaboration Platform Launched

The VerticalWave Solutions team is proud to announce the launch of E-Mentoring Halton, a new generation type of collaboration platform, dedicated to provide online mentoring partnerships for residents of Halton Region. It is a complex program, designed to bridge the gap between established professionals and professionals immigrating to the Region of Halton in occupational-specific mentoring relationships. Moreover, the platform is engineered to facilitate communication between program participants, across the world at any time zone.

This is a scalable system, tailored to put the most efficient collaboration, communication and sharing tools at the fingertips of e-Mentors and e-Mentees. The challenge was to merge all functionality features with an intuitive and easy to use design for the end-user and for system administrators.

Using the powerful Drupal CMS, our team successfully implemented a wide variety of functional features and a modern responsive design, combining state of the art mobile and desktop UI and UX into an interactive and secure specialty platform.

E-Mentoring Halton boasts an innovative resource sharing system, which provides users with access to documents, videos, links and notes. Users have the possibility to communicate via comments or the integrated instant messaging system. At the same time they can schedule meetings and calls to enhance their collaboration and reach the end goal easier, while a built-in notification system alerts users and administrators of various activities via email.

System administrators can easily designate groups and associate users with them and create specific modules, tasks and evaluations for each group and user. Moreover, the content and user management system is designed to provide easy admin access to all resources and user accounts. Administrators control the back-end and entire collaboration system in a very straight-forward way to ensure the lowest interaction latency time possible.

As said, the E-Mentoring Halton platform is based on custom functionalities and employs many features, but using the latest Drupal 7 installment, combined with custom built modules, a clean and well-structured programming code and a solid database system, our team has delivered a modern, customizable and reliable solution for the client.

30
Jan

Implementing AODA Compliance for Web & Mobile Applications

Part of the Ontarian set of laws intended to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, the AODA – Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act adopted back in 2005 is intended to implement and enforce accessibility standards for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to everyday life aspects like goods, services, employment, accommodation, healthcare, facilities, transport and more kh0csxv.

The act eliminates what is called a barrier in terms of technology, information, communication and more for people with mental or physical disabilities. The Act is a major step forward in the history of fighting against discrimination of persons with disabilities in Ontario, therefore supported by individuals, as well as by government entities and companies alike.

The AODA sets of rules and standards concern the internet perhaps more than anything else. Ontario based websites need to comply with these regulations or are susceptible to penalties that can even escalate to lawsuits. The Act clearly specifies that government entities, public sector organizations, enterprises and related businesses must align their websites and web applications with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, intended to make website browsing and content access easily available to people with different levels of disabilities, from cognitive limitations to physical impairment.

AODA complaint websites will become the standard in the upcoming years, as the Act’s rules and regulations must be fully adopted and implemented by 2025, as stipulated by the law. However, implementing the necessary accessibility features requires both analysis and development to ensure correct design and functionality and a win-win outcome for visitors and users as well as for website and web apps operators and owners.

 

The most common implementation of the AODA compliance for web projects is based on the technical standard WCAG 2.0 levels:

  • Level A (lowest), which implies a logical app/site structure, audio control, keyboard access, text alternative for non-text content, responsible use of colors, video and audio captions and more
  • Level AA (intermediate), which implies live captions, audio alternative to text, text resizing options, sensitive data secured management, pre-set contrast ratio, use of clear and accessible icons, links and buttons, and more
  • Level AAA (advanced), which implies translations, media alternatives, intuitive visual layout, keyboard accessibility, location and geo-location services, optimal readability level, help and instruction regarding site browsing and functionality and more

 

At VerticalWave Solutions we support the AODA and work close with our clients to implement intuitive and correct accessibility features across all the websites, apps and platforms we develop. This is a complex process, starting with website/app/project audit and continuing with responsible research and development to reach the end goal. Our Drupal projects integrate modern UI and UX with intuitive accessibility features. A close focus on design and functionality on both mobile and desktop platforms ensures a successful project delivery and seamless integration with the AODA rules and regulations.

Text resizing, text to speech, full featured content, accurate search, responsive and adaptive design, mobile friendly interface, quick access buttons, media integration, intuitive menus are just a few of the required accessibility features we successfully implemented for important clients like The C.D. Howe Institute, GREO – Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, YouthREX, <a href="https://verticalhq find more info.ca/portfolio_item/the-homeless-hub”>The Homeless Hub and more.  All of our clients’ websites and apps are fully comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act as required for an optimal web experience.

19
Dec

Chatbots – Modern AI for the Modern Web

Chatbots start to represent the next generation of web services for the modern Internet environment. Chatbots interact with real users, simulating (or should we say emulating?) real people. The code behind a chatbot is complex, and based on AI-related technology. This code allows a chatbot to intelligently interact with a multitude of users via a specific chat voice or text enabled platform, behaving in a human-like way. Technology is advancing fast, and even applications in which two chatbots can communicate with each other emerge.

One of the best things about chatbots is that they can be integrated with virtually any chat system or website, as long as they are designed and programmed accordingly. Important social networking platforms, companies and portals have already embraced the chatbot system. Although the technology is rather incipient, the results are outstanding and users interacting with chatbots show a growing interest in this kind of service.

More precisely, one of the usual chatbot applications is to guide visitors of a particular site or portal throughout its content. They can provide answers and solutions to questions like what product or service best suits a person based on certain requirements. Another useful job a chatbot can accomplish is to make the browsing experience more intuitive and enhance the user’s experience or provide selective advice. Chatbots can also collect data based on user preferences for future website improvements. Chatbot applications cover a wide range services, from sports and weather to complex industry sectors like banking and finance.

As said, chatbots behave in a human-like way, based two distinct technologies: pre-programmed sets of rules and machine learning. Machine learning is an advanced tech, using dynamic AI systems. Chatbots based on this tech are intuitive and can understand language (spoken or written). Since they can “learn” certain user patterns from conversations, they develop new “skills” and can adapt to various situations and resolve particular tasks on the fly, therefore can be integrated with almost any type of website across all popular operating systems, like Windows, Android, iOS and more. Moreover, the code behind chatbots is flexible and can be integrated with the majority of content management systems: Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and others.

These chatbots, based on machine learning technology, are a new niche in today’s Internet environment, but store infinite potential in terms of technology and productivity and definitely represent the future of human-computer interaction.

7
Nov

Shopify vs. Magento vs. WooCommerce 2016

With the rapid rise of online shops and stores in the internet environment, it was only a matter of time before the market became saturated with all sorts of eCommerce platforms, more or less reliable, created to enhance the experience of users and owners alike.

However, only a few such platforms are indeed ready to meet modern security and usability demands. As a matter of fact, WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify dominate the industry, accounting together for around 70% of the market share. Statistics show that Shopify registered a significant growth in the market share in 2016, while Magento and WooCommerce registered a slight decline. A closer look at the pros and cons of these three platforms will showcase the market’s fluctuation.

Shopify is more than a simple eCommerce software bundle. It is an all-in-one turn-key solution for starting and managing online commerce business generic lexapro. It can be used out of the box, or customized according to specific needs. Shopify is suited for businesses of all sizes, as it is very cost-effective and easy to manage, granting users total control over all buy and sell options.

Pros:

  • Enhanced security
  • Enhanced speed
  • Easily integrates with various CMS platforms like Drupal, Joomla and more
  • Various theme options
  • Easily integrates with most payment gateways
  • Provides physical and digital goods inventory management
  • Intuitive inventory import and export options
  • SEO friendly
  • Intuitive administration panel
  • Easily integrates with third party services (email services, site metrics and more)
  • Offers mobile-ready commerce out of the box
  • Analytics support
  • Social media integration

Cons:

  • Special customization requires development and coding skills
  • Built-in blogging feature is not very well polished
  • Initial setup can require a bit of tech knowledge
  • Shopify integrated payment system works for a limited number of countries (US, Canada, Australia and UK), but this does not apply to the other payment options
  • The Lite plan does not offer very rich online store features

Magento represents a suite of eCommerce platforms, solutions, and CMS software that can be used individually or as a bundle. It can be considered a CMS only to a certain extent, although not as widely used as Drupal, WordPress and Joomla, as it has a specific target audience. Written in PHP, it is strongly focused on e-commerce and used by retailers and online shops.

Pros:

  • E-Commerce ready solutions
  • Support for multiple stores, carts, languages and currencies
  • Good SEO options
  • Shipping and tax calculation options
  • Flexible template options
  • Easy administration panel management
  • Easy product creation

Cons:

  • Slower loading speeds
  • Needs extra customization out of the box
  • Paid Enterprise and Premium Enterprise versions
  • Potential server hosting issues due to size and loading speed
  • Rather difficult development work to enable specific features and options
  • Potential update issues
  • No default omni-channel option

WooCommerce is a customizable platform designed in form of a plugin. It is the most widely used solution mainly because it is free and it integrates seamlessly with WordPress based sites. WooCommerce offers various extensions and themes specifically built for WP, but it does not work with sites powered by other content management systems.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Flexible product configuration options
  • Integrates perfectly with WordPress
  • Various payment options
  • Provides good control over taxes, inventory and user accounts
  • User review and rating system
  • Lots of themes available
  • Great option for basic stores

Cons:

  • Does not work outside of the WordPress framework
  • Custom functionalities coding is costly
  • Maintenance and security depend on the site/store administrator/owner
  • Compatibility issues when updating site/plugin
  • Visual editor is not extremely efficient
  • Premium themes and extensions are costly
  • No hosting options

Taking into consideration these facts, we believe Shopify to be the most balanced eCommerce solution in terms of scalability and cost efficiency. As WooCommerce is exclusively built for WordPress and Magento offers more expensive business plans, there’s no wonder that Shopify has gained consistent percentages in market share in 2016.

25
Oct

Drupal vs. WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Web Based CMS 2016

Today’s content management systems are built to adapt to various industry needs and provide the developer and end user with lots of tools for creating and managing websites and web apps. There’s a wide array of content management systems available on the market, but only a handful of them are widely used and extremely popular.

Drupal, WordPress and Joomla alone power more than 70% of all websites across the globe, from simple, personal websites, to enterprise portals, advanced apps and more. Each of these CMSs have pros and cons, based on their scalability, cost efficiency, ease of use and other features. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using them, from both the point of view of the developer and of the end user.

 

Drupal is by far the most versatile CMS when it comes to building complex websites and apps, with lots of custom features. It is extremely scalable and extensible, perfect for corporate websites, intranet solutions, e-commerce sites, NGO websites, mobile apps and more.

Pros:

  • Various APIs and third party service integration available out of the box
  • Powerful multilingual and translation options
  • Intuitive content and user database management system
  • Mobile-ready
  • Enhanced security and regular updates available
  • Modern UI and UX
  • Developer-friendly engine
  • Feature rich and powerful publishing system
  • Content revision system useful for rollback
  • Open-source
  • SEO-friendly

Cons:

  • Requires good server system resources
  • Requires good development techniques for optimal customization and configuration
  • Some scripts can take longer time to load if not tweaked properly
  • Compatibility with older and obsolete systems (hosting server versions, browser versions) requires extra development

 

WorDpress is the most popular CMS to date, mainly because it is very easy to use thanks to its friendly, blog-like interface. However, WordPress is basically suited for simpler applications, which do not require advanced features, like personal and presentation websites with less content.

Pros:

  • Lots of themes available
  • Simple publishing and editing system
  • Does not require advanced development skills to manage content
  • Fast market entry for SMBs and other entities that don’t need a strong online presence
  • SEO-friendly
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Integrated blogging platform

Cons:

  • Paid extra features (additional storage space and more complex features)
  • Most WordPress sites look the same, with minor differences
  • Not enough flexibility to implement specific features
  • Compatibility and security issues with several plugins
  • Requires numerous updates to prevent security issues

Joomla is another popular CMS. It packs more options in terms of scalability compared to WordPress, but it is still less feature-rich compared to Drupal see it here. Joomla is built on a model–view–controller web app for better flexibility and usability.

Pros:

  • Open-source
  • E-Commerce oriented
  • Flexible in terms of content and structure
  • Simple administration interface
  • Does not require advanced development knowledge to configure

Cons:

  • Limited number of modules and templates available, which equals less possible customization options
  • Requires extra server resources
  • Paid plugins for extra options
  • Plugin compatibility issues
  • Limited options in terms of feature development

 

Wix, Weebly, Webs and others can be considered content management systems only to a certain extent. Wix, Weebly, Webs and other similar solutions (Jimdo, Squarespace) are in fact website building platforms, designed like web based CMS, with ease of use in mind. All of these platforms share virtually common strengths and weaknesses and are targeted towards non-tech savvy users, as they do not require any coding skills or much training to work. These platforms are mostly used for building personal websites, SMB websites or even small online shops, but are not suited for complex solutions.

Pros:

  • Out of the box features
  • Easy to use drag and drop web-based admin interface
  • Fair SEO options
  • No technical skills required to set up or work with
  • Fair amount of templates available
  • Possible integration with third party services

Cons:

  • Lack of flexibility in terms of custom features
  • Paid subscription plans for extra features
  • Ads included with free plans
  • Limited template customization and configuration options
  • No real control over databases and server configuration
  • No extensibility

 

Drupal remains the top choice for building complex and powerful, yet user-friendly websites and apps, as it is highly scalable and offers a comprehensive set of tools and features for both developers and end-users. It is designed to offer flawless digital experiences across all industries. However, WordPress, Joomla, Magento and web based platforms all have their advantages. The key aspect to consider when building a website remains its purpose and array of functionalities. Defining the end goal is decisive.

19
Oct

Drupal 8 – Tech Features

Engineered to deliver the best digital experience on the web, Drupal 8, the latest installment of the most widely used and popular CMS to date, comes as a complete set of tools, ready for developers and end users alike.

Drupal 8 packs more than 200 new features and upgrades, guaranteed to boost web development and user experience to new levels. It is an all-round and flexible solution for s successful web presence in the modern internet environment.
Let’s take a look at a few features that make Drupal 8 extremely appealing for developers and users, laying cool and exciting technologies at their fingertips and easing up their work.

Drupal 8 comes equipped with the CKEditor, one of the most versatile text editors available today. No separate modules or libraries need to be installed, no additional coding is required. The CKEditor is also intuitive and easy to use, so it’s perfect for seasoned, as well as les experienced authors and publishers. Complementary, you can edit content right on the front-end if you are logged in.

Responsiveness is built into the core and Drupal 8 is mobile ready. This means significantly less development time for styling images, blocks, menus and other items. The site pages, including media, input fields, interactive items and other features are automatically scaled and adapted to match any screen resolution and display size.

Drupal 8’s multilingual capabilities are vastly extended. More than 200 languages are available and that’s not all. It has 4 key modules built into the core, which allow you translate virtually any piece of content and feature once activated. This feature is perfect for multinational enterprise and corporate websites with multiple admins speaking various languages. The admin interface is also multi-lingual.

A new theme engine, Twig, provides exquisite styling. Twig is based on PHP and highly flexible. Part of the Symfony2 framework, Twig replaces PHPTemplate as the default templating engine, to ensure optimal performance is terms of style and visual appearance through several handy functions. Compared to other engines of this kind, Twig is less complex, but more powerful and ensures better style and functionality for websites and web apps.

A very important aspect is that Drupal 8 complies with the latest web industry standards. It uses top notch PHP 7 standards like PSR-4, namespaces, and traits plus widely used external libraries like Guzzle, Zend Feed Component, Composer, PHPUnit and others. It is also aligned with HTML5, the fifth and current version of the HTML standard for websites.

We could talk time about the numerous features that make Drupal 8 a secure, reliable and viable CMS for all industry sectors and all purposes for a long time but we encourage you to try it. You will love it for sure.

9
Feb

The eXchange by YouthREX Has Been Launched

We are proud to announce the launch of YouthREX new research and evaluation platform, ‘the eXchange’. This is a complex site that aggregates and highlights research and evaluation resource and tools in support of all youth sector stakeholders, acting as an extension of YoutREX purposes.

Together with the YouthREX team, VerticalWave Solutions designers and developers created the eXchange platform from the ground up, implementing all the necessary functionalities and tools required by a modern, interactive hub click to read more.

The site features a responsive design and it’s packed with lively visuals like dynamic featured content, interactive tools and media embedding. It hosts a well structured and extensive library, which provides accurate and easy accessible data for users, as well as intuitive browsing.

Moreover, advanced filtering capabilities allow users refine their search based on custom input. A secure back-end management system allows administrators to handle users and resources quickly and precisely.

A custom publishing feature ensures that all the relevant content is available almost instantly, while the blog section lists the latest news and updates. All of these features are powered by the Drupal CMS.

VerticalWave Solutions provides ongoing support and maintenance for the platform and actively adds new functionalities, according to YouthREX requirements.

2
Feb

Shopify – All-in-One E-Commerce Solution

Shopify is the all-in-one solution designed to make e-commerce better for everyone, from merchants to customers. One of the most versatile features of Shopify is that it can be easily used in online environment, as well as in real retail locations lexapro 5mg. Shopify software is on the market for more than a decade and has been successfully implemented over a wide range of platforms. A huge number of retails stores and e-commerce portals use it to offer innovative and secure ways to sell and buy worldwide.

Some of Shopify’s powerful features include:

  • Mobile commerce ready
  • Secure shopping cart using 256-bit SSL certificate
  • Compatibility with external payment gateways (70 gateways, including PayPal, Bitcoin and other popular ones)
  • Shop integration with credit card payment: MasterCard, Discover, American Express and Visa
  • Tax calculation based on client location
  • Advanced store management, including customer profiles, refunds, dropshipping and more
  • Advanced product management, including inventory management, import and export features, product variations, tracking and more
  • Easy to use Marketing, Analytics and SEO options

VerticalWave Solutions experts have extensive experience in integrating Shopify with the Drupal CMS to create powerful and secure e-commerce and online store platforms. From setting up a store and organizing products and payments to enhanced customer experience, we offer complete, custom-tailored Shopify e-commerce solutions, fit for the modern market. We provide turn-key integration with all the necessary features to ensure a reliable, secure and robust functionality for your platform whether you want to build it from the scratch up or it’s already set up and needs tweaking.

VerticalWave Solutions is a Certified Shopify Partner with more than 8 years of experience developing e-commerce solutions.

20
Jan

End of Life Cycle for Drupal 6

According to Drupal.org, the Drupal 6 platform will no longer be supported by the community, starting with the 24th of February 2016. Drupal 6 has proven to be a versatile CMS, but it has reached its end of life, as the technology around it tends to become obsolete in the modern web environment.

New official projects, documentation, bug fixes or updates will no longer be available and no core commits on Drupal 6.x to the official tree will be performed. At the same time, the security team will no longer provide any support and Drupal 6 releases on project pages will be flagged as not supported.

This means that is high time for Drupal 6 website owners (personal, corporate or government) to consider updating to the modern Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 platforms. This update will ensure full security support for their sites, as well as access to top tier web technology in terms of design and functionality.

A few vendors have announced that they will provide paid support for the older Drupal 6 sites beyond the 24th of February, but this is in fact a costly, temporary alternative. The best solution remains to migrate from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 or Drupal 8.