We are pleased to announce our newest website - Catalyst For Business! As the name implies it's devoted to our favorite hosted solution - Adobe Business Catalyst (BC). BC is an all inclusive integrated platform which provides everthing you need to run and manage your online presence. When you want more that a static website, we highly recommend Business Catalyst. It's not just a website, but an online business.
The Catalyst For Business website will also act as a support site for our Business Catalyst customers, allowing them to login to their admin panels, find information, view video tutorials and submit support requests.
Do you want more from your website? Our hosted and easy-to-use system is designed to meet your specific business needs - allowing you to focus on your goals, not mastering the technology behind it.
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If you've been following my postings here, you'd think things were slow - au contraire, a lot has happened which left me with little time to spend on this website. Here's a quick rundown:
The biggest development in the last year is my affiliation with Business Catalyst. I signed up in December 2008 as a partner and spent a lot of time over the winter taking mandatory online courses to learn how the BC platform works; the training is unbelievably good.
My first Business Catalyst client
Launched in July, 2009, The Dental Shopper website was my first commercial project. It's ad supported, and includes many custom web aps that allow members to pay for and upload classified ads, coupons, business directory listings etc. all of which is accessed by a searchable database. The client has full control of the site via an extensive control panel which allows him to manage data, update the website, track client interactions, and more.
New Website on the way
I will soon start to rebuild this website (Tom Rogers Web Design) using the Business Catalyst platform. I'm looking forward to this because it's not just a website, but an integrated system that runs the website, email marketing, and an online shop, all this while growing a customer database with integrated analytics. Soon I will update this website with more details.
Business Catalyst is now an Adobe company!
This was confirmation for me that BC was onto something big! With increased engineering staff and Adobe's deep pockets, the BC platform will improve significantly with the first changes scheduled to arrive in January 2010.
GoodBarry closed down
Up until October, BC ran a sister website called GoodBarry which was a retail site for web-savvy DIYers. BC will now focus on wholesale operations, and will only be selling subscriptions to the Business Catalyst software via their partner and reseller network. If you were a GoodBarry customer and need help with your website, please give us a call.
Free Business Catalyst Trial Sites Available via Tom Rogers Web Design
If you would like to kick the tires with a free trial, click here; no credit card info required. Right off the bat you can have a store, a blog, a forum, and of course a series of web pages controlled by a content management system. Not to mention that it's all tied together with the contact managment system and online analytics. When you first log into the online business console, take the interactive tour, it's really amazing.
Discounts available for Developers interested in being a Business Catalyst partner or reseller.
8/26/2008 - Joomla -->Simplweb!
I've noticed from my site statistics that a lot of people visit my website to see what I have to say about Joomla. It is a really amazing content management system (CMS), and what makes it even better is that it's free. This is made possible by legions of developers that have united to build and perfect Joomla, at no charge.
The Joomla website says:
"Since Joomla is so easy to use, as a Web designer or developer, you can quickly build sites for your clients".
This is true, but once you get your website up and running, it's completely generic looking, and for the most part lacks any content.
Your next task is finding the templates and extensions that fit your needs. You'll spend countless hours combing through thousands of extensions (3,775 as of 12/5/09) and when your done installing them you'll need to figure out how they integrate with each other.
Now comes the hard part, figuring out how to manage your data via the Joomla interface. If your like me, you'll spend hours/days sorting through message forums, you'll buy books, and subscribe to online videos.
Finally you get it up and running and Joomla announces an important version change. You now have to back everything up and hope that your extensions will still work properly.
What start's out as a free download quickly adds up to a significant investment of time, not to mention the money spent on hosting fees, templates, extensions, backup devises, books, seminars, videos, etc.
Quite frankly, it's not something that a novice can keep up with. But that's all about to change.
I'm pleased to announce my affiliation with a new service called Simplweb, where you can set up instant Joomla sites, already set up with content, templates and extensions. When you get a Simplweb site you also get education and support to help you build a successful site.
With Simplweb, you get your site instantly, we don't ask for a credit card and there is no set up fee. After you have kicked the tires with your free trial, the cost per month is just $24.95 a month.
Professional Looking Sites at the click of a button
With Simplweb, you can create a professional looking site in the time it takes you to drink a cup of coffee. When we mean professional, we mean it, no flaky templates here, only high quality designs specific to your industry. Your website can look like it cost thousands for less than the price of drinking a cup of coffee every day!
I'm so excited about Simplweb that I've plastered it all over my website, starting with the homepage. If you want to learn more about Joomla, I updated the Joomla page, and the impressive list of companies/organizations using Joomla.
8/5/2008 - Your Mailing List Provider (YMLP)
With my volunteer work, I've crafted and sent hundreds of mass email newsletters to lists with up to 1500 email addresses.
When I first started back in 2003, I used my address book to create my lists, and used Outlook to craft my emails. It turned into a nightmare when Comcast, my ISP at the time, started limiting the amount of emails I could send. If I wanted to send out 500 emails, I had to break the list into 10 groups of 50 addresses. If someone wanted off the list, it was a time consuming process. Managing the list took more time than the writing/editing/vetting/presentation process!
On a shoe string budget?
I had no budget, so I couldn't afford the more sophisticated list management services, so I searched high and low and found Your Mailing List Provider which I've used since 2004 for two grass roots organizations. With plans starting as low as $3.75 per month, its a solid program which will suit the needs of most small organizations that don't need all the bells and whistles. If your sending less than 100 emails a month, it's free! [More on YMLP and our Newsletter Services]
7/28/2008 - Working with phpBB
Attending a conference can be an expensive proposition. The National Empowerment Center is sponsoring the Alternatives Conference in October, and wanted to find a way for people to share rides and rooms so I set up a phpBB forum for them (which has since been removed as the conference was over a year ago).
This was my first brush with phpBB; I found it to be quick to set up via the WestHost site manager, and the forum to be easily customized.
I had it arranged so that topics can be viewed as a guest, but you have to register to see what they say, or to post to the forum. However, I created a topic called "Tips on using the forum" which anyone ccould view.
6/22/2008 - New site design & navigation system
I've been wanting to rebuild my website for a long time, but wanted to do it with a unique navigation system and some new graphics. I went with Glide Panel Magic from Project Seven; it's what they call a "widget". The navigation bar quickly identifies major sections and minimizes page scrolling by keeping more information above the fold.
5/28/2008 - Now using Dreamweaver CS3
If you visit my client websites, you'll notice that my newer websites have more sophisticated navigation systems. This is possible because I am now using Dreamweaver CS3 on my newer websites, and I've been purchasing tools that integrate with Dreamweaver. I'm most interested in how to present content to best advantage. Until there's a compelling reason to change, I continue to use FrontPage for the National Empowerment Center (NEC), the National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations (NCMHCSO) and the Eastern Board of Approved Soccer Officials Association (EBASOA) websites.
3/7/2008 - Two new websites
I've been working on two new websites which should be complete in the next week or so.
- The Edfund website is dear to my heart as their mission is to raise an endowment for our local school district.
- The second website is for Legal Advocacy Workshops. This site design is a template purchased from Project Seven called Type Masters. Although I spent a lot of time customizing it, I still saved a lot of time and my client got a decent looking website for a reasonable sum of money.
1/16/2008 - New website for Interrelate
I completed the design and templates for the International Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor/Service User National Networks. Although my instructions were to use the same template as the National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations, I felt that it needed to look different. I took this opportunity to use my new Adobe Creative Suite software, specifically Dreamweaver. I also invested in a Dreamweaver add-on called Pop Menu Magic from Project Seven. This should make a huge difference with my future website commissions as it makes drop-down and fly-out menus that meet the Section 508 rules on accessibility, not to mention that they look great.
12/19/2007 - When you're pleased, you share!
When someone is pleased with something, they will share it with at least 3 others. If you can make it easy to spread the word about a product or article at your website, you can increase traffic considerably for very little money compared to the cost of advertising.
With that in mind I recently added three new tools to the top of the page on all 90+ articles at the National Empowerment Center. So now one can:
- Bookmark the page at their favorite social bookmarking website,
- Share the article by sending the page URL to a friend, or
- Easily print the page by clicking a button.
The bookmarking tool is a new service from Add This (www.addthis.com) which allows one to select their favorite social bookmarking tool, and best of all, it's free. You see many bookmarking tools out there, but they usually only offer 3 or 4 of the major bookmarking sites, whereas Add This offers about 30. The email to a friend tool is a reasonably priced service I found at Send To Friends (www.sendtofriends.com).
But after finding these tools and embedding the code into the article template, I had two different buttons and a text link. It looked kind of hodgepodge, so I created three new buttons that look like this:
Tools like this are often built into content management systems like Joomla and WordPress. But with a straight HTML based website you have to piece it together on your own. You can find integrated tools that are quite nice that are used at major websites like the New York Times and Newsweek, but the companies that put it all together bundle it with sophisticated tracking tools and statistics. These services can charge from $250 to over $10,000 a month.
Visit a recent article at the National Empowerment Center and check out the new tools.
10/12/2007 - New photo gallery for ABRHS reunion website
With my 35th high school reunion done, I've now added a flash based photo gallery which will be added to as more photos become available. Many of the photos needed extensive touch up to remove glare, red eye, shiny faces, and in some cases signs of old age! Meanwhile I continue work on our official reunion website at www.classreport.org by adding fun gizmos, slide shows, maps, etc. and look forward to our 40th reunion!
9/15/2007 - More volunteer work
I've been spending a lot of volunteer time working on the Support Our Schools website (www.hwsos.org). The group has expanded its scope beyond fundraising, and has organized 8 new subcommittees.
8/15/2007 - Auxiliary website for ABRHS reunion
Created a section of my website to act as an auxiliary website for my 35th high school reunion. This site is a bit jazzier than the sites I normally work on.
6/23/07 - Successful fundraiser for SOS
The Support Our Schools campaign was a great success. We raised about $265,000 for our schools. The WordPress blog (www.hwsos.org) worked great, I'd highly recommend it for anyone looking for a quick site with the ability to have comments from registered users. Now I can get back to some billable work!
5/18/2007 - Support Our Schools website
I've completed work (99%) on the Support Our Schools website (www.hwsos.org). This is a good example of a WordPress Blog. I've turned off the comment feature on all but one page. My hope is that people that choose to donate money to support the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School system will contribute a few comments to the Why We Donated page which will be helpful for others who are considering a donation.
4/27/2007 - New website for EBASOA
I completed work on the Eastern Board of Approved Soccer Officials Association (www.ebasoa.org). I included a Flash Gallery on the home page showing the soccer officials in action.
3/27/2007 - NCMHC/SO website rebuilt
1/24/2007 - New flash photo gallery tool
I'm trying out CoffeeCup's Flash Gallery tool which I used to create a gallery of custom woodwork from my days in the woodworking business. If you have any problems with it, please let me know. I'll probably create an alternative version using a hoverbox gallery which requires no flash; see my note from 1/3/07 below.
1/10/2007 - Having fun with translations
I had a fun project for the National Empowerment Center. They have a worldwide following and recently received Icelandic translations of six NEC articles which I posted to the site. I've done Spanish and German translations before and the alphabet looks pretty much the same, but many of the Icelandic characters are completely different. Take a look
1/5/2007 - New website for a soccer referees association
I started on a new website for the Eastern Board of Approved Soccer Officials Association. I never appreciated what the referees do, they just show up at the game; but there is always more than meets the eye. It will take a while to get it developed; they're not too active during the winter!