Friday, October 29, 2010

Traditional Marketing vs. Online Marketing Tactics

It is important to understand the difference between traditional marketing methods and new marketing tactics – and understand how they reach today’s customer. So many businesses are stuck in a routine of printed collateral and should be reallocated marketing dollars to online efforts for more success and return on investment.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with traditional marketing tactics (brochures, radio, newspaper or magazine ads, etc.) -- they have their place and can be effective.

But the truth of the matter is that they are not as powerful as online marketing because audiences are different than they used to be. People are online, they are Facebook, and they read less newspapers and magazines. Traditional marketing efforts are simply not reaching the magnitude of people that online methods can. We want to read about companies, services and products in our pajamas, at night, and at our convenience...Or even get some of that info right in our phones via a Twitter or blog feed.
There are 1,630,625,048 Internet users around the world.
The majority will use the web to research businesses, products, or services that interest them.
Flaws of traditional marketing tactics.
  • Difficult to measure results and ROI.
  • Limited distribution.
  • Limited control and timely/costly to make changes.
Advantages of online marketing
  • No printing or postage costs.
  • Measurable results (Google Analytics).
  • Opportunity to reach unlimited clients, customers, partners anytime, anywhere.
  • Chance to present your business bigger and compete with the industry big companies.
  • Easy to make changes and oftentimes directly in your control. (Content Management System)
  • Growing and changing technology means opportunity to beat your competitors who cannot keep up with the times.
  • Quick and easy online payments via credit card. No sale people, no customer service, just click, click, sale, profit!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Umbraco CMS: Features and Flaws

Umbraco is a free ASP.NET CMS that also allows you to create your own design and allows editing with an integrated WYSIWYG editor that is a lot like Microsoft Word.  It has over 85,000 active users/installations.

I would say the number one thing that I don’t like about Umbraco by just looking at their site is that they have a security hole in their installation. They mention it on their home page, but that would still deter myself from using their system, especially for any clients or businesses. I haven't had a chance to build a site with Umbraco, but I'll try my best to give a good summary review.

Best Features
  • JQuery Multi-level Navigation
  • Supports internal and external flash videos
  • Allows the client to post Tweets based on node publishing
Additional Features
  • multi-level galleries
  • e-commerce with PayPal
  • Current weather (which I thought was interesting)
  • widgets 
Flaws
From what I've been reading, Umbraco's biggest flaws seem to be "bugs". It looks like they have bugs with publishing and upgrading to the new V4. Umbraco does, however, have a bug fixing warranty on their products page. 

CostUmbraco is ultimately free, but you can pay for extra bundles that they offer which could cost up to $700 depending on what you want. 

Sample Sites that use Umbraco
Technical Details
Built on the .NET framework 2.0 with ASP.NET 2.0 and C#, Umbraco supports .NET Custom Control and .NET User Controls with very little change. Umbraco fully supports ASP.NET Ajax, ASP.NET Master Pages, and XSLT for generating dynamic lists.
 


Summary
Umbraco seems to offer a decent CMS, they just need to get their bugs under control. And they are working on it, but until then they have the bug warranty to make sure that the client is covered. It's simple and easy to use. If you would like to see how it works yourself, you can watch their 3 minute tour video on their home page. Umbraco will surely have a learning curve, which seems to be a trend so far with CMS, but here is a blog that contains a new user guide by BlogFodder! They also offer 80+ online training videos and a friendly community for support. And they will have a book out coming soon -- the book is scheduled for an early-2011 release to coincide with the v5 release of Umbraco. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Great Features of ExpressionEngine CMS

ExpressionEngine is built with PHP and it has many great features. I have the most personal experience with ExpressionEngine, so thought I would start here in my evaluation of Content Management Systems.

ExpressionEngine allows you to create your own design, so you can create the website that you want. I really like the support system that it has including an extensive forum, video instructions, user guide, and professionals standing by to help you with any questions that you have.

(Templates - the back-end of the page)

(Edit - Choosing a previous blog to edit)
(Publish Form - Creating a new page! Or editing a current one)
Best Features
  • Power and Flexibility
  • No Design Compromises
  • Security and Stability
  • Support Included
Additional Features
They also have powerful add-ons (modules and plugins), great SEO and query tools, and strong security. ExpressionEngine uses templates, which set the backend of webpages. These will include all HTML and CSS code to display the design. ExpressionEngine also prides themselves on the fact that they have created a community, which includes separate websites for different issues so that a developer can find answers quickly.

Flaws
I would say that ExpressionEngine’s biggest flaw is that it is dynamic -- too dynamic. There are is definitely a learning curve, but if you want a powerful site, ExpressionEngine is for you! Just be ready to sit down and learn how to use it!  

Cost
ExpressionEngine is no longer a free system, though it has 3 different options you can buy depending on what the company would want in their website.  

Sample Sites that use ExpressionEngine
Sites I built using ExpressionEngine include: Robin On Location and NWUMC.  

Summary
Overall ExpressionEngine is a great and powerful system, I believe that it’s down fall is learning the system. Once you’ve learned the system, it’s easy to use, but you have to take the time to understand how it works as a developer and a company. ExpressionEngine just recently released their 2.0 version, which has gotten a lot of people excited. I am excited to work with the new system and update this review based on the new features. Some of the new features include running off of CodeIgniter, jQuery will be built in, new Control Panel, plus many more.

Read about the excitement in this article.

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TBH Creative is a small and energetic website company in Indianapolis. We offer a custom developed content management system for flexibility, easy in-house maintenance, and robust functionality. Contact us today.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The power and pitfalls of Content Management Systems (a series)

Which CMS should you choose?
Learn about the pros/cons and see some samples.
Content Management Systems (CMS) have been around for a little over a decade. Over the past couple of years, they have become a “must have” for a website. A CMS is a software tool built with scripting language and a database that allows a company to control content, navigation, documents and more on their public website via a secure “backend” portal. With a CMS, companies can edit their public website without knowledge or training in HTML or CSS.

There are many Content Management Systems available -- ranging from freeware, costly software solutions requiring installation, and even custom software solutions developed by web design companies. All CMS's are developed a little differently, have various features included, as well as pros, cons and limitations. All in all, a good CMS can be quite beneficial to companies making routine edits to content on their website.

Our new web design Intern, Shannon, is going to examine various Content Management Systems to find the 'best' features and identify problems of popular CMS options. TBH Creative plans to use this information to better our own custom developed CMS and consider new features / options to add.

We plan to post an evaluation of a new CMS system each week for the next 6 weeks. So, if you need the 'skinny' on which CMS to choose, these posts will help give you answers. All in all, you want a CMS that has very few limitations and to find a web company that understands the system recommended and can customize it around your specific needs.

Good luck 'CMS'ing and stay tuned!

TBH Creative is a web design company in Indianapolis, Indiana offering a custom Content Management System solution for its clients.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Meet Shannon, Web Design Intern at TBH Creative

Shannon is the newest Web Intern at TBH Creative. She is fun, loves website design and code, and wants to learn as much as she can about Indianapolis website design. We hope to help her with that! Shannon wrote a little bit about herself below and will be contributing to our design blog over the next weeks with things she learns related to web design and web development.

Who is a Shannon you ask;
well I’ll let you in on some secrets.
Who is a Shannon you ask; well I’ll let you in on some secrets.

In addition to TBH Creative, I work at Starbucks on 15th and Capitol, containing one of the busiest drive-thrus in the nation, and I’m a web designer/developer at heart. Prior to TBH Creative, I’ve had enough time to complete two websites that I built with CMS through Expression Engine. The first website I designed was for my friend, Robin Wolf. She’s a photographer and she wanted something simple to show her work. The second website I built was for my father’s church, North West United Methodist Church. I graduated from Indiana University in 2009 with a Bachelors Degree in Informatics focusing in Fine Arts.

When I first started school I wanted to be a forensic scientist, but handling biology and chemistry at the same time was tough and I started to question if it was really what I wanted to do. So I went home for winter break to think about it and I found myself editing my LiveJournal (yes a LiveJournal and yes I liked it :]). I would do this for HOURS and I thought to myself, I have no idea what all of this code means and maybe I should learn this for a career. I’ve loved it ever since. I found myself learning about things that I didn’t think I would be learning like Flash, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop. The multimedia classes were my favorite because we were left to come up with whatever we wanted as a project concept.

My interest in web is definitely website design, but I’m not going to leave behind the development because once I have a design, I’m going to build it out and make sure it works the way I want it to. I have more experience with development than design right now because of my 2-year internship with eTapestry. Through my internship at TBH Creative, I’m hoping to expand my design skills and to better my development skills as well. I’m also looking forward to learning new upcoming techniques, such as Facebook/Twitter and design for Mobile phones. I really wanted to work here because it is a great opportunity to expand my design knowledge and gain real project experience. It’s important to me because I feel that during school and out of school I’ve learned a lot about code/development, but I haven’t been taught design skills! I know that functionality is important, but functionality is built upon an excellent design, which I think I am capable of.

One of my favorite websites is Carsonified.
I look at it often and though it has some flaws, the design aesthetic is everything that I am about: clean and simple design. Yes I think that the home page has a lot going on, and I don’t necessarily believe that they needed hover icons on their navigation. I really admire that they took 2 colors for each page and were successful in keeping them interesting and beautiful.

I plan to learn from and offer a lot to TBH Creative as I work as an intern.  I’ll deliver some clean and amazing designs, a little spunk, and of course some awesome code! Stay tuned for more from me about the things I am learning.

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TBH Creative is a full service company offering web design in Indianapolis.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hospital Record of Giving in 2009 -- $380,967,283

TBH Creative is proud to have designed and developed a website for the Sisters of St. Francis Health Services (SSFHS) community benefits report. The website serves as a 2009 record of their community giving, efforts, and dollars contributed. In 2009, the hospitals combined gave almost $381 million in health services to their respective communities across Indiana. Visit the site.

The website is a duplication of their site from 2008 with a few enhancements and upgrades.

Visit the 2009 SSFHS Community Benefits website
What an impressive and charitable organization!

About SSFHS
Sisters of St. Francis Health Services provides medical and other supplies, health care and other services, screenings, support groups, educational opportunities and presentations, monetary donations, and other sponsorships. Members from all of their organization contribute their time and skills and, in meaningful ways, touch many lives in their communities.

 

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