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Tools & Tips to Speed Up Website Development

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In our latest Chicago Business Catalyst User Group meeting (we know it has been a little while since the last) Brian Mulholland, our Senior Web Designer, shared practical tools and tips you can use to decrease the amount of time it takes to build a website. This presentation was focused on building websites using Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Business Catalyst and the Foundation Framework. With the use of these tips and tools you can build a custom responsive landing page in less than ten minutes! 

Foundation Framework if you are unfamiliar is an advanced responsive front-end framework. Foundation also makes it easier/faster for designers and engineers to code. Their three main taglines are its faster for users, faster to code and faster to learn. 

Faster for Users: Allows you to create optimized sites by letting you selectively load entire sections based o the client device type. 

Faster to Code: By popular demand Foundation now includes a medium grid. You can leverage, nestled between the small and large grids that you are used to. This means a lot less custom code for you to write! 

Faster to Learn: The new Getting Started guide makes it easier and faster to get up to speed with the framework. 

An essential toolkit for web-developers would be Emmet. With Emmet you can quickly write a bunch of code, wrap code with new tags, quickly traverse and select important cod parts and oh so much more! Emmet uses dynamic snippets and each abbreviation is transformed in runtime. Which slightly changes its name to get a different result.

Here is an example of the mage in action:

  • First type in a CSS- like abbreviation


  • Next run "Expand Abbreviation" action to expand it into HTML


By watching the link provided above through Emmet you could get a more in-depth explanation with examples.

Hopefully these tips and tools will help you with a speedier development process! We will be holding these User Group meeting every third Monday of the month and hope to see you there! Find out more information on what topics will be held and become a member to get updated information!

Welcoming Chad Smith To The Team

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We Are Happy to Welcome Chad Smith to the Chicago Digital Team!

Chad has joined the team as a front-end developer, but before Chad came on board he a hand in many different pots. To start Chad graduated from the Colorado Art institute with a background in design. After that he stated at BC Guru in 2009. There he was building Business Catalyst Templates and Contributing Tutorials. You may not have heard of Chad before this but there is a big chance that you have been influenced by his work.

To dig a little deeper into this world-class Business Catalyst Guru life we will start with his childhood. Chad started playing basketball when he was 7 and has always been an active individual. Colorado has provided him with plenty of opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Many family vacations were simply trips to the mountains where his dad taught him to camp and fish; gaining an immense appreciation of the wilderness and all of the critters who live there. As a child Chad spent his summers working on his grandparent’s farm in Akron Colorado, teaching him early the importance of hard work. Now as an adult Chad still loves to get up to the mountains as much as possible. If he isn’t building webpages you would find him out on the South Platte River fly fishing, or just enjoying the quiet of the world next to a campfire. Here are some other interesting facts about our hero:

  1. Can start a fire without matches, or a lighter
  2. Loves Comics/Cartoons
  3. Has seen each Harry Potter film multiple times
  4. Is very crafty
  5. Is a Jeep man
  6. Favorite number is 33
  7. Can play a great game of billiards
  8. Not saying he is Batman, but you’ve never seen Batman and Chad in the same room together
  9. Use to want to be a biologist, still a nerd though
  10. Knows what AT-AT means

Again we are extremely excited and humbled about Chad joining our team!

Chicago Digital is honored to be working with Hope For The Day as their 2013 nonprofit organization to receive a free website. Hope For The Day is a local organization committed to using music and the arts as a defense mechanism to suicide prevention.  Hope For The Day believes that by offering education and expression through music, they can foster a positive change in young adults. Their ultimate goal is to reduce suicide rates while inspiring and empowering those who need help, to get help.

Hope For The Day and Chicago Digital decided to team up after our very own front end developer, Brian Mulholland, connected us with his friend Jonny Boucher, the executive director and founder of Hope For The Day. Brian, having grown up with music in his life, saw an opportunity to help a great cause and close friend.

Chicago Digital has created a fully responsive website for HFTD that will allow Jon and the rest of the organization to better connect with their audience and get their message out. By using Adobe Business Catalyst, we’ve made the process of updating their website simple and usable. We’ve also built custom web apps using Business Catalyst to allow them to add the following features and content:

Find Help

We’ve built a find help web app with Google Maps integration that will list out a growing number of locations and contact information for other outreach programs, mental health clinics, and more. Users can search locations by zip code and get information specific to their area.

Media Web App

The media web app allows their organization to add new videos, articles and press releases without touching any code. All they do is upload the media file or embed a YouTube video, add a description, classify the item and it shows up in the correct location on the website.

Blog

The blog is built purely through web apps to offer exactly the features and experience needed for Jon and the group to add new posts and engage their users while keeping the content fresh on their website.


If you would like to learn more about Hope for the Day you can visit their website by clicking here.

Chicago Digital has worked with numerous charity and nonprofit organizations in the past. If you would like to learn more about how you can be chosen to be part of our 1-1-1 plan or if you’re interested in working with Chicago Digital please call us at (312) 489-8422 or click here to contact us.

Chicago Digital has made a pledge to adopt the 1-1-1 Plan of Contribution. What this means is that each year, with the help of everyone in the company, we nominate and choose three organizations who we would like to give back to. In this scenario, one organization will receive a free website, one company will receive a free year of hosting, and one company receives a donation of 1% of our net profit at the end of the year.

We are honored that in 2012 we were able to donate a free website to Sunbeam Association for Mission. Sunbeam is dedicated to helping children and young adults in Jamaica by establishing and maintaining safe homes with nurturing environments. These children are given proper nutrition, education, and taught social skills enabling them to become productive adults.

Chicago Website Design Free Charity Website

If you would like to learn more about Sunbeam Association for Mission you can visit their website by clicking here.

Chicago Digital has worked with numerous charity and nonprofit organizations in the past. If you would like to learn more about how you can be chosen to be part of our 1-1-1 plan or if you’re interested in working with Chicago Digital please call us at (312) 489-8422 or click here to contact us.

Tips for Speeding Up Development Featured on Business Catalyst Blog and Podcast

A few weeks ago I shared tips with the Business Catalyst Community on how to speed up development. I limited these to quick, practical tips that people can implement right away. These tips came from my almost 4 years of experience working with Adobe Business Catalyst, 1 year of teaching Business Catalyst, and from the developers at Chicago Digital, notably Scott Shefler, who develop on Business Catalyst every day.

You can read the full blog post on Adam Broadway's blog: "Tips from Mike Sallander to Speed up Development in Business Catalyst"

Listen to the podcast: Episode 30 of BC Podcast

Templates Reduce Total Development Time

One topic that I did not discuss on the podcast or blog but is a way many within the web community reduce development time: use templates. While templates are not appropriate for every project, they can be very useful for smaller projects or projects where funds are better allocated towards other services like marketing. The Business Catalyst community is fortunate to have a few great options when it comes to ready-to-go Business Catalyst Templates.

Pursuing Opportunities in Digital Marketing

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Students at Kelly Direct Marketing Club ask Chicago Online Marketing Professionals on how to pursue opportunities in Digital Marketing

The Kelly School of Business at Indiana University has a student organized and operated club, the Kelly Direct Marketing Club, for their students interested in pursuing opportunities in marketing. In an effort to expose their members to the world of marketing, they hold an annual Digital Marketing Conference in Chicago. The conference is designed to give students access to professionals and their expertise.

Marketing Panel

Chicago Digital was one of three guests invited to sit on the Digital Marketing Panel at the conference. The panel consisted of Digital Third Coast Internet Marketing Content & Social Media Manager, Rebecca Otis, LeadMD Marketing Services Manager, Ken Moorhead, and Chicago Digital’s own Marketing Manager, Dianna Kolb.

Student Questions

During the conference, students were given an opportunity to ask questions directly to the panel. The questions were centered on what life is like as a working professional in the marketing industry. Students were most interested about the challenges of the profession, how to remain current, and how to utilize the ever-changing technology. They also wanted to know what shaped our decisions to enter the profession. Below is a brief summary of my take on those topics:

My Personal Influences

What shaped my desire to enter the world of online marketing were the internships I had done over the years.  I've interned and volunteered with film festivals, a magazine company, an event planning company and for a large corporation. These helped solidify what I wanted to pursue and helped to build my resume, allowing me to be where I am today.

Top Tools

Google Webmaster Tools: This is a great tool to help analyze and optimize websites to be more visible by search engines, specifically Google. The program will show html errors, link breakdowns, malware issues and other website optimization suggestions.

Sprout Social: This tool helps manage social media campaigns for multiple clients. It monitors inbound and outbound messages. It also allows the user to schedule messages in advance. This tool also gives a deeper analysis of social media followers and their engagement with posts.

Adobe Business Catalyst (BC): The BC platform is an all-in-one business and online marketing tool. Having a website content management, CRM (customer database), and email marketing all in one system gives the business owner or marketer a simple experience that allows them to effectively manage, target and deliver email campaigns.  Since everything is connected, BC gives you greater insight into the activities of your users across everything from blogging, email marketing, ecommerce, and more.

Staying Current - Top Resources

Social Media Examiner: An online social media resource, offering a series of blog posts and podcasts covering any number of social media, podcasts and blog marketing topics. There is always something to learn from this site, even if the topics being covered seem like they may not be a fit. There are always a few key takeaways from every podcast/blog entry on Social Media Examiner.

Website Magazine: A print magazine covering topics on online marketing, web design, web development, related news and articles. This is a great source of emerging trends, ecommerce tips, website tips and online marketing.

Networking/Colleague’s: One of the best ways to find out what is going on in the industry is leaning from the community. Stay active with local networking groups by contributing and learning from online communities in the industry. Give feedback and share your knowledge in an effort to make the entire community stronger. Find and surround yourself with others doing the same!

What resources and tools do you use as a marketing professional?

Share with us and others in the comments below

Muse. Business Catalyst. Together.

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Chicago Adobe Business Catalyst User Group Meeting

In this month's meeting of the Chicago Adobe Business Catalyst User Group, James Speers from Base Zero Productions gave the group valuable insight into how Adobe Muse and Adobe Business Catalyst can be used to deliver successful websites for small businesses. This post will contain an overview of the topics and tips discussed during the meeting.

How do Adobe Muse and Adobe Business Catalyst Work Together?


Adobe Muse is a website publishing tool with a similar user experience to Adobe InDesign. Traditionally Business Catalyst websites are designed in Photoshop, coded in Dreamweaver, then integrated into the Business Catalyst Content Management System. Muse provides designers a different path for creating websites. The structure, layout and design of the website is put together in Muse. When everything is all set the site can be deployed to Business Catalyst directly without the need of coding. From a Muse perspective, Adobe Business Catalyst is the cloud based hosting environment for Muse projects. This visual process of building websites is really exciting for designers.

One Way Publishing

The integration with Adobe Muse and Adobe Business Catalyst is a one way push of data from Muse to Business Catalyst (at the time of writing). Build you site in Muse, then deploy the site to Business Catalyst. If you want to incorporate Business Catalyst modules into your Muse Site you can insert Business Catalyst module tags into your Muse templates inside of Muse. If you make changes to your templates, stylesheets or other files in Business Catalyst these changes are not synced back with your Muse files. This means that if you redeploy your Muse site to Business Catalyst again in the future it could override changes you made in Business Catalyst.

Muse/BC Tips

Global.css

Don't touch this file in Business Catalyst since this file is controlled by Muse and will be overwritten by Muse.

muse_manifest.xml

When there are major updates to Muse it is a good idea to delete this file before redeploying your Muse site to BC. An example, when Muse went from templates to different versions of templates for "Desktop", "Tablet", and "Mobile".

Accessing BC CMS Features on Muse Sites

If you ever wondered where all the Business Catalyst features went when working with a website that was published by Muse? Chances are that the "Enable online content editing (incompatible with Muse)" checkbox is unchecked. To access this, go to "My Details" found under your name in the top right. See screenshot below for location on the page.

Chicago Adobe Business Catalyst User Group

This group gets together on the second Tuesday of every month at Prasino in Wicker Park, Chicago, IL. For more information about the group and to view upcoming events, please visit the meetup page.


Recap of Google Engage Connect Event on March, 5th 2013

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Live from the GooglePlex viewed at Chicago Digital

Local Business owners gathered at Chicago Digital to tune in to the live presentation given by Google. Google brought in a few top thought leaders for the event that covered a variety of topics: "Keeping Up With the Evolving Digital Landscape", "The Zero Moment of Truth: Reaching Customers When It Matters", and "Working and Winning with an Agency: A Fireside Chat". The topics covered were not specifically about search, which you might expect from a Google presentation, but more on how businesses are leveraging online marketing strategies and technologies to engage with their customers to influence the on and offline purchasing decisions.

Zero Moment of Truth

The concept of the Zero Moment of Truth was the most interesting part of the presentation. This concept was structured in a way that is easy to digest and that helped bring forth the importance of internet marketing. Let's take a moment to explore this concept.


The above diagram shows where the "Zero Moment of Truth" fits into the typical consumer decision journey. This typical journey contains a stimulus, which is all of the traditional forms of advertising; it is what encourages the consumer to pick up the phone or visit the store. The First Moment of Truth is made in the aisle of the store as the consumer looks at in-store displays and product packaging. The Second Moment of Truth happens after the purchase when the consumer is home with the product and can see first hand if the product delivers on their expectations. Now enter the "Zero Moment of Truth". This is the stage between the stimulus and when the consumer enters the store (or is faced with the buying decision). The Zero Moment of Truth is the consumer researching the product online whether it be for more information or peer reviews. The proliferation of mobile devices means that the Zero Moment of Truth can even take place in the store as consumers are browsing the web on their phone.

Small Agency, Big Results - An Adobe Case Study

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Adobe Business Catalyst Showcase

On behalf of everyone at Chicago Digital I would like to show our appreciation for being included in the Adobe Business Catalyst Showcase located on Adobe's website. We are honored to be listed among other amazing companies and success stories. I also want to thank our fantastic customers for giving us the opportunity to work on some really great projects.

Read the case study: Small Agency, Big Results (published by Adobe)

Business Catalyst Experience & Dedication 

Business Catalyst and the Adobe Creative Suite have been instrumental to our growth. From almost the very beginning, Chicago Digital decided to only develop websites on Adobe Business Catalyst. We started over 3 years ago as 2 long-time friends with a dream of running a web agency that helps small businesses grow their business online. To date, we have built over 200 sites in Business Catalyst either for our clients or for other Business Catalyst Partners. In addition, we have provided Business Catalyst training and consulting for both partners and end-users alike. We absolutely love the work that we do and are extremely thankful that we get to do this everyday. Although the size of our team and location have changed over the years our dedication to our clients has not.

Customer Highlights

I would like to take a moment to highlight the customers that are featured in this case study:

The Surgery Center

The amazing aspect of this project is that both the digital sign in their lobby and the website run off of one system: Adobe Business Catalyst. It is built in a way that allows non-technical office staff to update the information.

Visit the Surgery Center website

View the Surgery Center in our portfolio

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce

This project is a great example of what can be done in Business Catalyst. This feature rich website gives members of the community a whole new experience in engaging with the local community. BC allows the Chamber staff to maintain the various components of the site such as memberships, advertisements, events, deals, itineraries and more.

Visit the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber Website

View the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber Website in our portfolio




Adobe Business Catalyst Holiday Party

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Come celebrate the holidays with Chicago Digital and Adobe Business Catalyst Users

It's that time of year again to celebrate! Come along and network with fellow Business Catalyst Partners and users. Talk shop, relax, and let your hair down. This event is free to attend and is bound to be lots of fun!

Event Details

WHERE: Prasino - 1846 West Division Street, Chicago, IL
WHEN: December 11th from 6PM - 9PM
COST: FREE
FOOD/DRINK: Provided until our tab runs out, so come early!!

A reason to celebrate

The future holds some amazing things for Business Catalyst and this has been a very exiting year. Some of the most notable Adobe BC milestones include:

  • Inclusion in the Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Dreamweaver CS6 Integration
  • Muse Integration
  • Level 1 PCI Compliance
  • First Adobe BC Partner Events (Australia and US)
  • Rise of Adobe BC User Groups
  • BC Townhall Meetings
  • New support system and documentation
  • Modules inside Email Marketing
  • V3 Interface becomes standard

Event Sponsors

This event is made possible by sponsors: Adobe Business Catalyst, Chicago Digital, and BC Academe.

Chicago BC User Group

2012 marks the first year of the official Adobe Community Group: "Chicago BC User Group". 5 events were held in the first year and heading into 2013 we will be holding events every month. The location, time, and date is standardized to make it easier for everyone to attend. The 2nd Tuesday of every month we meet at Prasino in Wicker Park from 6 - 8 PM.

Join the Chicago BC User Group

To stay up to date on the latest meetings, please visit our Meetup Group: http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-BC/