Chicago Web Design & Business Catalyst Experts

| Call (312) 489-8422

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

- posted by

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

Small Agency, Big Results - An Adobe Case Study

- posted by

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

- posted by

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/

Adobe Creative Cloud Officially Announced

- posted by

Take it to the Cloud

Adobe-Creative-Cloud-File-Diagram

Today, Adobe Officially unveils the Adobe Creative Cloud, a suite of tools and services that will change the way we work. The Creative Cloud embraces the SaaS module by combining many Adobe Products into one monthly fee (starting at $49.99/month). The Creative Cloud includes the essential tools for Web Developers such as: Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Business Catalyst as well as some new tools like Edge, Muse, Shadow, and Proto. The Creative Cloud is now available for Preorder with an Estimated Availability Date of May 7, 2012 (as reported on Adobe's website).

Tools To Get Excited About (besides Business Catalyst)

The following is a preliminary look at just a few of the tools included in the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Proto

Adobe-Proto

proto-screenshot

Create interactive website wireframes (prototypes) from your tablet. Integration with the cloud means that files can be easily accessed back at your computer. Proto fits into the web development process as follows:

  1. Rapid Prototype with Proto
  2. Design in Photoshop
  3. Develop in Dreamweaver
  4. Publish with Business Catalyst

Visit the Proto Product Page at Adobe

Shadow

Adobe-Shadow

Improve your productivity in developing websites for Mobile and Tablet devices. Adobe Shadow allows you to preview websites across your devices in real time. My brief experience with the beta version of this program has garnered excitement for its official release. Visit the Shadow Product Page at Adobe

Files

Adobe-Creative-Cloud

At this moment, "My Files" is the only feature available at https://creative.adobe.com. The main benefit of the cloud storage is the integration with Adobe Products across multiple devices and platforms. Collaboration features allow you to then share your files with clients, colleagues, and friends. Although not completely ready, I couldn't resist the urge to start messing around. Below I will outline some of the features of the "My Files" section and share with you my first file on the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Viewing Files in the Cloud

Adobe made the experience of viewing digital media in the browser an enjoyable one. Below you can see a sneak peak of a website homepage that we designed for a new website: Virtual Horse Help. This is a representation of how .PSD files are presented in the browser. The first thing to notice is that the site is properly rendering this PSD. To take this a step further, you can toggle on and off the different layer groups of the file (shown below). Upon upload, the website analyzes the image to determine the color theme (or Kuler theme to use Adobe terminology). You can then download the ASE file for use in Photoshop.

VHH-creative-cloud

Sharing Files in the Cloud

As a demonstration of this in use, I have shared this file. There are 2 options when sharing the file: allow comments and allow download. In this case, I selected "allow comments" but chose not to make this file available for download. Please fell free to leave a comment on the file.

Business Catalyst

adobe-business-catalyst

Business Catalyst is part of the creative cloud, but you do not have to wait until the Creative Cloud is released, as Business Catalyst is available now (and has been an Adobe product for a couple years). Business Catalyst is an all-in-one platform for websites and online stores. As of today, Business Catalyst has an official product page on Adobe's website: http://www.adobe.com/products/business-catalyst.html

Release of the Creative Cloud

As the Adobe Creative Cloud becomes available and I have had the time to work with different components, I will release future posts.

For those who could not attend this historic event that took place in Chicago on March 28th, 2012 at Depaul University, I have provided a recap of the meeting and a brief background on what brought the 24 of us together on this evening.

 

Welcome-Adobe-Business-Catalyst-Meeting

 

Setting the Stage

The group was formed to educate, support, and inspire local business owners, website designers/developers, online marketers, and students around the topic of building and promoting businesses online with Adobe Business Catalyst. This group is a first step in building a local community around a product that I am extremely passionate about and use everyday. I look forward to learning from, teaching and networking with passionate, talented individuals in the Chicagoland area.

 

Welcome to the Meeting

At this meeting we welcomed 18 attendees who consisted of the following:

  • Current Business Owners who use Business Catalyst
  • Day-to-day Users of Business Catalyst
  • Aspiring Entrepreneurs
  • Online Marketers
  • Non BC Developers interested in learning about BC

Presentation: Landing Page Optimization

Presenter: Kelly Muldoon - Connect to Patients

To kickoff the event, I introduced Kelly Muldoon, a woman who has been successfully helping dentists bring more patients through their door, around the clock, for the past 8 years. Kelly's unique approach is the culmination of her online marketing expertise, experience, and research.

Kelly-Muldoon-online-marketing

Traffic + Conversion = Profits

Kelly highlighted various techniques on how to convert the traffic once they get to your website. She discussed the many types of people who visit your website and how focusing on the often neglected groups can increase your conversions and profits in the long run. The 4 different types of people who may visit your website include:

  • People who are interested and ready to commit now
  • People who are interested but are not ready to commit now
  • People who are somewhat interested but need further information/persuasion
  • People who are not interested at all

You can ignore group #4. The most opportunity to differentiate you from competitors is in groups 2 and 3. If someone is not immediately ready to take your desired step, you should have a plan to move people from groups 2 and 3 to group 1. Practical examples from Kelly’s presentation:

  • Weekly Dental Hygiene Tips Email Marketing Campaign
    • This campaign provides useful information to the potential patient, constantly reinforces the dentists brand, and keeps the patient coming back to the website. This strategy works well for people in both groups 2 and 3.
  • Information Packet Download
    • After giving up basic information, the user can download a PDF that contains more information about the service (such as sedation dentistry). This appeals to the 3rd group who may be ready to commit if they become convinced that Sedation Dentistry is right for them.

Presentation: Building a BC Website in 30 Minutes

Presenter: Scott Shefler - Chicago Digital

Next I introduced seasoned BC Developer and cofounder of Chicago Digital, Scott Shefler. In just 30 minutes Scott gave the audience a demonstration on how to put together a basic website in Business Catalyst. The audience discovered how templates, content holders, photo galleries, dynamic menus, and web apps can be built with ease. The developers in the room were excited to see that this functionality works right within HTML and CSS.

scott-shefler-BC-developer

Business Catalyst Resources

BC-gurus Tribe-Vita

BC Gurus (left)

BC Gurus has emerged as one the industry's leading blogs. Their Pro Community is a fantastic resource for Business Catalyst Partners who are looking to take their business to the next level. Brent Weaver and team provide valuable information around various topics including sales, design, and development (just to name a few).

http://www.bcgurus.com

Kiyuco (not pictured)

Kiyuco is the go-to resource for development tips and tricks. Jason Tinnin provides videos along with code snippets to create an enjoyable learning experience.

http://www.kiyuco.com

TribeVita (right)

TribeVita provides websites ready to go, out of the box. TribeVita goes beyond a traditional template resource by providing full integration with Business Catalyst. All attendees of the meeting received a discount code good for 20% off any template purchase.

http://www.tribevita.com

Others

Do you have a great resource for the Adobe Business Catalyst community? Please let me know.

Q&A

  • Is Business Catalyst compatible with HTML5?
    • Since Business Catalyst works natively within HTML and CSS, Business Catalyst is compatible with HTML5. You would write your HTML5 code as you normally would and insert the BC tags within the HTML.
  • Is Business Catalyst scalable?
    • No server or database setups allow for easy replication of websites. Also, these websites are hosted on Adobe's cloud infrastructure, meaning you do not have to migrate servers as your website's traffic and bandwidth grows.
  • How BC is Setup (If you are a business owner and want to get a website built with BC, what kinds of people or skill sets do you need to hire)?
    • This question depends on whether you go the custom or templated route. The Adobe Paradigm for the custom route is a simple 3 step process:
      1. Design your website in Photoshop (need a designer for this)
      2. Code your website in Dreamweaver (need a front end developer for this)
      3. Integrate, Host, Manage, and Run your website in Business Catalyst (need a BC Partner for this)
  • Existence of plugins or app marketplaces?
    • The global BC community is still in its infancy and there are only a few resources out there. As of today there are not any common app marketplaces (to my knowledge) as you would think about this in the context of other systems: like WordPress, Salesforce, etc.

Networking

business-catalyst-networking

Before and after the event attendees networked while enjoying food and beverages. I had the pleasure of conversing with a variety of people and I look forward to seeing both familiar and unfamiliar faces at our monthly meetings.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this exciting event and I am extremely pleased to see people coming together to enhance our collective knowledge.

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

I had the pleasure of representing Chicago Digital at the Matrix Integration Expo 2012 in Indianapolis, IN on March 8th, 2012.

At this one day expo I demonstrated Chicago Digital's ability to create content with FlyPaper and introduced our unique way of managing digital signage content with what is traditionally considered a website CMS.

 

Digital Signage Content Management with Adobe Business Catalyst

Adobe Business Catalyst is often thought of as an all-in-one solution to run your website. While this is true, Chicago Digital has extended the reach of Business Catalyst beyond just websites and into the digital signage market. At the expo, I showcased Chicago Digital's Surgery Center implementation as part of the 5x3 video wall that was on display in the main expo room.

Demoed Solution: The Surgery Center

The unique project requirement

The Surgery Center was looking for a solution to manage their website and their digital sign within the same application. They wanted to make it as easy as possible for the different practices that are part of their building to manage their information (general practice information, doctor bios, services, and locations). All of this needed to be done with Surgery Center moderation so that the integrity of design and content could be maintained. 

The solution

Adobe Business Catalyst emerged as the premier choice to accomplish this. Business Catalyst has built in moderation rules, a simple website editor, CRM and web apps (a tool that allows custom applications to be built on top of the platform).

A combination of these tools were used to build a beautiful, easy to use website that delivered the desired solution for The Surgery Center. Using web apps, Chicago Digital developed a secure section of the website where the individual practices could manage their digital assets as well as create their digital signage ads.

Presenting the Solution at the Tech Expo

Behind the video wall, I used a media player from Sherlock Systems that was connected to the display on the top right. This display is showing the content that is being displayed in the lobby of the Surgery Center. The camera captured the screen in transition from the main Surgery Center ads to the Milwaukee Surgical Specialists ads. Each practice has their own branded template that shows up for 2 minutes in the rotation. The main area of the screen shows 4 30 second ads specific to the practice.

The display just below it was hooked up to a MacBook Air. I then used an iPad to control the MacBook Air wirelessly to demonstrate how easy it was to make changes on the fly to the website with Business Catalyst's Site Editor (formerly In-Context Editor) and how the practices can create and manage their information and digital signage ads.