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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!

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.

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


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


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.

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 Creative Cloud Officially Announced

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Take it to the Cloud


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.




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



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



At this moment, "My Files" is the only feature available at 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.


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


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:

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.




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.


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.


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).

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.

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.


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


  • 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.



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: