Two years ago, I made an attempt to distance myself from CMS Report. The ability to shutdown ten years of work proved more difficult than I thought so I eventually compromised by rebranding the site to socPub. Since then, I've been working on a number of additional side projects. I'm still trying to throw new ideas against the wall and see which ones stick.
For those curious, these are the personal projects I'm working on for 2018:
More Thoughtful Posts
Beginning this year, I wanted to challenge myself to write one thoughtful article a week. While I could have done this at socpub.com or bryanruby.com, I find both sites have too much baggage to allow me to write as freely as I want. That's where Fifty-Two Posts a Year comes into the picture. So far, I've enjoyed writing articles there and have been pleased with the response to the articles I've written. In order for the writing to remain fun and not a burden, I'm using the site's theme of one article a week as a guideline and not a rule.
Bonus: The website is also using WordPress for its content management system which is also forcing me outside of my Drupal comfort zone.
SendGrid, a MailChimp competitor, pushes forward with new marketing campaign enhancements
While I may be an old dog with decades of experience utilizing websites for marketing purposes, I'm more like a newborn puppy when it comes to email marketing. Until a couple years ago, I never utilized email campaigns or email newsletters in hopes to get more visits to my websites. My current email marketing service provider is MailChimp, but there is another customer communication platform that is on my radar, Colorado-based SendGrid.
This week, SendGrid announced a new editing experience for SendGrid Marketing Campaigns. The new email marketing editor addresses familiar pain points for marketers who previously had to choose between the convenience of visual design and efficient editing of code.
“Savvy, time-starved marketers crave elegant visual design tools that also allow them to quickly and safely edit HTML,” said Steve Sloan, Chief Product Officer at SendGrid. “With the enhancements made to the SendGrid Marketing Campaigns editor, marketers no longer have to choose one or the other. They are now equipped with the tools to choose their own path when editing for flexibility and efficiency, empowering them to drive high engagement from their campaigns.”
New flexible editing options give marketers the ability to edit in code, design view, or a mix of both, minimizes the risk of unwanted changes to custom HTML and delivers time savings and efficiencies. The improved editing experience benefits SendGrid customers whether they send campaigns via Marketing Campaigns or create API triggered templates through SendGrid’s delivery platform.
Three years ago, CMS Report made the jump from Drupal to the Agility CMS featuring its Magazine Publishing Suite. Since then, I've had the opportunity to see Agility's software evolve including improved delivery in the mobile space through responsive web design. While gradual improvements were made in the CMS, probably the biggest change for Agility Inc. was in late 2013 with the appointment of their new CEO, Jonathan Voigt. When Jon was appointed CEO he promised a refocused vision for Agility that would provide better products and improved services for Agility's paying customers. This autumn, Agility fulfills that promise as it rolls out a significant rebuild and redesign of the content management system's interface.
Agility has announced that they have started pushing out the new version of its popular web content management solution. Besides the interface improvements, the new version of Agility CMS also introduces a new Dashboard feature as well as significant improvements in software performance and task workflow.
"This a huge step forward for Agility CMS. The legacy content manager was built out 8 years ago, and it served us and our customers well. This new, upgraded version provides the same user-friendly experience – but it’s sleeker, faster and provides more value to all that login to the platform,” Jon Voigt, CEO of Agility CMS, said.
Responsive Web Design is without a doubt one of the Web's biggest buzzwords for 2012. The Web is changing fast and even though the importance of CMSs addressing mobile devices was well predicted, I suspect even the tech gurus are surprised at the current growth rate of smartphones. If you don't know it by now, there is a lot of pressure on web designers and site builders to ensure that their client's websites are responding to the changing Internet. A website should look good no matter how it is being displayed, whether that site is being viewed on a desktop, cell phone, tablet, or whatever new device the Ghost of Steve Jobs brings us.
Responsive Web design is the approach where design and development of a website should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The challenge though is that while everyone talks about Responsive Web Design, very few people are actually talking about the steps necessary for allowing your site to become responsive. This is why I enjoyed reading the article written by Abhijeet Chavan, CTO for Urban Insight, on Prototyping Responsive Websites.
Websites being built today need to be accessible on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. I will outline a prototyping process that we are experimenting with to efficiently create designs for responsive websites.