March 10, 2008
Among the many great benefits of using Content Management Systems (CMS), having the ability to add on compatible products (components and systems) to your CMS website is definitely one of the best. For those who missed my recent CMS Blog, CMS websites are the future and backbone of most professional websites today. They are database driven, and allow “non tech people” to thoroughly update and manage their website content. Open Source is one of the formats in which Content Management Systems are offered – meaning that programmers (like BeareWare) are allowed to customize the system for each client’s requirements. Compatibility between the CMS and Add-ons is a must and by selecting Open Source Add-ons, we can really keep the clients’ costs down while providing tremendous functionality to your website visitors.
Important – these systems must be completely integrated into your website’s CMS system!
A very important opening statement, before I review these systems, is to clarify that add-on systems should be seamlessly integrated into your website. Today it is still all too commonplace to click on a function appearing on a website – for instance, to buy a product or subscribe to an e-mail or even search for real estate – AND THEN BANG – a “new window” opens up and you are now on a new website – with a different look, different brand, and quite often different design features.
This is not a good practice – and the results of sending visitors off your website can range with website visitors worrying about whether the site is secure enough to enter their credit card information (since they are no longer on the site they were shopping on) – to folks sending an inquiry to the Real Estate MLS Search which ends up going to someone other than the realtor whose site you were on in the first place. It is tremendously important to keep your web visitors on your website, and to get them to produce an outcome (conversion) you are aiming for, such as a shop purchase, newsletter sign up, phone call, or e-mail inquiry.
Here are some of the products that can be added to your CMS website:
- Online Shop – VirtueMart
- E-News Marketing – PHPList
- Events Calendar – JEvents
- Photo Gallery – Gallery2
- 3rd Party Framing Software
Online Shop – VirtueMart
VirtueMart online shops provide the marketing look and feel to attract customers, while combining the shop functionality to generate sales and secure customer payment transactions. The online shop comes with customer, inventory, order and shipping management modules that are directly managed through the website’s administration area. The VirtueMart system integrates into your CMS website to maintain your brand completely – providing the rich and full experience of same-site online shopping. Combined with secure server and payment gateways, VirtueMart also provides account capabilities that make it easy for repeat customers as well as first time buyers.
Online Shops & e-Commerce includes:
- Online shops graphically designed to showcase and sell your products
- Full inventory system including product detail & images, pricing & taxes
- Shipping modules interface with USPS system (world wide shipping)
- Secure server certificate to provide safe and secure online purchasing
- Payment gateway direct from website to your bank account
- Easy to use standard customer shop interface for product maintenance.
- Online administration via CMS for managing orders and client database
e-NEWS Marketing – PHPList:
e-NEWS Marketing with PHPList provides you with the complete set of tools necessary to market your goods & services to your current client/community base while attracting potential clients. An e-NEWS is an electronic newsletter, but can also be a special announcement, a press release, or an invitation. Since the inception of the Internet, e-NEWS has been the most consistent formal marketing tool to help your customers and prospects connect with your website.
e-NEWS Marketing includes:
- Creating a customer e-NEWS template using current website flavor
- Creating an e-NEWS database list that is self-managed by subscribers
- Subscription forms that are placed on your organization’s website
- Client based or custom e-news blast-outs to subscribers
- Automatic management of bounced or blocked e-mails
- Custom design services to support marketing campaigns
- Data conversion of existing e-mail/mailing list data to e-news list
Events Calendar – JEvents:
A great way to make your website more interactive is to add an events calendar (JEvents). This is particularly valuable for websites that have a community focus – and ones where the target demographic you are aiming at will have an interest in upcoming community events. And like all open source systems, JEvents not only allows the you, the site’s owner, to update these events directly online – but you can also provide the ability for community groups to update the calendar directly (from the “frontend” of the site), creating a great diversity of calendar events – and ultimately bringing greater traffic to your site.
Events Calendar includes:
- Creating a custom integrated Calendar using current website flavor
- Database driven calendar that allows ongoing annual reccurring events
- Direct registration module for additional calendar contributors
- Home Page integration that links to larger size calendar
- Pop Up mouse-over features giving detail about specific event
- Click-thru to full event detail including hyperlink and photo capabilities
- User-defined color coded category system for events
- Calendar is fully managed thru your CMS Administration Panel
Photo Gallery – Gallery2:
Never has there been such a visual time in the Internet’s history. What used to be promoted and clarified in words alone is now often done more effectively with images. As the saying goes, ”A picture is worth a thousand words” – and man oh man – has this become the case on the web. Photo Galleries are becoming the most visited pages on many websites today – and quite often they are being integrated into online shops (since good product images have a huge influence on ales results). A Photo Gallery is a collection of photo albums. You can have as many Galleries as you want on your web server, with each gallery containing as many photo albums as you want. Configuration of Gallery and administration of the photo albums is done entirely via an intuitive web interface.
Photo Gallery Includes:
- Custom integrated Photo Galley using current website flavor
- Dynamic photo editing and management tools for sizing and image quality
- Slideshow capabilities that allow for sequenced image displays
- Customized defaults for adding as many photo albums as you like
- Multiple user capabilities with permissions & user setting capabilities
- Album and image description boxes & captions to enhance viewing experience
- Custom thumbnail image management for album and photo links
- Fully managed thru your CMS Administration Panel (web browser)
3rd Party Framing Software
3RD Party Framing Software is a very fast growing area in website development & management. With companies and organizations now spending key advertising and marketing dollars on their own websites (and brands), the requirement to be able to offer state of the art functions and applications –without having the visitor leave the primary website – has opened the door for software that is developed with the premise of being “framed” into another website. Our big experience to date with this has been with real estate software – with the goal being to keep a prospect who is looking for a home on the Realtor’s website (not being led off to other locations by real estate search software that may potentially link to thousands of realtors). The key is maintaining the brand while providing the functionality.
Framable solutions that are “brand free” to maintain the current web brand
- Customizable with colors, fonts and themes to match current website
- Software designed specifically to be framed to – not a stand alone product
- Provides extensive programmable features that enhance the visitor’s experience
- Custom link capabilities to send visitors to a specific function or location
- Has interactive subscribing capabilities so visitors can interact with application
- Fully managed and supported in conjunction with your website
Alrighty then – I guess I am more of a geek that I really take credit for. I constantly claim I am not a normal computer person (more right brained than left brained), but reading this blog sure wouldn’t support that. I really am a fun guy!
Hopefully this is not too much information to digest. As with all aspects of your website, you – like me – are on a perpetual journey. And you’re running a marathon, not a 100 yard dash. Your website success is something that will grow with your business over time and over the years.
A key aspect of a great website is great functionality – and these products and systems provide that – all within your brand and on your website. Keep that in mind when you decide to select or upgrade your content management system. Ask questions (and then ask some more) but make sure your CMS website has all the applications you may need, not only now but in the future.
Peter Beare – Webmaster
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Peter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included strategic website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still primarily a webmaster. And this is “Interview with a Webmaster.”