Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Choosing an open source CMS

Personally, I'd recommend Plone to anybody looking for an open source content management system (CMS). But perhaps I'm a little biased towards it because I've done a lot of work with Plone and I know how good it is. So here's an unbiased article about how to choose an open source CMS.

Some argue that Plone is less suitable for small businesses and organisations but I disagree. Out of the box, Plone may be a little overblown for those who just need to get a small site up and running and want to be able to edit their own content.

But Plone's flexibility means that it can be customized to remove or hide a lot of it's features until they become necessary, making it very easy to use.

And, when the time comes to expand the site and add features and functionality (which it will), Plone can handle it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Aral Balkan interview

Following yesterday's post about d.Construct 2006, here's an episode of the Boagworld podcast featuring an interview with Aral Balkan where he talks about what's happening with Flash at the moment and his views on it's accessibility.

Aral is founder and director of Ariaware, self-proclaimed internationally renowned expert on Rich Internet Applications and the Flash Platform and one of the speakers lined up for this year's d.Construct conference. (He also spoke at last year's conference but his talk isn't available on the 2005 d.Construct site).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

d.Construct 2006 stays in Brighton

clear:left have announced the speakers for this years d.Construct conference in Brighton. Last year's event was excellent and this year's should be even better but I think it might be hard to get tickets as there's only 350 places.

Even so, I was glad when I found out it was going to be held at the Brighton Corn Exchange as there'd been talk about moving it to London this year (this was just pub banter between clear:left's Andy Budd, me and a few others following a SkillSwap event earlier this year, not official news).

The argument for moving to London was primarily that Brighton didn't have the right sized venue for the expanding conference - last year's venue, Fabrica, was too small and the Brighton Centre was too big.

But to move it to London would have dented Brighton's ever growing reputation as a centre of excellence for the 'new media' industry.

The fact that the first d.Contruct event was held in Brighton reflects the disproportionately high number of web development companies and freelancers in the city that's come to be known as Silicon Beach (tongue in cheek).

I know that the conference needs to attract people from far and wide and that most international (or even national) delegates probably won't know as much about Brighton as they know about London.

What would I prefer? A day on the south coast in the fresh air of one of England's most vibrant and happening little cities or a day in the claustrophobic and confined inner city streets of the Capital?

Mmm. Tough one...not!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Diving gingerly into e-commerce

My local paper said yesterday that traders in Brighton and Hove have been told to start selling online if they want to stay competitive and counteract the slump in consumer spending on the high street.

This advice came from DreamTeam Design who develop the EROL e-commerce software so their motivation is clear but I've got no problem with that - it's good business sense and they're providing local traders with useful advice about something most of them aren't sure of how to get started with.

EROL's a fully featured and highly customizable e-commerce system so I think it's good for traders who are ready to dive into e-commerce in a big way.

My company's currently working on its own e-commerce product which won't rival the features of EROL and, because of this, I think it will attract traders who want to dip their toes into e-commerce rather than taking the plunge with something as feature rich as EROL.

Am I right? Do traders want to go in at the deep end of e-commerce or paddle in the shallows for a bit?

And have I overdone the water-based metaphors in the this post or what?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Google Reader lives to fight another day

I was debating ditching Google Reader over the weekend and trying something like Bloglines instead because I didn't think it gave me enough control over my feeds but then I saw a screencast highlighting most (if not all) of Reader's features and it's been given a stay of execution.

It's a long screencast (about 10 minutes) and not polished (which I quite like) but way quicker than reading the help files or trying to find out by exploration.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Gone in 51 seconds

People spend an average of 51 seconds reading an e-newsletter, according to a study about e-newsletter usability published by the Nielson Norman group.

The study also found that the first two words of a headline are key and that most readers only skim the content because they've got so many other emails competing for their attention.

I always prefer newsletters with articles that have a headline, a single short paragraph about the article and a link to further information rather than the full article in the newsletter itself and I suppose this study shows that I'm a typical user.

So keep e-newsletters short and make the articles catchy and easy to read.

There's no point in spending time composing long and detailed e-newsletters 'cos they won't get read. But if the full content of the newsletter is on your website (and available as a web feed) then it's always available to everyone (which an e-newsletter isn't - especially after it gets binned).

P.S. My interest in this study stems partly from a web application called Mass Mailer whose development I'm involved with.