CMS vs Hard Coded Website: Which one is right for you?


Categories: Oracast News

So, you need a website, and you’re not even sure what the title of this post means! That’s okay, let us break it down for you.

When it comes to websites there are so many options that it can seem overwhelming. For simplicity sake, we’ve broken them down into two options: Content Management System (CMS) + Hard Coded.

What’s the Difference?

CMS: A website that has a CMS allows for a user to login to a back end. This allows for a non-technical user to make minor edits to the content of their website, such as hours of operation, text updates etc.

Hard Coded: A hardcoded website, or non-CMS website (by our definition) is a website that does not use a CMS to manage the content of the website. Instead the website is edited using specialized tools for website programmers to make changes to all aspects of the website.

Decisions…Decisions:

Now you understand the difference between CMS + Hard Coded websites. Before deciding which website structure would be best there are some important questions to ask yourself first. This section gets a bit ‘techy’ but we promise to translate it for you.

 

 1. How big is your website + what’s your budget?

A CMS uses template files that are created to handle content input from a backend interface.  If your website is small (1-4) pages a CMS could be substantially more expensive than a hardcoded website. However, if your website it large, a SMS could be the better option? Why? Well, when we can take a template and use it for multiple pages it has an economies-of-scale affect.

Translation: CMS + Large website = Great Option

 

2. How often does the content on your website change?

As discussed earlier, CMS websites are built for the purpose of allowing you to edit the content of your website without technical knowledge. So, here’s our general rules of thumb when it comes to deciding if the number of edits warrants a CMS website:

i. If the content on your website is only updated 1-2 times a year (or less), a CMS’ functionality could potentially limit the design freedom of your website, as the design relies on specific templates.

So, if you company offers services that remain consistent from year-to-year, then you are more likely to benefit from a Hard Coded website design.

ii. If you are adding / editing or removing content on a regular basis (numerous times a day / week) a CMS will eliminate the need to contact your web developer to make these changes for you. All of your changes can be made immediately.

1. Example: Real Estate is an ideal situation for a CMS website. The content of the website is constantly being updated.  New listings, current listing changes (such as the property being sold or the price being reduced) can occur several times a day.

2. Restaurants: makes it easy to add / update their menus

3. eCommerce: allow you to quickly add and remove products, track sales / inventory

4. nonprofits: After the initial build of the website you can manage your website updates without having to pay a programmer to make the edits for you.

Translation: CMS + Constant Updates = Great Option

3. Do you have time to update your website?

a. Even in situations where the content of your website is constantly being updated, a CMS may not be the best option.  If you or an employee have the time and knowledge to update your website that’s great! However, if you do not have the time to update your website and plan on going through your web developer to update your website a hardcoded website may be the better option.

i. Ultimately you pay for the extra functionality being built into a CMS website. Does it make sense to pay for the extra functionality when you will still be paying the web developer to make the changes to your website? We don’t think so!

b. Be aware that time is not only needed to update the content of the website but CMS’ need to be maintained as well.  The CMS and additional plugins will need to be updated on a regular basis to avoid security vulnerabilities.

Translation: Programmer Updating Website + Hard Coded = Great Option

If a CMS website still appears to be the way to go after asking yourself the questions above, you’re know tasked with deciding which CMS will best suit your needs.

1. WordPress

a. 24% of the web operates though wordpress including

i. the “New Yorker”

ii. Best Buy

iii. Xerox

b. Open source, which means you don’t need to purchase a license to operate it.

i. No additional yearly cost

c. Easy to use/update

d. Plenty of add-ons / plugins

e. Content, document and project management, file distribution and project tracking

f. No native database report

2. Magneto

a. Developed specifically for eCommerce

b. Open source

c. Websites:

i. Burger King

ii. Nestle,

iii. Zumiez

d. Easy to navigate

e. Extensive features revolved around products, pricing tools etc.

3. Drupal

a. Many tools and modules to help create content relevant to your target audience and structure your website so it can be crawled effectively

b. Major websites:

i. The economist

ii. Weather.com

iii. Fox

c. More complex than other open source CMS platforms

d. Regarded as the most secure open-source CMS

4. Joomla

a. Major websites:

i. Hardvard University

ii. Guggenheim Museum

iii. Many extensions / plugins that can meet the needs of most small businesses

1. All add-ons are free

iv. Easy to navigate

v. Not many support options

vi. Inst a quick website builder

vii. Regarded as a CMS for web designers who have experience using code.

As you can see, there are a LOT of factors to be considered when deciding what the best path forward is for your website. Still unsure as to what the best option is for you? That’s okay, if you’re looking for an experienced company to develop your website, let us help you decide. Send us a quick note and we can go from there.

CSS Flexbox and Grid: The Future of Website Layouts


Categories: Oracast News

Gone are the restrictive days! The days when websites were bound to the shackles of a limiting CSS framework. Enter CSS Flexbox and Grid!!! (we’re a little excited)

First things first though… what IS a CSS Flexbox and Grid?

We Believe the easiest way to think of Flexbox is to imagine all of your elements are floating inside of a container, using the Flexbox code you are able to position, scale and order the elements of your website. Making it very fluid and customizable.

The Grid CSS is similar to the Flexbox, but more structured. You are still able to position and order the elements of your website, but within a grid system.  Think of how sections appear in a newspaper, this is the same with a Grid CSS, we are able to position elements position elements within customizable rows and columns.

Rethinking Website Layouts

With the CSS Flexbox and Grid now in play, we’re no longer constricted to the old symmetrical layout of websites. This allows a new generation of websites to push the envelope through innovative designs beyond what has ever been possible before.  Look for brand personalities being expressed with abstract, a-symmetrical or even chaotic layouts.

You Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 3/3


What would a FREE Stock Image Guide be without giving you a list of our favorite websites?! No guide at all, that’s why we’ve done the legwork and have listed out Top 10 FREE Stock Image Websites.

But before you read on, if you haven’t seen the first two parts of this guide make sure you check them out too:

  1. Licensing Rights: what you need to know to make sure your images are used within their legal allowances
  2. Sizing: What are you going to use this image for, and what size should you buy?

 

Oracast’s Top 10 FREE Stock Image Websites

1. Pixabay – pixabay.com 

a.  Pixabay is a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.

b.  Over 4100 high quality vector graphics & images

2. Pexels – www.pexels.com

a. Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are conveniently tagged, searchable and also easy to discover through their discover pages.

b. Over 30,000 free stock photos

c. 3,000+ new images added every month

3. StockSnap – stocksnap.io

a. All photos uploaded on StockSnap are released for free under CC0 and do not require attribution.

4. Unsplash – unsplash.com

b. Over 200,000 free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers.

5. Kaboompics – kaboompics.com

a. Photos from Kaboompics appear on sites like BBC, CNN, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo, iSpot, BuzzFeed, Hubspot, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker (Polish: Onet, WP, Eska, Polskie Radio, Antyweb) and even PornHub (thankfully that was an April Fools’ joke).

Kaboompics is one of the most popular source of free images for lifestyle, interior design and specialized bloggers in World.

b. Not allowed to sell images without consent.

6. Gratisography – Gratisography.com

a. Images created by experimental visual artist Ryan.

i. Model Releases

ii. Commercial and personal use

iii. Ability to adapt and modify.

iv. Cannot sell the images.

v. Cannot redistribute, claim ownership or imply endorsement.

7. ISO Republic – isorepublic.com

a. ISO Republic provides free stock photos for creative professionals. This website was founded in 2014 by Tom Eversley, a designer and photographer from England. Since their launch, ISO Republic has published over 3,000 free images, with more being added on a daily basis.

b. Free for commercial and personal use

c. No attribution required but appreciated

d. Model release not provided

8. Pic Jumbo – picjumbo.com

a. In 2013 Viktor Hanacek created this stock photo site called Pic Jumbo with free pictures that are today used by millions of bloggers, designers and marketers all around the world

i. Free for personal and commercial use

ii. Redistribution not allowed

9.  Burst – burst.shopify.com

a. Burst is a free stock photo site that is powered by Shopify. They have 1000s of high quality and royalty-free images available and free to download. This includes a wide variety of images ready for you to choose from and create with. They built this site to empower designers, developers, bloggers and entrepreneurs to create stunning websites and marketing campaigns. You can use these pictures for just about anything — hero images on your blog or online store, backgrounds for school projects, shots for social media campaigns, client work, and beyond.

i. Free for personal and commercial use

ii. Attribution not required but encouraged

10. Negative Space – negativespace.co

a. Each of the high-quality photographs you find here has been taken by a photographer from the Negative Space community. They have something for everybody, so be sure to check out our categories: Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Business, Black & White, Food, Landscapes, Nature, People, Sport, Street, Technology, Transport, and Work.

b. CC0 License

Other honorable mentions:

https://freestocks.org

https://Pictography.co

https://mmtstock.com

https://skitterphoto.com

https://www.lifeofpix.com

https://shotstash.com

You Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 2/3


Welcome back to the second section of our 3-part FREE Stock Image Guide. In our previous article, click here, we discussed understanding licensing requirements. Did you miss it? Make sure you have all your bases covered before you choose an image.

Now that you have chosen your image and you’ve double checked the licensing rights, you’re probably wondering “what size am I supposed to download?”

The short answer: the LARGEST file

But there’s more to it than that. Read on…

Your Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 1/3


You’ve seen websites, magazines and ads, and there was a part of you that connected to it. There was a big beautiful crisp image that caught your attention, followed by the text that got you thinking about what the business wanted you to focus on. Simply put, the correct image can be a captivating and powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

If you’re anything like our clients (or any business owner for that matter), you’ve wanted to emote the same response in your marketing. To Google you go, but where to start? It can be easy to get lost in the online ocean. Don’t worry, we’re going to let you in on a few of our secrets.

There’s so much to consider when selecting marketing images. It’s not enough to find stunning imagery, you also have to consider licensing rights, sizing and costs. Unfortunately, there is a stigma with free images. Many people assume free images means low quality or a lack of commercial rights. This simply isn’t true.

With all of this in mind, we were inspired to write a 3-part guide to cover the ‘must-knows’ of Free Stock Images. This series will cover:

  1. Licensing Rights: what you need to know to make sure your images are used within their legal allowances
  2. Sizing: What are you going to use this image for, and what size should you buy
  3. FREE: Our Top 10 list of FREE Stock Image websites.

Licensing Rights

Whether you are purchasing or downloading FREE stock images, you have to be certain to use the images within your legal rights. Here are the things to consider when using FREE stock images:

1. Is the FREE Stock Images being used for personal, commercial or both?

Don’t know what the difference is between personal and commercial? General rule of thumb: if you are going to make money off of using the image in any way shape or form, consider it commercial.

Make sure to double check the licensing rights for the image. Some images are only free if they are being used for personal use. How can you tell if you can use the free image for your purposes? If you go into the image it will tell you the terms and use of the image.

PRO TIP

Instead of falling in love with an image and realizing you have to pay for commercial use, or that it’s personal use only, use the website’s search filters, this will avoid running into this issue.

2. Are there additional copyrights, property rights or trademarks that need to be considered?

Some images have Apple MacBook laptops, Nike jersey’s, buildings with design copy rights etc. These images may require thirty party consent or license agreements to be used. Alternatively, the image may need to be modified in order to render the brand unrecognizable.

Every watch a movie or TV show and someone is clearly using a MacBook, but the Apple logo is covered by a sticker, that’s an example of rendering the BRAND unrecognizable.

3. Do the photos require attribution?

Attribution: The action of regarding a quality or feature as characteristic or possessed by a person or thing?

Translation: Some images require you to reference the photographer/artist.

IE: Photo by John Cast

4. Is the website you’re using licensed under the CC0 Creative Commons 0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication?

First off, what does that even mean? Here’s the technical answer:

  • The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
  • In no way are the patent or trademark rights of any person affected by CC0, nor are the rights that other persons may have in the work or in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights.
  • Unless expressly stated otherwise, the person who associated a work with this deed makes no warranties about the work, and disclaims liability for all uses of the work, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law.
  • When using or citing the work, you should not imply endorsement by the author or the affirmer.

So, you’ve:

  1. Found your image
  2. Know it can be legally used for your purposes

Now what?

  1. You need to decide what image size to download and use in different settings!

There are a LOT of different things to consider when it comes to what size you need to download. We’ll cover image size in the next segment of our 3-Part FREE Stock Image Guide.

We are hiring – Web and Mobile App Developers


Categories: Careers, Oracast News

Yep! You read it right. Oracast is hiring a couple full time developers for our Kelowna office. In a perfect world we could find someone with experience in both however one of each mobile app developer and web app developer will work. If you are someone that may fit the bill or know someone else that may fit the bill please send them our way. You can have a look at both complete adds on our website careers section here: https://www.oracast.com/company/careers.php

If the post is still up in the careers section then we are still looking.

Is Your Website Ready?


Categories: Oracast News

Here are a couple of key questions to ask yourself about your website as you approach the holiday season. Answer each question honestly and then use the answers to improve your holiday marketing strategy.

What types of offers and campaigns will you run and why? (Here’s a few ideas last minute marketing ideas)

How much traffic did your website receive last year, and what are 5 ways you can drive more traffic to your website this year?

What were last year’s conversion rates? What are 5 ways you can improve upon those?

What changes can be made to your website to increase conversion rates, increase traffic and reflect the holiday season? Make a list.

Are your web pages “up to speed” with quick load-times and checkout times? (Talk to your hosting company if you are not happy with load-times to see what can be done in speed it up.)

What feedback did you receive last year you can implement this year to improve the shopping experience and customer service for your clients?

How can you get to know your customers better this season?

7 Marketing Tips To Gobble Over This Thanksgiving


Categories: Oracast News

Send Thank You Cards

Thank you cards go a long way in making your clients feel special and appreciated. While it’s always a good time for a thank you card, Thanksgiving is an excellent time to tie it into the spirit of being Thankful. Thank your clients for working with you this year. Go a step further by making a list of your best clients and add a hand written note to your cards.

Give Back

Thanksgiving is a great time to give back to the community. This can be through donating to a charity or by getting your team involved in helping out a family with a meal. Giving back builds moral and spreads the holiday cheer and shows your commitment to the community you are a part of.

Reflect The Festive Season In Your Graphics

Add a little Thanksgiving flair to your website and social media profile images, or even your logo. Even simple and subtle changes are enough to send out that thanksgiving vibe. Pumpkins, turkeys and fall leaves are very popular this festive time of year.

Host a Competition

Get customers involved by hosting a competition. This idea, for example, is a win-win. Have your clients let you know what products they are most thankful for this year and get them to submit their answers along with a snapshot of the product. Launch the competition through social media and then pick a winner! Most people love the chance to win great prizes and you’ll get a lot of positive word-of-mouth exposure. If customers hit the share button, your business will get even more free advertising. Don’t forget to post the lucky winners on your Facebook and Twitter pages.

A Chance To Show Thankfulness

Ask your customers and your company employees to share festive photos of what means the most to them this thanksgiving. Thankful words and images of family members or pets is always uplifting and it shows the human side of your brand.

Thank Your Clients Online

Say thank you to your clients by featuring their businesses on your website and social media pages. This is another win-win idea as featuring your clients can gain them potential new clients, as well as it shows your appreciation and community spirit. (Ask permission first!)

Offer a Discount

Start off the season by offering a deal on your products and services. With Christmas right around the corner, this is a great time to grab some extra attention and attract new customers. Advertise the promo by saying thank you to customers for supporting your business.

Best Ways To Send Large Files


Categories: Oracast News

Clients often need to send us high quality photos, videos and documents during the website and app development process and these can sometimes result in some pretty large file sizes. There are many options when it comes to transfering large files over the internet. Here are our top picks for transfering large files online that are easy and won’t cost you a penny.

Compress Your Files

It’s best to avoid trying to send huge files over email as it can cause hang ups and delay’s and most email services have a file size limit of 20MB. If you have documents you’d like to send and you are finding them a bit too large for email, compress them into a smaller size. If you have more than one file, zipping them all together can simplify the process. Once your files have been compressed, check the file size to determine the best way to send them.

Here is the quick fix to creating .zip files:

Windows Mac
  1. Find the file you want to compress
  2. Right click on it and select “Send To”
  3. Choose “Compressed (zipped) Folder”
  1. Find the file you want to compress
  2. Two-finger click/command+click on the file
  3. Select “Compress …”

Of course, even after files are compressed they may still be too big to send over email. Espcially when sending jpeg’s and png files, compression doesn’t always reduce file size by a whole lot. A simple method for sending files over 20MB is through a file-sharing web service (or cloud storage service).

Upload to a Cloud Storage Service

Instead of (or in addition to) compressing your files, you can upload them to an online cloud storage service where your recipient can download them. The free accounts do have space limitations, so sending an HD movie this way won’t work for free, but it is a great option for sharing high quality photos and documents.

Dropbox is the most popular file transfer option. It offers 5GB of storage space for free and a variety of sharing options and is very easy to use. All you do is simply create a free account, drag and drop your files into the ‘dropbox’ area and click share to generate the link to send to your desired recipient. Your recipent then simply clicks the link and downloads the files. Easy!

Google Drive is another super popular option for sharing big files, though it also caps the free space at 5GB of storage. It’s likely you already have a google account, and you can access Google Drive and Google Docs from there. Similar to the interface of DropBox, you can drag and drop files and sync them with your Google space. One big advantage to Google Docs is it gives you the option of collaborating on a document instead of just sharing it.

Mediafire offers  10GB of free storage, but it limits file uploads to 200MB so it’s not great for transfering video files. It’s available for iPhone, Android, OSX, Windows, and Web.

There are endless companies providing file transfer services. The above are simply a few of the most popular.

For complete control over file sharing, you can set-up your own private FTP server using free software like FileZilla.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

FTP is designed to transfer large files between computers or a network. When you download and set this up on your computer, you can share a directory by providing your recipient with a network address and password (they will also need to download the software you are using to their computer however). This option is not as intuitive for the non-tech savvy as the other options mentioned above, however, it does allow you to remove files and access at anytime giving you more control. We recommend Filezilla as it is free and supports a wide range of transfer protocols and runs on a Mac, Windows and Linux operating system.

If you’re still unsure what method to use to send us your files, simply ask your project manager, and they will be able to assist you.