Business IT Blog

Developing Your Company Website

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The companies we meet are often upgrading or redesigning their websites, perhaps because of growth or change in the business, or the need to make the site content easier to managed, or simply to create a new look and feel.

Below we share the benefit of our experiences.

Choosing a Content Management System (CMS)

One of the first steps in website development is to select Content Management System (or CMS). This will determine the present and future capabilities of the site. This needs to be chosen carefully as it will not be easy to port to a different CMS after the website is live.

CMS’ are database-driven systems that provide an interface for mostly-non technical users to manage the site, updating text or uploading images without having to touch the website’s back-end code. Older ‘static’ sites generally required more technical knowledge to update content or access to software such as Dreamweaver. These types of sites are often costly and inconvenient to maintain.

That’s not to say that a CMS is a ‘silver bullet’ solution. Changes to templates or more complex structural changes may still need technical assistance to complete, but the everyday tasks of posting new articles, managing product lists or updating unit prices should all be able to be completed easily by non-technical staff.

Generally, the CMS is at the heart of any contemporary web development project. The only question is choosing one – when you start looking it seems like there are almost as many CMS to choose from as there are websites!

A CMS is a piece of purpose built software and like any other product the same questions of general functionality, ease of use, longevity, cost, support apply. There are specific questions that also need to be asked:

  1. Free, Open Source or Commercial licensing
  2. What language/backend is used – ASPX, PHP, MS SQL, MySQL
  3. Ease of development or interface with existing systems/databases
  4. Built-in functionality such as ecommerce, comments or forums, wiki, blogging

Developing your site

  1. As with any system development it helps a lot if you know up front what you want to do. And, of course, thorough testing is essential.
  2. There are also a number of specific issues to look out for when developing websites:
  3. The designer of the website should ideally be a website designer or, if not, then at least familiar with both the potential and the limitations of web based technology.A designer without this knowledge risks wasting time by providing nice-looking designs that are either not practical or too costly to convert to the online environment.What works            in print doesn’t necessarily work in a web browser!
  4. Provide content as early and as fully as possible. While content, including graphics will change over the lifetime of the website, the style of the content will to a large       extent determine the best structure for the site
  5. Arrange training for non-technical staff on how to use the CMS, otherwise the website developer will need to update content, thus defeating the purpose of having a CMS!

Hosting your site

There are an enormous number of hosting services available, both within Australia and overseas.

Generally, Tango does not recommend hosting the site on your own internal server. This introduces security risks and potential higher Internet costs. There are plenty of reasonable cost and good quality hosting options available.

Cost – overseas hosts are generally the cheapest, but we prefer to look to local providers who can provide convenient support services and SLAs

Backend technology – for example, all CMS’s require a database but the technology required may differ. There are additional costs depending on requirements for Microsoft SQL or the open source MySQL software, for example.

SLA – if your site is mission critical you will need to ensure that the hosting package includes an appropriate SLA

SEO

Once you have a website you obviously want people to visit it! Paid links from the likes of Google AdWords is one way. The other is from ‘organic’ search. Optimising your site for organic search is a specialised area of expertise and involves ongoing care and attention to keep your rankings high.

The basics to improving search ranking are:

  • Correct use of META and H tags for your content, ie ensuring that each page to be indexed has a an appropriate, search-friendly title and correctly coded headings in your content
  • Your site’s relevancy to a particular search term can be boosted by having incoming links to your site, from reputable external sources
  • Regular posting of new content. One of the best ways to improve your hits for certain keywords is by providing relevant articles via a company blog
Filed under Uncategorized

Cloud Computing for Your Business

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The benefits of Cloud Computing are well publicised and may suit your business at any stage of its growth.

But beware of expecting to rid the company of all servers and other infrastructure. For example email and other Exchange data works very well, and a number of organisations have chosen to go down this path.

But what about other key applications? This is a more difficult question. If your main business application doesn’t have a cloud version then you may need to keep some in-house servers, and with them all the infrastructure that it takes to run them.

Another option may be to migrate to a data centre. Here you will need to factor in line costs if the application is not browser based, or use a terminal services or similar technology.

And what about day-to-day files? These may require in-house server or network storage.

The key message is that each business needs to consider its own particular needs and technology platforms, and move to the cloud when and where it makes sense.

Filed under Cloud Computing

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WordPress Wins CMS Award

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We’re big fans of WordPress here at Tango (indeed this site runs on it!). Along with being one of the best Open Source blogging tools around, WordPress can be a great fit for corporate websites as well but has long-struggled to remove the “it’s just a blog” stigma that has followed it the last few years. WordPress’ recent win at the Open Source CMS Awards shows that times they are a’changing!

WordPress wins Overall Best Open Source CMS Award.

Filed under Around The Web, CMS, News, Web 2.0, WordPress

Guide to Windows 7 Shortcut Keys

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While good old Control + C and Control + V are timesavers known by (hopefully) most of us, there’s a whole other world of shortcut keys and commands built right into your Operating System that can speed up your working life. With the release of Windows 7, we thought it would be a good time to run through the basic Windows shortcuts along with all the new goodies available in Microsoft’s latest OS.

Abbreviations

WinThe Windows Key. Generally found on the lower left our your keyboard between Ctrl and Alt. The one with the little Windows logo on it!

+ Means press the key in conjuction with the one preceding it. eg. Ctrl + V means press Ctrl and the V key at the same time. Shotrcuts are generally pressed at the same time, not in sequence.

The Basics: Window Management & Navigation

  • [Win + E] Launch Windows Explorer
  • [Win + R] Open the Run dialogue Box
  • [Win + D] or [Win + M] Minimise Windows to Desktop
  • [Alt + Tab] Switch between your currently open Windows
  • [Win + Space] Make all windows transparent (view your Desktop without minimising windows)
  • [Ctrl + Shift + Escape] Open the Windows Task Manager
  • [Win + L] Lock your Desktop
  • [Win + Up Arrow] Maximise your current window
  • [Win + Down Arrow] Minimise or Restore your current window
  • [Win + Left/Right Arrow] Un-maximise and move your Window to the edge of your Desktop
  • [Shift + Win + Left/Right Arrow] Move the current window to a different monitor

Windows Explorer Shortcuts

  • [Ctrl + Shift +N] Creates a new folder in Windows Explorer.
  • [Alt + Up] Move up a folder level
  • [Alt + Enter on a selected file] Opens the Properties of the select item
  • [Alt + P] Open the preview pane on Windows Explorer’s Sidebar
  • [Shift + Right-Click on a selected file] Allows you to Copy As Path, letting you easily paste file paths into emails

Taskbar Shortcuts

  • [Win] Pressing the Windows key will open up your start menu
  • [Win + Tab] Cycle through Taskbar Items
  • [Win + (1-9)] Switches to the application in that position on your taskbar or starts a pinned application in that position
  • [Alt + Win + (1-9)] Display the Jump List for the application pinned in that position on your taskbar
  • [Win+T] Switches focus to the taskbar and allows you to toggle/scroll between applications

Display Shortcuts

  • [Win + P] Select your Display output. Allows you to visually switch between one or two monitors or a projector
  • [Win + (+/-)] Zoom in or out on your Desktop. Handy if you want a better look at smaller text or images
Filed under Microsoft, Tips & Tricks, Windows 7

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Simplify your PC Setup with Ninite

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One of the more annoying parts of rebuilding your home or even small office PC is tracking down the installers for all those downloadable apps that have become an essential part of your workspace – browsers, FTP clients and the like.

Ninite is a neat little web tool that appeared on my radar this weekend (thanks Lifehacker!) that allows you to easily create a custom all-in-one installer from a variety of the best free apps the web has to offer, saving you the time of tracking down and downloading individual installers for all those little apps that often go forgotten after a rebuild.

Simply pick your software from a list, click the ‘Get Installer’ button and you’ll be handed a neat little package with all your favourites ready to go.

Ninite supports a wide range software including:

  • Browsers (Chrome/Safari/Opera/Firefox)
  • Messaging (Skype/Live Messenger/Pidgin/Digsby/Google Talk/Thunderbird)
  • Media (iTunes/Songbird/VLC/Audacity and others like Hulu that are largely useless to Australian users!)
  • Imaging (Paint .NET/Picasa/GIMP/IrfanView/XnView)
  • Documents (OFfice 2007 Trial/OpenOffice/Adobe Reader/Foxit Reader/CutePDF)
  • Anti-Virus (MS Security Essentials/Avast/AVG)
  • Runtimes (Flash/Java/Silverlight/.NET)
  • File Sharing (uTorrent/eMule)
  • Utilities (CDBurnerXP/Recuva/Defraggler/RealVNC/Launchy/CCleaner/ImgBurn/Revo Uninstaller)
  • Compression (7-Zip/WinRAR)
  • Developer Tools (Python/FileZilla/JDK/WinSCP/PuTTy/Notepad++/Eclipse)
  • Other (Dropbox/Evernote/BumpTop/Google Earth)

You can get started building your own custom installer at the Ninite website.

Filed under Around The Web, Tips & Tricks, Web 2.0

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Windows 7 is Here!

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Windows 7 releases today but will it be able to right Vista’s wrongs?

While a new OS is often a great time to get yourself a new PC or Laptop, if you are planning the upgrade to Win 7 LifeHacker show you how to Prep your PC and Cnet have  a guide on surviving an upgrade from Windows XP and also from Windows Vista.

Filed under Around The Web, News

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Tuesday News & Links (25th August 2009)

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Filed under Around The Web, News

Wednesday News & Links (29th July 2009)

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Filed under Around The Web, News

Monday Morning News & Links (27th July 2009)

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Filed under Around The Web, Links, News

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Tuesday Morning News & Links (21st July 2009)

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Filed under Around The Web, Business Continuity, Links, News

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