Open Source CMS Solutions Kick the Butt of Proprietary and Custom CMS Solutions.

Proprietary content management systems are bad for clients. Ninety-nine percent of the time an open source content management system (CMS) is a superior solution, and you should really do your homework if you think you are in the one percent where a custom-built or a proprietary CMS makes sense.

Open source CMS superiority is true for all sorts of online solutions, from corporate websites, to microsites, to government sites, and on and on. It can even be true for solutions that aren't being distributed widely on the open Internet such as Intranets and display screens. The flexibility of custom style sheets (CSS) and javascript means open source solutions can deliver full-screen presentations that can even replace Flash and PowerPoint if used right.

Upanup Wins "Best in Class" Interactive Media Award

And now some shameless self-promotion:

Upanup Studios is pleased to announce that we have received a "Best in Class" award from the judges of The Interactive Media Awards™ (IMA). Chosen from among 350+ international entrants, Upanup appears to be one of only eight companies to receive the "Best in Class" award in the highly competitive category of "Web Design/Development." This is awarded only to those websites that the IMA judges score higher than 480/500.

The IMAs "recognize the highest standards of excellence in website design and development and honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievement," and are open to international "individuals and organizations involved in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting websites." Upanup is proud to have achieved a perfect or almost perfect score in each of the five categories that the judges consider. The categories, and our scores, are:

Shopify: The Ups, The Downs, The Verdict

Upanup recently had the opportunity to dig into Shopify, a hosted ecommerce solution that attracts users with it's point-and-click startup process, while also appealing to designers and developers with its comprehensive list of tools that can take a storefront to the next level. We recommended Shopify as the ecommerce solution of choice for a project because of the multitude of supported payment gateways, its adequate wiki documentation, its feature base-state, and the degree of customization it provided to our development team.  The platform is also cost-competitive (if not very attractive) when comparing with other leading competitors like Magento, ProductCart and BigCommerce.

Why Too Much SEO Will Hurt Your Page Rank

Not only are websites with excessive keyword repetition in the copy annoying to read, but after a certain number of instances they can sometimes do more harm than good. In the past Google has denied allegations that they will lower a website's page rank based on over-optimized SEO.

This practice has been benign until now but things are about to change. During a panel on SEO at the Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) in mid-March, Google’s Matt Cutts let slip that “over-optimized” or “overly SEOed” websites will be penalized in the future.

“We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”

What is HTML5 and why should I care?

Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't, but HTML5, along with CSS3, is changing the face of development for the web and mobile markets. So, I'd like to take a moment to make a brief introduction to this new technology and explore some of the ways it will further help both developers and businesses utilize the online space to its great potential.

The basics of HTML5

HTML 5 is, wait for it… the fifth iteration of tried-and-true HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), a long-used and ever evolving language that forms the foundation of nearly every website ever built.

So, what's so special about #5?

HTML5 brings many new and valuable features and improvements to web and information design. These include:

An Introduction to Responsive Web Design

The insane explosion of web-enabled devices has created an epic mind-shift for web designers and developers alike. Looking back, 2011 has been described as "The Year of the Mobile" by Headscape's Paul Boag. It's only natural then that designers and developers were forced to rethink their approach and rethink the web as a medium in general. What emerged was, in my opinion and in the opinion of many experts, the biggest industry advancement of 2011: Responsive Design.

Without getting into the geeky details of CSS3 media queries (God bless you, by the way), here's a pretty basic video demonstration of how our responsively designed website adapts to changing screen resolutions and device orientations.

(I just noticed that I'm wearing the same sweater in this video as my profile pic embarrassing.)



Web Development Has Come a Long Way

The late '90s aren't exactly ancient history, but in the Internet world they might as well be. Imagine a time when Google was not a household name, there were no wifi hotspots and a phone could only be used to make phone calls. When I first started doing web development in 1999, the resources at my disposal were nothing at all like what we have to work with today.

Working with UNIX systems and open source software, we had some familiar names - MySQL, PHP, Perl, JavaScript - but PHP and JavaScript were still quite new and underdeveloped, MySQL lacked many of the excellent features it has now, and Perl could be tricky. I can remember CGI scripts where pretty much everything was coded by hand, which meant that someone's idea of a Content Management System was when they asked me to update their HTML pages for them!

Reinvent the CMS Wheel? Not Right Now, Thanks.

Upanup has explicity chosen to work with open-source content management systems (CMS's), such as Drupal, WordPress and Joomla as our preferred solution platforms. This decision was made with our client's best interest in mind, but were we faced with the same question 3-5 years ago we may not have come to the same conclusion, which is testament to the demand and respect for open-source systems these days.

My last blog post looked at the remarkable usage stats of Drupal, WordPress and Joomla. In this entry I'd like to explore three reasons why companies should be wary of custom and licensed CMS's, which in turn can help explain the momentum behind open-source usage.


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