Showing posts with label Website Builders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Website Builders. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The App Train for your Business (InfoGraphic)

The App Train

Top 10 Cloud Apps for your Business introduced apps often used from the cloud. There are several vendors to chose from when implementing these apps. The infographic above shows some of the many options available.  Each vendor has their strengths. Choosing the right vendor depends on your needs and preferences.  Contact AppTrain for help with your cloud solutions.

Document Management
Google Drive
Zoho Docs
Amazon S3

Project Management
Zoho Projects
Salesforce Do

Website Publishing

Zoho Invoice

Customer Relationships
Microsoft Dynamics

Mailing Lists

Version Control

Issue Tracking

Site Monitoring

Monday, August 26, 2013

Top 10 Cloud Apps for your Business

Cloud Computing has graduated from being a technology buzzword to being an essential part of any business or organization. Let's take a look at the main categories off apps that have made the move from shrink wrapped software installed on our local clients, to web based clients that we can run from anywhere. Each of the ten apps covered here are provided by multiple vendors. Example apps are provided. Some of the leading vendors for each category are mentioned, along with a few AppTrain favorites.  Additional cloud apps for your business are listed in The App Train for your Business infographic.

1. Email

Email was the first business app that moved to the cloud. Even legacy organizations that still operate email servers now accommodate employees with web based email clients. In the AppTrain email comparison in March, GMail and Zoho Mail emerged as the front-runners for Email in the cloud.


2. Document Management

Cloud storage offers lower costs, better security, better integration, and improved productivity when compared to legacy office networks. The integration and productivity come from excellent Content Management tools that have evolved. Again Google and Zoho are the favorites in this space.


3. Project Management

Project Management tools will be the subject of a future AppTrain comparison article. BaseCamp is the forefather of the web based project management revolution. But the space is now quite crowed , and some excellent tools like Teambox are emerging.

4. Website Publishing

A clear favorite did not emerge from our Cloud Based Website Builder comparison. The quick site builders fall short when compared to publishing tools like WordPress and Joomla. It seems a Cloud Based Website Publisher Comparison would be more appropriate. Linux for You has an excellent WordPress vs Drupal vs Joomla comparison.

5. Accounting

For invoicing The in-house favorite here at AppTrain has been Freshbooks.  Freshbooks is a classic start in your parents basement company that is now an a accounting leader in the Cloud.

6. Customer Relationships

I'm not a big acronym guy. But  Saleforce has put CRM on the map and has branched into one of the leading cloud computing companies. SugarCRM entered this field not long after, and more recently Zoho has joined the game with , you could have guess it,   ZohoCRM. Leadmaster and Microsoft Dynamics certainly deserve consideration just for not using an acronym in their name.

7. Mailing Lists

When a customer wants to do email marketing, We beg them not to, and try to hip them to social media. But if they must, We refer them to MailChimp. It's good to know Monkey's are still finding work since the space program has cut back.

8. Version Control

Version Control is really document management for programmers. When a client starts developing software they're morphing into a competitor of AppTrain. To make the fight fair, we make sure they know about Unfuddle.  Unfuddle is a collaboration suite for programmers and includes project management and issue tracking along with version control.  The version control options are Subversion and Git but it's the integration with the other tools that sets it apart.

9. Issue Tracking

Things that don't work are called issues. When the issue with software it's called a bug. Do you think Unfuddle developers tracked issues in Bugzilla? Or the creators of Fogbuzz logged bugs in BaseCamp? All four of these tools are excellent, so more than likely, they ate their own dogfood.

10. Site Monitoring

Once a web site or product is in production, we want to make sure it stays working. Uptrends can check any site, verify content and perform multiple step transactions from multiple sites around the globe. They then send alerts via email or SMS when a site isn't performing properly. MxToolbox is a great tool for making sure your dns records are in order, and for staying off spam lists.  They also provide email alerts.

By developing an effective cloud strategy, companies can obtain and keep a competitive edge over companies stuck spending money and time maintaining legacy in-house IT Infrastructures. AppTrain migrates existing infrastructures to cloud solutions, and provides training to help maintain productivity through a seamless transition to the cloud.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cloud Based Website Builder Comparison

Website builders have been primarily cloud based for some time now.  These tools are great for getting a basic site up and running quickly, but aren't designed for creating robust dynamic sites with lots of interactive accouterments . Google SitesMicrosoft SharepointZoho Sites, and HyperOffice Site Builder are all given away free with other products.  They each have their individual shortcomings. But none of them are ideal for supporting a feature rich website.   Small businesses that are successful will likely grow out of these tools quickly , and move to more professional Website solutions.

Microsoft Sharepoint

started of as a site builder called FrontPage. It has evolved into a web based content management system that specializes in building Wiki like intranets, and has Project Management capabilities. It is also the external website builder for Office365. This comparison  focuses on just the Website Builder.

Because it also handles Project Management, Content Management and Wiki creation, the Site builder naturally integrates well with these tools. It's easy enough to get up a few web pages up quickly. It also has fine grained access control. If you create usernames for your members, it's good at building a Member Login section of your site.

The user interface is dated. It can be pretty confusing trying to find out where to go to do simple things like changing font sizes. The available functionality seems haphazardly organized, and it doesn't easily lead to elegant looking websites. Sharepoint doesn't have many site templates. It also lacks the basic ability to preview a page you're working on without saving it to the live site first. Sharepoint has so much going on that it can be overwhelming when you're trying to handle simple tasks. But if your  in a corporation using Sharepoint, and you learn your way around it, you'll likely be able to help people out.  As they say in the IT industry when something is unnecessarily difficult to use, "It's job security".

Google Sites

was created from a product called JotSpot that Google purchased in 2008 .  It comes free with any Google Apps product, including Gmail.

Google's user interface is plain simple.  You can get a site up in no time.  Sites also offers a wide selection of both templates and themes.  You can always go to html edit mode for fine tuned customization.  Plus, Google offers widgets to integrate with it's other services like Blogger, Checkout and Maps.  Sites is the only of four mentioned here that allows rolling back to previous versions of built pages, and store a version history.

While there's an html edit mode, you can't edit the html you've inherited from either a theme or a template. Also javascript support is limited.  You can't reference javascript libraries from other sites.   Sites hasn't changed much from its inception.  However Google now allows creating hosted websites from Google Drive, so apparently more advanced site developing is happening over there.  Much like Microsoft's Sharepoint, the lines between Site creation and Content Management are becoming blurred.

HyperOffice Site Publisher

Has a great selection of tools to choose from in design mode, and has the best pure  HTML editor of the four.  

Some of the tools are quirky.  I grabbed a 'horizontal toolbar' and a 'vertical toolbar' from 'Menus' and put them on a page, and they both positioned themselves horizontally. Then I couldn't add items to them.  A search for online documentation or a tutorial for page creation came up empty.  There's not a huge user community publishing tips or solutions. Site Publisher is an unfinished product.  This means that features could be added quickly so it's worth keeping an eye on the tool.

Zoho Sites

The Zoho Sites user interface is nice, and loads quickly. Like the others, you can get a site up in no time.   It has plenty of  useful templates.  And the templates give your site pages tremendous consistency.  Your site will have a great look and feel.  You can also upload custom pages form another source.

There's no HTML edit mode.  And you can't add javascript to you site.  So the tool is limited.  Previous versions of pages aren't saved, and there's no autosave capability of sites you're working on and no javascript support.  Zoho is actively developing their products, and emailed to say that version support will be added in a future release. If they integrate more with their Content Management system, look for more features as well.

 Google Sites and Zoho Sites  were a bit easier to use and fared better than Microsoft Sharepoint and HyperOffice Site Builder.  But none of the tools are very impressive.  Expect them to be deprecated as additional features are added to Content Management sites, such as html and javascript editing, and DNS support. Google Drive has already added a feature called "Site Publishing",  and Amazon's S3 also can be configured to host a website. Watch for the other Content Management and storage solutions to evolve in the direction of site hosting as "Site Builders"  like the ones covered here become obsolete.

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