A visual walkthrough of datAvenger Pro 5

January 26, 2012

I thought a great conclusion for our series on content management would be a video walkthrough of the soon-to-be-released datAvenger Pro 5.

Here’s how to log in, edit a page, create a form, and upload files (all in less than seven minutes).

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

For more information about datAvenger Pro, please visit our content management page.

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

5 killer new features in datAvenger Pro 5

January 24, 2012

datAvenger Pro logoAs we’ve been covering over the last week, we’re launching datAvenger Pro 5, the latest version of our advanced content management system, within the next few weeks. Before we launch, though, we wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of the great new features in this version.

The best URLs yet

datAvenger Pro has supported search engine friendly page addresses since we launched version 4 in 2006. A normal version 4 address would look something like this:

http://www.example.com/content/4052/Visit_Our_Store/

We decided to step it up a bit by making page addresses in dA Pro 5 even easier to read — and even better for search engines. When you’re editing a page in dA Pro 5, there’s a new option to create a custom URL that’ll look like this:

http://www.example.com/visit-our-store

At Sephone we’re committed to creating the best experience possible for your site’s visitors. We also do everything we can to stay on top of the latest guidance from search engines to make sure you’re a step above your competition. That’s why we’ve constantly refined page URLs in both datAvenger Pro and our basic content manager, datAvenger.

Dramatically improved drag-and-drop form creation

Companies who use datAvenger Pro have told us they love our easy-to-use, drag-and-drop form editor. It eliminates the difficult process of building forms; instead, you pick the field type you’d like to add, drag it into the big form area, and your form is ready to go.

We’ve heard that datAvenger Pro users would love to be able to add more than one field per line in order to keep forms compact and less rigid. datAvenger Pro 5’s form module does just that: you can now add as many fields per line as you like.

Easy sharing on Facebook and other social networks

datAvenger Pro 4 allowed you to specify what keywords and description you’d like to include in the metadata for each page. In version 5, we’ve added the option to add an image. This is perfect for those times when people share your site’s pages on sites like Facebook, allowing you to add an eye-catching graphic into feeds on social networks.

Content stats for every page

When you first go to edit a page, sometimes you want an at-a-glance look at what’s contained on that page. In dA Pro 5, not only will you be able to see a preview of every page’s content, but you’ll also see a count of the number of words, fields, or submissions for every page. We hope these small tweaks will allow you to see a better picture of your site.

An asset manager made with you in mind

datAvenger Pro 5 assets area

Personally, my favorite new feature of datAvenger Pro 5 is our new assets area. Assets are all the stuff you upload to your site: images, documents, and media. Our new assets area is filterable by content type. It’s searchable by keyword. It’s sortable by name or upload date. It allows tags to find your assets even faster. It includes thumbnails of images right in the asset list. And best of all: we’ve included drag-and-drop uploading for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari users. That’s right: all you need to do to upload files to your site is to drag them from a folder on your computer onto the assets list in your datAvenger admin area. Simple as that!

Version 5 is a huge new release of datAvenger Pro, and we’re really excited about all the new functionality we’ve been able to include. If you’d like more information about when you can upgrade your dA Pro site to version 5 – or if you’d like to know more about moving your site to datAvenger – we’d be happy to talk with you!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

5 questions to ask when comparing CMS options

January 18, 2012

We’ve shown that having a content management system for your site is important. But there are a number of content management systems available for use on sites. Web development companies usually pick one or two they like best; they might develop their own (for example, we built a CMS called datAvenger at Sephone), or they may choose to use an open-source CMS to power the sites they make.

But what should you compare if you’re looking at a few CMS options? Here are five questions to ask.

Is it hard to learn how to edit my site?

If you make a lot of changes to your site (or even if you don’t), the most important piece of the CMS puzzle is feeling comfortable with the area where you edit your site. If it’s a hassle or burden to find the page you want to change, wrangle with an editor, and then stumble to push the page to the live site, you’ll find yourself frustrated – fast.

If, on the other hand, editing makes sense and is easy to do, you can have an up-to-date site that changes whenever you like. There’s no reason why a simple content change on your site should take more than a few minutes. Don’t compromise on a CMS that makes you do more work.

Will my site play nice with search engines?

It’s important that people can find your site on the web. Search engine optimization (or SEO) isn’t all about the content on your site; it’s also about how your site itself is built. A good CMS can help your site shine on search engines.

A good first check is to see how the page addresses (known as URLs) look for your site. Many older content management systems use a combination of codes and ID numbers in the URLs for every page:

http://www.example.com/index.php?pageId=25&section=5
http://www.example.com/directory.php?dirId=25&person=52&view=standard

These kinds of URLs are tough for search engines to understand because they don’t say anything about what’s on the actual page. Look for a CMS that builds URLs using the title of the page, or another set of keywords you can customize:

http://www.example.com/about-us
http://www.example.com/directory/person/jim-smith

These make it easier for both search engines and your visitors to remember your site.

Bonus tip: Ask how a site’s CMS handles mistyped or broken links. In the tech world, we call these 404s. Ideally a CMS should show a screen that tells your visitor that the page is not available. It should also send a special server status code (a 404) so that search engines and other sites can tell that the page doesn’t exist. This helps search engines remove a page from their results after you delete it from your site.

What kinds of content can I have on my site?

Form moduleAs we mentioned in our “What is a CMS?” post, most content management systems allow you to edit text in a rich text editor. This allows you to style text, add links and images, and more. Chances are, though, that your site isn’t only text. What if you want to add a form for visitors to fill out, an image gallery, or a widget from another site? Make sure that the CMS you choose can support the kinds of content you need (or can be customized to adapt to what your site needs to do).

Can I preview my changes before everyone sees them?

The administration area for some content management systems allows you to see how the changes you make will look on your site before you publish them to your live site. This is a great feature if you’d like to be able to tweak what you write before the world can see it.

Bonus tip: See if your CMS saves drafts as you work. If your browser or computer crashes, you don’t want to lose all of your changes!

Are pages for my site ready to be shared on social networks?

A link shared on FacebookFacebook and Twitter make it super simple to share links. Will the pages you share look their best, though? Facebook, for example, lets pages choose what they want for a description and image of a page when it’s shared. Check to see if your CMS can control how this looks instead of posting just the first few words from the page (or just the page title with no text at all).

These five questions are a good starting point when you start to compare your CMS options. If you’d like to know more about how content management systems can help your site, read more on our blog or get in touch with us!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

What is a content management system?

January 16, 2012

We all know how important it is for your business or organization to have a presence online. When you first decide to set up your site – or when you decide to make a change in how the site is run – one of the most critical decisions you can make is whether the site will use a content management system (CMS).

A content management system allows you to make changes to your own site, even if you have little technical knowhow. Instead of calling up a developer every time you’d like to change some text, rates, or a phone number on your site, a CMS lets you log into an administration area with a username and password and make the change in an editor. Once you’ve made the changes, they’ll appear instantly on your site.

Features of most content management systems

Content management system editor

Content management systems often feature rich text editors that allow you to style the text of your pages.

Most content management systems allow you to do a number of common tasks on your site.

  • Adding and removing pages
  • Editing pages in a WYSIWYG editor
  • Inserting links and images on pages
  • Customizing page titles and addresses

Reasons to use a CMS

There are a number of reasons why content management systems make a lot of sense for businesses.

  • Save money: Instead of paying a web developer every time you want to change your site, you can make edits whenever you like.
  • Save time: The changes you make in a CMS are published instantly; there’s no waiting hours (or days) for a change to be done.
  • Stay in control: A CMS lets you have complete control of what’s on your site. If you want to add or remove a page, or if you’d like to change some text, it’s easy to do!

We’re about to release the latest version of our own advanced CMS, datAvenger Pro. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll feature more posts about content management and how to make the most of your site!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

Your place on the web: an introduction to how your website works

March 24, 2011

There’s a lot that happens between the time you click on a search result or type in a web address and when the website you want to see appears. At Sephone we normally take care of all the technical stuff that makes all the wheels turn, but sometimes companies want a little more information about how things work behind the scenes.

Let’s take a non-techie look at what happens when you visit a site. There are three major parts that make a site work:

  • The domain name (often ends in .com)
  • A hosting account (where your site lives)
  • Application software (the online program that makes your site, blog, or shopping cart work)

The domain name: your .com

Every site on the web belongs to a set of identifying numbers known as an IP address. Think of an IP address as a website’s phone number: it directs you to the place you want to reach.

Of course, you don’t want to remember and type in a bunch of numbers whenever you visit a site! That’s why there are domain names: simple, easy-to-remember words and phrases, with an extension (.com, .net, .us, etc.) that gives a little extra information about what the site is. When you type in a domain name in your browser, you’re routed to the spot on the web where the site you want to see lives. For example, when you type in sephone.com, you’re shown the Sephone website.

You can register domain names on a yearly basis. It’s important to make sure that your domain name doesn’t expire; be sure to renew your registration before the year’s up!

Your site’s home: hosting

Every site on the web, whether it’s a one-page site about your business, a shopping cart, or a huge site like Facebook, needs a place to live. In the web world, that’s what we call hosting. The pages of your site are stored on a computer that your hosting company controls, and that computer responds with the content of a page whenever someone tells their browser to visit your site.

There’s one more piece of the puzzle; it’s the glue that tells your domain name (the .com) where your site lives. That’s handled by a couple of systems called DNS and nameservers. They’re like the switchboard operators of the Internet. When someone goes to your site’s address, the DNS and nameserver settings point them to the place where your site lives on the web.

The powerhouse: software

Just like your computer, websites use applications to deliver content to you. For informational sites, the software behind the scenes is known as a CMS, or content management system (ours at Sephone is called datAvenger). You might have a different kind of web application if you have a blog, shopping cart, or custom type of site. Some of these software packages come with an additional monthly or yearly fee, and some are free.

Making it all work

There are a number of companies online that let you register a domain name, and others allow you to host your site on their servers. They usually have a way to manage all the settings to make sure visitors can see your site.

At Sephone we want to make it as easy for you as possible. You just want a site! You probably don’t want to have to worry about what happens behind the scenes or manage when your domain expires. If you’re interested in a site, let us know what domain name you’d like to use (or if you don’t know, we’d be happy to suggest a few for you!). We’ll do all the legwork to make sure your site shows up every time someone wants to see it. Let us focus on the tech so that you can focus on your business.

If you have any questions about the gears that make your site work, let us know with a comment. We’d be happy to answer!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

A new update for all datAvenger users

November 8, 2010

It’s been a while since we’ve pushed any new features to datAvenger users. Well, starting today you might notice some new goodies in your admin area. Let’s run through some of the changes!

Checkboxes

If you have the Form module available on your site, you’ll see that we’ve added one of our most-requested features: checkboxes! Checkboxes work a lot like selection fields, but they allow you to select more than one choice per field. The selected choices will appear as a comma-separated list in the notification email you receive when someone completes a form on your site.

Speedy admin

We’ve done a bunch of work to make the admin area speedier overall. Pages in the admin area load more quickly, and opening a page to edit takes less time now, too. We’d had a few reports of frequently-edited pages not showing up in the editor, and we’ve taken care of that with this release as well.

General cleanup

We’ve added additional polish all around the datAvenger interface: help text to tell you what sizes of images are best in the Theme Builder, a password reset utility if you forget your login information, and more. Hope you enjoy this new release!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

Making uploads easier

April 21, 2010

We’re excited to announce the latest feature in datAvenger: drag-and-drop uploading in the Assets tab! We’ve made a short video to show how it’s done:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbljwzCdKuY

Using this new addition is really simple. Just drag files from your computer right onto the datAvenger screen to add them to your site. You’ll see a yellow border around the area where you can drop the files, and a message will appear in the bottom corner to let you know the progress of your upload.

Drag-and-drop uploading works in the latest versions of FirefoxSafari, and Google Chrome. If you’d like to use another browser or can’t upgrade to the latest version, you can still use the “Upload additional assets” link to add files to your site.

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

New features just in time for the holidays

December 22, 2009

And you thought we weren’t going to get you any presents this year. Boy, were you wrong! You were all good boys and girls this year, so we have three new features just for you.

List view

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list-viewYou may have noticed some new buttons under the Content and Asset tabs. These buttons allow you to switch between the default Thumbnail View (See #1) and the fancy new List View (See #2). In the Content tab, List View condenses your website’s pages into a two-column list, allowing you to see and manage more pages at the same time. The same menus are available in List View as in Thumbnail View such as Edit, Edit Metadata, and View. It also works in the Assets tab, hiding the thumbnail of each asset to create a two-column list of all of the assets that have been uploaded to your site.

Under the Asset dropdown, your documents show in one section, and images in another

Under the Asset dropdown, your documents show in one section, and images in another

Create a link to an image

Not to be confused with displaying an image on a page, linking to an image will direct the viewer to the image itself – outside of the website. This can be helpful if you want a small image to be a link to a larger version of the same image, or if you want the viewer to be able to see the image but don’t want to include it on your page. We’ve expanded the Asset dropdown from the Insert Link window to show documents in one category, and images in another.

Anchor tags

The anchor symbol next to Meaning means that this has an anchor attached to it. The link above it links to this anchor

The anchor symbol next to Meaning means that this has an anchor attached to it. The "Meaning" link above it links to this anchor.

You asked, and we listened. Insert anchor tags with ease with the new Add Anchor button and the new dropdown menu in the Insert Link window. For those of you who aren’t familiar with anchor tags, they are a different kind of link that allow you to link to a specific area on a page. Anchors are really helpful for long pages like Glossaries and FAQs.

Say for instance that you have a glossary on your site, divided up into sections by the first letter of the word. The page would consist of 26 sections, with the corresponding letter at the top of each section. If you added an anchor to each section heading you could

The new Insert Anchor dropdown will detect what anchors you have placed on a page and allow you to link to them.

The new "Anchor on Page" dropdown will detect what anchors you have placed on a page and allow you to link to them.

then list each letter at the top of the page and link to the section headings farther down the page. When a viewer clicks on a letter, it would “jump” down to that section of the page. Many sites with anchors also include a “back to top” link to bring the viewer back to the original list of links.

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.