Simplifying Content Management

Your employees use email to store documents. They collaborate with clients using Dropbox. They create files internally using Microsoft Office 365. And they back up all of their data to personal USBs and hard drives. The business you're running has a problem with managing information.

At Icreon, we solve this problem on a daily basis. As businesses grow organically, employees create homegrown ways to create and share information. The problem is that it's insecure, not reliable, and there’s no control over who has access to what data. Long-term efforts like these become impossible to manage.

From building smarter tagging tools, to creating ways to distribute content across domains, we build enterprise-grade content management systems (CMSs) that help you manage everything from public-facing sites, to your internal, mission critical data warehouse systems.

The Basics

  • Information Tagging

    More users mean more data. When there are different people creating information, it's crucial that documents and files can be tagged for easy retrieval across your entire team.

  • Document Storage

    Content management systems should be able to support the media you need for your business. A strong CMS supports complex assets like videos, 3D files & interactive content to simpler content like photos, text, documents and audio.

  • Version
    control

    As documents are edited, changes get made and employees need to collaborate. What happens when a file is deleted or altered inappropriately? Versioning gives you the ability to roll back to previous files, so that you can see your document history.

The Not So Obvious

  • Multi-domain
    setups

    Whether you're running a Drupal-powered media site, a Sharepoint Intranet, or an Adobe CQ Media platform, does the content you have to manage need to scale across different websites and digital domains that your company owns?

  • Dynamic
    Content
    Layouts

    At Icreon, we know content has different importance throughout the day, to different people, in different geographies. We focus on ensuring that layouts are generated dynamically so that viewers only see what’s relevant to them.

  • Mobile-
    first

    Mobile design and Responsive Web design doesn't just mean fitting data into a smaller screen. Great CMSs re-evaluate points like dynamically serving smaller images and compressing files so that information is easy to retrieve through mobile.

Multi-domain setups

Whether you're running a Drupal-powered media site, a Sharepoint Intranet, or an Adobe CQ Media platform, does the content you have to manage need to scale across different websites and digital domains that your company owns?

Dynamic Content Layouts

At Icreon, we know content has different importance throughout the day, to different people, in different geographies. We focus on ensuring that layouts are generated dynamically so that viewers only see what’s relevant to them.

Mobile-first

Mobile design and Responsive Web design doesn't just mean fitting data into a smaller screen. Great CMSs re-evaluate points like dynamically serving smaller images and compressing files so that information is easy to retrieve through mobile.

our solutions in action

Mobile App Development
NYRR
Net Texts
Web App Development
PlaybillEDU

Additional Resources

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a CMS

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a CMS

Whether it's an article, an image, a video, or a product listing, if you're trying to publish anything to your website, you’re going to need a system that allows you to do so. Enter the content management system, or CMS. In most cases, a CMS will act as the backbone of a good website, allowing users to publish their quality content with ease. But how much do you really need to know about content management systems, and what’s the best way to select a CMS to fulfill your needs?

With so many viable options on the market, it's essential to put some serious thought into finding the right system for you. Here are five things to consider when seeking out your ideal CMS.

1. The purpose

When deciding on a CMS, the very first thing to figure out is your overall purpose in having one. Create a mission statement, outline key features, list out your priority requirements – whatever it takes, make sure you have a clear and concise explanation of what you want your CMS to accomplish. With an end goal in mind and a set of priorities at your side, the rest of your decision-making process will play out naturally.

In revamping the CMS for Gannett Co.'s wealth of publications, Gannett Digital Vice President Mitch Gelman said the most important step of the process was planning:

"We had a clear, simple endgame in what we wanted to achieve," Gelman said. "We established the objective first and then put the plan in place to develop the design, create the code, and establish the back-end that would get us there."

To determine your CMS' primary purpose, try to pin down what kind of content it is that you’re looking to publish. In working with the New York County District Attorney’s Office, Icreon had to build a CMS for a diverse range of content, from press releases to image galleries and event calendars. In this case and in many others, we've been partial to Drupal for its quality and flexibility.

2. The editor

The first aspect to examine in a potential CMS is the editor. This is the same interface your content creators will be working with, so make sure it's something they’ll understand and can use with relative ease.

Be especially careful when considering CMSes that implement "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) editors. Even though they're simple, inexperienced users tend to go overboard with layout and design decisions of their own. This can compromise a site's design consistency, and should be taken into account at a very early stage in the decision process.

As a quick point to guide you along, the top CMS options currently on the market are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!. These platforms are known for their flexible editors and high customizability options, and are worth considering for almost any type of site. Of course, this is just a guideline: Even though these are the most popular systems in use, it’s up to you to decide if something else might work better for your site.

Take advantage of product demos, user forums, and site previews to help determine whether a CMS' editor meets your needs.

3. The design aesthetic

Once you've outlined your CMS' overall intent, try to hone in on the design aesthetic you hope to achieve with your website. At the highest level, you'll want a unique site with interactive elements, elegant typography, and high-resolution images to back up every piece of content. This will require a high amount of customization options, and you should set a large budget accordingly.

The second approach is to use a template. As a one-time purchase, the template will dictate the look and feel of your site without requiring any design or coding expertise from you personally. This approach is best for smaller sites that value design, but don't necessarily need their site to be unique. The main flaw with this approach is that it's not open to high-level customization; if you're looking to alter the cookie-cutter design or layouts, you won’t find too many options.

4. The CMS as a product

As you get caught up in the blitz to figure out what you want from a CMS, it's important to remember that a CMS is, at the end of the day, a product. Whether you're working off a pre-set template or hiring a crew of designers to build your site, try to get a feel for the product itself. If security is your highest priority, you might want to consider something like ExpressionEngine over other options. It might not be as feature-rich as WordPress or Drupal, but it’s built a good reputation for its quality security and commercial support.

You'll want to make sure that your CMS has a support base, just in case something goes awry. Since most content management systems derive functionality from plug-ins made by other developers, you should get a feel for the development community. An active support community can help to ensure a comfortable long-term experience with your CMS.

5. The future

A CMS shouldn't just do what your site currently needs; it should also account for what your site is going to need in the future. Try to plan ahead, and allow room for your site to grow over time. After all, you never know what can change over a small period of time.

Just because you aren't currently publishing a ton of content doesn't mean that won't change in the future. If it does, you'll want to make sure your CMS offers sufficient search functionality so that your site doesn’t become an unorganized mess in a matter of a few months. Other features to keep in mind when accounting for future site growth are multi-language support, multiple website support, customizability, and user management.

Interested in building a customized CMS to fit the specific needs of your business? Contact Icreon to get the conversation started today.

Web Content Trends Businesses Need to Know

Web Content Trends That Businesses Must Acknowledge

Content is central to the effectiveness of a website. Without adequately presented information that maintains attention and delivers a clear message, visitors will not want to do business with a brand. In part thanks to mobile device proliferation, with 60% of American adults owning smartphones, the way that web content is created and displayed has evolved tremendously.

Responsive web design, interactive content via HTML5 and a minimalist approach to typography and content presentation, are key aspects of building websites that generate optimal value for a business. Specifically when it comes to mobile users, without clear presentation of information on a website, you could very well be voiding a significant increase to traffic and profits.

At Icreon Tech, a web development and software consultancy in New York City, we build websites every day that must deliver a strategic message as a representation of a brand. In 2014, here are the major content trends to incorporate into a business website.

Typography

Now that 25% of total web traffic stems from mobile devices brands must attend to potential customers accessing their website through smartphones and tablets. Attention to font size, style, and presentation is needed for today’s audience. If a site requires constant pinching of the touch screen for zooming, and subsequent shifting around on a page, their experience will be a negative one.

When users struggle to read and access information about a company, the chance of gaining their business is reduced substantially. Here’s a great example of work done by Icreon Tech for Playbill. Take a look at PlaybillEDU.com and notice how the font size and aesthetics are clean, crisp and large enough to easily view.

Responsive Web Design

The same reason for spurring increased attention to text on a site (visitors arriving from a mobile device), has led to a noticeable progression in web design. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a means to develop a website that adapts to the device being used. Screen sizes vary greatly from Android to iPhone, and tablet to phablet.

Creating a website that adapts to device screen sizes will make it easier for customers to conduct business and initiate transactions. By creating a website from the ground up with the intention of delivering specific images, layouts, and other content to adapt for any device, businesses will no longer miss out on mobile customers.

Icreon Tech COO Devanshi Garg, describes the goal of RWD as "to provide a great web experience that lets visitors consume content easily and navigate seamlessly throughout the site on nearly any device." With 4,000+ devices using Android and varying version of Apple devices and additional tablet options, device fragmentation can be solved (to some degree) with RWD.

HTML5 and Interactive Web Content

Thanks to progression in Javascript and HTML, web developers and web designers can create some incredible content experiences. The power of web browsers has increased greatly over the past few years (thanks in part to devices with more memory and detailed displays). HTML5 refers to the latest progression in standards for web developers.

Through advances in techniques like CSS3 Canvas and even offline capabilities for web applications, HTML5 is an effective means to deliver interactive content experiences. Our COO wrote an article for iMediaConnection where she lists some of the most innovative implementations:

"With 86 percent of marketers using content marketing as a component of their digital efforts, it's no secret that quality content is crucial for reaching new customers and attracting leads. As the web has progressed and paradigms like HTML5 have matured, content creators have brought newfound interactivity and digital experiences online, making it easier for 'traditional' content to stand out even further."

With the average smartphone user accessing their phone more than 100 times per day, it's safe to say that customers are more discerning when it comes to web experiences. After downloading and uninstalling hundreds of apps, the average person is in a greater position to critique and avoid lackluster web content.

Increased Attention to Web Content

When businesses focus on the delivery of information and content through their website, customers respond with increased transactions and time spent on a site. Although a site redesign is valuable from a visual perspective, the information exchange between a website and a potential customer deserves comparable attention.

Take a look at some of the content experience we've delivered for Icreon Tech clients.

Finding the Right CMS for Your Nonprofit

Finding the right CMS for Your Nonprofit: A Visual Guide

This post is part of a series on nonprofit technology. Click here to see part III

One of the most important components of a successful nonprofit organization is a functional, up-to-date website. Not only does a site provide an online presence, but it also provides a channel through which constituents can donate, share and participate.

One of the most difficult problems for any organization looking to create a web presence is figuring out which site manager, or content management system, they’re going to use. There are literally thousands of options on the market, and each offers very specific functionality. Luckily enough, nonprofits typically have more specific needs than other organizations looking for web sites. The following is a visual guide to choosing a content management solution for your nonprofit, and will serve as a helpful primer for those new to the CMS ecosystem.

Content Management for Small/Medium Nonprofits

The first thing to know when first approaching a CMS is that typically, a site’s cost will scale in proportion with its customizability, complexity, and outside integrations. If you want a multi-authored, responsive, thousand-page website with the capacity to accept millions of dollars of donations, it’ll probably cost you a bit more to build the backend. That being said, it's totally possible to have a small site that isn’t very complex, doesn’t offer custom options, and still looks great on its own.

There are a couple things to note when you approach your own site this way: First off, this method does not scale very well. If, sometime down the road, you decide that you want to accept donations through your Weebly site, you probably won't find the support you need and will probably have to rebuild from the ground-up. Think of the following recommendations as specialized containers: They will serve very little purpose beyond creating an online presence, and are not a long-term solution for nonprofits who want to do big things through the internet.

If you don't need your website to do any heavy content or data lifting, and are only planning on using it to establish a presence, then the following options will probably be well-suited to your needs.

Content Management for Large Nonprofits

Whether you're a larger-sized nonprofit or a smaller nonprofit with large-scale online ambitions, you're going to want a CMS with deep customizability and scaling options. All of the below solutions offer a deep set of custom options, and can carry out the most popular nonprofit functions with add-ons or other extensions.

If you're looking for software which caters specifically to the needs of nonprofits, you might want to give Blackbaud's NetCommunity CMS some thought. Blackbaud is currently one of the major players in the industry, and their software has achieved widespread popularity for its nonprofit specializations. If your organization is already using Blackbaud's ever-popular Raiser's Edge CRM software, you may want to try its NetCommunity CMS, which directly integrates with Raiser's Edge.

If you're looking for something more open and flexible, Drupal is a fantastic open source solution. Not only is it free, but it's so ubiquitous that other major platforms—like the government-friendly OpenPublic CMS—have used Drupal as their base.

For all of the below options, we recommend that you consult with a web developer or other IT professional to set up your site on your behalf.

Software Development is Evolving: What Brands
Need to Know

How Software Development is Evolving and What Brands Should Know

Development is evolving rapidly to meet the needs of the expanding high-quality software required for every business out there. Organizations are currently adopting multi-platform software for real-time systems, distributed computing infrastructures, business intelligence, and mobile applications.

But to implement an effective software development strategy certain trends need to be considered and implemented. Trends such as HTML5 web applications, mobile apps and websites, app stores, and cloud applications are going to be central to the future of business technology.

According to Gartner, spending on business software is expected to grow 6.8% to $320 billion in the USA this year, after rising 5.2% in 2013. In order to prosper, companies must invest a portion of their revenue on integrating HTML5, mobile apps and cloud applications in innovative new approaches to software.

The Future Lies In HTML5 Web Applications

HTML5 is the future when it comes to the world of web application development, whether it is for smartphones, tablets or desktops.

According to Ken Dulaney, Vice President of Gartner, "increasingly, enterprises are finding that they need to support multiple platforms, especially as the [Bring Your Own Device] BYOD trend gains momentum." HTML5 (despite a few issues to sort out) is one of the most effective tools for building multiplatform web applications.

With HTML5 tools, brands can build web and mobile apps with a single codebase. The flexibility of HTML5 apps to run on multiple device types is a major cost saver and strategic advantage for companies. These multi-platform apps can run on a variety of Operating Systems (OS) and device types.

Cloud Applications for Everyday Business Needs

Many organizations have already embraced cloud strategies and it has become the integral for apps, content and for syncing across devices. "Over the past 12 months, the cloud has become an easy choice for mainstream organizations, "says Andrew Brabban, Fujitsu UK's Director of Application Services.

With cloud applications, companies that would normally require enormous amounts of startup capital may only need a fraction of what was previously required to successfully develop, host or distribute software applications. According to Mr. Brabban, "there will be a focus for cloud services in three areas: management, integration and aggregation."

Organizations could also potentially use cloud applications for a variety of business processes. A majority of applications like generic word processing software, to customized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) web applications can be fully hosted in the cloud. The cloud would not only reduce the cost of hardware, but upgrade costs would also be minimized.

Google Apps is a great example of cloud based applications. Google's offering has already gained substantial adoption from small businesses, boasting more than 50 million users, from over five million businesses.

Enterprises Must Consider Mobile

More and more people are depending on their mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for everyday tasks. They are being used for ticketing systems on buses and trains, to purchasing products, watching videos, and keeping an eye on the stock market. The Cisco Visual Networking Index, projects that global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016.

Organizations are also using mobile apps to connect with clients and create tools for frontline or remote workers to access customer databases, fill in timesheets or manage inventory. For organizations to achieve all of their mobile objectives, they must have a thorough understanding and practical mobile strategy.

Successful enterprise technology companies such as Workday, which specializes in HR software, have strong mobile strategies that are central to their success. Consumer apps have heavily influenced the design and development approach to enterprise apps. Today's business tools look drastically different than the clunky software systems that used to require an archaic CD-ROM to install.

Instead, enterprises are using custom app stores to distribute apps. There is also the option of creating web applications with HTML5 that can be accessed on tablets, smartphones and PCs with no need to download. These apps come with offline functionality, run directly in the cloud, and can be accessed instantly through a browser like Chrome or Firefox.

What All This Means for Brands

Mobile computing, cloud services and HTML5 usage will play a leading role in the software development strategy of almost every industry on the planet. Forrester accurately sums up the future needs for all tech or non-tech companies by stating that a great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it's a make-or-break point for businesses.

Take a look at some of Icreon Tech's mobile projects...