• Content Management System
  • CMS Development
  • CMS

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 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 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 and interactive content to simpler content like photos, text, documents and audio.

  • Version Control 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
Mobile App Development
NYRR
Net Texts
Web App Development
Web Development
PlaybillEDU

Additional Resources

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.

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.

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.

The Mobile Development Debate: Hybrid Apps vs. Native Apps

When developed correctly, an app can provide a sense of elegance and utility. With the abundance of platforms and devices available in the mobile market now, significant strategy is needed to outline a successful approach. Developers can choose from two different mobile application approaches, hybrid apps and native apps, each with its own set of pros and cons.

For the uninitiated, native apps are built for and installed on specific platforms using platform-specific software development kits (SDKs). Examples are apps for Apple's iPhone and iPad that are designed to run only on Apple products. Hybrid apps on the other hand, combine technologies from native apps and HTML5 (a markup language used to structure content on the web) making it accessible on a variety of device types.

The proliferation of mobile devices has sparked off a debate over the best approach for developing mobile apps. Brands looking to develop mobile apps should understand that there are pros and cons involved with either of the two approaches.

The Pros and the Cons of Native

Due to native apps having to be built with the specific development tools and languages for each respective platform, developers that are well versed in either iOS or Android development are the best for the job. Developers are able to take full advantage of all the unique device features, such as the camera, accelerometer, compass, GPS or even the iPhone 5S’ fingerprint sensor.

In an article published on Mashable, iOS engineer Eric Miller says that native apps have the benefit of familiarity as developers already have a degree of familiarity with the respective software development kits. iOS developers and Android developers know how the code will function and run efficiently on the targeted platform.

If one wants to cover a larger audience across all platforms, separate native apps for each device will be required, but this approach is much more expensive. Going native involves a larger upfront investment in infrastructure, developers and technology as compared to hybrid apps.

With hybrid development, one cannot take advantage of the device specific features and themes. Reproducing those features with a hybrid approach becomes much trickier.

Hybrid Advantages and Shortfalls

Hybrid apps are part native and part HTML5. Like native apps, they are installed on a device and live in an app store. But unlike native apps, they are built using HTML5 approaches and are subsequently placed in a 'wrapper' that allows for distribution and use on iOS or Android.

It is a 'Write Once, Run Anywhere' strategy, similar to what made Java such a dominant force many years back. This results in a cross-platform, consistent user interface that works well on most devices. The Netflix app is one example of a hybrid app which runs the same code base on all platforms.

According to Ken Dulaney, VP and a distinguished analyst at Gartner, enterprises now are increasingly finding the need to support multiple platforms. For hybrid apps only a small portion of code needs to be re-implemented for different platforms. Gartner predicted last year that by 2016 more than 50 % of the apps deployed will be developed with a hybrid approach.

A native app, on the downside, can be used only for its specific platform. This thereby restricts their potential audience reach (which is crucial for businesses to achieve mobile ROI). For example, an iPhone can never host Android apps and vice versa. So developing an iPhone app when 70% of mobile traffic stems from Android devices, is a surefire way to fail at mobile.

Which Is More Effective... Native or Hybrid?

It is evident that both approaches have certain drawbacks and respective benefits. So one must not view the choice as a black-and-white decision. Deciding between the two approaches depends on many factors such as the type of application being built, development talent and resources, allotted budget, and so on.

If it is a productivity, utility or enterprise app, hybrid apps are usually the way to go. If the app in question involves gaming, photos, or videos then building a native app makes sense. Native development optimizes the performance of media and graphic capabilities since developers can access device specific features.

The bottom line is that there are many factors that comprise an enterprise's mobility strategy and there is no "one-size fits all" approach. Developers lately have been sidestepping this debate and are instead going for the approach that makes the most sense in that particular implementation or environment.