With a New Website, What Tools are we Using?

Every web environment is different. In some cases, a single page exists. In others, a wide array of applications are in play. For R/com Creative, a combination of tools helps us communicate with our clients and prospective new friends. Our overall objective is to help our clients tell a better story, so our tools will be important in that regard.

It’s important to use the right tool and often, people choose something that is free or extremely low cost – and the ongoing question we have is, “do you know WHY it’s free?” Sometimes, FREE IS GOOD. But, often, there are limitations that should be understood in advance.

A great example is the use of a content management system. WordPress is a very popular system, originally designed specifically for bloggers. Today, however, there are WordPress sites in use for all kinds of website environments. There are tons of plug-ins and templates for WordPress, and as a result, all kinds of interesting websites can be created very quickly. The same is true for other CMS solutions, such as Joomla or Expression Engine (not so many plug-ins for EE).

These applications may be useful for a small or structured website. If your environment may expand and include an array of different elements (forms, videos, surveys, multiple users, etc.), then it’s best to evaluate things more carefully. Joomla is very structured, and complex page designs and multiple navigation techniques may prove to be problematic when using it. Expression Engine is similar to WordPress, but lacks key components – wide array of templates, plug-ins, and most importantly, community. Once you learn its quirks, Expression Engine is very easy from a user perspective.

For us, we want to use a combination of our tools and those that help us collaborate with our customers. We determined that the simplicity of what we present from a website perspective was a perfect fit for WordPress. Our survey solution is used in collaboration with WordPress.

For media, we’re focused on providing the highest quality video online, so we use Vimeo. YouTube continually improves their quality, but for us, the built-in analytics and quality mean Vimeo is a stronger overall tool for us.

We host our sites on Unix-based servers in our Tier-1 data center in Los Angeles. We back up to a remote server environment and to the “cloud” and will expand our cloud services in 2012.

Google Analytics is really important. So is Google Search. We use both and it provides us with extremely useful information about our sites and about our clients.

We also use social media tools, but our focus with these tools is narrow. We use Twitter, but we do not use Facebook. Too many entities say they’re “on Facebook” as a sort of popularity contest. For us, the tools must match the mission. If we move into consumer products, then perhaps Facebook will make more sense for us.

Overall, all of the tools we use are designed to help us tell a better story. As storytellers, our mission is to be effective in the process of helping our clients get their message out more effectively, and more profitably. And in today’s world, that’s an ever changing sea of choices.

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