With this post I will talk about recent code updates that went out this week, and also our new Facebook integration that is really exciting. I’ll also talk about how we will be leaving WordPress as a blogging platform for something better.
Since March we have been on the fast-track to execute our 2012 goals and we are making a lot of progress:
- Code for pushing ecommerce products to EBay has been overhauled and is live.
- Code for pushing product data to Google Products has been rebuilt and is live.
- A Git code control server installed and all of our production servers have their code synchronized with Git. This allows us to push out new feature updates MUCH faster, with less bugs and downtime.
- New backup systems put in place to backup code and data.
- Email newsletter system overhauled with a cloud-based SMTP for speed and higher delivery rate.
- Consolidation of our brands is underway and all of our web application products are starting to come together under one new brand name.
- Mobile website testing is underway to offer mobile websites to our customers. It works great!
What is next? Facebook!
This week we did some testing of tighter Facebook integration with ALL of our applications. We have this code running in our development environment now, and we are adding a few tweaks before we launch it next week. What I can say at this point is that it is VERY exciting! This integration will definitely give our customers another leap ahead of their competition.
Since Facebook is the worlds largest social network, it is imperative that all businesses utilize Facebook to reach customers. Unfortunately, most businesses setup a Facebook business page and then let it sit there and flounder. Perhaps they update it once a month, or once a week. But with Facebook, you have to update your page every couple of days, to a couple of times a day. If you don’t, then your updates will get lost in the myriad of other updates that people sift through their Facebook accounts every day. We see this challenge as an opportunity to help our clients, and even help our own company with marketing.
This integration is far-reaching. It will be possible to basically place Facebook integration EVERYWHERE in your website. Now, I am not talking about a “Like” button in the footer of a website – any beginner web developer could do that. No, I am talking about comments, shares, recommendations, likes, the works! Think about how you will be able to syndicate your pages, news, calendar events, products, help files, and more with Facebook with one click. That is awesome! I think this will be more powerful that simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
The End of WordPress Blogs
With the latest Facebook integration that we have been working on, it dawned on me that with this new technology and some easy tweaks to our content management system, we will be able to create a blogging platform in our CMS that will allow us to replace WordPress. I have had a love/hate relationship with WordPress every since we have used it for this blog. WordPress is a good blogging platform, and a marginal CMS (in my opinion), but has always been full of security holes. When GoDaddy has a large portion of their PHP/servers hacked last year, it shows you just how big the problem is. But blogs are great for SEO, and really necessary for content that needs to last longer than a timely Facebook post.
Blogs tend to get ignored by website owners after they go live because it is a hassle to log into three places to update web content (CMS, Blog, Facebook), and I am not even mentioning Twitter at this point. Other open-source CMS platforms offer a “Journal”, or internal blogging option within them, but we are going further than that with our managed CMS platform. Large organizations (think Municipalities) sometimes wish to have a blog for each of their departments. One centralized blog per website domain won’t work well in that situation. A police department may want their own blog separate from the city blog, for example. And multiple sub domains are just clumsy (http://policeblog.citydomain.com – yuk).
“Facebook’s true power is not just its network, but the fact
that it is an application platform for integrating with customer identities.”
We have thought about replacing WordPress for blogs in the past, but one of the hangups have been how to best handle commenting integration. We looked at disqus.com as an option, but that seemed like a workaround. A noticeable trend in commenting has been how national newspaper websites have all started to move to Facebook’s API for comments. The main reason for this is that by forcing commenters to identify themselves (by using their Facebook account to post), it eliminates a lot of the hate messages that cost editors time and money to manage. It also eliminates the need to “create an account” and have yet another password to remember. Facebook’s true power is not just its network, but the fact that it is an application platform for integrating with customer identities. The downside is obviously that sometimes you want folks to be able to post their opinions anonymously so that they can share things they normally can’t. To this point, using Facebook’s API for comments hurts personal privacy and anonymity only. But business owners won’t care. The reality is that some businesses and organizations don’t want to have to deal with cleaning up the really nasty comments. And lastly businesses want to harness the power of syndication that happens when people respond to content using their Facebook accounts.
Blog applications are pretty easy to build. But building a blogging platform that is integrated with; CMS, ecommerce, CRM, customer portals, help systems, single sign-on security, department-based security, tight Facebook integration, RSS, categories, robust commenting, tagging, search engine safe URLs, and more is another matter entirely. That is exactly what we are doing. Once this is completed, we will stop using WordPress for our blog and we will stop recommending it as a blogging platform for our clients. We will build an import utility to pull WordPress posts and push them to our own blogging platform. Our customers will also benefit because they won’t have to pay for blog hosting any longer because it will come integrated with our other systems.