The Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS ® (NVAR) engaged Ursa Major Consulting to provide Joomla! expertise in supporting the transition to a new website. A usability study and brand design was done by WM Design Group. Ursa Major supported the high-traffic, high-content site in Joomla! for several years before its recent transition to integrate with a membership management soution.

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Published in Ursa Major News

Person showing web services diagramUrsa Major's website development process focuses on understanding your:

  • Goals and Objectives for the Site
  • Audiences and Messages
  • Business Functions Needed
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Marketing Plans

We have experience defining requirements for enterprise level projects requiring integration of custom and off-the-shelf products, and supporting competitive procurement of solutions meeting those requirements, but less extensive website development projects follow a simple process.

Simple Sites

We review your existing site or any background material you can provide, and then conduct a structured interview process with you.  We use a standard questionnaire, customized with what we already know about the project, to save time and make sure that we get the information we need. We use this information to develop a proposal to formalize our agreement. 

We ask you to organize and provide us all content you already have for the site, including any logos, photos or other graphics, color choices, etc. that you want to have included. We review your existing site, including your plans for change, your hosting, and your current site traffic and SEO status, as applicable.

We then proceed to develop an initial site map and wireframe or set of wireframes for discussion and approval. Using that input, graphic design is done and/or a template is selected (if an off-the-shelf template is close to what is desired).  Using an off-the-shelf  template with a few tweaks may provide a great look and functionality for minimal cost.*

The flexibility of content management systems such as Joomla! and Wordpress means that navigation can be prototyped with a subset of actual content examples, while some graphic design decisions are still being made.  Seeing is believing, and navigating real content stimulates further discussion of ways to enhance the site or the user experience.

Upon completion, we will do a full site review to test and correct any errors and ensure that the site meets your requirements. We'll ask that you then do the same, and let us know of any other changes that are needed.  Scope management may dictate that some enhancements be delegated to a waiting list, but the productivity of Joomla! often means that a few extra features may be accommodated on the spot.  We document what we have done and provide orientation and training of your staff, as agreed, so that they can add content as needed without relying on a developer.

We will host your site, recommend hosting, or use your current hosting. If desired, we will be available to support your SEO and site security.

More Complex Projects

While we love the productivity of Joomla! and WordPress, and the wide range of off-the-shelf widgets and components (particularly for Joomla!), some projects may need other tools or custom development. We will evaluate alternatives and provide you with our recommendations, staff the project appropriately, and incorporate the necessary quality assurance and testing into our project management plan. We will demonstrate the site on our test server so that adjustments can be made as appropriate.

Even for Joomla and Wordpress, note that the flexibility of templates varies, and customization of an existing template vs. development of a new, custom tempate presents real tradeoffs. When you're not exactly sure of what you want, letting us know examples of any sites you like (and what you like about them) is very helpful. We will have to help you know what to look for in templates.  These days, the focus is increasingly on responsive design, and many currently available templates are not fully responsive. It all depends on what you need.

We have experience with e-commerce sites. Please contact us with your requirements.

 

Published in Website Development

Joomla! logoJoomla! is an open source content management system (CMS) that allows users to update and add content without extensive knowledge of html and web coding. This means that changes and updates can be made and reviewed immediately, rather than being sent to a web developer.  Business people are in control of their website contents!

Joomla! is used all over the world for everything from simple websites to complex corporate applications including data reporting tools, inventory control systems, complex business directories, integrated e-commerce systems, product catalogs,etc. Joomla! is highly extensible, having more than 8000 extensions, most of which are either free under the GPL license, or low cost.This makes it quite a productivity tool for developers. The functions you are looking for can probably be implemented quickly and easily. 

The latest versions of Joomla! greatly expand access control granularity, category hierarchy, and other functions making it even easier to customize access to content for your site members, employee or customer groups, etc. Responsive designs work with the current proliferation of mobile devices.  Let us show you how!

Ursa Major has  more than 15 years web development experience including more than 6 years of experience with Joomla!   Ursa Major was one of the founders of the Northern Virginia Joomla! Users Group (JUG), and was an organizer of the very successful JoomlaDay DC 2010, hosted at Microsoft facilities in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Dorothy Firsching is currently an officer of the JUG. Some of the very best Joomla! experts are available through the JUG and our contacts.  Contact us to discuss how Joomla! can meet your needs!

If you are interested in Joomla!, please join our JUG. Upcoming meetings can be found at http://www.meetup.com/novajoomla.

 

 

Published in Website Development

Ursa Major Consulting has been involved in website development for many years, initially with hard-coded html and later using tools such as Dreamweaver and Cold Fusion. Typically, sites were built in conjunction with a given project, but some live on.

When WordPress became available, we began to use it. We watched Mambo's evolution, and loved Joomla! 1.0. Joomla! has come a very long way, now, and it has gotten better and better.

Joomla is one of the world's most popular software packages used to build, organize, manage and publish content for websites, blogs, Intranets and mobile applications. It is free and open source. Its overall design enables great productivity. Owing to its scalable architecture its also a great base to build web applications. It is famously extensible, with thousands of add-on components available, and it is natively responsive. Today, it can even be administered via smartphone.

So while we still consider websites a supporting tool to achieve a broader objective, we also love to create them. Give us a call if we can help you.

Published in Website Development
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