November 02, 2012
Nestled here in the heart of the midwestern U.S., Innersync/Campus Suite was fortunate enough to avoid the devastating storm that recently pounded the east coast. You take things like power and continuation of basic services for granted, but like the homeowners, businesses and government agencies that girded for wind and water, we’ve been putting in place our own versions of plywood and sandbags for ourselves and our customers. Protecting our clients' websites from security breaches and hosting outages remains a top priority for Campus Suite.
While our hosting partner’s datacenters in New Jersey was in the direct path of the storm (the eye passed within one mile of it), it fortunately avoided losing "street" power. Had there been a loss of utility power, backup is provided by standby generators and 65,000 gallons of diesel fuel. They had 40 systems and support operations personnel stay onsite at the hosting datacenter through the event to ensure availability of services. All core systems and monitoring tools functioned normally throughout the event.
Speaking of safe and secure hosting and websites, the very same week hurricane Sandy battered the east coast, Innersync/Campus Suite coincidentally finished rolling out a new security system that leaves us and our customers less vulnerable to web threats. Known as an intrusion prevention system (IPS), it provides all our customers with multiple levels of security, so if a hacker should try to do anything shady with the server, our monitoring service blocks access to the hacker, and opens an incident report. Our new security system also meets Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) requirements.
February 01, 2012
A school's website has become the primary source of information for communicating to parents, teachers, staff and students. As a result, schools are forced to think about how content is delivered to devices such as iPhones, smartphones, iPads, kindles, and a variety of other portable devices. For many educational organizations, creating a website version for each new device would either be technically impossible or very expensive. So we pose the question, what is the best option to handle a variety of mobile devices? Responsive web design.
Responsive web design is an approach that suggests a website should respond to the user’s environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. In laymen terms, if you're on a smartphone, you get the optimal version for the smartphone, and so on. The practice consists of a mix of flexible grids, layouts, images and an intelligent use of cascading style sheets (CSS). As the user changes from their laptop to a tablet or other mobile device, the website automatically switches to accommodate for screen and image size, and any type of device-specific user interface (navigation, buttons, etc). This would eliminate the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market. Most importantly, the content is pulled from a single source making it easy to manage.
Make it easy for your visitors
Figure A shows how a web page is viewed on three different platforms – computers, tablets and smartphones.
There are many reasons why this technology shift should be considered even if you are not a tech-head or an avid web junkie. If you are in charge of communicating to your school’s community, then it’s time to start thinking about how your school’s community communicates.
The development team at Innersync is full speed ahead integrating responsive web design in the Campusuite CMS platform. This will allow our clients to continue their focus on creating content and engaging their audiences without the worry of needing to create a new design for the new devices that come to market.
We would love to hear your thoughts on what the future holds for computers, tablets and smartphones.
October 21, 2011
If you are not taking advantage of some SEO basics to make the most of your web site, you are not alone. Some organizations are too wrapped up with the bells and whistles of their sites, and not concerned enough about the content foundation upon which their sites are built. We have learned that your site is only worth as much as the connections it makes, which is why we take SEO very seriously. Building a web site optimized for search engine friendliness and usefulness is not as complicated as you might think.
Pay to play
One way to employ SEO is through sponsored words, in which you pay the going rate for the keywords that support your marketing goals. The other is through pages that are "organically" found through search results: pages that are populated with just the right words, phrases and links that feed the world's most powerful search engines. Both strategies – whether paying for sponsorship or paying someone to create and maintain your SEO – require a financial commitment, but we've found the organic route to be an increasingly 'budget-friendly' alternative to Pay Per Click (PPC). You may be dealing with a site that is hard to work with for "organic SEO" and revert to the easy way by using Adwords which is the PPC internet advertising model. This $11 billion industry allows you to get results fast, but it can get to be quite expensive outbidding your competition for keywords.
Go organic and get your marketing budget healthy
We like to focus on organic rankings because they provide more of a long-term strategy, and you are not on the hook to be in an auction for keywords. In addition to having better quality visits – that is, users who stay on the site longer and get the information they need – organic rankings are perceived as a more legitimate sources as web surfers get more savvy and specific with their searches. Some people, frankly, put less faith in sponsored listings than compared to organic search results.
Fighting to get to the top in the organic search maze requires a lot of factors, but the most important is to have content that is focused on your keyword phrases. For example, Google loves sites that are updated frequently, and it gives you points for new content. By adding a news release, blog or some other fresh content once a month can help move you up in the ranking.
Rules of thumb for making sure you are making the most of your site content:
Use good page titles, headings and file names
Think of your content being in a hierarchy that starts from the page title (shows up in the browser bar) all the way to the bottom of the page. Keep your focus on the content from the top down, incorporating keyword phrases in the page title, heading (H1) in the copy that follows. If you have your key phrases in the page title and heading, you have the most important things where they belong. Always keep in mind, this needs to be readable, and making compelling copy with the keyword phrases sometimes requires compromise between creativity and searchability. Seek content specialists who can weave these functions artfully.
Example of a page optimized for "Fishing Worms"
Page Title: Fishing worms from Bobby's Bait & Tackle Shop
Heading: Fishing worms and other bait that help you catch the big one
Page name: Fishing-worms.html
First paragraph: Bobby has been delivering the best fishing worms this side of the Ohio RIver....
Meta-data: the red-headed stepchild of web development that does not get any attention until someone brings it up. We like to focus on "Description" and "Keywords" and try our best to make them unique and readable. Some say search engines do not pay attention to the them but there are two things keep in mind. First, when you look at the Google results page, the "Page Title" and "Meta-Description" are visible, so if you want someone to click your link, it is wise to write something interesting or inviting. Second, Google Webmaster Tools bark at you if you do not have good meta-data. So add good meta-data, and keep in mind, the "Description" copy is what shows up below the title, so make sure it complements the page title without repeating it.
This one is pretty simple and straightforward. As you look at the content on your site, use the keyword phrases as links. For example, instead of using the term "learn more" for a link, try using keywords like "learn more about fishing worms." If you can get anchor links on the home page, that adds even more points. Try to fit anchor links into the first or second paragraph of a new release or blog. That way, if the content is aggregated to other sites, you will gain points for an anchor back-link to your site.
Inbound links (aka backlinks)
Our SEO specialist friends at Purple Trout tell us how important it is to have links to your site to improve SEO rankings. When Google – the godfather of knowledge bases – recognizes when a legitimate site has a link to your site, it rewards you with better status. The more backlinks from outside sites, the better it is for your site indexing.
For starters, submit your site to DMOZ open directory project, ZoomInfo business directory and Yahoo! Directory Listings. Yahoo! is $300 annually but it is worth the money for the back-linking. If it is local business, make sure it gets back-linked on local chamber of commerce sites and other local directories. Next, see if there are any directories that show up on the keyword phrases you are focusing on, you may find some that are easy and free to submit your site.
Look at social networks as increasingly important places into which you can pump your links. The more networks you can share your site links to, the better. We focus on the popular ones: Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, LinkedIn. If you really want to centralize your social networking, add all your sites through Ping.fm, which allows you to post information through one account.
October 21, 2011
Newport, KY – As part of its growing commitment to serving colleges and universities, Campusuite was a sponsor at HighEdWeb 2011 held in Austin, Texas. Campusuite web content management system designed specifically for schools and higher education featuring simple, browser-based tools to control web site content, Campusuite features a wide range of new and improved functionality in three major areas: extended tools and social networking features, application security and enhanced usability.
"This product evolution ensures that our clients are positioned to accommodate the upcoming trends and allow faculty and staff to keep up with an increasingly web-savvy audience," said Steve Williams, Campusuite's co-founder. "Mindful of the emerging prevalence of cloud technologies and SaaS, we're continuously engineering in ease and access for content administrators, publishers and end-users."
The timing of the new launch coincides nicely with this gathering of key web site decision makers at the college and university level. "This is a very savvy group of web administrators who come together at this important conference to gather the tools and share ideas that make them better administrators," said Williams. "The HighEdWeb members are knowledgeable and thirsty for more knowledge, so we're happy to be returning to share with them our latest."
Already implemented at select colleges and universities, Campusuite software enables web site administrators to keep fresh such frequently updated information as news, blogs, events, calendars, photos, faculty and staff directories, videos and FAQs. Ready-made, easy-to-use content modules plug into existing web site designs, eliminating the mystery and technical prerequisites for keeping web content current.
Campusuite simplifies the growingly unwieldy process of overall web site management by providing simple web-based tools to content authors, publishers and administrators, who can easily create, share and publish content in a decentralized workflow environment. Employees closest to the content are afforded greater control of the content with permission-authorized access.
"What makes Campusuite different from other off-the-shelf CMS products is that we've created easy-to-use modules that address the specific needs of college web administrators," said Jay Cooper, Marketing Director at Innersync. "Many of the larger, more horizontal CMS packages have functionality and data fields that a school or college would never use."
A practical solution for many departments within a college or university where content is constantly changing – admissions, student activities, sports information, alumni affairs, faculty and staff – Campusuite enables content authors to easily create and edit their respective pages of their web site.
"A school's web site is becoming increasingly important to many facets of their operations," said Cooper. "Recruiting, athletics, development – it's their primary public face. Campusuite gives them tools to make their sites more effective, easily. We've found a great deal of interest on the part of many administrators at this conference," added Cooper. "They are hungry for web content solutions that not only improve their whole process, but are easy to implement, as well.
About HighEdWeb Association
HighEdWeb is a strategic alliance of Web professionals in New York state higher education designed to facilitate communication and professional development and using the Web as a medium to advance their institutions. The conference is for all higher education Web professionals – from programmers to marketers to designers to all team members in-between – who want to explore the unique Web issues facing colleges and universities. www.highedweb.org
October 20, 2011
As organizations improve efficiencies and expand web capabilities, Innersync is finding success and experiencing growth in the "cloud" as a provider of web content management and image management software for business and education clients. Innersync, coming off its most successful year of software-as-a-service subscription sales and business development, continues to attract new clients with web-based services and design.
Among the firm's new clients is a well-rounded mix of schools, colleges and businesses, underscoring the universal appeal of simplicity, scalability and savings in managing any firm's web site.
"People expect better technology today for less, and they also expect it to help bring people closer to their organization without a long process,” said Steve Williams, Innersync co-founder and president. “It has taken dedication and a lot of hard work to position us for this upward trend, but it is well worth it when you can provide a lot of value to clients and solve their problems cost effectively.”
Using Innersync’s software-as-a-service (subscription-based software) solutions Campusuite®, Innersuite™, and Imagespace™, education and business clients are choosing web platforms that are easy to use and scalable to their organizations. These internet-based tools enable companies to completely manage their web sites’ content and images without technical expertise or high IT and design costs. Innersync packages web site design and roll out with its content management systems and support for turnkey web site solutions. All the software resides not on the clients' premises or server, but in the computing cloud, offering a host of efficiencies, security and scalability.
Recent additions to Innersync education clients using software-as-a-service web content management and digital asset management tools are:
North Carolina State University
Thomas Edison State College
Coffeyville Community College
Oak Park School District
Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123
St. Peter Claver Latin School for Boys
Sisters of Notre Dame
Recent business clients include:
Sungard – software and processing solutions for financial services, higher education and public sector
MGM Hospitality – luxury destination hotels
Barrette, Xpanse, Active Yards – outdoor living, fencing, and garden furnishings
KDM P.O.P. – marketing and point-of-purchase displays
Walter Wilhelm Associates – apparel & footwear technology consulting
TyTek Industries – Asian contract manufacturing services
Fascor – logistics and distribution management software
Explorica – international educational tours
About Campusuite, and Imagespace:
The Innersync suite of content and digital asset management solutions helps business and education clients simplify web site management with web-based tools so content authors, publishers and administrators can easily publish, access and manage content. Innersuite, Campusuite, and Imagespace form the core software-as-a-service web design solutions from Innersync that help people create, share and connect like never before.