With many of our developers at FortyFour specialized in Magento, we end up spending a lot of time talking about the platform. While many in the digital service industry are familiar with Magento, not everyone knows what it means to be a Magento 2 Solution Specialist. Becoming a specialist requires an exam, and we’re here to walk you through exactly what that exam entails.
What is it?
According to the Magento website, “a Magento 2 Solution Specialist is an expert user of the Magento 2 e-commerce platform. Drawing on a deep background in business and e-commerce, the Magento 2 Solution Specialist can efficiently align business objectives with Magento 2 functionality, optimize use of native features, and avoid unnecessary customization. Whether as a merchant, a manager, a consultant, or an analyst, the Magento 2 Solution Specialist knows how to make the best use of Magento 2 features and functionality.”
As a Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist, a developer should not only have knowledge of Magento basics, but also be able to apply what they know in the best possible way to help the client. The exam serves as confirmation that he or she is able to do so, while still aligning with Magento’s core development principles.
A “business analyst” is a difficult role to define. Even the name itself is a bit of a conundrum. In the e-commerce industry, most roles come with a self-explanatory “verb” + “er” style title.
If you develop, you’re a developer. If you design, you’re a designer. If you manage projects, you’re a project manager. So when it comes to a “business analyst,” what’s in a name? It’s a bit murky.
Adding to the confusion, a BA’s role can vary from company to company, even within the field of e-commerce development.
So what do we actually do? Decoding the job from the title isn’t as simple as removing a suffix, but it’s not such a bad thing. In short, we take in business and product requirements and help build out the technical specifications needed to deliver the product.
If you have ever managed a Google AdWords account, you are likely well aware of a problem that, until recently, we had chalked up as Google just trying to make a few extra bucks: the constant phone calls and emails from Google representatives looking to optimize our underperforming AdWords accounts.
Beyond the nuisance of multiple calls and emails per day, they go as far as reaching out to our clients and frightening them with statements about how their account is underperforming and that Google offers this free, short-term service to optimize their account for better results. The client begins to question all the work we’ve done for them and assume our inadequacy and carelessness. Why would they pay us for our services when they can get even better results directly from Google for free? The situation must be drastic for Google to contact them directly, right?
After months of collaboration with teams across our agency, FortyFour is proud to announce that our client partnerAptean has launched a new website. This best-in-class digital experience further unifies their broad product portfolio under the Aptean brand.
Aptean is a global software company that builds niche products for a wide range of industries. Over 7,000 organizations in more than 20 industries and 74 countries rely on Aptean to streamline their everyday operations. One of their major strategic projects this year was to redesign their information-rich website and introduce new brand messaging. To achieve this goal, Aptean partnered with FortyFour.
Nearly every department in our organization contributed to the end product. Our user experience, design, content, business analysis, development, analytics and project management teams all worked tirelessly to ensure this project was a success. In the end, we designed and built a site that will increase engagement by presenting very technical software information in a personable way that excites users to reach out to the Aptean team.
We look forward to seeing Aptean continue to grow and to helping them achieve their goals in any way we can.
When companies are deciding how to best manage their content, Drupal is a consistently reliable choice. Regardless the size of a website build, the purpose will arguably remain the same: to engage, to inform and to connect. Drupal alleviates modern content management headaches while promoting the integrity of brands and enhancing customer digital experiences. Let’s talk about all the ways Drupal helps busy enterprises build their audiences and create engaging, informative content across multiple channels.
What is Drupal anyway?
Drupal says it best, so let’s leave it to them:
“We’re the leading open-source CMS for ambitious digital experiences that reach your audience across multiple channels.”
The open-source concept is extremely important here since it not only means that Drupal improves and maintains their own product, but promotes others to contribute and give back in the form of modules, themes and even to Drupal Core itself. Let’s not forget that Drupal and its community provides all of this for free.
Should I always choose Drupal?
The answer is NO. Platforms should be chosen based on the requirements of the project, client needs, budget, etc. and knowing what tool to choose is vital to capturing the digital experience. Now on to the good stuff!
How does Drupal help build audiences across multiple channels?
Before you even build a website, you have to know who your audience is. Analytics tools can help you better know and build your audience. We even have a team at FortyFour who specializes in this area if you’re looking for help! With that said, let’s dissect the multi-channel idea.
The “multiple channel” idea stems from Drupal’s ability to wear many different hats at the same time, or even just look really, really good in one. Drupal can adapt and mold to the requirements of any project, whether, e-Commerce shop, web app or multilingual, multinational corporate marketing site. These different channels are made possible by the considerably limitless characteristics of Drupal. Let’s break them down.
While the core language of Drupal has always been PHP, the release of Drupal 8 extended the functionality of the CMS by harnessing frameworks like Symfony, Twig and Object Oriented Programming (OOP). Drupal 8’s API First Initiative has completely transformed the possibilities of it’s potential now that modern JS frameworks like React JS and Angular 2 can be used create sleek, interactive user interfaces. All of this allows developers who are learned in these areas to beat the curve and jump in head first, which leads to the next characteristic.
Content Management and Accountability
Content Management is definitely the sole purpose of its existence, otherwise it wouldn’t be called a CMS! The daily CUD operations, otherwise known as Create, Update, Delete are all typically done in the admin interface (unless you have a nice headless App) and follow the same flow to empower content administrators and make the process less taxing. It should also be recognized that Drupal has extensive permission and roles that are baked in and can even be extended to have Workflows for large corporation who want to control when/if content is actually published!
The scalability of any CMS is important since any website should be able to grow with its company. Drupal does this in a couple of ways. With a small amount of configuration, Multisite Installations comes out-of-box with Drupal. Secondly, The Multilingual Initiative can be enabled to create translations for content, and when paired with a multisite setup, can allow a company to replicate and maintain the look and feel of their brand in one codebase while extending the freedom for unique content experiences in other markets.
The large community of Drupal developers and contributed modules gives Drupal an even more robust toolkit to meet the everyday needs of a company, especially in regards to SEO and Accessibility. Various modules extend Drupal is very different, very important ways, but one I’d like to illuminate is the Drupal Commerce project that was completely revamped for Drupal 8. The reason this is so important is that is puts Drupal into the e-Commerce running with other platforms, while keeping the foundational integrity of it’s CMS role.
Robust customization and flexibility of Drupal raise the ceiling on how UX and Design teams can approach how brands are represented and how users interact with your content. Whether it be through the Theming API or an advanced JS framework, Drupal let’s you pick!
When you’re a busy enterprise, managing content and a website shouldn’t be a chore. Whatever channel you are, remove the boundaries.
Patrick Sweeney is a Senior Drupal Architect and Acquia Certified Developer at FortyFour.
This week we sat down with Carson Britt, our Senior Software Engineer. Hear what this front-end pro has to say about growing up in Georgia, riding his bike through the city, and why you shouldn’t limit your own skillset.
Where are you from?
I’m from Atlanta. I grew up in the ‘burbs and moved to north Georgia at 14, but then I went to Georgia Tech and stayed here since.
What brought you to FortyFour?
Before this I was at 22squared, which handles more traditional advertising, and we weren’t really getting into digital the way I wanted to. I wanted to go into something more digital-focused, where I could feel more challenged. I wanted to do bigger, more intimidating projects from a dev perspective.
What has been your favorite client project so far and why are you proud of it?
I’ve worked on nearly every project here but a favorite has been CREDO Mobile. I got to work on a couple of microsites for them, and I liked the style of it. It’s very front-end heavy stuff which is really interesting on Drupal.
Over the years we’ve had several clients ask for help with high-level corporate messaging — things like their corporate values. I’m excited every time the opportunity comes up because I’m a believer that corporate values can be more than pleasant sayings on a poster in a conference room: they can generate real business value. I also believe that many organizations miss out on that opportunity by misunderstanding the true purpose of corporate values.
Like any piece of internal or external messaging, crafting compelling, effective values depends upon understanding both the audience and the medium via which the content will be delivered. What’s fascinating about internal communications like values is that, sometimes, the audience and the medium are the same: yes, you want your employees to read your corporate values, but you also want them to ingest and evangelize them. Your employees—not a poster, internal email, or speech at an all-staff meeting—are the vehicle by which values are implemented at scale.
This week, we sat down with our director of project management Katherine Wilmot to chat about her agency experience, where she buys horseradish pickles, and what she wants to name her future doggo. Check out her answers below!
Where are you from?
What brought you to FortyFour?
Thomas, [one of our Managing Partners]. I had been working at larger agencies, but I wanted the opportunity to make a bigger impact. It seemed like the best way to do that was to get in at the ground level of a startup agency, so when Thomas reached out, I went for it. I’ve been here 3 years in May.
What’s been your favorite client project so far? Why are you proud of it?
Phobio, because they share the same startup mentality that we have. Being a software/tech company, we share a lot of ideals. We’ve helped them with a couple iterations of their website. The first was a re-skin, and now we’re re-platforming them onto a CMS while implementing additional branding and messaging updates. Giving complex technology products a tone and voice that makes you want to work with the people behind them is always a challenge, but working with the Phobio team has been fun.
CREDO Mobile has always stood for progressive change and regularly engages its customers to support worthy causes. As millions of activists across the globe prepared for the March for Our Lives this past weekend, CREDO Mobile wanted to support those activists with anti-gun violence rallying cries. CREDO Mobile partnered with our design and content teams to create 12 unique posters decrying gun violence and the weapons lobby in the US. All twelve free posters are available for download here.
This week we sat down with Graydon Gordian, FortyFour’s director of content & editorial, to talk about his past as an amateur boxer, his love of basketball, and even a little bit about life at the agency.
Where are you from?
Austin, Texas–keep Austin weird!
What brought you to FortyFour, and how long have you been here?
I had been working at Turner, which is where I’d been since I first moved to Atlanta from New York. But I’d always been intrigued by the agency world, so I called a friend of mine who ran an agency, Thomas Frank [Founder and Executive Creative Director of FortyFour]. We talked, and I started as contractor before coming on full time as the Director of Content and Editorial. It’s been almost 2 years to the month.
What’s been your favorite client project so far?
My favorite project has been Phobio. Phobio is a software company that makes device trade-in and workforce communication platforms. We have a close relationship with the executive team–we’re not just their agency, we’re a strategic advisor to their organization, which is what we always seek to be. Our work has included a multi-phase website redesign. A big part of that effort has been developing a broader corporate messaging strategy for the organization. We’re adding value in a lot of ways and framing the future of their business–it’s fun.
We recently sat down with the talented Taylor Daniel, senior designer here at FortyFour, to learn more about what inspires her work, what she loves about Atlanta, and what she drinks at 4:30pm on Fridays.
Where are you from?
What brought you to FortyFour, and how long have you been working here?
I heard about FortyFour when I was making a move from Birmingham, and I was wanting to grow my skill set in digital & UI. FortyFour was attractive because it’s independently owned and run–a place where you could get your hands dirty and learn faster because you could work on both large and small accounts. The creative leadership came from big agencies and companies, so I knew I could learn from those experiences on a more personal level. And 2.5 years later, here I am!
What’s been your favorite client project so far, and why are you proud of it?
I’ve learned the most and done the most with CREDO Mobile. They came to us for help with digital marketing and e-commerce, but as we’ve built a relationship with them, we’ve helped them with their whole brand. The opportunity to define a brand and create the look feel has been awesome. Then, working on the UI of the donations and e-commerce sites–it feels rewarding to be part of a project from start to end.
Phobio is known as a leader in the device trade-in space, but they’re more than a brick & mortar retail service–and they needed some help communicating that on their website. In partnership with the Phobio team, we’ve embarked on a two-phase effort to elevate their brand with updated designs and refreshed messaging. We’re proud of our hard work so far, so we wanted to take the opportunity to share the results of phase one and to congratulate our teams.
Phase one of the project began with discovery sessions to uncover what makes Phobio so great at what they do. Over the course of several conversations, we learned that they’re innovative and entrepreneurial, continually setting and resetting the bar for device trade-in. Their team is serious about software, but they also have vibrant personalities and a warm culture. So we realized that a pretty simple question seems to drive the Phobio team: what if we make device trade-in awesome?
We’re excited to announce that Google has recognized FortyFour as a leader in digital marketing and paid search advertising. Earlier this week, FortyFour received the shiny new badge that proves it: our agency is a certified Google Partner with a specialization in search advertising.
Google Partners are agencies who have proven to be both knowledgeable and successful in various advertising specializations. To become a paid search Partner, FortyFour had to pass Google AdWords product certification exams and demonstrate six months of sustained client performance in search advertising. Some of our most impactful work has come with partners such as Case-Mate, where we more than doubled paid search activity year over year, and Manhattan Associates, where we saw cost per conversion drop by 25% after taking over their program.
“Digital marketing, and search marketing in particular, remains an important pillar for brands,” says Director of Digital Marketing Ryan Anderson. “It’s an opportunity for companies to develop and deliver messages that resonate with their audiences. I’m proud that we’ve worked with our clients to do exactly that.” And FortyFour is proud of our digital marketing team for earning this certification–congratulations!
Brands are eager to capture the attention of millennials: the generation that came of age around the 2000s, was the first to adopt social media, and has driven consumer culture since it began gaining purchasing power in the mid-aughts. Famously picky and equally loyal, millennials are an audience every brand strives to be on the good side of.
Our longstanding partner Coca-Cola has done just that. According to Business Insider’s recent study of millennial brand loyalty, the most refreshing drink on the shelves is also millennials’ most beloved beverage. Out of a hundred iconic brands—including Apple, Nike and Amazon—the study ranked Coke as millennials’ ninth favorite.
When a new website design project kicks off, a common practice is to start designing a page to explore the visual direction for the site. This makes sense in some ways: clients like seeing pages because it’s the most obvious way to visualize what a site is going to look like—and, after all, that’s what they’re paying for. Typically this means starting with the homepage and exploring the design system through the context of that page.
The problem with designing the homepage first
The homepage is the first thing a user see on the site. It’s the foyer, with doors leading to all the other areas of the site. The problem is, homepages tend to be the most unique page on the site. Elements on the homepage often only serve one purpose: to drive a user to another area of the site. These homepage elements are some of the least reusable elements on the site. So why do we start with a page that does so little to inform the rest of the site? Why start with pages at all?
We’re so excited to see our partner CREDO get recognized for all the great work it’s doing supporting progressive causes. We’re not the only ones impressed, either. Fast Company published a piece applauding the company’s philanthropic efforts, as directed by its clientele. FortyFour’s contributions — including content, design, and video work — also appear in the article. We’re proud our contributions could help propel this brand’s growth, especially when paired with such good causes.
The internet is synonymous with two things — shopping and something that rhymes with “corn.” Today I’m going to focus on shopping.
Magento 2 has been out for over a year now. If you’re not familiar with the Magento platform, it is a powerful, open-source (read: free) e-commerce solution that offers users an impressive suite of features to help their business in a highly competitive online market. As of today, the current version number is 2.1.3. There have been significant improvements to the codebase since it first released November 2015. Let’s take a look at just a few of those, in no particular order.Continue reading
If you’ve worked in marketing in some capacity in the last few years, you’re probably familiar with a certain syndrome. It’s called “bright, shiny object” syndrome, and it affects marketers all over the world as they become distracted by the latest fad or trend in the marketing world. Whether it’s Snapchat for your B2B financial firm or Instagram for a funeral home, you may have been the victim or carrier of the syndrome (and that’s OK). With all of the new channels and marketing opportunities developing almost daily, it’s increasingly difficult to stay on top of the digital marketing world.
This is why few channels have lasted with the development of the internet as a more lower cost sales vehicle.Continue reading
FortyFour banded with Exide Technologies to revamp the battery brand’s entire website, alongside new brand guidelines for the company as a whole. We also developed several human resources videos and marketing campaigns, among other contributions. Read more about our work with Exide here.
The top casual dining destination asked FortyFour to revitalize its 70-year-old brand. We were so excited to breathe fresh life into the Americana favorite and attract new customers in the process. We worked closely to modernize Shoney’s across social media channels, as well as outside the digital realm with in-store menus, to-go cups, and billboard treatments. Read more about our work with Shoney’s here.