2009 plans: free hosting for Web designers.

19 03 2009

This year, as you know very well, started with big news about the economy. After a couple of months of adjustments and planning I’m feeling confident to start sharing some of the plans we have for our community of Web designers.

As you may know, B4Contact, works for long time with SharePoint and offers SharePoint hosting. Currently we host more than 15% of the schools in Slovenia and we have customers from many different countries and activities. Thousands of users are working with us.

This year we wish to be very proactive in offering our hosting service and we don’t want to let designers our of the scope.

SharePoint is a great platform for collaboration and project management. There you can create sites for your customers so they can see the progress on the project, download documents, upload texts, images, etc. SharePoint can notify you by email when one of your customers requires something. Apart of that, SharePoint can help you to manage your business; there you can keep track of your expenses, paid or unpaid invoices, database of customers, etc.

We would like to offer 50 Web sites for qualified Web designers. Totally free.

Why? Simple, because we believe that if you learn to use it for yourself you could get interested in offering your Web sites with our hosting services.

The 50 Web sites will be provided to the selected designers together with an online workshop (1 hour) so you could learn to use SharePoint.

if you are interested send me an email to jose.morales at b4contact.com

Be sure to include a link to your Web site, Blog and link to your portfolio.





Sponsorship for developing a CSS web site template

18 11 2007

What about having available more design templates for web sites?

In B4Contact we are interested to sponsor the development of a CSS web template (new one) and then share it to the community. you can use a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License so all the users would know who is the designer but at the same time they could use it for commercial purposes and for transforming it in something different.

If interested just contact me writing to jose.morales (at) b4contact.com

here there is a list of other sources of templates:

  1. Solucija
  2. Andreas Viklund
  3. templateworld (they are not free)

We would share the templates in this Blog.





Is SharePoint skinnable?

28 10 2007

Today I have found a super interesting topic within Cameron Moll’s blog.
So I would like to make my contribution to the topic:

  • First I see that there is a confusion about Sharepoint. There are 2 products: WSS and MOSS; Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. The first one is a product that is conformed by a set of Windows Servcies and it is part of Windows Server 2003. The second one is a product designed for managing portals and it uses WSS.
    Why the difference is important? because each product covers different functions and the licensing scheme of each one is independent. Windows SharePoint Services is part of Windows Server so it is bound by its licensing model. MOSS requires especial licensing appart of the licenses for Windows Server and that makes that product much expensive than WSS. You can see more information in Microsoft’s web site.
  • Second I believe WSS is skinnable and it works like a fantastic CMS.

I understand like “skinnable” a web site that can change the way it looks for whatever the designer wishes. I also would like to include in the concept the ability to be friendly to inexperienced users.

Together with Boris Gomiunik we have been working for more than 4 years with SharePoint. We don’t like to call ourselves “developers” because we are not and for sure we are not graphic designers. But we are very creative and curious. And I think we achieved some kind of interesting product out of WSS.

Actually this Blog is made to offer web designers the opportunity to use SharePoint like CMS. Designers can make their web design, CSS and we can add the WSS on the back. For me that sounds like a good stuff but anyway please let me know your opinion.

Here some screenshots of what we have achieved:

Esejem

You can find the page in http://www.e-sejem.si, it is in Slovenian language. It was developed using an open source template and CSS. The site is not finished but it already uses 100% the skin developed by Nodethirtythree. And of course it uses the great RSS functionality of WSS and the CMS we have developed.

Once the user logs in to the site some additional controls will be displayed, UREDI means Edit and SLIKE means Picture.

Uredi

The most interesting thing is that after clicking on “Uredi besedilo” or “edit text” is that the users will be able to edit in the same page. It works in IE, Firefox and Safari. But only IE includes the rich text editing (for the moment).

not only the texts can be edited, also the menu and navigation bar, banners, etc.

We still need to work more on making even easier to understand but that is not a design or development issue at this point is more on finding the right texts and positions for the editing buttons.

Editing

And something else that I found great is that we could add pictures from the same Image Gallery of WSS directly on the editable area:

Add_pictures

It is just needed to click on the thumbnail and specify the rest of the characteristics, like position, link and target, border, name and size.

I will be working on making a more complete guide, maybe in a short video to make it even simpler. In the mean time if you have some comments or questions just post a comment.





Web design and open source

9 10 2007

I’m very surprised to find in many places on the Internet so many sources of free templates, themes and graphic design for web sites. What made me think is that that kind of open source and free templates are definitively a problem for commercial designers. Then I found that I’m wrong.

When visiting some of the better elaborated works I found that the designers are actually making free and open source high quality templates only for promotion. On their web sites it is possible to see many great samples of their commercial work and it is really amazing what they are doing.

But until now looks like I said nothing new. Of course they can make free templates for promotion. But the huge difference with other kind of open source initiative is that the high quality is so obvious, because is graphical and visible in opposition to code development for example, that their templates can get famous very fast and that can offer designers many great possibilities. This is the case of WordPress themes and other kind of highly used services online.

Open source templates can help other professionals, like web developers, to use graphic design with correct code and integrate it with their web applications. One good sample of that is www.b4business.si, a community site in Slovenian language that uses an open source template (the same that this Blog is using!). What is different? The template is now integrated with a CMS system and instead of working in PHP works perfectly with .NET technologies. All the contents of the page are editable using the browser, no need of HTML or programming knowledge.

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