Archive for the ‘development’ Category

Increase your website readership with rich snippets for Google search results

Google LogoI’ve often found my self saying the words, “technology is not a panacea”, whenever I hear organizations looking to focus what I think are excessive energy on search engine optimization.  My thoughts have been that spending that time and money on writing great content, rather than trying to manipulate search engine rankings.

But what if a simple technology switch could more effectively highlight your organization’s website content in search engine results, and thereby make it more likely that visitors would click on your links rather than others? And what if the solution was easy and affordable?

I figure you’d probably try it.

So, what’s this differentiator you can implement immediately for your website?  It’s called Rich Snippets.

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Ushering in new era of open source evangelism

President Obama and Michelle ObamaWay back in 1999, when dinosaurs were roaming the planet, a friend of mine and I started off on a path that I’ve been lucky enough to keep walking for 14 years.  As students of public policy, we were eager to use technology to provide individuals and organizations with empowering tools to advance the cause of building a more open and just society.  From the beginning, we knew that open source software would be the necessary DNA running through our work’s blood.

Looking back at those early days, I’m incredibly humbled by the impact open source has had on my life and in our communities.  Now, older and slightly wiser, I’m excited to continue down that same path.  Our company’s flagship offerings (Non-Profit Soapbox and Soapbox Engage) heavily leverage open source software, giving us the headspace and time to focus on shaping software to best serve our community.

At the same time, I continue to find fulfillment in life by using my experience as a backdrop for evangelism of the open source communities that help us deliver services to those who need it most.  While this has recently lead to many hours on planes and trains far away from loved ones, I feel nearly compelled (in a good sense) to work alongside the incredible people building the hammers and nails the world needs to craft more effective and equitable software.

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A safe domain for your sample data and documentation

Have you ever written sample data for your software project and paused, just for a split second, to think about the domain name you’d use for your example content?  You probably ended up using something like test.com, myorg.org, etc.  Then, when you distributed the sample data to users, they, as you could expect, used the data in their reports/email blasts/actions.

Oops.

So what’s a software designer to do?  We want to make sure we’re giving useful examples so people can use our software before they fully commit to creating their own data into our systems.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) accepted RFC2606 way back in 1999 to help us all out.  They’ve defined the following second level domain names as effectively “off-limits” for anyone to buy and use.  Instead, all of us in the software development world can use it for our sample data and documentation.

  • example.com
  • example.org
  • example.net

If someone sends a message to those domains, or connects to this domain, essentially, nothing happens.  A safe harbor for your sample data!

So, before you run off and create your next batch of sample data or documentation, just to be safe, consider using these special domains to protect your users from inadvertently sending data to active domains.

 

We love our Project Managers and so do our clients!

We PICnetters are lucky to get a firsthand glimpse into the inner workings of social change agents in action. Our non-profit clients are why we exist in the first place … what can I say, we love our clients! We feel even more fortunate to know that the feeling is mutual. We thought we’d share some recent praise for one PICnetter in particular, Amber Manning, our newest project manager.

Amber had the pleasure of working with Groundswell (née DC Project), an organization dedicated to combating both economic inequality and environmental decline by promoting clean energy in local communities. Groundswell underwent a rebranding and needed a new website to match their new face to the world. Read more »

 

Introducing Soapbox Shortcodes for WYSIWYG-friendly code

Be forewarned, this article has to do with an often intimidating topic, but don’t run away screaming just yet, my accidental techie friends. Yes, we’re going to talk about C-O-D-E, as in the string of seemingly incomprehensible letters and numbers that make your website what it is, but *spoiler alert* we’re showing you a way around it.

So here’s the problem:  sometimes the code that you need to do magical things with your website is way too cumbersome to use often or doesn’t play well with your content editor.  Think: WYSIWYGUIAGYC (what you see is what you get unless I arbitrarily gobble your code).

In those circumstances, it would be great to have a shortcut for that windy path, which is why we’ve introduced Soapbox Shortcodes to our Non-Profit Soapbox platform.  Soapbox Shortcodes is a WYSIWYG-safe macro syntax that allows you to easily add complex HTML with a simple shortcut, or shortcode, saving you time and frustration and opening up doors to even cooler features for your site. Read more »

 

Braintree added as payment processor option to Soapbox

At PICnet, we dig choice. Choice is good. Choice is especially good when it comes to ways our clients can collect money for donations, membership dues, and event registrations seamlessly on their sites through Soapbox Donations and Soapbox Events.

Choice + money = all sorts of goodness.

That goodness just got a bit gooder for our do-gooder clients with the addition of Braintree Payments as a payment processor option. Now our clients have the choice of PayPal Website Payments Pro, Authorize.net, or Braintree when it comes to folks swiping their credit cards virtually to support their cause.

Why Braintree? It’s not just for the name which makes us feel smart and earthy every time we say it. They’ve developed quite a rep for being both developer-friendly and customer-friendly. Just check out to what Pascal Finette, Director of Mozilla Labs at Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser you just might be using to read this, had to say about Braintree:

“Braintree is phenomenal – not only do they have a proper payments API (try to find that somewhere else!) and constantly innovate on every aspect of the business, but their team is also redefining what great service looks like. In our terms: A whole lot of Awesome.”

Goodness AND awesomeness. That’s quite a one-two punch – and now it’s available in Soapbox.

 

B Lab leads the way with Salesforce-powered search directories

Benefit Corporations are no stranger to being ahead of the curve, and that especially true for B Lab’s new website that spotlights these trailblazing organizations. For those of you who haven’t heard the word about Benefit Corporations, they are a “new class” of corporation that are re-imagining the way that business does business in order to affect positive change in the world.

If you’d like to see a list of this growing community of socially responsible businesses, the new BenefitCorp.net website will grant that wish. And given that their Benefit Corp search directory is fed live from B Lab’s CRM database—Salesforce.com— you’ll be able to see the list automagically grow almost before your eyes as more and more organizations join the ranks. Read more »

 

8 benefits of a newly designed Soapbox site: The Bridge NY

The Bridge LogoIf your non-profit’s website is in dire need of an overhaul, but you’re having trouble getting your decision makers on board, fear not! We have a list of surefire benefits to justify your cause with a clear cut example to boot.

But don’t just take our word for it. PICnet had the pleasure of working with New York-based non-profit, The Bridge, on their handsome new site. Here’s what they said.

“Soapbox was exactly what we were looking for in terms of sophisticated and search friendly design. We are thrilled with the way our new site looks and functions. Thanks to our PICnet team!”  - Ann R. Hyatt, Director of Development & External Relations, The Bridge

What got Ann so excited? First, let’s look at the before and after shots.

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We are the 99%: extending the benefits of nonprofit tech beyond the few

we are the 99 % percent -occupy wallstreetIt is startling what technology can do as we begin 2012. The rate at which data can move and systems can be connected is astonishing. The potential for harnessing this to create positive social change is compelling and inspiring.

And then you look at the price tags being charged to leverage all of this fancy, powerful stuff. It can be staggering. It isn’t uncommon for us to attend conferences and sit in rooms with panel discussions showing off a nonprofit’s custom-built solution to integrate their website, constituent relationship management system, email marketing platform, and other communication channels. The screenshots are slick. The crowd is wowed. The mind races with the possibilities for one’s own organization.

Until the price tag is quoted. It’s usually toward the end of the presentation. It’s often mentioned almost as an afterthought.

“We paid $100,000 to a web development firm just for the front end web interface. The CRM setup was separate.”

Or, “we raised $200,000 for this implementation.”

Staggering. And everyone leaves the room feeling as if they live in a two-room shack and just watched an episode of Cribs that highlighted what they can never have. It’s all great and impressive and inspiring – but the real question rolling around in everyone’s head as they hit the hallway to go to the next session is:

“Damn! How in the world could they raise six figures for a web project?!?”

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Extending the power of J!Salesforce

We’ve been hard at work creating powerful tools to integrate Non-Profit Soapbox with the world-class CRM solution, Salesforce. Yesterday, we extended that a bit further by adding a couple of elegant gems.

The first is filtering Salesforce records displayed in Non-Profit Soapbox based on the Account ID of the logged in visitor. That goes along nicely with the existing ability to filter by the Contact ID of the logged in visitor. “Why would I want to do that”, you say? Good question! Let’s tackle a few concepts and existing functionality to break that down a bit into meaningful language that gets at why.

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