Saturday, March 21, 2009

Made4u

Made4u is a European RTD funded project within the FP7 scheme of research funding, that I happen to work at, as one of the consortium partners. In my task (Dissemination and Exploitation) I also take care of the communications part of our project. In that chapter, I was pretty busy lately setting up our project's website, which explains why I haven't spent much time blogging since late February. Go have a look and tell me what you think. Looks pretty impressive, eh? You'd be even more impressed if you heard that, having done this all on my own, I still ain't got a clue how to write a single XHTML or CSS line, let alone Javascript or AJAX, but nevertheless managed to get this thing up and running and looking cool, in just a few days. How come? SquareSpace is the answer! The most fabulous and totally inexpensive solution for any business to create and maintain a web presence. These guys are just so cool! Not many bells and whistles exist in the world of web creation that these folks don't allow you to implement via their CMS... W√ľnderbar!

I actually found out about them recently while watching Dvorak's Cranky Geeks, and there, out of nowhere, John C. himself starts advertising SqSp and being ecstatic about their service and their technical implementation and stuff. Thus, I'm like, why not, let's give it a try. You see, the first attempt I did to implement our made4u homepage was via a local Barcelona, Spain based ISP implementation of free as a bird Joomla and there were quite a bit of contemporary web functions missing. One key thing missing, for example, was the ability to create and publish custom forms, like questionnaires. And those buggers, questionnaires I mean, were a must-have to our project.

Imagine my feelings when I found out how swiftly SqSp implemented forms to build questionnaires! It was an instant 'buy'! Next thing happens, I had to convert my initial trial into a permanent annual subscription and carry over the entire site from Joomla to SqSp. Six hours work and... Bob's your uncle!

One of the functions I'm enjoying the most with SqSp's CMS, is their CSS styling fine-tuning. Although, it seems at times that it kinda doesn't go deep enough in using Classes and Id's, still, you get sufficient freedom to do your own cool stuff. Now, if you happen to be a seasoned developer, and quite proficient in HTML, JS and CSS, then the sky is the limit... not?

Last thing I'd mention about SqSp was their user support. Jeez! Unbelievable. It starts with a fabulous ticket maintenance system that aggregates all tickets reflecting your dialogs with support. A rich, informative, stylish online system, all implemented in AJAX, that keeps track of the status of all your tickets, which you are the one responsible for closing! Next, the responsiveness of those dudes on the other side of the pond, Manhattan. It was Saturday midday over here, something past seven am on the East Coast. I fired a couple of tickets asking some trivial stuff that beginners always ask (like, eh, where can I find such and such,...) and by the time I finished typing in the details of my second ticket, something goes flashing in red on top of my browser saying I had an answer to my first one, sent to them literally minutes earlier. Jesus, Maria, Josef! Couldn't believe what I saw! Go try this one with one of the big boys then, the likes of MSFT, SAP, IBM or ORCL... Good luck!

Well done SquareSpace. Hope you grow real big in your branch...

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