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Slabmedia

General Information

What is a "managed system"?

We commonly refer to the Slab CMS as a "managed" solution. What do we mean by that? And what advantages does a managed system have over an unmanaged one?

Being "managed" means our system is integrated, centrally administred and overseen, and secure.

Many content management systems available today, whether they are open source or proprietary, rely on a plugin architecture to bolster their feature set. While the core software package originates from a trusted source, in order to extend the software's capabilities, web developers must rely on plugins submitted by third parties. These plug-in repositiories can be thought of as "App Stores" of sorts, though without the careful curation typical of major companies. In fact, most of the plugins in these repositiories offer no guarantee of compatibility with current core software versions, and many are no longer actively updated at all. In the worst case, they contain overtly malicious code, exposing their users to possbile data theft or loss.

Integration
When core software updates are released to address security concerns or add features, any of the plugins used on a site can, and often do, become inoperable. This means that keeping a site completely up to date, both in terms of its features and security, involves ensuring every single plugin on the site is also updated. Given the various degrees of commitment on the part of plug-in developers, we think this is hardy an ideal solution.

The Slab web system uses modules similar to plug-ins to extend its core feature set; however, all these modules are developed in-house, and are tightly integrated into the core software that powers our websites. That's what we mean by managed. Updates to the core always take into account the modules, and vise-vesa. The result are clean upgrades to address feature requests and security concerns, without any downtime, and the elimination of the multiple points of failure inherent in plug-in based software.

Centrally Administred
In addition to integration of our modules and core software, being a managed solution means we oversee our software administration centrally. When you use our system, you can count on us to ensure your site will run as designed, today, and in ten years. We will update your software and any modules you are running to address security concerns transparently and with no interaction necessary on your part. You focus on content, we focus on making sure your site is available and up to date.

Secure
In a plug-in based system, every feature facilitated by a plug-in is a potential attack vector for hackers. Your site is more vulnerable simply by virture of the number of different avenues available to attackers. Because Slab CMS is integrated, the types of attacks available to hackers are severely restricted. Rather than many potential points of failure, we have very few (and we watch those like hawks). Managed is more secure than fragmented.

Custom modules

If you don't see a module in our list, we will design it for you. If we feel that your module has a popular use, it will be added to our module library and there will be no extra charge for it. If the module you want is unique to your site, we will quote you a charge for custom work.

Hosting on another server

Hosting is currently part of the service plan for all Slab sites. Our service plan includes regular updates & improvements, and access to customer service via phone or email.

If you want to license our system, we can arrange that for you for a fee.

Definitions

Web Publishing Platform

A web publishing platform is an application that lives in "the cloud" (the cloud is a series of networked computers) that allows for the easy addition and editing of content for presentation online via a website.

Module

We use the term module to refer to a sub-application that governs the content behavior of a given section of a website. Different modules behave differently, for example, a calendar module has different elements and layout than a gallery module. Slab9 comes with dozens of pre-created modules, and custom modules can be created to suit the needs of particular sites.

Content Management System or CMS

A Content Management System or CMS can refer to a complete website creation application or to a smaller system that allows you to format text on an individual page. In the early days of web applications, this term was used more universally. Now it generally refers to just the text formatting element.

Dynamic web site

The word dynamic when used to describe a website means that the content is variable based on outside sources. Content is user generated and stored in a database or data set, kept apart from the design of the site. We believe in the separation of content, style and structure here at Slabmedia.

Front end interface

This is a term, used mostly by us and means that users can edit the page they are viewing as part of the normal public structure of the site. It is meant to show the distinction between our own Slab9 web publishing platform, and those that rely on an admin area for editing access.

Multi level access

This means that different users have different access to areas of the site as well as different kinds of administrative abilities. So, a press agent can be given access to edit only your press pages while you have access to everything. Your average site members only have access to your forum, and anonymous visitors can 'read-only'. With Slab9 you can set multiple levels of access, apart from the highest level admin access.

Domain Names

What is the difference between Web Hosting and Domain Registration?

Your domain name is simply the text in the url between the http://www. and the end of the .com or .org or .net or whatever ends it. You register the domain name at a registrar like networksolutions.com or pairnic.com or wherever you want (we recommend pairnic). Once registered, your registrar reserves your name so that it cannot be used by anyone else in the world, and points it to your webserver where your site is hosted.

Think of your webserver (we are a webserver provider) as your house, and the domain registrar as the local town registry of deeds. You can go the to registry of deeds to find out where the house is, but you don't go there expecting to see the house.

Another way to think of these two is the difference between your phone number and your phone. The number gets a caller to your phone, but you don't need to buy your phone from the phone company that registers your number (in an ideal world).

Please contact us with further questions about domain names and hosting on SLAB500.com

How do you claim a domain name?

The trick to acquiring the domain name you want is to use a trusted registrar to (a) find out if it is available, and (b) to register it for yourself.

It is important to use a legitimate registrar, such as pairnic.com, so that you don't inadvertently alert scammers that you want that particular name. Scammers have ways of tracking which domain names are desirable and will pounce on ones that are searched. To avoid losing your domain name in that way, stick to the trusted registrar sites to do all your research.

Once you have determined that the domain name you want is available, then you can use that same trusted registrar, or the registrar with whom you already have sites registered to claim it for yourself.

Why did my Domain Registrar email me?

Did you receive and email from your domain name registrar that looks something like this?:

"Dear Customer,  
This notification is being sent to you as a regulatory requirement of the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) WHOIS  policy.  When you registered your domain with us, you agreed to keep your contact information in Account  Manager   current, and WHOIS policy mandates that we ask you to verify and/or update this information periodically.  Further, ICANN requires us to remind you that providing inaccurate or dated contact information may be grounds for domain name cancellation..."

But what does it mean?

Domain Registrar companies are required to periodically remind their customers to update their information to keep the data current and accurate.  When you get an email like this, we suggest that you take the opportunity to check in and make sure your information is correct.  The emails usually contain instructions on how to do this, and it is important that you keep that data current so that you won't miss renewal reminders and so that your domain name remains protected.  

If you can't remember which company you used to purchase your domain name and are not sure if the email is legitimate, you can go to any domain registrar and look up your information (we recommend http://whois.pairnic.com) and look up your registrar there; pairnic is a competing domain name registration company and will list where your domain name currently lives.  It's kind of like how you can look up someone's phone number using different kinds of yellow-pages: they all have the same information listed even though they are different companies.  Once you are sure the email is legitimate, go ahead and follow the instructions provided.


Web-Related Issues

What can Slabmedia do to improve my search rankings?

Before Google, search engines checked hidden text on websites (such as "keywords") to get search results. Unfortunately, web developers tended to overfill these keywords to mislead search engines, and drive up site traffic.

When Google started, they changed this dynamic by ignoring all keywords on websites. Google only indexes visible text on your site. More importantly, Google prioritizes larger, bolder, or italic text in decreasing importance from the top of the page to the bottom. This makes Google's search results much more accurate and relevant than Lycos', Yahoo's, or Bing's.

One of the keys to success in modern search engine placement, especially on Google, is to include specific words and phrases you think people will search for to find your site in the headlines of your site. In the SLAB500 system, this is often the "title" of an entry, or the "category". Slab driven pages have a simple outline-like hierarchy when seen without the style and background graphics (which is how Google sees the site) and so, the titles and headline tags are placed very close to the top of the page.

Another way to improve search-ability is to develop specific page titles (the text in the very top of your browser window) for each page - giving you a wider net of search phrases. We have developed an SEO module that will allow you to customize page titles, as well as keywords (still searched by Yahoo) and site descriptions on each page. This module is available for a one time charge of $125.

But wait! There's more. Even if the page is structured correctly, and full of search phrases, it's Google ranking can still remain low if the site has a low number of daily visitors, and/or links to it by other websites. One way to correct this is via a targeted, opt-in email marketing campaign, to get eyes on the pages, and by having reviews of your site or services posted on other websites with a link to your site.

There are some services offered and web developers who recommend using hidden (and irrelevant) text, and phony linking sites to boost your ranking, but from our point of view, it is not worth the risk. If Google feels that you are being misleading, it will reduce your ranking, or even worse, get you banned from their index. Not a good place to be.

Unfortunately, one has to be popular to become popular. Search engine optimization is no substitute for a good marketing campaign. However, once your site gets recognized, the methods mentioned above will help ensure that you stay popular.

How do I control my keywords, site description and page titles?

The first thing to do, is to enter keywords and a site description. This can be accessed via the "SITE CONFIGURATION" selection under the Slab menu in the upper right hand corner.

Keywords are monitored by every search engine except google - they are search terms separated by commas ie: "integrative medicine, cancer, alternative medicine, etc" -- you can go up to 255 characters with this.

A Site Title is used by Google, and it is a simple description of your service or your site.

Beyond that, for a charge tbd, we can monitor your progress via Google's statistic tools, and webmaster tools. We can give you a report every other week, fine tune the content of your site, and suggest ways to promote it to increase your ranking. At first it can take a few months to establish yourself on Google, however, our system is very Google-friendly, and I think with a little adjustment, and some external links, we should be able to get you on the first page at the very least.

What is 'Google Analytics'?

Google Analytics is a free program that gives you ample data about your website traffic.  It provides tools to track and view various kinds of information about who is looking at your site.  Powered by Google, the program is designed to help you "write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites."

The best place to find out more about Google Analytics is here:

http://www.google.com/analytics/

How do I add Google Analytics to my site?

From your slab[menu] select 'Configurations'.  Then, paste the Google Analytics code into the 'SEO Tracking" field.

What is Piwik?

Piwik is an amazing open-source option that can track and display all sorts of data about who is using your site, when they are using it, and to some extent, what they are using it for.  The program is easy-to-read, understand and manipulate, and we highly endorse this as a better alternative to competing analytical tools. Some of the advantages of the Piwik system include the ability to generate reports as often as you would like. By default, Piwik generates reports in real time.  If your website has high traffic, you can choose what frequency you would like instead.  You have control over your options.  

Just like with SLABmedia, you have a lot of control over your own Piwik account.  You can decide what features you want and which ones to remove.  Plus, since the user interface is very customizable, you have the ability to drag and drop each feature to create your perfect display.Besides the basic traffic data that you would get with any analyzer system (such as how many people visited each of your pages), you can also see what keywords were used in searches that caused the visitor to click on your site, how long they stayed on any particular page of yours, what geographical places accessed your site, what pages were used as an entry to your site, and which ones were the last stop for any visitor.  To see the full gamut of options, we recommend that you check out the Piwik demo listed below.

If you are already using Google Analytics, you may want to consider adding Piwik as a second source of tracking information.  Piwik offers some different options from Google Analytics and has a very unique look to it that helps process the information it gathers in a different way.  We like both programs and think they can both be useful in their own right, but we are particularly excited about the expanded possibilities offered by Piwik and encourage you to browse the basics highlighted in the demo listed below.  To have Piwik installed on your site, or to get more information about it, shoot us an email or give us a call and we will be happy to talk to you about this option.

Editing Your Content

Creating a Categories, Galleries, Families or Sections

To create a new category, add a new entry (like a photo or a news item) by logging in and clicking the new button on the page you want the item to be and then add a category name to the create category field.
To delete a category, either delete all entries in that category or rename the category.

Video Demo

This video should answer most of your questions regarding editing and adding content on Slab. Click the link below.

Getting Started

Email or call us, and we will set you up. Production time is about 4-6 weeks from receipt of deposit and all design materials.  Rush service is available for 50% additional to the quote.  Turn around time is then 10 business days.

Logging in

In the footer of every page of the site there is a button that says members login or 4 Admins or some such. Click there and then enter your user name and password assigned to you by us.
To register for a user name and password, fill out the information below this login form and a username and password will be sent to you. However you will not be assigned administrative abilities without the permission of the site manager.

Adding new pages in a section

You can add pages to any module that has already been installed. Simply login and click on the NEW button near the bottom of any page or, if you don't see one at the bottom of the page, in the SLAB500 MENU near the top of the page.

Editing an existing page

Same as adding a new page, click on the EDIT button near the bottom of the page. Make sure you are logged in first.

How to Order Categories, Galleries, Families or Sections

To get categories to run in an order other than alphabetical, you need to rename each of the categories by editing an entry in each category.

Once you've started editing the entry - click on the RENAME CATEGORY FIELD, enter the category name, if it does not show up on it's own, and select an ORDER from the pull down field to the right of that category. If you have not set the other categories to a numerical order, you will need to order all the other categories so that they show up in the proper position.