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top 5 new business catalyst features

Rob Miles - Friday, February 01, 2013

Below are my top 5 new Business Catalyst features for business owners. If you'd like any help implementing any of these features for your website, please contact us.

1. SEO metadata for pages

 

With the recent January system update, BC have brought the enhanced SEO Metadata tool out of beta. BC will automatically enable the new interface for all sites that don't require migration and newly created sites. If you don't see the new interface, you need to manually run the migration process by visiting: Site Settings > Beta Features > SEO Page Interface, and clicking “Go to the migration page”. Learn more here

2. improved web form and comment security

 

BC has introduced a new native CAPTCHA engine that will be available in parallel with the current engine. They've made it more difficult to visually read, but also more secure against spam bots that base their actions on image detection. You can switch between the existing and new CAPTCHA engines under: Site Settings > Captcha. Learn more here

3. incontext campaign editing for business owners (beta)

 

BC has introduced a new editing experience for business owners that’s intuitive and separates content from style inside your email campaigns. When you go to edit the content of this template, you're only manipulating the raw content itself, and hence are unable to break elements or the overall layout. Learn more here

4. embed dynamic modules inside email campaigns

 

You can now insert dynamic modules such as news items and blog posts inside email marketing campaigns. Using the new specifiable module templates feature, you can easily create and render these modules in a way that’s email newsletter friendly, opposed to simply inserting the web-version of the module. Learn more here

5. new V3 admin interface

 

If you haven't been using it already, I recommend that you switch to the enhanced V3 admin interface. Click the "V3 Preview" in the top right of the admin area. V3 will become the default interface for all users starting with BC's April/early-May system update.

business catalyst january system update

Rob Miles - Thursday, January 31, 2013

Below are my highlights for business owners:

A new, persistent navigation ribbon

 

BC has updated the Admin V3 navigation ribbon for ease-of-use and to make it easier for new users to understand. The new ribbon can persist even when you’re visiting the front-end of your website, and contain the following modes:

  • Preview (a new mode, for previewing the front-end of your site)
  • Manage (formerly “Site Manager”)
  • Content (formerly “Site Editor”)
  • Develop (formerly “File Manager”)

As part of this update, BC is also bringing the new “File Manager” out of alpha and renaming it “Develop” mode. In addition to editing your HTML/CSS/JS files via this mode, you can now also set Page Properties for your site.

A range of Web App enhancements

Based on a lot of valuable feedback from the Partner community, BC has added several enhancements to the Web Apps feature. As of this system update, you’ll be able to:

  • Render a custom page when accessing the root URL of a Web App. For example, if you have a “blog” Web App, the items can be made accessible at /blog/my-blog-post, and you’ll have the ability to customize the /blog page
  • Render Web App items inside a sub-folder, such as /folder/subfolder/webapp-name. For example, you could have /blog/authors/bogdan (where Bogdan is the Web App item name)
  • Instruct BC to not display or index the Web App items of a specific Web App. Today, all Web App item’s URLs can be indexed by search engines. For example, /states/california should throw a 4040 page

Stay tuned for more exciting Web App updates in the near future.

Email marketing list filtering

BC is bringing this great feature out of beta, while introducing a range of new list filters. For full details on this feature, see the previous release notes

Inventory control for products

After extensive testing and integrating the great feedback from the Partner community, BC is finally bringing Product Inventory Control out of beta.

For full details on this feature, please refer to this forum article

SEO Metadata for pages

 

With this latest system update, BC is also bringing the enhanced SEO Metadata tool out of beta. BC will automatically enable the new interface for all sites that don't require migration and newly created sites. If you don't see the new interface, you need to manually run the migration process by visiting Site Settings > Beta Features > SEO Page Interface, and clicking “Go to the migration page”. Read more about this feature here.

Admin V3 default for all users in April/May

BC is giving you 3 months to migrate over to using the new V3 Admin interface, before making it the default interface for all users starting with the April/early-May system update.

Streamlined email marketing editing experience

In line with BC's on-going beta development of the email marketing editing experience, with this system update you’ll notice that they've introduced a new editor and also moved the “Subject” field to the “Content” step of the wizard, for easier reference and editing.

They've also integrated the fantastic Redactor editor in place of the existing WYSIWYG editor, for editing Email Campaign content. If you've enabled the "Visual, in-context editing" beta feature via Site Settings > Beta Features, you'll be able to see the new editor in action. BC is planning to roll this change out across all sections of Business Catalyst in future updates.

SPAM and Security improvements

With this update, BC is updating the SPAM management feature to not send comment workflow emails when a comment is marked as SPAM – keeping your inbox clean.

They're also turning on the Secure Redirect feature for all websites, to ensure a secure experience for your website and it's visitors. If you would like to redirect visitors to external websites from your site, you should add them under Site Settings > Secure Domain Redirection.

For more information on any of these features, please refer to the Business Catalyst Blog or contact us

business catalyst new feature highlights

Rob Miles - Thursday, November 08, 2012

Below are my highlights for business owners:

Level 1 PCI Compliance

Adobe Business Catalyst is happy to announce that they are now certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. If you’re not familiar with PCI, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council’s mission is to enhance payment account data security by driving education and awareness of the PCI Security Standards. They created the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), designed to prevent, detect, and react to security incidents. All Level 1 PCI DSS compliant service providers must undergo an annual independent audit by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) to confirm compliant status.

Introducing the “Beta features” program

BC has introduced a new opt-in beta program, so you can easily take new features or system enhancements for a test drive, while they’re still in the development and testing phase. The goal of this program is to gather your valuable feedback on new features, and make sure they’re production ready before rolling them out across all sites. The new “Beta features” screen can be accessed under “Site Settings” from the Admin Console, and lets you opt-in on a feature-by-feature basis, per client site. 

Product inventory control for attributes (beta)

This much anticipated feature enables you to manage product inventory and stock levels based on what we now call “variations”. You can enable this on a site-by-site basis from the new Site Settings > Beta Features section of the Admin Console. 

 

Email list segmentation (beta)

In order to send a targeted email campaign in the past, you have been required to first create a custom report to filter your customer database, then go back and create the campaign. BC are simplifying this process by enabling business owners to segment their customer database and create targeted mailing lists during actual campaign creation. This new feature is accessible in beta from the new Site Settings > Beta Features section of the Admin Console. 

Embed dynamic modules inside email campaigns

BC are now enabling you to insert dynamic modules such as news items and blog posts inside email marketing campaigns, using a completely revamped Module Manager. These modules are then dynamically rendered when the campaign is sent, so the recipient sees the latest content. Using the new specifiable module templates feature, you can easily create and render these modules in a way that’s email newsletter friendly, opposed to simply inserting the web-version of the module.

A fresh set of email newsletter templates

We all know the time it takes to build beautiful email newsletters that look great across the wide-range of email clients out there. That’s why BC has put together a brand new set of cross-client compatible email templates for you to use. 

 

The ability to “exclude” lists or custom reports from final email campaign recipients

Easily exclude a certain list of recipients from your total pool of recipients. For instance, this is especially handy if you’re sending to a large list, but would like to exclude all customers who haven’t made a purchase in the 6 months.

 

New campaign performance report for email clients recipients are using

A brand new report for monitoring which email clients your recipients are opening newsletters with. Keep an eye on this metric, and make sure you optimize your campaign content to look great in the most popular clients.

Updated “sending” status for campaigns so you can easily monitor it’s sending progress

Keep an eye on the sending progress of your campaign as it sends to recipients. 

Refreshed Toolbox (previously Module Manager) for Admin v3

A completely revamped module manager (aka Toolbox) that neatly docks to the right of the WYSIWYG editor. 

 

Easily add Google Apps accounts for domain email

Simply select the new “Use your Google Apps account for email” when adding or editing your domain. Read this article for further details. 

Introducing Akismet for SPAM protection

In the previous months we've noticed an increase in SPAM related (primarily) to blog comments – and we'd like to thank our partners for making it clear to us that this was dramatically impacting most of the sites hosted on BC. Akismet is the de facto SPAM protection solution for blogs – easy to manage and use, smart (it learns quickly which comments are SPAM and which are not) and reliable. BC has extended Akismet for all types of comments on BC (web pages, products, catalogues, web apps, etc). For web forms alone BC are still investigating if Akismet is the right solution, as people tend to feel more secure if CAPTCHA is involved when filling out a form (whether we are talking about a donation form, a payment form or just a contact form).

All site owners or partners will have to manually enable Akismet on their websites. BC hasn't enabled it by default. Click here for more information

Improved tax rounding engine

BC has improved the algorithm that calculates the value of sales taxes. This invoice calculation now respects best practices in the industry, fixing error propagation and including intelligent rounding for 2 decimals. To enable the improved tax rounding engine on existing sites, please follow this guide. The improved tax rounding engine is enabled by default for all new Business Catalyst sites.

User interface consistency for renamed modules

The new admin user interface has been updated to consistently use new names for these modules:

  • Media downloads (former Literature)
  • News (former Announcements)
  • Events (former Bookings)

Offline payment security improvements

The security of the current offline payment workflow has been improved in order to meet international security standards for offline payments:

  • A new, additional “Offline payment password” must be set, and updated every 90 days
  • Pass phrases are now unique to each order. You can no longer use the one pass phrase to access every secure PDF

This will help transactions be more secure and protect business owners from potential attacks. Here's a more detailed view of this feature.

SEO options enabled out-of-the-box

The Site Settings > SEO menu entry in Admin Console has been removed. The available options were:

  • SEO friendly URLs for eCommerce, Announcements, Web Apps – these will be enabled for all sites
  • Enable partial URL matching for SEO friendly URLs – this will remain as is for all sites, and will no longer be possible to enable it for new sites, which will have it turned off
  • Enable sitemap.xml for search engines – this will remain as is for existing sites, and always enabled for new sites

Note that trial sites will not be indexed by search engines. Should you want to disable search engine indexing after upgrade, please use a custom robots.txt file or upload an empty sitemap.xml.

If you'd like to use a custom sitemap.xml file, simply upload it to your site. If this file exists, it will be served instead of the BC-generated sitemap.xml.

Updated user and email accounts user interfaces

To simplify the user and email accounts management workflows and increase Admin interface performance, BC has updated their corresponding user interfaces.

While email and user accounts will continue to share data to facilitate email and admin access for the same email address, the management of emails and user accounts will be separated. In addition, for better security, the user and email accounts will be created using an invitation workflow, which means that the user creating the account will not be able to set a password for the account they are creating.

In addition, by separating the email and user account management, BC are dropping the option of having a user that doesn't have admin and email access. While these accounts will continue to live on the system, they will have no interface to manage them. To manage these, you will need use the old user interface to enable email or admin access for each of these user accounts.

Enhanced code editor for File Manager

The file manager code editor has been enhanced to support syntax highlight and other features. This is just a start to make code editing more productive inside BC, more will come.

 

New plan names

BC wanted plans to have names that are more descriptive of what they actually include, and as such, have been updated as follows:

  • Starter > webBasics+
  • Business > webMarketing
  • Pro 1 > webCommerce
  • Pro 5 > webCommerce 5
  • Pro 10 > webCommerce 10

For more information on any of these features, please refer to the Business Catalyst Blog or contact us.

major business catalyst feature updates

Rob Miles - Thursday, August 25, 2011

Business Catalyst has released 3 major feature updates since June. Below are my highlights for business owners:

Free additional mailbox storage

As part of BC's ongoing efforts to provide customers with the best email platform possible, they have upgraded the standard mailbox size to 5GB of storage, up from 2GB. There's no additional cost and there's nothing you need to do to implement these changes. The upgrade has already been completed, allowing both new and existing sites to take advantage of the additional storage.

Blog improvements

Similar to other blogging platforms, BC now allows customers to change a blog post author by selecting it from a list of site admin users. Additionally, site users can now enter a short biography and profile image that can be included in the blog post layouts using the: {tag_blogpostauthorbiography}, /CatalystImages/UserProfileDefault.jpg and . The user can change both user biography and avatar from My Account interface, while site administrators can update them from the user management interface.

Site settings

BC are starting to consolidate some of the site-wide settings in a new section called Site Settings. With this release, they're enabling you to define Facebook, form security (Captcha) and shop settings. In future releases BC plans to allow customers use this interface to update site timezone, country and other global settings.

  • Shop settings: you now have the ability to set the shopping cart lifetime (lets you define how many hours a cart content is kept in the system for returning customers) and the ability to enable/disable the productfeed.xml which you can use to publish your products on product directories like Google Product Search.
  • Captcha settings: this is used to enforce server side check on Catpcha for the Refer to a Friend, Campaign Subscription and Comments forms. The forms built with our web forms engine have this setting incorporated and they check for Captcha only if you've added the field when you've created the form
  • Facebook settings: this is where you can enable Facebook login for your site and enter your Facebook application details (URL, App ID and App Secret Key)

Customisable SEO Friendly URLs for Web Apps

Continuing the work on this feature, BC has now added support for customisable URLs to the Web Apps module. To take advantage of this feature for your web apps, you will need to enable it from Admin > Search Engine Optimization settings page. The new URL will look like:http://www.yoursite.com/webapp-name/webapp-item-name. The web app item URL part is automatically generated from the web app item title and can be modified when editing an web app item. Similarly, you can edit the web app url, which can be edited from the manage web app screen.

 

Customisable workflow notifications

One of the most requested features on BC's wish list was to give site administrators a way to customise workflow notification emails to include relevant information or to have it translated in the site user's language. BC has now provided a solution that offers the ability to customise those workflow notification emails from the "Customize System Emails" area.

This notification template will work for all workflow notifications and can be customised by adding different tags, changing From: address or email Subject: fields. Configuration window will be similar to other system emails. 

Further enhancements to the customisable workflow & order notifications:

  • Made the new layouts available through FTP. Starting next week, you can use Dreamweaver or any other FTP tool to grab the files and edit them, as well as doing bulk transfers between sites.
  • Added new tags to Packing Slip and Package Label layouts: {tag_shippingattention} has been added in the Packing slip template while {tag_invoicenumber}, {tag_shippingattention}, {tag_shippingdescription} and {tag_shippinginstructions} have been added to the Package Label layout.
Read the Knowledgebase article

Order status change notifications

This is an essential e-commerce feature for keeping paying customers up to date with the status of their online order. We want to make sure that when an order status is changed, the customer will be notified of the new order status. For example, when an order is shipped, an automated email is sent to that customer with a proper notification.

 

The e-mail message template used for customer notifications will be available in the System Emails section. The system will generate an email template for every order status and will allow partners and site administrators to pick which order statuses will require a notification. By default, no status types will have any associated notifications set.

Read the Knowledgebase article

AWB tracking number and tracking URL support in orders

One piece of information missing from the Business Catalyst order system was the ability to save a tracking number (AWB) and an URL to the shipping provider web page so that customers can access information about their shipment status in the My Account section or through an order notification email. The June release will enable the following workflows:

  • Site owners can assign a tracking number (AWB) and tracking URL to the order once the shipping providers picks up the package. The Update Order user interface now includes these two fields allowing site owners to manually include this information; Automation integration with shipping providers is planned for a future release.
  • Administrator/Partner can use this information in Order notification emails layouts and site front-end layouts to make it available to site customers.
  • Once the changes are made on the site, customers will be able to track their orders effortlessly. 
Read the Knowledgebase article

Recursive modules (modules inside modules)

You now have the ability to display modules inside modules, including the ability to insert modules inside content holders. Other examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Being able to put products or catalogs inside blog posts
  • Being able to insert any module inside a web-app list or detailed view (webform module, catalogs/products, literature items)

Other updates

  • Social integration updates: BC has improved the social integration support by adding two new modules: Facebook Activity Feed and Facebook Send. Additionally, all social modules are now available in the Insert Module menu from Admin and in the Dreamweaver extension as well.
  • Alternate email address: BC has added an additional email field for every user, that will be used to send forgot password emails. This is particularly useful for those users hosting their business email with BC and had to go back to their partner or BC's support team to recover their password. Starting with this release, you will be able to receive the email on a secondary email address at your choice.
  • Remove related DNS records: when you remove a domain name or its "www" counterpart, the system will automatically delete all related records (redirects, mail records, etc.) after requesting and receiving a confirmation.
  • Added subscribe & unsubscribe to newsletter confirmation pages: this will prevent automatic mailing list subscription or unsubscription to mailing caused by search bots indexing web mail; as a consequence, instead of automatically subscribing or unsubscribing users to mailing lists, BC has added a page requiring users to press a button to confirm their action. You can modify the page content and appearance by updating two additional System Messages layouts: Subscribe Confirmation Form and Unsubscribe Confirmation Form.
  • Payment gateways infrastructure updates: payment infrastructure updates for enhanced security and reliability.
  • Updated the WYSIWYG editor to the latest version which includes better support for iPad and lots of bug fixes.
  • Forum subscriptions: users can subscribe to forums and receive notifications every time a new topic is opened. The email notification template allows you to use topic subject and forum name in the email notification subject, making it more easy to filter and read.
  • Updated social integration: added support for Facebook activity feed and Facebook Send as well as updating the Like module to add support for Facebook send.
  • Packing slip and package labels: site administrators or drop shipping suppliers now have a way to print packaging list and package label for each order received. Also the templates for both the packaging list and package label can now be customised. Read KB article
  • Email marketing: campaigns with 20 or less subscribers are now automatically approved by the system
  • Extended FTP support: With the June release BC has extended FTP support by making email campaigns and content holders available through FTP.
  • Device specific site wide templates: BC's multi-screen support has just got better by allowing you to define device specific site wide templates. Each template now has a default version for desktop screens and two additional ones (tablets and smartphones). When displaying a page, the system will automatically use the template corresponding to te detected device, if that template has been defined. If no content is defined in a template, the system will fallback to the immediately higher resolution templates (phone falls back to tablet which falls back to desktop).

a sneak peak at BC v3

Rob Miles - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today Business Catalyst released a sneak peak of the preliminary UI design for the new dashboard - click below to enlarge. BC V3 is going to have more of a 'desktop' feel where each module or feature is contained within an App that is launched from the BC Dashboard. For example, to manage your blogs, you will open the Blog App, for your photos you will have a Galleries App, ecommerce gets a Store App, the CRM gets a Customers App and well, you get the idea. The aim of this approach is to provide for all of your end-to-end workflows within individual apps rather than trying to make you skip around the system. We would only turn on the Apps that you need to run your Online Business to keep the system easy for you and the side dashboard navigation menu uncluttered.

Furthermore BC will be building the whole UI in HTML not Flex (turning BC into an Air App) as some have feared so it will work in all your favourite browsers. One of BC's primary UI requirements is to be accessible from iOS devices as well so you will be able to use BC from an iPad! As the BC team builds more and more of the App we'll be able to sneak more previews and details over the coming months.

new dns management tools released

Rob Miles - Saturday, June 19, 2010

BC has recently launched a new and powerful set of DNS Management Tools for your BC sites.

In this post, we'll show you how to get started with the new DNS tools and point you towards the relevant articles and resources.

1. Check out the refreshed interface

Our new DNS tools give you full control over the DNS settings for your BC sites.

Simply navigate to Admin > Manage Your Domain to access the updated interface.

From here you can:

  1. Setup Domain Names - add your own domain names choose whether you want to host your Domain name externally or re-delegate to your Business Catalyst sites.
  2. Forward Domains - allowing you to forward your www records to your non-www records, solving canonical domain issues and helping your SEO.
  3. Setup A records - create sub-domains for your site and choose the start page, country and culture for them.
  4. Setup CNAME records - add any number of sub-domains and point them to externally hosted websites and services, or to another A record that you've created on your site
  5. Setup MX Records - quickly and easily set up external hosted mail services
  6. Setup Advanced records - add your own TXT, SPF, SRV or AAAA records

2. Read the brand new DNS tutorial

As with all new feature releases, BC has updated our documentation to provide clients with a detailed run-through of how to use the new DNS management features.

To familiarise yourself with the new DNS setup process, it's important you refer to the following article:

The article will explain the process for adding new domain names, all the way through to setting up sub-domains and externally hosted mail services with MX Records.

3. Issues? Check the troubleshooting guide

To help you troubleshoot DNS issues yourself without waiting on a Support ticket, BC has put together a handy troubleshooting guide, sharing their own personal tips for diagnosing DNS-related issues.

Please note that DNS re-delegation is not an instant process - you may need to wait for the changes to propagate before the domain name update becomes effective. If the changes are not visible within 48 hours, please follow the steps outlined in the troubleshooting guide prior to submitting a Support ticket.