Editing text on your website may not seem as exciting as bigger features like section management or the media player (which we’ll talk about next week). But making a great text editor is incredibly important… and harder than it might seem. Here’s a little peek at the process behind how we approached this for Clover Sites 3:
For starters, the experience a text editor offers in a website content management system (CMS) can make or break the entire editing experience. And it’s one of those pieces that website solutions don’t pay that much attention to in most cases. As a result, actually using it to write or edit text ends up being a big headache and in some cases can be the most buggy piece of the product for the customers to use. Whether it’s due to poor craftsmanship or simply trying to force-fit a plug and play, off-the-shelf solution to save a bit of time, either way, it’s the end user – the customer – that suffers for it.
Because of how much the web has progressed over the years, when we first started to design the tool that would handle creating and editing all the text anywhere it appears in Clover Sites 3, we thought we would give an open-source tool a try. With all the work put into some of the tools out there, we were hopeful that we could use something that was already developed. This would save us development time and ideally provide a robust editor.
So, we spent some time researching all the available tools out there. We then selected one we thought would fit great, and began using it as a starting point, and also started customizing it a lot to make it really work with Clover and the Greenhouse editing experience. However, as we got further and further into it, we realized we were customizing it way more than we thought we would have to.
Long story short, after finding something we thought would be great, and working through a lot of code to try to make it fit beautifully within the new Greenhouse, we ended up seeing that it just wasn’t ever going to be the right fit. So, we took a version of our own that we had built from scratch and decided to use that instead and really make something amazing.
The justification was this. Text makes up such a large portion of anyone’s website, and we really want to make that whole experience flawless so the tool itself becomes secondary to your content, and it just simply works. We think we’ve done that with the new text editing experience and we can’t wait for you to try it.
And of course, as with everything there’s a lot more we could say about how this will all work. We could talk about how you’ll have simplified controls automatically when in easy mode, so things are as clean and uncluttered as possible. And how if you toggle to advanced mode you’ll get additional options to really customize everything, down to line height, inline images, and even the HTML source if you’re inclined to tinker And of course you’ll have the ability to change fonts, text size, and colors – even on a word by word basis if you really want (though we’d probably suggest keeping it a bit more simple for those who have to read what you write).
Bottom line? The text editor is one of those things you probably won’t ever think about when using the new Greenhouse, and that’s exactly the way it should be. A powerfully simple editing experience that just works and doesn’t get in your way.
Posted on July 22nd, 2014 under Clover Sites 3, Company News by Eric with 3 comments.
Our Summer Promotion with Proclaim is in full swing, but there’s just two weeks left!
To recap, here’s how it works:
1. Get $100 off any new website during the month of July using this special link: http://www.cloversites.com/r/proclaim
2. We’ll be giving away a free website through Proclaim’s Summer of Giveaways at the end of the month, along with a bunch of other great things from them (see below for all the details). And, if you purchase a Clover website this month and end up winning the giveaway, we’ll fully refund your purchase price! If you haven’t yet, enter to win right here, and help spread the word!
3. Last but not least, thanks to Proclaim, you can try out their church presentation software for a full 3 months – completely free – so you can see if it’s a good fit for your church or ministry. To take advantage of this, simply use this link when you sign up for Proclaim: proclaimonline.com/clover
Questions? Give us a call or shoot us an email: (805) 527-8900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on July 16th, 2014 under Clover Sites, Company News by Eric with 2 comments.
You may remember a post we wrote a few weeks back, introducing the idea of Section-based Editing in the new Greenhouse for Clover Sites 3. If you missed it, check out the post for more of those details.
The way we designed it initially seemed right for a lot of reasons. But recently, after we started testing and actually using the initial version in the Greenhouse, we quickly saw that it could be a lot better. So, we decided to take a step back and revisit the design to help make things much simpler.
The main issue we saw was that the whole experience felt a bit too complicated and technical. When you switched to advanced mode in the Greenhouse (which is how you’ll enable section management), there were a lot of options and buttons that you had to navigate.
Honestly, it was still probably simpler than many other editing systems we’ve seen, but it wasn’t the level of simplicity and ease that you would expect from Clover.
So we’ve made it much better.
Here is a view of the old version, with all the possible actions you could take to add, reorder, edit and delete sections:
The New Design
Ultimately, we decided to make section management its own mode that can be accessed from the new site panel editor. Along with that, we moved all section editing into a full-screen editor, so it makes it easier to focus on your content as you edit the different sections on your page. As you’ll see below, this is an idea of the way it will work with the new design, which is a huge leap forward from what we originally imagined:
Bottom line? Now, adding, deleting, and reordering sections will be much more focused, allowing for easier, less intimidating management. And to be quite honest – it makes doing it a lot more fun.
Have any questions or thoughts about this? Let us know in the comments!
Posted on July 15th, 2014 under Clover Sites 3, Company News, Uncategorized by Eric with 17 comments.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to have a series of blog posts that dive a bit more into our process in creating Clover Sites 3. We’ll also show you some areas we’ve recently redesigned to make the experience even better. We’ll have posts about section management, text editing, the media player, and more.
But before we get into that, we wanted to let you know that in general, there’s been a whole lot going on.
One of the biggest things we wanted to tell you about is that we’ve added quite a few new people to our team just over the last month or so, and we’re expecting a few more to join us at the end of the Summer.
Jenna became a part of our team early on in June, and has been an incredible help to me since day 1. She’s been taking over a ton of things on the operations side of my role, to help me focus on Clover Sites 3 in this intense season of product development.
Trevor joined us just a few weeks ago as yet another full-time web developer dedicated to building Clover Sites 3. He’s already been diving into some core optimizations and tools – things like CS3 site publishing and reverting, file storage and security, as well as moving into the initial pieces of the site migration tool which will allow you to move from current Clover Sites to CS3.
During this time, we also brought on Noah, a web development intern currently pursuing his degree in Computer Science. He’s already been a big help in building some updates for Clover Donations, as well as starting work on some other internal tools we’ve wanted for a long time.
In just a couple weeks, Marcelo will be joining us as a full-time designer. He’ll be helping us continue to craft awesome, beautiful things. And he’ll be working closely with our development team to ensure designs and the holistic experience for CS3 is pixel-perfect and smooth.
At the beginning of August, we’re welcoming Scott to our team, as the new Customer Relations Manager. We already have an incredible customer service team, and Scott is going to not only continue that legacy, but also help lead the vision – developing more resources and better ways we can serve and be available to our customers. I know we keep teasing it, but we will have more information on some of the things we’re working on in this area in the next month or so. We’re really excited about it.
Finally, along with some of the updates to our Customer Relations team, we have a few available positions opening up – both part-time and full time to serve our customers. So if you think you might be a fit and would love to be a part of our team, just email email@example.com with your resume and cover letter. We look forward to hearing from you!
All of the new members of our team are focused on one goal: Clover Sites 3. This has already been a long season of investing in this new product, and we our continuing to put more resources behind it to make it happen as soon as possible!
P.S. In case you missed it, we just launched our Summer Promotion (in partnership with Proclaim Church Presentation Software). You have the chance to get $100 off a new website and can enter to win a bunch of prizes. Check it out and enter to win!
Posted on July 9th, 2014 under Clover Donations, Clover Sites 3, Company News by Eric with 2 comments.
Last Summer, we did a special promotion and had a lot of fun with it.
So, we decided to do something again this year, but we wanted to change it up a bit. We were talking to our friends over at Proclaim, (made by the people who brought us Logos Bible Software) and decided to join them for the month of July for this year’s Summer promo. We couldn’t be more excited about it and want to quickly tell you how this is going to work.
First things first. For the whole month of July, we’ll give you $100 off any Clover website purchased when you use this special link for friends of Proclaim: http://www.cloversites.com/r/proclaim
Also, we’re going to be giving away a free website as part of Proclaim’s summer of giveaways, along with a bunch of other great things from them (see below for all the details). And, if you purchase a Clover website this month and end up winning the giveaway, we’ll fully refund your purchase price!
The good news is, even if you don’t win the major prize, you can still get $100 off a brand new website, and thanks to Proclaim, you can try out their church presentation software for a full 3 months – completely free – so you can see if it’s a good fit for your church or ministry. Just use this link to sign up and start checking out Proclaim: proclaimonline.com/clover
Questions? Give us a call or shoot us an email: (805) 527-8900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on July 1st, 2014 under Clover Sites, Company News by Jenna with 5 comments.
It’s been a little over a month now since we started posting regular updates again (at least one or two a week). And so it seemed like a good time to write a quick post about our blog and get your thoughts and feedback on what you’ve seen so far.
The biggest thing we heard from all of you earlier this year, was that you just wanted to know more of what was going on at Clover – especially in relation to Clover Sites 3. Additionally, we wanted to do a better job of communicating and engaging more frequently with everyone, so we could answer your questions and be more transparent than ever with our process.
So far, that’s been our primary focus, and updates about our progress and about Clover Sites 3 will continue to drive a lot of our updates here on Speaking of Clover.
But beyond that, we’re interested to hear your thoughts so far. Specifically, are the kinds of updates and posts we’ve been writing helpful to you? Are there other things you’d like to know? And lastly, if you follow other blogs, which ones do you follow and what do you like most about them?
Looking forward to getting your thoughts!
P.S. – We’ve been wanting to update our blog design for a long time, to make things more readable and friendly for mobile. We’re finally in the process of making that happen and we plan to roll out the new design later this month. Here’s a sneak peek at the new look for those of you who might enjoy it!
Posted on June 17th, 2014 under Company News by Eric with 14 comments.
If you haven’t seen it on Facebook or Twitter, the iPhone app that Jim and I have been working on is now officially available in the app store!
It’s called Echo, and it’s a free tool to help you organize their prayer life and pray more effectively.
You can download it or read more about it on Echo’s new website. And you can read more about the story behind it on our earlier post.
Thank you to everyone who has already been sharing it. Please continue to tell anyone you know who might benefit from it!
Posted on June 10th, 2014 under Company News, Echo Prayer by Ben with 5 comments.
Earlier this week, we hit another major milestone with Clover Donations, and we want to celebrate with all of our Clover Donations customers. Since we launched, you’ve accepted over $100 million in donations — that’s truly incredible!
We’re very excited to be a part of your mission and your work all across the nation. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to participate in a small way - helping make the online donations process simple, easy, and of course, beautiful for you and your people.
To put the numbers in perspective, here’s a brief timeline:
- June 27th, 2012 – Clover Donations launches.
- April 23rd, 2013 – Organizations receive $20 Million online through Clover Donations in just over 9 months.
- November 5th, 2013 – Successful donations more than double in just over 6 months. By this time, $50 Million has been received by the churches, ministries and non-profits using Clover Donations.
- June 4, 2014 – $100 Million has now been given online to help fund the work of organizations across the US! Again, the donations have doubled in just over 6 months!
While this is an impressive track record, we’re not stopping here. We’re committed to continue making Clover Donations the best way to accept online donations, and the most affordable way for organizations to implement it. We have big plans for the future that we’ll be able to get you more info about a little later this year.
In short, exciting things are happening and more good things are on the way!
Posted on June 5th, 2014 under Clover Donations, Company News by Eric with 2 comments.
One of the biggest differences between the current version of Clover Sites and Clover Sites 3, is the way we are structuring each page of your website.
The current version is very much “page-based” editing. Page-based editing means that when you want to add content to your site, you think of it in terms of the whole page. So, if you want to have media on your site, you add a Media Page. If you want to put a bunch of text on your site, you add a Text Page, etc.
Although this sort of structure has been great for most people through the years, so much has changed on the web since we initially created our current version of Clover Sites. Most notably, mobile devices now make up around 50% of all web usage!
We believe that websites should adapt to whatever medium they’re being viewed on. Because of the nature of the way we consume information on our devices, having more content available without changing pages is crucial to a great web experience. This is why we have chosen to make the new Clover Sites allow multiple sections on each page.
Here are some examples of what section-based sites tend to look like:
And just as importantly, here are some examples of what they look like on a mobile browser:
The beauty of sites being section-based is that the content can easily scale and grow as much or as little as you want, and the overall design of the website won’t be affected. This allows you to add more content than before, without cluttering up the design of your site.
So what does this mean for Clover Sites 3 users?
1. You can have as much information as you want on any page. Like I mentioned before, you will be able to add as many sections as you want to any of your pages. This means that you will never be limited by the amount of content you can have on a page. Also, each section will have the ability to be edited and styled individually, so you have a lot more control over the look and feel of each page.
2. You can have multiple types of content on a page. In our existing version of Clover, adding a media page to your site meant that you were limited to having a single media player on that page. In the upcoming version, you will be able to have multiple types of content on one page. For example, you could add a Gallery Page (big, advertising-type slideshow) to your site that might consist of a Gallery Section and a Text & Photo Section. You could start there, then add a Media Section and a List Section on that same page if you’d like. That might end up being a bit chaotic, but you get the picture — no more limits on types of content!
3. Your website will look stunning on any browser. Every Clover website will be responsive, and will look amazing on any browser. Each section you create will be sized down perfectly to fit whatever device people find you on, largely thanks to CS3 being section-based.
One last thing. If the idea of sections is a little intimidating to you, the new Greenhouse (our content management system) gives you the ability to edit by page rather than section. We give you the ability to edit in “Easy Mode” which allows you to not even think about sections… When you add a page to your site, you will be able to go about your business editing your page as normal. Switching to “Advanced Mode” gives you ultimate control over every section on your page. You will be allowed to add, delete, remove or change any section, so you can customize your site exactly the way you want.
We’ll be doing a walkthrough in the next few months showing exactly what this will look like in the new Greenhouse. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to answer any questions or clarify as much as possible. Can’t wait for you guys to have Clover Sites 3!
Posted on June 3rd, 2014 under Clover Sites 3, Company News by Jim with 19 comments.