Getting Started with jQuery & BC

If you've always wanted to take the user experience of your BC sites to the next level but have been scared by the thought of dipping your toes into the world of JavaScript, then jQuery might just be for you.

jQuery is a popular JavaScript library that simplifies document manipulation, animation and AJAX interactions - letting you do more, with less coding.

What's even better is that jQuery plays nice with the BC platform, allowing you to easily implement advanced front-end functionality, improving the user experience of your sites and speeding up your development process.

In this post, I'll show you how to get started with jQuery, how to start using it on your BC sites and point you towards some handy how-to articles.

1. Getting to know jQuery

Before you dive in and begin using jQuery on your sites, it's important that you have a basic understanding of how jQuery works. If you're well versed in HTML and CSS, you should find the learning curve a little less steep and be on your way in no time.

To get you on the right track, here are some great "Getting Started" articles:

2. Including jQuery on your BC sites

Including the jQuery library on your site is as easy as referencing a hosted copy of the .js file inside the head of your page. For this example, we'll reference a copy of jQuery stored inside the "/js/" folder of our site:

<script type="text/javascript" src="/js/jquery-1.4.2.min.js"></script>

Because of BC's great site-wide template system, we can easily use jQuery on all of our pages by including the above code in the head of our site's default template.

In terms of hosting jQuery, you have a couple of options to choose from:

1. Host the library yourself
If you'd feel safer hosting the library yourself, you can simply download the latest version at http://jquery.com/ and upload it to a directory on your BC site. For example, many designers host the .js file inside the /js/ directory.

2. Reference an externally hosted version
A number of large enterprises provide hosted copies of jQuery on their existing CDN networks, which are available for public use. For example, Google host a copy that you can easily reference on your site. To use an externally hosted copy, simply replace the "src=" attribute of your script tag with the URL of the version you'd like to include. For example, http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.4.2/jquery.min.js references a "minified" copy of jQuery version 1.4.2

If you'd like to include the latest version of jQuery hosted on jQuery's own CDN, you can use: http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.min.js

One of the key advantages of using Google's CDN hosted copy of jQuery is that as many websites across the web reference it, the library will be already cached on many of your visitors local machines - this greatly reduces load times, as they'll already have a local copy downloaded when they visit your site.

3. Using jQuery with BC

Once you're up to speed with the jQuery basics and have included the library in your site-wide template, you're ready to go.

To help get you started, we've written a bunch of great tutorials that show you how to enhance BC's built-in features with a little bit of jQuery magic:

It's always great to see new and exciting integrations of jQuery with BC - if you've recently completed a jQuery implementation, we'd love to see it in action! Feel free to share your BC + jQuery creations over on the Community Forums or in the comments of this post.

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In the last post, we looked at some great examples of Blogs and Email Marketing on BC. This time, we're looking at how to "Automate Your Customer Service" as a strategy for your Online Business. Check out what we had to say last October, as part of our 6 Online Business Strategies.

Help Your Clients Serve Their Customers

Does your client find themselves on the phone all day? Do their customers complain that they can't be contacted after hours?

Today, Business Owners are using self-help portals to automate their customer service allowing them to work on the business, not the phones. They're using web-forms to qualify enquiries before directing them to the right person to answer them, and they're directing customers to FAQs, how-to's and do-it-yourself articles. All this cuts down the live help load.

Here are some great examples of automated customer service on BC:

Spitfire - great service from a rebranded partner...


For our rebranding partners, you can turn your free partner site into a self-help portal for your own clients by following this fantastic example created by MDX Interactive. Once an existing customer logs in, they are provided with links to a knowledge base of self-help tutorials, video training, forums and the unbranded Online Business Wiki. Setting up a secure support zone for your client's customers will help ease the demand for time-consuming Live Help.

Bogan Bingo - automating booking enquiries...


Created by Renaissance Funk, this fun Online Business is managing booking enquiries using web forms. You'll notice that the form collects details such as Venue, Date and No. of Guests, alerting the business owner of the enquiry and allowing them to quote a price based on these fields. You can set up a similar system up for your client using Web Forms, triggering a Workflow that notifies them when a new enquiry is made.

Food Matters - serving customers with an FAQ...


Always Interactive has helped Food Matters answer customer queries by building an extensive FAQ that provides all the relevent information in one place. For example, clicking "Can I call to place an order over the phone?" provides customers with a direct phone number they can call. FAQs are a great way of organizing the most important information for your client's customers in one, easy to navigate page.

Selling the 'Automate Your Customer Service' Strategy To Your Clients

Although employing different tactics, there's a familiar theme present in all three sites we've looked at - they all succeed providing customers with the information they need in an automated and efficient manner. This strategy is about taking the stress and distraction away from the business owner by streamlining the customer service process and allowing them to focus on running their business

Help your clients automate their customer service by implementing features such as FAQ's, Enquiry Forms and building Self-Help Portals for their customers.

In the next post, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built sites that Generate New Leads for their Clients. 

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Jackson Palmer | BC

6 Online Business Strategy Showcases Part 3 - Amplify Your Voice

In the last post, we looked at some great examples of Online Communities running on BC. This time we're looking at "Amplify Your Voice" as a strategy for your Online Business. This means that you're selling a solution to increase publicity for a cause or organisation. In particular we're focusing on sites using Blogs, Email Marketing and RSS, in synergy, to achieve this. Check out what we had to say last October, as part of our 6 Online Business Strategies.

Blogs as a Marketing and Publicity Channel

Small business owners and organisations are now using blogs to publish content to attract new customers and keep them interested. Blogs should be used as part of a broader, integrated Marketing strategy, where customers are alerted to blog and announcement updates via Email Marketing, and RSS Feeds.

Here are some cool examples of BC powered blogs:

Artsprojekt - reaching artists worldwide...

Artsprojekt
This stylish site by Level9 Design aims to "liberate artists worldwide" and keeps in contact with it's community by way of blogging. The Artsprojekt team use a BC Blog to post interviews, promote competitions and announce new products. If you look at the bottom of the right-hand side bar you'll notice a 'Email This' form which is an example of the 'Refer-a-Friend' module being added to the site template.

Dubbo City Council - media releases via blogs...

Dubbo City Council
Created by Bos Web Systems, this local Government site uses blogs and announcements to publish media releases and news, bringing the local community together. New content is displayed on the home page via an Announcements module, increasing blog visits. It's a great way for Dubbo council to keep in touch with it's constituents compared with the traditional mail-out that most other local Governments have.

Rob Munnik Productions - creating a media stream using a blog...

Community Productions
Joi Design has customized a BC blog that Rob Munnik & Community Productions use to post embedded video episodes of their weekly Television series called SchoolsInc Television. Embedding video on a blog is an easy (just copy and paste the HTML embed code from the video site of your choice) way to create your own media stream, like having a personal TV Channel.

Using Email Marketing to Increase Blog Traffic

Don't expect people to automatically come and visit your site when you make updates. You'll need to use Email Marketing and RSS to push updates to your audience. As part of an integrated marketing approach, "Subscribe Me " and "Tell a friend" forms can be used to capture users in your CRM database, whom you can email on a regular basis to tell them about site updates and news.

If your audience isn't interested in giving their email address to you but still wants to be updated then you still have the option to provide an RSS channel for them to subscribe to. 

Selling the 'Amplify Your Voice' Strategy To Your Clients

This strategy is about keeping an open and constant flow of communication between your client and their customers, so prospects are not forgotten, and neither is the business. Nothing is more powerful than fresh, high-quality content in attracting an audience. Make sure you make the most of it by using a combination of of Blogs, Announcements, RSS and Email Marketing so you can regularly update your audience on what's new!

In the next post of the series, we'll be looking at how BC Partners have built sites that automate Customer Service for their Clients.

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Edward Chan | BC

Article Roundup - 21 November 2008

Here's the round-up of my 3 must read articles for web designers that have been published in the designersphere this fortnight:

10 Amazing Designers that Influence the Community from Web Design Ledger
"I come from a print background of 9+ years. The last 4-5 I have been designing for the web. I have been following these 10 amazing designers that have influenced and taught me plenty through their books, websites & even recent portfolios. I asked around for other designers opinions of whom their favorite’s were and realized the choices were pretty close if not the same..." - Adelle Charles

10 Useful Marketing Tools For Freelancers from Fuel Your Creativity
"...Here are some great tools for social media, marketing + PR purposes that freelancers can also use to help increase their personal brand’s presence both online and offline, in no particular order:.." - Angeline Vuong

10 SEO Techniques All Top Web Sites Should Use from Freelance Folder
"
We recently discussed the 15 Key Elements All Top Web Sites Should Have. This post focused on elements relating to design, content and development. This time, we’ll move onto the important issue of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)..." - Selene M. Bowlby

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