Conticreative – introduction

Welcome to first “WordPress” blog.

I hope in the future months to publish a number of useful articles on web design, open source (in particolar Joomla CMS, Zen Cart, OScommerce, Drupal, etc.) , web marketing, SEO and more.

I am a web designer based in Sacramento and my company is called (surprise!)
We specialize in integrating Open Source e-commerce and CMS (Content Management Systems) for all kind of businesses, but currently our market is mostly comprised of fairly new entries in the web publishing business (Yes, I am serious. There are plenty of people still debating whether having a website is something they should consider) and a number of redesigns from companies that tried the outsourcing route and were less then thrilled with it.

I worked in a variety of web based business, mostly as a designer/developer, since 1994, when dinosaurs roamed the web. After many years working for others and having to suffer their stupid decisions (sorry Bill) I have decided to make my own stupid decisions with the help of a few trusted friends.

So far I have been lucky and my little business is taking shape very nicely.
One decision that I don’t believe I am going to regret for the foreseeable future was to shift my development focus from custom, “build’em from the ground up”, websites to the incredibly good offerings available in Open Source (I will explain what that means in an upcoming post in the meantime look here).
Using Joomla or its e-commerce cousin Zen Cart (itself a derivative of OScommerce) I have been able to build a fantastic array of capable and for the most part accessible websites for my clients and I have become a true evangelist for everything Open Source.

When I was a corporate slut, we had scores of designers and developers each building a small part of a website. therefore for many years I was able to see only a small part of the picture during production. My eventual career rise gave me the opportunity to manage the whole process, but I was still limited in what I could do on my own.

When I decided to go “solo” I had a dilemma: I certainly knew how to build websites, as I was able to write each piece of the puzzle on my own, from pure design to coding. However, I had to keep my client’s budgets in mind and most of them could not afford the month of wages I had to charge them to justify my effort. I had to find a better solution that didn’t involve hiring a bunch of employees and that would still deliver a product up to my standards.

Since I worked mainly with Java based application development, I took some classes in PHP and MySql. Learning PHP exposed me to the world of Open Source e-commerce and CMS applications.

I quickly started testing the applications on my own server and I found them often better written and more powerful than many projects we used to develop with java. I guess one of the reasons is that PHP applications are often created by large teams of developers with the prompt feedback of yet more users, allowing the applications to mature very rapidly and reach a level of features and sophistication that in a traditional business enviroment would be impractical and cost prohibitive.

Eventually I build my first Joomla based application, just in time for Joomla to separate from the Mambo development team (long story).
Beside the first few days of terror when I realized that Joomla’s Section – Category system was a bit more complicated than I bargained for, I was truly very impressed. More importantly, my client was even more impressed than I was, especially at the price and the features I was able to deliver using Joomla. For less than the price he was quoted for a “brochure” website I built him a user forum, an e-shop and a blogging system in less than a week.

Fast forward to the present, and after finally finding some time to work on my own Joomla site for I also decided to start publishing a blog of tips and tricks I learned or discovered by using Joomla and Zen cart. One of the downsides of Open Source software is that often the documentation is atrocious and I figured than instead of bitching about it I could convert the effort I make in understanding and implementing the many features of the applications into useful tutorials.

While I was at it, I figured I could also use the forum to voice my opinions and try to initiate dialogs with fellow developers, potential clients and anyone interested in the business of open source, web development and web design (and marketing, and photography, and the war in Iraq, and let me stop here).

So, welcome to my new blog and don’t be afraid to tell me I am full of crap. I am used to it.
After all I have been married over 20 years (and I love my wife very much).
Most of all, I hope you’ll find the articles useful and entertaining as well as informative.

Good luck

Marco is a Sacramento based web designer/developer.
Marco’s company is a full service web agency specializing in e-commerce and Content management system developement, photography, web marketing and copy writing.