Archive for the ‘Website Design’ Category

New Blog Updated:

September 1st, 2010 Comments off

Its been a busy summer here at Silicon Spark, and the blog has been sorely neglected! We did some work for a cool solar energy company, Sela Energy. The main website already existed, but the blog on the site needed some help. The main site is HTML, but the blog is WordPress.

First we needed to upgrade wordpress to the latest version, 3.0.1.

Next we styled the website, added widgets including a new photo gallery widget called Cincopa Gallery Widget. Sela Energy had been putting together blog posts with lots of pictures and the formatting was pretty difficult. This new widget makes it easy to upload, create a custom screenshot gallery feel and embed into the post. For a client that isn’t too HTML savvy, its an ideal solution – and even for those who are, its a great timesaver!

We also added TwiBadge, one of my favorites to embed twitter into your blog. (Its even on this site!) Since Twitter and Facebook are something the CEO wants to focus on to build community, we also embeded TweetMeme and Facebook Share into the blog post itself. In order to make it easier on the eye, however, we wanted to make it stacked. This seems to be quite a challenge. There is one forum trail that put us on the right path here: Reality is though it only took us part of the way. Ultimately the styling in the respective widgets that worked for us was:

Tweetmeme: float: left; margin-right: 10px;
Facebook Share: clear: left; bottom:-70px; float: left; margin-bottom:150px; margin-top:10px; margin-right: -52px; margin-left:10px; position: relative;

Finally, the navigation on the main site was done in Flash. In order to better embed the site navigation, we edited the flash file to have the blog on the main navigation, created a custom blog theme and embedded flash for navigation in both the main site as well as the blog. Overall, the blog, which the CEO had previously described as a “sore spot” in his business was transformed into “something he is proud of.” Check it out:

Categories: Software, Website Design Tags:

New website:

March 16th, 2010 Comments off

Once again, we have had the opportunity to be involved in a really cool (and open source!) project. SpringSource approached me a few months ago to help build out a new community on behalf of the Apache Tomcat community.

The Enterprise Tomcat Community

The Enterprise Tomcat Community

The site launched this morning, along with a press release by SpringSource. This was an interesting project for many reasons.

First of all, sheer impact on the size of the potential community.  Apache Tomcat is the world’s most widely used Java application server, powering at least 75% of all java-based websites. With more than two-thirds of large enterprises relying on java applications to power their business, including more than 400 out of the Fortune 500, there is constant pressure to provide infrastructure that is cost-effective, and easily supportable. Certainly with such immense popularity for Tomcat in any enterprise, there is domain expertise in the market.  However there lacks any single source to consolidate that information specifically for enterprise users.

This brings me to the second point, of how to build a community that isn’t duplicated and isn’t technically “owned” by the project itself. The site offers a wealth of documentation and open mailing lists, and is currently the best source for general information on Apache Tomcat. Our goal is to create a complimentary community for the enterprise class users, who rely on Apache Tomcat to power their business, with information, advice and discussions from experts who are experienced at deploying applications at scale with minimal downtime.

In order to effectively build out a complimentary community, it was critical to keep the community neutral as well as not duplicate any content that currently exists on the official site from the ASF. Although sponsored by SpringSource, content on the site is managed by a team of Apache Tomcat committers and recognized java development experts from several companies which helps to keep it neutral. Known on the site as Tomcat Expert Contributors, these experts act as a quality control board to ensure only the best information is reaching the Tomcat Expert community. Essentially, they ensure that all answers on the site are “sanitized” for the enterprise user. Additionally, the only people actually from SpringSource who are Contributors are also Committers on the Apache project, which helps to keep content very balanced between and the ASF.

The site format for breaks content into three sections:

  • Blog. Best practices, insights and news on the latest innovations and deployments using Apache Tomcat directly from our team of Contributors. Initial topics will include high concurrency connection pooling, a detailed series on cost justification, assessing candidates and moving applications from a commercial JEE app server to Tomcat, analysis of management and operations tools, as well as publicizing the features and thought behind Tomcat 7.
  • Knowledge Base. Published history of over 10 years of common enterprise customer support cases.from the SpringSource archive. This resource initially has about 35 articles and presentations loaded, and will continue to expand over time.
  • Ask the Expert. Forum where enterprise users submit questions to be answered directly by the Tomcat Expert Contributors. This is different from the Apache mailing lists in that the question queue is not open for anyone to answer. Only contributors, our validated Tomcat Experts, will provide the answer, so answers you get will come from a qualified expert. Comments are open for the community to weigh in, of course.

Finally, another reason to be excited by this project is that it is backed by SpringSource, which should excite users because they have both the history and reputation of making huge contributions to the Apache Tomcat project successful. SpringSource has built a business all around deploying web applications at scale and leveraging open source. A couple years ago, Spring acquired Covalent, a company that was built to be a professional support organization for Tomcat. They have over 10 years of domain expertise of deploying and supporting Apache Tomcat in enterprises of all sizes. Much of that company expertise is being poured into a public site for the first time. Additionally, SpringSource has a long history of being a principal contributor to the Apache Tomcat project, with SpringSource employees having been responsible for 95 percent of the bug fixes to Apache Tomcat in the past two years and are also currently leading the community project for Tomcat 7.0, due out this spring.

We are going to continue to build out more content and functionality to the site over the next few weeks. So stay tuned! For now however, I want to offer a huge round of congratulations to the entire team that helped bring this vision to fruition: Shannon, Linda, Joanna, Charlie, the Matts, Giorgio, Andy, Filip and Mark. It has been a great group effort. Thank you!

New Website Live: Sauce Labs

November 3rd, 2009 1 comment

For our first year in business, I am amazed and honored by the projects we’ve had the opportunity to work on. We’ve got several things cooking here – but the latest project to go live is that of Sauce Labs.

This is a company that is founded by the original author of Selenium, the open source web test automation software. Since I’ve spent so much of my career doing web applications development and go-to market, I’ve seen Selenium in action and know that the ability to simultaneously test across browsers is critical—especially when something new like a new release of Firefox or Internet Explorer or even a new operating system like Snow Leopard comes out. Problem is, Selenium while hugely popular, has never had any proper commercial backing and maintenance. So updates to ensure it test correctly across the same updates it is supposed to cover can be problematic. So when we had the opportunity to work with the Sauce guys to help take them to market to fix this problem, we jumped at it.

Today, we’re launching a new download, Sauce RC which is basically Selenium IDE & RC wrapped into a nice installer with a host of bugfixes to ensure it works across the latest browsers (even last week’s Firefox update!). But where the Sauce products really gets interesting is their Sauce OnDemand hosted test automation cloud. Here, you can use your Selenium or Sauce-based test scripts, upload them to the cloud and run against 10 popular browsers. Being a cloud-based service, you pay by test minutes that are incredibly affordable. Instant access to test infrastructure that you don’t have to maintain. What web application software development company wouldn’t want to have access to that?

There’s a lot more to come to continue building the Sauce portfolio of user services out, but for now I’d like to congratulate the Sauciers that invited us to be a part of this project – John Dunham, Jason Huggins, Steve Hazel and of course the always helpful rock of our development Santi Suarez Ordoñez. And of course – to the Silicon Spark team – Joanna “I will be one with Github” Duff, and Shannon “Python doesn’t scare me” Dunn. Great job everyone!

New Website Live:

September 17th, 2009 Comments off

Summer was not slow for us here at Silicon Spark. One of the projects we took live is The Dwyer Law Group. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, it is – LoopFuse’s CEO Sean Dwyer referred us to the project at his dad’s law firm, after we took the LoopFuse site redesign live earlier this summer. A law site was a first for us, but we were up to the challenge – see for yourself:

The Dwyer Law Group new website

The Dwyer Law Group new website

As for how we got there—first, we needed to find out what content we had to work with. And frankly, it was gold. Matt Dwyer is a board certified personal injury lawyer rock star. His firm has one of the highest winning and money awarded per plaintiff in the southeast. He’s recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in America—and his results speak for themselves. We needed to reshape the messaging to speak more to victims, and assure them that they were going to be taken care of well with Dwyer Law Group, but that wasn’t hard. Its always easy to sell something worth having.

Next, we turned to the website look and feel itself. We looked at lots of law sites, trying to capture the tone and feel of these sites and see what worked. Reality is, we saw lots of sites—but everything looked somewhat dated or amateur. We’ve been used to businesses that really use their website as a tool to drive business. Matt Dwyer knew he wanted that too—his son explained the power of that to him and he jumped at the chance to have us figure that out. We came up with a new design that places strong personal imagery that victims can relate to, loaded headers with keywords, and tailored text to suit victim need, as well as introduced a sidebar concept that assured visitors of their reputation, ability to garner high monetary awards, and to ultimately contact Dwyer Law Group. There was some obvious attention to SEO that needed to be done, and we’ll be looking to turn on adwords regionalized shortly, but for now—the site is out there for the whole world to see. Hope you never have the misfortune of a personal injury, but if you do… it should be a lot easier to find the best lawyer in the southeast to represent you.

New Website Live:

July 22nd, 2009 Comments off

All the sparkplugs here at Silicon Spark have been busy the past month. We’re working on several of new websites, whitepapers and some juicy press releases. One project in particular went live last week, and I thought I’d share. About two months ago, Matthew Porter reached out to me to help with his website. Matthew is the CEO of Contegix, a popular managed hosting provider. I personally worked with Contegix back in my Hyperic days–they were both a customer as well as a vendor for us, powering the RHQ project with Red Hat and also Hyperic’s CloudStatus. Contegix is an awesome partner to have – their service is unparalleled in the industry. And their customers are their biggest fans and best publicity ever, in fact they just recently won the Linux Journal’s Reader’s Choice Awards due to such a passionate following of their customers. So, when Matthew called asking for help to create a new website – we jumped at the chance.

With the exception of the legaleze for their acceptable use policy and service level agreements, we re-wrote the whole site, changed the layout and really brought them an updated, slick new look. Over time we’re going to be adding more components to the site such as a screenshot gallery for the managed applications, more diversity/offers on the right sidebar, and definitely more information and details on their upcoming cloud release. For now – check out how cool this website is-and tell us what you think!

Redesigned homepage for

Redesigned homepage for

Redesigned solutions sections on

Redesigned solutions sections on