Reason #3 to Switch to Version 2.8

Reason #3: More Social & Sharing Tools 

With some trepidation, one of our expert developers, Warren, waded into the sea of "Social" to spearhead this part of the work for Sandvox 2.8. Keep in mind—at the time, he didn't really consider himself a "social media maven."

What did the team think of that, you ask? All the better. We wanted the Sandvox social tools to be smooth and easy to use. Who better to figure out what needed to be done than someone with an unclouded perspective. 

So, since a good first step to solving any problem is really understanding it, Warren figured he'd have to "get social." 

He fired up Sandvox and created a bunch of new websites for testing. After adding dozens of social buttons, feeds, plugins, and boxes all over them, he shared. Posts to Twitter, pages to Facebook, tweets to Google+: hashtags, pins, activities, recommendations, feeds,  and +1s went to everybody! Eventually it all started to make sense. It was time to get to work.

Twitter was the first thing to update. Sandvox's original Tweet button tweeted just fine, but that's all it did. Twitter's since added some cool new buttons with different capabilities and we wanted to be sure our customers had those. 

So we added “mentions” to refer to other Twitter users, hashtags for topics, and a follow button so people can easily follow you on Twitter. 

Warren thought it was looking pretty good, but the team pointed out lots of places where it was unclear or complicated or difficult to use. Back to the drawing board for another round of design, coding and testing. Better, but still not good enough. A few more rounds and we got there — Twitter not only worked, it worked really well and was super simple to use.

Facebook followed Twitter, and turned out to be the biggest challenge. Facebook changes constantly: they never stop moving. (In fact, since 2.8 was released, they’ve changed a few more things! Look for an update, probably around v2.8.2.)

Before Sandvox 2.8, our Facebook button simply let visitors "Like" pages on your Sandvox website. Now it can Recommend, Send, and Follow as well. We also support Facebook’s new larger “box” size and show likes, recommendations and other activities all together. A few more cycles of design, code, test and things were looking pretty sharp. 

The new Like boxes show a lot of info and fit better in the main content area — though you can also squeeze them into the sidebar. The Like Box shows people who liked your page, with an option to see their posts, along with a Like button to add their Likes as well. 

The Recommendations Box is a little more complicated. It shows a site visitor other visitors' recommendations of your site. If a visitor also happens to be logged in to Facebook, it prioritizes the recommendations made by people they already know. 

The Activity Feed is similar, but shows a wider variety of activities. To take advantage of all the new Facebook capabilities, you’ll need to register your site with Facebook and get an 'App ID'. It may sound complicated, but we've written really simple instructions for how to set this up. 

Google+ was mostly about simplifying. There were TONS of options to sift through and address. We landed on a set that allows good flexibility, but remains simple to use. 

Next up was support for Pinterest. The Pinterest button lets visitors easily pin your pages to their pin boards. Because Pinterest requires an image to share, we integrated our media system so that a page's "main image" is what gets pinned.

For LinkedIn, Sandvox now offers two (quite different) button options. The share button lets visitors share your page with their professional social group. The “member profile” lets you show your current "résumé" as posted on LinkedIn. 

To wrap it all up, we introduced the Sharing Bar. We wanted to make it convenient for Sandvox customers to combine a variety of these buttons and tools, instead of having to place each one individually. The Sharing Bar is a collection of sharing buttons that can appear on any or all of your pages, including individual blog posts. You can globally choose which services to show and change the order that they appear. As visitors peruse your website, they can instantly like or share your pages with multiple services!

We mixed all that up, along with the Retina changes, beautiful new designs, and tons of improvements under the hood and baked it all into Sandvox 2.8. We think we've got the social functions that will make most Sandvox users happy!