Why It’s Time to Select a Headless and Content-as-a-Service CMS

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Believe it or not, your enterprise will soon need to move beyond the web. In fact, some companies have already made the move. So, what is stopping your enterprise from moving forward? Richard Jones, perhaps most known for his work as the technical director of Inviga, a London-based tech company specializing in content management systems, e-commerce and digital innovation recently spoke at a tech conference and offered his thoughts on the emergence of Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) and just how much it affects the creation of content. At the conference, Jones detailed how CaaS can be positioned as the digital hub of any given enterprise. Yes, even yours. But to add perspective to how to adopt CaaS and Headless CMS, it’s important to have a clearer understanding of what they are exactly. The following explanations should do just that.

Understanding CaaS and Headless CMS
CaaS refers to a use case in which the content on the web is created and written separately from the place it will be used. Its objective is that it will be consumed by a wide range of digital channels such as mobile apps, websites, social networks, virtual reality experiences, among others.

CaaS is only supported by certain, modern content management systems that provides robust APIs on the back-end. It is a component of a headless CMS. Unlike the original concept of a CMS, there is less concern about how the content will be delivered through a website’s pages, it has the single goal of providing content creators the tools to enhance their workflow to a point where content is ready to be consumed in any of a number of CaaS use cases.

Focused Content Creation
Irrespective of the technology they use, enterprises of all industries need to properly address and have a good understanding of their audience.  Not knowing the consumer is one of the biggest challenges, if not the biggest challenge for content creators. Additionally, the problem will only worsen as the Internet of Things (IoT) only gets even more embedded into the enterprise.

CaaS can enable the process of content creation for countless applications and devices. This means the content can be shaped accordingly to those likely to consume it. However, customer behavior is constantly changing – much faster than the ability of content developers have to keep up. Because of this, content creators are struggling to meet the needs of customers. There is a huge need to be innovative with the ways content is being brought to the consumer. But the questions remain, how do we present this data out to any given device? What are the possibilities and how might they change?

The Need for a Modern CMS
Organizations need CMS platforms that help them go beyond traditional static page thinking, the truth is, content creators need to think beyond pages, too.

Fueled by Mobile Apps, IoT, Virtual Reality, and other future digital channels, enterprises no longer have a choice — they must move forward despite their struggles with managing effective web presences and their natural reluctance to go beyond the web.  The sooner they make a change to a modern CMS, the better. The change is too dynamic to stop, and enterprises must jump on the bandwagon now to stay relevant and competitive.

To learn how Crafter CMS supports Content-as-a-Service and can prepare your organization for the digital future, contact us today.

Avoiding Website Performance Bottlenecks

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In a world where multitasking is more prevalent than ever, enterprises are asking more and more from their websites. Unable to keep up, site functionality is exploding while optimization is falling flat. And it’s not only e-commerce sites that are failing at performance. Industries of all types are experiencing web performance bottlenecks caused by slow page load times and sluggish user interaction.

Whether it’s the hefty amount of images, plugins or JavaScript getting fancier, it is clear that some major factors are interrupting the flow of website optimization. With site functionality only continuing to get more complex, resource requests dramatically increasing, and the growing trend toward personalized experiences, performance is taking a huge hit.  Unfortunately, this trend is negatively affecting user retention – ultimately affecting your enterprise’s bottom line.

Yet considering how important a website can be for any given enterprise, it seems only natural to take the extra care to ensure the website is not only running fast from the desktop site but from a mobile perspective too. The number of websites still not optimized for a mobile experience is astounding.

People Are in a Hurry Even When They Are Sitting On Their Couch

In the fast-paced era we live in, anything more than three seconds for a page to load is too long. Studies show that potentially upwards of 50% of users click off the site if the page takes too long. Additionally, 30% will jump ship if a shopping cart isn’t optimized for mobile.

This leads to lost sales, competitors winning over your customers, and overall missed opportunities. When you consider the the number of visitors, your average revenue per customer taking into account your attainable conversion rate, and then subtract everything lost from a website bounce rate of 40% when your site loads slowly, you can quantify the amount of lost revenue pretty quickly.

Increase Brand Engagement

Your brand will be much more likable if you offer an equally satisfying, personalized experience for both mobile and desktop sites. Whether a user visits your site from their smartphone or desktop, the experience should be optimized for functionality and brand consistency, so it fosters trust and affinity with your users. Most users regularly go between devices so if you are not able to provide what they need than they are more likely to go to a competitor rather than wait until they get back to their desktop to make a purchase. Not optimizing your site results in lost opportunities and losing customers permanently to competitors.

Optimize Your Site, and Business will Grow

To keep your users engaged and continuously coming back, you need to optimize your site performance and a modern content delivery solution is the most effective way to pull this off. Despite many performance optimization techniques manually performed by developers, hand-coding pages for performance is specialized, time-consuming work. When it comes to intensely involved sites with hundreds to even thousands of dynamic components per page, this can be an eternal task. As both browser requirements and page requirements continue to develop the work can seem never ending.

Therefore, consistently faster page loads and a more reliable site starts with a blazing fast content delivery platform. We built the world’s fastest dynamic content delivery solution with Crafter Engine, which now serves some of the largest and fastest sites on the globe.

Think your website performance needs a boost? Contact us at info@craftersoftware.com for guidance or download our white paper Building and Optimizing Multi-Channel Web Experiences to learn more!

The Future is Now: Virtual Reality Transforming Retail

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When it comes to brick and mortar retail, every inch of retail space is crucial to keep the business booming. So it’s no wonder that Happy Family, an organic children’s food manufacturer, decided to turn to virtual reality to help them gather data from 800 shoppers. Turns out this method isn’t just working for them, but it’s working for many other retailers too. It’s quickly becoming the future of retail with an international reach.

While it may seem somewhat futuristic, the truth is scenarios in which using virtual reality are beneficial, isn’t that far reaching. Combining virtual and augmented reality are already transforming major retail locations in every way — from the aisles, to store design and signage.

The Difference Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Sometimes augmented reality and virtual reality are used interchangeably. However, there are significant differences that you need to know when using or discussing these technologies. Augmented reality is a blend of real life and virtual reality. In other words, the consumer is still in touch with the real world around them, yet interacts with virtual elements. Virtual reality, on the other hand, transforms the user into a different world. Goggles or some type of headset are required for experiencing virtual reality.

Virtual Reality is Here to Stay

Virtual reality is not just a hot technology item for gamers, and from the data, it doesn’t appear as if virtual reality is just a fad. While VR has been around for a long time, it has matured to something that benefits our work and home lives in addition to being fun for entertainment purposes.

With virtual reality constantly improving, it’s time for retailers to honestly consider adding the technology to the way they do business. It’s already been proven that brands who have embraced virtual reality have attracted a wider user base. In a world where technology is constantly evolving, consumers are continuously demanding more from brands. Keeping up with technology is how brands can stay among and ahead of their competition. Consumers are beginning to expect virtual and augmented reality as they do their online shopping.

V-Commerce is the Next Step

Clearly, a complete move to v-commerce is what lies ahead. Although the idea of new hardware may seem overwhelming to businesses, it really shouldn’t be. The concept is constantly evolving as is the equipment.  Because of this, there are multiple options with devices at different price points and even applications that allow smartphones to use augmented reality and virtual reality.

With this omni-channel strategy, consumers will be able to do everything from trying on clothes to looking at products or ingredients. With this technology, retailers will be able to deliver an in-store experience to users shopping online. The scenarios for using virtual reality are endless and the benefits for business success are priceless. From up-selling to cross-selling, virtual reality will allow consumers to engage more with the products and will help to create a much more personal experience. This will in turn, increase sales – a reality every business owner can get behind.

New Tool Tests Your Website for Mobile Friendliness

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A recent global mobile study has shown that, collectively, Americans check their smartphones 8 billion times per day. From shopping and checking social media to paying bills and responding to emails, that comes out to about 150 times a day per person. For those keeping tally, that’s up 33 more looks per day than last year. The frequency at which users look at their phones is a huge factor in the popularity of mobile-friendly sites. More than ever, companies are quickly discovering that their website speed and mobile-friendliness is a huge factor in sales and customer loyalty.

When things aren’t moving fast enough, users get frustrated and more than likely switch to a competitor’s site. In fact, according to Google, an average user will leave the site if it doesn’t load within three seconds. And, since more searchers occur on mobile devices than on computers, it has become excruciatingly clear that if a potential customer can’t get through to your company’s site in that timeframe, they are five times more likely to leave. Plainly, a good mobile design is crucial to the success of your business.

Because of this need, Google has come out with mobile speed testing tool to give enterprises an idea of just how fast (or slow) their site loads. They run all the numbers for you to help you take the guesswork out of it. You are even given a report showing where your site fails so you can upgrade your system.

The concept is simple. Using a scale of 1-100, the speed testing site takes your company’s URL and measures the loading speed and mobile-friendliness. Everything from HTML, CSS, and Javascript to how long it takes images to load (on both desktop and mobile) are considered. In addition to how well your site fares, you can also see the specific spots that need improvement. Knowing is half the battle, and seeking development in the inadequate areas as soon as possible will help you keep your company out in front of customers, and far ahead of your competitors.

Ironically, Google failed its own test receiving a 59/100 on mobile speed and a 66/100 on the desktop speed. Both are listed as “poor” ratings.  But these statistics are what Google will use to improve their site.  According to the tool, Google’s desktop speeds could be improved by optimizing images and prioritizing visible content. Certainly interesting (and no doubt humbling considering they got slapped on the wrist by their own site!).

In a mobile world, there’s no reason to have a slow, inadequate website. Allow your company to stand out by giving your users the mobile experience they are looking for – a fast, easy, user-friendly design.

If your company is one of the many out there that has a slow website or poor mobile support, rest assured, an upgrade to Crafter CMS will improve your website and make it mobile-friendly and blazingly fast.

Check out Google’s new tool here: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/

User Experience: The Single Most Important Element of a Web CMS

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Because it affects how efficient your team works, it can be argued that the single most important element of a web content management solution is the interface used by the editorial team. If the user interface is meager, than the speed at which your team works will be slow, the quality of content produced will be lacking, and traffic to your site will ultimately drop.

Usability all comes down to the web CMS features. There are some features that will come second nature to your editorial team while others will be obtuse. Overall, a system that is user-friendly and embraces the most casual content editor is one that will make your editorial team most productive.  Likewise, you will be pleased because your team will be more efficient and more productive on a system that most closely matches user experiences they are comfortable with.

That said, when it comes to evaluating a new web CMS solution, a few key usability features that all clients should look for include:

Performance of the Editor’s Console: The fastest way to aggravate your users is to have a slow system. If the interface gets stuck or isn’t responsive during the workflow process, it will quickly cause frustration. This will, in turn, cause a lack of confidence in the entire system, and ultimately lead to a breakdown in adoption and use.

Window Management, Lightboxes and Transparency: Those who used a CMS solution in the late ‘90s may remember the annoying pop-ups. From editing an article using the in-context tool to adding a link, the constant pop-ups seemed endless. Now, interfaces that use JavaScript Lightboxes are much simpler because all edits are kept in the same window. This preferred solution is faster and keeps edits in the right order. Additionally, transparency is important.

In-Context Editing: Rather than the traditional model of opening a window to edit a full piece of content, this new feature allows for a faster, more intuitive style of editing. Users simply click on the article title and it becomes a text field for simple adjustment. Streamlining the editing process is a win for everyone.

Contemporary Design Features: Keeping the designs fresh and contemporary as possible is an ongoing task for CMS design teams. Whether it’s the simple features of rounded corners or the distinct single- and double-clicking responses, these distinctions are what make interacting with the software so valuable to editors.

Each organization has its own internal culture, from the work attitude to the comfort level with digital user interfaces. The best way for you to make the right decision for your digital content group is to try a CMS solution firsthand. Once you use it, you will see how it will work for you and your team. Contact us at Crafter to answer any questions you may have about a web content management solution for your enterprise, or to start a free trial today.

#1 Digital Marketing Investment All Enterprises Should Make

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Each year, enterprises are investing more and more in digital marketing technology, primarily due to the growing need to engage customers through multiple online channels. In fact, Gartner found that nearly two-thirds of marketers say their marketing budgets will increase in 2016. But the question on many marketers’ minds is: Where exactly should these digital marketing funds be invested?

So what is the number one digital marketing investment you should be making now?

#1 Digital Marketing Investment: A Modern Web Content Management System

Your website is still the number one digital touchpoint for your customers. And a modern Web CMS platform allows marketers to create and deliver personalized experiences, to the right person, at the right time, to the right device. This platform is vital for any enterprise, because a modern Web CMS doesn’t just manage content, but unifies the entire marketing technology ecosystem. Creating a consistent customer experience, no matter where the user is engaging with the brand.

Using a modern Web CMS to power your site could be one of the best digital marketing investments you make in 2016 – and your business. And you do need to invest – your website is the main digital touchpoint for engaging with your customers, and you want to make sure it competes in today’s era of customer engagement.

A modern Web CMS needs to marry both power and simplicity, so you can save time, money and focus on what is critical in growing your enterprise.

Here are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to investing in the perfect Web CMS platform for your enterprise:

  • User-Friendly Content Authoring Tools – A platform that provides authors with powerful yet easy to use content authoring tools. An example of this would be, a simple drag and drop design and in-context review capabilities that anyone can use.

  • Easy Integration – You will want a modern Web CMS that can easily integrate with other best of breed technologies, including your CRM and marketing automation platforms to unite sales and marketing.

  • Multi-channel Experiences – It takes more than a responsive design to succeed in today’s multi-channel environment.  A modern Web CMS needs to be able to provide both “responsive” and “adaptive” design capabilities, and provide true multi-channel publishing.

  • High-Performance Content Delivery – So you’re able to deliver fast and highly personalized experiences to your target audiences.

  • Personalization and Content Targeting – The ability to engage your target audience with dynamic experiences that are immediately relevant to them with advanced targeting and personalization capabilities.

  • Modern Development Tools – Develop new experiences and services rapidly, by leveraging a Web CMS platform that uses leading modern development technology.

Need more information? Download our free White Paper for significant trends and principles surrounding Web CMS platforms.

Alignment: The Secret to a Successful Content Strategy

The following Guest Blog was written by Melissa Rach, Co-Founder, Dialog Studios.

Pssst. Here’s a trade secret. At Brain Traffic, we can usually predict how successful a content strategy will be after the first few weeks with a client. No, we’re not clairvoyant. We don’t even have a fancy algorithm or success scorecard.

Here’s the trick: Continue reading

Why You Think You Have Nothing to Say

The following Guest Blog was written by Mike Moran.
I am constantly talking to business people, with companies large and small, and I often give them the same advice about Internet marketing, and search marketing in particular:  Tell what you know so your customers can learn from your expertise.  You can put that expertise on Web pages, on a blog, in tweets, in a YouTube video, a podcast–I don’t really care how you do it, but do it.  Too often, the response is something like, “But I don’t have anything to say.”  I suspect that you do have something to say, but you are just not giving yourself permission to say it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I realize that you might not be a world class expert, but you are probably an expert in something or else you wouldn’t be in business.  You at least know more than your customers about it, don’t you?  If a customer asked you a question, would you be struck mute because you aren’t a world expert?  Or would you give them your best answer, knowing that it might not be THE best answer in the world, but it will be better than what your customer knows now?

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Expand your Color Palette to Engage Your Audience

Customer Engagement is not easy to achieve. Boring web content is useless. Just like a new love, web content marketing enters through your eyes, so the first impression is extremely important.

Artisans use their paint palette to mix diverse colors in order to create a memorable work of art. And attractively colored works of art will grab your attention even if they may not be your favorite.

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