Rethinking the Content Management System for Media and Publishing in the Mobile Era

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Ask anyone from the staff at Buzzfeed to the owner of your neighborhood antique store, and they will agree: it’s time to reinvent the CMS so every publisher has the same tools to succeed in a mobile world. After all, in a world of smartphones, users have come to expect a better experience on mobile. Whether they are flipping through apps consuming content from left to right or experiencing rich magazine-like features, keeping the reader engaged is a top priority.

When it comes to moving beyond the desktop, “themeing” in the CMS is necessary to build these experiences across multiple screens. The goal of responsive design is a good starting point, but it doesn’t do the job completely. We need to take it a step further with the CMS being WYSIWYG and component-based. By doing so, any publisher can deliver a rich, touch-enabled experience regardless of the screen or device or wearable the reader uses.

Creating richer experiences on mobile enables engagement, and even monetization, to live within the CMS. Up until now, most CMSs had monetization relegated to the right rail of the page, but with so many users experiencing sites via mobile, it’s become necessary to shift to in-stream experiences. Dynamic experiences and monetization is now living symbiotically with the content. While many legacy CMS vendors have created bridge solutions, the real solution in the long-term is to make the CMS the place where native advertising is created and trafficked in sync with a publisher’s existing ad server. And this requires a CMS built for today’s era of mobile engagement.

Of course, every reader has different tastes and expectations for any given site so in order for native ads to be a success, personal relevance should be a major factor. Rather than a chronological feed, a personalized feed directed at the user’s own interests is needed.  Personalizing the user experience for each individual reader should be at the core of any given CMS. This provides a superior reading experience and users are much more likely to frequently engage with the site.

It isn’t just responsive design that has changed, users have changed their online activity as well. They are no longer simply reading content, leaving comments and moving on. Today, they are sharing more than ever and CMS for the mobile world needs to offer the seamless ability to connect with the online community.

Additionally, writers or anyone interested in creating content should have the option to write on mobile. Unfortunately, CMSs built a decade ago are not a viable option on mobile. Authors should be able to write content from their phone as effortlessly as they tweet.

While we aren’t totally there yet, this reinvention will surely happen. Publishing has drastically changed since the mobile shift and there’s no doubt that reinventing the corresponding CMS software will occur in the near future.

To learn how Crafter CMS was designed and built for the modern era of mobile engagement, contact us today for a personalized demonstration.

 

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.

The Pros and Cons of a SaaS CMS

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A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Web Content Management System (CMS) exists in a multi-tenant, fully cloud hosted and managed environment. Pricing for a SaaS Web CMS is usually based on a per-user and/or per-site basis that usually incorporates a baseline amount of data transfer (i.e., bandwidth to and from your site) and storage (for your content). SaaS CMS is not to be confused with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which is a single tenant system that requires more maintenance but also enables much more customization. Also don’t confuse SaaS with a “Managed Services” cloud solution for a CMS that is just a regular on-premise CMS deployment that may run on cloud infrastructure and be managed by a third-party, but provides none of the cost, agility and scalability benefits of a SaaS approach.

In this post, we will focus on SaaS. The following list of pros and cons will help you make the best decision for your enterprise.

Pros of a SaaS Web CMS:

1. Costs are kept Low

Because SaaS CMS is based on a subscription model, users are not faced with a large licensing fee upfront. In most cases a SaaA CMS project entails a small setup fee which covers the cost of a basic implementation.

2. IT Staff Unburdened

Your internal IT staff will no longer feel the burden when a support issue arises. Instead your SaaS vendor will take care of any issue, and typically at no additional cost. Also, upgrades and maintenance are automatically done by the SaaS vendor.

3. Accessible

SaaS CMS is a virtual product which means it can usually be accessed from any computer, tablet, or mobile device as long as an internet connection is available.

4. Easily Add-On More Users and More Sites

With a SaaS model, you can easily add new users as your team grows, and as your content needs grow. Similarly, adding more sites is as easy a click of the button as you want to spin up new sites — microsites, campaign sites, landing pages, etc. With a multiple-user and multi-site model, your price depends on the number of users and sites with access to the system. So you are only paying for what you use.

5. Up-to-Date Software

With SaaS you can count on new features being added in real time. The latest features and innovation are typically available to all users at no additional costs.

6. Security

As your SaaS vendor handles all the development and QA, you never need to worry about malware or buggy add-ons to the CMS. If the SaaS vendor releases it as a feature add-on, you can feel confident that it won’t expose your site to security threats of any kind.

7. Support Included

Support is included in the SaaS subscription so you can rest assured that any issues will be addressed promptly and effectively. With a multi-tenant architecture, if an issue is affecting one customer, then it’s probably affecting all customers. So the SaaS vendor is extra motivated to resolve all reported issues promptly and effectively. This also means you benefit from issues found by other users of the SaaS CMS, leading to a more robust CMS for all.

8. Implementation Speed

Launching a new website is faster than ever since the CMS is already deployed in its underlying cloud infrastructure. There is no setup and configuration for your Dev, QA, and Production sites. As a result, a SaaS CMS is much faster than traditional web and mobile app development.

Cons of a SaaS Web CMS:

1. Internal Control

Because IT departments are so used to have complete control, it can take a second to get used to a new system where  SaaS CMS platforms are built and housed in cloud infrastructure.

2. Subscription Fee

There are “free” and “freemium” systems available so it can be startling at first for smaller enterprises to choose a model with a fee. However it is up to you to decide if the value of the SaaS platform is worth it to your business.  Keep in mind the subscription costs include support too.

3. Closed Development

SaaS CMS platforms are typically proprietary systems that are under complete control of the vendor, and so they don’t allow for the benefits of an open source type development model. Crafter Cloud is one major exception in the industry, as it is a SaaS CMS solution that benefits from the open source development of Crafter CMS. Also, a SaaS solution does not allow for heavy customization (e.g., does not allow back-end code changes) because a multi-tenant infrastructure is, by its very nature, shared across all users. Again, Crafter Cloud is one major exception in the industry, as we provide a unique, secure, isolated development environment based on the Groovy scripting language that enables all kinds of custom development, all without sacrificing the benefits of a SaaS model. So your enterprise can deliver truly unique, branded, personalized experiences.

SaaS CMS solution can be ideal for certain applications and not so great for others, but it is up to you to consider the needs for your team and enterprise when determining different CMS options to find the solution that best fits your project.  Not one CMS platform is the universal choice for all websites and mobile apps, but a true SaaS CMS makes a strong case in most projects nowadays, so be sure you include it in your list of options.

To learn more about Crafter Cloud, the the groundbreaking SaaS Web CMS, visit craftercloud.io. If you need help determining which CMS approach is best for your organization, contact us directly or reach out to one of our certified consulting partners.

The Rise of Virtual Reality Experiences

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When Facebook bought virtual reality company Oculus in early 2014, virtual reality blew up. Now users can experience anything, anywhere through the power of this new medium. Whether they are painting a picture with a virtual reality paint brush, walking through a building that has not yet been built, or enjoying their favorite video game in a more realistic light, virtual reality has changed technology as we know it.

As it becomes more mainstream, the virtual reality trend is becoming more and more popular – especially among a core, technology savvy subset, namely gamers. And, they are willing to pay for it. A recent study done by Newzoo indicates that 11% of people in 12 western countries are considering purchasing virtual reality gear by the end of the year. Already, the awareness of consumer virtual reality is higher than the average consumer may even expect. With viral videos displaying the possibilities, and individuals discovering for themselves how user-friendly the hardware is, the response is growing.

According to the insights shared in the Newzoo report, consumers are willing and prepared to spend some serious dough on VR products. High-end virtual reality hardware ($600 and more) has been available since the beginning of the year for pre-order and sales will inevitably skyrocket towards the holidays. The Newzoo report suggests that an unexpected 16% of Spaniards, 12% of Americans and 10% of British are stating their interest to purchase VR equipment in the next six months.

This year, virtual reality has made its way into the consumer marketplace where even the most inexperienced user can test it out and get a feeling for this progressive medium. Although in most cases virtual reality hardware is pricey, eventually it will become more affordable and lend itself to create endless options for businesses and individuals alike. Much like the iPod or iPhone back in the early 2000s, new and affordable virtual reality options are on the horizon. The virtual reality hardware we have today is unquestionably the best and most affordable VR technology of its kind. Yet, the opportunities for what’s to come are even greater (with growing potential) than anything we have seen up to this point.

So what does this mean for your enterprise? Although, in some ways, virtual reality has just arrived, there are already countless opportunities for your company to jump on the prospects. We built Crafter CMS to deliver high-performance, unique digital experiences across all online channels. And we are certain that virtual reality is the next big digital channel.

If you are interested in learning more about the current state of virtual reality or how the award-winning Crafter CMS platform can help your enterprise create virtual reality experiences, give us a shout.

Four Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Mobile App

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With the rise of smartphone usage, the mobile app industry is as successful as ever. This growing trend has become attractive to many businesses as they become more aware of the impact an app can have on their business.

More specifically, mobile apps have quickly transformed the business community and companies are finding this medium to be the fastest and easiest way to reach existing customers and potentially new customers without invading their privacy.

The following are just a few points to consider when you are deciding upon a mobile app for your business.

1. Promoting: Marketing and promotion to get the word out about your company is crucial. With stiff competition in most industries, businesses are thinking up new and creative ways to promote themselves. Mobile apps not only support customer engagement, but they also allow companies to promote themselves and offer a variety of discounts, coupons and deals to their customers. Additionally, push notifications and location-based updates greatly enhance the effectiveness of each promotion.

2. Engagement: Most of us are extremely busy, so in order to reach your customer, you need to engage them in nonintrusive ways that peak their interest. Mobile apps are a way to do this with their potential to increase customer engagement by simply keeping them up-to-date on the latest products or services. Your customers can have updates at their fingertips – something that conventional marketing completely lacked.

3. Improves Sales: Mobile apps allow customers to make purchases right from their smartphones which helps to accelerate your business sales. Your potential customers can order products and services wherever they are rather than waiting until they are at a computer to visit your website and shop.

4. Customer Support and Service: With the app right on your customer’s’ smartphone, it is much easier for them to reach out for support and service. In turn, you can easily address their inquiries while providing support whenever it is required. Prior to the mobile app, the process for customers to get support was lengthy and time consuming.

When you’re ready to build your next enterprise mobile app, contact us at Crafter Software to learn how Crafter CMS enables rapid mobile app development, so you can create the ideal mobile app for your company, stay up with the competition, increase your sales, and ultimately watch your company grow.

How To Select a CMS

With the constant evolution of of the Digital content and experience landscape, it can be difficult to decide which CMS architecture will properly meet your business, user and technology objectives. The following are four items to help orient your CMS search for success:

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1. The Right CMS For Business

It is important to take into consideration the cost of development against ROI. The maintenance needs and the architecture’s ability to scale should be heavily weighed as well while assessing the risks associated with technology choices. Businesses boost ROI by reducing the cost of development and time to launch – something a CMS platform approach can help with due to less custom development to get the different components working together. Development overhead is reduced with this platform which also adds a layer of functionality.

You will also want to assess maintainability. Continuous maintenance of a solution can involve fixing bugs, adding minor enhancements and patches or upgrades. Maintainability  can be difficult in  legacy CMS platform models since the application and the CMS code base are coupled tightly. Whichever CMS platform you choose, be sure to think about user-friendliness, release frequency, packaging and available support.

2. Empower the developer

As with most cases, you never want to make someone’s job harder, same goes with making sure the web application framework won’t make your developer’s job more difficult. You can avoid this by following the model-view-controller pattern. This enables cleaner code, better separation of concerns, and easier testability. This pattern is one in which more developers are familiar and it allows for a more gradual learning curve. Regardless of the architecture, be sure the web application sticks to the M.V.C. pattern.

Additionally, enable continuous delivery from the start to help reduce the time, cost, risk and effort of code production by the development team. The core engineering practices that enable continuous delivery are test automation, continuous integration and automated deployment.

Although it can be more difficult to set up continuous delivery on CMS platforms when the solution codebase ties to the CMS platform codebase, so be sure to offer ways to separate the solution code and CMS platform code. However, packaging and deploying code into environments with automated scripts should be fairly easily.

3. Make the Editor Happy

It’s been said thousands of times, but it still holds true, content is king. So the solution must address the needs of content editors while minimizing limitations to editorial strategies. Start by making a decision about flexible page composition. In content-centric solutions, the ability to create pages with custom layouts and components gives editors flexibility and freedom. Coupled CMSs typically offer this out of the box, sometimes with drag-and-drop WYSIWYG capabilities.

You will also want to determine market standardization.  Enterprises serving multi-markets need to make a decision whether they want to provide a single platform that serves their entire market, reducing the total cost of ownership of the platform while promoting standardization, or giving local markets autonomy to develop their online presences on their own. If a global platform suits you, a CMS platform architecture is most often the best choice. This kind of architecture hosts market sites on a single platform making it easy to share content, templates and functionality. When it comes to local markets, decoupled architectures work better because they allow more flexibility to markets to choose technologies and utilize content services.

4. Deliver value to the user

Users are savvier than ever and with the web literally at everyone’s fingertips these days, it is extremely important that their high expectations are met despite it being an ongoing challenge for you. The challenge in any web build is to address high-end needs and demands of the users while still allowing accessibility across multiple devices. Of course, keeping all of these interfaces within budget is also a challenge. Regardless of CMS platform or decoupled architecture, one key requirement you need is to ensure the web application framework gives developers full control of the front-end technology stack. In general, design and build for the lowest common denominator and then you can layer various functionality for advance browsers and devices. Stay in line with the WCAG guidelines and take a progressive enhancement development approach.

 

Digital Customer Experience Is Your Enterprise’s Best Investment

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“By 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake both price and product when it comes to differentiating a brand.” (Biz Report)

Years back, price and product ruled the market. In many ways, the cheapest product sold the most and because communication was more difficult brands could even get away with customer complaints related to product/service shortcomings. However, this is no longer the case today. Customers expect that each and every time they interact with your brand, they will encounter a memorable experience. Something that attracts them, something that is different and at the same time seamless and effortless. Deliver on their expectations and they won’t worry if you happen to overcharge them. Because customers pay over the top knowing that you can deliver a great customer experience and engage them completely. Yes! Nowadays, ‘the experience’ just about triumphs everything else.

Successful enterprises not only know this but also understand that the best  customer experience investments their company can make are ones that focus on a strong digital customer experience.  Companies that consistently rely on modern technology to close gaps in performance, to offer a more personal experience and to build trust, regularly see happier customers, increase in sales, and more loyalty as a result. Yet, many companies longing to achieve these results struggle to identify the best plan of action for the perfect digital customer experience. This doesn’t have to be the case; it just takes a little knowledge and understanding of how to make the most of your investment.

Prioritize Your Outline Customer Experience
When it comes to an online experience, consumers are far less patient. A recent study by Nielsen concluded that a 10-second wait for a page to load can make almost 50% of consumers give up, leave, and search for a competitor. In fact, researchers at Microsoft found that if a website takes 250 milliseconds longer to load than a competitors, consumers will move on. Bottom line: when people have a less-than-favorable experience online, they immediately fault the company. In these times, there is no excuse for a bad digital experience.

Create Brand Loyalty Through Consistency
A consumer’s impression of a company is created by a variety of individual touch points. It’s when companies do not provide consistent digital experiences that the consumer ends up with a disjointed and poor impression of the business and brand. Over time, it’s the frustrations caused by these inconsistencies that can erode brand loyalty.  To avoid major issues, do your best to identify customers’ digital interactions and devices. Understand the goals of your customers, motivations, and strive for as much detail as possible. Research your customers so that every phase of their digital experience is accounted for and is unique to their individual needs throughout their customer journey.

Improving Customer Experience Can Also Improve Your Operations
Companies that specifically work towards improving the customer experience are also improving other parts of the business such as online support, mobile customer experience and personalized digital experiences. In this way, the company meets the site visitors where they are and in turns helps themselves through smoother interactions.   An obvious example can be found at any Apple store.  Apple changed how point-of-sale works.  No one waits at a register.  Any Apple employee can ring up your purchase.  The customer wins. Apple wins.  Look for these win-win opportunities that make your customers happy and at the same time, make doing business easier and faster.

Digital Experience Platforms Shape the Technology Investment
The best software platforms to invest in are those which targeted customer experiences, marketing and commerce on smartphones, tablets and computers – really any device where a customer will be interacting. Therefore, it is crucial to optimize the use of digital tools and technologies, so your customers are getting the fastest, most accurate, next level experiences every time they visit your site.

One technology platform that can help any large-scale enterprise with the challenges of digital customer experiences is a modern CMS platform. Modern multi-channel CMS platforms help companies digital customer experiences faster, create brand loyalty and increase revenue.

Crafter Software Recognizes Top Community Contributors

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Crafter Software has had an incredible year of producing innovative technology and enabling digital business transformation for organizations globally. This year, we are thrilled to acknowledge the excellent performance and notable achievements of our top community members

The strength of open source software is the community of people who collaborate and contribute. This year we recognize the top community contributors for outstanding contributions of enhancements, fixes and community participation.

Top community contributors for the Crafter CMS open source platform are:

Want more information about Crafter CMS, the most modern open source Java-based platform for crafting personalized digital experiences at blazing speed? Visit craftercms.org for more info and free downloads!

6 ‘C’s for Great Customer Experience

The type of customer experience your company provides to its customers can make or break the brand. The game has changed and the winners in today’s market are those who provide a great experience to their customers throughout the entire customer journey. Learn how to increase demand and encourage growth through great customer experience by leveraging these 6 ‘C’s of Great Customer Experience!

#1: Contextual

Are you sitting at your desk working?  Are you sitting on the couch browsing with your tablet?  Are you in a Uber hurling towards the airport and trying to move your flight departure time?  Where you are, what you are doing, what kind of access you has matters A LOT! Contextualization focuses the experience on where you are, what device you are using as well as preferences such as location, language, and time of day.  In a nutshell, contextualized experience is what brands use to go above the muck in today’s omni-channel, multi-device, multi-lingual, multi-step world to provide you with a more personalized and relevant experience.

#2 Consistent

A brand is successful by promises made and promises kept. By consistently shaping communications and interactions that highlight strong delivery and core themes brands set customer expectations and drive loyalty by meeting them. Lack of consistency and failure to meet expectations has the exact opposite effect. Have you ever dialed into an automated “phone-tree”, entered a bunch of information only to be transferred and then have to re-enter all of your information again?  It’s frustrating at best. A consistent experience delivers what you expect at every step in the customer journey.  At each touch point, it knows where you have been and where you are now.

#3 Conversational

The online world is much more social than ever before.  Marketing is no longer about one-way communication in which brands bark messaging at customers, it’s about engaging with them.  Today’s marketing is “N-directional.”  It’s an on-going engagement with the brand, a customer, and the brand ecosystem.  Everyone knows that good friends are the ones that know how to listen.  The same is true for brands.

#4 Cross-channel

Our customers have multiple ways to engage with us from traditional media advertising, mail campaigns and phone to digital platforms such as sites, applications, kiosks, digital signage, email, texting, social media and more!  Your customers want to engage you through the mediums and platforms that make the most sense for them in the moment.  Companies that truly get customer experience understand that offering the customer a great experience on the platform of their choice is a critical component for success.  Multi-channel isn’t just about a website responsive design that works on laptops and smartphones.  It’s about really being able to serve customers on any channel and further it’s about being equipped to add a new channel at a moment’s notice.  New channels emerge all the time, and it is the first movers in nearly all cases that dominate the new space.

#5 Convenient

Convenience is a no brainer. Customers love easy. You must reduce complexity at every step.  Make it simple for them!  Apple no longer has a checkout register. Any employee can help you complete a purchase.  Need to schedule an appointment? A couple taps of by an associate on an iPad and you are done.  That’s convenient and it’s enchanting.  Now compare your hailing a cab to requesting an Uber.  Hailing a cab requires good fortune or great patience. Uber by contrast puts mobility at the touch of a button, provides you with an ETA and requires no physical payment transaction.  That’s convenient and it’s enchanting.  Be convenient. Be enchanting.

#6 Cost effective

While great customer experience is vital for maintaining and obtaining customers, doing more (for your customers) often requires more time and resources.  The key to creating and maintaining a great customer experience is finding a cost effective way to make it happen.  The key to cost-effective customer experience is in the architecture of the platforms and solutions you choose to implement. Of course, the platform needs to enable you to deliver contextual multi-channel experiences that engage and enchant your customers. But it must also allow you to scale in an affordable way.  By scale I mean few things.  Scale as in volume.  You need to be able to add more capacity without breaking the bank.  Scale as in many birds, one stone.  The platform should be able to cover many needs.  Multiple sites, many channels within a site and so on.  Scale as in capacity to innovate.  Digital experience is a space of constant evolution.  You need to be able to quickly and affordably develop and deploy new value to your customers.

How have the 6 C’s for Great Customer Experience enhanced your business?  Let us know in the comments below.

Crafter CMS Drives Large Scale, Reliable Customer Engagement During the Big Game

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We’re happy to report that Crafter CMS powered some of the largest websites and mobile applications run by sponsors of a recent major sporting event that was viewed by over 189 million people around the world.

By powering their websites and mobile apps with Crafter CMS, our clients were able to deliver reliable, high performance digital experiences to all their customers. As television advertising drove surges of traffic throughout the event, our clients reported outstanding performance and a record amount of online customer engagement. Meanwhile, it was widely reported that several other enterprise and celebrity websites, which were running legacy content management platforms, crashed and burned due to heavy volumes of traffic. Based on our look at some of the sites that had performance issues, they seem to be running WordPress and Adobe CQ5 (AEM).

In contrast to most legacy content management platforms built over 10 years ago, the modern Crafter CMS excels at delivering reliable, large-scale Web content management implementations. And does so at a fraction of the cost of legacy, proprietary solutions.

Crafter’s innovative architecture provides marketers the easy-to-use tools they need to engage customers, provides developers with the agility to develop engaging website and mobile app features in record time, and provides IT administrators the scalable and performance to deliver highly reliable digital experiences.

Need a reliable CMS that won’t crash when you need it most? Check out our open source on-premise solution (http://craftercms.org) or our cloud-based, full SaaS solution (http://craftercloud.io) today.