So you’ve reached a fork in the road. You have a decision to make: Do you “settle” for not getting what you want out of a Content Management System? Or do you push the envelope to get exactly what you want out of your CMS by making some customizations?
Sitefinity is the clear choice for anyone looking to accommodate ease of use in your day-to-day CMS, but also provide flexibility to your development team to create needed widgets and API calls to meet needed business rules. This Content Management System is the “happy medium” for providing a great user experience, but still having enough technical “muscle” to meet demanding, custom solutions. Sitefinity CMS by Telerik is the industry leader for content management systems, providing one of the most stable and sophisticated Enterprise solutions available.
After having built or maintained more than 30 (and growing!) Sitefinity websites in the last 12 months, below are five ways that our project management and developer teams we have helped our customers leverage the platform with custom solutions for their day to day needs.
1) Inline image editing:
Not only does Sitefinity give you the ability to sort and categorize sub-folders for your image library, but Sitefinity will also allow you to edit inline to the CMS. Gone are the days of needing to size your images in Photoshop before uploading them to the CMS! With the “Crop/Resize/Rotate...” tool in the your library, you can open content boxes to edit within the CMS itself. Within the tool, you can crop, resize and rotate THEN either overwrite the existing or save as a new image, allowing your team the ability to have multiple versions within the library without having to leverage third party photo editing software.
2) Expanded News, Blog and Press Release Functionality:
Sitefinity has multiple content types that can be leveraged as base functionality: News, Blog or Press Releases. The base functionality of each of those content types will most likely accommodate many users, but with the Sitefinity CMS, accommodating custom development is easy to do.
In addition to base content widgets, Sitefinity can also be customized to:
- Provide Custom Social Media feed in sidebars
- Leveraging custom design features on the detail page
- Display Articles’ Category/Tags to be displayed from the list view
- Display Article’s Author displayed from the List view
- Display Author Avatar on detail page along with Author Name
- Display Associated Tags/Categories from Detail page
- Displaying related articles on detail page as well as providing admins with backend interface to set the related articles
- Allow Infinite Load on detail page
As an example, https://blog.hughesfcu.org/ is one of the custom blog formats that we have created for a client that wanted more than just the “standard” content sharing format.
3) Create Custom Search functionality for your content, case studies or data:
Presenting your company’s content in an easy to use format is sometimes the largest hurdle in educating customers on its’ existence. If your customers would benefit from being able to interact with your complex content, case studies or data, Sitefinity CMS can be customized to leverage that content in the sales and service cycle through custom search functionality.
As an example, we have a client in PRI, which provides highly technical laboratory testing and consulting services for the Paving, Roofing and Industrial Industry. Their full website can be found here, but the custom search functionality we created for them is referenced both in the auxiliary navigation and in a subpage found here. This Search functionality allows user to not only browse the available testing services, but also submit a contact form with the test “tied” to the contact form; letting the recipient know which test the user is interested in. This custom search functionality has not only decreased the length of the sales funnel for their team, but also improved user experience, as indicated by the increase in user time on site.
4) Multiple Page and Navigation Widget Templates
Not only does Sitefinity CMS come with many page template options (one column, two columns, left sidebar, etc), but it also allows you the flexibility to add new ones of your own. Where the “magic” comes is when you leverage your own, custom page templates with unique navigation widgets, which can give you the appearance of multiple websites within the same instance of your Content Management System. With some strategy and architectural planning with your client and development team, you can leverage this Sitefinity feature of showing different navigation and design elements.
One of our Bayshore Solutions clients, Invo Healthcare, had a unique dynamic in that they wanted to show two different sets of content to two different audiences, but want to manage it all in the same CMS admin. One “Audience” is their business “clients”, while the other is their consumer “customer”. Some of the content is shared (contact us), but other content is unique.
To satisfy the request, we created custom page templates for each audience. The “Client” audience is directed on all materials and collateral here, but the “Customer” audience is directed on all materials and collateral here. Between the two, you will notice unique navigation and content, but you basically have and can manage two different websites within the same CMS admin. We have another example of a client in the financial industry doing the same within Sitefinity, but managing ten websites by leveraging the page templates and unique navigation widgets.
5) Admin Portal to act as a “Control Panel” to Manage Data
Another cool way that we have been able to leverage the Sitefinity CMS is to make the admin portion of Sitefinity the “control panel” for our customers internal systems. Several customers have internal workflow, API’s and processes which manage their already complex business rules. Regularly, back of house developers will create these complex business rules and processes, but not necessarily create a user friendly way manage their complex data.
For one client in the financial industry and another in travel and entertainment, Bayshore Solutions leveraged Sitefinity’ ability to create custom modules and admin panels to manage. It is not anything that the general consumer will ever see, but the custom solutions make day to day operations for the client a lot easier.
These are only a few ways that Sitefinity can be customized to improve your day to day experience with the Content Management System. We, at Bayshore Solutions, would love to discuss how we can make your website accomplish all of the goals you have for it.
Contributed by Stephen Massaro, Senior Project Manager