My reflections after the Denver 2012 Kentico Connections Conference.
This year, as I sat at the 2012 Kentico Connections Conference in Denver intently listening to Petr Palas, the CEO and Founder of Kentico Software talk about the new features in Kentico CMS 7 and the roadmap for the future, I began to ponder: What’s so great about Kentico CMS?
So with the launch of Version 7 of Kentico, instead of writing about the new features in Kentico 7 — and there are quite a lot of great new features — I thought I would point out what I think are the 10 core things that make Kentico great.
#1 – End-User Focus
Unfortunately, if you look at the state of the modern CMS in 2012, you will likely find that most of them are written with focus on information technology or the developer. But it seems to me that the main purpose of a content management system is to put the power of maintaining the content of a website in the hands of a non-technical end-user. That means the end-user should not need to have any programming knowledge. From the very beginning, the Kentico CMS was designed with the non-technical end-user in mind.
While the Kentico API and framework provide the ability to drop-down and extend the system programmatically, it is abstracted from the end-user. The CMS Desk and Site Manager are organized in an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that allows WISYWIG (What You See Is What You Get) editing of content using paradigms found in many popular document editors. As they say in the GEICO commercials: it’s so easy, even a caveman can do it! (Or cavewoman for that matter!)
#2 – Windows Azure Cloud & Web Farm Support
In today’s market, static websites are the dinosaur of the web as it used to be. Nevertheless, there are still fossils out there that have not realized websites are critical for businesses of all sizes and have become the platform from which many lines of business are integrated. Consumers and business people alike often go to a company’s website first to become educated on a business and garner a first impression. In today’s market, you likely will get one chance — about 8 seconds — to make a good first impression. Having a highly-available web site is no longer an option, it’s business-critical. Kentico has understood this since its inception and has supported web farm deployments.
Moreover, Kentico has been forward-thinking, recognizing that the Cloud is a disruptive and transformational technology. As a result, Kentico was the first CMS to have native support for deployment in Windows Azure. Moreover, version 7 includes support for Amazon Web Services. Support for web farms and the Cloud is an absolute must-have in a CMS today. Every business needs a website that is always on and that can scale.
#3 – Mobility Support
A recent survey commissioned by Google and conducted by two independent research firms studied the mobile activities of consumers. A whopping 74 percent of respondents said they’re more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites and 67 percent were more likely to buy or convert after a visit to a mobile-friendly site, while the opposite is also true of a non-mobile-friendly site, where 61 percent said they would “move on.” Unless you are committing business suicide it is absolutely business-critical that your website support mobile users. The democratization of data coupled with the web-user’s demand to consume it their way necessitates that any relevant content management system supports and augments the major mobile site implementation strategies: Responsive Design, Dynamic Content Serving, and Mobile Only Site.
With the launch of Kentico Version 7, in addition to supporting the three industry accepted methods to implement a mobile web site, Kentico has introduced a fourth alternative: Kentico Mobile Layouts. Mobile Layouts allow users to easily create mobile-ready websites or even convert existing websites to mobile sites without redesigning them from scratch. Created content is adjusted for different devices. Content editors can even preview the website in the appropriate screen size directly from their browser, without being a developer.
#4 – Enterprise Marketing
Having a website is only one percent of the equation. On the web, content is king and providing a compelling reason to earn a customer’s attention and consume that content is paramount to an effective website. Savvy marketers know that having a web marketing strategy and measuring the results of that strategy is critical. Often things such as social media and other marketing activities produce intangible ROI. In order to drive the business value of your website and marketing strategies it is necessary to have a CMS that combines an Enterprise Marketing Suite / Solution (EMS). Kentico’s EMS combined with their powerful CMS combine the best on-line marketing tools into a fully integrated package.
These tools include Web Analytics, Campaign Management, E-mail Marketing, A/B and MVT testing, Contact Management, Lead Scoring, Personalization, and Segmentation. What gets measured, tracked, and tweaked in on-line marketing produces more effective results. Kentico EMS arms you with the tools needed to produce results.
#5 – Social Media Support
Unless you have been hibernating in a cave somewhere or chosen to stick you head in the sand, social media has changed the marketing paradigm from a push-modality to a pull-modality. Consumers are bombarded with messages and the advent of the democratization of data and DVRs allow consumers to tune out. You now have to earn their attention by providing content that they choose to consume. Social Media provides a way to reach a much larger audience than mass media ever could and the beauty of it; your website consumers are carrying your message.
To ignore social media in your web strategy is like not putting gas in your car and expecting to get where you are going. Kentico has built in social media support for Facebook, Twitter, Open ID, YouTube, as well as tools for creating your own online communities. Forward-thinking and taking a proactive approach to industry trends Kentico has been improving its rich support for social media with each version. Social Media integration is a must have for every website.
#6 - Versioning
Managing a web platform with the amount of data and information displayed on most modern websites is a daunting task. Controlling workflow and the information displayed on your website is extremely important considering today’s legal climate and impact brand reputation. Major Steve Kranz, my instructor in the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corp, used to tell me, “It only takes one ‘Oh Crap’ to wipe out five ‘attaboys’.” Website versioning is vital to managing all of the information. Right out of the box, Kentico CMS provides the ability to version your web content. Check-in, check-out, workflow, staging, and rollback functions give content editors the necessary functionality to manage and control your web content.
#7 – Extensible Framework
I have worked in software development for over 20 years and I can tell you that no matter how much planning goes into a piece of software, there is no way you can anticipate every need, functionality, or possible way a customer might use that piece of software. Often, there is a trade-off of between functionality versus cost. One thing we always look for as a software development and systems integrator firm is if software is extensible and provides a platform for custom integration and development. Kentico provides a robust extensibility framework with the Kentico Application Programming Interface (API), Widgets, Web Parts, Integration Bus, and Workflow Engine. Using the Kentico API developers, can manipulate system level objects and tailor functionality. Widgets and web parts provides a flexible framework for developing reusable components that can be shared between multiple websites or allow content editors to drop in pre-created functionality.
Additionally, this framework allows you to connect these objects using the Workflow Engine and connect to external systems using the system Integration Bus. This provides a framework of extensibility where you can leverage in-house programmers or a partner such as Bit-Wizards to build custom functionality that might be necessary for your website.
#8 – E-Commerce
Many companies have an e-commerce website built on a platform separate from their main company website. However, in terms of driving sales through marketing and brand awareness, this approach can yield a siloed approach, leaving them without a unified view of their e-commerce sales tied to their marketing and sales efforts. Built directly into the Kentico CMS, is a robust e-commerce engine and e-commerce shopping cart. This is a huge advantage when combined with the Kentico Enterprise Marketing Suite (EMS) to get that full 360 degree web platform view of your business. The single unified platform amalgamates marketing and sales with reports and campaign tracking. Best yet, the customer has a single experience.
Moreover, Kentico’s e-commerce support includes PayPal and Authorize.NET payment gateways and the ability to manage products and pricing is intuitive and flexible. From simple on-line stores or donations to high-volume stores, Kentico offers a single integrated e-commerce solution.
#9 – 7 Day Bug Fix Policy
There is no such thing as bug-free software! Software developers strive to write bug-free code, but the complexity of the human to machine interface and the complexity of software systems makes it almost impossible to write bug-free software even with the best testing and software quality assurance systems. That being said, any company producing software should stand behind their product and fix bugs in a timely manner. Kentico Software has 7-day bug fix policy, which is unprecedented in the industry. From the Kentico web site:
We fix bugs found in the latest published version of Kentico CMS within 7 business days. For the purpose of this policy a bug is any defect that doesn't allow you to use an existing feature as it is described in the documentation. A missing feature or setting is not considered a bug. A minor graphic design issue or issue that can be easily solved using an alternative approach are not considered to be a bug.
What’s even more impressive is Kentico’s “Trees for Bugs
” Program. Check out the website and watch the video
! Kentico helps improve our world by planting a tree for each bug found in Kentico CMS, and they will fix it in 7 days!
#10 – Live World-Wide 24x7x365 Technical Support
Kentico’s support is truly world-class. The first year’s maintenance and support is included with the purchase of the software and Kentico’s support includes live worldwide technical support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. With offices in the Czech Republic, London England, Nashua New Hampshire, Seattle Washington, and Sydney Australia, you can call and talk to a live human being who will help solve your problem, getting the help you need when you need it the most; right now. If you prefer, you can also e-mail for support. Kentico also has self-service support with its DevNet portal. This includes active forums, a knowledge base, hundreds of video tutorials, and full documentation. Kentico’s support is unparalleled in the industry.
Not a single CMS provider on the market offers this level of support as part of the purchase of the software. If that is not enough for you, if you look at the bottom of their support page
, Kentico publically publishes live statistics regarding the percentage of support tickets that are answered within 24 hours. How many companies are that confident in their support!
The Bottom Line
So there you have it; the top 10 things that make Kentico great. But actually there is more that I need to tell you. In fact, this is the single most important thing that makes Kentico great!
This year marked my fourth Kentico Connections Conference; two in Denver and two in Prague. Sitting there, I reflected on the past 8 years of using Kentico CMS and the relationship I have built with the people behind Kentico Software. You see, I started using Kentico CMS in 2004 when we were looking for a platform to build highly-interactive and highly-scalable websites that could be integrated with other systems. We had been working with Ektron, which was a nightmare, as well as numerous other home-grown platforms and off-the-shelf management systems like .NET Nuke and ADX Studio. But none of them fit the bill when evaluating the features, technology, price, and architecture. It really came down to solving a pain point for our company. Let’s face it; the CMS landscape in 2004 really sucked! Then, we attended a .NET code camp in Montgomery, Alabama where one of my developers won a free copy of Kentico CMS. Eagerly, we tried out the product and quickly realized we had found that sweet spot we had been looking for.
Kentico quickly became our platform of choice through one successful project after another. While the landscape for content management systems in 2012 is vast and competitive, Kentico has evolved, and in my opinion, is the best enterprise-level CMS on the market — able to support a small business website equally as well as a large global enterprise website.
Why did Kentico make the cut? Why did I make the investment into becoming a Kentico Gold Partner? From day one, I could see the quality and the care that was built into every aspect of the product. But in the end, it really was not about technology or product. Don’t get me wrong, those things had to be above par, but it was my first interaction with tech support, then working directly with Kentico’s CEO, Petr Palas, that endeared me to the product and the people behind the product. It was obvious to me that Kentico as a product was a labor of love and that Petr and his team personally cared about the product, the company, and about each and every customer and partner. Each and every detail was important from the documentation, to the code, to the architecture, to the customer support. They are entrepreneurial in their approach, warm and friendly in their corporate culture, and have a superior product. But perhaps the most important thing is that as they have grown, they haven’t strayed from this ethos. And after 8 years of working with Kentico, at the core, that is why I love the product. Feature for feature, they have a superior CMS and it can stand up against the Gartner-rated CMSs, but what makes Kentico unique and special is the people who build, sell, and support the product.
So There You Have It! What’s So Great About Kentico CMS!
At the core, there is a fantastic product. But the secret sauce behind Kentico CMS is the people that sell, develop, and support it. I don’t know about you, but I like using products from, and doing business with, people I like. The product has to be capable of the task, but it’s the people that make purchasing and using that product great!
If you have a great Kentico Story, I'd like to hear about it!