Running the Gulf Coast .NET User Group is one of my favorite activities and I’m always looking for ways to improve the group and generate interest. Whether it’s planning the next meeting and lining up an awesome speaker or adding new social and media features to the site, enhancing the experience for the group members is essential to keeping the group strong and relevant. I wanted to highlight how we are using Kentico CMS and Windows Azure to power an awesome user group site with many exciting capabilities.
Body blow! – Built on Kentico CMS
The main focus of the GCDNUG site is to deliver info to its members and Kentico CMS
provides an excellent tool for the job. Leveraging many of the built-in features of the platform we can quickly add new meetings, post news articles, or shoot out a newsletter, all using a great admin interface and experience.
Social features like the Kentico Twitter “Follow” web part help members keep up with the latest posts and tweets. Kentico’s built-in RSS capabilities allows our news feed to be consumed quickly with readers and the GCDNUG Windows Phone app.
With built-in Web Analytics we can quickly view site traffic, entry/exit pages, and browser capabilities, all with the use of Kentico web parts. It allows us to gauge our user’s habits and trends and provide the best experience possible.
With Kentico’s Newsletter feature, we keep our members up to date on the group and meetings and track activity quickly through the admin module. In addition to providing a simple, intuitive interface for creating and managing templates and styles, it tracks open rates, clicked links, and unsubscriptions.
After a little configuration and setup, the GCNDUG was quickly running on Kentico with all of these great features enabled!
Taking on Soda Popinski - The Windows Azure Powerhouse
Leveraging global resources and Microsoft’s powerful backend infrastructure, the GCDNUG runs smoothly in Windows Azure
and is always available to our members. Leveraging Windows Azure Websites, the Gulf Coast .NET site runs on 2 servers to ensure it’s always up and delivering content.
Using the new “Auto-Scale” feature, the site is constantly monitored for usage and adds / removes servers as traffic demands fluctuate.
Windows Azure Endpoint Monitoring ensures our site is always accessible from multiple parts of the country.
Hosting in Windows Azure ensures the site is running smoothly at all times and delivering great info to our users.
“The Dream Fight!” - Streaming Video with Lync / Windows Azure Media Services
Providing as dynamic content as possible enables us to deliver a rich, captivating experience for our members. For our meetings we use Lync
to record our sessions, capturing all of the great content and presentations. We upload these to Windows Azure Media Services and stream the directly to our sites. It’s a great way to tie multiple systems together to deliver great content, whether someone missed a meeting or just wanted to go back and watch it again.
I’ll be sure to write up the Lync / WAMS process in a separate blog to see how it all works behind the scene.
As you can see, we are leveraging a lot of awesome features within the Gulf Coast .NET User Group site. Often a sandbox for new technologies and features, the GCNDUG site incorporates emerging / preview capabilities to deliver our content. Be sure you’re doing the same on your sites to help keep your visitors hooked and coming back! And be sure to aim from King Hippo’s stomach…