Implementing an SEO Strategy for Your Liferay Websites

Posted by on November 10, 2014

The internet has revolutionized the way companies market their products and services today, and one of the biggest changes is how businesses are leveraging their websites to market their online presence. In a competitive digital world, the key to success is reaching potential customers and driving them to your website.

In a webinar earlier this year, we discussed how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a top priority in today’s growing world of technology reliance on web-based platforms, and how Liferay’s newest features can be used to implement SEO-friendly dynamic pages, illustrated by a real world customer example.

What is SEO?

For those who aren’t familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it’s the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid “organic” search results. Unlike paid search results, like Google Adwords, where you’re essentially paying for your URL’s to display in a favorable position, SEO involves the natural algorithms that sort the results.

Organizations are always trying various SEO techniques to increase high value traffic to their sites from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Common SEO methods include getting indexed, controlling the crawl, and increasing prominence. It’s important that your page is highly relevant to the keywords that users would use in their search for that page.

SEO Strategy Considerations

When determining an SEO strategy, there are several important factors to consider:

Controlling Meta Information

First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that all of the properties being used to describe your page are relevant and descriptive of the page’s content. HTML pages contain metadata – title, meta tags, keywords, etc. – and search engines look at this metadata through sophisticated algorithms to determine its value, which is then used to score the page.

Liferay allows users to control the metadata for each page, along with the ability for localization. For example, the US page can have metadata in English and a Chinese page could have the metadata in Mandarin in order to maximize the score.

Site Map Protocol

Another feature that search engines provide is the ability to show searching users a site map of the website directly in the search result page to help them find what they’re looking for faster. For example, if you searched AT&T in Google, you will see search results for AT&T along with the site map, as shown in the image below. Liferay has an out-of-the-box capability of pushing your sitemap out to Google and Yahoo using the Site Map Protocol.

Friendly URLs

A good SEO strategy also involves the use of friendly URLs. Your URL patterns need to be descriptive of the content. Out-of-the-box, Liferay URLs in many cases aren’t good enough as they contain a lot of URL parameters. However, Liferay allows for the creation of custom friendly URLs through the Friendly URL Mapper to solve the problem.

SEO Friendly Sliders/Carousels

Lastly, many organizations struggle with the issue of SEO friendly sliders and carousels. In a nutshell, a page rendering carousels should only have the content of the relevant slide instead of all the slides. When users perform a search, the search engine crawls through each slide and indexes it as part of the same page. The challenge is tricking the search engine into viewing each slide as a separate page, while maintaining the animation.

For example, if a user searches for something that lies in slide 3 of a carousel, and the search results take them to slide 1 where the information isn’t relevant to what they were looking for, it can cause confusion and frustration. It’s easy to see why this is something companies want to avoid as it can result in a poor user experience that could deter the user from visiting the site again.

The solution lies in the URL. By creating unique URLs for each slide of the carousel, search engines can treat and index them as separate pages, making them SEO friendly.

To maintain the proper carousel transitions between slides, the slides are linked so that a simple AJAX call back to the server allows users to view all the carousel slides. In addition, all of the carousel slides are managed in one Liferay Web content article. This way, only one slide in the carousel is rendered during rendering, preventing any false positives when search engines are indexing the page. With this solution, you can still have carousels without sacrificing the SEO friendliness of a site.

Real World Customer Example – Sensus

Sensus is a global enterprise in utility infrastructure systems and resource conservation. For its global website, products are organized in a way as illustrated in the diagram below – where sensus.com contained multiple country sites, each with multiple divisions, and those with their own product lines, each with multiple products.

However, in reality, the associations between these entities were not as cleanly hierarchical as the diagram implies. In fact, all the entities could be associated with one another, as shown in the following diagram.

This presented the biggest challenge as it meant that a truly hierarchical representation for the content behind Divisions, Product Lines, Products and Solutions could not be created. And from an SEO perspective, all this content still needed to be searchable, and needed to be in a hierarchy that search engines understood.

Templates and Page Types Are the Answer

To solve this problem, we leveraged templates, which helped content managers organize their content in a way where it’s reusable, without losing the site map and structure of the content.

Liferay’s built-in rich WCM capability allowed us to divide a page into building blocks. For example, a product line page would be divided into the following sections – overview, products, and associated solutions.

We also created page types, where a single Liferay page can display as many articles as necessary for a particular page type. For Sensus, we had page types for Division, Product Line, and Product.

What about SEO?

When addressing SEO, the answer was in the method of content delivery. We needed to make sure that content authoring and delivery were decoupled to maintain SEO friendliness of each country’s site.

We achieved this through a process where content authors didn’t touch the Liferay pages. Instead, all they had to do was create Web forms and tag each article using Liferay categories, in turn capturing the hierarchy. That way, the article can surface in various places throughout the site based on how it’s categorized, allowing content authors to maintain a single source of truth for the content and also the hierarchy in the information architecture on the delivery side. Now when search engines scan through the pages and come up with a searchable index, the structure makes sense and there’s no loss of content organization.

As a result of this solution that enables the creation of a global website with shared content, we also encountered some SEO challenges that were specific to Liferay – HTML Titles and Breadcrumbs. As discussed earlier, search engines expect a page’s HTML title to be relevant to what’s on the page. However, since we’re using page types, where each page is displaying multiple products, we couldn’t have the same title for each product page, and Liferay out-of-the-box controls the page title based on the page type. Similarly, Liferay’s Breadcrumb capability had to show hierarchy of the content.

Both of these challenges were solved through a plug-in that enabled us to intercept the HTML Title and Breadcrumb generation code and replace it with dynamic logic so that it made sense for search engines.

In summary, SEO is something that’s becoming increasingly important for all public facing sites to focus on. A key SEO success factor lies in the strategy that must be defined early on in the planning phases of a project to ensure maximum SEO friendliness, and Liferay as a CMS provides a great tool for SEO that can satisfy almost all requirements.

Liferay Symposium 2014 Talks Audience Engagement

Posted by on September 10, 2014

Liferay North America Symposium 2014

The fall conference season is officially upon us! In less than a month, Liferay is bringing their annual North America Symposium to the east coast, held in Boston, MA from October 5-7, 2014.

This year’s Liferay NAS will focus on various ways of engaging with your audience, with an agenda packed full of hot topics around mobile, social, the best of the latest Liferay release, and best practices for upgrading. Attendees can also expect to dig deep into Liferay Portal 6.2, see new official plugins for Liferay Social Office, Sharepoint, Google Drive, and Google Login, along with a first chance to see the product roadmap for Liferay 7.0 and beyond.

Still not convinced? Here are the TOP 5 REASONS for going!

  1. Hands-on Workshops & In-depth Technical Sessions 
    Learn directly from Liferay masterminds on such hot topics as content targeting, single page architecture, social, and responsive design. Further maximize your investment by attending a post-symposium training.
  2. Meaningful Opportunities for Collaboration 
    Take advantage of Speed Consulting appointments with Liferay’s senior consultants. Meet face-to-face with other Liferay users and enthusiasts.
  3. Real World Enterprise Client Case Studies 
    Gain insight into enterprise productivity, mobility, and web engagement for the future. Learn how Liferay is providing tangible business values and solutions to our key clients.
  4. Access to a Community of Experts 
    Connect with innovative sponsors and exhibitors face-to-face in a dedicated space, and learn more about their enterprise-ready solutions.
  5. A Sunday Spectacular! 
    Kick off the first day with an exhilarating 5K run/walk along the Charles River Esplanade. Liferay will donate $100 to Solidarity and/or Living Water for every participant. Top off the night with some of Boston’s finest bites & beers at the evening welcome reception.

Rivet Logic will again be participating as a Platinum Sponsor and presenting a customer case study featuring IEEE (the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology), to discuss how they built an innovative, enterprise intranet solution on the Liferay platform.

We hope to see you in Boston!

Case Study: Award-Winning Cloud Services and Communications Company Drives More Sales Leads with Crafter CMS

Posted by on August 01, 2014

The internet plays a huge influential role in our daily purchasing decisions, most of the time without us even noticing as it’s become so second nature. Whether it’s checking out a restaurant menu before trying it out, checking to see if a product is available at a specific store, or seeing if a business’s solutions can benefit you, a company’s online presence can drastically affect the impression it leaves on a visitor, making it crucial to have a site that delivers an engaging and lasting experience.

In our latest case study published earlier this year, we take a detailed look at how a leading cloud services and communications company is leveraging a Crafter CMS solution to deliver a dynamic, engaging Web experience while increasing site traffic and sales leads.

Rebranding Effort For a Cloud Services and Communications Company Leads to a New Dynamic Website for a Higher Quality Customer Web Experience

As a leading, award-winning cloud and communications services provider, this organization serves as the technology ally for small and mid-sized businesses by delivering services through their private, high-bandwidth enterprise network and data centers. By shifting the technology burden to the provider, they strive to help their customers save valuable time, money and resources.

Customer service excellence has been a big part of this company’s culture since its inception, making it imperative to maintain a cutting edge Web presence. This customer had recently undergone a corporate rebranding initiative, and as part of the effort, had sought to provide a far more dynamic and engaging Web experience for its users. With these objectives in mind, it was quickly realized that there was a need for a new enterprise-class Web Content Management System (CMS) with the robust functionality to effectively address existing needs, along with the flexibility to tackle any ongoing future requirements.

Unlimited Agility Through Open Source Innovation

Led by the Marketing Department, and working in conjunction with the product development groups along with senior executives, this customer wanted to ensure the new website produced the end result they desired. They knew that with any new Web CMS solution, flexibility was a top priority – flexibility of design, using in-house resources, customization, and adapting to ongoing needs.

As an organization that works with a variety of third party vendors for their projects, this customer saw the benefits of open source when it came to flexibility in choosing future development partners when the need arose to grow the Web application with additional components. So they also sought a content management platform that was open, agile and sported a rich feature set. After evaluating a number of potential products, an integrated solution based on Crafter and Alfresco emerged as a clear choice.

Paving the Way to Serve as a Full Fledged Technology Ally for Its Customers

With the new website, this customer has seen an increase in content production and publishing productivity, and are better able to quickly respond and adapt to the data received from analytics. The dynamic content pages provide a proficient way of cataloguing and repurposing content throughout the site. Since re-launching the site using Crafter CMS, overall website traffic has increased by 9 percent while the number of leads generated have more than doubled that amount.

Click here to read and download the full case study.

Alfresco Software Positioned in the Visionaries Quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization & Sharing

Posted by on July 16, 2014

Many of us are familiar with Alfresco as an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform and its robust content management capabilities. And they’re no newbies in the world of Gartner Magic Quadrants as it’s been positioned as a Visionary in the Magic Quadrant for ECM for the past five consecutive years.

However, yesterday marks a first for Alfresco in another Magic Quadrant as Gartner positioned it as a Visionary in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization & Sharing (EFSS).

According to Gartner, “EFSS refers to a range of on-premises or cloud-based capabilities that enable individuals to synchronize and share documents, photos, videos and files across multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets and PCs.” Gartner adds that, “Security and collaboration support are critical capabilities of EFSS to address enterprise priorities.”

Fueled by a differentiated hybrid model and open-source DNA, Alfresco Software serves a customer base that requires enterprise-grade content management that works across cloud, mobile, hybrid and on-premise environments.

“EFSS are basic features that any modern ECM system must have,” said Doug Dennerline, Alfresco CEO. “We believe that Alfresco’s vision to offer customers a unique, hybrid approach with built-in file synchronization and sharing capabilities has been validated here.  More importantly, our customers appreciate our open architecture and have the flexibility to customize their solutions to their unique business need.”

In the report, Gartner also predicts: “By 2017, part of the enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS) market will be absorbed into adjacent markets (e.g., collaboration and content management).”

“As Gartner indicates in the report, the shelf life of EFSS as a stand-alone product is short lived. File sync and share is moving to be just another feature within larger enterprise applications,” added Dennerline. “Besides, in our experience, the more highly valued the content, the more likely a customer is to use the Alfresco solution.”

To access the Gartner report, go to: https://www.alfresco.com/gartner/efss.

Building Engaging Customer Experiences Powered by MongoDB

Posted by on July 08, 2014

This spring and summer, the MongoDB Road Show stops in over 20 cities across the country to educate users on how MongoDB can be used to build modern business apps to improve the customer experience and accelerate time to market. Rivet Logic sponsored several of the cities and presented on the topic of building engaging customer experiences with MongoDB, discussing how a modern database can be used to better leverage existing data to derive business value. The next MongoDB Road Show is this Thursday, July 10, in San Francisco!

What Organizations Need

Organizations seeking to build engaging customer experiences on the Web often have a similar set of goals. To start, they want to increase user adoption by providing an engaging experience that brings value to the end-user. This can lead to increased customer retention, allowing organizations to create loyal customers who can then become their own brand ambassadors.

Moreover, organizations want to capitalize on their customers’ and users’ creativity and innovation by seamlessly weaving in the ability to collaborate, interact, and share into every aspect of the user experience. Businesses find the quality of this type of engagement to be particularly beneficial, due to its unpredictability. However, to enhance the value of these interactions, users need a motivator, meaning organizations need to create high quality content that’s personalized and targeted to each user’s needs.

While personas are great and have worked well to capture general types of users, in reality, users think of themselves more as individuals, with evolving interests over time. Organizations are now faced with delivering personalized experiences beyond a persona level and at an individual level.

What’s the Problem?

However, many organizations are having a hard time with this fine-grained personalization, and it’s largely due to the limiting technology they’re working with. IT teams are often faced with seemingly “impractical” features that business teams are requesting.

Organizations today are using separate systems like standalone content apps – blogs, forums, wikis, – commenting engines, traditional databases, and BI tools to enable user interaction and collect and analyze information about them. The quality of user interactions is largely driven by the quality of the user-generated content being collected and analyzed. However, since much of this valuable customer data is silo’d in disparate systems, it’s not allowing businesses to effectively leverage their existing data.

While many have attempted to find workarounds for this, there hasn’t been any real success in creating a coherent rich user interaction data set that brings value to all the delivery use cases available. For example, when a user joins the comment thread of a blog entry, they are unaware of the possibility of a forum thread that is discussing the same topic. In addition, these solutions are typically backed by traditional databases, which requires changing of the infrastructure to accommodate new use cases, posing a challenge.

The fact is, the various types of interactions that exist today are disjointed, resulting in redundancy and little chance of connecting and leveraging them. It’s critical that we make these interactions context-aware, and the only way of effectively doing so is to have a holistic view of all the user-generated content that’s being collected, while also allowing the interactions to cross application boundaries.

Pillars of a Good Solution

Successful solutions that meet these challenges must adhere to the following pillars:

Flexibility – The solution must be implemented using technology agnostic building blocks. Being a certain type of shop (.Net, PHP, Windows, etc.) constrains organizations from using the right tools for the job. Using technology agnostic building blocks as the underlying infrastructure allows organizations to innovate and improve their business without being held back by technology.

Scalability – The solution must be scalable without sacrificing performance. There are many platforms out there that claim to be scalable, but what good is that when scaling means long page load times?

Visibility – It’s also extremely important to be able to know and see the overall picture and have a holistic view of user interactions that isn’t so low-level where it prevents you from seeing what they are doing (as is the case with auditing services).

Insight – Lastly, when you have rich, contextual data available in one place, organizations need to be able to leverage that information, innovate and provide new features, capability, and value to their customers.

Case Study – AT&T Developer Community

Now let’s take a look at how a solution like this might be used in the real world. AT&T is currently undergoing an initiative to build a solution to enhance the user experience of their developer community site. The existing site’s collaboration tools are traditional in nature (i.e. blogs and forums), where user engagement is fragmented, making it difficult to find interesting content and reducing collaboration value.

To resolve this, Rivet Logic is implementing a solution that enables user-generated content to cross application boundaries and reside in one location via Crafter Social, while also allowing for better personalization by using Crafter Profile to maintain a dynamic customer profile.

Crafter Social easily adds social engagement features – user-generated comments, likes, ratings, blogs, discussion forums, and more – to a website by attaching social features to any content item or page. And Crafter Profile provides user profile and account management to help create personalized experiences.

For example, in the current site, if a user comments on a blog entry and another user participates in a forum discussion about the same topic, these interactions are not associated in any way.

With the Crafter Social solution, we were able to turn the blog entry’s comment thread into a virtual forum, thus connecting the two threads of discussion into one. This simple approach is extremely powerful, satisfying all four pillars of a good solution focused on enhancing customer engagement.

Even more, due to Crafter Social’s flexible architecture and underlying data model, it can easily be extended into other use cases, made possible by MongoDB’s document-based data models. In addition, the ability to easily embed Crafter Social into any site using any technology makes it an ideal part of any developer’s toolkit.

As illustrated in the diagram below, Crafter Social is broken into two parts. On the client side, it can be embedded on any site page regardless of what technology was used for implementation. And on the server side, Crafter Social collects various data from different sites and use cases, maintaining a holistic view of the user data. All of this helps enhance the quality of business intelligence information generated.

With this solution, AT&T is able to achieve their goals of increased user adoption and enhanced user engagement and retention. MongoDB plays a key role in the solution’s success by enabling:

  • Flexibility – Create new apps without revisiting infrastructure
  • Scalability – Ability to store large amounts of data and query without hurting performance
  • Visibility – Data is structured in an intuitive way allowing easy translation from raw data to something actionable
  • Insight – Flexible data structures and queries pave the way for creativity and innovation

To download a copy of the slides, click here.

11 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade to Liferay 6.2

Posted by on May 28, 2014

A few months ago, Liferay released the latest version of their portal, version 6.2. This version delivers enhanced usability and provides a comprehensive platform for building intuitive, engaging digital experiences for both employee-facing and customer-facing applications. While previous versions of Liferay had primarily focused on backend enhancements, version 6.2 turns the spotlight on the user experience, a crucial capability that many organizations seek in today’s era of customer and employee engagement.

Liferay Portal 6.2’s feature enhancements can be broken into two categories: 1) Usability and Administration, and 2) Development. Usability and Administration enhancements would primarily benefit organizational employees and end users. Development enhancements, on the other hand, would provide extra flexibility for developers, enabling them to be more creative when it comes to customizations and new portlet development efforts, resulting in faster time to market and better efficiency for bug fixes. In short, Liferay 6.2’s wide variety of new features has many organizational benefits across the board.

With everything that Liferay 6.2 has to offer, we highly encourage an upgrade, and have compiled a list of the 11 most useful new features in a white paper. The most talked about and anticipated new feature in Liferay 6.2 is undoubtedly its enhancement for mobile support, which by itself is enough reason to upgrade. However, the rest of the features in this list will also positively impact organizational users, administrators, and developers in various ways, helping to make a stronger case for an upgrade.

To download the full white paper, click here.

What’s in Store for Digital Experience Management in 2014

Posted by on January 13, 2014

2014 is here in full swing, and promises to be an exciting year as the web continues to evolve and new products and trends continue to disrupt the industry.

In 2013, we saw the continued rise of mobile and the age of the customer, where enterprises worldwide re-evaluated strategies to optimally engage with their customers in this digital era. As mobile devices continue to proliferate and have become the new norm, consumers have increasingly higher expectations of the right content delivered to them when and how they want it, resulting in customer experience management skyrocketing to the top of every organization’s priority list.

However, experience management doesn’t just apply to customers, but instead extends to include all organizational stakeholders – customers, employees, partners, etc. We also saw organizations take a closer look internally and focus their efforts on employee community building. Realizing that workplace environments are changing, with a greater need for enterprise collaboration now than ever before, companies are implementing social intranet solutions that offer dynamic and social environments to facilitate community and collaboration.

In addition, many organizations are also building web-based social communities for their external stakeholders for further engagement to improve customer relations and build brand loyalty.

Tackling these daunting digital experience management tasks require careful planning and execution. Organizations need to first determine their business strategies and goals and take the time to really understand their audience to formulate the right messaging. A well thought out strategy sets the right foundation to build your systems – customer experience management, social intranet, customer portal, etc. – upon. The technology should be an enabler of your goals and facilitate your business users to effectively carry out your business objectives.

At Rivet Logic, we believe that software should be agile systems that can easily be customized to fit each organization’s unique needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all tool, and your underlying system must be flexible and developer friendly to allow various customizations and integrations with other existing enterprise applications. In addition, your system must be user friendly for business users. As we’ve seen over the past few years, there’s been a shift from IT to Marketing as Marketing’s responsibilities have expanded to include multi-channel web content management, customer experience management, and more. The tools we employ must be easy to use for non-technical business users.

In 2014 we’ll continue to see these trends evolve. Organizations will continue to put a large emphasis on customer experience management and creating a seamless omni-channel experience as mobile continues to grow. Businesses will also focus more on big data. The explosive growth of social media and mobile devices has generated an enormous amount of user behavioral data that can be harnessed to provide organizations with valuable insight on how to better address the needs of their customers and employees.

 

Enabling Smarter Enterprise Collaboration Through Social Intranets

Posted by on November 19, 2013

Traditional intranets – while offering a variety of tools for improving internal communication, workforce productivity, collaboration, and more – are often seen as stuffy, boring systems that employees NEED to use, but not necessarily would WANT to use.

However, that’s all changing now. In an age where Customer Experience Management (CEM/CXM) and producing engaging digital experiences across various channels is at the top of every organization’s digital strategy list, some of that is crossing over to modern intranet solutions. Organizations are now beginning to see the importance of providing that same level of engagement to their employees that they do for their customers.

A new generation of social intranets have emerged that focus on building internal employee communities while incorporating social tools to facilitate knowledge sharing, employee interaction and feedback, and team-building and collective problem solving.

Over the last few months, we’ve presented on this hot topic at several events, including two webinars, two Liferay Roadshows, the Liferay North America Symposium, and KMWorld Conference. Let’s take a deeper look at how a social intranet solution can be used to facilitate smarter enterprise collaboration.

Social Communication is Critical – From Internet to Intranet

Looking at the history of social media in general is important in helping us understand why social features have become an essential part of today’s intranets. Most of us were around before social media and remember when it all first started. As with any new technology, there was some initial resistance. However, it was interesting to see how quickly people naturally gravitated towards using social media and embraced the openness that came with it.

Fast-forward to today and you see users worldwide that are socially active. This proves that the need for social interaction is not cultural, but rather it fulfills a natural human need – the need to share, to discover new things, and to be connected to one another. This is why social media has become an essential part of our internet experience today.

Naturally, companies have caught on to this, and Web applications and services that provide social features started sprouting up globally. In fact, it’s hard to find a successful Web application nowadays that doesn’t incorporate social features to some extent.

However, for a while, social interactions were kept out of the workplace, and employees would change their behaviors to fit within the constraints imposed by their employers. And those who were initially rejected for rallying for social interaction within the workplace were the same visionaries that saw the benefits – as a tool for providing constructive feedback, and to help employees be more efficient, hence improving productivity.

This initial resistance to social interaction within the workplace was no different from the resistance from internet users when social media was first conceived. Intranets are changing, and organizations leading that change are already reaping the benefits.

The Social Intranet

So what makes an intranet social? Unlike the public internet, intranets are trickier, since there are usually a lot of organizational rules to follow, many of which go against the essence of being social. Here we will cover some common features of a social intranet.

Intuitive

First and foremost, it has to be easy to use. Just like social applications on the internet, social intranets shouldn’t require user training. Nowadays, people learn how to use Web tools by talking to each other about it. While the availability of online help resources is always useful, discussion forums teach users a lot more.

Light Community Management

One of the biggest obstacles that get in the way of social intranet adoption are an organization’s existing anti-social rules, such as policing all content. Imagine if every time you posted a forum question someone had to review and approve it before it gets posted. Chances are, you’d never ask anything. Instead of being policed, social intranets should be moderated, where users can post freely, and processes can be put in place to correctly handle improper posts. This also means that some organizations would need to change their company culture and rules prior to adopting a social intranet.

Content is Produced and Consumed

Another key difference between social internet and social intranet apps is that consumers of content are as important as producers of content. We tend to always praise producers and call consumers leeches. This isn’t the case in social intranets, however, since it’s the consumers who are the ones using this content to be more efficient and productive at work. Producers without consumers are useless.

Integrated Search

And last but not least, social intranets tend to be heavy on enterprise search. Discovery is an essential social feature, and search is one of the best tools for enabling discovery, so great social intranets typically put a lot of emphasis on integration with enterprise-wide search solutions.

The change is here, and early adopters are reaping the benefits. In fact, a recent research report published by Nielson Norman Group on social intranets has found that many companies see intranet information sharing and other social features offering true competitive advantages. And more interestingly, many executives recognize that social tools are an expected part of a knowledge worker’s standard toolkit.

Building a Social Intranet – Now What?

Building a successful social intranet means selecting the right tools for the job, and Liferay Portal is one of the best tools to take on this task. Liferay provides all the social intranet features discussed in two ways – through Liferay Social Office or as a tailored social intranet built on the Liferay platform.

Liferay Social Office

Liferay Social Office is a packaged social collaboration solution that successfully addresses many social intranet features.

  • Dashboard – A dashboard is an essential part of any social intranet and offers a great way to keep users informed of what’s going on.
  • Sites – Liferay has site-based architecture, allowing organizations to create sites that serve very different purposes – departmental sites, project and team sites, and even regular websites with editorial content.
  • Contact Center – A big part of social communication is to stay connected, so social intranets put a lot of emphasis on having an easy-to-use people directory. Liferay successfully addresses this through Contact Center, which even includes user profiles in search results.
  • Team Calendar – Liferay’s calendar feature can be used in any site to manage site-specific events.
  • Search – Liferay enables enterprise search through integrations with Apache Solr, Google Search Appliance, Endeca, and more, allowing you to make enterprise-wide information discoverable from within the social intranet.
  • Liferay Sync – Liferay addresses the growing need for ubiquitous file sharing through Liferay Sync, a feature similar to Dropbox/Google Drive. In addition, your enterprise security constraints are honored even when you’re outside of your company’s firewall.
  • Related Content – This feature allows content authors to associate content of different types, resulting in a very rich and dynamic information architecture. For example, reader of a blog post who then posts a relevant question in a forum can relate the blog and forum posts, exposing future blog post readers to the forum posts.

Even more, Liferay Social Office has additional social features such as micro-blogging, private messaging, announcements and alerts, full-featured document management, comments and ratings, and much more.

Custom Social Intranet Solution

Another approach to building a Liferay-based social intranet is to create a custom solution utilizing Liferay as a platform. One of the most popular Liferay use cases is actually a Human Resources (HR) Portal, which is often the first step towards building a social intranet. An HR Portal provides an efficient means of disseminating company information and news, and offers an ideal medium for employee outreach and engagement.

Over the past few years, Rivet Logic has built a variety of intranet solutions for customers with varying business models. Through working with these customers and understanding their requirements for these intranets, we’ve found certain features to be commonly sought across all intranet solutions. Based on these features, we’ve built an open source HR Portal that we’ve contributed back to the Liferay community, now available through the Liferay Marketplace. This easy-to-deploy portal solution comes with many useful features, including:

  • Corporate news authoring and publishing
  • Customizable news publishing channels
  • User-friendly people directory
  • Customizable portal-wide main navigation bar
  • Smart news carousel
  • Customizable quick links

Choosing the Right Approach

So how do organizations determine which approach to use for their social intranet? Liferay Social Office is Liferay’s equivalent to Sharepoint, so it may be better suited for organizations that like what they’re getting out of the box and aren’t looking for a tailored solution.

Those looking for a more tailored solution can either use the HR Portal as a starting point and build an intranet on top of it, or use Liferay as a platform and build an intranet from scratch. The bottom line is, there is no right or wrong approach, but rather determining what each organization needs and finding the approach that best fits with those requirements.

Learn More!

If you’d like to learn more about social intranets, we have several resources to help you gain a better understanding:

Attend Complimentary Crafter CMS Training at Alfresco Summit

Posted by on October 15, 2013

Crafter Software is pleased to offer complimentary Crafter CMS training!

Learn the basics of Crafter CMS for web content and web experience management in a single day class hosted on the day prior to the Alfresco Summit.

You will learn about:

  • Crafter CMS Architecture
  • Content type management and template construction
  • Creating dynamic and targeted experiences

Trainees will be required to bring their own machine (Windows or OSX).
Software, training and lab materials will be provided by the instructor.

Trainee skills should include:

  • Basic understanding of WCM concepts: content types, templates
  • Basic HTML, CSS, JavaScript

Helpful if Trainees have:

  • A background in Alfresco
  • Understanding of basic operating system concepts
  • Ability to code and compile Java (some advanced labs will required coding.)

Request your training today.  Space is limited and registrations will be granted on a first-come, first-serve basis!

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Rivet Logic Participates in DCG’s Guide to Service Providers for WCM and CEM

Posted by on August 12, 2013

Digital Clarity Group recently launched their Guide to Service Providers for Web Content and Customer Experience Management – 2013 North American edition.

The research report provides valuable insight regarding the growing demand and necessity for customer experience management (CEM), and the key role service providers play in helping organizations deliver successful digital customer experiences.

“The forces of digital disruption have empowered consumers and created a growing demand for rich, engaging, and consistent experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints. Customer experience management (CEM) designates an evolving set of practices, technologies, partnerships, and business values that, taken together, enable organizations to orchestrate, offer, and optimize consistently superior customer experiences. Mastering CEM is an imperative because the quality of the experiences you offer and support will increasingly determine the fate of your company.”

It is crucial to realize that no software vendor offers a packaged solution or a complete platform for customer experience management. Companies draw upon a broad, growing, and rapidly shifting ecosystem of software solutions to support CEM. Because most interactions depend, or at least draw, upon content in a digital format, web content management (WCM) tools and practices will continue to play a central role in the CEM ecosystem for the foreseeable future.”

While technology is an enabler in delivering CEM, the real success lies in how the initiative is implemented, and choosing the right service provider — whether it be a systems integrator, digital agency, or consultant — plays a critical role.

“The customer experience imperative is clear. Organizations must create connected digital content experiences across all of the channels they manage,” says Cathy McKnight, Partner and Principal Analyst, DCG. “Successful deployment of these tools requires true expertise and, most of all, experience. Selecting the right service provider to help deploy these solutions can make or break an organization’s plan.”

The full report takes a look at 42 North American service providers that organizations might want to consider in a Web content management system implementation. Rivet Logic is proud to be a featured systems integrator participating in this report.

Click here to learn more about CEM and to download a special edition of the report.