Tag: website

Customer Highlight: LifeCare – Delivering Dynamic Customer Experiences With Liferay Portal

Posted by on April 15, 2016

lifecare-video-screen-play

Every customer project comes with its own set of challenges, but at the end of it, when everything’s running smoothly in production, it’s always exciting and rewarding to look at the finished product and see the positive impact it’s making for each customer.

Our latest case study tells the story of how we helped LifeCare, an industry leader in providing employer-sponsored work-life benefits to over 61,000 enterprise customers, improve overall customer experiences using a solution built on Liferay Portal.

As an industry recognized leader and innovator in Work-Life, LifeCare was the first in the industry to launch a work-life balance website. However, the existing Work-Life site was running on a 10+ year old homegrown legacy system that presented a slew of challenges, including a cumbersome site updating process and outdated design.

To maintain itself as an industry leader, LifeCare performed a complete overhaul of their Work-Life site, and chose to build the new site on the Liferay Portal platform. Liferay not only supports a modern responsive design on the front end, but also content management capabilities, effective delivery of LifeCare’s content and services, along with easy integration on the back end.

Working closely with LifeCare, Rivet Logic helped architect an innovative solution that supports sophisticated white labeling capabilities for LifeCare’s customers, allowing delivery of heavily personalized content without compromising on site performance requirements.

The new Work-Life site now offers a customized experience for LifeCare’s enterprise clients with improved functionality. And for LifeCare, giving control of the content publishing process to the business users meant more frequent updates and fresher content, while freeing up valuable time for IT to focus on other strategic initiatives.

Read the full case study to learn more!

5 Reasons You Should Consider Building a Native Mobile App

Posted by on June 12, 2015

The buzz around mobile has been around for a while and isn’t going anywhere, and with good reason. When over 90% of adults have their mobile phone within arm’s reach 24/7, it’s apparent that as a society, we’ve become largely dependent on our mobile devices. I bet the last time you forgot your phone at home, you felt like a part of you was missing, didn’t you? Well, you’re not alone.

With the population spending more and more time on their mobile devices, businesses can no longer afford to ignore their mobile experience. With an unlimited amount of information at their fingertips, consumers expect the ability to quickly access whatever info they need at that moment. And that’s not just limited to consumers. In B2B environments, business users are researching products and services on their smartphones, and performing tasks that would typically be done on desktops.

mobileapp-bannerleftThis requires a different approach to strategizing for mobile, a mobile-first approach. The question is no longer “should I build a responsive site or a native mobile app?” It’s not a matter of one versus the other. Businesses today need to have a mobile friendly website, period. It’s what your audience expects.

The question now becomes, “is mobile web enough?” To bring your customer engagement to the next level, it’s a good idea to consider a native mobile app. If you’re still not convinced, here are five advantages of mobile apps that makes the UX superior:

  1. Better handling of touch, gestures, and swipes – Side to side swiping, while very popular on mobile apps and desktop sites, doesn’t work as well on mobile websites
  2. Faster and more responsive – While mobile sites download the experience and data for each page through verbose HTML, mobile apps already contain most of the experience definition and only need to download the data
  3. Easy to continue where you left off – Mobile apps allow users to carry on tasks that span over long periods of time without having to log back in each time
  4. Tighter device integration – Mobile apps are much better equipped at handling features like geo-location, camera, and push notifications. While HTML5 is capable of supporting some of these device integrations, it’s not to the same degree and is often a power drainer
  5. Integration with other apps – It’s much easier and seamless to launch from one app to another app, than from an app to a mobile web app (take using your Facebook login to login to Pinterest for example)

Well, there you have it, five advantages that native mobile apps have over their mobile web counterparts. Of course, this doesn’t mean everyone should go and replace all their web apps with native apps. Each business still needs to determine what works best for them. But this provides some areas for consideration the next time you’re trying to decide whether or not to build that mobile app!

 

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.