This month's "Site of the month" was developed for Lenovo North America by SilverStripe Partner Webbuilders Group Inc.— an active community contributor and long time partner from Canada.
Webbuilders Group have been working with Lenovo for almost 2 years to improve their web properties, but also to empower their team with more sophisticated tools and processes. The previous site was built on an antiquated and cumbersome CMS, and had no mobile support. It was in much need of some love.
Development of the segment focused website
The purpose of the website solutions.lenovo.com is to present segment audiences (including Government, Health, Education, and Enterprise) with Lenovo Solutions that will help solve their technology pain points. The site provides a wealth of resources (including videos, case studies, white papers, etc.) that educate segment audiences on the evolving computer hardware industry, and helps position Lenovo as a technology leader. Organizing existing content, and creating an environment to easily publish new content is a key part of this site.
Although Webbuilders Group was the sole developer on the project, the site is the result of numerous collaborators including strategic direction from Lenovo and theBATstudio. MarketOne and RelationshipOne played a critical role in the form strategy and integration. With over 6 specialized agencies involved (marketing, design, analytics, etc.), part of the success of the site was incorporating various vendor technologies and requirements (such as Eloqua and Adobe Analytics, just to name a couple). However, the most notable technology integration was with Kapost: a content workflow platform that is integral to the organization and had to be accommodated with the redesign. This led Webbuilders Group to develop the Kapost Bridge Module: a flexible API for connecting Kapost to SilverStripe (in short, it lets authors easily publish content from Kapost to SilverStripe).This was done manually on the old website. Content authors would complete the workflow in Kapost and then have to copy and paste into their older CMS (introducing lots of human error, and no logging/accountability).
Another interesting element to the site is a powerful “Panel-based” page design feature that gives CMS administrators the flexibility to build custom page layouts, while also restricting them to a consistent format. For example, the Health Products page or Users Happen campaign page are comprised of a number of re-usable Panels. Sections of content are built in Kapost, and then pushed to SilverStripe. A CMS administrator chooses which Panels to use on any given page: in what order, with what style (i.e. customizing typography and alignment), etc.
Also, it's worth mentioning how some of the content is served intelligently. There are a number of areas on the site where the content is driven dynamically. Administrators can define meta values (such as segment, resource type, etc.) to drive what content is displayed automatically. For example, after reading/consuming some resources, users may see recommended “next steps” content that could be populated with similar resources automatically. All of this supports the goal to keep content relevant, fresh/new, and engaging (while minimizing the effort on content authors).
The site also uses a clever on-site search that in addition to the traditional keyword database searching, allows administrators to align page matches with specific search phrases. This is particularly helpful when a campaign or product ID is the best match.
There are lots of other cool features under the hood (such as a sophisticated lead-form builder for CMS admins based on the UserForms module), but this blog was quickly becoming a novel and we had to stop somewhere :)
Two new and some existing modules
As mentioned, one of the biggest outcomes from this project was the development of a Kapost Bridge module which powers the content workflow transition from Kapost to SilverStripe. Webbuilders Group also created a New Relic module that improves the metrics of SilverStripe in New Relic, and provides a friendly summary of server and browser performance directly in the CMS.
Webbuilders Group also made use of some existing modules, including:
- silverstripe/fulltextsearch: used to interact with the Solr search server. With so much content, good site search is important.
- silverstripe-australia/gridfieldextensions: additional CMS GridField functionality.
There were a number of other/existing modules used as well.
Webbuilders Group created a clean yet compelling design that adheres to Lenovo's global brand standards and presents a great UX for the desktop and mobile audience (a majority of the site's visitors). Bringing together multiple agency technologies and accommodating their various requirements was a notable achievement.
Web metrics are up: unique visitors, pages per visit, time on site, resources viewed and consumed, and form fills. Additionally, internal customers (the segment business leaders) are all pleased with the new story-telling capabilities offered by the Panel system. Combined with the content team’s ability to deliver content to market 4 times faster than previously, the site has been a big success. Webbuilders Group continues to improve and refine the site, and looks forward to its continued success in the coming years.