Monthly Archives February 2017

A Comprehensive Guide to Umbraco

Comprehensive Umbraco Guide

Microsoft, Carlsburg, and NFL trust Umbraco as their content management system of choice.  

See if Umbraco is Right For You
Need a new CMS?
See if Umbraco is
right for you.

Why a CMS?

The primary reason to use a web content management system is to allow non-technical editors to manage content. Without a CMS, one would need to have technical skills like HTML to create and update content on a website. Content Management Systems offer a variety of other functionalities, such as versioning of content, asset management, site search, and form building. They can also support more advanced features such as content personalization and e-commerce, and integration with customer relationship management systems like Salesforce. A good CMS is not just an application for editing content, but a development platform that allows your site to innovate and adapt to your specific needs.  

Why Umbraco?

There are a lot of web content management systems on the market. Different systems have strengths and weaknesses and no one system will be ideal for all situations. As a digital marketing agency, we’ve found that Umbraco provides the right balance of power and simplicity for both users and developers. We have a number of reasons to back this up, but we’ll highlight five:
1. Umbraco is free and open source
Anyone can access Umbraco’s source code in any way so you can’t be limited to what’s available from the product. It also means no financial overheads or lock-in, and a lot of flexibility and freedom for creativity.
2. The editor interface
Umbraco has a great interface for editors to manage their content. Editor Simplicity is the overriding tenet of Umbraco, and the Umbraco core team continues to enhance the editor experience as it evolves the platform. Hartvig put it perfectly when Umbraco HQ released Umbraco 7 in 2013: “This is the beginning of a new era for the Umbraco project. It’s the culmination of 18 months of dedicated work, focused on bringing the project back to the roots of Editor Simplicity & Developer Happiness.”
3. Customizable
Umbraco is a blank slate. Unlike many other CMSs that have rigid templates and limited design capabilities, Umbraco can be adapted in any way to fit your needs. It was built with ASP.NET MVC, which provides the ability to build custom apps with Umbraco. There are also many great free and open source plugins available. We’ll go into more detail on packages shortly, but for now, check out six of our favorite Umbraco packages.
4. Performance and scalability
A well-built Umbraco site performs fast. Umbraco provides built-in caching for content and can easily integrate with content delivery networks (CDNs) for improved performance. Furthermore, Umbraco makes it simple to configure a site to run on a load balanced environment including on auto-scaled cloud services such as Azure App Service.
5. The community
The Umbraco community is comprised of great people who are passionate about Umbraco. Umbraco wouldn’t be everything it is without its friendly and dedicated community of 220,000 people. The Umbraco community can be found at:
  • – Forums, Packages, Documentation
  • Conferences – Codegarden, uWestFest (and other regional festivals)
  • Meetups – Flightpath supports the local community by hosting the New York Umbraco meetups
  • Twitter, Blogs, and a Slack community channel
Is Umbraco the Right CMS for you?
Is Umbraco the Right CMS for you?

Some of our favorite packages

Umbraco has over 1,098 packages of all different sizes and prices that make the CMS much more powerful. The best way to understand the value and benefits of using Umbraco is to look at some examples of how we use Umbraco to meet specific requirements. The following packages will give you a better taste of how Umbraco works from a marketer/editor as well as a developer standpoint:
1. Rich content
Archetype: An Umbraco 7 property editor that wraps other installed property editors. By wrapping the other properties, Archetype allows for custom and repeatable fieldset mashups. Nested Content: A property editor that uses the power of doc types to define the list item blue prints. With Nested Content, you can reuse all the standard data types as field editors rather than being limited to a subset of “allowed” types. Grid Editor: Gives the editor the ability to insert different types of content in a flexible, responsive layout. (Note: the grid editor started off as a package and is now built into the core of Umbraco.)
2. Blog
Articulate: Provides basic blog functionality such as categories, tags, and RSS feeds.
3. Site search
Examine: Examine allows you to index and search data easily and wraps the Lucene.Net indexing/searching engine. Lucene is super fast and allows for fast searching on large amounts of data. (Examine is now built into the core Umbraco package.)
4. CRM integration
Forms: From basic contact forms to multi-step questionnaires, form building is easy with Umbraco Forms. The interface is intuitive and allows for workflow creation as well as validation rules and conditions.
5. E-commerce
Merchello: Merchello is a high performance, designer friendly, open source Umbraco e-commerce package built for store owners. uCommerce: uCommerce is an e-commerce offering fully integrated with Umbraco for building online stores. Unlike Merchello, Ucommerce isn’t open source, though a free version is available.
6. Multilingual sites
Vorto: Vorto wraps any existing property editor and converts it into a multilingual property, allowing for seamless site translation.  

Umbraco Cloud

It’s not good enough to build a great website – it also needs to be deployed and maintained. Umbraco works pretty much anywhere you can run ASP.NET and SQL Server. With Umbraco Cloud, all-in-one Microsoft Azure hosting makes manual upgrading and painful deployment a thing of the past. Umbraco Cloud provides hosting for up to three environments (development, staging and live) and a content migration process called ContentFlow. ContentFlow allows editors to work and review on a staging environment and deploy content when ready, while developers can easily pull down the latest content and build new features on a development environment and push to staging for review. The Cloud also allows users to reuse existing project components using Baselines so they can spend less hours in project setup, and more on the project itself. Umbraco Cloud automatically upgrades to the latest patch version of Umbraco CMS. For minor upgrades (such as 7.4.x to 7.5.0), when there is a chance of a change negatively impacting your site, the portal provides an upgrade button, allowing you to test first and decide when to upgrade. Umbraco Cloud includes unlimited storage and bandwidth and licenses for the commercial add ons like Umbraco Forms. Umbraco Cloud has helped those who don’t even use it. It allows Umbraco HQ to gain insights in running production Umbraco sites, and allows them to identify and fix issues with Umbraco Core faster. Umbraco Cloud also helps fund Umbraco Core.  

Umbraco vs. other top CMSs

Over the years, we’ve worked with a variety of web content management systems, and have found that Umbraco is the right solution for most projects. But in some cases, other content management systems prevail. Here’s a quick comparison between Umbraco and other top CMSs:
Umbraco vs. Sitecore
Sitecore is a commercially licensed product with fees starting at about $15,000. Sitecore is an enterprise solution and gives users the ability to track real-time visitor behavior. Like Umbraco, Sitecore has a large and active community that’s constantly evolving the service.
Umbraco vs. DNN
Like Umbraco, DNN is free and open source. DNN is one of the most popular open source .NET CMSs, and powers over 800,000 websites worldwide. DNN can be used as a CMS as well as an application development framework. DNN is easier to get up and running while there’s a learning curve with Umbraco. But Umbraco’s flexibility allows for a leaner and cleaner output.
Umbraco vs. Sitefinity
Sitefinity is a paid .NET CMS that has a task-oriented user interface. It uses .NET standards like MasterPages and Controls for template management, which simplifies the setup process for a website’s frontend. Sitefinity has community forums similar to Umbraco’s, but their tech support is typically quicker to respond that Umbraco’s.
Umbraco vs. Kentico
Kentico is a .NET CMS that offers free and paid options. It doubles as a Customer Experience Management System and is great for small websites. Kentico has a simple plug-and-play UI, though it’s limited in its design customizability.
Umbraco vs. WordPress
WordPress is the most popular CMS and is a PHP based system (whereas Umbraco is built on .NET). What started as a blogging platform grew into a full CMS with a range of plugins that allow for simple website building and design. If you just need a blog or don’t have a budget for a custom designed site, then you might want to go with WordPress and buy a prebuilt WordPress theme.
Umbraco vs. Drupal
Like WordPress, Drupal is a PHP based system. Drupal has an extremely active community online and in person at events and meetups. While Umbraco can be used for large and small sites, Drupal is typically used for larger sites. Microsoft developers gravitate toward Umbraco, as Drupal isn’t supported by Microsoft. If you’re a Drupal user and haven’t updated to Drupal 8, check out our article to see when you should upgrade.  

Finding an Umbraco partner

Now that you know a thing or two about Umbraco, talk with your team to see if it’s the right CMS for you. At Flightpath, we’re happy to be one of Umbraco’s Gold partners. This means that we have certified Umbraco experts in-house, and support the core Umbraco CMS. Our dedicated team of developers and designers is well versed in Umbraco — no project is too complex. Umbraco has 468 registered partners and 55 Gold partners. We’re proud to be the only Gold partner in NYC. If you’d like to chat with our team to see if Umbraco is right for your project, you can reach us here.
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Is Umbraco the Right CMS for You?

Is Umbraco the right CMS for you?

Coleman Research Group and Bway Zone. We love the open-source CMS because it gives us the ability to develop easy-to-manage sites for our clients, and it’s constantly evolving and improving. Umbraco is one of the most deployed Web Content Management Systems on the Microsoft stack. Just last week, Umbraco surpassed 400,000 active sites worldwide. Umbraco can be used for a website of any size, from a small local business to a Fortune 500 company. In addition to the CMS, Umbraco offers Umbraco Cloud, a fully managed hosting service tuned for Umbraco. Read on to learn more about what Umbraco CMS and Umbraco Cloud have to offer.

See if Umbraco is Right For You
Need a new CMS? See if Umbraco is right for you.

Umbraco CMS

As we mentioned, Umbraco is an open-source CMS, which is why the service is constantly improving upon itself. The huge community of Umbraco users works together to evolve the service, and Umbraco listens. We’ve outlined a few notable features of the Umbraco CMS below:
Powerful editing capabilities
Umbraco’s editing tools are highly intuitive. Media management, responsive views, and approval workflows make for a seamless site management experience.
Open source
Anyone can access Umbraco’s source code in any way without licensing or copyright requirements. This means you can’t be limited to what’s available from the product (every developer’s dream). It also means no financial overheads or lock-in, and a lot of flexibility and freedom for creativity.
Media management
File management, easy drag-drop media insertion, and responsive cropping make any site editor into a designer.
Safe, responsive preview
Avoid errors with Umbraco’s preview mode, where editors can preview pages on any device before hitting the big red button.
Painless integration
Umbraco can be easily integrated with any 3rd party service using the fully extensible API. Lots of packages already exist for these integrations.
Freedom in design
Designers have full control over markup to make your website look exactly as you like, with no Umbraco specific knowledge needed. It’s easy to incorporate 3rd party HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
Granular user permissions
Get granular with your user permissions to ensure control over content and actions to avoid the risk of user errors.
Multilingual capabilities
Umbraco’s multilingual capabilities make it a breeze to duplicate websites in multiple languages.
A Comprehensive Guide to Umbraco
A Comprehensive Guide to Umbraco

Umbraco Cloud

Everything mentioned above plus all-in-one Microsoft Azure hosting gives you access to clever and simpler workflows, frees you from manual upgrading, and makes painful deployment a thing of the past. Read on for more benefits from the Umbraco Cloud:
All-in-one hosting
State-of-the-art managed hosting on Microsoft Azure saves time on IT tasks like server setup, version upgrades, and painful deployments.
BaselineFlow allows you to reuse existing project components with one click, rather than repetitive project setup. This ensures consistency and quality across sites, and helps accurately predict project cost and time.
Content flow
Content editing and publishing can occur alongside feature developments in separate environments with Umbraco’s ContentFlow process.
Scalable solution
Flexibility and predictability in projects means Umbraco is scalable for use on 1 project or 100, for both low and high scale information and campaign sites.
Central user management
Permissions and preferences are centrally controlled by you — perfect for managing your team, working with external collaborators, and giving clients access to review, test, and provide feedback along the way.
Platform independent
Umbraco Cloud can be used by Mac and PC developers.
Solid infrastructure
Umbraco Cloud was built on a proven solid infrastructure with guaranteed 99.9% uptime.
Automated upgrades
Umbraco Cloud automatically upgrades to the latest version of Umbraco, so no work is required to stay up-to-date.
Live support
When the Umbraco community isn’t able to help, you can chat with an expert with Umbraco’s live support.
Strong community
Umbraco wouldn’t be everything it is without its friendly and dedicated community of 220,000. At Flightpath, we frequently host Umbraco Meetups to get together with other developers from across the board to talk about challenges and ideas related to Umbraco. Visit this page if you’re interested in attending an Umbraco Meetup.

Umbraco Gold partners

At Flightpath, we’re happy to be one of Umbraco’s Gold partners. This means that we have certified Umbraco experts in-house, and support the core Umbraco CMS. Umbraco has 468 registered partners and 55 Gold partners. We’re proud to be the only Umbraco Gold partner in NYC! If you’d like to chat with our team to see if Umbraco is right for your project, you can reach us here.
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Solve Your B2B Sales Problem With Content Marketing

Making the case for B2B content marketing

Making a Case for Content Webinar
Learn how to create content to solve your B2B sales problem.

Rethinking your sales and marketing

A strong sales culture with an emphasis on prospecting is still appropriate, but marketing’s role must be diverted away from tactics that create branding and awareness and toward lead generation and lead intelligence for sales. Put another way, marketing’s focus should be to drive one-to-one conversations digitally, helping to supplement the sales person’s ability to prospect and qualify. Doing this correctly is not a simple fix. And it’s not a series of projects that can be assigned to marketing either. It requires a complete rethinking in the way that we approach marketing. Marketing must be aligned with sales in B2B companies with a complex sale if they’re going to grow revenue— period. Its new role can be better defined as generating interest for sales through content that adds value, creates experience, and provides thought leadership to generate conversations at all stages of the sales funnel. In other words, marketing needs to drive one-to-one sales conversations digitally.

The case for content

It is now marketing’s burden to build as much of that trust online as possible by providing thought leadership and other forms of engaging content that creates a unique experience for the consumer. It starts with the creation of content that is going to identify some lead intelligence on a prospect when they interact with it, which is why the content strategy and mapping to the sales process is so important. When marketing produces great content such as a compelling white paper, it can replace some of what the traditional sales professional used to be able to do on their own by knocking on doors, making cold calls, and attending networking events and conferences.

Getting to know your customer

Before you start pumping out blogs and buying marketing automation systems, it’s time to get to know your audience. Involve every part of your team, from customer service, to account leads, to executives. They all know something about the customer that you don’t. The hard truth for many business owners is that no one cares about you. They care about their own problems, and if you have something that can solve it, they’ll be all ears. For a step-by-step guide on creating a content strategy Download our workbook “How to Create a Purposeful Content Strategy.”

Sales and marketing unite

A good sales prospector should be able to use marketing’s support in the digital world to prioritize his or her prospecting efforts. Content marketing programs done in conjunction with sales creates significant lead intelligence to warm up calls and help the salesperson to prioritize their efforts.
Learn how to create content to solve your B2B sales problem.

The Digital Path to Philanthropy

How tech has changed philanthropy

General Assembly’s Digital Philanthropy panel. Our team at Flightpath is proud to be involved with a number of nonprofit organizations in helping increase their digital footprint and improving their communication initiatives, so we were eager to learn more about the ways technology has changed the concept of giving. The panel featured Mike Seiler, Jen Bokoff, Ariel Azoff, and Greg Levin, and was moderated by Julie Levy, philanthropist and founder of Why We Give. The emergence of social media and other technological advances has had a huge impact on philanthropy. It’s been a positive change in most cases — increasing awareness and a building a sense of community — but how far does a ‘like’ or ‘share’ really go in helping these nonprofits?

How technology is changing philanthropy for the better

  There are many new platforms that help nonprofits reach new supporters and mobilize existing supporters, but the biggest topic of conversation in the panel is also perhaps the most impactful medium: social media. Social media has given nonprofit organizations the ability to reach targeted audiences through advertising and promoted posts. Targeting capabilities have given organizations the ability to engage a younger audience, and has connected future philanthropists with a cause they’re passionate about. The rise of social media has also given organizations the power to quickly and effectively disseminate information. When a message is sent through social media, it has the power to bring people together to then mobilize them to take action. Technology has also reduced the role of intermediaries in philanthropy so supporters can donate directly to people and projects. People are often skeptical about where their money is going when donating to an organization. Removing intermediaries often gives philanthropists the opportunity to see exactly where their money is being used within a particular organization. Social amplification means that with the right content, nonprofits can get a lot of exposure. It also puts the power in the user’s hands. These days, anyone can be a philanthropist or an activist, which is great for empowering people and getting them to care about a cause. But is this amplification always reflected in a nonprofit’s success?

The role of ‘slacktivists’ in philanthropy

  Slacktivism consists of people who take action online by ‘liking’ a post or signing a petition, but don’t go very far beyond that digital action. Slacktivists are interested and perhaps involved on a surface level, but they aren’t known to do anything that requires more than the dragging and clicking of a mouse. As mentioned before, this social engagement guarantees exposure, which often leads to an increased volume of donations. The ALS ice bucket challenge is a perfect example of this. Close to 17 million people participated in the ice bucket challenge, and the social actions were reflected in the $220 million the ALS Foundation raised from the challenge. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. People are often overwhelmed with so many calls to action on social media that they aren’t sure where to focus their energy. This leads to a form of paralysis and the idea that ‘someone else will do it’. But many people find that social interaction is often a bridge to more action. A person is probably more likely to take real action after they’ve shared something. It makes sense — if you care enough about a cause to tell your friends and family about it, you probably care enough to make a donation. So it seems that slacktivism is the precursor to activism. As marketers, we’re all too familiar with this idea. The slacktivists are top-of-funnel customers who might engage but only in a passive way. But that ‘like’ isn’t meaningless. It’s the first step in to the sales cycle, or in this case, the path to giving. What can nonprofit organizations do to turn slacktivists into activists, and use technology to their advantage?
  • Tell stories. The demand for authentic stories is high these days, and a story that creates empathy and connection can be powerful.
  • Filter calls to action so people can make smart decisions.
  • Provide next steps. It’s easy to write a check, but what’s next? Sites like Catchafire match professionals with nonprofits that can benefit from their skill set. This allows people to help in a direct way beyond making a donation.
We left the Digital Philanthropy panel inspired by the panelists and moderator to seek out ways to create philanthropists out of everyone using the technology we have available to us. We look forward to the challenge of turning slacktivists into activists using the emotional power of storytelling to make an impact. Thanks to General Assembly for an enlightening evening.
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