Kentico 7 - 7 reasons why you should upgrade
By Adam Griffith, in Web Strategy, Web Development
Kentico CMS 7 was officially released on Monday 17 September and the team here at Get Started has been working with the new version for a few months now. With any new Kentico CMS release, we often get asked by our clients "should we upgrade?" Hopefully this blog post will help answer that question! We've put together a summary below of the top 7 reasons why you should upgrade to Kentico 7.
Please note that all of the functionality outlined below is included in the Ultimate licence for Kentico (90% of our clients use the Ultimate licence). For more information on the licence differences, please refer to www.kentico.com/Product/Product-Editions.
It is also important to note here that we have not included in this list any features that exist only in the EMS (Enterprise Marketing Solution) product from Kentico. There are some very exciting features introduced in version 7 of the EMS product and this is something we will cover in another blog post very soon!
So, here are our Top 7 reasons why you should upgrade to Kentico 7:
- On-site editing
- Improved ecommerce module
- Improved mobile support
- Improved SEO features
- Accessibility validation
- New Banner management module
- Wireframing tool
On-site editing gives content editors an even simpler way to browse their website and edit content, without having to use the Kentico administration interface (CMSDesk).
This is fantastic for editing content pages, especially for quick edits. What's even better is you can use this editing mode on your iPad or Android tablet. No excuses now for not keeping your website up-to-date!
Kentico has done very well to keep this new approach simple while still giving the content editor access to all document editing functions, including the Properties tab.
In Kentico's version 6.0 release we saw a number of improvements in the ecommerce module and version 7 takes this to the next level. The biggest change from a content administrator perspective is that products can be completely managed via the Ecommerce tab (previously product documents could only be managed via the Content tab).
Kentico is doing a great job in making the Ecommerce tab the hub for managing all aspects of an online store. Version 7 includes an improved ecommerce dashboard as well as 30+ new ecommerce reports to better understand the performance of your online store.
Other new ecommerce features include:
- multilingual products
- better workflow support for products
- a brand new demo ecommerce site
- better support for product flags (new, featured, offers, etc.)
- more control over invoice number patterns
Developing mobile websites with Kentico has been possible for some time but the new features in version 7 make this a lot easier, with a better user experience for content administrators and developers. The three key features that version 7 adds are device profiles, device layouts and device previews.
Device profiles allow developers and content administrators to define devices that can be used for detection purposes (for example, to show different layouts based on the device used to access the site) and for a quick preview in the CMSDesk. Device profile information is sourced from http://51degrees.mobi/ as a base but Kentico gives developers full control to define custom device profiles.
Device layouts are page layouts that are conditional based on the user agent of the device accessing the document. Let's say you have a News article (ie. one store of content - this could be an Event, a Product, etc). Device layouts allow you to display the same set of content differently based on which device is being used to access your site. This means your News article will automatically be displayed in a different layout if viewed on a smartphone versus the desktop version, on an iPhone versus the iPad, etc.
Some people refer to this as server-side responsive and that's exactly what's happening. The site is responding or adapting to the device but this response is happening on the server-side (i.e. within Kentico) instead of client-side (traditional responsive design via CSS media queries). We're excited about the possibilities of using device layouts hand-in-hand with traditional responsive design to further enhance the user experience on certain devices. This approach has been coined RESS (Responsive Design + Server side components) by Luke Wroblewski (our industry loves acronyms, especially ones that don’t match the representative words!)
Once we have device profiles, and device layouts, Kentico takes this one step further by allowing content editors to preview their pages and documents within the confines of these devices. This is a handy tool for a quick preview of content across different devices. (It's important to note that this preview facility can’t be used for proper QA and testing, since the rendering browser is still your desktop browser. This means the device previews are simply changing user agent and the viewport resolution.)
Kentico has always led the way when it comes to search engine optimisation support in its content management system. (For more information about how SEO and content management systems go hand-in-hand, take a look at the presentation we did at The Internet Show earlier this year.)
Take a look at the screenshot above. This pretty much ticks all the boxes for best practice SEO configuration.
In the screenshot below you’ll see how Kentico has added functionality to better manage the full lifecycle of a document from a search perspective. Over time documents get archived and deleted and this often results in large volumes of 404s (page not found errors) hitting the server without any smart redirects in place. Kentico now allows you to define this at the moment of deletion to ensure your site is properly managed for the future.
This is a big one for our government clients. In previous versions Kentico added the ability to validate HTML and CSS and check for links on a page-by-page basis. In version 7 they’ve added the ability to validate accessibility against WCAG 1.0, WCAG 2.0 and Section 508. It's important to note here that not all aspects of WCAG can be machine validated so it's vital that you don’t rely 100% on this validation report!
The Banner management module is a very useful addition to the set of out-of-the-box modules in Kentico. We were able to use this immediately with the new Curve Magazine website. It allows content editors to create banner ads that can be displayed across different zones defined by the templates. You can report on the page impressions and clickthroughs of these banner ads and even limit the time period and volume of impressions or clicks that each ad receives.
Not many content management systems provide the ability to wireframe pages inside the CMS! Kentico's new wireframing tool allows content administrators to quickly mockup wireframes that inherit components of their website (like the master page).
While there are currently better dedicated wireframing tools on the market (such as Axure, Balsamiq, Omnigraffle and Protoshare), the single-system approach is one that clearly has merit. It’s a first release for this functionality and we can see it becoming more integrated into the development process in future versions. Little features like comment collaboration on wireframes speaks to the future possibilities for this tool. One to keep an eye on!
Getting this list down to seven was difficult! There are still lots of other awesome improvements and new features that we had to share with you. These include:
- Massively improved developer support: This is a blog post in itself and will be coming soon from Andy, our CTO. If this post was for developers, that would be number 1 on the list!
- Security improvements: Kentico has added account locking, screen locking, password expiration rules and double opt-in to make it one of the most secure content management systems on the market.
- Consistent user interface: Kentico has been gradually improving the look and feel of the UI for some time now and they have made this a real priority in version 7.
- On-line users + Chat module: The new Chat module combined with the On-line users module allows website owners to chat live with their website visitors all from within Kentico without having to use 3rd party tools like Olark or Livechat.
- Post to social networks: Kentico has added Twitter and Facebook integration to allow for the posting of updates directly to these networks at the time of publishing documents like News and Blog posts. Very handy!
- Performance improvements: In every version Kentico continues to improve the performance of the CMS and page rendering. We're already seeing some great results in our performance tests for version 7 sites.
- Better macro support: Adding macros to content and webparts is now something that content administrators and editors can do themselves with Kentico's new visual macro designer. Macros can be inserted by the CKEditor WYSIWYG editor using this visual designer.
- Better cloud support: There is now support for Amazon S3 and improved the support for Microsoft Azure.
- Lots of new out-of-the-box webparts: Are you after a QR code generator for your website? Kentico has added a number of new webparts to the library including a number of new social networking webparts and yes, a QR code generator.
We are super excited about version 7 and have already launched a few websites on the new version including Curve (the industrial design magazine), Complete Function Hire, and Breastscreen Victoria. We're also in the process of rolling out Intranets for the Essential Services Commission and the Victorian Ombudsman in Kentico 7.
If you’d like to learn more about Kentico and version 7 in particular, give us a call on 1300 544 891 and ask for Marty, Adam or Beth. We'd like to propose that upgrading to version 7 may be a nice New Year's Resolution to add to your list!