All posts by Martin Jacobs

Group VP, Technology @ Razorfish

CMS and Faceted Search

Faceted search and navigation has been mainstream for a while now in the larger eCommerce sites. This was partly driven by both the faceted nature of product data (i.e., most products have a type, brand, price, etc.) and the availability of the data in retailers’ existing information systems.

Interestingly enough, even though the technology is there, the use of faceted search and navigation in mostly content sites has been lagging. However, in the last year, we have finally seen an uptick in the use of this pattern beyond commerce sites. With the redesigned Bing search engine really leveraging this concept, and driving some of the innovation around search, I believe we will see the concept become a standard practice on sites that have large amounts of content.

One additional contributing factor is that there is also some traction around the lower end and open source market. Although vendors like Endeca and Coveo have been providing this capability for the enterprise for a while now, open source and low cost alternatives are emerging as well.
For example, Apache Solr is getting a lot of traction recently, and Acquia launched a hosted faceted search capability for Drupal earlier this year.

This is an exciting development, and I believe we will see significant improvements in site search in the future.

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Drupal User Experience

Página home de una instalación drupal con un a...

Image via Wikipedia

Drupal is a great open source CMS. One of the reasons I like it is the strong community around the platform. There are many different modules available for all kinds of purposes, ranging from forums to integration with Secondly, many vendors releasing new products are creating plugins for this platform to generate traction, such as Kaltura , OpenX and With this kind of community support, an open source CMS solutions have a leg up in how easily new features or trends can be incorporated in a web site. Other open source solutions like WordPress have these same benefits as well.

It is interesting to see that there is now also some community traction around enhancing the user experience of the Drupal administration functionality. This blog post shows some great ideas around improvements than can be made, while still building upon the foundation that is currently in place. The Drupal 7 User Experience project outlines similar strong ideas. Incorporating ajax functionality such as drag and drop within the admin user interface would make Drupal a CMS that can become much more user friendly, allowing business users to really control their site.

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The CMS selection process

Seth Gotlieb has an interesting blog post on CMSWire about the CMS software selection process. He argues that a requirements matrix, and evaluating and scoring against these requirements is a wasted effort.
He makes some valid points. With any analysis that involves numbers, it is always dangerous to assign to much value to the actual number and its precision. In addition, it is easy to get lost in the details, and losing oversight on the big picture.
From our experience, the requirements matrix still plays an important role. It ensures that all different areas are covered, from end user to IT needs. The matrix creation process also triggers important discussions with the different stakeholders.
However, equally important in the selection process are vendor demonstrations. They give users a good perspective on the solution, forces them to think about how a specific product would work within their process and environment. The follow on discussions then provide a forum to identify any red flags with specific software packages.

Once the leading products have been evaluated and scored, vendor demonstrations have taken place and discussed, we take a step back and look at the overall results. Based on these elements, a decision can be made that meets the majority of requirements, and also is the right fit for the organization.

Content Targeting and Optimization: CMS vs. Analytics Solutions

Many CMS vendors have been busy incorporating richer targeting functionality into their CMS product. For example, Interwoven acquired Optimost and also incorporates targeting capabilities in its LiveSite product, Sitecore is coming with an Online Marketing Suite , Tridion has its Unified Online Marketing Suite and Fatwire has had targeting capabilities for a long time. At the same time, analytics vendors are now in the same market, with Omniture offering Test & Target, Google offering Website Optimizer , and yesterday Webtrends announcing they are acquiring Widemile.
Obviously, CMS vendors need to move beyond basic content management. Offering targeting capabilities is very attractive, as it is an area where CMS vendors can claim direct results and clear ROI, justifying the investment companies make in buying their products…

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2009 Trends in Content Management

Google Trends CMS
Image by ♥ China ♥ guccio via Flickr

2009 Trends in Content Management

By  Martin Jacobs, Vice President of Technology
Matthew Johnson, Senior Technical Architect
Razorfish CMS Center of Excellence

The world of content management is ever changing in the digital world, especially in enterprise scenarios.  To start off, we at razorfish though we’d look at some important trends in 2009 that are sure to make for an exciting year in content management.

Move from decoupled to coupled

One key element around CMS is whether to leverage a decoupled CMS (e.g. Interwoven, Documentum) vs a tightly coupled CMS (such as Tridion, SiteCore and Vignette). In the last couple of years, we have seen a stronger trend towards more tightly coupled CMS. A couple reason for this exist:

Personalization and targeting is becoming a standard requirement for many web sites. As a result, instead of a page centric model, a more component / module centric model is more applicable. This requires a different delivery model, as well as a different administration view.

  • Social capabilities are becoming an integral aspect of the overall content management ecosystem.
  • In-context editing is a key requirement to support a component view of content. In addition, in-context editing is crucial to increase adoption.

As a result, vendors like Interwoven have developed additional modules that provide dynamic editing and delivery capabilities such as LiveSite and Targeting to address the market place needs.

The CMS becomes social

The focus of traditional CMS software packages has primarily been content. However, the social use of a CMS has grown in importance. It is not just about content, a CMS is starting to play an important role around communication, conversation and collaboration. All these elements need to be tightly integrated with the content itself.

This place a more important emphasis on capabilities such as:

  • blogging
  • commenting
  • discussion
  • feedback
  • ratings
  • collaboration
  • filtering
  • rating

In addition, content is being distributed, and capabilities around sharing, RSS, email and social network integration and other related areas become must haves.

A development community is becoming an important selection criteria for a CMS platform

Especially around the social capabilities, innovation happens quickly. Social networking platform vendors like Facebook add new capabilities like Facebook connect, new tools like Twitter are coming to the forefront. As a result, the community that exists around a CMS platform is becoming more important, as it becomes a differentiator in how quickly you can adapt to these new trends. It drives the release of new plugins or modules.

For example, the wordpress community is very active, and new plugins with new capabilities are released on an almost daily.

Cloud computing further drives Open Source CMS adoption

Cloud computing has been gaining traction in the last year. Computing power can be ordered online cheaply, and without contracts. As a result, Open Source CMS technologies that are aligned with cloud computing has gained more traction. The benefits of using Open Source platforms like Drupal or WordPress are:

  • No license restrictions. Licensing and cloud computing do not combine well. Many licenses are sold on a CPU or server basis, and in a cloud environment, this license is not valid any more.
  • Cloud environments provide agility. It is easy to establish an environment. This applies to many open source CMS tools as well. A reasonably capable CMS can be installed and up and running within a matter of hours.

Ownership of content management is shifting from IT to Marketing

With improved analytics and richer consumer interactions with well-targeted audiences and market segments, changes are being made more frequently. As a result, marketing departments are seeking more control for managing content, as well as the overall web site experience. This requires more flexible and agile CMS solutions. This enabled by two parallel trends:

  • Service oriented architectures allow for further decoupling of a web experiences from transactional enterprise capabilities. As a result, the web experience can evolve faster.
  • CMS solutions have become more turnkey, and richer in capabilities. Changes require IT involvement less often
  • Marketing departments have become more web and technology savvy

Content re-use is dead

A few years ago, a main focus areas for CMS systems was to enable content re-use. This focus has shifted towards content distribution and RSS, and enabling re-use at a delivery point instead of enabled within a content management system



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