Posted on 1/21/2016 in UX and Design

By Tim Hawkins

Content Management Systems (CMS), by definition, are designed to manage the content of your website. They provide a user-friendly interface that will allow content editors to view and edit the pages on the site, even if they have minimal knowledge of web technologies and no programming background.

Kentico, one of our favorite platforms to develop on, does this very well. Kentico’s many built-in templates and out of the box features make it easy to create a dynamic website that aims to provide a customized experience to users. Since Kentico is a well developed CMS, the platform recognizes the need for a website to promote engagement and convert visitors, but when you just use their basic templates you are barely scratching the surface of the platform's capabilities.

In this article, I’ll explore a few of the additional features you may want to implement to enhance the user experiences of both your site’s users and its content editors using examples from

Personalization Through Macros

Macros in Kentico are short snippets of code that can be entered in the CMS and evaluated dynamically. This will allow you to cater the content of pages based on factors that can vary between users or even user sessions. For example, adding a macro to toggle between two blocks of text based on whether or not a user is logged into the site and perhaps reference the user by name if they are, will keep the experience as relevant as possible, improve user engagement with your site, and hopefully lead to conversions.

Even something as simple as using a macro to pull the current year from your server rather than manually typing it when entering copyright text can improve user perception since it’s easy to forget to update that every January but embarrassing to display a year (or more!) out of date.

Enable Workflow

Accidents happen and we all make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t limit the size of the audience that has visibility into them.  When developing in Kentico, the default workflow essentially results in documents having two phases, editing and published.

The editing phase would allow content editors to make basic updates to page content and preview those changes before saving the document, at which point it would enter the published phase where the edits are visible to site users.  But what if you’d like to have an approval process so that edits can be reviewed and, if necessary, altered before being publicly visible?

Fortunately, Kentico was developed to accommodate varying workflow needs, allowing for significant customization of the process. In many cases, you’ll want to add an additional step wherein the document enters a scheduled phase between the editing and published phases. This additional step will allow edits to be reviewed by other users of the CMS prior to being visible to the general public.

A second set of eyes previewing updates can be invaluable in preventing humiliating and potentially costly mistakes from seeing the light of day.

Streamline Content Entry Using Widgets

Most pages in a site developed in Kentico will make heavy use of templates comprised of carefully placed web parts, which process raw content and manipulate it before rendering it on the page. This works well in some cases, but those templates will often be re-used on any number of pages throughout the site and the web parts are associated with the template rather than individual pages. This means that any changes to a web part on one page will be propagated to all other pages using the template.

If you need to configure web parts independently across pages, widgets are a nice alternative.  Being derived from web parts, widgets provide similar functionality, but unlike web parts, are configured by content editors on each page. You can even define default values for the web part’s fields and configure which will be visible in the widget so that editors only need to consider what you expect to be relevant.

More to Come

As you might imagine, a good content management system is far too robust to thoroughly detail in a single post. I hope that the features discussed above will assist in your development needs, but they are far from comprehensive.

There are many features waiting to be explored, so you can look forward to future articles where we’ll delve deeper and bring more features to light!

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