What is a Web Portal and Why Should you Care?

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This post was authored by Martin Yan and originally appeared here on Liferay.com

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That’s a question we get often when we tell people what we do.

Answers can range anywhere from a quick pitch like “a tool that allows people to build their websites” to something more specific like “a framework for integrating information, people and processes across organizational boundaries.” (Thanks, Wikipedia)

Though true, those answers don’t always address the questions people are asking. Namely, how can a portal help me serve my customers?

Since the modern shopping experience mostly resides within the Internet, it is very crucial to have a strong web presence. With a public site often times serving as the main source of knowledge about your brand, portals could function as a means of first discovery that connects the right people to the right content.

But why a portal, and not some other development tool or platform?

Portals are special in the sense that they offer a fine-tuned content delivery system. Depending on the type of user that arrives on your site, you can create unique channels with images, text and other site functions that are relevant to that specific user.

So, let’s say you were a fashion company. With a proper portal system, a female shopper and a male employee, upon logging in, would find particular content that is useful to them—this is essentially the boiled-down idea of personalization.

We will see more utility for the portal as it continues to evolve in both form and function. Portals aren’t just systems of record anymore, as they are now being used as systems of engagement to reach different target groups across various channels. This is why we believe portals are poised to become the most personal way to help businesses connect with their customers, employees and partners.

 

The Emerging Customer Engagement Economy

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Here at Veriday, one of our specializations is helping companies to better engage their customers in order to remain competitive in today’s customer engagement economy.   Engagement refers to the emotional connection or attachment that a customer develops during the repeated and ongoing interactions. Engagement accumulates through satisfaction, loyalty, influence and excitement about a brand.

When customers believe they are getting more out of a business, they will give more to it. When consumers spend, they are very vigilant in ensuring they get the best value for their hard-earned money. As a result, businesses must work harder to develop and retain a profitable customer base.   No longer is it just advertising campaigns, sales and the latest technologies keeping consumers loyal to brands. Although these tactics will help get consumers in the door, they will not create meaningful connections that engage consumers and turn them into brand ambassadors.

These days it is all about customer engagement. But why should businesses care? Below is an excellent Infographic, courtesy of Bluewolf, on the emerging customer engagement economy and why it is important for Enterprises to adapt.

The Emerging Customer Engagement Economy

 

3 Themes from the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit 2015

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Last week, Veriday had the opportunity to attend and sponsor the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit in Toronto (#DMFS2015). The conference brought together top digital marketing thought leaders in the industry, including brands, technology solutions and agencies, with the purpose of driving thought-leadership and educating marketers on the latest in the digital marketing world.

Although there were many takeaways from the sessions, here are some of the top themes that arose that marketers need to be aware of when developing their digital marketing strategy:

1. It’s All About Consumer Engagement & Experience

It is no longer just about sales, but engaging consumers in the different stages of the customer buyer journey. Organizations in Financial Services can no longer remain competitive by simply providing a positive customer experience.  The buyer is changing and today’s empowered customers expect meaningful connections with brands.

The idea of being pitched right away from a brand no longer exists. No longer is it advertising campaigns and sales that are keeping consumers loyal to brands. It is about creating meaningful connections that engage consumers and turn them into brand ambassadors. Enterprises have to engage with consumers in a different way and level, and build that trust. Delight your consumer with your content. Give consumers something that is insightful and valuable to them. Make your content fun and something that they might actually want to share with their network.   There is so much noise in the content marketing world that content should be all about your consumer, not your brand. Tell a good story, or solve your consumers’ challenges, and make your brand part of that narrative.

2.The Importance of Mobile

We are continuously hearing that mobile is on the rise. Here are a couple statistics, from the conference, that goes to show just how much mobile usage continues to drastically grow:

  • There are more mobile devices than people on the planet.
  • 16.8m Canadians were reached online via smartphones and tablets in Q1 2015.
  • The average consumer is checking their mobile every 6 minutes, 150 times a day.
  • 75% of conversions on mobile devices happen within an hour of the initial search.

Consumers are expecting a consistent experience no matter what device they are on.   As mobile increases in popularity, customer expectations are rising drastically with it.  This means that brands need to up their game to keep pace and keep the mobile experience seamless. To truly cater to their mobile customers and provide a flawless experience, businesses must understand the context in which their customers are using mobile and use this knowledge to improve their mobile services.

3. Multi-Channel Marketing Approach

Omni-channel marketing has become somewhat of a buzzword in the digital marketing industry as of late. Simply put, this means that your business markets across as many channels as it can to reach its target market. From websites and email, to social media and print, every channel presents a unique opportunity to market.

An important point made at the conference was that businesses don’t need to be on every marketing channel but they do need to be on the mediums that their customers are on. Perhaps the best approach to choosing is letting your customer’s decide what mediums you are on by creating a dialogue with them. Ask your customers where they want to be reached and what medium you can most effectively get your message across to them. The most important thing is giving your customers the information they want, on whatever medium they are on, and making it simple for them to find exactly what they are looking for.

When you choose the appropriate marketing channels, repurpose your messaging (mobile, infographics, webinars, e-books, etc.) and tell the same story through different channels.

The Top Reasons Why Your Business Needs A Responsive Website Design

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The mobile takeover of online surfing is growing rapidly each year.  Consumers now expect their online experience to be consistent no matter what device they are on.

Have you ever tried accessing a website from your mobile device only to find that it is slow to load and difficult to read? If so, this means that you have landed on the site of a business that has not yet adapted responsive website design. Responsive website design refers to a website designed to adapt to any device a visitor is using. It is a single website that intelligently adapts to the screen the visitor is on without compromising functionality or aesthetics. With the increasing amount of Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it has become clear that responsive design is no longer a trend, but a must for any website. Businesses that have not designed their websites with mobile users in mind are set to fall behind the pack but fortunately, responsive website design is an easy solution.

Is your website responsive? If not, what is holding you back?  What are the top reasons why your business should hop on the responsive website design train? Marketpath outlines the following 8 reasons in the Infographic below:

  1. Mobile usage is on the rise.
  2. Shopping on mobile devices is steadily growing.
  3. Social media increases mobile visitors.
  4. Responsive sites improve SEO rankings.
  5. Responsive designs adapt to multiple sizes.
  6. On site is easier to manage and increase R.O.I.
  7. Responsive sites provide a better user experience.
  8. A better bathroom experience. (Say what?)

Responsive Design

Web Design Trends to Watch For In 2015

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”Great design is proliferating both online and offline. Web and app design has grown up to embrace many strong principles that have been in print design for decades. The Internet has allowed graphic designers to share and be inspired by great works. What does 2015 hold?’’ (Coastal Creative, 2015)

As technology changes, so does web design. In the past year, we’ve seen that mobile viewing shows no signs of slowing down. Websites will be designed first and foremost for excellent mobile viewing experiences. Responsive design has become an essential part of the modern web as websites are being created for smartphones and PCS along with devices like smart watches, appliances, and cars.

What are the emerging trends marketers and designers need to stay on top of? What other web design trends should you keep an eye out for this year? Check out the Infographic below, courtesy of Coastal Creative, for some of the top web design trends going into 2015.

design-trends-2015-coastal-repro

Why Mobile Optimized Websites Are More Important Than Ever

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The mobile industry is booming. There’s no question that mobile devices have become a staple in everyday living around the world. The sheer volume of mobile users is reason enough to embrace a mobile website. Mobile searches are on track to exceed desktop searches; therefore, designing for the mobile demographic is important for providing a great user experience.

Now, more then ever, mobile optimized websites are as important as ever given Google’s announcement of a new ‘’mobile-friendly’’ label on its mobile search results page. Google will start indicating in mobile search results which sites are optimized for your phone. This label will tell users in advance the kind of mobile experience they can expect when going to the site. Here is the new Google label in action:

Mobile Friendly Label

A recent Google survey of mobile users found that 72 percent of mobile users say it’s important to them that websites are mobile friendly, yet 96 percent have visited a site that doesn’t work well on their device. The new label is a significant update from Google and will most definitely impact websites that have not been optimized. Sites with the mobile-friendly label will likely see an increase in traffic and receive a better click-through rate than other sites without the new label.

So, how do you qualify to show the ‘’mobile-friendly’’ label for your web pages? Google says a page will be eligible if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Is your site Mobile Friendly?

To ensure your pages meet the mobile-friendly criteria, run your pages through the Mobile-Friendly Test.   Google has also provided a guide for building and improving your mobile-friendly websites

An Introduction to Portal Governance

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So, your company has embarked on an enterprise portal implementation. You have completed your due diligence, established your business use case, calculated your ROI, and completed the process of vendor/product assessment and selection. The next inevitable question is what’s next; how do you ensure you deliver a product that satisfies your technology, business and end user requirements? How do you ensure that the portal delivers on its goals when launched, but more importantly, how do you ensure that the momentum is maintained?

The implementation of new portal technologies can fail for many reasons:

  • No vision or plan defined
  • No governance model, or have one but don’t follow it
  • No clearly defined process in place to coordinate between departments
  • No way to align technology to business needs
  • No person in place to make the final decisions
  • Mis-use of technology or poor architecture
  • Infrastructure not set up correctly
  • No process in place to prioritize the many things portals can do
  • Organizations underestimate the cost and complexity of portal implementations

Over the past 8 years, Veriday has been engaged in a number of enterprise portal implementations using Liferay. Though the size and scale have varied between small-scale implementation for targeted audiences to large-scale offerings in both commercial and enterprise rollouts, a common thread amongst the successful implementation is portal governance.

Portal governance is key to delivering an effective portal. Portal governance is the practices; policies and processes that govern and help maintain and foster the effectiveness of enterprise portals. It describes how your portal will be implemented and managed in your organization. The governance strategy is aligned with your business objectives so that your portal can continue to evolve along with your organization, and continuously deliver business value. Veriday creates portal governance strategies that clearly outline how activities, accountability and people should be structured, in your portal environment, in order to benefit your business, customers and employees.

Many organizations are faced with serious challenges when implementing an enterprise portal successfully. A portal implementation must align to the business and involve people, process, technology and policy. A well-defined portal governance structure should address the business and organization transformation, portal technology alignment with corporate objectives, ways to measure performance and management of people and accountabilities. Governance requires up front preparation to identify the ongoing processes, objectives and roles as they currently exist and will exist in the future.

The areas that require governance include:

  • Portal content
  • Portal roles
  • Workset design
  • Application integration
  • Desktop strategy and loadsets
  • Web content management
  • Collaboration tools
  • Search and taxonomies
  • Portal infrastructure and layout
  • Portal workflow

It is important to take into account all aspects of a portal and have clear lines of communication between the IT department and the business. Governance is important to keep the portal effective for a full return on investment.

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Have you recently implemented a new portal technology in your organization? Did you have a portal governance model in place? What were some challenges that you ran into during the implementation process? Share your comments below!

Embrace the Enterprise Portal, or Get Left Behind

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Over the past 8 years, Veriday has been engaged for the implementation of a number of Enterprise Portals using Liferay. The size and scale of the projects have varied but a common thread amongst the implementations has been the objective of organizations to move beyond the restraints of their current technology in order to better engage their employees.

Let’s say, you’d like to submit an IT ticket, track the status of a project, collaborate in real-time or simply update the content on your website.  Typically, you’d have to gather a number of departments together, agree on how to move forward and delegate resources to complete each task.  Let’s take Mindy the Marketing professional, for example.   Each time she would like to make a quick update on her organization’s website, she has to engage Ian the IT Manager, or outsource to a 3rd party vendor, wasting time and money.  Ian the IT Manager has to stop what he’s doing in order to facilitate the quick content update.  In comes the Enterprise Portal…

The convergence of information, process and technology

An Enterprise Portal isn’t just a fancy term for intranet.  For a business, an enterprise portal brings together its various applications, information, business units and services on one common platform.   The portal becomes an interactive platform for employees, which is customizable to each of their jobs and responsibilities. It is a system for information delivery and organization, collaboration, content and data management, workflows and operations management through an application that gives users a single point of access.

The portal framework exists to solve aggregation and personalization so that developers do not have to reinvent the wheel every time an organization scales or adds an application.  Customizing the employees’ portal space provides them with all of the information they need to do their jobs more quickly and efficiently than if they had to search out the data themselves.  The portal space becomes a unique online experience built around your brand.

More competitive, collaborative and improved ROI

The fundamental key is making your organization more competitive, isn’t it?  Organizations are turning to Enterprise Portals to offer a competitive advantage.  The availability of ‘’anytime-anywhere’’ managed information, on one-platform, makes for an agile business, leveraging new ideas and decisions faster through the streamlining of operations and business-wide knowledge sharing.

At Veriday, we are working with enterprises to implement portal solutions that enable their business to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies in order to gain a competitive advantage. Engaged employees will deliver more to your organization when they are equipped with the tools to do their job effectively.  In today’s digital landscape, employee engagement expectations continue to rise making portals, collaboration and content management solutions more critical then ever.

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Question:  Does your enterprise portal effectively support the technology demands placed on it in today’s digital economy?

Responsive Website Design: You are losing business without it

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The game has changed. Consumers now expect their online experience to be consistent no matter what device they are on.

Responsive website design refers to a website designed to adapt to any device a visitor is using. It is a single website that intelligently adapts to the screen the visitor is on without compromising functionality or aesthetics. With the increasing amount of Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it has become clear that responsive design is no longer a trend, but a must for any website.

Need reasons why responsive design is a wise investment for your business and all businesses, of any size, and any industry? Look no further…

Mobile Web Growth

The world is going mobile and so are our websites. Imagine if movies were only available in the dimensions they played in the theatre.  How would this affect your experience watching a movie at home?  The same can be said for a user accessing your website on their mobile if it is not responsive.

Worldwide, mobile traffic has doubled between 2012 and 2013.  Hubspot reports that in 2014, mobile devices will account for 25% of global Internet traffic and by 2015 mobile Internet usage is predicted to overtake desktop Internet usage.  Not only are people using their mobile for social networking, checking and sending email, and surfing the website, they are also making purchases from their devices.  By 2016, revenue from mobile content is predicted to reach $65 billion.

Your website is likely receiving a high portion of mobile users and given it isn’t responsive, nor has a mobile version, that’s a lot of visitors who are receiving sub-optimal experiences.  According to Hubspot, if a user lands on your website on their mobile and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, there is a 61% change they will leave immediately and go to another website (most likely a competitor).

Mobile is growing and isn’t going to slow down any time soon.  If you don’t have a responsive website design, you are losing business to someone that does.

Recommended by Google

Google is the main search engine for many users, and has 92% market share in mobile search engine. Pierre Far, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, announced that Google recommends responsive web design as the primary mobile configuration. Having one single URL makes it easier for Google bot to index and organize one version of the site (Hubspot, 2014).

If Google is recommending something that is sure to help with your SEO, I’d say it’s probably a wise idea to listen.

Increase sales with a better & faster user experience

An effortless online experience is key to a visitor coming back.  Responsive design allows your visitor to browse your website with ease placing emphasis on designing for the user.

Responsive website design provides users with a better and faster user experience. When a user has to wait for a page to load, there’s a high change they will leave your site before it opens on their mobile phones. Responsive design eliminates the need for site redirects, improving the overall speed of the site, allowing users to get their information quickly.

Responsive design removes some of the barriers that having multiple sites can present such as performance and consistent look and feel. It allows your website to adapt to the visitors’ screen automatically, presents your content in a user-friendly format and does a better job of converting visitors into customers.

Ready for current and future devices

A responsive website will automatically adapt no matter what new technology is thrown our way, whether it be a new screen size or new tablet dimension.

Responsive design is one of the most effective ways to ensure every visitor has the best possible user experience.  It offers visitors an optimized experience regardless of their choice of device.  If you don’t have a responsive website, you are losing business to someone that does.

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It is still an emerging practice, so it’s natural that you may have some questions, and that’s what we are here for.  We are always happy to discuss, just drop us a line.

Has your website been converted to responsive design?  If you haven’t, what is holding you back?  If you have, have you seen benefits from the change?  We’d love to hear about your experience.