Sitecore xDB Personalisation at the client

Nick Hills’ headed over to SUGCON last week to share his infinite wisdom with the rest of the Sitecore community, if you missed it or want a recap you can listen to his talk below:

This talk shows off techniques that allow you to combine two great tools: the personalisation capabilities and power of xDB along with the benefits of CDN edge-caching. Editors can configure and design personalisation rules as normal yet still harness all the power and gains that CDN’s offer.

He’s also handily put together a whitepaper weighing up the pros and cons of the various approaches – http://blog.boro2g.co.uk/personalization-at-scale-whitepaper/

Get in touch if you want to find out more on +44 (0)117 932 7700 or info@trueclarity.co.uk

Sitecore 8.1 – What you need to know from those who know best

The Sitecore experts (MVPs) were lucky enough to get their hands on XP 8.1 two months before it was publicly released in October 2015. The early access allows them to get a head start on mastering the new release and provide Sitecore with essential feedback for improvements and the roadmap. As part of this Sitecore have released a whitepaper on the MVP’s initial reactions to three questions:

  1. What’s your favorite feature of Sitecore XP 8.1, e.g., what part do you think businesses couldn’t live without?
  2. What in your opinion is the greatest benefit of Sitecore XP 8.1 for digital technologists and IT leaders?
  3. What in your opinion is the greatest benefit of Sitecore XP 8.1 for developers?

You can grab your copy here. We’re pretty p

Sitecore 8.1 Launch

With the launch of Sitecore 8.1 yesterday, our MVP’s have already been experimenting with the new features.

One of our MVP’s Mike Robbins has already been working with the new Sitecore SPEAK framework that launched with Sitecore 8.1. He has written a blog post documenting the changes in SPEAK 2.0 and how developers can create custom components to use with the new framework.

The blog post can be read here: http://mikerobbins.co.uk/2015/10/20/sitecore-speak-2-0-component-vs-speak-1-1/ 

Also the rich text editor that he built for Sitecore SPEAK 1.1 has been completely rewritten for SPEAK 2.0 and released on Sitcore 8.1 launch day.

The source code and package are available here. https://github.com/sobek1985/MikeRobbinsSPEAKRichTextEditor

True Clarity at the MVP Summit

Here at True Clarity we are lucky enough to have three MVPs… all Sitecore nerds! As you can imagine the chance to visit New Orleans and be part of the MVP Summit was one we all jumped at when True Clarity offered to fund the trip. A massive thank you to the company.

Over 90 out of 167 recognised MVPs attended the event, which is a whole host of Sitecore love and brain power in one room! The impressive turnout really does show the enthusiasm all the MVPs have for the platform.

I had high hopes for the event especially after seeing the agenda for the two days. The welcome drinks, canapés and chance to network with the other MVPs the night before the summit was excellent, but the real business started on Tuesday. We were lucky enough to see Sitecore’s vision of the future and the road map for the next year or so first-hand. This really is one of the main reasons I wanted to become an MVP, to get involved and engrossed with the future direction of Sitecore in some capacity. I was not let down.

Day 1

The Tuesday sessions kicked off with an introduction by Pieter Brinkman, a video containing some captivating music and a swarm of numbers showing the appreciation Sitecore has for its MVPs, which as you can imagine got us all buzzing. Did you know that the MVPs, (a group of just 0.53% of the Sitecore certified community) contribute to over 50% of blog Posts, presentations and Sitecore modules?

The real “Strap in, hold on, because this is where the technology is going” ride started with a great talk by Todd Mitchell on xDB vNext and Brandon Hubbard who shared (top secret) plans for Speak 2.0 something, which I really feel is going to be huge when it hits the masses.

We also heard some (again top secret) insights into the next couple of Sitecore releases by Kern and Stephen Pope. Some really exciting features in the pipeline, both for developers and end users to get excited about.

I was exhausted after all that but quickly reminded we had a swamp to tour, alligators to feed, cigars to smoke and moonshine to drink – It’s safe to say Sitecore can put on a party!

Day 2

The “I attended breakfast” achievement badge (MVPs love achievements it seems) never had so much significance as it did the morning after the swamps. Everyone still turned up, not wanting to miss the final day of the summit.

The real highlight of the summit for me was on day two. Fan favourites Kern and Stephen Pope were back for a talk on the future of the core of the platform. Following the common theme of ‘top secret – please do not share anything’, I’m going to stay vague but I was blown away with the plans Sitecore (and in particular Stephen and Kern) had for the future of the platform. The amount of time afforded to listen and discuss the MVPs opinions was also fantastic – I think by the end everyone in the room was on the same page and thinking “Wow this is going to be great… but let me have it now!”

Other highlights included the opportunity for us MVPs to have round table discussions with Sitecore staff about specific requirements or wishes we had for the platform. I think we managed to convince Stephen to include about two hundred ‘essential’ features into the next release (he did have his fingers crossed) but it’s great to see the platform moving in the direction it is following feedback from the MVPs – feedback Sitecore obviously value.

Being a MVP newbie myself (first year as an MVP) the summit completely convinced me (not that I really needed to be) that Sitecore continue to move in the right direction. These are exciting times for a number of different areas within the platform. The benefits to developers, marketers, content editors, well… literally every Sitecore user has the potential to be huge, and it was amazing to see and be involved in these plans first hand.

Thank you Sitecore!

Building Personalised Experiences with Sitecore

The Conservative Party is the current party of government in the United Kingdom, having won a majority of seats at the General Election in May. As part of their election efforts, we used Sitecore to build a personalised map that helped undecided voters understand how the party’s policies had helped secure a brighter future for people across the country. By entering their postcode, users could see exactly what that meant in their area.

We integrated various electorate information systems APIs to render the map information based on the content in Sitecore. The Conservative Party managed all of this content in Sitecore and placeholders were used to pull in the relevant numeric stats and personalised data. True Clarity knew that Conservatives.com would be one of the first places undecided voters would go to find out about the Party’s policies in the days leading up to the election – and on polling day itself. Therefore, it was imperative that the site focused on helping people understand not just what those policies were but what they meant for them, their family and their area. This is a great example of how Sitecore can be used to enable personalised experiences for customers.

https://www.conservatives.com/yourarea
Map of Data for True Clarity’s London Office

View your own personalised area map here.

Another Valuable Addition.

We’re super excited to announce Mike Robbins joined the True Clarity team today. He’s been working on Sitecore for over four years and was recognised as a ‘Most Valuable Professional’ by them this year.

Having Mike on board means we now have 3 MVP’s in house – two more than any other organisation or Gold Partner in the UK. (Not bad eh?)

To put that into context, there’s nearly 30,000 Sitecore developers worldwide, and only 141 were awarded technical MVP status this year.  14 of those are in the UK, with only 4 of them working for Sitecore Gold Partners.

Sitecore Gold Partnership

WE’VE STRUCK GOLD. (AGAIN).

In recognition of our sheer technical brilliance and ongoing enterprise development on Sitecore our Gold Partnership has been renewed for a second year running. Here’s the official line from Sitecore on what it all means:

Sitecore Gold Implementation Partners deliver on our complete vision for customer experience management. They can provide complex digital marketing solutions and educate customers on the evolving digital landscape. Sitecore supports these partners by creating joint business references, marketing and enablement plans. Gold Implementation Partners also benefit from access to a dedicated point of contact and early release information on new features and product roadmaps.

Put simply, it means Sitecore have given our work a golden stamp of approval and we’re in a great position to feed that early release information into our client work.

Sitecore Gold Partner

Winning the Digital Election with Conservatives.com

“True Clarity’s impressive team helped us – again – to deliver a website of the highest possible standard. Thanks to their input, Conservatives.com played a key part in helping undecided voters understand exactly how our plan would secure a brighter future for Britain while also empowering supporters to help the campaign in a number of ways. True Clarity’s commitment to responsive design meant that the site worked seamlessly across all devices, and their hard work in the months leading up to polling day meant the site was both stable and secure in those crucial final days.”

Craig Elder, Digital Director, The Conservative Party

What was needed

5 years is a long time in politics. In 2010, we helped the Conservatives build what was widely recognised as the best of the UK political parties’ websites but for 2015 we needed to adapt to a changing digital landscape.

In particular, the huge shift towards consumption via mobile devices meant we’d have to approach the election with a “mobile first” mentality, and work to deliver simple user journeys that worked as well on a phone as they did a desktop.

We also had to focus on delivering a tightly-focused website that gave two key audiences what they needed: helping undecided voters understand exactly what the Conservatives’ long-term economic plan meant for them, while also giving Conservative supporters the tools they needed to get more involved in the campaign.

And of course, we had to achieve all of this while ensuring the site could cope under the huge amount of traffic we could expect during the busy election period (and on polling day itself).

How we tackled it

A responsive site for a mobile-first audience

Working with the Conservatives’ in-house design team, we created site templates that worked responsively across all devices – be it phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. This had to be achieved without compromising site editors’ ability to quickly add, edit and remove copy, content and widgets as required.

Giving undecided voters the information they need

Just as it was in 2010, we knew that Conservatives.com would be one of the first places undecided voters would go to find out about the Party’s policies in the days leading up to the election.

Therefore it was imperative that the site focused on helping people understand not just what those policies were – but what they meant for them, their family and their area. We worked with the Conservatives to produce a series of interactive pages throughout the site that allowed users – upon answering questions on location, salary and so on – to find out exactly how the Conservatives’ plan would help them.

We took this approach as far as making the 404 page on the site an interactive “find out what our plan means for you” page to ensure even users who couldn’t find what they were looking for could learn what the Conservatives’ long-term economic plan meant for them and their family.

Making it easy for supporters to support

Of course, one of the other key audiences for a political party’s website is its supporters, and it was important that Conservatives.com gave them the tools they’d need to make the campaign a success. We worked closely with the Conservatives’ team to optimise three key user journeys – membership, donations and volunteering – to ensure supporters could complete these actions as quickly and easily as possible. This was a huge success, with the donation page in particular seeing a huge leap in conversion rate, leading to the Party raising more money in small online donations than at any previous election. In addition, the new Volunteer page played a huge part in helping to assemble the ‘Team2015’ volunteer army which played a key part in winning the election.

Finally, we worked with Dynamic Signal to put gamification at the heart of a new ‘Share the Facts’ section of the website, which rewarded Conservative supporters every time they shared campaign images and videos on their own social networks – significantly increasing participation and reach for each piece of content.

The Value

Conservatives.com played an important part in the Party’s overall election efforts, which saw them win 331 seats and an overall majority – confounding the predictions of pollsters and commentators alike.

The Party raised more money in small online donations than ever before, and also assembled a 100,000+ strong ‘Team2015’ volunteer army thanks to people signing up via the website.

‘Share the Facts’ was hugely successful, helping Conservatives supporters reach an additional 3 million people every week – over and above the direct reach of the Conservatives’ existing digital channels – by empowering people to quickly and easily share campaign content.

And perhaps most importantly, the site performed seamlessly on polling day (just as it had in 2010), meaning voters in key constituencies all around the country were able to get the information they needed.

http://www.conservatives.com