Your employees use email to store documents. They collaborate with clients using Dropbox. They create files internally using Microsoft Office 365. And they back up all of their data to personal USBs and hard drives. The business you're running has a problem with managing information.

At Icreon, we solve this problem on a daily basis. As businesses grow organically, employees create homegrown ways to create and share information. The problem is that it's insecure, not reliable, and there’s no control over who has access to what data. Long-term efforts like these become impossible to manage.

From building smarter tagging tools, to creating ways to distribute content across domains, we build enterprise-grade content management systems (CMSs) that help you manage everything from public-facing sites, to your internal, mission critical data warehouse systems.

The Basics

  • Information Tagging

    More users mean more data. When there are different people creating information, it's crucial that documents and files can be tagged for easy retrieval across your entire team.

  • Document Storage

    Content management systems should be able to support the media you need for your business. A strong CMS supports complex assets like videos, 3D files and interactive content to simpler content like photos, text, documents and audio.

  • Version control

    As documents are edited, changes get made and employees need to collaborate. What happens when a file is deleted or altered inappropriately? Versioning gives you the ability to roll back to previous files, so that you can see your document history.

The Not So Obvious

  • Multi-domain setups

    Whether you're running a Drupal-powered media site, a Sharepoint Intranet, or an Adobe CQ Media platform, does the content you have to manage need to scale across different websites and digital domains that your company owns?

  • Dynamic Content Layouts

    At Icreon, we know content has different importance throughout the day, to different people, in different geographies. We focus on ensuring that layouts are generated dynamically so that viewers only see what's relevant to them.

  • Mobile-first

    Mobile design and Responsive Web design doesn't just mean fitting data into a smaller screen. Great CMSs re-evaluate points like dynamically serving smaller images and compressing files so that information is easy to retrieve through mobile.

our solutions in action

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Additional Resources

Three-Step Process for Sustainable, Dynamic Content Management

From developing new sales channels, to evangelizing new products and building brand cache, every business’ digital experience needs to function as a living, breathing extension of the marketing staff.

To fulfill its optimal role as a marketing tool, the enterprise digital experience needs to be backed by a robust Content Management System, which—when implemented correctly—can remove the middleman between online content and the stories that businesses want to tell.

Enter Drupal

While many content management platforms are capable of supporting the unique needs of each business, few can keep pace with the long-term needs of the modern enterprise. Drupal is one such tool, and we at Icreon often choose the platform for its ability to fulfill our clients' unique business needs.

As an open-source platform, Drupal's community spans over a million users and developers, and is home to over 14,000 modules. From blogs, to E-Commerce sites, to intranets and social networks, Drupal can actualize a wide array of solutions, and can be shaped to meet even the most specific of project details.

There is one caveat to Drupal’s custom high-performance nature. To deploy a working Drupal solution requires configuration by an experienced Drupal development team – an act which requires expertise far beyond the code level. Technology teams working in Drupal need to understand how content functions, and they need to understand how to leverage Drupal’s community and capabilities in order to contextualize functionality within the structure of each specific business. In the hands of those without the sufficient know-how, Drupal configurations run a high risk of failure. It’s not uncommon to see businesses attempt to solo-configure their own Drupal solutions, only to end up with a broken, disjointed CMS that fails to support their business.

Using the "C.M.S." Approach

We employ a strategic approach called "C.M.S." in every Drupal project we undertake. The process is a holistic method which contextualizes content management as an entity within a business’ larger marketing structure. By using "C.M.S.", businesses can create new strategies that can both streamline the implementation process and ensure their system’s potency for long after it's been put into place. Below is an overview of the "C.M.S." process, as well as a few guidelines on how to create an ideal digital experience without sacrificing quality or control in the process.

C is for... Configuration

Every business houses a complex system of inner-workings. From company-specific workflows, to team hierarchies and vast amounts of content, a wide array of variables factor into the creation of any new Content Management System. The question that every business should ask as they configure a new platform to support their business is:

What does your business' message look like, and what kind of tool must be built to best publish that message online?

Do you need next-generation content creation tools for your creatives, or are you more focused on implementing integrated statistical monitoring? Do you need a smooth, multi-author-friendly workflow, or are you more focused on features that will increase online revenue?

Whatever your editorial workflow looks like, it will always involve nuances that are specific to your business. Sometimes, you will only want to allow certain team members to publish certain types of content. Other times, you’ll want to create features that will help users optimize the content they publish. These functions can be developed within Drupal as well, allowing you to give users a simple way to create calls to action, content and multimedia right out of the box.

Whatever your needs may be, it’s the platform’s responsibility to let you manage these complexities as easily as possible. In Drupal’s case, the right configuration lets you control every parameter of publishing, from who can publish, to what they can publish, and even determine ownership of content—all in the interest of bolstering internal content workflows.

M is for... Migration

When it comes to creating new websites, one thing many of our clients worry about is whether they can move from their existing CMS to Drupal in a way that’s safe and relatively painless.

Successful data migration requires comprehensive planning and a partner who knows your current platform structures inside and out. Do you manage your data using different systems? Is that data accessible to your internal team, or is it hosted outside of your control? Do you plan to start your content rebuilding efforts from scratch?

By taking complete inventory of all your business' content, you can map out connections within your file structures and facilitate the migration process as much as possible. The rest of the process hinges on these first steps, from hyperlink migration to metadata strategy and eventually, QA testing. Data migration is often a daunting process, but can be streamlined via expert planning and a comprehensive understanding of your current content hierarchy.

At Icreon, our knowledge base expands beyond the technological and into the realm of strategic thinking. By training users, socializing new platforms, and creating a protocol for rapid feedback and response, we ensure that you can effectively make the platform jump to Drupal, without becoming a victim to user abandonment. This is a crucial element of the migration process, and one that far too many businesses tend to leave by the wayside.

S is for... Storytelling

The first two steps of the C.M.S. process are executed by technology teams in an effort to make the third step—Storytelling—as effective as possible. Today, quality storytelling means that you're marketing to your users at a 1-to-1 level. This requires a suite of advanced tools pre-built into your CMS, allowing you to customize your message, target your various user bases and test the viability of your unique selling proposition as you present it on the internet. This ability to dynamically shift messaging and content isn’t a bonus; it's a requirement.

Your marketing team is defined by your company's growth, and it's crucial to make sure that you can quantify the strength of your online message. Quality storytelling, then, is an iterative process that requires constant tracking of user behaviors and is best served by a platform that is flexible enough to meet your visitors' ever-changing preferences. By facilitating dynamic storytelling, the ideal content management system will arm your business with the ability to stay agile, sustaining your ever-evolving marketing efforts well into the future.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a CMS

Whether it's an article, an image, a video, or a product listing, if you're trying to publish anything to your website, you're going to need a system that allows you to do so. Enter the content management system, or CMS. In most cases, a CMS will act as the backbone of a good website, allowing users to publish their quality content with ease. But how much do you really need to know about content management systems, and what's the best way to select a CMS to fulfill your needs?

With so many viable options on the market, it's essential to put some serious thought into finding the right system for you. Here are five things to consider when seeking out your ideal CMS.

1. The purpose of CMS

When deciding on a CMS, the very first thing to figure out is your overall purpose in having one. Create a mission statement, outline key features, list out your priority requirements – whatever it takes, make sure you have a clear and concise explanation of what you want your CMS to accomplish. With an end goal in mind and a set of priorities at your side, the rest of your decision-making process will play out naturally.

In revamping the CMS for Gannett Co.'s wealth of publications, Gannett Digital Vice President Mitch Gelman said the most important step of the process was planning:

"We had a clear, simple endgame in what we wanted to achieve," Gelman said. "We established the objective first and then put the plan in place to develop the design, create the code, and establish the back-end that would get us there."

To determine your CMS' primary purpose, try to pin down what kind of content it is that you're looking to publish. In working with the New York County District Attorney's Office, Icreon had to build a CMS for a diverse range of content, from press releases to image galleries and event calendars. In this case and in many others, we've been partial to Drupal for its quality and flexibility.

2. CMS editor

The first aspect to examine in a potential CMS is the editor. This is the same interface your content creators will be working with, so make sure it's something they'll understand and can use with relative ease.

Be especially careful when considering content management systems that implement "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) editors. Even though they're simple, inexperienced users tend to go overboard with layout and design decisions of their own. This can compromise a website's design consistency, and should be taken into account at a very early stage in the decision process.

As a quick point to guide you along, the top CMS options currently on the market are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!. These platforms are known for their flexible editors and high customizability options, and are worth considering for almost any type of website. Of course, this is just a guideline: Even though these are the most popular systems in use, it's up to you to decide if something else might work better for your website.

Take advantage of product demos, user forums, and website previews to help determine whether a CMS editor meets your needs.

3. The design aesthetic of CMS

Once you've outlined your CMS' overall intent, try to hone in on the design aesthetic you hope to achieve with your website. At the highest level, you'll want a unique website with interactive elements, elegant typography, and high-resolution images to back up every piece of content. This will require a high amount of customization options, and you should set a large budget accordingly.

The second approach is to use a template. As a one-time purchase, the template will dictate the look and feel of your website without requiring any design or coding expertise from you personally. This approach is best for smaller websites that value design, but don't necessarily need their website to be unique. The main flaw with this approach is that it's not open to high-level customization; if you're looking to alter the cookie-cutter design or layouts, you won't find too many options.

4. The CMS as a product

As you get caught up in the blitz to figure out what you want from a CMS, it's important to remember that a CMS is, at the end of the day, a product. Whether you're working off a pre-set template or hiring a crew of designers to build your website, try to get a feel for the product itself. If security is your highest priority, you might want to consider something like ExpressionEngine over other options. It might not be as feature-rich as WordPress or Drupal, but it's built a good reputation for its quality security and commercial support.

You'll want to make sure that your CMS has a support base, just in case something goes awry. Since most content management systems derive functionality from plug-ins made by other developers, you should get a feel for the development community. An active support community can help to ensure a comfortable long-term experience with your CMS.

5. The future

A CMS shouldn't just do what your website currently needs; it should also account for what your website is going to need in the future. Try to plan ahead, and allow room for your website to grow over time. After all, you never know what can change over a small period of time.

Just because you aren't currently publishing a ton of content doesn't mean that won't change in the future. If it does, you'll want to make sure your CMS offers sufficient search functionality so that your website doesn’t become an unorganized mess in a matter of a few months. Other features to keep in mind when accounting for future website growth are multi-language support, multiple website support, customizability, and user management.

10 Website Scenarios That Make a CMS Essential

Browsing around some of the biggest sites on the internet, one thought that may pop into your mind is the question of "How did they build this?" Sometimes it's easy to tell—Squarespace, for instance, has a plethora of site templates that provide a similar look and feel across different company sites.

But the truth is, this kind of infrastructure isn't necessarily the standard across the internet. In fact, a staggering 61% of websites don't use a CMS at all. Considering the impact a CMS can have on a website, there’s a bit of a problem here. A CMS, after all, enables businesses to create, manage, and optimize business-critical assets to distribute across a variety of channels like web, mobile, and social.

There are thousands of Web CMS solutions to choose from, from open source options like Drupal and Wordpress to enterprise-grade solutions like Adobe CQ and Sitecore. However, deploying a CMS only makes sense if it’s helping your business achieve its goals. If you’re managing or developing a website today, you may find yourself wondering if you need a CMS.

The following is a list of 10 website scenarios that make a CMS essential.

You want to be Self-Sufficient in Your Content Management Efforts

As businesses place greater focus on utilizing content assets to attract and engage prospective customers, ensuring content goes from creation to published as efficient as possible could be a major competitive advantage.

In today's business environment, websites need to be updated almost on a daily basis, with different teams contributing content as it becomes available to them. With non-technical team members playing a major role in how the website is used, it's critical that they're able to complete necessary tasks within their own knowledge comfort zone. A CMS will allow all members of your team across various departments to quickly and efficiently make changes to the website, without relying on the IT team.

Massive Traffic Growth has You Worried about Performance

When your website only handles a few hundred customers a day, it runs at a blazing speed, and users can quickly navigate the site to find what they came for. But as your website starts to receive thousands of customers a day, the overwhelming amount of visitors accessing your site all at once could cause a devastating increase in the amount of time it takes to load individual pages.

Relying on one server to host all of your content can quickly become inefficient and you may begin losing customers to slow page load times. With a CMS, you can utilize page and module caching so that browsers can quickly load previously visited pages, and even go as far as setting up web farms that’ll disperse data storage across multiple servers, enabling your website to run at optimal speeds.

Employees are Using Their Own Tools to Diminished Effect

When employees aren’t provided the right tools to efficiently complete their necessary tasks, they’ll find their own ways. Maybe they’ll use Excel sheets to create reports to send to their team, Word documents to update copy for individual pages on the website, and Evernote to keep the team in sync.

This process quickly becomes inefficient due to the lack of content and data visibility across departments, which can ultimately result in duplicate efforts and lost data. A CMS keeps all documents and information in a centrally located place, allowing executive management and all departments to be able to access all business-critical assets in real time, reducing duplicate efforts and enabling quick data retrieval.

You Want to Utilize Dynamic Content

Your website may need to deliver certain content, to certain people, at certain points of the day, in certain locations. Without a tagging system in place to determine what’s considered relevant for the current user, you miss out on an opportunity to connect with individual users. A CMS gives you the ability to utilize smart tagging, where you can make sure your users only see what’s relevant to them.

You're Adding Team Members and Need Quality Control

There are a variety of team members involved in creating and updating content, and it’s not ideal that everyone has the same permissions. For example, there might be a situation where you only want your sales team to have access to edit offer pages, or publishers to only have access to publish blog posts. A VP of sales and a sales intern should not have the same permissions. A CMS allows you to set up permissions and account roles, granting certain users only the necessary privileges for them to complete their tasks.

You're Regularly Adding New Pages

If your website requires frequent additions of new offer pages, blog posts, case studies, landing pages - it can become extremely tedious for your IT team to develop individual pages. With a CMS, you can create templates for specific page layouts that are design-once, use-everywhere. Templates allow you to use already formatted layouts that will save you a ton of time in uploading new content, while keeping the branding of your website intact.

You Want Permissions and Version Control

There are many teams and individuals involved in updating and changing the website. When something goes wrong, it's important to pinpoint the issue so you can quickly correct it, ensuring that it never happens again.

Version controls allows you to see the changes that were made in any process - whether it was finding out who published the blog post about a discount offer a day early, or who uploaded the wrong copy on a landing page, or who approved the changes made on the homepage – you know who was responsible for each task throughout the process.

Version Control allows you to quickly act on mistakes, as you can revert back to a previous version of a page at any time. Through Version Control, a CMS essentially gives you a detailed roadmap of tasks completed to enable you to quickly identify and fix mistakes.

You Want to Improve Your Website’s Search Visibility

With an overwhelming amount of people using search engines as the starting point of their buying process, you need your website to be extremely search friendly. Instead of manually changing the meta tags, image alt texts, and URL structure of every page on your website – it's all done for you in a CMS. As your website scales to hundreds, or even thousands of pages, automatically optimizing your pages for search is a huge time saver.

Your Business Operates on More Than One Website

If your company operates in different locations and there are websites set up for each location, it can be extremely difficult making large scale changes across domains. Instead of having to make changes on individual websites, you can create modules that will instantly update all domains.

A CMS can manage dozens of websites from a single backend so you can update multiple websites on a regular basis without having to rely on your local teams.

You're Going Mobile/Responsive

According to Juniper Research, mobile transaction users are expected to hit 2 billion by 2017. While it's understood that mobile is no longer an option, it's important to understand the true value of mobile. Mobile is not how a website looks on certain devices, it's how it operates.

As we see a greater importance placed on delivering mobile content assets, it's essential that the functionality of your website remains consistent across all devices. Whether it's properly displaying results of an internal site search, or downloading product manuals, or dynamically serving content – a CMS will allow you to deliver the same user experience across all devices.

In Content Marketing, The CMS is King

"Content is King". If you work in digital marketing, hearing that phrase probably induces the same reaction as hearing nails on a chalkboard. It’s being overly used by industry analysts and experts, for good reason.

Due to the constantly evolving marketing landscape, with SEO and the major impact of Google’s algorithm updates, content marketing is now a primary driver of business in 2015.  Instead of creating blog posts for the sake of having content, businesses now have to exemplify their expertise through the voice of their subject matter experts.  Connecting with customers by educating them of the benefits of your product or service is now an integral part of marketing.

With over 75% of marketers allocating more budget spend for content marketing in 2015, the trend continues to show itself as an essential marketing strategy.  With the increasing amount of content creation businesses are taking on, a content management system is now essential to business growth. Using Excel files and Word documents shared across apartments is not an efficient way to manage content.  To truly show expertise on a subject through knowledgeable content pieces, business must acknowledge the major role of a CMS.

Using CMS to Ramp up Content Publishing

There are numerous CMS platforms available to choose from.  Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla! are some of the most popular content management systems used throughout the web.  The platform you choose is not overly important, the ability of the CMS to be easily used by content creators - both technical and non-technical - is the most important aspect.  In the past, developers and webmasters were required to publish content.  With a CMS, all of the necessary processes are automated.

If you're looking to avoid the need to use coding skills and want a template experience, "What You see Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) editors will be more for you.  Using dedicated accounts, every member of your team - from salesman to project managers to content writers - can login to post blogs, create infographics, or even create individual landing pages for campaigns.  The beauty of a CMS is the internal collaboration it creates through overall transparency.

The more accessible content is across departments within a business, the more efficient you'll be attracting leads and retaining customers.  A CMS is critical for removing departmental silos and creating content as a part of marketing efforts.

CMS Opens Access to Subject Matter Experts

The goal of content marketing is to solve the same problems that your product or service solves, but through different media channels.  By educating your customers and solving their problems, you showcase your expertise on the subject.

By publishing content that solidifies knowledge and expertise, brands are now using content marketing as a legitimate way to drive leads and website traffic.  But without the necessary tools to incorporate top level executives and decision makers into content creation, content marketing can be a failure before it even begins.

An excellent example of a leader in content marketing is LinkedIn, which has created the influencer platform.  While most businesses find their website to be adequate, Linkedin provides another channel for you publish your content - one where you can reach the biggest thought leaders in the world.

For example, Richard Branson uses the LinkedIn platform around twice a week, publishing articles on everything from lessons learned in the early stages of Virgin Records, to discussing contemporary issues and his side ventures in space tourism.  LinkedIn provides an opportunity for thought leaders to give their take on common industry trends which ultimately allows a brand to differentiate itself.

As the importance of content continues to grow, CMS will be equally as important. By using a CMS platform to run a website, brands can empower all team members to create and distribute content in a consistent manner.

Consistent Publishing and Distribution is the Key

The concept behind content marketing is that brands who provide industry leading advice and authoritative news will establish themselves as a thought leader in their industry.  In a market where digital marketing is constantly evolving, sometimes all it takes is an expert to share their knowledge in a transparent way.