June 20, 2016 Development Tips

By: Laura Frese

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending the first Kentico Rocky Mountain User Group quarterly meeting where I met up with Kentico enthusiasts and clients from all over Colorado. The meetup was hosted at MGMA headquarters where Eric Schraufnagel, MGMA's Senior Software Engineer, discussed optimizing search results. We also learned about utilizing Kentico Draft to manage content production.

The meetup began with open networking and a variety of delicious breakfast items. Kentico clients, partners, developers, and other enthusiasts from all over the Rocky Mountain region mingled and shared their experiences. The first talk was given by MGMA's Eric Schraufnagel, who discussed how their custom search works to mix organic and inorganic results. 

Eric's team created a custom module in Kentico that allows terms to be entered with synonyms. This functionality allows their users to enter specific search terms that may not be in a document, but are associated with words in that document. For example, if a user enters "physician pay" the term/synonym module allows that term to also associate with and look for documents and pages with the synonyms "physician compensation" or "physician salary". In addition, this custom module allows the site administrators to select featured pages to show with specific terms. This allows them to push specific page(s) to the top of the search results & highlight some inorganic yet related items. 

Eric also discussed how important it is to review the analytics associated with your search to ensure you are giving your users the best experience. For example, analytics can tell you what terms your users are entering, how long they spend on a certain page, and how often they go back to search to try again. Ideally, a user would find the page they are looking for at or near the top of the first search page on the first try. If that isn't happening, you should modify how your search works and/or modify the terms you use in your pages to fit with what your users expect to find.

The next talk was given virtually by Kentico's Vojtech Boril on utilizing Kentico Draft to manage content production. Vojtech gave us a demo on how to use Kentico draft to enter content and how to import that content into Kentico. He discussed how using Draft can increase productivity and reduce the time it takes to complete a site since it provides editors with a way to start entering content before the CMS is set up. Draft provides developers with a way to easily set up structured page types so that editors don't have to guess at where to enter content. A site map and categorization can be set up so that content can be organized and easily found. Workflow also exists to help team members communicate, approve, comment on, and publish documents. 

These are just a few features of Draft and the Kentico Draft team is working on adding even more. If you have a lot of content to bring into a new site and you are working on a tight deadline, Draft is definitely the way to go. 

All in all, the first Kentico Rocky Mountain User Group meetup was a huge success! I met a lot of new people, learned a lot about ways to customize & optimize search, and discovered how Kentico Draft can speed up time to production. The next Kentico Rocky Mountain User Group will be hosted some time in the fall, I hope to see you there!