Over the last few years, Ektron has focused on a key theme each year, where most of their communications, presentations, and community outreach all focus on that theme. In 2010, it was the ‘Year of the Marketer’; 2011, the ‘Year of the Developer’, and now we are into 2012, and the new theme is clearly the ‘Year of the Designer.’
2010 Year of the Marketer
I was lucky enough to attend the Synergy conference in 2010. This was a great conference, with a focus on the Marketing and Business side of a website. I remember sitting in a session listening to Tom Wentworth ( @twentworth12) and Nicole Rogers ( @nicolekrogers), two dynamic and fun speakers, talk about how, if content is king, then context is queen.
We saw a big push on things like PageBuilder, which allows the non-technical folks to build complex pages on an Ektron site; the Analytics integration, which puts key demographic information of who is using what parts of your website into the hands of those who can make the most of it; and showing us how Ektron could leverage a visitor’s context, from sources such as their recent browsing history, Facebook, or their physical location, to provide a unique, targeted experience.
Note: These are all very important things, but I am a developer at heart. While I find all of that interesting, not as important as how to build something cool.
2011 Year of the Developer
If you were an Ektron developer, then 2011 was your year!
We saw the release of version 8.5, which brought a slick new interface for the WorkArea; powerful new features and technologies such as the new FAST Search; and a completely redesigned Framework API, that makes building custom functionality to interact with the CMS so much easier.
In the Developer Community, there was the rise of the Ektron Exchange, that finally gave Ektron developers a place to share the widgets and code samples that they had developed over the years. The developer forums got a needed infusion of answers from knowledgeable Ektron folks, such as Andrew Eddy, James Stout, and Bill Cava, to name just a few. ( @andrew_eddy, @egandalf, and @billcava)
Developer Meetups were scheduled all over, where folks could get together and share their experiences and knowledge with other Ektron developers over dinner and drinks. If you were lucky enough to have a Local User Group (LUGs) meeting somewhere close by, you go to see new examples of what was available today, and more importantly, what was coming in the future.
2012 Year of the Designer
We are now seeing the direction of 2012, which I am dubbing the ‘Year of the Designer’. In 2012, we are finally starting to see that a well designed website is so much more than something nice to look at, it also has to work for the user.
Part of this I am sure is driven by the enormous momentum that we all see with the mobile web, where having a well designed, functional site that works on any device (smartphone, tablet, desktop computer), could very well be the difference between a business’s success or failure.
Ektron has embraced the Mobile First philosophy, made famous by Luke Wroblowski ( @lukew, Mobile First), and they are busy promoting the relatively new, and fundamentally game-changing web design trend called Responsive Web Design, pioneered by Ethan Marcotte ( @beep, Responsive Web Design). The really great thing about 2012, is that Ektron is going to have both of these incredible individuals speaking at the annual Synergy conference this year. This one is not to be missed.
Note: These are two of my biggest web heroes. They are changing they way that we look at the web.
P.S.: Responsive Web Design is something that I have been interested in for some time. In 2011, I made a short presentation at the Seattle LUG, where I showed what might have been the first Ektron site using RWD (at least I like to think that it was), and that was followed up with a Developer interview with Bill Cava (Developer Webinar – Interview with Joe Mayberry), where I talked about Ethan Marcotte, and the potential that RWD has with the Ektron Platform.
An argument could be made that I had a hand in starting the momentum that led to the Year of the Designer. With that, a trip to D.C. in November, to see Luke and Ethan speak, would be the culmination of my efforts. What do you think? Maybe I should take up a collection.