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April 24
An Overview of Kentico

Kentico is an ASP.NET based platform for building websites and providing an all in one solution covering Content Management, E-Commerce and Online marketing.

As a CMS platform, Kentico stands out because of its extensive set of OOTB content management features, as follows:

Content in today’s websites include html pages, documents, media files, forms and custom data structures. In addition, each of these content types and their instances have different requirements for storage and access. Kentico provides the following options to organize content:

1. Pages: Pages are used store hierarchical structured data. A page consists of fields (data structure), and a layout on how the data should be displayed. In addition, a page should be used when:

  • The content needs to be processed through a workflow.
  • Page level permissions are required.
  • Content needs to be rendered in multiple languages.

2. Tables:
Tables are used to store structured data that is not hierarchical and does not need to be rendered in multiple languages. Tables should be used when data can be stored in flat structure. As there is no page layout or template associated with tables, data stored within tables are displayed on a live site using various listing web parts. Additionally since a table is physically represented as a Table within Kentico’s SQL backend, it is also possible to query the table using standard SQL queries.

3. Media Libraries: This option is used to store media and non-media files, such as audio, video, images, presentations and documents. Files stored in Media Libraries are stored in the file system instead of the backend SQL Server as this reduces the overhead of querying and service large files from the database. Additionally, media library can also be configured to store data in externally such as Azure Blob or Amazon S3.

4. Forms: While the majority of content on a web site involves rendering of content based on a user’s profile, quite often it is also important to provide the ability to solicit information from the end user. This is accomplished using Forms within Kentico. A typical example is a Contact Us form. Data submitted via Forms is stored in the database which can then be exported for analysis or archival purposes.

5. Tags: The above options deal with how to manage and store data within the Kentico platform. While that is useful, it is also important to provide content editors with the ability to classify pages using tags. Tagging can be used for improving search and displaying pages which are tagged using certain keywords.

Creating an engaging user experience involves two important factors – content and design. Kentico provides the following capabilities to target users across the entire spectrum of digital media:

1. Master page: A master page contains the common elements that will be used across the entire site. Examples of common elements include header, footer and global navigation.

2. CSS styles: As a best practice, Kentico provides the ability to attach style sheets to site.

3. Content Editor: A WYSIWYG editor provides content editors the ability to add text, links, media content and customized controls such as forms, widget and any other custom controls.

4. Content & Design separation: The design interface for rendering content isn’t always productive for editing content. By separating the two aspects, Kentico allows content editors and designers to work independently by allowing content editors can edit content using structured forms, and designers to create and style the page layouts. Editors can still preview the content in the intended design thus providing a visual feedback.

5. Transformations: Transformations are code templates that determine how content is rendered within listing web parts and controls. The unique feature of Transformations is that they are associated with an object or control and can thus be reused.

Once a website is up and running, it is important that the content stays relevant. Removing expired pages, updating frequently visited pages, adding new content, analyzing user activities etc. provides required information to optimize the website (content and performance). 
In addition to using the OOTB reports and creating custom reports using the Reporting application within Kentico, one can export the underlying data in Excel, CSV or XML format for more detailed analysis using external systems. 

Additionally, data from Kentico can also be visualized using the PowerBI service by either using the 25 in-built reports or creating new ones using PowerBI Desktop and then publishing the same to the PowerBI service.

Final Thoughts
With a plethora of CMS systems available for one to evaluate, Kentico stands out because of its extensive set of OOTB features, support for multiple development models from browser-based design to Visual Studio based development using ASCX templates and MVC support and providing a singular platform for creating intranets, online communities, e-commerce solutions and conducting marketing campaigns.

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