Elevating the Mobile Experience (Pt. I)

Company Blogs November 24, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

By now, we've heard of the necessity of creating a good experience for our mobile viewers. Yet, we're not always quite sure where to start or what factors should be considered in the process. 

As a result, we're creating a three-part series that will address some of these major aspects. These posts will provide some high-level concepts along with practical tips that will help you discern where to start and how to create an experience that minimizes friction for your mobile users.

Our first foray into helping you elevate your mobile experience is a simple blueprint for a user-centric experience. This post is based on one of our more recent refreshes of the Liferay.com homepage; we hope our case study offers some general procedural guidelines that can be applied to any project.

1. Know your user

The first step to developing a user-centric experience is to get to know your user. Who are they? Study their demographic, and if you have data from an existing userbase, study it! What devices are they on, where are they coming from, when are they leavingthese are all very basic questions to start with that you can answer with existing analytics or more in-depth research.
Liferay Homepage Heatmap

For us, Google Analytics is our primary tool for learning about our users, but we also deployed some heatmap tests on our desktop site to get more scroll and click data. After doing some in-depth analysis, we discovered that users simply were not engaging with 80% of the content on our homepage. We had great content and solid design, but the problem was that we did not consider the user simply was not ready for the volume and depth of the content we were giving them right away.

2. Establish your goals

This goes hand-in-hand with knowing your user. For your visitors, have you determined what you want them to do or where you want them to go when they arrive at your site? Lay out exactly the type of experience they should have and what actions they need to take.

In terms of metrics, figure out your objective measures of success. What areas do you look to improve? This could involve things like a higher number of demo requests or actual purchases. This could also be page-specific categories like page views, bounce rate, exit rate, engagement rate and so forth. For our site, we use Google Analytics to set clear benchmarks and identify areas of improvement. Regardless of method or tool, be sure to have a system in place to track your success.

3. Write your content

After gathering intel about your users, figure out how to write your content. What's the message you want to get across about your brand, product or service? With your desired audience in mind, decide how you can best frame the content. Try to keep industry jargon and unnecessary phrases to a minimum. (If you are working with a team of writers, use tools like Google Docs or Spreadsheets that are ideal for collaboration.)

In our case, we had an abundance of existing content, so our process was more focused on distilling it down to the essentials and combining that with what users were already coming for into a concise, cohesive package for design.

4. Wireframe and design

Here's the "fun" partand if you have waited this long, your patience will pay off because you know who you're targeting, what you want them to do, and you've got compelling content to drive your design. 
Wireframe Design Example

For our page, the idea of "content before design" was instrumental in helping us achieve our end goal of increased engagement. Instead of twisting and cramming content into designed containers, we were able to refine existing content and use design to elevate that content into an engaging user experience.

Our design process starts with rough wireframes, sketching out a grid and deciding on a page flow. Once that is established, we go into Photoshop (not cool enough for Sketch yet) and create the final mockups. Be sure to always ask yourself, "Is this [element] necessary?" If you struggle to answer that question, then it's probably not.

5. Test and iterate

Finally, you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, take some time to write a memoir... </bad-joke> 

No, now is not the time to rest on your laurels. It is time to gather more data and give yourself a performance review.

  • Did you meet or exceed your goals?
  • Was everything implemented correctly?

Now is the time to go back and tweak the design and/or run some A/B tests to see if there is anything that could drive the performance up even further.

Liferay Homepage Heatmap Improvements

To wrap up our case study, we ran another heatmap test and looked at before/after analytics data. Even though we had a fairly significant (21.5%) decrease in mobile (and overall) traffic to our homepage, we also experienced immediate increases in engagement as measured by bounce-rate, click-through rate, form conversions, time on page, etc. 

The most visually compelling evidence was the heatmap comparison, which proved our success wasn't only due to the fact that we had shortened the page. In fact, when you compare them side-by-side, users scrolled significantly further on the new page.


We hope these tips will provide a basic framework to help you design the best mobile experience for your viewers. In the next post, we'll address some common misconceptions associated with the mobile experience. Be on the lookout!


This post is written in collaboration with Paul Hanaoka, Liferay Web Designer. You can reach him at paul.hanaoka@liferay.com for additional questions about mobile web design.

How Liferay Symposium Can Jumpstart Your Project

Company Blogs November 10, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

Liferay Symposium 2015

Why do people go to the Liferay Symposium?

This is a common question that has been asked countless times. Of course, if you ask someone at Liferay, our answers might be a little biased... But in our conversations with past attendees, we’ve discovered that the symposium has become a great arena for idea exchange and project insight. Some of our attendees are amazed to learn from their peers who might be going through the same struggles and challenges of keeping up with the latest IT and trends in the industry.

They have shared of coming away with some specific takeaways, including:

  • Insight into the Liferay roadmap
  • Concrete tips on how to migrate from previous, older versions of Liferay
  • General overview of overall strategy (Is the architecture correct? Are the right partners in place? etc.)
  • Latest trends and technologies to consider for development
  • Ways to develop the internal team or project going forward

What’s more, you can benefit from hearing about some very cool case studies in person. There are many industries and teams just like yours that are building some neat things with Liferay.

Here are some of the awesome teams that we look forwarding to hearing from this year:

Telx - With more than 59,000 network connections, Telx knew they needed a modern customer portal to enable the hybrid cloud strategies of their customers. Telx ended up creating a flexible platform to launch a successful community-driven ecosystem. Their team will share about specific challenges and lessons learned throughout that journey, as well as how they are currently taking advantage of Mobile SDK to build native mobile apps.

Blue Health Intelligence (BHI) - BHI is leading the movement to provide greater transparency in healthcare by providing data-driven revelations about industry trends and best practices. After developing the largest and most comprehensive database in their industry (BHI analytics), BHI will talk about how Liferay has been integrated into its solution architecture and will also demo their amazing analytics tool.

NASA - NASA will be presenting on their Epic Challenge project and virtual collaboration platform built on Liferay and Valamis. Their project aims to renew, expand and modernize the NASA's Epic Challenge program, whose purpose is to promote the interest and know-how in space science in the United States. (And you’ll get to hear from an astronaut, how cool is that?!)

So, long story short. Will attending the Liferay Symposium change the way you work? I think the answer is yes. But once again, I might be biased.

The best way to know is to attend and see for yourself. The good news is that we’re still offering some great promotions to make your decision easier.

If you sign up now, we’ll offer you a 15% discount off standard registration. Just use code NAS15 when you sign up.

I hope to see you there.

Liferay Symposium 2015: Register Now 

It's coming down to the wire... Don't miss out on an awesome event! Use code NAS15 to get 15% off standard registration.

Reserve your seat

Things to Consider Before Diving into Mobile

Company Blogs November 4, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

By now it's obvious that the effects of a poor mobile experience are both immediate and far-reaching for business. A frustrating and not-so-user-friendly mobile interaction with your site could mean loss of brand loyalty and potential business.

How can you offer a mobile user-centric experience that will serve your customers both in the present and future? A responsive website is definitely a good start. But before you consider native or hybrid apps, take a step back and think about what would be the best fit for your business.

The challenge is to carefully plan and execute on a long-term mobile strategy. This means doing research on your customers who are using mobile devices. In your research, consider some of these specific factors: 

  • Demographics. Who are the people you are serving, and what are their habits or preferences? Consider this: only 12% of Brazil’s population regularly browses the web on their mobile devices (as opposed to 40% for the 11 other countries in the survey). Many companies want to build a mobile app or make their site mobile-friendly, but a certain strategy that works for one demographic might not work for another.
  • Expectations. What are your visitors' expectations and how are they going to use the app? Maybe your product needs to be available in places where connectivity is a problem, or maybe you want native device capabilities like GPS. Knowing how users interact with you will help you determine whether to invest your efforts and resources into developing a certain app.  
  • Multiscreening. How does your web experience render across various touchpoints? According to a Google study, many customers are using a multi-device path to complete a transaction. Try to prioritize the strategy of providing a consistent experience across devices; when developing a mobile app, make sure it integrates with other touchpoints.
Being able to address and answer these sorts of questions will give you a better idea of what you may or may not need to do in the moment. 

We’ll be diving deeper into mobile strategies and development tools at the Liferay Symposium in Chicago. (We’ll also be featuring workshops on Liferay Screens and Mobile SDK). If you haven’t already, we highly encourage you to register and gain some great insight about the mobile experience. 

Come out to Liferay Symposium 2015! 

Whether you are looking for user tips or simply deciding if Liferay is a good fit, the Liferay Symposium will provide you with answers and resources on the topics of enterprise productivity and mobility. Use code MOBILE15 to get 15% off registration.

Register now

Where to Start with Content Targeting

Company Blogs October 20, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

How to Define Personalization

How much do you know about the people who are visiting your website?

The more you know, the greater chance you’ll have of reaching them and helping them find what they are looking for.

User data allows us to fill in the blanks about our visitors such as age, gender, vocational background and other demographics. This means the more information you’ve gathered about someone, the more you can cater to their preferences.

Data capturing starts with a good user experience.

How easy is it for your visitor to navigate to the right page? Is the form simple to fill out or long and laborious? If any of these actions are hard to complete, you’ll likely have people dropping off before they reach the intended call to action.

To take it one step further, create an incentive for your visitors. What sort of information would compel your visitors to share information with you? Consider offering something that is useful, such as a research paper or free webinar that can help with their purchasing decision.

Remember, with every search query, users are looking for two things: the best match for their curiosity or interest, and the fastest way to do so. The more relevant your content is, the more willing people will be to give up their personal information. (Not to mention, your website will naturally rise in the Google rankings.)

This is where content targeting comes into play.

With the proper knowledge of your users, you can provide the right content your audience is looking for that will be helpful and unintrusive. Developing specific personas might be beneficial to help segment the majority of your visitors into groups with like tendencies.

So if you’re a denim factory and a teenage girl happens to type “how to distress jeans,” you can display an instructional DIY article with easy steps and feature an offer for a pair of lady’s denim.

This example signifies a change in how companies can digitally engage their visitors, and in turn, do smarter business. If done right, data mining could bode well for all parties involved.

Would you like to learn more about content targeting? In our latest whitepaper, we address how companies can personalize their user experience and begin to use content targeting in their marketing strategies.

Give it a read and let us know if you have questions on how to deliver a more personalized web experience.


Where to Start with Content Targeting

Would you like to learn more about interacting with your customers more personally? This paper addresses how you can begin with personalizing the UX and implementing specific content targeting strategies.

Read the whitepaper

What is a Web Portal?

Company Blogs October 7, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

That's a question we get often when we tell people what we do.

Answers can range anywhere from a quick pitch like "a tool that allows people to build their websites" to something more specific like "a framework for integrating information, people and processes across organizational boundaries." (Thanks, Wikipedia)

Though true, those answers don't always address the questions people are asking. Namely, how can a portal help me serve my customers?

Since the modern shopping experience mostly resides within the Internet, it is very crucial to have a strong web presence. With a public site often times serving as the main source of knowledge about your brand, portals could function as a means of first discovery that connects the right people to the right content.

But why a portal, and not some other development tool or platform?

Portals are special in the sense that they offer a fine-tuned content delivery system. Depending on the type of user that arrives on your site, you can create unique channels with images, text and other site functions that are relevant to that specific user.

So, let's say you were a fashion company. With a proper portal system, a female shopper and a male employee, upon logging in, would find particular content that is useful to them—this is essentially the boiled-down idea of personalization.

We will see more utility for the portal as it continues to evolve in both form and function. Portals aren’t just systems of record anymore, as they are now being used as systems of engagement to reach different target groups across various channels. This is why we believe portals are poised to become the most personal way to help businesses connect with their customers, employees and partners.

To help further the discussion, we recently updated our "What is a Portal?" whitepaper. Feel free to download it or give us your thoughts on what you’re looking for in a good web experience.

What is a Portal? (Lite)

This brief whitepaper gives a basic overview about a portal's features and benefits. Learn about how portals can make an impact on your organization.

Get it now

15 Awesome Web Portal Examples

Company Blogs September 30, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

As a web-based platform, a portal allows users to connect with one another and find content that is relevant with ease and simplicity. It combines information from different sources into a single user interface.

The portal’s functionality can provide a far-reaching impact on an organization and its processes. In fact, many companies throughout various industries are employing a portal platform. They include the following:

Banking & Insurance Portals

Web Portal Example - Santander Retail Banking Portal - Liferay Portal

Santander Bank, Retail Banking Portal

As one of the largest banks in the eurozone, Santander looked to build a new enterprise web platform that would integrate with existing software (CMS, Search Engine, Product Catalog) while allowing room for new content and features. Their site includes several retail banking features and ability to open new accounts and manage day-to-day banking operations.

CopperPoint, Insurance Portal

CopperPoint is Arizona’s largest provider of workers compensation insurance and wanted to provide a better user experience for their policyholders and agents. Their site offers a flexible web design that enables payments and account management for clients, in addition to mobile notifications, push messages, email alerts, and more.

Allianz, Wealth Management / Insurance Portal

Allianz Group, with a customer base of over 75 million, offers a site that is both dynamic and personal. With the "My Insurance Portfolio" customer site, users have the ability to retrieve historical records of purchased products and services along with integrated features to facilitate policy payments and renewals. The site also features easy-to-update contact information and communication preferences.

Patient Portals

Web Portal Example - UAB Patient Portal - Liferay Portal

UAB Medicine, Patient Portal

UAB's top-ranked medical professionals found a platform through which they can reach many visitors and actual patients with health concerns. Their site hosts a free patient portal with a directory of various healthcare providers categorized by specialty, gender and location. It also features various subsections for knowledge about conditions and treatments, locations, contact info and FAQs.

Forest Hills Pediatrics, Patient Portal

Right off the bat, you’ll notice the beautiful layout and color scheme of the Forest Hills site. On top of that, this patient portal features the ability to request appointments and refills, review growth charts, print immunization records, and fill out surveys for check-ups and other portions of the medical record.

Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), Patient Portal

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) introduced a new portal with content, self-paced learning, and readiness tools with the goal of streamlining the Electronic Health Record (EHR) certification training and assessment process for its clients. It's unique in that it has the ability to host multiple, branded portals for each of its certification programs, each with their own supporting community.

Government Portals

Web Portal Example - Grants.gov Government Portal - Liferay Portal

Grants.gov, Federal Government Portal

The mission of Grants.gov is to allow applicants for federal grants to apply for and manage grant funds online through a common website. With a fully-functional government portal, the government could simplify grant management and eliminate redundancies. Grants.gov is unique in that it sends over 1 million email notifications at the public’s request and receives over 4 million page views weekly.

London Borough of Camden, Local Government Portal

With services ranging from housing control to social care, Camden wanted an online experience that was personalized for citizens and local businesses, as well as simplified with a single sign-on for streamlined services. Camden built a standards-compliance site that boasts a high level of configurability and integration capabilities (including Facebook, Google and Open ID login). 

Marines, Federal Government Portal

Aside from being visually impressive, Marines host a slew of functions for both the interested applicant and average visitor. The site features personalized private home pages for applicants to access various forms along with the ability to submit questions to the Marine Corps and watch videos on demand.

Student & Faculty Portals

Web Portal Example - Stanford University Student and Faculty Portal - Liferay Portal

Stanford University AXESS, Student & Faculty Portal

Stanford University developed a consolidated online platform called AXESS for the academic community to access information and record various transactions. The portal enables functions as related to student enrollment & financials, academic advising, teaching & grading, employment & training, and workflow-enabled administrative processes. The site is based on a user-centric design with modern UX standards.

York University Passport York, Student & Faculty Portal

My.Yorku.ca is the central information source for 55,000 students and a convenient one-stop shop for both internal resources and external data. The site includes personal course information (instructor, times, course Web site, etc.), grades, student account information, subscriptions to non-York newsfeeds and more. What's more, personal portal calendars are automatically loaded with class times and locations for registered courses while other campus events can be added if desired.

Capella University iGuide, Student & Faculty Portal

Since all their courses are hosted online, Capella needed a portal platform that could support all their various functionalities. Capella's portal, iGuide, provides tools and relevant content for supporting learners in addition to direct access to class information, registration for classes, and bill payments upon portal login.

Intranets, Extranets, and Employee Portals

Web Portal Example - Toyota Owner's Portal - Liferay Portal

Scion Owners, Extranet

The Scion Owners site is an exclusive online resource for Scion owners. For any registered user, this site serves as a great resource for all the information you need to get the most out of owning a Scion. The well-designed extranet includes: access to the manuals and guides for your Scion, track mileage and lease details; ability to track the vehicle's major milestones on personal timeline; notifications for upcoming scheduled services, safety recalls, and more; participation in forums, local events and articles related to Scions.

AutoZone, Employee Portal

AutoZone built an employee portal known as the Daily Online Communications (DOC) to help serve its 47,000 store employees. DOC is the place for employees to find what they need to know about their weekly tasks, benefits, and training. Also, the numerous portlets included with Liferay make any content and style changes easy and fast; this has proven beneficial in keeping information up-to-date in a fast-moving retail environment.

Saint-Gobain, Intranet

As an organization that processes several files for patents, Saint-Gobain needed a solution to help sustain innovation with speed and precision. They wanted an information systems portal that would allow users to create and manage their own pages/content. With their new site, users could contribute autonomously while having access to documents with internal doc management tools and collaborative platform communities through portlets. They also reduced their server load by half and cut maintenance costs.


What Will You Build?

Learn more about the various sites you can build in our "What Will You Build?" whitepaper. It includes an overview of Liferay Portal's features and additional customer stories.

Read Whitepaper

*The websites shared within this blog post are copyrighted and solely belong to the companies they reference. They are intended only for general use and information.

5 Things to Consider When Purchasing Portal Software

General Blogs July 1, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

It's not easy shopping for enterprise portal software. There are many factors to consider such as reliability, long-term costs and the ease of development. Not to mention things like meeting compliance standards or working with a customer service team that actually cares about your needs.

Regardless, the goal of any sensible organization is to maximize business value by reducing costs and mitigating risks. Here are five specific things to look for when evaluating the right portal vendor for your project:

1. Keeps it simple yet robust

Many enterprises are saying goodbye to the complex and monolithic systems of old. Instead, they are looking for something that is lightweight and feature-rich. They want a product that has the ability to evolve with business needs, which means having built-in expansion features like microkernel architecture and plugins. Having a tool or product that is simple yet robust lends itself to a rich user experience and ease of integration with other technology

2. Makes it easy to consume relevant content

This is becoming all the more important as demand grows for personalized user experiences. A good portal infrastructure should allow new features and services to be added into the existing infrastructure. It should provide authentication, authorization and role-based content delivery (RBCD). This means that users receive content unique to them depending on their roles and permissions.

3. Combines content, portals, and apps

Not too long ago, portals were thought of mainly as a channel for a specific web experience (think employee portal) alongside other siloed products. App platforms were used to build individual apps. However, many modern portals now include a full workflow enabled WCM system as well as social collaboration and app platforms.

4. Addresses both the enterprise and department

In the past, it was not uncommon for companies to use different sets of software for various enterprise-wide and departmental projects. For instance, a company might use IBM for an enterprise implementation and Microsoft SharePoint at a department level. Now, trends are pointing towards products that can service both solutions—a scalable product that allows for code and feature reuse.

5. Allows you to code and develop as you choose

Java or PHP/Ruby? Spring or EJB? Eclipse or Dreamweaver? With various technology options to choose from, IT teams feel a lot of pressure to make the right choice when developing their project. Portals, however, aggregate content at the presentation layer and allow multiple technologies to be used in the application layer. Some products also allow the various web technologies in different programming languages to be aggregated by a single presentation layer to the end user. Rather than push for a development team to choose certain technologies, a portal interface opens up new possibilities for development.

Whether you are evaluating Liferay or another platform, make sure you are doing your due diligence. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a choice that will sap your time, energy and money. Be sure to ask the hard questions and expect to receive the right answers. Your research will ensure your project gets off on the right foot.

Liferay Buyer's Guide

If you want to learn about other factors to consider in a portal evaluation, we explore this topic in depth in our Liferay Buyer’s Guide. It features an executive summary, business primer, and link to a comprehensive checklist on evaluation criteria.

Download the Guide


Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

Lessons from 7-Eleven: The Evolution of the Smartstore

Company Blogs June 17, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

It might be the most universal and recognizable store in the world. Walk by street corners and chances are you’ll see a bright green sign with the red and orange “7” aglow, beckoning visitors to stop in for a quick slurpee or donut or lotto ticket. This is the local neighborhood convenience store known as 7-Eleven, a franchise which has now generated over $80 billion and grown to over 50,000 stores around the world.

But this wasn’t always the case. In the late 90s, 7-Eleven in Japan was struggling to find new business and looking for a way to reinvent itself. Ito-Yokado, perhaps the world’s largest retailer with stakes in all 10,000 7-Eleven stores in the country, decided to take advantage of new data made available by advances in information technology.

New machinery such as point-of-sales cash registers allowed them to track data such as time of purchase and customer type, information that would be made available to individual stores only two hours later. With this data, 7-Eleven eventually developed analytical models to predict what items were selling well and what weren’t.

For perishable items, they would combine various products from different suppliers to ensure products would be delivered at its freshest or when they’re most in season. Items that didn’t move well were canned and replaced. Merchandise would be based on time, location and inventory. What’s more, these stores also added electronic services such as the payment of electric and gas bills. Understanding the hassle of the general public in dealing with local banks for transactions, 7-Eleven determined to deliver a smooth online payment strategy at no cost to the customer.

What 7-Eleven accomplished was nothing short of revolutionizing the way people understood “convenience.” The stores had applied information technology in a way that personalized their customer experience. As noted by Hiromi Hosoya & Markus Schaefer, contributors to the article Tokyo Metabolism (from which this post is based): “The convenience stores react so fluidly to consumers’ desires that they become perfectly organized and soothingly clean prosthetic extensions.”

What allowed for this sort of organic, dynamic growth for 7-Eleven Japan? It began in their shift towards investing in specific pieces of technology. Rather than being tied down to inventory or property, 7-Eleven made a commitment to understanding and analyzing the trends of their consumers. They were tied to the pulse of the general public, and as customer preferences evolved so did their services.

Almost two decades later, 7-Eleven stands as an intriguing case study of how a company used big data and customer analytics to expand their business. Gone are the days of being a one-trick pony. In order to expand and evolve, companies must offer a more well-rounded, personalized experience for their patrons. It is about becoming a business that is familiar with what their shoppers both want and need.

With the wealth of data and the convergence of internet functionalities, companies that are predicting and shaping their customer preferences are getting a leg up in the competition. How are you taking advantage of this new digital age?

Successful companies give people what they are asking for; revolutionary companies give people what they want before they know they want it. And that might be the key difference.


To learn about key strategies for optimizing the user experience, check out the Three Key Strategies for Consistent Customer Experiences whitepaperIf you have any questions or stories to share regarding this topic, I’d love to hear it. Please leave me a comment below!

Download Whitepaper


Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

Three Key Strategies for Consistent Customer Experiences

Company Blogs June 1, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

Our experiences with corporate brands and products are rapidly evolving with the influx of new technology. As consumers, we are looking for companies that can provide us more content pertaining to our shopping preferences. We want better and more timely offers, smaller barriers to purchase, and the ability to interact with companies across all devices.

How can companies keep up with the demands to provide a consistent user experience? In our recently published Three Key Strategies for Consistent Customer Experiences whitepaper, we address various tactics on how to engage customers in their purchasing journey. Here is an excerpt regarding one of the strategies:

The Single Platform Approach

In order to meet the needs of the modern-day consumer, you need to develop an omnichannel experience. It begins with a dynamic interactive platform. It’s good to offer mobile responsive websites and hybrid and native apps; it is even better if they learned to talk with one anotherThis is the hand-off that occurs from platform to platform, one in which customers will receive a consistent experience with your website whether they are on a tablet, phone or laptop.

This need is seen most clearly in the financial services sector. We are witnessing a dramatic change in how consumers are doing business with banks and insurance agencies. Based on a report by IBM, 51% of adults perform some type of financial transaction online. Furthermore, it is common to start a loan application on desktop, continue the form on a smartphone or tablet, and drop into a local branch to talk to a representative to complete the process. This type of experience allows customers to interact with a company through various channels simultaneously.

Configuring a seamless digital experience would not only bolster the online experience for your customer, but it could also result in greater impact on your physical business. If you own a brick and mortar, imagine having customers begin the purchasing decision on their devices and arriving at your store to complete the process. This involves a level of depth and familiarity with your customers’ buying patterns that will earn their loyalty in the long run.

As it stands, only 14% of marketing leaders are presently delivering a personalized experience across all channels. Strive to be the company that distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack. By offering the convenience and familiarity of the user experience to your prospects, you will be more likely to gain better brand recognition and opportunities for profitability. 


To learn about other key strategies for engaging users across all channels, check out the Three Key Strategies for Consistent Customer Experiences whitepaperIf you have any questions or stories to share regarding this topic, I’d love to hear it. Please leave me a comment below!

Download Whitepaper


Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

People Who Use Liferay (Redux)

Company Blogs May 20, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

At Liferay, we seek to empower people with the right resources to help them achieve what they could not achieve on their own. We know there are people who possess amazing vision, and some who just simply need a digital “megaphone” (if you will) to help share their story.

That’s a big part of why Liferay exists. We enjoy giving people a platform to make an impact on their communities, whether those people are dedicated users, customers or their very own contributors.

Thus, People Who Use Liferay.* 

PWUL is a series of posts that will feature companies and their sites built on Liferay Portal. Every couple of months we look to highlight these unique projects. Our hope is that sharing their story would inspire and compel you to share yours.

For this post, we came across three companies from various industries whose sites have caught our attention. Here’s a brief description of their company and a link to their site below:

  • www.allianz.com - Allianz is one of the largest global financial service providers with offerings to more than 75 million customers in 70 countries. Their site makes good use of Liferay functionality with several custom components while enabling users to create accounts and search for quotes.
  • www.qad.com - QAD provides Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to manufacturing companies around the globe. Their site is noted for its easy navigation, multi-device usability, and solid overall design.
  • www.grassrootsgroup.com - Grass Roots is a leading provider of employee and customer engagement solutions, including consulting on incentives and meetings/events. Their site grabs your attention with its combination of colors and graphics, but it also offers a clear high-level overview of what they do and how you can benefit.

We hope these sites give you an idea of the types of stories that you can tell on Liferay. A big part of our reward is seeing all the wonderful and innovative things that people are doing with our technology.

If you would like to see more sites using Liferay, feel free to check out our case studies page.

As always, we would love to hear feeback on what we could do to make your experience better. We look forward to continue equipping you with tools you need to reach your business goals.



*Similar posts have been published in the past; we are hoping to revive the tradition. 

**Screenshots of the companies and their webpages are copyrighted materials of Allianz, QAD and Grass Roots, respectively.

Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your questions or comments below.

8 Ways To Get Involved With The Liferay Community

Company Blogs May 5, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

Over the years, Liferay has been able to provide many individuals and organizations a unique platform to give them a stronger presence on the web. But we aren't able to accomplish this mission alone. A huge contributing factor of our success has been the deep and vibrant contributions from our community members. Essentially, people like yourself who make up the 100,000 strong!

Why do people participate in the community? For starters, it would reap some immediate benefits like helping to build your online reputation or growing your knowledge of how large-scale open source works. But it will also make your job easier down the road by making Liferay better. (Not to mention, doesn't it just feel good knowing that you're taking part of contributing to the greater good?)

Whether you are new to the Liferay community or just finding more ways to contribute, we want to invite you to participate in growing our Liferay ecosystem! Here are 8 ways to get involved with the Liferay open source community.

1. Attend Liferay-sponsored events

This should be as much fun as it is educational! With over dozens of webinars, community meet-ups and industry events, you have the opportunity to keep up with the latest trends within Liferay and connect with other fellow community members. (Click here to see our upcoming events.)

2. Try out milestone builds & join community beta programs

We invite our community to try out these builds and respond with comments or concerns about the latest features, bug fixes and other updates. Liferay has always benefited from the generous feedback of our community, and your contribution can help push us further along in the journey to making Liferay better.

3. Participate in forums

Whether it’s discussing topics related to feature development or just simply hanging out with other users and developers, the forums are a great place to get connected. Both newbies and experts are welcome here!

4. Join the bug squad

The main purpose for the bug squad is to improve the quality and usability of Liferay project releases before they are generally available. And believe or not, it is made up of volunteers mostly from our community. Join today!

5. Suggest a feature for Liferay

Do you have a great idea for a Liferay feature? Things like web content management to docs and media or UI infrastructure—wherever we can possibly improve, we invite you to contribute to our ideation process.

6. Develop an app

The Liferay Marketplace is an exciting place to sell, share and download Liferay-compatible apps, and it’s only growing with several new and creative apps every day. Showcase your talent and develop an app that could be used and shared by many others!

7. Suggest an improvement to the docs

Maybe you have a strong penchant for words and documentation. When you're taking a break from penning the next great American novel, why not find some docs that could use some improvement and submit your suggestions? This will help our community go a long way.

8. Tweet about your Liferay experience

Sharing your overall experience through Twitter (and other social media, for that matter) is a way to help spread the word so others can discover the usefulness of Liferay for themselves. Follow us @Liferay or use #Liferay to keep us on your radar!

We hope these basic tips will help you discover some of the ways you can get plugged into Liferay. In addition, we recently created a new tour experience of dev.liferay.com for those of you who are interested. Check it out here and see how you can take it to the next level in our community! 

At the end of the day, your contributions to our open source community will help drive innovation and growth amongst our members. We welcome all you have to offer, and we look forward to the good work you'll do in the near future.


Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

8 Ways to Build a Thriving Online Community

Company Blogs April 22, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

Communities are essential to shaping our identities. They bring people together through a common activity or belief and provide us a context in which we are able to interpret ourselves and one another.  

Take a sporting event, for example. Two strangers sitting next to each other can be wearing the same blue jerseys and rooting for the same team to win. Hugging, shouting, high fiving each other—by the end of the game they have practically become best friends. Removed from that shared experience, it is very likely they'd pass each other in the subway.

It is no different in the realm of business. For companies to be successful, they must be able to form communities that are committed to their brand, customers who enjoy the product or experience to the point of becoming willing evangelists within their circles. Featured below are 8 tips on how to get started on building a virtual presence for your organization that will gain loyal followers at the next level.

1. Build a strong presence on forums

Message boards allow members to go deeper on certain topics related to your products and your culture while providing answers when they’re available (which cuts down on your need for documentation). Forums can also promote a spirit of collaboration which could spark innovation and creativity leading to new ideas and projects! (Good example)

2. Hire a community manager (who doesn't manage)

The principle and logic behind this tip is linked to a blog post that inspired James Falkner, our own Liferay Community Manager. The post argues that since the manager title tends to promote a "hierarchy and control which is unnatural in communities," organizations should look towards hiring someone who can see to its cultivation and growth without necessarily setting up a structure that impedes participation amongst the members.

3. Host regular fun activities for members

It's a win-win, really. The more events, activities and opportunities you provide for your members to enjoy themselves, the more delighted they will be in their interactions with your company. Hoorah!

4. Use social media to interact with members

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest—these are not only platforms for you to broadcast or promote your brand to your followers, but it is also a channel for you to listen and develop deeper relationships with them.

5. Recognize top contributors

The members who are showing the most interaction and loyalty should be rewarded with prizes,  acknowledgment, and perhaps an even greater role within the community. Elements of gamification could be implemented here if you want to ramp up the levels of competition.

6. Always respond to feedback

It's one thing to say that you're open to feedback, but it's another to create action items in response. Your response to feedback will substantiate and encourage future contributions from other members.

7. Set goals, iterate and continually measure to improve UX

Most things should live or die according to the data. Indeed, there is a truth behind the trend; you need to set SMART and objective goals that will allow you to determine what ideas are actually working, or where you need to stop the bleeding and turn it around.

8. Celebrate milestones together

With all the long sleepless nights and crazy deadlines that come with your work, it’s only fitting to enjoy the fruits of your labor whenever possible. Invite your community to celebrate all the achievements that you have been able to accomplish together!

These tips are by no means comprehensive, but they will hopefully point you in the right direction. Overall, the journey to building a strong online presence involves team members who can serve as a bridge between the company and the customer, setting up environments in which strangers can become friends, engage with your company and feel comfortable.

What other helpful tips do you have in your experience with online communities? We would love to hear more—please comment below!

Like to learn more about Liferay's community? Check out dev.liferay.com 
Looking for a platform to build your community? Check out the features of Liferay Portal

Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

What You Should Know About Mobile Strategies

Company Blogs March 26, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

More than ever before, people are foregoing their desktops and accessing services primarily through their phones and tablets. A strong mobile strategy is now a must-have for businesses. But what approach should your company take? Are websites or apps the better strategy? What about native versus hybrid apps?
In our latest publication, we look to tackle these questions and provide a basic overview on various mobile strategies. Check it out  we hope it'll help you make the right decision for your business needs! 

3 Reasons Why Open Source Is On The Rise

General Blogs March 17, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

Has open source software now become the preferred choice for enterprises? According to a Black Duck Software report, over half of all enterprises will utilize or contribute to open source in some manner in 2015.
What was once considered on the fringes of technology circles, reserved for pockets of developers or small businesses, has now become a strong selling point for businesses across all industries. Increasingly, companies as well as individual contributors have opted to implement open source technology into their main system infrastructures.
What would explain the dramatic rise in open source interest? Perhaps we can point to the financial crisis in recent years, which has forced companies to reevaluate their purchasing budgets and operative costs. With greater savings and arguably much higher ROI potential, open source software serves as a more practical choice.
But there are several other good reasons people are gravitating towards the Linux’s and Firefox’s of the world:
1. More security and reliability
The logic here kinda works backwards: the open source code is available for all eyes to see, which allows users to address more potential issues. (This is kind of like a surveillance society, though in this case it really is for your good.) In fact, hidden code tends to lead to more security vulnerabilities. Open source communities tend to respond more promptly to vulnerabilities, which in turn means a more stable and reliable product.
2. No vendor lock-in
You don't have to be stuck using one single software or company to develop a project. For the most part, open source software is compatible with other products that are developed with similar standards, open or closed, regardless of vendor. This means you aren’t limited to using the technologies from the same companies, which could result in expensive purchases of entire product suites or integrations. (In other words, FREEDOM!!!)
3. Easier to customize and adapt
Open source software adapts to the needs of various users and sites. Certainly, having to modify the source code can be quite costly due to maintenance fees, so developers tend to build a product with baked-in extensibility. The more flexible it is, the easier it is for you to keep up with whatever your site demands.
These reasons, and many others, are contributing to the growth of a vibrant marketplace that is only expected to make room for more challengers and visionaries. And as well-known organizations like NASA, Google and Facebook adopt and invest in open source, you can expect more enterprises to entrust their future projects to open source.
In the next post, we’ll take a look at the community and culture of open source that is driving the success of this movement. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite open source products/technologies? What are your reasons for choosing those products? Please leave a comment below!
Like to learn more about the benefits of OSS? Check out our whitepaper on Open vs. Closed Source.

Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

Top 3 Trends to Watch for in 2015

Company Blogs January 14, 2015 By Martin Yan Staff

Congratulations, you made it to the new year. You're still here, and with a bit of luck, so is your company. Or maybe not. But it's the new year, so at least you have some fresh resolve and a smoldering heap of innovative ideas. And we all know how dangerous new ideas can be, right?
Let's face it. The firestarters aren't the ones who are kicking back, mindlessly going with the ebb and flow of the world around them, but they are able to think differently and take risks and fail big enough in order to shake things up. In retrospect, our past year was a witness to this very thing.
In 2014, we saw the launch of new apps and gadgets the likes of Oculus Rift, Apple Watch, and agricultural drones. And let us not forget the historic IPO of Alibaba, a new titan in the eCommerce marketplace. Indeed, the pioneers of tech are setting the trends because they were able to muster a little Braveheart spirit.
Looking ahead, what sort of technological or industrial trends can we expect in 2015?
1. Rise of data analytics. It seems like almost everything is being tracked nowadays, including your steps and even your heartbeat. This also seems to be the case in business, with companies now given the tools to track and measure all aspects of their campaigns and product lines. The results serve as the basis for business decisions, like which teams are given greater budget and authority to make purchasing and operational decisions. Take advantage of the available tools to measure effectiveness and perform tests. This could help to spur on new products or services, or get rid of deadweight.
2. A mobile strategy is a must. Did you know that more mobile devices shipped in 3 months than PCs all year in 2014? It's a stat that only confirms the growing presence of mobile devices while also hinting at the huge potential of the wearables sector. If you haven't already, start putting a good mobile strategy in place to cater to these new audiences. Develop a plan for creating websites that are device-agnostic and web apps that feature responsive web design. This allows you to tackle one of the hardest environments upfront while benefiting your entire audience in the long run.
3. Use of audience targeting. The power of a good story is indisputable. Many corporations are challenging themselves to take their product or service and relate it to us in a more human, personal manner. The need to connect with their audiences in a relevant, meaningful way will only rise as the flood of data analytics provides advertisers insight into their audiences like never before. Look for ways to begin personalizing your content to your viewers and serving them with content that matches their shopping preferences.
In light of these trends, the challenge has always been and remains the same: how will you make technology more personal and real to the consumer? We are, after all, living in the age of the "Internet of Things." Our phones, cars, and thermostats know us even better than we do. Alas, it is not enough to simply manufacture machines—no, we must breathe life into them as well.
So be it. The ones who have changed the world have never shied away from the challenge. I wish you a year of creativity, motivation, and above all, some bruises and scars from putting skin in the game. Cheers.

Audience Engagement: Giving People What They Want

Company Blogs October 30, 2014 By Martin Yan Staff

When people visit your website, does it remind them of generic cola or Coca-Cola? Is it a unique and memorable experience? This question seems to be important as we consume more billboards, commercials and Internet ads. To successfully target your audience, companies are now challenged to deliver a meaningful message that appeals to user background and demographic.
Showing site visitors things they are interested in is known as content targeting. It is essentially giving the right people the right content at the right time. Traditional marketing has dealt with content in a shotgun-blast approach. This meant irrelevant surface-level messages to a wide range of visitors with various backgrounds. The goal of content targeting is to guide users to the place you want them to go with content that matches their shopping preferences.
In order to do this, you must know who your users are as they interact with your site. Where are they coming from? What sort of function do they serve within their company? For example, if a user is visiting your site from Spain, it would be more beneficial for him to see an advertisement for an event in Spain than in Germany. Or if a user happens to work in the education industry, it would make sense to guide her towards receiving educational or school-related materials. In essence, it's having the knowledge and ability to offer appropriate calls-to-action. 
The first step in effective content targeting is research. You should identify the types of people visiting your site (by capturing their information through forms or surveys) and then set goals for users. Get a feel for their business and what their roles are. It would also be helpful to consider the following questions:
  • Who are you trying to engage?
  • What information is important to them?
  • What is the best way to display this content on the site?
The user experience of your site shapes how visitors might feel about your company or product. If you can successfully identify your target audience, you will be able to deliver content that matters to them. Users will reward you with more website interaction, and your company should increase its qualified leads in return.
Are you currently on Liferay 6.2? Visit the Marketplace and download our Audience Targeting app.
To learn more about content targeting, check out Ryan Schuhler's LRNAS2014 presentation and slides. You can also read his latest blog post.

Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

Apple's New Device: This Time, It's Personal

General Blogs September 24, 2014 By Martin Yan Staff

Recently, Apple announced the arrival of the Apple Watch, their latest product in the wearable tech market. This is big news because, well, it's Apple, but also because it had been several years since Apple gave us anything beyond their typical iPhone and iPad upgrades. Questions from the media about whether it can still create new products post-Steve Jobs have been answered, at least for now. 
On the surface, the Apple Watch seems to meet and even go beyond our daily needs. The new technology boasts features such as perfect time-tracking, messaging/texting/calling, merchant services, and a fitness tracker to help measure our activity level (including our heartbeat). What many of us are curious to see, however, is whether the watch can propel us to something greater: that next level of personal intimacy with our technology. Will this product drive us to a closer state of self-actualization?
This is what Apple has been pitching us over the past decade. The iPod is not merely a portable music player, but a digital collection of your musical tastes and passions. The iPhone is more than a device to make calls, but also a personal secretary to capture all the scattered parts of your life and put it together in one place. The iPad is not just a tablet, but a tabula rasa to explore the depths of our imagination. Apple has cleverly sold us on the idea that technology should not be a cold, sterile machine, but an extension of who you are as a human being.
The Apple Watch follows the same formula. Apple promises this watch won't just be telling time. No, it will be much more; it will show us what we could do with our time. Which of our best friends should we be connecting with? How much exercise is recommended for today? These questions are addressed by technological features meant to maximize convenience and personal intimacy. More than ever before, Apple promises to bridge us closer to our true self so that we will become more productive and self-aware.
Indeed, the lines between humanity and technology are quickly being erased. The idea of wearing a smartwatch is rife with symbolism: you are now literally shackled to technology. For both the marketer and consumer alike, the call is to prepare ourselves for an era in which technology and humanity are inseparable, a world in which our technology will know us better than we know ourselves. 
Of course, the jury is still out on how the public will receive the watch when it releases in early 2015. As it stands, the wearables sector is still fledgling and early in adoption. The Apple Watch isn't the first to break into the market. In fact, the wearable tech market has seen several products—most notably Google Glass, Nike+ FuelBand, Pebble Watch—make insignificant ripples in the water. Will Apple be the one to make a splash? Only time will tell.


Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

Three Keys to the Start-up Revolution

General Blogs September 10, 2014 By Martin Yan Staff

You've got a good idea. In fact, it's brilliant. The market is currently lacking XYZ, and you've got just the right product or service that is going to be the first or best to address it. 
So, you and a bunch of your hired-hand friends who are equally brilliant start this thing from scratch in your basement. After several months of coding, calls to strangers and branding meetings, you win your first customer. Finally, there is a customer who is forward-thinking enough to see the glory of our offering, you think to yourself. 
Now, you have the attention of venture capitalists and you're garnering a little buzz inside some circles. This could be the next big thing. You're reaching for the stars.

But then comes a decisive time in every start-up where it's make it or break it. How do you take your company to that next level?
As an avid consumer and observer of industry trends, with four years of experience working for a company that grew exponentially from its start-up days, I've caught onto a few patterns of successful companies. Here, I want to share three essential points that will help you to make the jump over to the mainstream. 
1) Define your value proposition and keep it simple
Your product could be the best in the market. Or it could be the first in the market. Perhaps your product does not offer as many features or tools as the top competitor, but you're selling the fact that it's much more affordable. Whatever your company's vision or mission, this needs to be clear and well-defined or chances are you won't go far. This principle applies to both internal and external communications. Make sure everyone within the organization is on the same page so that hiring decisions, product development and budgets are all aligned with the expressed purpose. For the consumers, develop a simple yet catchy motto so that it's easy to pick up quickly and remember within a crowded marketplace. 
2) Ensure a good-quality product that can roll out to the public
When you initially create a product or service, you have the freedom and ability to customize it according to the vision of your first customers, catering to their every whim and fancy. However, once you set your sights on the mass market, you have to standardize your product offering. The challenge is to shift your focus from the demands of visionaries to the expectations of pragmatists (early majority) who will become the main revenue stream for your company. This is a delicate balance as you work with your internal developers and product team to separate the core features from the non-essential. Nevertheless, this step is fundamental in crossing over to the mainstream.
3) Capture the interest of one specific vertical or segment
There is a temptation to be everything to everyone. This is a surefire way to fail or, at best, remain middle of the pack. In order to make a name for yourself, you have to rally a group of loyal and supportive fans within a certain segment or base. Once you establish a stronghold, you can use it as the hub from which to branch out and reach other shores. For example, say you are creating portal software to solve issues such as accessibility and employee engagement within the HR sector. The product takes off and after a few years, you have gained a strong share of the HR market. The recognition you would have amassed for your work with HR (or any particular group) will now give you the credibility to expand into another sector or product offering. In essence, you are leveraging the merit from previous work to help establish ground in new territory.
It should go without saying that mastering these steps do not necessarily guarantee your start-up will be the next tech titan. But these principles should help push you closer to the next level of growth and success. In any case, remember the marketplace is crowded and cutthroat—if you are wise, diligent and resourceful, you just might rise above.

The Power of the Internal Customer

General Blogs August 20, 2014 By Martin Yan Staff

The customer is always right. If you've been around the American marketplace long enough, you should be familiar with the phrase. It's the idea upon which the best restaurants and companies look to pride themselves to ensure all patrons are treated with utmost care and respect, and when entangled in a complaint, to side reasonably with the customer. This heavy emphasis on serving external customers makes sense: they are the ones who sustain our company and profit margins.

Yet there is growing awareness within corporate circles of the need to address another group: internal customers. Internal customers are officially defined as those who are directly connected to your company and most likely work within the company. Think of them as your employees and stakeholders. It might seem strange to think of your employees as customers since you're paying for their services. But the employees you hire are choosing to ascribe to and consume some sort of culture and work environment provided by your company. And if it is not a good environment, your workers will be less motivated to turn in their best work and could ultimately bolt for another gig.

Winning companies understand the power of the internal customer. In his book, Delivering Happiness, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh mentions that "a company's core values ultimately define the company's character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.” Hsieh is famous for creating a fun and refreshing work culture which landed Zappos on Fortune’s list of "The Best Companies to Work For." When you start at the root of creating the right infrastructure for the internal customer to succeed, then the natural result is better quality service and product for the external customer. Before you know it, employees will go the extra mile to ensure clients are satisfied.

So, how do you empower your internal customers to achieve more? What plans or services could you provide to help your employees thrive?

Here are three tips to help guide you in the right direction:

1) Provide effective mentorship throughout the organization

When certain employees aren't performing, lack of qualifications or motivation usually come up as popular reasons. But another reason might also be tied to your failure to set them up properly to succeed. Mentoring involves counseling and training the employee to develop their professional skill sets. When you provide good coaching, you are effectively setting a roadmap for your employee's career development. This relationship will help groom employees to become new leaders while fostering trust and confidence between both parties. 

2) Allow a forum for open and constructive feedback

When you create an environment where honesty is valued, then you can expect work quality to improve and the environment to be more harmonious. Processes will be improved, backbiting will be reduced, and grievances will be settled. Employees will also feel more valued for their thoughts and opinions, regardless of title or pay. At Liferay HQ, nobody owns an office or cubicle, including the C-levels. We all work amongst one another, sitting in rows of desks without walls, free to go back and forth with those around us. This will also curb "groupthink" which can greatly hinder growth and innovation. The best ideas in the room sometimes come from the person whom you may least expect.  

3) Show them you really care through action

Appreciation goes a long way and comes in many different forms. It could be as simple as acknowledging an employee's stellar work through an email or as elaborate as throwing a company-wide party. The important thing is that your employees know and feel how much you value them. As you recognize their unique contributions as both a worker and person, the work atmosphere will begin to feel more like family and less like a sterile office space where people just clock in and clock out. Different teams and departments will get each other's back and band together to achieve one common goal: an ultimate win for all.

Providing a culture in which employees can thrive and excel is just as important as serving the external customer. The corporations that understand this will be hiring, growing and keeping talent far above the rest of the competition—which will greatly benefit the external customer, too.


Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

Nerd On The Street: Q&A with James Falkner

General Blogs August 5, 2014 By Martin Yan Staff

As a thought-leadership blog, NOTS is striving to disseminate knowledge and spread out to the masses like a wicked disease. Here we sat down with Liferay Community Manager James Falkner to shoot the breeze about what's going on in the world of tech and business.
James, we're very glad to have you on this afternoon. How is the Liferay Community doing so far in 2014?
JF: Since the opening of the Marketplace, we’ve seen a pretty big resurgence in our developer community. To date we have almost 200 apps developed by our community, and over 800 registered developers. Compare that to the 100 or so contributors to Liferay itself, and you can see what our community has been up to this year! Of course we like to see any kind of contribution, whether it’s an app, bug fix, new feature, translation, or any of the other community contribution that helps make Liferay great. So we are ramping up our efforts to improve the developer experience in the community.
Since you’ve got your fingers on the pulse of the community and tech industry, what’s got everyone talking these days?
JF: One of the big ones in our industry is the Internet of Things (IoT). You're talking about all these objects and devices now being inter-connected and huge streams of data, and so the question is how to make sense of it all?
Sounds exciting, but what does the IoT have to do with portals?
JF: Since IoT results in a lot more information being available and accessible, the question now is who can present that information in a way that would be easily digestible? Who can take it the next level and visualize and provide access to the right things? Basically, the IoT is a land grab, and portals are uniquely positioned to integrate with powerful backend data processing systems and layer on a great user experience on top of the incoming deluge of data.
What does this mean for open source technologies?
JF: IoT is even more of a land grab for the underlying tools that collect, process, and store IoT data, and unfortunately, interoperability is not top-of-mind for early adopters of technology, so we often end up with walled gardens, places you can experience a new technology, but only by getting locked into one vendor’s vision. As an open source industry, we want to try and minimize the walling of these gardens, so to speak, and heavily favor standards for IoT infrastructure and software services. The existence of new technology provides new opportunities for everyone. Being open source, and employing open standards, really means allowing greater accessibility for developers to innovate. 
I'm intrigued by this topic because everything is about the comprehensive digital experience. We can no longer stay within these traditional silos we've set up for ourselves. How should we expect people to consume information going forward?
JF: I think of our very own CEO Bryan Cheung's keynote when you speak of that. He mentioned the example of tailored suits. You go in, get measured, fabrics perfect to your liking, and if the guy's cool he'll probably ask you about your wife and kids. It's awesome because you know that suit will fit you perfectly once it's done, and that's top personalized service. Mass marketing with the Internet is now presenting that same opportunity. It's a huge opportunity but hard to capitalize on because of the large scale. You're talking about built-in context, associated with each user. What pages you've lingered on, what sorts of interactions you're having on them, and so forth.
Portals are great places for that. Liferay is headed in that direction. Obviously, as a portal we are top of the stack, the storefront if you will, so we have access to the back-end systems that portals are designed to talk to. We're in a unique position in that experience because we know everything in a sense. We're just trying to put everything in a cohesive way to delight our customers.
A recent Forrester report said an evolving pattern is the seemingly downward trend of IT in terms of ownership and decision making. Where do you stand on that?
JF: Well, it's like the whole thing with TV repair shops. Back in the day, it used to cost tons of money to buy a TV, so if it broke, you took it to this shop to fix it. Now it's cheaper to just buy a new one, so TV repair shops are no longer there. The analogy here is if your project needs a website, do you call IT or do you go grab some open source software and deploy it to the cloud, and download an app to your own device and use it to sync files? So, you might say IT is getting cut out of some loops, but I don't think it's a mass departure from IT or that we don't need IT. I think the marketplace is just providing apps and processes which are easier to implement, things like cloud connectivity. But like I said, it's not going to go away. There are enough issues around privacy, network security, and software support costs that absolutely keeps IT relevant.
You’ve been hard at work promoting the Liferay Marketplace App Contest. Do you see a shift in the type of apps contributed in Liferay Marketplace or types of contributions we see in the community in general?
JF: With the recently releases e-commerce capability, we're starting to see more feature-rich apps and more longer-term developers and companies contributing some really great things — I can't wait to see how the Marketplace contest turns out this year! As for community contributions to Liferay, the platform itself continues to become more modular, like with the ongoing OSGi work for example, and more approachable to Open Source developers. Different parts of the platform are starting to be isolated, with many more to follow, which is attracting a new generation of OSS developers and allowing them to contribute without fear of breaking other parts. This will also make it possible to test these modules exhaustively, or make sure a certain bug is fixed for sure. We are bringing developers back to the platform, baby!
Well, there you have it. Thanks James for dropping by and spending some time with the little folks!
Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.
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