The Final Sitefinity Insider Post (and the Start of a New Blog)

Readers, we have a special announcement!

This will be the last Sitefinity Insider post. But don’t worry—the blog isn’t going away. It’s just changing!

After this post, the Sitefinity Insider will become…

The Digital Bark

“Make Your Digital Marketing Louder!”

 

The new URL will be: www.thedigitalbark.com
(The old SitefinityInsider.com URL will still work until the end of 2018.)

 

Expanding Our Repertoire

Meet Chubsy. He’s taking over the blog, as “Chairman of the Bark.”

Chairman of the Bark

Chubsy wants to expand this blog’s focus. We’ll still talk about the Sitefinity CMS. But we’re adding several more business-critical digital marketing topics, like:

  • Email Marketing Practices & Tools
  • WordPress for Business Websites
  • Other CMS (Content Management Systems) like Craft
  • Business Blogging
  • SEO for Small Business
  • Social Media Marketing

Do you have a digital marketing question? Send it to us at woof@planetmagpie.com! We want the Digital Bark to answer the questions you, as a small business owner/manager, need answered.

Remember to subscribe to our mailing list, over in the right column. We don’t have the posting schedule ironed out just yet…but you won’t want to miss a single post!

How to Add a New Domain to Your Sitefinity License

In the process of building a new website, you may need to use more than one URL. Staging.yourwebsite.com for instance. That way you can complete development without replacing an existing live website.

If you take this approach, you’ll need to add that domain to your Sitefinity CMS license. This post will explain how you do that. It’s a fairly simple process, but an essential one!

Reasons a Domain License Update is Needed

You’ll need to add a domain to your Sitefinity license whenever you:

  • Add a secondary or additional domain (e.g. Domain1.com and Domain2.com)
  • Add a production domain before the new website goes live
  • Convert from one domain to another

Every Sitefinity website’s domain license MUST include all domains for which the website responds. Domains themselves work by DNS records. But if your Sitefinity instance doesn’t know to respond to those DNS requests, the domains won’t work properly. So this becomes an important part of activating any new websites, or adding on domains.

Domain License Update Part 1: Update Your Sitefinity License Key

Which process you use depends on what type of domain work you’re doing.

If Adding a Domain Alias or Staging Domain:

Log into your Telerik.com Account. (It’s still at Telerik.com for now.) This is a separate login from your Sitefinity user account, as well as your Progress.com account.

Click on the ”Products & Subscriptions” menu. You should see a “Sitefinity CMS” entry on its menu. Click it.

Telerik Sitefinity Product

In the side menu on the resulting page, click on “Manage Domains and Licenses.”

Manage Sitefinity Domains

On the next page, locate your domain. Click the Manage button to its right.

Manage Sitefinity License

You’ll see the Single License Management page. Click the Add Domain button.

Add Domain Button

You’ll see an Add Domain window. Enter the domain you want in the text box, and select either Staging or Alias.

Add Domain Window

  • Staging Domain: Used for non-production purposes, e.g. website development
  • Alias Domain: Alternative domain someone can use to access the same website, e.g. YourDomain.com and YourOtherDomain.com pointing to the same website.

Domain aliases & staging domains don’t require Telerik/Progress approval. You don’t have to email them after doing this. All you have to do now is download the updated license key file.

If Adding a Production Domain OR Converting from One Domain to Another:

Email sales@sitefinity.com to request a production domain change. Give your Telerik Customer Number if you have it (it’s in your Telerik profile), as well as the website’s original domain name. Production domain change requests normally take 24-48 hours.

Once you’re notified that the change is in place, log into your Telerik.com Account. You may need the license key file for Part 2. To find the license key, read the below instructions.

Download Your Sitefinity License Key File

(If you’ve added a staging domain/domain alias, skip to Step 4.)

  1. Click on the ”Products & Subscriptions” menu. You should see a “Sitefinity CMS” entry on its menu. Click it.Telerik Sitefinity Product
  2. In the side menu on the resulting page, click on “Manage Domains and Licenses.”Manage Sitefinity Domains
  3. On the next page, locate your domain. Click the Manage button to its right.Manage Sitefinity License
  4. On the Single License Management page, click the License Keys button on the toolbar.Sitefinity License Keys
  5. Locate the Sitefinity version number your website currently uses. Click the Download link to its right, to download the updated license key.Download License Key

*IMPORTANT: Make sure you download the proper license key! It should exactly match the Sitefinity version number in your website’s CMS. If you’re not sure which version, log into your website’s Sitefinity backend. Click the “Administration” menu. Click the “Version & Licensing” entry. This will tell you the proper version number.

Domain License Update Part 2: Update the License Within Your Sitefinity CMS

  1. Log into your website’s Sitefinity backend with an Administrator account.
  2. Click the “Administration” menu.
  3. Click the “Version & Licensing” entry.
  4. If you have a newer version of Sitefinity (8+ and above), you will see an Update License button. This button requests a fresh copy of the Sitefinity license key from Progress.
    Update License
  5. All you have to do is click it. You’ll see a window like this pop up:
    Activate Sitefinity License
  6. Click Continue.
  7. You should return to the Sitefinity Dashboard, which means the license is updated.

If you have an older (pre-8), you won’t have this button. You’ll have to do a manual update. This is only a few more steps.

  1. Follow Steps 1-3 above.
  2. On the Version & Licensing page, click the Activate New button.
    Activate New License
  3. Choose the “Use a license file you have downloaded” option.
  4. Click “Choose File.” Locate the license key file you downloaded, and select it.
  5. Once you have it selected, click the Activate License button.
  6. In a few seconds, you should see the “Confirm License” window pop up (like we saw earlier).
  7. Click Continue.
  8. You should return to the Sitefinity Dashboard. License updated!

Additional Resources:
Activate a License – Sitefinity Docs
Adding a Domain to the Sitefinity License from Telerik Website – Progress KnowledgeBase
Download Sitefinity License – Progress KnowledgeBase

Make Sure You Add a New Domain Before the Website Goes Live

One final point I should make. If you’re only adding a domain alias or staging domain, you can do it at any point in development. It won’t affect the website’s functionality.

However, if you’re changing the production domain, you should do this the week of launch. This CAN affect access to the website. You don’t want to accidentally cut yourself off two days before launch!

What’s your experience with Sitefinity domain licensing?

How to Test Sitefinity without Installing or Buying It (Yet)

Unsure about which CMS to use for your website? Why not test some out?

There is a way you can test Sitefinity out for free. No install time, no configuration, and no credit card. (At least not yet.) It’s called a sandbox. And it’s what we’ll talk about in this post.

Why You’d Want to Test Sitefinity (or any CMS) Before Investing in It

You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it, right? Same thing goes for a Content Management System. In fact, there are several good reasons to test out a CMS before spending any money or time to work with it.

  1. You’ll use this CMS for a while. You will need to know it will do what you need it to, and remain stable the whole time.
  2. If you’re going the CMS route, you want to make sure it’s a route you’re comfortable with!
  3. Testing a CMS beforehand lets you familiarize yourself with its interface, how it displays websites, and how technical a user needs to be to work effectively within it.
  4. Can’t sell co-workers (or a boss) on a CMS if you don’t know anything about it!

Many other CMS offer trials & sandboxes for those considering its use. Sitefinity isn’t alone in this respect. Fortunately, their option for a trial is full-featured and easy to set up.

Jump Into the Sitefinity Sandbox

A “Sandbox,” in web development terms, is a version of the Content Management System you can use for testing. It’s normally a full demo, hosted right on the CMS maker’s servers or a third party.

You can open a fresh sandbox with a trial account. Then you’re able to play around in a temporary copy of the CMS. Test out every feature you want. Don’t worry about breaking anything; the sandbox will only last for a limited time, after which it’s automatically deleted.

Ready to try out a Sitefinity Sandbox? Here’s how you start.

How to Use the Sitefinity Sandbox

Head to this webpage: Free 30-Day Trial of Sitefinity – Sitefinity.com

You have two options. You can set up a Sitefinity trial locally if you want, but the Online Sandbox is easier & faster. Click the “Online Sandbox” button.

Online Sandbox Button

Next, enter your contact information in the form. This sets up a new Sitefinity sandbox linked to your email address.
(You can also click the “Already have an account? Sign In” link at the top if you have a Sitefinity.com account already.)

Register a Sitefinity Sandbox

Once you’ve entered your information & clicked Submit, you should see an “Activate” button like this:

Sandbox Activate

You’ll see a screen like this afterward. It contains the URL to see your new Sitefinity Sandbox, the URL to access its admin interface, and your username & password. You’ll also receive an email with these details.

Sandbox Login

(Pardon my blacking out some of the details. This was just a temporary sandbox to show you how easy it is to make one.)

Click the admin interface URL to open it. Enter the username & password given to you. A moment later, you’ll see the Sitefinity (sandbox) Dashboard!

Sandbox Dashboard

(The Sandbox always uses the “Quantum International” company name. You should always see that at top left after logging in.)

Things to Do in the Sandbox

News and Blogs ContentOkay, you’re in your brand-new Sitefinity sandbox. You can do whatever you want in here. No need to worry about breaking anything.

So…what do you do first?

This is the point where a lot of people realize, “I have no idea what to do here!” Not to worry, there’s plenty to do! Here are a few things to get you started:

  • Create a new Page – click Pages in the nav bar, and click the “Create a Page” button.
  • Create a Blog Post/News Item – click Content in the nav bar, and click either “News” or “Blogs.”
  • Upload images – Image libraries are under Content > Images.
  • Upload files – Document libraries are under Content > Documents and Files. Upload any type of document you want! (It’ll get deleted with the sandbox after 30 days.)
  • Edit a page (drag-drop) – There are sample pages in the sandbox you can edit, or the page you created.
    Image Widgets
  • Add images to the page – look for the Image widget in the Page Editor dropdown list.

    Image Widget in Editor

  • Create a page template – click Design in the nav bar, and click “Page Templates.” You can edit the sample templates if you want, as well.
  • Apply the page template to an existing page – this is a great way to troubleshoot page templates, believe it or not!
  • View your pages on 2 other devices (one of which should be a phone)

For more detailed instructions on how to do these tasks, check these posts:
How to Use Sitefinity’s Content Editor for Website Updates
Sitefinity Templates: What is a Page Template?
How to Import Content from Word to Sitefinity (Without Issues)

Try out Sitefinity in a Sandbox for Yourself!

All Sitefinity sandboxes auto-delete after 30 days. So you don’t need to clean up any accidents. At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend uploading your company’s entire Intellectual Property into the sandbox! But a few Word docs or PDFs is fine.

Sandboxes are a great (not to mention free) way to try out all kinds of software. Sitefinity’s CMS sandbox gives everyone the chance to see how much capability it has, before you get the checkbook!

What would you like most to try out in a Sitefinity CMS sandbox?

Sitefinity Renewal Pricing Will Update on January 1, 2018

Do you already use Sitefinity to run your website? Next year, the renewal price you pay annually will change.

A price change for new Sitefinity licenses took effect in June. That’s normal when you have major new versions like Sitefinity 10, with lots of new features (check the previous posts for more details).

In early August, Progress announced changes to their renewal pricing as well. Renewal pricing is the cost paid annually to maintain existing Sitefinity licenses. Just like renewal fees at the gym.

In the past, renewal pricing was 30% of the initial license cost. The new renewal pricing will largely maintain that percentage…which means they go up, since the new license cost went up already. The changes will take effect on January 1, 2018.

telerik sitefinity renewal
Image courtesy of Progress.

After January 1, the renewal prices will be:

  • Standard Edition license renewals – $899
  • Professional Edition license renewals – $4,500
  • Online Marketing Edition license renewals – $9,000

**To renew an Enterprise Edition license, you must contact Progress.

The 30% renewal rate also applies to Sitefinity add-ons. For instance, the Site Synchronization add-on (which lets you sync content from a staging website to a production one quickly). It costs $8,000 for the first year, and then 30% (or $2,400) for renewal each year afterward.

The Renewal Process

Sitefinity’s renewal process goes like this:

  1. You decide you want to use the Sitefinity CMS for your new website.
  2. You contact Progress (or a Progress partner like us) to order a new Sitefinity license. The license grants you the software to build your website, and the right to use the Sitefinity CMS for one year.
  3. You (and the Progress partner) build the new website. Shiny new site!
  4. 9-10 months later you receive an email. Your Sitefinity license is up for renewal on X Date (exactly 1 year from your initial license date).
  5. You pay the renewal cost. Progress logs the renewal in your Sitefinity account, which updates your website’s CMS too.
  6. The website keeps humming along.

What happens if you don’t renew your license?

You’ll receive additional notifications leading up to the renewal deadline. (If you’re our customer, we will bug you!) That’s usually enough to get you to renew on time.

What if you miss the deadline, but still want to renew? Don’t worry. You still have 10 days after the deadline to pay the 30% renewal fee. After that, renewal costs 80% of the initial license cost. This is a change as well…they currently have a 60-day renewal rate of 40% for more delinquent license-holders to renew. Like a late fee at the bank. It appears this will go away.

If you do not renew, the website becomes ineligible for future updates and support. New Sitefinity versions will not install. If the website breaks, you cannot contact Progress for support.

IMPORTANT: The website will NOT shut down if you don’t renew your license. This is important for everyone to know. You don’t have a website up & running one minute…the renewal deadline passes…and POOF, the website is down!

We’ve confirmed this after one of our customers accidentally let their Sitefinity license expire. (They did not host the site with us. Tsk tsk.) One day they decided to do a version update—but found they couldn’t!

sitefinity renewal dogOnly a minor crisis though. Once we renewed their license, they were able to do their update without any problems. The website only went offline for 15 seconds, while the server restarted.

Remember: Sitefinity Licenses are Annual (so don’t forget to renew!)

Some CMS use a monthly service fee, or a one-time up-front fee. Sitefinity does annual licensing. This helps them maintain technical support for customers, issue patches & updates, and work on new versions.

Want more details? Try Progress’ Renewals page: License Renewals and Upgrades – Sitefinity.com.

How do you handle Sitefinity renewals? Do you have the renewal date calendared, rely on Progress emailing you a reminder, or something else? Please share in the comments.

How to Use 4 Usability-Improving Sitefinity 10 Features – #4, Third-Party User Authentication

Our last post on new Sitefinity 10 features! (If I’m not careful they’ll release a whole new version before I’m done…)

We’re ending with a big one—third-party user authentication.

To frame how this will work, let me ask you this.

When it comes to computers, what do people forget more often than anything else?
Answer: THEIR PASSWORD!

Everybody has hundreds of user accounts now. An account for the computer, for Facebook, for Dropbox, and so on. Each with their own password.

Then your administrator says you have yet ANOTHER account (plus weird letters-and-symbols password) to update your website? Ugh!

Sitefinity hears your cries! With version 10, you can now authenticate using an account you already have.

Feature 4: Third-Party User Authentication

What It Does:

Enables third-party accounts for authenticating into Sitefinity. This includes social logins, like Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as OAuth and OpenID.

How it Helps:

It’s one less login to remember. Now you can log into Sitefinity using your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google username/password.

How to Use It:

Since you’re dealing with authentication & site permissions, this does take some setup in the backend. Fortunately, it’s a one-time thing. Here are the steps.

  • In Sitefinity, click the Administration tab. Select “Settings.”
  • Click the Advanced tab up top.
  • Click “Authentication” in the left-hand column.
  • Click “SecurityTokenService.”
  • Click “AuthenticationProviders.”
  • You’ll see a list with these options: ADFS, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn, and GitHub. Click the one you want to use.
  • Enter your “application ID” and “application secret” from the social provider. Here are links to documentation on how to do this for Facebook and Google:
    Using OAuth 2.0 to Access Google APIs
    Register and Configure an App – Facebook for Developers
  • Click Save to save the information.

Once you set up the social provider in Sitefinity, users have it easy. They only have to click “Authenticate with Google/Facebook/etc.” on the Sitefinity Login page. Then click “Allow” on Google’s Sitefinity Access prompt, and enter your Google username & password.

Sitefinity Authentication via Google

Make Sure Your Security is Up-to-Date Beforehand!

Before you enable third-party user authentication, please make sure your website and its hosting server have up-to-date security. You don’t want to enable Google account logins, and find hackers sneaking in the next day.

If you’re curious about all the other Sitefinity 10 features, here’s the full list: What’s New in Sitefinity 10

Progress has also published short videos depicting the new features in 10. Most deal with setup, but they also discuss improvements to website management: Videos – What’s New [Sitefinity 10]

If you enjoyed any of our latest posts, don’t forget to share them with your colleagues on social media. And join us again soon!

How to Use 4 Usability-Improving Sitefinity 10 Features – #3, Persona Scoring Improvements

Remember the Digital Experience Cloud? We talked about it when Sitefinity 8 came out in 2015. Sitefinity 10’s arrival came with DEC improvements too.

A brief summary: The Sitefinity DEC is a marketing “command center,” which collects data about your website visitors and lets you connect the data to marketing/sales goals.

With this new “Persona Scoring Improvements” feature, both the DEC and Sitefinity 10 got a useful upgrade.

Feature 3: Persona Scoring Improvements

What It Does:

The Sitefinity DEC can now attribute all user visits under a given website section (e.g., News) to a Persona profile.

How it Helps:

This comes from Sitefinity 10 and the DEC working together more closely. Both needed updates to make it happen, which 10 delivers.

As a result, it’s easier to target experiences to your Personas. Since the DEC will automatically attribute per section, all you have to do is assign rules for categorizing your visitors. Then you can use each Persona’s data in your marketing campaigns, online and offline.

How to Use It:

If you currently use the Sitefinity DEC, you’ll already have Personas set up (at least I hope so!). You’ll want to add new rules to these Personas.

  • In Sitefinity DEC, click the Datacenter you want to use.
  • Click “Personas.”
  • Click the Persona name you want to update. Click the Add a Rule button.
  • Select the parameters you want to measure–for instance, “Search For” one of your primary keywords, or “Create Comment” on a news item.
  • Click the Add Rule button.

Persona Scoring Rules

This feature is a cross between a creative enhancement and, “Here’s a new tool to work with.” How much value you get out of it, is ultimately up to you.

Post #4 will cover Third-Party User Authentication. This is a BIG help for ease of use…join us again next time and you’ll find out why.

How to Use 4 Usability-Improving Sitefinity 10 Features – #2, Import-Export Site Data

The next Sitefinity 10 feature is something you’d find many other places on the Web. Anywhere you’d need to manage information, you’ll often find an “Import” or “Export” button.

But many content management systems don’t include these.

Why? I am not telepathic, so I can’t say for sure. My guess is that since you’d use a CMS to create a website, you’d do the creation part within the CMS’s structure, instead of importing it from somewhere else.

Until now.

Feature 2: Import/Export Site Data

What It Does:

Exports Sitefinity content from one instance, so you can import it into another.

How it Helps:

Starting a new website? Upgrading the current one? Using Import/Export, you can save development time by reusing some or all of the content & data you already have. Reusing content or data used to take hours of slow, back-and-forth copy/pasting. Or worse, copying a database and getting all sorts of weird errors.

Copy Site Data from SitefinityUsing Import/Export cuts all that down to a problem-free 5 minutes.

Since the export creates a .ZIP file, this feature also allows you to make an offsite backup, just in case the worst happens.

The Import/Export Data function will export “content and structure from one Sitefinity instance.” This includes:

  • Blogs (including comments)
  • Content Blocks
  • Libraries (images, documents, etc.)
  • Modules
  • Pages
  • Page Templates
  • User Profiles

The full list is in Sitefinity’s documentation: Elements Supported for Export

Book Stacks - NOT a Backup
What do you mean, that’s not how we back up files?

How to Use It:

Import Site Data in SitefinityIn the Administration menu, click “Export/Import.” Select the content types you want to export from the list. When done, click the Export to ZIP button.

To import the ZIP into a new Sitefinity instance, go to the same Export/Import page. Click “Import ZIP File” in the left-hand column. The process is the same, with the inclusion of locating the ZIP file on your computer. No more difficult than uploading a file to Dropbox.

Please note: The maximum file size for this ZIP file is 2GB. If your content or data ends up larger, export it into multiple ZIP files.

The Sitefinity team put together several videos showing how the new 10 features work. Here’s the video for Import/Export:
Export/Import of Content Types And Data with Sitefinity 10 Between Different Web Sites

Next post will talk about Persona Scoring Improvements. Don’t forget to come back!

How to Use 4 Usability-Improving Sitefinity 10 Features – #1, Site Shield

Now that Sitefinity 10 is out, we have a menu of new features to enjoy!

If I went through all the new features, this would be a VERY long post. Sitefinity’s major updates (7 to 8, 8 to 9…) always include big changes. Instead, I’d like to focus on 4 of the new 10 features.

Why? Because these four all have one thing in common: they make Sitefinity easier to use.

Improving usability in a CMS already known for ease of use? Tall order. But Sitefinity pulled it off with 10. The updates help with website management, development, and marketing. Like most updates, they shored up little frustrations in prior versions and smoothed out existing processes.

Let’s take a look, shall we? I’ve documented the four new features in terms of what they do, how they help, and how to use them (which often involves setup time).

We’ll run one post per new feature. That way you have a nice short post to read now and come back to later.

Feature 1: Site Shield

What It Does:

Keeps a website invite-only while it’s under development. Only invited users can view the secured under-construction website.

How it Helps:

Site Shield conveys three benefits while you’re building a new website.

  1. Protects the information on the under-construction website.
  2. Minimizes cyberattack risk. Hackers are not above slipping a little exploit into an under-development website, for later triggering.
  3. Avoids the problem of accidental search indexing. This is a bit complex (and mostly invisible) so I’ll illustrate it via example.

Let’s say you have a live website running at http://www.domain1.com. You’re building a new website at http://staging.domain1.com. Eventually, the website at staging.domain1.com will replace the website at www.domain1.com.

Each website is on a different server. The server hosting www.domain1.com is open to search engine spiders. However, the server hosting staging.domain1.com is also open to search engine spiders.

If you have Site Shield running, Google looks at the staging.domain1.com server…and moves on.
If you don’t have Site Shield running, Google looks at the staging.domain1.com server…and starts indexing its pages.

This can disrupt your live website’s SEO. Are you targeting all of the exact same keywords? Uh oh, you may get a Duplicate Content warning. Is staging.domain1.com targeting different keywords? Google may try to apply those to the live website instead, messing up its rankings.

(I’ve seen this happen. It’s an annoying problem to untangle.)Sitefinity System Menu

How to Use It:

To use Site Shield, you must have a Sitefinity license with the Multisite add-on. (That means Professional Edition on up.)

  • In Sitefinity, click the Administration tab. Select “Modules & Services.”
  • Locate the Site Shield module. Under its Actions tab, click Activate.
  • Go back to the Dashboard. Click Administration again…you should see a “Site Shield” link. Click it.
  • Click the Activate for this Site button.
  • Site Shield is now active. You’ll need to invite users to grant them access.
  • Click the Invite User button on the same page. A popup window will appear.
  • Type in email addresses of the users you want to have access. Click the Send Invitation button.
  • Each user will receive an email with a special link. Clicking this link brings up the site again, but authenticated, so the user can access & work on the site.

Site Shield Window

Don’t forget…when it’s time for the site to go live, return to the Site Shield page under Administration, and click the Deactivate User button. Otherwise, nobody will see it!

Next time we’ll cover the Import/Export function. Join us back here in 2 weeks to see!

Sitefinity vs. WordPress: A Support Perspective

In our last post, we discussed when to build a website in WordPress, and when to build it in Sitefinity. We did get a couple responses privately, as the readers didn’t want to call out their CMS on the blog (which I completely understand).

Extending on that premise, let’s talk about support options.

Where you get support for a website, especially after it’s live, makes a big difference in selecting your CMS. If you choose a CMS made by one developer on his own time, chances are you won’t get much in the way of support a year later. But choosing a CMS made by a full-fledged business, with developers on staff and working daily, means you have reliable support for a long time.

“Support” in this case refers to a broad umbrella of help you may need. Any of the following issues require support for the CMS:

  • Page rendering issues
  • Load failures
  • Customization
  • Help with setup
  • Version upgrades
  • Security patches
  • Hacks
  • Bugs
  • License expirations & renewals

Our customers have run up against every one of these issues, both in Sitefinity and WordPress. (Except for the “Hacks” issue; none of our Sitefinity customers have ever been hacked.)

Which CMS was used determines the type of support options available. The support options available determine whether the issue is fixed quickly, slowly, or not at all.

Let’s examine Sitefinity’s support options, and WordPress’.

WordPress Support Options

One of WordPress’ strengths is also its weakness. Automattic developers the WordPress core software. However, third-party developers contribute the vast library of WordPress Plugins and Themes.

Some of these developers provide support for their Plugin or Theme. Some do not. Automattic contributes some support resources, but it doesn’t cover every part of the WordPress behemoth.

Which means there’s no “one number to call” if your WordPress site isn’t working properly. You’ll have to find the support option which coincides with the part of your website that’s not working.

These are the Support Options available to WordPress users.

  • WordPress Codex (Free). The Codex is a huge knowledge base. You’ll find plenty of documentation on WordPress’ functions, how to use it, and how to get support. Make this your first stop for WordPress support.
  • WordPress.org Forums [Official] (Free). This is your second stop. If the Codex didn’t help with your issue, post in the forums (the “Fixing WordPress” forum is devoted to troubleshooting).
    • CAUTION: If you receive an answer from someone else on the forums, take a moment to click on their account name. You’ll see a profile window, like the one below.
      WordPress Forums Profile
      Read through the links on the left – “Topics Started,” “Replies Created,” and “Reviews” in particular. What you’re doing is verifying that this person is legitimate, and that the advice they’re giving is sound. I have heard of hackers “helping” people in the forums by supplying them with infected code.
  • Third-Party Developers (Paid). For plugins and themes. An ecosystem has grown up around theme development. Which I find great in terms of support. The plugin/theme will have support links in its documentation.
    • Two examples of plugin/theme developers: ThemeForest, Yoast (Makers of SEO Plugins)
  • Third-Party WordPress Support Agencies (Paid). If you need regular support help, you can contract a WordPress agency for the work. Many of these do exist. Here’s a few examples:

If you’re uncertain of whom to ask for WordPress Support, the WPBeginner Blog has a good starting point: How to Properly Ask for WordPress Support and Get It

Sitefinity Support Options

As Sitefinity is maintained by a private company, the primary support option is contacting that company, or its partners.

These are the Support Options available to Sitefinity users.

  1. Progress’ Sitefinity Forums (Free). These forums are frequently used by Sitefinity developers. Many of whom are happy to assist others with support-related questions.
  2. The Sitefinity Support Center (Free/Paid). This contains documentation, a knowledge base, a link to the forums, support tickets, and a phone support link. There’s a lot of (searchable) information here…useful for solving small problems. I’ve consulted it many times when a page edit causes a strange layout error, or when I’m uncertain which widget works best.
  3. Progress Sitefinity Support [Direct] (Paid). Progress does provide a support ticket system to Sitefinity licensees. You’ll need a Progress ID to access them. Please note, Progress may forward you to a partner for the support you’ve requested.
  4. Progress’ Sitefinity Partner Support (Paid). This is where we come in. We’re one of a number of Sitefinity Partners, certified to provide technical support directly to a Sitefinity customer. Unless the issue stems from the CMS itself, chances are your best support bet is a partner.

What support options you can use depend on your Sitefinity license. This page provides a reference table: Sitefinity Support Offerings.

For example, every Sitefinity edition gets weekly bug fixes. But you’d need at least a Professional Edition license for Phone Support.

Factor in Support When Choosing Your CMS: It Helps After Your Website Goes Live!

A CMS is a piece of software. At some point, it will need maintenance.

Arranging Sitefinity Support

Remember, support is something to consider BEFORE you select a CMS, even though it comes after the website is live. By the time you’ve built the new website, you’ve invested hundreds of hours. Switching your CMS because the available support is bad means you’ve wasted all those hours.

When choosing your website’s CMS, consider how often you’ll update your website. How long can you wait on minor support issues? Do you need a reliable channel for support each & every time, or can you bounce between a few?

While we prefer Sitefinity’s support model, for its stability and single-channel accessibility, WordPress does indeed have support options available.

Where do you get support for your website? Please comment or email with the support option, and (if you like) what you think of your support experience so far.

Why Pay for Sitefinity When WordPress is Free?

Today we’re responding to a reader request, sent in via the “Ask a Question” link in the top navigation. (If you have questions to ask, please submit them by clicking the link!)

The reader brought up a longstanding CMS question…why pay for a CMS like Sitefinity, when WordPress is free?

We actually talk about several reasons to pay for a CMS in our white paper, Open Source Vs. Proprietary CMS: Which is Stronger?.

But this paper talks primarily in terms of Open Source CMS vs. Closed Source/Proprietary CMS. Let’s get a little more specific in this post. Just Sitefinity CMS vs. WordPress. Is one better than the other? What justifications might exist for paying for Sitefinity?

When a Free CMS like WordPress is a Good Choice

Yes, I’m going to say it. There ARE instances where WordPress (or another free CMS like it) is a good choice for a business website.

In general, I’d say to consider WordPress if your needs sound similar to any of the following.

  • You’re a new business which needs a basic “starter” website.
  • You’re a creative professional, such as a designer, and don’t want all of your work homed in social profiles.
  • You’re a freelancer who needs a portfolio (non-ecommerce) website.
  • You’re a Small Business with no IT department (yet).
  • You’re a Small Business which focuses more on social profiles than a website. This is called the “home base” strategy; your website just serves as “home base” while you go out on social.
  • You just want to start a blog. (The original purpose of WordPress…who’d have thought?)

In these instances, just about any CMS will do the job. WordPress, with its thousands of plugins and even more themes, makes for a quick and cheap solution.

That said, it’s not for everyone…

When a Proprietary CMS like Sitefinity is a Good Choice

There are also instances where a bigger, sturdier CMS like Sitefinity is the better choice.

We’ve built Sitefinity websites for businesses and organizations fitting each of the following criteria. In general, if they apply to you too, it’s worth paying for Sitefinity CMS.

  1. Businesses with multiple departments (or branch locations), where people from each department/location will need to update the website.
  2. Businesses who need to stay compliant with federal/state regulatory requirements, such as SOX or HIPAA.
  3. Businesses already using a Microsoft IT infrastructure. (This is because Sitefinity uses ASP.NET in its development. As such, we recommend you only run it on Windows Servers.)
  4. Businesses who use digital marketing initiatives.
  5. Organizations who must stay vigilant about security.
  6. Businesses with non-technical users. And let me expound a little more on this point, because it’s extra-important.

Non-Technical Users on Sitefinity: Keeping Updates Easy

Over the last few years I’ve gained a lot of training experience. I’ve conducted Sitefinity training sessions for dozens of our customers’ employees. Some were what you’d call “technical people.” But most were not.

Sitefinity CMS Content MenuFrom the trainer’s perspective, it’s easy to spot the difference.

Technical users will ask questions like, “How do we tie in Vendor X’s service?”
Non-technical users will ask questions like, “Where do I go to update a page?”

The non-technical user’s answer is very simple. Just go to the Pages section. Click a page. Update the part you want to update. Don’t forget to click Publish.

Every time I answer this question for non-technical users, it only takes a few minutes for them to grasp the process.

The way Sitefinity is structured lends itself not only to easy updating, but also easy information-finding. “Where’s the blog?” Under the Content menu. Click Blogs.

“Where did Bob put that news article?” It’s under the Content menu too. Click News.

“We need to change the address in the footer. But it’s on all the pages!” It’s in a shared content block. Look in Content Blocks.

“Can I change the description tag for search engines?” Sure! Click the Actions link to the right of the page name. Click Title & Properties. “Description” is the field you want.

Of course there’s a lot more you can do in terms of website updates. But I can convey the basic update process in a few minutes. Consider how much employee time this saves…a few minutes to make one page update, as opposed to scrambling around the CMS, trying to dig up that one spot where this one update is stored.

I’ve lost HOURS chasing down updates for customers in the past. Their CMS buried the details and gave me zero direction. (I did figure it out. But I spent time I didn’t really need to, as a result of their CMS getting in the way.)

Is it easier to update pages in Sitefinity than it is in WordPress? Personally, I think it is. That’s because WordPress divides its content between several different areas – Widgets, Posts, Pages, Appearance > Themes, plugins, etc. I know where things are (usually) and it doesn’t take long to update content (usually).

But in Sitefinity, most of the page content is concentrated or accessible in one place—the Page Editor. Click on a page and you’re in.

Easy page updating is one big part of why we recommend Sitefinity. For technical and non-technical users alike.

Before Choosing, Ask Yourself What’s Most Important for Your Website Moving Forward

Websites have undergone something of a standardization in recent years. The growth of mobile Web use has encouraged a simple, easy-to-navigate user experience. Many Content Management Systems have updated their tools to work within such a user experience. Including WordPress. And Sitefinity.

I know it’s overly simplistic. But when you’re asking “which CMS do we use for our website?” the best answer is, “It depends on the website.”

  • What do you want the website to do for your audience?
  • What should it do for your employees?
  • How much are you willing to pay up front?
  • How much can you pay for website support down the line?
  • How long will you keep the website’s current version before upgrading?
  • Do you have an employee who can dedicate time to maintaining the website, or will you contract website maintenance out?

Answer those questions before choosing Sitefinity or WordPress. It’ll make the choice—and the work to build the website—a lot easier.

Which CMS does your website use? Sitefinity? WordPress? Something else? Please comment or email with the CMS, and why you chose it.