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What are digital experience management platforms?

30th September 2020

Experience management platforms like Adobe’s Experience Manager (AEM) and Episerver allow brands to manage their digital experience across mediums from one central repository.

They go beyond conventional content management, boasting additional features and functionality like social media and web analytics, paid advertising management, personalisation and A/B testing new digital content.

This means changes to digital experiences can go live faster across all customer touchpoints, promoting consistency. This helps improve digital experience as users see the most up to date design and content across all mediums and touchpoints.

Experience management platforms are powerful tools, but any application needs to be underpinned by insight from your customers including how they perceive your brand, and what they expect when inter-reacting or transacting with you.

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The value of experience management platforms
  • Marketing teams can run these platforms without much support from technical teams, meaning businesses save on time and cost.
  • They promote consistent experiences as any changes are centrally managed and pushed to all mediums – again saving time, cost and reducing misaligned touchpoints that create inconsistency.
  • They provide a single view of platform data and facilitate real-time variant testing.
The drawbacks of experience management platforms
  • No single platform is equipped with everything a business needs to keep up with ever-changing customer needs and expectations.
  • Some platforms experience ‘feature bloat’ leaving the teams managing them unsure of what does what or why. This can lead to poor execution.
  • More aspirational visions for design are often not supported by a platform’s underlying architecture which can be formulaic.
  • Designers don’t know enough about platform capabilities and features, and aren’t involved with the on-going day-to-day management of content.
Our thoughts on solving these issues

When working with experience management platforms, all teams must be responsible for creating and maintaining the experience. This means design, engineering and marketing teams working together to understand exactly how the platform in question delivers a consistent user experience over time.

Here are our top tips on how to do this:

  • Form a shared vision of what good looks like based on the design and technology constraints you’re working within.
  • Ensure the experience works from both a functional and user perspective.
  • Be prepared to continuously innovate and improve on the experience you’ve defined. The inherent power of experience management platforms allows you to do this with ease.
Getting to know experience management platforms

While it’s unfair to expect designers to know all of a platform’s capabilities in full, an understanding of core functionality is a must.

Here are a few basic need-to-know platform features where some working knowledge comes in handy:

1. Supported design structure 

Although experience management platforms are continuously improved, not all the latest tropes of visual design may be available. Comparing and contrasting existing implementations and evaluating platform features will help you design within the realms of possibility.

2. Supported content types

Not every platform will support all content types. When it comes to content design, it’s important to know what can be added with ease to bring your experience to life.

3. Pre-built widgets

Modern platforms come with pre-built widgets that can be used as is, and components like sliders, commerce banners etc. This saves you time and effort, but you’ll also want to explore bespoke modifications where possible.

4. Responsive rendering of content

Experience management platforms come with pre-defined responsive layouts for different devices and browsers. Understanding how content is rendered differently across devices and layouts will help frame how you approach design.

5. Template management

Platforms come equipped with pre-defined templates for specific page types. These can be adapted to an extent; understanding what is readily available will speed up page design.

6. Content personalisation

Personalisation and remarketing is native to these platforms. Understanding the features means you can improve routes, layouts, flows and content based on the journeys and actions a user takes.

7. HTML/CSS flexibility 

Understanding how much the components and templates can be modified in code allows you to design the right solution the first time around, avoiding time and cost intensive rework.

Collaboration: the key to experience management platform success

With the right platform know-how experience designers, engineers and marketers can create experiences that work with and not against the platform as one team with a shared vision for design, implementation and optimisation. Together they can choose where to challenge the platform and add moments of delight for customers.

With a majority of the experience implemented leveraging native features from the platform, marketers will be empowered to manage the experience on an ongoing basis and make requests to designers and engineers about future iteration in the right way.

This brings marketing, design and technology teams together - building relationships that will save future frustration.


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