It’s rare we get space to try out new features in the systems we use day-to-day. The luxury of time just isn’t there. That’s why a day out of the office can be so valuable. It's a chance to raise any niggles, ask important questions, and learn from the the people who create the software we rely on.

Earlier this month in London and last month in Leeds, we asked our clients to tell us what works and what doesn’t when they’re using Contensis.

Our users work in a variety of roles – from marketers who use the CMS every day to get their messages out, to developers who are busy building the next microsite for their audience. There are also infrequent users – who might feel a bit rusty – dipping into the product every couple of weeks.

These are the perfect people to tell us what needs tweaking. We ask them which bits of the system they couldn’t live without. They also told us which features they want in future releases. User group discussions covered email notifications, personalised dashboards, easily searchable and editable images, improved documentation, and fostering community awareness. All these ideas and suggestions have been written up as user stories – ready to take to the product board.

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'It was great to meet employees of Zengenti, they were all very open to questions, and knowledgeable in their fields of work.' - Oliver Redfern, Marketing Officer, Skills for Care

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As well as an opportunity for people to share feedback with us, we also get to share news with our users.

In our latest groups, Contensis’ product owner, Richard Saunders talked us through some of the new features in the latest version of Contensis (R8.3). We have recently launched a new log viewer UI and framework, and a new publishing model that uses master pages to speed up publishing times. Base templates can now be edited with changes reflected throughout a website. This means no more republishing all affected pages – a major time saver.

We talked about Populo – a new, standalone CXM product we're building. Populo will work with Contensis but will integrate with other products too. Marketing through digital intelligence about users is becoming the norm. For organisations looking to understand and communicate better, personalisation is essential.

Back-end functionality is only half the story for our users though. We wanted to make sure we talked about content too. Our head of content and communities, Zach Beauvais spoke with delegates about the power of a rigorous content audit.

In the afternoon, Louise Howells – one of our professional services managers – took people through user-experience (UX) workshops. The idea was to give people a series of different workshops (like 333: a quick-thinking description and aim-forging exercise). Then, people can take the exercises and experience back with them for their own UX exploration.

We also covered accessibility – keeping your site and its content in good form for everyone. Our marketing manager, Emily Comerford, talked us through some current research and how to apply it to our own websites. The general theme is that if you design and build for people with particular needs (such as people who are visually impaired), you're offering a service that works best for everyone.

We wanted people to share their own stories, so we introduced lightning talks to the user groups. These provided a chance for people to share their own projects with the group, to invite feedback and discussion. Feedback from attendees afterward highlighted the benefits of networking with other organisations and sharing stories. There is no substitute for real anecdotes and experiences.

'It was really useful to meet other users of Contensis and to share experiences and tips.'

- Simon Treanor, Applications Analyst, King's College London

The community doesn't stop there. Take a look at all our tutorials and documentation at Zenhub.

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Toki Allison

About the Author

Toki is the event coordinator here at Zengenti. She plans, organises, and then runs the events we put on – from user groups to our annual Rocket Conference. Her background is in organising music festivals and in the theatre.

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