American Society for Microbiology

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With over 30,000 members, including researchers, educators and health professionals, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is one of the largest life science societies in the world. The mission of ASM is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.

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A Kentico Xperience Case Study

Goals

The primary goal of the project was to combine many splintered ASM websites, that were specific to various types of content, into one main new ASM.org with a single rich content model. ASM needed a central way to publish content through a single system, allowing for content admins to easily manage content and do their jobs faster. More specifically, the marketing team wanted the tools to ensure the quality and consistency of their content throughout the website. Other goals included:

  • Creating a modern responsive design that expresses ASM’s position as an industry leader
  • Showcasing a user-friendly experience for various personas that consume ASM.org
  • Organizing content (books, articles, podcasts, etc.) in a more logical fashion for their users
  • Providing an enhanced Search experience for website visitors
  • Finding a solution to implement their desired content model.
  • Allow for secure, role-based, and gated content
  • Meet WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines for website accessibility standards

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges BizStream faced was delivering an aggregated result of a single topic or tag of content across multiple content types that merged into one cohesive design. Other challenges included:

  • Creating a rich interactive visual design that various departmental leaders could agree on to correctly recognize the updated ASM branding
  • Ensuring the new visual design worked on multiple devices, specifically mobile devices
  • Having a highly functional, fast, and customized search experience that knew about the rich and complex content model was one of the largest challenges BizStream had to overcome for ASM
  • Custom Single Sign-on (SSO) capabilities needed to be a part of the site for members to login, access content based on their subscription, and manage account preferences 
  • ASM wanted to find the right hosting and CMS platform for the new website
  • ASM was unsure of how to marry their content strategy and governance within a CMS based website
  • ASM had the need to secure content, gate content, and have role-based content access to its membership
  • ASM was unsure of how to handle thousands of URLs and URL patterns across their 27 existing sites resulting in thousands of 404 errors
  • Any work done on the site had to be easily extended for future phases and set up for performing content personalization
  • Site wide and bidirectional integration with NetForum (ASM’s main AMS for tracking membership) for authentication and authorization for the website
  • Creating a system to manage duplicated content and content that belonged under multiple categories.
  • Managing the project scope to the mandated timeline was a significant concern

Solutions

  • ASM provided wireframes that acted as a guide to help the BizStream team implement full color, high-res designs for various mobile and desktop devices. The design process turned into a very collaborative effort with many quick revisions, the teams were very nimble during design sessions. The new design executes ASM’s vision for a fresh, clean look that celebrates microbiology and stays true to the ASM brand. The BizStream design team provided ASM designs that looked good on all devices.
  • The ASP.NET MVC development stack was used to deliver the site on Kentico Xperience 12.0 Enterprise edition.
    • This allowed BizStream to create custom MVC widgets with the Kentico Xperience Page Builder aspect of Kentico Xperience MVC
  • Bidirectional Integration with NetForum and Kentico Xperience for security roles and permissions. This allowed admins to control access to particular sections of the site to address concerns of content quality and consistency. 
  • BizStream’s development team heavily customized the Azure Cognitive Search capabilities within Kentico Xperience to provide a rich search experience.
    • This Azure Cognitive Search integration also includes federated search capabilities, search weighting and boosting, search synonym support, and dynamic faceted search for each content type and tag.
    • This project would not have been possible without Cognitive Search’s granular level of control and flexibility due to the set of APIs and SDKs that ACS provides.
    • Azure Cognitive Search’s out of the box Power BI reporting tools were used to monitor search performance
  • BizStream’s team built multiple Kentico Xperience customizations (form controls, custom tagging system, custom scheduled tasks, and more) to enable digital marketers to easily control the taxonomy of their content.
  • Custom authentication logic was created for SSO with Kentico Xperience and Shibboleth / SAML2.
  • A custom cache-busting implementation was created for blazing fast performance of front-end resources which improves overall SEO scores. 
  • BizStream implemented a custom default system as a fall back for metadata input. This ensured that content would be available for social platforms to pick up even if content admins had not filled manually filled out the fields.
  • BizStream developers built the site to allow for global, site-wide updates, while still allowing for page-specific overrides through checkboxes. This allowed content admins to easily manage content and CTAs throughout the site.  
  • BizStream created a system for 301 redirects and flexible page URL creation to address the 404 errors. 
  • RSS feeds per content type and tag were implemented for content publishing and notifications. This allowed other sites to easily consume ASM’s content.
  • ASM and BizStream choose a cloud-based hosting platform based on existing assets that ASM IT also manages.
  • The custom content tagging system mentioned above was leveraged to automatically create aggregate landing pages used throughout the site. The pages are all automatically generated pages, which saves content editors vast amounts of time since they don’t have to link pages manually. 
  • The BizStream team created a system to auto-archive content. This allowed the ASM team to pick a time frame in which content will be automatically archived. 
  • ●    BizStream provided virtual and onsite training to the ASM team (both digital marketing and IT / development resources).
  • A custom user preference center was implemented inside of the Kentico site to allow email marketing contacts to update email preferences within the site as well as NetForum
  • A custom ShareThis implementation was done to make content easily shareable to social networks
  • Integration with Libsyn for podcasts

Results

ASM is incredibly happy with the project results and have seen the following impact to their web presence:

  • 3,000% increase in web traffic for ASM.org
  • 5% uptick in author submissions across entire journals portfolio 
  • Close to half a million page views per month on average
  • Kentico Site of the Year finalist
  • Gold Circle Award Winner - Website/App category
  • BizStream created a custom system to eliminate duplicate content for ASM. The content audits were able to reorganize a site of 20,000 pages to a more streamlined and manageable 3,000 pages. From there BizStream was able to reduce the number of 404 errors to almost none.

Azure Cognitive Search Features & Tools

  • Multiple Cognitive Search Indexes
  • Federated Search
  • Scoring Profiles
  • Dynamic Facets
  • REST API
  • .NET SDK
  • Key Phrase Extraction
  • Synonyms
  • Auto-complete
  • Power BI reporting template

Kentico Xperience 12.0 Features & Tools

  • MVC development methodology and excellent Kentico API
  • MVC Page Builder, Widgets, and Page Templates
  • Out of the box and customized Azure Cognitive Search integration
  • Document Tags and Categories
  • Custom Tables
  • Scheduled Tasks
  • Web Farm System
  • Custom Settings
  • Security module for users, roles, and permissions