wem, web experience, opentext, web cms

Lately it seems like our OpenText focus is on its information management approach. But this enterprise software vendor hasn't lost its edge in the web experience world as we'll see today with Web Experience Management 8.5.

A Little Web Content Management History

OpenText bought Vignette back in 2009. At the time it was at version 7.0 (a version that itself was a massive change from its prior version). The next year saw the release of Vignette version 8 which included a lot of rework on the interface. But the truth is, it was still more of a developer's platform than a marketer's tool. But that was, in all fairness, the way web content management platforms were designed back then. 

After the release of version 8, we saw integration with DAM, and the release of Web Experience Manager 8.1 (I'm not completely sure when it was officially renamed, but by early 2011 this is what the platform was being called). 8.1 was a minor release, it added analytics, support for tablets and a new media management module, but the core product hadn't changed that much. 

With OpenText Web Experience Management (WEM), we still aren't seeing major changes to the core. This release is really all about the digital marketer, and in fairness to OpenText it is an impressive experience. 

Today we see the push by all the major vendors in this web experience/web content management space to have an experience that is built for marketers. I've seen Adobe, SDL, CoreMedia and a number of other UI's for marketers and all have similar qualities and unique differences.

OpenText Web Experience Management

OpenText WEM is built using HTML 5, so it's a nice new look and feel. You can see that from the screenshot at the beginning of this article. The first thing that stood out for me is the location of the main toolbar -- it's at the bottom. It doesn't move from there and the idea, according to Bertrand de Coatpont, Director of Product Management at OpenText (who demoed the new version for me), is that marketers need to see what their sites look like clearly. Having a toolbar at the top of the screen skews that look. 

However, although the main toolbar is hardwired to the bottom, the toolbar widgets that open when a toolbar button is clicked can be moved around the workspace. This gives the marketer space to move things around as they work on different areas of a web page.

It's this content-centric view that digital marketers will appreciate. It includes preview modes for multiple formats/devices, profiles/user segments, multiple languages and different views/capabilities depending on the role of the user (eg. in-line editing, new page creation, etc.).

Web Page Creation and Management

Web pages are component based, so marketers can choose from a number of component templates or create new ones (and save those as template for later use in other locations). They search for existing content in what OpenText calls Smart Lists, which are essentially queries displayed as a list. When a list is selected, it can be refined using filters or sets of conditions. 

There are a number of content types you can add to a page. One of these is the Product Type. WEM uses Tiny MCE as its core rich text editor, but it has been customized with additional functionality to support products. Also new in v8.5 are URL friendly names. 

Social components can be dropped on a page. The social components come from Tempo Social. Video from OpenText video services can also be found and added. Video inserted into a page offers true video streaming and customizing (much of this came from 8.1).

Drag Social Components.PNG

OpenText WEM 8.5 - Drag Social Components

Let's talk about managing tasks for a minute. Another nice feature of this new workspace is that tasks are directly accessible in the interface. Not only can you view them, but you can also act on them in the workspace, which allows marketers to work in one location. 

Translation Services in WEM 8.5

WEM 8.5 is built for enterprises so it has an out of the box model for managing content and websites in multiple languages. You can perform manual translations or you can integrate translation workflow through SDL, ClayTablet, translations.com. 

In the product view you can turn translations on and off, you can also change the fields you see in the product list to make viewing easier. Not all pages need to be translated, simply select what pages should be translated into what language.

Segmenting & Targeting

Another key requirement for any web experience solution is the ability to define user segments and target content at those segments. OpenText does not fall short of these capabilities either. In OpenText WEM everything is target-able, just set your targeting rules in the targeting tab. 

You can also view your web pages by the personas you define. The viewing options are admin, show all, manual setting (where you set specific settings) and create profile. So you can create your profiles directly in this workspace and then apply targeting rules against those personas.

The video below from OpenText gives you a quick overview of this functionality. 


OpenText also offers a Segment Provider. This provider allows you to connect to your CRM platform (e.g. Salesforce or SAP) and build segments, exposing them to the WEM. You can also do a combination of this CRM information and other information to create your segments. 

Another interesting segment approach is social network profiling, show below:

Social Network profiling.PNG
OpenText WEM 8.5 - Social Network Profiling

This isn't the only integration with social networks however. One of the unique things WEM 8.5 offers is the ability to view what the page will look like when it's promoted across Facebook or Twitter. It's one of the preview options mentioned above. Also good to point out that when you actually publish a page, the updates to Facebook and Twitter will also publish. 

Built for Mobile Experiences

WEM 8.5 supports responsive design, built based on the Twitter bootstrap framework. What's nice is that you can set responsive properties for individual components. One example given was to not show a menu bar if the device is a phone. In addition to responsive design, there are different templates that can be used for different views.

Responsive Design.PNG
OpenText WEM - Responsive Design

Scratching the Surface of WEM 8.5

I've really only scratched the surface of OpenText WEM 8.5. The new workspace is a clear win for the digital marketer, which is its intent. Also included is enhanced Solr integration for search and OpenText's own patented caching capabilities. And of course, you can be assured that WEM integrates with other OpenText solutions such as records management, archiving and more. 

As someone who had to help design and build web content management implementations, I am impressed with how far many WEM providers have come building experiences for the non-technical users of their systems. You really can't build a WEM platform today that doesn't offer this digital marketer view (at least not at the mid to enterprise level). 

For OpenText, this should elevate its status on the Wave and Magic Quadrant reports for WEM from Forrester and Gartner. But you know questions will still remain regarding marketing automation integration and other key digital marketing functionality. That being said, WEM 8.5 does put OpenText in the right market for those who continue to have more say in the technologies they use to get their job done -- the digital marketer.