We’re long past the days when WordPress was seen as “just a blogging platform.” WordPress is now the Internet’s most popular Content Management System (CMS): the platform powering 35% of the world’s websites. But an even more momentous paradigm shift is underway, a leveling-up of WordPress’ capabilities of which few companies are aware.
WordPress is becoming the dominant Digital Experience Platform, or DXP. And this is opening exciting new opportunities for WordPress developers and their clients to integrate data and services, consolidate content, analyze real-time results, automate all their digital sales and marketing tools, and enhance the customer experience.
Most companies don’t realize how powerful WordPress can be when supercharged as a DXP. It’s a level of integration we haven’t had before, connecting social media, analytics, customer relationships, purchases, donations, email marketing, external databases, and just about anything else you can think of. It’s the central hub of all your digital efforts.
Here are four examples of solutions made possible by using WordPress as a DXP, and what they show us about the future of web development.
Challenge: Integrate two disparate ticketing systems with brand-consistent web, social, and operations.
A major Atlanta live music venue with multiple performance spaces uses two different ticketing systems: global giant Ticketmaster, and local startup Freshtix. Our team did a rebrand of the venue, and we wanted customers to have a consistent brand experience. We also wanted to streamline the client’s marketing and back-office operations, which were complex and labor-intensive.
Solution: Import data to WordPress from two APIs, then populate client site with source-aware custom tagging.
Ticketmaster already had a robust API. Freshtix did not, so we consulted with them on best practices to design an API, namely around what venues needed and how it should work for them to be successful. Two custom PHP scripts regularly import the latest show information and ticketing data to WordPress. The site is then populated with the data, automatically organized and tagged, with custom treatment for each ticketing service.
Social posts and other digital marketing tools draw from the same, single, canonical source.
Information and assets are now always current and synced, with brand consistent treatment everywhere, automatically. And the marketing and operations departments have been freed of many inefficient processes and repetitive tasks.
Implications: DXP integrates otherwise incompatible web services, and keeps content brand consistent across all digital platforms.
Challenge: Integrate complex data from Microsoft SharePoint with WordPress for a single source of truth.
A state university system mandated that all member institutions use Microsoft SharePoint for their faculty databases. SharePoint was incapable of integrating with a historic state college’s website, giving them two disparate systems that had no way of talking to each other, so they maintained a separate online faculty directory and separate faculty bio pages. Maintaining two sources of faculty and staff information for two directories was a wasteful burden for college staff. This resulted in out-of-date, incomplete faculty listings and bios on the website, and professors trying to compensate by creating their own pages.
Solution: Connect the SharePoint database to a custom interactive faculty directory on WordPress, and populate faculty bio pages with the most current information.
While the SharePoint database was, by mandate, the official source of truth, SharePoint’s proprietary interface wasn’t serving the college well. To gain access to the SharePoint data, we partnered with B2B Technologies, who built a custom API to pull in the data we needed to build a custom WordPress interface for the college directory.
The new WordPress interface immediately revealed how messy the database had become, in ways that were easily overlooked in SharePoint. For example, many schools of the college had duplicate data and competing tags, inconsistently applied to their faculty. (e.g. “College of Agriculture” and “Agriculture College.”) By enabling WordPress to listen to their SharePoint site, they were able clean up and streamline their data, remove duplicates, and organize a decade’s worth of content in their SharePoint database.
The power of the DXP freed college staff of time-consuming manual updates, and the public now has ready access to accurate and current information.
Implications: DXP integrates siloed data into a single source of truth that’s simpler to manage and always current across all digital media.
Challenge: Update daily rotating menus for 25 independently-owned franchise locations, including schema markup for enhanced local SEO.
A large, regional, fast-casual restaurant chain has menus that change daily and vary across all its franchise locations, most of them independently owned. They published menu information on their website, but the information was manually updated, a time-consuming and error-prone process somewhat simplified with shortcuts that led to brand-inconsistent presentation and poor local SEO. Third-party ordering services often presented inaccurate menu information. And the chain was performing poorly in search engine result pages (SERPs) for local dining options.
Consumers with local dining intent wanted to find a nearby restaurant that offered their preferred dining experience, and they wanted accurate online menus.
Solution: Migrate all menu data management to SinglePlatform, then pipe all data to a WordPress DXP that updates pages and generates schema markup for enhanced local SEO.
SinglePlatform keeps menus current across restaurant websites, apps, maps, social networks, and search engines. After we did a one-time initial import, SinglePlatform now gives the chain several low-friction methods to update their daily menu data.
We developed a custom PHP script that queries the SinglePlatform API regularly, then pipes the latest menu and restaurant data and metadata into the company’s WordPress DXP. Online menus are then automatically updated for each location, both in HTML and downloadable PDFs, using an atomic design system to redesign each page for brand consistency. Best-practice tagged HTML and schema markup are automatically generated and added to each location page, greatly enhancing local SEO.
In the first three months of the chain’s new WordPress DXP, local search traffic grew by 300%, leading to a similar increase in conversion rates and online sales.
Implications: DXP automates best practices for local and global SEO.
Challenge: Streamline the backend digital labor for a clinical trial company with separate patient-facing and B2B websites.
A leading clinical trial network has two separate websites: a patient-facing site that recruits research patients, and a B2B site that markets to clients and partners. They used several disconnected digital services, including Salesforce, Mailchimp, Synup listing service, and CallRail. And they maintained multiple siloed databases.
Managing the backend operations for all these digital assets was laborious, error-prone, and required many duplicated efforts. They needed a more integrated approach.
Solution: Integrate both websites, all digital services, and all relevant databases into one backend interface.
We’re used to thinking of WordPress as a backend CMS for one website, but, with the shift to a DXP paradigm, we developed two new websites for the clinical trial company, each connected to the same shared services and data. Marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp and Salesforce, talk to each other and are synced with the same data and assets.
The new DXP interface drastically reduced duplicated work and created many efficiencies, allowing the company to market to test subjects and clients more effectively and with less effort.
Implications: DXP lets you share data among multiple websites, all of them linked to shared services and data.
We’re in the very early days of this paradigm shift. Most companies (and many developers) don’t yet realize the power of DXP to transform their digital marketing, sales, and services while streamlining their operations and enhancing their customer relationships. We have to start dreaming bigger, beyond the walls of websites. We have to redefine ourselves as developers of digital experiences.