Should I Upgrade My CMS to Service Portal?
Should you consider upgrading from CMS to Service Portal? The answer is simply yes. I’m going to explain my reasoning in two parts. First, I’ll preach to the folks who love their highly customized CMS portal. Secondly, I’ll reason with those who have a less customized portal.
The Case for Upgrading Your Highly Customized CMS Portal
“Even if you do got a two piece custom made pool cue…” ~Jim Croce
So, you spent a ridiculous amount of time and money customizing your CMS portal and it’s working like a charm for you, and now you’re wondering, “Why would I forsake this unicorn for the latest jazz?” Well, yes, I still recommend upgrading to Service Portal. Here are five reasons:
Sustainable Maintenance: God bless the poor soul who has to make changes to a customized CMS portal if they’re not the one who built it. On the other hand, Service Portal has a much improved architecture over CMS that makes for super-organized customizations, such as Dependencies, Angular Providers, and Widgets.
Iframe-less Content Widgets: Iframes are like puppies. We like them because they’ll come running if we dangle a treat, but then we lose control of them at the slightest distraction. Service Portal has some great iframe-free widgets for displaying the most common content like catalog items, KB articles, incidents, requests, and approvals.
Widget Architecture: Service Portal allows you to create a widget with configurable options so that you can reuse it throughout your site in different ways without having to make changes to the original code you wrote. That’s awesome.
Usage Stats: What good is all this if you don’t know how your users actually use your portal? The Usage Overview module captures some pretty useful logs right out of the box. You can also write your own logging functions to capture even more details if you need to.
Change is better sooner than later: Let’s face it, you made a big effort to build your CMS; so why not just go a little further and rebuild it in Service Portal? A smart developer can achieve this with moderate effort, and then you’ll get to take advantage of all this wholesome goodness. It’s like making a dentist appointment… nobody wants to think about drilling cavities, but you’re glad you did it when it’s done.
The Case for Upgrading Your Less Customized CMS Portal
If you’re CMS portal is light and mostly out-of-box, then this is an easy argument to make. So easy, in fact, that I could just show you a bunch of pictures and let them speak for themselves. But, since I’m a talker, I’ll throw in some commentary along the way to solidify my points.
SP makes much better use of padding, white space, and modern styles in general. These styles follow bootstrap standards, which also makes them quite easy to customize. Check out at that header, it’s much cleaner and slimline. To drive this point home, take a look at the next images.
Not much to say here, other than that SP is naturally responsive with full control over it’s breakpoints. CMS, however, is stiffer than I was after my first yoga class.
SP Search Results
CMS Search Results – Yuk!
SP has a really nice search results interface that highlights the search term in the results, and allows the user to filter by content type. CMS looks like a bad government website, and I wouldn’t even know that I had catalog results if I didn’t scroll down the page.
SP Search Results
SP has a great category browsing feature with search built in, and the catalog is concise and pleasant to look at. CMS has none of that, but it does win a cookie for trying.
Ticket Status List
SP Tickets List
CMS Tickets List
SP improved the ticket list UX immensely over what we had to live with previously. It exposes only the field values that are relevant to the user, without all the distracting click elements you get with a native list, which is what you got with CMS’s standard solution of dropping an iframe on the page and pulling in a native record list.
SP Tickets List
CMS Incident Details
Just like the record list, SP boils down the experience to only what’s relevant. SP also provides great detail views for registered items and approvals. CMS again uses an iframe to pull in the native form view with all it’s distractions and general unpleasantries.
SP Theme Configuration
CMS Theme Configuration
SP has a great interface for configuring the base color scheme of the portal. It even shows you what your changes look like in real time. CMS’s theme configuration was limited to the appearance of the header block only, and everything else has to be added as custom CSS in a style sheet.
SP Page Designer
CMS Page Designer
This one is particularly sweet. You can create responsive, multi-column layouts with a click and a drag. Then you have further options to fully configure the properties of the containers and columns. CMS, on the other hand, uses layout files and predefined drop zones for placing content blocks on a page.
Content List Configuration
SP List Configuration
CMS List Configuration
The List concept is an important feature. It’s your method of rendering a list of records to the screen. You may not see much difference between the two examples in these images, but trust me, it’s there. I’m not talking about how the list looks in the end; I’m talking about what data values appear in the list and what happens when you click on the list.
SP and CMS both give you complete control, but Service Portal makes it so easy, and with much less coding. You don’t see it in the CMS picture, but behind that “Type” field is some scary Jelly script, Page Detail Settings, and also something called Content Types. We’d both have nightmares if I tried explaining how those things work together.
There you have it, just a few of my thoughts regarding why you should upgrade to Service Portal. I could go on, believe me, but I think these points make the case well enough.
Now that I’ve convinced you (I did, didn’t I?), you may want some tips on how to efficiently and methodically upgrade your portal. That’s for a later post. Or, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to work something out with you.