A Web CMS for the Modern Advertising Agency

Remember your 21st birthday? OK… maybe it’s a little fuzzy. You can blame the fancy shots for that. But turning 21 is more than an excuse to party – it’s a major milestone and a rite of passage to the next chapter in life.

Well, this year marks the 21st birthday of the web Content Management System (CMS), and there’s plenty of reason to celebrate this groundbreaking innovation.

If you’re still unfamiliar with this three-lettered acronym, “CMS” is a fancy term used to describe the software that organizations around the globe use to build, deploy, manage, and host websites. The advent of the web CMS gave unprecedented new powers and capabilities to advertising agencies, helping them evolve into a new breed of “digital agencies.” CMS unlocked a world of control, providing firms – both small and large – with the kind of software needed to offer web solutions to their advertising clients. This revolutionary technology propelled the advertising industry into the 21st century and transformed the agency model forever.

However, not all web CMS platforms are created equal – and that couldn’t be more apparent than it is for the modern advertising agency.

Although many point to 1996 as the official “birthdate” of the web CMS, the origins of Solodev date back to the early 2000s – so we were just in time for the party. It was a different world back then; the software was calling all the shots, and CMS might have more accurately stood for “Compromise Management System.” It was a bleak landscape, one where almost every aspect of how users could design and build websites was limited by the solution.

This immediately struck us as odd. Why wasn’t there a single platform on the market that gave users the space to create on their own terms? Wasn’t the web supposed to be about “freedom?”

When we set out to build the Solodev Web Experience Platform, our goal was simple: to be a truly unique voice in the CMS industry, and deliver on the promise of total freedom across design, functionality, scalability, and security. We wanted to build a web CMS that enabled users to dictate to the software how they would design and build their websites – not the other way around.

We then took things a step further, re-architecting Solodev for Amazon Web Services in a SaaS delivery model – the first enterprise web CMS to do so. Without even knowing it, this one decision would ultimately revolutionize the business model for the entire industry; Solodev made procuring an enterprise web CMS easier for agencies while lowering the cost, freeing more funds for the creative process, and providing a platform that was infinitely more focused on the overall “web experience.” Finally, agencies had a secure, scalable, Cloud-based platform that was uniquely designed around their industry needs.

While most enterprise CMS platforms provide a singular web experience (in other words, a website interaction that doesn’t change whether you’re a programmer in Brooklyn or a retailer in Spain) Solodev aimed to be different – and we truly hit our mark.

In recent years, there’s been a dramatic shift in our industry, focusing more on the holistic “web experience” as a reflection of design and functionality. But thus far, the effort has been composed of “polishing up” the singular user’s experience. Unlike other solutions, Solodev gives agencies the power to craft unique web experiences for different customer segments – from geographic regions to demographics to behavioral mechanics. This strategic agility not only helps agencies cater to a vast array of clients and their respective customer segments, but ultimately provides a more well rounded experience to the end user. Simply put, the Solodev Web Experience Platform is the next evolution in web content management – and in the coming years, the notion of a singular web experience will become a thing of the past.

At its core, Solodev was built for digital agencies, helping them achieve greater control and flexibility over their website services than ever before. Multi-site management continues to be a major factor for agencies when considering web CMS platforms, so we focused on building the most robust, multi-site management capabilities on the market. With one login to manage all of your clients’ websites, Solodev gives agencies the ability to create credentials for internal personnel as well as clients, using a permission-based system where agencies control who has access to what on the most granular of levels.

Thanks to our SaaS delivery model, agencies can also sign up for Solodev and be up and running in minutes rather than months – all at a reasonable price point that frees up dollars for creative. Agencies no longer have to worry about hosting fees, long-term contracts, and managing multiple web CMS platforms with different contracts and hosting configurations. Simply put, we wanted agencies to have total freedom when it comes to design, functionality, scalability, and security; no compromises, just the power to create whatever they imagined for their clients.

To deliver on this promise, we rebuilt our software layer by layer and optimized our platform to take full advantage of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its entire product suite. Agencies can now craft custom websites without their web CMS telling them what to do and how to do it. Instead, Solodev serves as a true “blank canvas” for agencies to bring digital brands to life.

Solodev gives agencies a strategic agility they’ve never had before. If a client needs a project done quickly – or specifies that they want their website deployed in a cloud environment – agencies can respond with lightning speed using Solodev’s On-Demand model. Deployed in 45 minutes or less, Solodev is one of the fastest platforms on the planet, giving you the ability to create re-usable templates to speed up development time.

Because of our SaaS and Cloud-based configuration, Solodev doesn’t come with the baggage that most competitors do. There’s no $500,000 price tag with our software; in fact, our entry-level plan is only $99/month. There are no licensing fees, no need for IT maintenance, no manual updates and none of the expensive and often unexpected add-ons that come with traditional enterprise web CMS deployments. In essence, Solodev delivers one of the best Total Costs of Ownership (TCO) on the market while enhancing agency productivity on multiple levels.

Solodev’s advanced templating system empowers designers to create the core layouts of any web design on a virtual “blank canvas” – one that web developers can easily transform into re-usable templates. This allows agencies to write minimal code that delivers maximum impact, and focus more on their creative process. And with Solodev, agencies can even build evergreen template “packages” that replicate a given style or design scheme, providing a foundation on which to develop future websites.

When it comes to content, Solodev gives agency writers and content creators more control than ever. Imagine writing copy while watching your web page update in real-time (working in draft mode and eventually publishing). Now imagine doing it all without any laborious training or deep technical knowledge. With Solodev, it’s all possible – and agencies now have a key advantage in managing and growing their overall content strategy.

Turning 21 is a major milestone for the web CMS. But when the party’s over, how does the industry continue to mature? And for digital agencies, how does it answer the need for greater freedom and control? The answer, in a word, is “experience” – and at Solodev, we’ve always focused on making the best web experience platform on the market. A key part of that is simplicity; that’s why we’ve intentionally left E-Commerce, Marketing Automation, and other enterprise software out of the mix. We wanted our CMS to be the best at what it does – and not another “jack of all trades.” And while most competitive platforms have recently begun to package their CMS with their own nascent enterprise software applications, we decided to give more freedom to the users – and made integrating with your favorite “best of breed” software vendors, from CRM to ERP, extremely easy.

When we say “total freedom” in all aspects of your web presence, we mean it. Solodev forces nothing on you – just the power to create your most imaginative ideas online. It’s the only platform that simply and elegantly delivers a blank canvas where you have complete freedom to design, build, and deploy your websites and applications – without compromises or limitations.

And after 21 years of waiting, there’s no better birthday gift than that.

About the Author

Shawn Moore is the founder & CTO of Solodev and the driving force behind the Solodev Web Experience Platform. A visionary leader, Shawn has strategically grown Solodev from its inception as a small web design company to a successful software company that services clients across the nation and has been named to the Inc. 5000’s fastest growing private companies for the past two years in a row.

Winner of several industry awards for Best CTO and CIO, Shawn Moore is changing the content management landscape with Solodev. With over a decade of executive experience serving as CEO of Solodev and COO for software company Helium Flash, Shawn has the industry knowledge and product passion that continues to drive the development of the Solodev Platform. He is a graduate of Stetson University and often speaks on IT related trends and topics at conferences and universities across the state.