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What benefits you get by upgrading to Optimizely CMS 12

optimizely CMS 12 mockup: content types

Many of you are no doubt contemplating the advantages of upgrading to Optimizely CMS 12. This article presents the benefits, from technical improvements to the strategic business and marketing gains, that come with the latest version.

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Stay ahead of the curve with Optimizely CMS 12

All current and future innovation at your disposal

All of Optimizely’s innovative advancements are now centred on CMS 12.

While CMS 11 will still get some love with occasional security patches and critical fixes, it is not where the innovation is happening. CMS 12 will now be Optimizely’s main focus for new features, updates, and advancement. So, if you want to stay ahead and enjoy all the latest developments, support, and technological integrations, upgrading is essential.

Smooth integration within the Optimizely Ecosystem

Upgrading to Optimizely CMS 12 provides you with uninterrupted access to the entire Optimizely ecosystem. While older versions of the CMS can be integrated with various Optimizely tools, CMS 12 comes with built-in integrations that will save you considerable development time and also offer improved functionality and performance.

Here are just some of the built-in integrations available in CMS 12:

  • Visual Builder (currently in beta but will be available for CMS 12) 
  • Optimizely Data Platform (ODP)
  • Content Marketing Platform (CMP) publishing integration
  • Digital Asset Management (DAM) - which you can read more about here
  • Optimizely Graph 

Tonnes of performance improvements, but who benefits?

For users:

With the upgrade, your site loads faster, particularly on high-traffic pages, thanks to advanced caching techniques. While your site may not be 12 times faster, a noticeable improvement in load times and speedier server responses will improve the overall user experience.

For Marketers:

Faster page speeds are an important part of technical SEO, helping your site climb up Google’s rankings. Also, when your users are greeted with a fast-loading website, and the overall user experience is improved, studies show it actually encourages visitors to browse for longer, potentially increasing your conversion rates. Transaction conversion rates vs page load speed chart source:

For Editors

Editors experience quicker load times too, which makes the process of creating, reviewing, and modifying pages simple and more efficient. It takes out the frustration of dealing with complex components that require frequent updates, often through trial and error, making for happier, more productive editors.

For Developers

The latest .NET framework utilised by CMS 12, significantly speeding up development on the platform.

Backend developers will notice faster build times, reducing the wait after each build.

For front-end developers, the CMS 12 platform aligns more closely with the modern frameworks they’re used to working on, with improved loading and compiling times.

Example in practice:

For one of our clients in the maritime industry, we upgraded a website to CMS 12 and .NET 6. By restructuring the code and adopting the latest technologies, our client improved their website's efficiency, performance, and maintenance. This resulted in faster loading times, improved responsiveness, and the ability to handle higher traffic even during peak periods. The request per second metric showcases a two-fold improvement, while average performance skyrockets to an impressive three times better than before. Wilhelmsen average website performance​
after migration to CMS 12 and .NET 6

Changes to Edit Mode

Better interface and improved usability

CMS 12 introduces an updated edit mode that operates faster and features a more modern and user-friendly interface. Editors experience a more intuitive and responsive environment, leading to improved employee satisfaction.

Compare admin categories in Optimizely CMS 11 vs CMS 12

Admin Categories in Optimizely CMS 11
Admin Categories in Optimizely CMS 12

Compare visitor groups in Optimizely CMS 11 vs CMS 12

Visitor groups in Optimizely CMS 11
Visitor groups in Optimizely CMS 12

The update also includes small but significant changes to user experience based on real user feedback. Its aim is to improve the usability and efficiency of daily workflows and eliminate the need for workarounds, which you can read more about in article on some of these changes.

Here is a quick look at the changes included in the update:

  • Content Management: Simplify your content management with tools designed for personalising and targeting content and commerce to your audience segments. The upgrades reduce publishing time and simplify editing processes, making content management more efficient and user-friendly.

personalised banner in Optimizely CMS 12

  • Media Management: New tools for auto-tagging and role-based personalisation features for managing media content. Quickly deploy media to a high-speed Content Delivery Network, improving global accessibility and performance.
  • Authoring and Layout: Enjoy a more flexible authoring environment with an array of layout options, improved previews, and intuitive drag-and-drop functionality. Ensure content remains on-brand with automated content-checking tools.

More Content Distribution Capabilities

CMS 12 improves content distribution by introducing headless CMS to the Optimizely platform. The platform’s support for more adaptable content delivery frameworks across various channels and devices can address the needs of any digital ecosystem.

Cost optimisation through modernisation

Financial impact

Upgrading to CMS 12 offers substantial financial and operational advantages. By eliminating the need for Windows licenses and reducing the necessity for frequent migrations, immediate cost savings are realised. At the same time, the platform's enhanced scalability supports your organisation's growth, optimising economic efficiency.

The CMS operates locally and builds faster, potentially cutting maintenance time by about 10%. It includes built-in features that previously required custom development, further reducing maintenance costs and complexity. Additionally, CMS 12 supports a headless architecture, granting front-end developers the freedom to choose their preferred technologies. It also benefits from the latest .NET enhancements, further speeding development and improving project flexibility.

While some modernisation benefits are directly measurable in financial terms, others provide strategic value that, although harder to quantify, is equally important. Some of these strategic advantages include faster development, rapidly launching marketing campaigns with new landing pages, and reduced maintenance for legacy code.

Calculating ROI

It is difficult to calculate how these benefits translate into ROI. Consider reading Optimizely’s insights on evaluating potential ROI on upgrading CMS projects. It discusses both the approach and challenges of ROI assessment in more detail.

More headless architecture

Optimizely's headless API signifies a significant shift in how content is managed and delivered, allowing greater flexibility and integration capabilities. With this API, data from the CMS can be employed in various headless solutions, meaning content can be used across multiple platforms.

Optimizely Graph plays an important role here, acting as a repository where CMS data, along with data from other sources, can be aggregated and accessed easily, simplifying complex integrations.

The benefits of the new .NET framework

Simplified IT Infrastructure

The new .NET framework makes setting up and running development environments directly on Macs easier, eliminating the need for complex setups like virtual machines or dual operating systems. This means everything works faster and more efficiently, simplifying IT management and reducing costs. Here’s what’s improved:

  • Local Performance: The system runs natively on Macs, making it faster and more responsive.
  • Simplified Setup: No more swapping between different systems or software. Everything you need runs directly on your Mac.
  • Cost Savings: Eliminates the expense of additional software or hardware, reducing overhead.
  • Faster Project Delivery: Improved performance speeds up the entire development process, enabling quicker project completion.

Attracting the top talent

The new framework supports the latest version of C#, making Optimizely CMS 12 more attractive to the best developers who prefer working with the latest technologies. CMS 12 supports a headless architecture, granting front-end developers the freedom to choose their preferred technologies. This will help your business attract and retain talent and avoid overdependence on legacy technologies.

Better Security

The traditional .NET Framework has been a reliable foundation for many applications and will continue to receive security updates for the foreseeable future. However, you should be aware that .NET introduces critical security improvements that are crucial for modern applications.

These improvements incorporate advanced threat modelling to identify and mitigate potential risks early, strong cryptography to secure sensitive data transactions and in-depth defence mitigations that create multiple layers of security against attacks. Additionally, the introduction of support for OpenSSL 3 on Linux enhances encryption capabilities and performance, and a new runtime security mitigation roadmap ensures that .NET Core remains protected against emerging threats.

Need a hand? We’ve got the experience to help you through.

There are many benefits to upgrading to the latest CMS, but the headache of upgrading might be putting you off. Before jumping into the upgrade, we recommend reading our even more detailed article on all the best practices for Optimizely CMS 12 upgrade.

If you are still scratching your head, get in touch with us. We’ve successfully guided many of our clients, from small sites to large solutions, through their CMS upgrades, and our specialists are waiting to help you with yours.

People discussing. The photo focuses on the laptops and a cup of coffee.

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Marcin Żak, Senior Systems Consultant at NoA Ignite

Marcin Żak

Senior Systems Consultant

Marcin is a full-stack developer with a proven track record of successfully delivering a wide range of web projects. He caters to the client's needs at each and every step. With over 10 years in IT and a comparable time within Optimizely products: Content Management and Commerce, Marcin improves any team he’s on.

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