Friday, August 30, 2013

The tale of the Fabrikör

[disclaimer: I really like IKEA, their in-store experience is second to none. To be honest, their webstore might even be considered better than most, but it is lagging miles behind the physical customer experience]

Last month the friendly blue/yellow giant introduced a new liquor cabinet that I just had to have, preferably before next week's birthday party. Spoiler alert: I succeeded, despite IKEA's best effort to confuse and befuddle me, by going to the physical store.

I first saw the Fabrikör on a billboard while walking home, so to Google I went and what do you know, it'll fit right between my fridge and the window. Hurray, my kitchen can once more be enriched to look like an IKEA-showroom!

I want it, I want it now!

So let's push that "add to list" button and order!

Not so fast, you've added it to your digital shopping list, not your cart; "Shop Online" is unavailable on the mobile site! Unfortunately, this is never explicitly mentioned.

I'll try the app

Which one though? IKEA has two apps, one called "IKEA" and one "IKEA Catalogue", the catalogue is a digital version of the paper catalogue. I can even swipe between pages, wow!
It won't actually allow any real interaction though; if I find something I like I can click on it and be redirected to the mobile site..

I'll try the other app

No, sorry, it is basically an app-version of the mobile site, you can add things onto your personal shopping list though.

iPad to the rescue?

Luckily the desktop version of the site works on the iPad, and an actual order button is staring at me in all of its glory. Buying time!

Hmm, it looks like the webshop has a warehouse in Middle-Earth, delivery time is 12 days and costs 45 Euro.

Never mind, I'll go to the store

At around 2 p.m. I had enough of the whole "Shop Online" experience, luckily for IKEA my previous experiences with the company were very good, so I took a subway (it was raining, so no biking). After standing in line at the info-point for an order-ticket, standing in line at the register to pay and standing in line at the transport service I left without ever having touched my purchase.
I was back home at 4, but the furniture did arrive the same day, as promised, at 9 p.m.

Want some advice?

I ♥ IKEA, so let me dispense with some uninvited advice:

The customer experience at IKEA stores is famous for a reason, it is the result of a relentless strive for perfection where every detail has been meticulously thought through.
The digital experience on the other hand feels like it has been thought up perfunctory, "we have to be digital now?"

Digital is real

Treat your web store with at least as much respect and diligence as you would a normal brick&mortar store. So, same budget, same amount of people, same strive for customer excellence (same day delivery? YES PLEASE!)

There is a tremendous customer loyalty towards IKEA, you don't really face competition, this is the reason you were able to postpone the move to digital for so long. Somehow you've made people personally identify with a budget furniture store. If you use your vision and embrace the digital transition your customers will follow you, if you don't however, they will start to see you as yet another cheap furniture store.

Still, I'm now the happy owner of the Fabrikör! :-)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hippo GetTogether 2013

First, some reminiscing

I remember the first Hippo GetTogether, an extension of Hippo's Forge Fridays. It was a packed event in which clients, partners, sales and developers came together. And while it was really good, it was also terribly exhausting.

Now, three years later we have fully revamped the system, we now have separate events: for partners a sales-oriented day; we helped setup the Hippo User Group; and now a full-day Hippo GetTogether for developers.


This year was bigger than ever, we had 15 speakers, spread out over an entire day of developer-love.

Kicking off the day was Tjeerd, one of the founders and now Chief Marketing Officer (and of course the utmost bestest ever boss I've ever had, hi Tjeerd!). He briefly explained why we [heart] developers, that Hippo is growing and that we very much would like the community to grow along; he also showed a picture of Arjé's brand new, day old baby, aww cute :-)

Hippo's product manager Oscar Scholten followed with an overview of the roadmap, diving deeper into replacing Xinha, introducing Hippo essentials and handing over to Chief Architect Ate Douma who showed the future of Hippo content interaction.

Although Sonja had a brain that was literally frozen, she delighted us with a talk on how marketers and developers need each other. And oh, someone build her a purple Hippo please!

Roberto then introduced us to the evil tree which, and his nefarious scheme with which he has defeated her: A new plugin, developed for the UvA and soon to be open sourced!

Ard came in and shocked the organizers by pretending to have bad internet (thanks buddy), but gave a nice overview of how Hippo has made it easier for developers to not make mistakes that make your site slow to a crawl.

Two tech-partners showed of connectors, both between Nuxeo and Hippo, using CMIS. And Nubizz' hero Raimund gave his first public talk since college, a disarmingly honest [blablabla herschrijf] In the end everyone was treated to a nice overview of what Nubizz can do for you if you use IBM Webshpere Commerce or Intershop.

Hippo veterans Gerrit and Wouter showed what the rijksoverheid has achieded and focused on what there is stull to be done in the coming years.

Elasticsearch and Couchbase are cool, Jeroen showed how we used them to set up the data store of our relevance module. And Jettro showed what a tech journey looks like, by using the Hippo workflow to synchronize with either SOLR or Elastic Search.

A tantalizing talk followed by Ebrahim who showed how developers can massively increase the speed with which they develop Hippo.

Frank finished the day, giving us lessons in math, neural networks while scratching the surface of big-data analysis.

All in all it was a great success, next year we're going to need a bigger boat :-)

Slides can be found on Hippo's speaker deck, videos will follow soon!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hugging our users

We just had the first new Hippo User Group which laid the foundation for and independent off- and online group comprised of Hippo users (what's in a name?).

The initiative came from Leiden University and was immediately embraced by Hippo. We sent an invitation to the (head)editors, communication experts, administrators and other (future) users of Hippo CMS in the Netherlands and Belgium. And 60 people came together at what was once the coldest place on earth  and started the independent Hippo User Group.

Sharing is caring

The HUG is primarily about sharing experience, it is no surprise that Hippo newcomer Hogeschool van Amsterdam can learn some lessons from the University of Amsterdam that went live last year. Similarly, the Dutch National Police merged three hundred websites into one, a challenge yet to be met by Leiden University in the coming years.


Although Hippo sponsors the food and drinks, the Hippo User Group is completely independent. Hippo helps with the logistics, but stays away from the content of the HUG. One of the items discussed was a mailinglist, to which Hippo would have no access; I'll illustrate the reaction of Hippo's present salesman below :-)

What happened?

We listened, first up was Leiden University, they presented the business challenges to be met the coming years and asked for group input.

Second came Hippo CMS 7 veteran Gemma Sweeren of the Dutch Ministry of General Affairs, who told the tale of five years of Hippo experience, combined with an overview of the years to come.

Oscar Scholten, Hippo's Product Manager followed with a detailed overview of the Hippo Roadmap between now and 2015.


We're going to do this again, in October, at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. Want to join? Let me know and I'll get you in touch :-)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blogging is fun (and useful!)

This blog is the first in a public series on Hippo's (internal) communication channels 

The Hippo blog is open for any one who has something interesting to say. The blog is here to allow us to 1) share knowledge (example: Ard's How To Structure Your Metadata blog) and 2) to establish ourselves as thought leaders [this will become a link once I've written down what the hell that is] by showing that we know what we is talking about and 3) to have some fun.

Now, to write a Hippo blog, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

(NB: external but still interested? Let me know, we can publish yours as well!)

Be interesting

The single most read blog isn't from our Chief Marketing Officer, it isn't from the gal with the huge twitter following, it's not from the CEO either. No, the single most read blog is from Ard. Why? Cause people found it to be interesting, so they shared, they talked about it (be remarkable, worth remarking about).

Read the Hippo blog

Link to other posts, if you've spent any time analyzing blogs you will have noticed that they are riddled (Wikipedia style) with links to previous blog posts. This is vital! Why? Because it entices readers to click along (remember, the homepage is dead, they will most likely be lead to you by twitter etc.). You can not link to the other Hippo blogs if you do not read the Hippo blog, so subscribe and make sure you read read read.

Know your audience

Do not use Hippo's famous "Digital Miracles" slogan when talking to techies. On the same note, when you are talking to marketing, avoid technical words such as "JCR", "NoSQL database", "CQRS", or "computer".

Keep it casual

We are not writing press releases, so apart from leaking sensitive info, go wild. We use the words Hippo, Hippo CMS and CMS7 to basically all refer to the same, do NOT go the Adobe Route and say that an "image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software", it makes you sound like an insincere twat.

SEO is not important

Do not concern yourself too much with SEO, sure, make a nice page title, put links to the relevant HippoCampus pages, but don't go overboard, as Google says: '(...) ask [yourself], "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?'

About the title: it is much more important to capture visitors than it is to capture a search engine, so please, make it compelling, don't stuff it with keywords.

Let me help

If you need any advice on blogging, shoe color, tweeting or whatever, let me know. You'll find me downstairs, or at the coffee machine, or online, or at the foosball or if it's sunny on the balcony.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire...

All in all, blogging can be tremendous fun, can help you articulate your ideas, convince your colleagues, enhance your career and can be done anywhere, anytime, on any device.

Not just for Hippos!

Externals: please contact me ( and we'll get your remarkable blog on our website!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes (and JavaScript)

MOAR Community stuff please! We had a nice little meetup yesterday where we discussed at length what Javascript is and what it can do for you. Since we at hippo are actively focusing on enhancing our current UI, this is a very interesting topic for us.

Henri kicked of the day when he talked about the old (backbone.js), current (angular.js) and future ( state of JavaScript.

Nice statements like "frameworks keep us apart, libraries allow us to work together" kept the audience on their toes and sparked a discussion that even lasted while hot steaming pizza was waiting.

Hippo's very own, brand new JavaScript Guy then showed of his work with websockets. He took us step  by step towards a final working WebRTC implementation using websockets. It looked deviously simple, hurray for HTML5!

We ended the day with a discussion, with 21 participants that of course lead to 21 different opinions, but worthwhile nonetheless!

Here's mine by the way: Javascript is rapidly maturing, most of the problems we're facing now were solved in "real" languages before (tooling, dependency management, packaging, modularity) so they are being fixed at a mind boggling pace; JavaScript is here to stay and the next few years will be very interesting indeed :-)

On to the next one! Have an idea for a topic? Let me know!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A love letter to our partners

Dear Partners,

We love you, we adore you and cannot live without you. We know we sound like an obsessive girl/boyfriend, but really we cannot exist or live without you; please don't leave us!

OK well that might be a bit too much, but still, we really do need you. And more importantly, we need you more than you need us. So yeah, that is the message we really needed to send to you.

As you know, we invited you for a day out, and you all (seriously, all EU-partners) decided to show up, that just fills our hearts with joy.

And we brought presents: we gave you the partner portal where we keep the super secret stuff (like logos, whitepapers, presentations, competitor analysis) and a nice, rose-scented roadmap for 2015 (hey developers, soon for you too!).

We also (hopefully) helped you by showing how we market Hippo, what its strengths and weaknesses are. How we stack up compared to others and what Forrester thinks of the CMS/CXM/DXM marketplace.

A long-term relationship takes effort, we need to talk a lot, we'll have to take care of the kids (projects) together, we will have ups and downs, everything that makes a partnership great, difficult and worthwhile.

Please let us know if we can improve at and we'll be there for you, always.

Hugs and kisses,

Friday, April 12, 2013

Convince your boss and attend HGT2013

How to convince your boss to allow you to go to the Hippo GetTogether?

I did some shameless stealing from the Adobe Digital Summit; replace Summit with GetTogether, Adobe with Hippo, discount with free and Bob's your uncle!

Here it goes:

Dear ,

I would love to attend the Hippo GetTogether 2013 on the 21st of June in Amsterdam. The Hippo GetTogether is the premier event for digital developers to learn about and share key strategies for driving Hippo innovation through coding, testing and optimization of digital miracles. Here are a few of the ways I think will benefit from my attendance:

  • A competitive edge - GetTogether will give me the inspiration, tools and know-how to get even more out of our current Hippo CMS investment, and give our company that extra momentum through the year ahead.
  • Expert teaching - GetTogether Sessions and the advanced trainings are taught by the best of the best. This is my opportunity to learn from their years of real-world experience.
  • Networking with leading developers - GetTogether brings together the best developers and architects from the industry. I can meet them and find ways to address our pressing development challenges.
  • Solutions to our specific development issues - As I see Hippo in action, I can learn how to tackle our own development issues back at the office. I will leave with specific skills and techniques I can implement immediately.
  • News and tech trends - Hippo GetTogether is where the cutting edge of Hippo development is discussed and announced. I'll be the first to witness this year's product announcements, news, and development trends from the Hippo Community

Face-to-face time with Hippo Educational Services
When I register for the Hippo GetTogether, I will have the option of signing up for advanced trainings that will help me get even more value out of our Hippo technology than we do today. This pre-conference training is available as a bundle with my GetTogether registration.

Hippo Developers and Hippo consultants
I will also have the opportunity at GetTogether to talk with Hippo employees in Professional Services and R&D to see new ways we can make our current implementation of Hippo products more efficient and effective for us and our clients.

I believe that Hippo GetTogether will deliver a great ROI. The day is free.
You can learn more about Hippo GetTogether at I look forward to your reply.