Liberty Tax Services was fed up. The tax preparation company, with over 4,300 offices in the United States and Canada, had invested heavily in a content management system (CMS) to maintain its public websites, but the pricey system was difficult to use and had frequent technical issues. In 2010, after 11 years with the same CMS, Liberty decided there had to be something better and set out to find it. Its plan: Consolidate its 34 websites into 12, create a fresh “look and feel” for both Liberty Tax.com and LibertyTaxCanada.ca, and migrate its online assets to a new data center.
As we’ve discovered through the years, Liberty’s situation was not unique, with many of the same negative characteristics popping up each time we spoke with a prospective client about their current CMS. Being difficult to use, expensive and inflexible inevitably topped the list. Our traditional clients — mid- to large-size commercial companies — require an enterprise-level CMS system that could handle their highly complex content management needs without breaking the bank.
Marathon has worked with Liberty on its digital marketing initiatives since 2007, so when the firm came to us for help with its migration, we set out to find a solution that is:
- Scalable and flexible enough to handle large traffic spikes during its peak season.
- Easy enough so that its many content editors could update every aspect of their site without having to know HTML/CSS.
- Microsoft-based, as Liberty relies on Microsoft technologies to support its IT needs.
- Less expensive, with no hefty annual license fees.
Umbraco, a fully-featured open-source CMS-based on the Microsoft.Net platform, fit all four requirements. Umbraco is extremely easy to use, while scalable and flexible enough to run anything from a small campaign or brochure sites right through to complex applications for Fortune 500s and some of the largest media sites in the world.
From the ease of content editing to the extensibility given to developers, we found that Umbraco CMS simplifies the workflows of all involved, from content editors to developers and designers. Being open source also means no expensive licensing fees and a large and active development community ready to help.
Marathon took the lead on the Liberty Tax project and planned out a 3-phased, year-long project to replace the CMS while designing a new high-performance, load-balanced infrastructure plan to handle the peak traffic for all of Liberty’s websites. Once the environment was in place, Marathon developed a base starter website (or template) in Umbraco that would provide shared, basic functionality for all of the Liberty websites. Marathon then migrated each website into Umbraco, including refactoring/upgrading each integration point with Liberty’s internal technology and 3rd party APIs.
The project was completed on time and on budget. This meant that Liberty Tax’ marketing team, including its non-technical content editors, was then able to spend its time focus on the content instead of the technology, giving content editors and developers full control over data, output and delivery.
Liberty’s experience was not a lone case. Trex, a global composite deck company, experienced similar benefits. It was using an expensive and inflexible CMS (which required IT resources for simple content updates) to manage its 32 public websites (two domestic and 30 international). Trex discovered Umbraco in 2016 and asked us to take on the migration project. Marathon worked closely with Trex’s IT department to design a higher-performance, highly available architecture for Trex’s websites. After setting up and configuring the web and data servers, Marathon developed two base sites (one domestic, one international) and then migrated each site to Umbraco, including coding each integration point into Salesforce Cloud
Bottomline: Umbraco CMS decreased site maintenance time across Trex’s websites throughout the world. Customers are hearing about their products. The company is no longer getting tripped up by the technology. And, there are no huge licensing fees.
Marathon Will Soon Top 100 Clients with Sites Built on Umbraco
We now have more than 100 clients with sites built on Umbraco and the numbers continue to grow. When we approach a prospective client that has been using another CMS, its often clear that it isn’t enterprise-level or sufficient for their business. If anyone of these companies is on the fence about using Umbraco, because they aren’t familiar with it or think a more well-known CMS must be better, we demo an implementation we’ve done for another client, and nine out of 10 times, the client goes for it. It’s that good.