2013/07/30 22:20:23
APGvNext Sam

What's coming to APG vNext (4.4) - part 2

This is part 2 of the "What's new in version 4.4" series:
  1. Dynamic Top Navigation Menu (part 1)
  2. A New Forum Theme: Progressive (part 1)
  3. Landing Pages / Announcement Improvements
  4. Community Home Page Switch
  5. 3rd Party Membership Integration via Web Service API (part 3)
  6. Other Notable Improvements (part 3)

Landing Pages / Announcement Improvements

One of the top features for APG vNext is the ability to create stand-alone pages with permalinks, outside of the forum / blog system.

What can I do with Landing Pages?

You can use this feature to
  1. Create "squeeze" pages - answering visitors' "what's in it for me" and follow up with a signup form (or your newsletter signup widget)
  2. Create announcements or notices that show up on top of the forum, above the post editor or the registration form
  3. Create hidden articles (not publicly listed) for select group of users
  4. Create standard organization pages like "Privacy Policy", "Disclaimers", "About Us" or "Contact Us" pages
  5. Create pages for goal tracking when combined with Google Analytics & the registration process

What's New in 4.4?

In 4.4, you can
  1. Save raw HTML for content without the automatic PGDCode (BBCode) transformation - allowing you to add JavaScript, iframe, custom CSS, or even Google Authorship header link. You can also incorporate surveys created with Google Drive.
  2. Optimize the page for Search Engines by adding custom Page Title, <head> content, Meta Description & Keywords for each page.
  3. Use a "blank" master page without community header / footer or frame, so that you can design the page to look however you want it.
  4. Adding notice / announcements to the Registration Form - you can show members the full benefits they'll get for signing up to improve conversion.
( New SEO settings for Landing Pages)
This feature really has unlimited use. It's like creating and uploading static pages but much easier. Combined with the Dynamic Top Navigation Menu feature you have a simple CMS for your community.

Community Home Page Switch

First introduced in 4.0, we have a News style home page for the community. You can create article sliders and scrolling articles to draw attention to important discussion threads / blog posts.
However, it's not suitable for all types of community. Especially when you've an established member base when most members are familiar with your community and know what forums they do and don't want to visit.
This is why you can switch to the traditional forum listing page as your community home where people see the entire list of forums.

What's New in 4.4

The switching mechanism depends on ASP.NET's URL Routing feature. This means the routing definition has to change and the AppDomain has to be restarted. Most people have to edit Global.asax to do this, which causes delays.
In 4.4, we added a configuration editor in the AdminCP that allows you to edit the Routing info and restart the AppDomain for you automatically. It's a one shot process.
So, you'll be also to use the Blog home page as your community home easily. This is especially helpful for communities that actively publish content for members.
So you now have 3 main choices for your community home
  • the News page
  • the Forums page
  • the Blog home page
Of course, you're not limited to these 3. Another viable choice for community home is the Gallery home page, if you run a community for people to share photos, like one of my clients Scott of ArmyAirForces.com (Scott isn't using the Gallery home page - I'm just proposing a possibility).

What else?

In Part 3 of this series, I'll be showing you a feature that will make integrating with 3rd party services very easily. In fact, one of our members recently asked a question regarding MailChimp integration, and this new feature is the ideal solution for this task.
Edit: Part 3 is ready. Check it out.
Stay tuned and have a great day!
p.s. Do you know we are going to support Google Authorship out of the box in 4.4 too?
See how my post shows up on Google:
You can do so easily when 4.4 is released! Here is how you can prepare your Google+ account for this feature now.

vNext: Online Demo | Latest version: 5.5
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