Hart Inc

Case study

Partner Success Story: Hart

The sky's the limit - deliver bigger projects with a secure and versatile CMS that allows you to model complex data

If you can think it, you can make it! Especially if you're an agency that partners up with a versatile CMS that helps you deliver complex projects for clients. 

By taking Umbraco to market, Hart, an independent advertising and marketing agency, has launched successful websites for well-known brands such as La-Z-Boy, FRAM, and Pukka Inc. 

Here’s how Hart built up so much confidence in the friendly CMS that they recommend it to clients with more elaborate needs - and how becoming a Registered Partner has changed their relationship with Umbraco!

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Who is Hart?

Hart is a modern, independent marketing agency based in Ohio that delivers impactful creative solutions that drive business results. With integrated and full-funnel capabilities, and a uniquely nimble approach, Hart delivers unified brand experiences that engage and empower consumers throughout the customer journey.

Deeply-rooted in Midwestern values, the agency is small enough to ensure the involvement of senior team members and responsive service, and large enough to provide the team depth, specialization and broader capabilities required by its local, regional and globally recognized clients.

Hart’s website development projects range from big eCommerce sites all the way down to small campaign pages. Hart joined the Umbraco ecosystem as a Registered Partner in September 2020.

How did Hart work before they joined Umbraco?

Back in 2010, Hart was operating on their own CMS. However, maintaining their system was starting to prove too time- and resource-consuming for their team. “We were not a CMS maintenance company. We are an ad agency and marketing agency, we are building brand sites for our clients. We didn’t have people in-house to sit behind the CMS and manage it long-term,” explains Todd Coleman, the Director of Technology & Innovation at Hart.

The agency also realized the growing importance of security and keeping the CMS safe by continuously adding new features. 

It is the versatility of Umbraco which keeps us using it over and over again.

Todd Coleman, Director, Technology & Innovation at Hart

Hart then took a step back from their own system and started looking for software built on .NET in order to maintain consistency with their previous projects. “Umbraco just stood out as a better alternative as opposed to others,” Coleman says.

Why Umbraco?

The biggest determining factors that tipped the scales in Umbraco’s favor were that the CMS is written in C#, and the .NET platform on which it operates. The technical parameters of Umbraco were in line with many of Hart’s previous projects and made it a good fit for the agency. In Umbraco, Hart also found a platform which is continuously supported and kept up-to-date, which provided a solution to their need for maintenance: “Umbraco, even in the earlier versions, was progressing and keeping in mind the need for new features.”

The open-source nature of Umbraco made it more accessible to the agency - and easier for Hart’s developers to get to know the system and make the decision: “There was no gate for us to download the CMS, to get into the community, to start looking into installing it. From a developer standpoint, the fewer hurdles there are to jump through, the better.“

Becoming a partner and getting more involved would give us more access to the people at HQ and the direction of Umbraco. We want to make sure that since we use the software a lot, we have some input into that direction as well.

Todd Coleman, Director, Technology & Innovation at Hart

While the ease of access, the continuous maintenance, and the language and platform were the factors that motivated Hart to choose Umbraco, it was the user-friendly interface and ability to easily customize content that were the agency’s incentive to stay with the CMS. “We tend to customize all the content management areas of our websites quite heavily, eliminating all the areas our clients don’t need access to; in other words, stripping things down to make it streamlined.”

How did Hart grow with Umbraco?

With its ease of use and deployment, Umbraco has increased the efficiency of Hart’s work for clients - and the scope of their projects. Over their 10 years building websites with the CMS, the agency has gained a great sense of confidence in what it can help them create. “It is critical for us to be able to put out projects quicker - but also to conceive of larger projects, and feel confident in our ability to take them on and deliver.”

When meeting a new client, Hart does not choose a content management system with absolute certainty until they have gone through the discovery process for the particular projects. However, with clients who have more complex projects, Umbraco is at the forefront of the team’s mind. “We have had clients come along and in the instant that we sat down with them and learned what their scope is, Umbraco came to mind as the choice for us - precisely because of our confidence in its abilities.”

Client example - La-z-boy

Hart appreciates the innovative ability to model data in the document types of the backoffice. The ability to craft truly custom document types that directly meet their clients’ needs without needless, distracting features has driven their offer forward and allowed them to take on more intricate projects. This is one of the reasons why Hart recommends the CMS to clients with more complex data types - i.e. a product or service, multiple locations. Hart is also able to cater to the needs of their Microsoft-only clients.

The very first website Hart created on Umbraco - for American furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy - was a great example of extended project scope the agency can produce with the CMS, right out of the gate. “We created a multi-channel site for the company’s many dealers to log in to and customize their front-facing web portals,” Coleman says.

Umbraco also supported Hart when they created a website for oil filter manufacturer FRAM. “The website - with tens of thousands of products on it - allows the users to get quick access to their car parts. We don’t know of a better operating system we could have picked at that time that would allow us to ease the construction of the back end or the custom search functionality. It is the versatility of Umbraco that keeps us using it over and over again.”

Client example - FRAM

Working with Umbraco has helped Hart deliver projects for seven clients from well-known brands in the US to a large hospital system for which they created both a public website and private intranet. “We leveraged the experience gained from each project and the ever-powerful features being added to Umbraco,” Coleman says. In this case, Hart used the CMS to create a complex public website with hundreds of pages and thousands of articles that integrated with third-party health systems. The private intranet also contained many content pages, a phone look-up system, a per-user customizable dashboard, and thousands of internal articles.

Client example - Pukka Inc

“All of these projects have been successful and it was the right choice to go with Umbraco. If we hadn’t been able to launch them right or we would have had to switch our recommendation for a CMS, we could still have delivered the project - but it would have been much rougher,” Coleman says.

What does Hart value about the Umbraco Partnership?

Being a Registered Partner helps the Hart team get the latest news, learn about the details of new features, and stay closer to Umbraco. “We are not even on the same continent, but Umbraco has been establishing more presence in the US, and has been very responsive. It is a good fit for an agency our size.” To support US partners and the growing demand from the US market, in August 2020, Umbraco opened a sales office in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The decision to join the Umbraco ecosystem was a gradual thought process for Hart. After using the CMS regularly over the years, it simply made sense for them to become more involved with Umbraco and get closer to the community and company alike.

Umbraco just stood out as a better alternative as opposed to others. It is critical for us to be able to put out projects quicker - but also to conceive of larger projects, and feel confident in our ability to take them on and deliver.

Todd Coleman, Director, Technology & Innovation at Hart

“If we have a pain point, we can still go to forums and look for answers,” Coleman says, “But becoming a partner and getting more involved would give us more access to the people at HQ and the direction of Umbraco. We want to make sure that since we use the software a lot, we have some input into that direction as well.”

The decision seems to have paid off - having direct access to an Umbraco Partner Manager has provided their team with additional support. “In case we run into an issue or see something going on with Umbraco, having the ability to reach out to someone has been very helpful. Since we became a Registered Partner, contact with our Partner Manager has been transformational for us.”

Looking ahead

In recent years, Hart has been building two to three projects per year with Umbraco – and the team believes this number will only scale further. “Our familiarity with the CMS, the rate with which Umbraco keeps adding features - this makes it more attractive to clients.”

With Umbraco, there was no gate for us to download the CMS, to get into the community, to start looking into installing it. From a developer standpoint, the fewer hurdles there are to jump through, the better.

Todd Coleman, Director, Technology & Innovation at Hart

Key takeaways: What did taking Umbraco to market mean for Hart?

  • Using Umbraco helped Hart step away from maintaining their own CMS. Now, they have an always supported and up-to-date, progressive, and secure CMS they can rely on, which allows them to focus solely on delivering websites for their clients.
  • The agency values Umbraco’s versatility, innovative ability to model data in the backoffice, and user-friendly interface.
  • Thanks to Hart’s confidence in Umbraco’s abilities, the agency was able to create websites quicker, conceive of larger projects, and successfully deliver complex websites for well-known brands and healthcare systems.
  • Being a Registered Partner keeps Hart updated on new features, and helps them stay closer to Umbraco and the direction of the software. The partner status also provides them with valuable direct access to a Partner Manager.

 

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