March 2019’s installment of the Sitefinity User Group brought together a number of new and familiar faces. Many (if not all) of the Sitefinity User Groups I have attended in the past have focused primarily on the new features Sitefinity had to offer at the time or something in the product pipeline that Sitefinity was working on to roll out in the not-so-distant future. Instead of those traditional presentations/ Q&A style meeting, this user group was approached as a relaxed open forum with a collaborative objective:
Define a new or extended feature or capability to be proposed to Sitefinity as a potential future roadmap recommendation.
The event kicked off with a brainstorming activity – going around the table and sharing one idea for a feature or capability for Sitefinity that would improve our respective day-to-day website management and/or increase the success of our respective web properties. This was very well-received, as a number of great ideas immediately filled the room - from having Sitefinity provide structured/styled default widget templates for some of the more popular out-of-the-box tools to deteremining how Sitefinity’s database can be leveraged to drive multiple applications.
Throughout the discussion we were able to lean on Americaneagle.com’s technical resources, along with Progress Professional Services Developer Chris Woodard, to provide insight, identify, and work through any potential conflicts with the proposed functions and, in a couple of cases, to demonstrate how what was being proposed was actually already possible within the CMS.
After narrowing down the ideas to a mutually agreed upon feature to run with, the group worked together to brainstorm the most practical set of requirements. At this point, I think we all realized that coming up with the ideas is a lot more fun and less difficult than defining them in enough detail for a development team to be able to effectively execute … but the group persevered and did a great job working together to keep our feature simple enough to fully define within the time we had left. At the end of the day, we developed a well-drafted feature description and relevant use cases and process flows that helped to articulate the expectations for how a user would interact with the feature in order to accomplish the intended objectives!
The unique format for this user group worked out great. All attendees were granted the opportunity to present their ideas and everyone involved benefits from the ideas that were shared. Shifting the focus from learning to defining not only led to a great team dynamic and comradery not often associated with a typical user group, but also proved to be a highly educational exercise as the heightened participation sparked so many great discussions! I really enjoyed this user group and look forward to similar ones in the upcoming months!
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