10 Benefits of Using Squiz Matrix to Power Your Website
If you’ve built websites before, you’ve not doubt heard of WordPress; but what about Squiz Matrix?
Squiz Matrix is an enterprise-level Open Source content management system which is extensively used across Australia, Europe and the United States to power both Government and private sector websites.
Packed full of features, Squiz Matrix is in our opinion the best content management system on the market with a wide variety of benefits for both content authors and developers.
Whether you’re looking to develop a brochure-style website, release a blog, or sustain a vast content marketing strategy across an enterprise website; we’ll walk you through the top ten benefits of using Squiz Matrix to power your website with the aim of demonstrating why Squiz Matrix is for you.
#1. Squiz Matrix comes packed with highly configurable features
Compared to other content management systems (CMS), Squiz Matrix comes packed with ready to use features right out-of-the-box.
Whether you’re an experienced web developer or more comfortable using a CMS to publish content and undertake basic page updates, Matrix has an incredibly well-designed interface to suit you.
Because Matrix is built upon drag-and-drop style functionality, you can configure web assets to be as complex or as simple as you like. From basic web page implementations, to setting up custom designed templates, to configuring dynamic search and asset listings; how you use Squiz Matrix and at what level is completely up to you.
This of course allows content authors to configure quite complex website functionality that would otherwise require custom development. This provides organisations with options when it comes to resource delegation and use of developer time. Once setup, Matrix will flourish within your organisation and is likely to be used by a diverse array of staff members all with different technical capabilities making this CMS a real winner if content marketing, workflow management and rapid publication is a requirement for you.
#2. Multiple websites on the one instance
Are you running multiple websites and looking to save on hosting costs? If so then Squiz Matrix is for you.
Because Matrix let’s you include multiple site assets on the one instance, you can literally run as many sites as you like provided the overall traffic of those sites does not exceed your server’s capacity in terms of memory and physical hard drive space.
This is a really cool feature, and one many people don’t expect because their used to spinning up a new server every time they want to launch a site. With Matrix, all this goes away because you’re essentially running your own shared hosting operation.
#3. Extensive product and feature documentation
There’s nothing worse than signing up for a new product with limited support. Because Squiz Matrix is an Open Source product, the documentation is excellent allowing developers and users of Matrix to navigate the feature set with ease.
The Squiz Manuals is the go-to resource for the Matrix development community. This site has extensive documentation of all the features available as part of the the Matrix CMS, including screen-by-screen examples of how to implement each feature.
This site is a massive resource, but is also very easy to navigate. One of our favourite features of the Matrix Manuals is the Keyword Replacements section. This section describes how to implement special keywords pre and postfixed with a “%” symbol that allow you to display key asset elements such as the asset name, URL, asset ID or thumbnail image. For every Matrix element there’s a vast array of keywords you can use to customise your pages with dynamic content, so we encourage you to check this section of the manuals out.
In addition to Matrix’s Manuals site, there’s also the Matrix Community site. This site is a Squiz Matrix community forum where users of the Matrix product can ask questions, suggest feature upgrades and communicate with other Matrix users. This site is a really great site to visit if you’re looking to solve tricky Matrix-specific challenges which you can’t resolve using the Matrix Manuals.
#4. Squiz Matrix Asset Listings
We’ve written extensively about the benefits of Squiz Matrix Asset Listings before, but it’s certainly worth noting again.
Matrix Asset Listings allow you to select, sort, exclude, and display Matrix assets across your site in whatever format you like.
To be frank, Matrix Asset Listings are awesome. They allow you to dynamically select content elements above and below your pages’ site location in the Squiz Asset Map, ensuring your site remains fresh with newly linked content for your visitors and Google to find.
Squiz Matrix Asset Listings are one of the easiest asset types to configure, yet one of the most powerful. We’re constantly asked to implement Asset Listings for clients who are looking to provide dynamic functionality in blogs, media release sections and to pull in calendar events just to name a few. With this asset type, there’s really no limit to what you can achieve.
If you’re looking to really take advantage of a Matrix Asset Listing, we recommend looking into Multi-page Asset Listings, Display Formats and Page Formats which will give you a great deal of extra control over what you showcase to your users.
#5. Nested Content elements
If you’ve ever programmed in the past, you’ll no doubt have come across a concept called “Includes”. If not, this is basically the process of including blocks of code into a page either when a condition is met, or so you can update that code block from a single location instead of updating the code block multiple times across multiple pages on your site.
This functionality is available to you in Squiz Matrix using what’s called “Nested Content” elements. These are essentially pointers which let you include Matrix assets into your pages at specific sections in your document. This can be images, standard pages, documents, banners or any other type of Matrix asset available to you in the system. The choice is up to you.
Nested content is one of the really useful concepts available to developers and content authors alike in Matrix, because it lets you build beautiful dynamic content separate to the page or pages you’re working on, and include that content in your page or as many pages as you like ensuring ease of update.
#6. Squiz Matrix Design Customisations
Any CMS worth discussing has a method of applying templates to web pages. It’s a given. But in Matrix, templating is particularly powerful using the cascading capabilities of what’s called Design Customisations.
If you’re looking to build a range of templates for your Squiz Matrix website, you’ll do this using Design Customisations. This let’s you utilise the power of inheritance to show, hide or customise each and every aspect of your page templates to appear exactly as you’d like.
Matrix Design Customisations are great for sites that only have a handful of pages, all the way up to sites that have multiple levels of content, splash pages, search capability and contact forms.
Using the tools available within Design Customisations, you have almost limitless control over the content on your pages, which pages use particular templates, and widespread ability to update even the tiniest element of those templates by building in further sub-customisations to give your pages the appearance you’re looking for.
At OSE we’ve used a lot of different content management systems with templating tools to display content for the web, but the templating concept available in Matrix is by far the best.
#7. Custom Forms
At very least your website is likely to have a contact form, but what about if you’re looking to build a multi-page form, with sections inclusive of different question types, and you’re looking to provide custom email messaging and storage of form submissions?
If this sounds like you, then Matrix Custom Forms have got you sorted.
Custom Forms allow you to configure all these things, implement advanced SPAM filtering, custom page body copies for successful submissions, saved submissions and standard forms. Heck, we even use one for the contact form on our site!
Custom Forms can be skinned to appear exactly as you like using Design Customisations and Paint Layouts (discussed later) and are a very useful tool almost all users of Matrix will implement when building a site in Squiz.
#8. Squiz Matrix Paint Layouts
If you’re looking for even enhanced control over your page templates, or to extend the capability of your Design Customisations, then Squiz Matrix Paint Layouts are an excellent option.
Paint Layouts are used to skin the body of your pages. This may be useful when applying increased customisation to a page design, or when you’re looking to apply a look and feel to a certain array of pages without adjusting the overall setup of a Design Customisation.
We generally begin by creating Design Customisations and applying them to pages, at which point we will apply Paint Layouts to subset of pages when we can’t achieve a desired of look and feel we want to without re-inventing how we’ve built a Design Customisation.
This is an incredibly powerful tool if you’re a Matrix developer, because it gives you another avenue for widespread customisation of pages, without affecting overall page template structure.
#9. Matrix Search and Stored Search
If you’ve ever wanted to add a search facility to your website, played around with databases, or been involved in implementing proper HTML structure for your pages, you’ll know how important well-built on-site search can be.
Within Squiz Matrix you have the Matrix Search asset which you can configure to search on any of your site elements, asset types, folder locations, or asset metadata field values of your choosing.
In addition to these common search capabilities, Squiz Matrix allows you to build in stored search capability. If you’re not familiar with stored searcing as a concept, it basically allows you to run searches automatically without your users having to enter in a keyword or phrase. Stored searching simply let’s you configure a keyword, asset type, or page type to display, and the rest is academic!
Matrix search out-of-the-box is awesome and we’ve implemented some amazingly powerful search facilities for our clients, and the best part is there’s no wait time on indexing content. It’s all instantaneous. Pretty cool huh?
#10. Metadata Schemas
The ability to describe data on the web is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. Why? Because it allows you to not only give meaning to a piece of content, but it also allows external services to better understand what your content is all about.
In Squiz, metadata as a concept is of very high priority and widely used to perform all sorts of tasks.
From basic title and metadata descriptions for SEO purposes, to on-page descriptors, to categorisation, element selection, structure, sizing and even visibility; if you can conceive it, you can create a custom metadata schema to give purpose to your content.
Not only this, but you can break your metadata schemas down into sections, apply more than one schema to a page or site element, and use all of the features available within the Matrix ecosystem (i.e. assets and keywords) in unison with your metadata elements.
Hands down, metadata schemas are definitely one of the features which set Matrix apart from the rest of CMS’ on the market.
Bonus: Asset ID’s and the Binoculars
By now you will have noticed that each and every element within Matrix has an asset ID appended to the end (i.e. Asset Name ). This number is basically a primary identifier for an asset, and is extremely useful when used in combination with the Matrix asset locator (i.e. the binoculars).
When you begin to use Matrix on a more regular basis you’ll come to use the binoculars to find content each and every time you interact with an asset. Not only this, but when you begin to use keywords more and link to assets you’ll use asset ID’s in your notation so if you ever move a piece of content, your previous work won’t break.