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A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Umbraco

We’re an Umbraco agency. In our experience it’s the best Open Source CMS on the planet. So what is Umbraco, and why do we rate it so high? As an experienced B2B website design agency we’ve discovered a host of reasons why Umbraco deserves its top spot in the CMS charts. Here they are. Read on to find out about Umbraco, what Umbraco is used for, the different versions and packages, and what people say about it. By the end of this article you’ll know exactly why it’s such a great way to design and build beautiful, functional, inspirational websites.

What is Umbraco?

Let’s start with the basics. What is Umbraco? First developed by Neils Harding in 2005, it’s an unusually user-friendly Open Source Content Management System. Open Source means ‘free’, and Umbraco comes with a reputation for being ‘The friendly CMS’.

The tool is constantly being worked on, re-developed and perfected by a team of dedicated people who beaver away behind the scenes to keep the software up to date. Their global developer community is incredibly generous with its time and expertise, and the businesses whose sites are designed on the platform benefit in all sorts of ways.

Umbraco is maintained by experts at the company HQ in Denmark, and there are currently around 700K installations around the globe. Umbraco signalled its ongoing success by opening an office in the USA during 2020, and as a web development agency we insist on using it. We have honestly never found a better CMS, and our clients love it too.

What is Umbraco Used For?

What is Umbraco used for? The answer is ‘more or less every web development project’. Because it’s almost infinitely flexible and scalable Umbraco is perfect for building websites, eCommerce stores, internal intranets and exciting headless solutions - A headless CMS being a back-end CMS that stores the content repository ‘body’ separately from the presentation layer or ‘head’, giving you a seamless display across every kind of device.

You’ll want to see some great Umbraco website examples. Here are just a few examples of popular, high-earning UK based sites designed using Umbraco (list correct at the time of publishing):

https://onlineorientation.wcupa.edu/ - an educational site sub-domain designed for student orientation

https://www.transport.gov.scot/ - Transport Scotland

https://gsk.com – GlaxoSmithKline plc

https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/- Gloucestershire County Council

https://ggrecon.com - Video games

http://gramophone.co.uk – Art and entertainment

https://printweek.com – Print industry news

https://qpr.co.uk – Queens Park Rangers football team

https://glasgowlife.org.uk – Culture and sport

As you can see, Umbraco is good for everything from small, personal websites to huge corporate sites.

Umbraco Versions

Like every reliable CMS – and every other online tool worth having - Umbraco is being constantly updated and improved in response to user requests and the arrival of new tech. The latest Umbraco version is Version 9, including v9.0, v9.1.2 and v9.2.0. It offers several new features as well as fixes for issues and tasks, and Umbraco keeps users up to date via special release blog posts. You’ll find a list of Umbraco releases here, and you can compare the releases against each other on this page. To download the latest release you’ll need to first sign up on Umbraco.com and you can test-drive it free if you like. Your Windows system requirements are:

  • IIS 8 or higher
  • SQL Server 2012 and higher
  • .NET 5.0
  • The ability to set file permissions to include create/read/write (or better) for the user who owns the Application Pool for your site – typically the NETWORK SERVICE

Umbraco Packages

What are Umbraco Packages? Packages cleverly extend Umbraco’s functionality for editors, developers, site visitors, and every other kind of user. They can take all sorts of forms and have a variety of uses but in general terms they’re designed to add or improve functionality in the Umbraco CMS, help people to do more and do it more efficiently, engage community members so they are more likely to collaborate and share, resolve real-world issues, and inspire people to use the tool in ever-more creative ways. There’s even a package newsletter to sign up to, giving you a heads-up on the new Umbraco packages under development.

Here are some examples. There’s a Starter Kit package for Umbraco, an Azure Blob Storage IFileSystem, and a DocType Grid Editor. There’s a super-easy Umbraco Forms generator and a 301 url tracker, a Skybrud Redirects dashboard for redirects, a Boolean property editor and the Wholething Image Picker. And that’s just the tip of an inspirational iceberg. Thanks to packages there’s very little – if anything – that you can’t do. 

Umbraco Plugins

What’s the difference between Umbraco Packages and plugins or extensions? You might find one or more Umbraco plugins or extensions inside an Umbraco Package, where they play a vital role in the extra functionality the Package offers. There’s a wide and growing choice of free plugins for Umbraco, also called extensions and including:

  • Instagram feed, Google Reviews, and WhatsApp Chat
  • All in One Reviews and All in One Chat
  • Social Feed
  • Pop Up
  • Age Verification
  • FAQ
  • Form Builder
  • And many more

What People Say About Umbraco

It’s always good to know what other people say about a product. What are people saying about Umbraco? (source: https://www.g2.com/products/umbraco/reviews?utm_source=rewards-badge)

“It's a really great CMS for content editing! It's super easy to use and great for training people on, as it's so easy even the non-digital members of staff can use it. It's laid out well and you can find most things with ease, there's always lots of tips and learning tools available too! I have started looking into some of the technical elements and I'm finding it fairly easy to find the set of coding I need without any problems.”

“Umbraco is well supported with a vibrant and dynamic community contributing to the source code as well as add-on packages; and has an extensive API framework that is easy to integrate and extend. With the recent release of Umbraco 9 on dotnet 5, it's now truly cross platform and can run on linux or windows.”

“I've used Umbraco as a developer since v4, and I can wholeheartedly say it has come a long way since then. It is truly one of the best free and open-source CMS' out there! It's a joy to work with in terms of extensibility for developers. Not only that, but it's also a joy to work with for content-editors! With the recent v9 release, Umbraco is now fully cross-platform and is no longer stuck on just Windows Server, which was a deal-breaker for many clients due to the licensing costs.”

Inspired by Umbraco?

If you’re inspired by Umbraco, you’re not the only one. We’re convinced, we love it, and so do our web design clients. The blend of functionality, capabilities and ease of use make it a wonderful tool for website development, and we’re more than happy to recommend it, whatever the size, shape or flavour your business-to-business company is. If you’d like to know more about the many exciting ins and outs of B2B website development from Intuitiv, get in touch. It’ll be great to talk to you.

Or give us a call on 01844 888 777
or contact us.


Intuitiv Digital

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