Today, United Virtualities’ chief wordsmith Morgan Friedman throws himself into his man cave and flips his Mac screen open, so that he can call a close friend of the marketing team, Ximena Cadena, a software developer and accidental helper-in-chief of marketing-related issues. Emerging from today’s talk: Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Salesforce Page Designer. Enjoy!
(… If videos are not for you, and you prefer the written word, we’ve got you covered. Check out the transcript of the interview below. Enjoy!)
Morgan Friedman: Hey everyone! Welcome to the latest edition of Recursive Business, the UV podcast. I am honored today to have Ximena Cadena as a guest. She’s a software developer here at UV.
MF: She is the one software developer who is on our marketing team, so she sees all the action that happens, and happened accidentally because she had a little bit of extra time so she joined our group to contribute but then stayed around when she went back to client work, so Ximena good to talk to you today.
Ximena Cadena: No, I’m so happy to be here! Yes, as you mentioned I did a little bit of work with the marketing team and then I just loved the energy of the team that despite that I had to move away to client work, I just decided to stay and I came in from time to time and I just love being involved with y’all.
MF: And I love your use of “y’all.” You’re a true Texan, inside.
XC: Yeah, 10 years in Texas we’ll do that to you.
MF: So, Ximena, you just told me right before, the fun craziness you did for a client of ours whose name we won’t say but is an ecommerce company that sells watches.
MF: Tell us all about the challenge that the client presented you with and how you solved it.
XC: So it came out that our client had embedded a full WordPress website into their site and they were trying to…
MF: What do you mean when you say they embedded a site? You mean like an iframe so it was like running WordPress?
XC: Yeah, aham.
MF: Right out of 2004.
XC: I know, I know. It had their old website, had, like, all these craziness going on so it was a huge project, it had a lot of moving parts. So if I start referring to all these different little parts it’s because of that. It was just a huge project.
MF: So: watch client. They had a Salesforce Commerce Cloud site with WordPress embedded in it and what did they ask you to do?
XC: Oh they were like “Oh we don’t want to embed it anymore so we need to figure out something to make it work, because we still want to have all this information that we had in the blog and we want to show it, and we want to continue working and using this blog, but we just want it on our Salesforce part of it.” So after talking with a lot of the people in the team we decided to go through what Salesforce offers as the Page Designer. So we were using the Page Designer exclusively for blog work, so we created several templates and several components that were mimicking what the WordPress site was doing. So we have like all these different categories; we have all these different tags; and its own search that was completely separate from the regular products Salesforce searches. For myself particularly, we were trying to see if we could get something similar to a feed, kind of like a post feed, for all these pages created in Page Designer so we can actually do the search and show the latest posts and pretty much everything that you needed to do to make it work as a blog.
MF: So to make sure I understand it: while Commerce Cloud includes Page Designer, it doesn’t include the classic WordPress blog functionality. So you had to basically figure out how to recreate that in Commerce Cloud, right?
MF: Great. So how did you do that? What’s the secret to the magic? The keys to the kingdom?
XC: In this point, it was this JSON feed that we have to make because we were, I don’t know if other people know but, the Page Designer is supposed to work as a content asset. So it had all these attributes for content assets that we could easily pair or match one to one to a lot of the WordPress post pages. So a little bit of the logic was already there. But at the time, Page Designer did not have folders so we couldn’t really organize how to organize all these different categories and all these different tags. So what I decided to do was to give it custom attributes to the Page Designer template, that will give us, like, the categories and the tags and pretty much all the other metadata and meta stuff that WordPress gives us that I couldn’t find a one-to-one match for the Page Designer. So I put those in, and then it started to do all the different querying options that we had for Page Designer, and from there I just built a quick controller that will just pull out all the different Page Designer pages which were… like I said, they’re similar to content assets so it was pretty easy to pull out and just put that in a nice little JSON and send that in. And from there I started expanding it to being able to filter by category, filter by tag – all based on all these attributes that I managed to add. And like I said, this was before folders because if it was by folders it would have been so much easier but you know at the time we didn’t have it…
MF: So this anonymous watch project was just a few months ago.
MF: So you did this and then immediately when you finished, then Salesforce Commerce Cloud Pages Designer…
XC: The last week, actually.
MF: Noo last…! I didn’t know. This was hot off the press!
XC: Yeah, like last week, I think it was Priscilla, who put the link on the UV-tech channel and I think I put an emoji and then I was like…
MF: You put an emoji?
XC: Yeah, I put an emoji just as a reaction. And then I was like “Man, if we had this a couple months ago it would have been so much easier” but you know, I also like a good problem-solving challenge so it definitely tickled something and I was like I’m gonna fix… I’m gonna figure this out and I luckily did.
MF: So Priscilla shared the fact that this functionality came out and you put a heart emoji, even though you were actually frustrated, you’re like “If only it introduced this six months earlier”.
XC: Yes, because the way that I see this situation and pretty much how I approach a lot of things in life is like: You did all the hard work, sometimes, like, you think “Oh why should I even try to do this. Maybe we should wait.” Because I did see in the documentation they were planning on doing it but they didn’t know when, so…
MF: Right, right.
XC: So it was a point where we had to decide like, “Do we really want to continue and figure it out on our own? And try to see if it is going to come up rather quickly?” It really didn’t. At the time I was like “You know what? Let’s just do it, let’s let’s figure it out, let’s work it, and if they eventually get it right then kudos to them because that will make our life easier.” But at the same time, now I know that… how to do it because sometimes, the way that we haven’t implemented, because of the logic and the complexity of the project, we might not be able to use those folders. So in the off chance that we’re not able to use those folders for Page Designer then we already know how to do something like that, because we already put in the work, we already have the logic and experience to do it.
MF: And it could also be an opportunity for a future client engagement. “Hey client! We did it this way, now Salesforce Commerce Cloud introduced a new way to do it which is already integrated into Commerce Cloud so it will be a bit faster and more efficiently built in. So do you want to hire us?” To translate, what we did into their more efficient built-in system.
XC: Oh yeah, definitely.
MF: Although judging from my experience with clients, most clients will be like “Eh it works, let’s wait until something breaks, and then let’s scramble and figure it out.”
XC: Like “ If it’s working, don’t mess with it.”
MF: Exactly and there’s arguments to be made on both sides. So one of the challenges of planning great client engagements is you see this side, then you see this side, and you have to find the right balance between them.
XC: Oh yeah, definitely.
MF: This was a great little story and it was fun. Thank you for the story and next time you have a little nugget, let’s let’s do this again! And until then I’m sure we’ll chat on our marketing Slack channel…
XC: Oh for sure!
MF: And everyone else, thank you for watching this edition.
XC: Yeah thank you so much! Have a nice day!