2018 was a year where we focused on the fundamentals of providing a great service: speed, simplicity, compliance, compatibility, performance and usability. Much of what we did was low level work, such as optimising hundreds of individual data lookups, speeding up the performance of each page delivered, resolving all bugs that arose, and tightening up Affino’s security on every level.
The big ticket developments were the release of Affino 8, the completion and launch of the fully responsive v8 Design Centre, full GDPR and Privacy compliance, and the new Stats Engine. In all we launched twelve service updates including four major ones, and addressed over 1,500 user stories in 2018.
The year started with a bang when we released Affino 8 with the new fully responsive design centre. These two have set a great foundation that we’ve been building on over the year and culminated in Affino sites running up to 300% faster, and the new Live Design mode for instantly accessing live page designs and tweaking them.
We then launched the two major GDPR releases, which saw a complete overhaul of every aspect of how Affino records and manages personal information. We fully delivered on all our GDPR commitments and then addressed all the more nuanced use cases that our customers have been facing.
Affino 8.0.12, which was released in December, is the culmination of six months of performance and usability optimisation, as well as major updates on the Ad service, the new stats engine, new site search and new import & export engines, all of which were top of the priority list for many Affino customers.
We worked many years towards the launch of Affino 8, and the updates we’ve done this year means that we have fully realised the goal of providing an excellent SaaS business platform in terms of the overall feature set and the speed, usability, performance and reliability of the underlying service.
We can’t wait for 2019 and sharing with you the new service updates we have planned for Affino over the coming year.
Here’s a more indepth look of all the key updates we’ve delivered over the past year:
Key Priorities for 2018
- Affino 8 was delivered in January and refined through 12 releases over the course of the year, with 4 being major releases.
- Subscription / Permission Renewal Automation
- We will be introducing new Permission Renewal campaigns which actively target audience engagement and re-engagement for subscription and marketing re-permissioning.
- These bring together message campaigns, conversion events, notices and actions depending on where users are in the cycle or indeed have dropped out.
- Preference Centre
- New preference centre for managing all preferences, permissions and accessing terms and conditions.
- Contact Auto Archiving
- New contact auto archiving and deletion service for automatically removing non engaged contacts from the CRM.
- Mailing List / Free Subscription Sign-ups
- Greatly improved sign-ups with much tighter auditing.
- New Permissioning Audits for each user, showing all permissions, with exact description of permission, and audited timestamps.
- Includes Mailing List, Forum and Content Subscriptions.
- Right to be forgotten
- All profiling can be removed from contacts
- Contacts can be archived from the CRM into a secure archive with fully audited archiving process including timing, archiver and archive statement for each archive / un-archive event.
- Data Portability
- All key personal information can be exported in spreadsheet (admin only).
- Form Entries
- Easier attribution of form entries to contacts
- Full forum subscription audit trail for all contacts
- Content Subscriptions
- Full content subscription audit trail for all contacts
- User Permission Import / Export
- New interfaces for bulk importing and exporting permissions to and from 3rd party products
- Password Reset Automation
- Enforced 3 month password renewal cycle for core CRM administrators.
- Further greatly improved password encryption and security
- Multiple updates to facilitate the anonymity of those who have been ‘forgotten’. Whilst retaining core audit data to ensure no malicious behaviour.
- My Information
- Updated to better support re-permissioning and enhanced mailing list sign-ups.
- Lead Generation
- New generation Lead Gen engine which is fully GDPR compliant
- Returning archive contacts can be automatically re-activated
- Greatly improved Affino’s overall security profile
- Cookies & Cookie Dashboard
- We introduced a Cookie Dashboard with full cookie management along with a greatly reduced set of cookies, essentially removing all non-essential cookies.
- Unsubscribe from all Marketing
- New option for contacts to unsubcribe from marketing (versus all)
- v8 Rollouts
- All Affino elements are now fully v8 responsive
- Live Design v1
- Live Design is now on responsive. You can access the settings and update the content of each design element from the live page.
- Responsive Design Enhancements
- We completed the standardisation of all Affino Design Elements so that they now use the same settings and all can share a single Design Style whilst still looking great
- Affino now supports more control of designs across each breakpoint (screen size)
- Continuous Enhancement
- The front end design team have continued to refine Affino across the board and each release has seen dozens of subtle improvements in page design and layout
- New self-management capabilities, allowing users to manage their own directory entries and upload all media, articles and associated content, as well as set the topics they are targeting.
- Dynamic Forms
- We greatly improved Dynamic Forms this year, primarily to allow for frictionless event registrations.
- Affino can now auto-relate form entries to known contacts, and it is possible to generate CRM contacts directly from form entries, as well as capture terms and permission acceptance with any form entry.
- This means that whatever the event registration form requirement, Affino can now handle it.
- Extensive updates throughout the year have smoothed out the rough edges of Affino’s Awards service, in particular the ability to see overviews of how each award is running, and the ability to export all awards information and media for production management.
- We renamed Print Products to Editions, and have re-built this as the foundation of an edition centric publishing approach that Affino will support in great depth in the future.
- New Site Search
- We’re introducing a new generation site search which sees the introduction of aspected search and filtering, and will be faster, more reliable, and more scalable than the current generation.
- Ad Campaigns
- This year saw two major sets of updates to the ad campaign service, including a host of essential updates: Viewability support on the ad stats, major new ad stats engine with greatly improved insight, filters and a new export; improved targeted, improved campaign auto-balancing; improved campaign projections; and new campaign groupings.
- Message Campaigns
- We have improved Message Campaigns in a host of ways including: improved targeting, permission management, imports and exports, help, management tweaks and the key bounce and analysis updates below.
- Subscription Renewal Automation
- Whilst membership and subscription focused this also applies to all newsletter and permission renewals. Use the new automation profile to set up a campaign of automated renewal messages and the ability to track successes and failures into dedicated Contact Lists
- Bounce Lists
- Improved bounce lists and bounce list management
- Message Analysis
- We refined the message analysis so that we keep the message insight summary data permanently, and keep the individual clicks for 12 months
- We also greatly improved how the message listing works to show enhanced analytics
Social & CRM
- We made hundreds of tweaks to improve the user experience on the CRM over the course of the year.
- Contacts, Accounts, Contact Lists and Opportunity management have all seen major updates this year.
- Password Reset
- Extended to support SMS as well as email, which can be essential for corporate environments
- We greatly evolved Affino’s registration process over the course of the year so that is is far more capable of handling multiple on-boarding streams and much more robust at dealing with non-linear registrations.
- Account and Contact Merging
- We have rolled out new generations of both account and contact merges which now provide comprehensive merges and reports
- There was a major round of HR updates which considerably improved the usability and rounded out the functionality across the whole suite
- Member Listings and Public Profiles
- We have completely re-thought how users, contacts, members, delegates, authors et al are presented on the display side, with much tighter controls and ability for users to manage the presentation of their personal contact profiles.
- Many Minor Updates
- We made a host of minor updates to media management in Affino over the year, including: support for Wistia videos, improved upload performance, related media display, comment and rating support, improved imports and exports on media details, streamlined media workflows, and most importantly you can now track all media downloads effectively with GDPR compliant lead generation.
- The biggest public facing set of updates have been around the checkout process which has been tweaked throughout the year to improve usability and drive up conversion rates.
- Smart Product Listing
- We introduced the new Smart Product Listing with aspected navigation, improved sorting, and a huge array of product listing options including the ability to tightly control how the listing works across breakpoints (desktop, tablet, mobile etc).
- Pro Formas / Orders
- Further enhancements for Pro Forma Orders and Orders, including search, renewals, messaging, status awareness and filtering.
- The reporting has also been improved throughout with more insight, filters, and improved performance.
- Product Detail
- It is now possible to feature and manage far more detail on each product, including using Steps to present advanced product information.
- Control Centre
- Hundreds of usability improvements throughout the Control Centre.
- Greatly speeded up all aspects of the Control Centre for a faster and more responsive experience
- Imports and Exports
- We introduced a new generation of Imports and exports with a completely re-written engine which is faster, has more data integrity checks, now fully supports xlsx across all imports and exports and has improved consistency throughout.
- The latest generation also allows direct downloads right from the Active Tasks screen so no need to wait for emails to arrive.
- Extended Data
- For Affino customers with the dedicated data service Affino provides extended data on all the data captured.
- New Generation Stats Engine
- New stats engine captures and classifies all site activity and performance including human, bot and ‘other’ activity.
- Improved Bot Handling
- Affino now tracks over 2,200 bots and for the first time actively manages and blocks access to malicious bots.
- This is an area we anticipate developing extensively in the future as 95%+ of all site traffic is now bots.
- Affino now supports ABC digital audit compatible logfiles
Other Major Innovations
- Speed and Performance
- The main focus in 2018 has been to improve the speed and performance of every page, every task and all interactions throughout Affino.
- The speed improvements across the board range from 40% to 300%.
- Affino became considerably simpler this year with the removal of all the classic elements and the need to create both classic and responsive page designs.
- Affino also became much simpler with the new Live Design mode for on-page tweaks
- the standardised styles for all Design Elements
- the new imports and exports
- and hundreds of tweaks throughout.
- New Hosting Platform
- Whilst not yet implemented (due in January / February) we have prepared the groundwork for moving Affino to a new generation hosting framework.
- New Bug Detection Framework
- We introduced a new bug detection framework which has allowed us to identify and resolve issues across all client instances.
- This has lead to a greatly improved service offering overall.
- Data Optimisation
- Whilst Affino now retains considerably more insight data than previously we have worked hard to optimise this wherever possible, resulting in far more efficient data storage.
- Zone Scripts
- It is now possible to include 3rd party integration scripts across entire sites using Zone scripts.
- We have maintained a tight security focus throughout the year and Affino’s services have been extensively tested with millions of penetration attempts, DDoS attacks, and ceaseless vulnerability scanning by both criminal and government bot networks.
- We have looked at all points to resolve all identified issues in the shortest timespan and have considerably improved Affino’s ability to fend off low level attacks, we well as roll out enhanced firewall infrastructure when needed to fend off DDoS attacks.
- We have also completely overhauled how the Affino team interacts with client sites with all interactions based on clients granting access and permission.