Industry Insights

Acquia Partners on Accessibility, Experiential Commerce & Drupal

Tune in below to watch our final three interviews from Acquia Engage with technology partners Siteimprove, TA Digital and Valuebound. Below, you will hear more about accessibility and compliance needs, experiential commerce and the Drupal 8 platform.

Adam Segar, Strategic Alliance Manager at Siteimprove

Just this past summer, we had the chance to interview three other employees from the Siteimprove team. When we heard that we had the chance to also speak with Adam, we were very excited to jump on the opportunity to gain his expertise and knowledge in website accessibility.

Web accessibility and compliance needs are topics that we often discuss here on CMSC Media so to start things off, I asked Adam what his thoughts were on the advantages in supporting compliance and accessibility with Drupal. “In the Drupal community and the Acquia ecosystem, it’s very interesting how everyone’s contributing all the time to make it a better user experience and a better experience digitally and from an accessibility standpoint, it’s nice to be a part of that community networking here at a conference like Engage where you can meet with all the agencies and all the other technology vendors and bring your solution to them. Compliance is a focus of all organizations but the toolset and things that would revolve around this community are all very different.”

That said, Acquia has quite a few higher education customers and given the nature of those websites they can be quite complex. We wanted to know from Adam his advice to customers looking for digital certainty on their website. “Accessibility itself is a long term project. You’re not going to tackle it all at once so by using a tool like Siteimprove you’re going to be able to analyze your accessibility over time and make improvements where improvements need to be made strategically.”

Companies need to understand the different types of online challenges that their customers are facing and look to accommodate those challenges. While we were already on the topic, I wanted to hear Adam’s thoughts on what these types of challenges are when it comes to accessibility. “I’d probably go back to prioritization again and which areas have the most impact and then how do you analyze and spend your time wisely. So our tool will help you prioritize those different issues based on where they are on your site, how many views they're getting, how many times before clicking on things and then when you go to make changes, you’ll improve that customer experience. You’ll have a website that’s more usable for all users and it's very important to keep the eye on the prize there that you’re trying to do something that is helping lots of people.”

Dr. Ali Alkhafaji, CTO at TA Digital


At the event, there were quite a few exciting announcements made about some of the platforms doing big things. Exclusively, we were excited to speak with Dr. Ali Alkhafaji to discuss TA Digital's announcement of CommerceFactory, their version of an integrated digital commerce platform. Powered by Elastic Path and Drupal CMS, the platform can be hosted on Acquia Cloud and “will combine the long term, overarching flexibility of a headless approach, with the advantage of a reduced time-to-market and simple pricing structure.”

Dr. Ali Alkhafaji spoke about the launch in a private session but we wanted to hear more on the benefits that these combined platforms have to offer. “For us it’s the idea that the new generation of commerce is really rooted in the experiential commerce which is the idea that you build that connection and that emotional context with the end user and we were able to really portray that aspect of commerce in the CommerceFactory building storylines, building a narrative, having that connection with the end user. Things like one-page checkouts, storylines, feature products and put that all together in a turn-key solution that can get clients live on enterprise commerce and enterprise CMS in 3 months. That has been a very compelling state and everybody has been very excited to hear that.”

Being so in touch with the commerce space and where things are heading, our last question for Dr. Ali Alkhafaji focused on the biggest trends he thinks we will be seeing more of in the future of commerce. “So the typical answer you’ll get is things like AI, machine learning, search, IoT, and obviously all those things are going to be applicable but the one that I really feel is going to be the biggest trend and the one that is going to have the largest impact is taking it back to the human factor and really building that connection. You know, we talked about experiential commerce as a conceptual idea but it’s really not, it’s taking products that people are already interested in and talking about and giving them that experience and building that emotional connection that is really critical.

Study after study shows we buy things that we like, we buy things that we feel close to, we buy things that we connect to, sometimes people spend more money on things that they feel are better quality, people spend more time or effort and even wait longer for those types of products. You know, you see companies like Tesla and Apple sell the same product with additional features at a much higher price and they sell it at record prices because they build that emotional connection with the end user and that is really what I believe is going to be the next step especially for online commerce, it’s to start building that once again. Tying the brick-and-motor stores to the online stores.”

Sujit Kumar, VP of Strategy at Valuebound


Valuebound, a CMS development company specializing primarily in Drupal CMS development, also works with Craft CMS and front end technologies such as Angular, Vue, React and Gatsby JS.

To start, we asked Sujit the current challenges customers are facing and how their team of experts can help. “We’ve been around in this sector for more than 8 years and Drupal 8 specifically. Customers are facing mostly migration challenges still and most of them are not on Drupal 8 and many of them actually move to Drupal so the migration challenges are one and then you have the third-party integrations. You have so many things like Marketo and so many other third-party integrations that they are looking for. The third thing is the Drupal development itself, and last but not least the Drupal developers are very difficult to get. We make sure that the process that we have, we sort out their implementation problem.”

Working with various markets in the industry such as media, publishing, high-tech and other large enterprise sectors I wanted to know what makes Valuebound unique in the digital space. “We mostly work with the North America market and the sector that we are looking at is eCommerce technology, as well as media, is our biggest clients. In fact, we had Time Magazine as our first client for Drupal migration back in 2015."

Sujit also shared with me a product they are currently working on, the Drupal migration estimator that helps companies figure out their Drupal 7 to 8 CMS migration cost in less than 15 minutes. Sujit emphasizes how the tool can help clients get a clear plan of action and help with their migrations plan. “Many of them as I mentioned are on Drupal 7 and they are looking to migrate to Drupal 8 now and in the strategy process they are not able to understand how much it costs and the time estimate it takes so they are not able to plan it and when to start. So our product helps them get the migration time and estimate within 15 minutes so people have a lot of benefit and in fact, because of that they can actually plan out their strategy for the entire migration.”

Gabriella Pirrone

Gabriella Pirrone

Gabriella is the Digital Marketing Assistant for CMSC Media. She brings a wealth of knowledge from not only a CMS perspective but also content, SEO and eCommerce. She enjoys everything social media and staying ontop of the latest trends in the digital marketing world. 

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