Third and Grove: The future of digital experiences

“You can do great things with a little boldness, preparation, agility and a dash of luck.”

At Acquia, our partner relationships are the foundation of everything we aim to achieve in open source digital transformation. In this series, we will be highlighting the work of Acquia partners as they transcend boundaries and lead us into new frontiers in the digital era. 

Known as one of the newest and most exciting technologists on the scene, Third and Grove is an award-winning digital design agency. They are best known for working with mid-market and enterprise clients to develop web experiences in Drupal and Shopify Plus. They have worked with a number of innovative brands such as King Arthur Flour, World Vision International, Benefit, Mint, Quicken, Carlyle, among others.  

In the following interview, the Third and Grove team shares their thoughts on industry trends, strategies, and what excites them most about the future of the digital experience. 

What specific trends do you see in the industry right now that lead to customers requesting your services?

As more parts of a business are digitized or involve digital components, the experience layer becomes more complex. Going with a headless/decoupled CMS offers a number of benefits to the adopter, including increased developer velocity and lightning-fast user experiences, which becomes very valuable as digital complexity grows. 

Also, this isn’t a new trend, but we are continuing to see organizations adopt a data-driven design and strategy approach to align institutional goals with digital goals, and increase ROI on their digital spend. Organizations that do this are pulling ahead of organizations that don’t, and that brand and engagement equity only compounds with time

Similar to being data driven, organizations are really just starting to understand the importance of going beyond the page view, that is, investing a modest amount of time in adding custom-event tracking to various parts of their sites to really collect the right data and have an analytics focus. Success is often found in knowing the right questions to ask about the right data. 

Finally, there is a great focus on engineering best practices. The twin trends of increased digital spend and ever decoupling of martech services and tools means that quality integration work between a website and third-party systems, both internal and external to an organization, are fast becoming a competitive advantage. If you achieve strong developer velocity you are more agile, and more agility means you are more able to capitalize on luck. You can do great things with a little boldness, preparation, agility, and a dash of luck.

In your view, what are key technology trends that customers should be prepared for?

First, headless/decoupled approaches are starting to become viable for mid-market clients. By virtue of their size, mid-market companies enjoy more digital agility due to less bureaucracy, so they can take more risks and reap the rewards. Second, streamers are the new influencers.  Third, 5G will become real for the first time this year, and the wired internet may become replaced, at least in urban areas. Finally, social story adoption has quadrupled in the last four years and is now a dominant cultural force.

What is one recent Drupal-powered project your company worked on, and what were some of the challenges you faced?

Our team is creating a redesign for WVI and are working through the same challenges of telling their story digitally that comes with any enterprise-level company. At this level of the project, it’s less about Drupal challenges and more about nailing the digital strategy.

When you are a multifaceted organization, you have a lot of departments and stories to tell. We’ve been working with WVI to seamlessly tell each part of their collective story in a cohesive way. We do this by ensuring the design and architecture is fit to the story itself. This is essentially what a top-down site means when you look at your goals and then build what you need from there.

For a company to succeed with launching a new website, what would you say are the top three points you would want them to consider?

First, set your goals and work backwards from there. Second, use analytics data to inform decisions. A CEO once said “If we have data, let’s go with that. If all we have are opinions, we’re going with mine.” Third, embrace agile marketing.

What are the benefits Drupal provides to your clients that other CMS platforms don’t?

We would point out the following as definitely beneficial to clients: time to market, cost; open source; large plugin ecosystem; security; Acquia’s ability to offer a strong, secure, and rapid infrastructure platform; strong multilingual support; and comparable feature set to AEM, especially around editing experiences. 

What excites you the most about the future of digital experience?

That digital is taking over the world and it’s fun to make websites. This feels like what it must have felt like in the 19th century and Railroads for several decades it was constant growth and expansion.

Senior Editorial and Web Operations Manager

Adrianna Shukla

Former Senior Manager of Editorial and Web Operations Acquia