By Kyle James
The HubSpot Website Platform add-on continually improves its offerings by adding new features—and HubDB is no exception. This addition to the HubSpot CMS platform brings advanced functionality and features that provide teams with new capabilities. HubDB enables developers to build pages that utilize and support database-driven content, all backed by a world-class content delivery network.
Over the last year since HubDB was released, building websites in HubSpot has become a more dynamic experience. Now, more than ever, HubSpot websites are robust and interactive; they even rival the capabilities of WordPress. From managing calendars to building resource centers, HubDB enables website owners to create more versatile, effective pages.
Let’s review how HubDB can impact your organization. What is HubDB?
Have you ever used a spreadsheet software like Microsite Excel or Google Sheets to organize and sort information? If so, then you’re already familiar with what HubDB is. It's a single table database structure that allows you to build a table from which you can dynamically request information be displayed on your website. If you want to go more into the specs, I'll link to a couple of HubSpot articles on the subject below.
- How to use HubDB to build databases (HubSpot Academy)
- Building Dynamic Pages with HubDB (HubSpot Designers Resources)
- HubDB Documentation
The best way to understand how to use HubDB on your site is to see it in action. There really are hundreds of applications for its use, but here are a few that we've found invaluable in building marketing websites.
This is a very simple application. Most marketers have events that they are attending or hosting and want to share these with their audiences. One of the challenges of listing events on your website is that once the event has passed, you have to remember to remove the listing. By managing events through HubDB, you can enter a start and a stop date and programmatically tell the system when to no longer display the listing. You can also easily use sorting functionality to display events by categories. In this specific example, you will also notice that if an event is categorized as a Webinar, we still might want to display it after the fact. This can be done through coding pulling that sort of information from the HubDB data.
It has long been the standard that Resource Centers are built on HubSpot using the Blog module. This is great as long as you keep things basic. However, the instant that you want to have multiple types of categories, content types (i.e. ebooks, webinars, case studies), and subject types (i.e inbound marketing, SEO, web development), things start to get complicated quickly. Also, using HubSpot's blog to develop a resource center isn't the most user-friendly back-end experience; it's not completely intuitive, and a user needs to be trained to add and update listings.
Not only does HubDB allow for many more advanced features in building resource centers, but it's much easier to update. The example below shows a more complicated persona, content type, and category structure, along with interactive loading and search functionality. Yes—you can even search the HubDB instance for matches!
By now, you might have noticed that on this website, the footer of every page has a short testimonial by a client of ours. These are dynamically loaded from a HubDB instance. They are categorized based on subjects so that certain pages will only pull from certain categories, so as you surf around our site you are going to see different testimonials in the footer that are randomly pulled depending on the category of each page. We are also building a Testimonials page for the site that allows you to sort and view testimonials based upon category or industry. That page will also include headshots from this same HubDB table.
Some additional applications include (but are not limited to):
- Course Listings
- Ecommerce Listings
- People Directories
- Store Locators
- Interactive Maps
- Real Estate Listings
- Office Locations
- Image Galleries
As you’ve learned, HubSpot can do 95-98% of what you could want a website to do. However, like any website platform, HubDB has its limitations. One of these limitations is that it isn't a fully relational database schema because you only have access to a single flat table. This prevents some of the more complicated and advanced data structures that you might want. It is possible to “hack” solutions around some edge cases, but for most complicated cases, sometimes you just want an advanced database with multiple tables and unique key fields linking things together.
These more complicated and advanced elements aren’t usually required for a website whose main purpose is marketing your business and being its 24/7 storefront and lead generation machine.
Hopefully now you can see the benefits of adding HubDB to the HubSpot CMS platform. It gives you more advanced functionality on your website that would have been previously impossible—or at least really hard—to accomplish in HubSpot. HubDB is a welcome addition that will make building websites in HubSpot more robust, interactive, and dynamic. Remember, it’s basically a table of structured data that you can pull information from as needed or required to display.
Have you used HubDB on your website yet? Please feel free to share examples of its use on your site in the comments.