Perficient Digital Transformation Blog


Personalization: An Attribute Based Approach

This is part three of a five part series on personalization.

  1. Security Based PZN
  2. Customization

Attribute Based PZN

The first two options were important but I don’t tend to call them true personalization.  Attribute based personalization finally gets to the land of actual personalization.  It’s the concept that you choose to display pages, portlets, or content based specific attributes of a user.  The attributes can come from a variety of sources. Here are a couple that I’ve seen:

  1. User repository such as an ldap – this is the most common location or attributes and can include things like geographic location, membership, etc.
  2. Extended repository specific to a site – many times, the ldap will not house all information about a user. If you have specific site preferences where you say what you want to see and how you want the company to communicate with you then this extended repository is a great location for it.
  3. External repositories – this can be any repository outside of the site where you will enable personalization. I’ve seen some sites hit several databases to find things like broker type, member type, partner attributes, etc.

Inherent in the idea of attribute personalization is the idea that your personalization engine can link to these repositories and get information about that user which you can then use to personalize their experience.

Examples of Attribute Based Personalization

So let’s talk about how you can use this type of information.  The sky really is the limit in how you do this.

  • Display an alert message or portlet for any user who hasn’t signed up benefits at the end of the year
  • Display your HR benefits based on whether or not you belong to the union, management, or back office
  • Display portlet on the home page allowing you to approve purchase requests based on the fact that you are a manager (security setting) in the Detroit office (attribute)
  • Target content based on the fact that you set your preference to show only content from Europre
  • Show the content article highlighting the office picnic based on the fact that you belong to the Kalamazoo office.


At it’s heart, this type of personalization shouldn’t be hard.  I find the hardest task to be getting the business to define what rules they want based on the information you have about the user.  This type of personalization can still be extremely powerful in target pages, portlets, and content to users.

Cardinal Personalization Rule

One thing you need to remember: Personalization is not security.  You should apply personalization rules to surface up relevant applications and content. You shouldn’t try to make personalization rules become your default security.  For example, if you tell an employee in Kalamazoo about the office picnic, you shouldn’t keep an employee in Timbuktu from seeing the office picnic article.  Perhaps that employee will visit Kalamazoo and that information would be valuable.

So bottom line, if you use pzn to target content, don’t keep all users from seeing it.  If you do need to secure the content then use the security groups and roles to do that.


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  1. Pingback: Healthcare Portal Personalization: 5 Approaches | Perficient Healthcare IT Solutions Blog

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