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The Basics into Web Content Management

Christel Forey
Try Storyblok

Storyblok is the first headless CMS that works for developers & marketers alike.

Managing content for the web is still a priority for most businesses and organizations. While there has been a tremendous increase of different devices (mobile, smartwatches, smart speakers,...) and interfaces (IoT, audio, AR/VR), your website is usually among virtual channels for content management. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of a web content management system, why you should use such a system, and its advantages with omnichannel in mind, even if you’re just managing content for the web and the future of web content management systems.

When we look at web content management, many fail to understand what a content management system is, confusing terminologies such as monolithic and headless together. Nevertheless, content management systems are an essential part of any marketer’s strategy towards your brand’s content to the world as a first and potentially lasting impression.

Section titled What is a web content management system? What is a web content management system?

Getting down to the roots, a web content management system is quite simply an application used to create, edit, and manage content and its publication in any format such as text, image, video, etc., online. What stands out with web CMSs is that it allows non-technical users such as editors or marketers to easily create, manage and publish their content without any prior coding knowledge. It easily allows non-technical users to:

  • Championing cross-team collaboration: Multiple users can work throughout the content creation process through workflow management, where each user can be assigned to a specific role, such as editor, developer, marketer, etc. so that all pieces in the content creation process falls into place as they should
  • A content repository: For marketers, having a centralized location with all their content means nothing gets lost in the void - content can be easily accessed at any time

A web CMSs purpose is to create, manage, and optimize your content for your customer’s digital experience. It is an application that allows the users to create, edit and distribute content through means such as web pages, blog posts, and content assets. Yet, the realm of CMSs as a whole is continuously evolving and expanding, coming from a simple system to publish content to one that can entirely manage digital omnichannel experiences and content for adaptability towards various channels such as mobile apps, VR/AR, IoT, and more.

Web content management systems are applications used to collect, manage, and publish content (such as text, image, video, or any other form of media) - examples such as WordPress, Drupal, or Sitecore, and any software initially developed for web content delivery. A CMS, however, further helps users create, manage, and edit the content on their website as well as other channels and devices for omnichannel delivery, making it an ideal choice for businesses that need a web platform for hosting their website content while expanding and tapping into new channels of content distribution. In a way, a CMS is the bigger umbrella where a web CMS exists as a sub-tier umbrella. The way each of these content management systems functions - both from a technical and editorial perspective - highly varies.

WCMSs have been around for a while, being used for anything that runs in a web browser (such as websites, web apps, directories, help desk, eCommerce, intranet, or extranet portals). Most systems used in enterprises today are relative of traditional and monolithic structures where enterprises have relied on, i.e.traditional and monolithic systems consecutively, such as Drupal, Sitecore, WordPress, or Adobe. Depending on the type, different CMSs that currently exist offer a wide range of capabilities - with that, your team should first get familiar with the different kinds of CMSs that exist and access the one that best fits your needs and usability between both developers and marketers.

Section titled The difference between a WCMS and CMS The difference between a WCMS and CMS

The key variances between CMSs & WCMSs are that while they often are used interchangeably as there are many similarities between them, a CMS usually has WCMS components within its making, which then creates a dilemma amongst those looking to adopt a content management system in seeing the distinction between the two systems.

A Web Content Management System (WCMS) is a subcategory of CMS. In the past, both CMS & WCMS basically meant the same thing, ie. management of content for the web. Yet these days, a CMS also manages content for the web and all other digital channels. Combining the two, you can easily create, manage, and distribute your content across various platforms, channels, and devices.

Let’s explore the common capabilities that both web content management systems share and how they can benefit and optimize your content experience:

Section titled User administration User administration

Most CMSs use some combination of user-role-based security and authorization. Users log on using usernames and passwords, and usually, there is some sort of admin interface to manage your web content in real-life scenarios.

With the help of a dashboard, users can find and manage their content, site, view analytics, and performance metrics in a centralized location, all while defining workflow roles that you can assign to help administrate your content creation process smoothly.

Section titled Content management & storage Content management & storage

The core feature needed in every CMS is the ability to seamlessly run content tasks and manage your content as you see fit. Users are provided a way to control their dynamic collection of web assets. These include HTML documents, images, and other forms of media, where the user can edit them with editing and document management tools and presentation tools.

Section titled Content collaboration Content collaboration

Publishing is one of the most key factors to any CMS - the interface that you work with should be easy to use in organizing and publishing content, as well as to add any images, videos, SEO customization that includes meta tag optimization, website security, sitemap generation, header titling and more. Most importantly, content collaboration comes to the organization of your content assets for yourself and other team members involved in the process.

Section titled Omnichannel in mind Omnichannel in mind

A CMS helps users create, manage, change, and remove content from the web without the need for specialized technical knowledge. Typically, a CMS is used by anyone managing content for websites. Usually, this involves the creation, transfer, and publishing of content on a website. Such examples include:

Web-based typesPurpose
Public websiteTo manage your public-facing website that runs on any web browser
IntranetBusinesses can also manage their intranet with a “classic” web content management system
HR portalTo manage employee and other HR information
MicrositeTo run certain marketing campaigns, landing page initiatives, or microsites, a WCMS is a great fit

Section titled The era of a modern CMS The era of a modern CMS

To take this one step further comes the era of a modern CMS, where ‘Content-as-a-Service’ lives under headless CMSs (where the front and back ends are decoupled) that are a different genre and concept to what was previously known. Modern web content management systems such as headless do go beyond web-based types and purposes for managing content. Consequently, a headless CMS solution and also allows you to manage content for omnichannel publishing purposes such as:

  • Mobile apps
  • eCommerce distributions
  • Voice-based smart assistants
  • AR/VR
  • IoT

While there are probably hundreds of content management systems that exist for your choosing, the defining difference is whether you are looking for a monolithic structure or a headless structure. Whether you are an enterprise, eCommerce brand, or looking to host your portfolio, choosing the suitable CMS is an important decision. Consumers and audiences are quickly moving to digital content that moves with them as they go. With that, it needs effortless content distribution across different channels and devices through an omnichannel experience.

Section titled Storyblok: Your modern headless CMS Storyblok: Your modern headless CMS

The point is that monolithic structured CMSs are fast falling behind in keeping up with how audiences consume content. In fact, 2020 saw more than 50% of all website traffic worldwide coming from mobile devices. While not considering mobile applications shows how much consumers are reliant on devices in their day-to-day lives and shows why monolithic CMSs are fast becoming obsolete. Monolithic CMSs are mainly focused on websites for a specific device, limiting you heavily in the opportunity that a headless CMS would give you to publish content simultaneously to different devices and platforms.

While many monolithic solutions such as WordPress and Drupal are already offering their own ‘make’ of headless approaches, these are a fix-all to omnichannel distributions as they were built monolithically.

Consequently, a headless CMS solution gives you more freedom to your content and development workflows and those responsible such as marketers and developers, allowing them to independently yet collaboratively work in their fields of expertise, innovate, and scale more efficiently rather than have to go back and forth continuously. A headless architecture’s versatility is also one that allows the easy adaption and adoption towards new devices at any point should consumer behaviors change, such as through VR/AR, smart speakers, smartwatches, or other IoT devices that will formulate in the future. Its ability to adapt to the needs of your customers, as well as the experience of your developers of easy adoption (i.e., not having to re-learn a new tech stack and instead implement one that your developers are already comfortable with), makes a headless CMS a great choice as the modern CMS for the future.

The necessity of a modern CMS will be needed to adapt for the future and meet your audience’s expectations as consumer behaviors change and your industry as well. If you believe a headless system is a right choice for you, you should consider using a system built as a headless CMS from the ground up.

A headless CMS like Storyblok provides all the features required for a modern CMS that is genuinely headless. The best way to see if a CMS is the right one for you and your team is to get some hands-on experience with Storyblok’s free trial experience or inquire for a demo from one of our specialists.