When we talk about the future of content delivery, we’re interested with how content and data will be published on websites and what advances in web technologies will make this more effective for teams. We introduced a few of these concepts as part of a recent meetup for the Common Web Platform (CWP) community. SilverStripe Solution Architect Ingo Schommer previously covered headless CMS in a great technical overview, this post however looks at the same topic but how it relates to marketers and content teams.
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Where we’re at— the traditional model
I just published some content on a website. In fact, you’re reading it right now, probably on your desktop computer, maybe on your phone or a tablet.
I did this by loading the blog content into the SilverStripe CMS editor, I made some styling tweaks, added some photos and then published it to our blog as a new post. The implementation and distribution of content however, requires a change, pushed predominantly by where and how audiences are viewing data and content.
Most content management systems today have a fairly standard approach to publishing content (usually in HTML) to the web, which up until 2011, was predominantly consumed by desktop devices. For most content teams, this traditional approach works fine for now but it does have its limitations. The primary one being that audiences now consume content and data in a multitude of places on a number of devices, meaning the audience reach went from anyone with a computer to pretty much anyone.
Often when we try to create content that appeals and is relevant to everyone, we end up with unfocused and dull material making the traditional model of publishing content less than effective.
Multiple devices— the personalisation challenge
Audiences now consume content on devices such as watches, phones, inside virtual realities and even household items like fridges thanks to the IoT movement. This makes the traditional model of serving data and content to all these devices a bit of a ‘one size fits all’ approach, in that the CMS + website determine how the user will consume the information (content) irrespective of their device (context).
As marketers and content writers, we know the pains of creating content on the web, how it reads and renders on front end devices and the effort it takes to duplicate content to be relevant for another persona or demographic. We are however on the cusp of a new frontier, which promises the ability to publish relevant, personalised content to the right audiences in an efficient and flexible way. In essence, content teams and marketers will be able to do a lot more with much less effort.
Where we’re heading— what it means for CMS users
The future of content and data distribution lies in a Headless CMS, powered by APIs that analyse audience data to then serve relevant content accordingly.
Ok, but what does that mean?
Firstly, what’s an API? For developers, an API is essentially an agreement between the developer and the software they want to exchange information with. API stands for Application Programming Interface and as an interface, allows developers to connect and interact with the applications they want to use when programming. Software and web applications can have multiple APIs that serve multiple purposes but ultimately help developers integrate quickly and deliver data efficiently.
Sure, but why should I care as a marketer or content author?
When APIs are introduced onto the scene, the concept of a Headless or Decoupled CMS becomes relevant. A Decoupled CMS is when there is an API layer in between the CMS and the frontend.
As marketers, we typically create content based on personas or segments. We craft content for one type of persona at a time which can often be hit or miss approach. With a headless approach however, we can reuse the same tailored content across multiple channels based on the same personas. We can then track and see that only the content relevant to the specific personas is being shown to those groups. It’s a massive shift in how to frame content creation for organisations, enabling content as a service, as opposed to just pumping out content that may or may not be relevant to the user.
Finding a balance between a simple approach and powerful tools can be challenging, and that’s exactly the conversation we’re having here at SilverStripe. With our latest SilverStripe 4 release, we focused heavily on our API infrastructure, making it easier for developers to build a headless CMS on SilverStripe.
We believe that content teams should have flexible content publishing tools to keep them relevant for their audiences and tactical in the industry. Providing robust and usable APIs for development teams, lets your internal content team (and other organisations) interact with your content across the internet. As organisations realise the benefits of disconnecting raw content from the presentation channels where it is consumed, we’ll start to really see how this new approach to syndication content will be adopted.
At SilverStripe, what we care about is building amazing software that facilitates the exchange of information, its ease of consumption, and the resulting outcomes.
If you’ve liked what you’ve read here and want to learn more about the future of content delivery, dive deeper into the concepts we’ve touched on and download our free guide to the Future of Content Delivery.