March 4, 2020
Managing Content in a Hybrid CMS
Managing Content in a Hybrid CMS

The key benefit of a headless CMS revolves around a clear separation of content management from content delivery. But while many headless CMS solutions do this easily, what they don’t do well is provide an authoring experience that enables marketers and other business people to manage their content well. That’s where a hybrid CMS can help.

Creating a Structured Content Model

The first step to managing content right is creating a structured content model. A clear breakdown of a content item into its elements and attributes enables the delivery of that content to multiple channels. The addition of metadata to those elements means you can leverage the content you create on your website, but also on a mobile app, business application, voice assistant, smart device, digital assistant, and others.

Your hybrid CMS should provide a place to define this content model. It supports the creation of content types with associated elements and attributes, as well as a taxonomy for both topics and audiences, which includes the relevant metadata you apply to your content.

Content level permissions are something else to consider when you define your content model. Often, you will create and manage content that is available only to certain groups, and you will need the ability to assign permissions accordingly.

A Better Authoring Experience

Where many headless CMS solutions fall short is in the authoring experience. It’s easy enough to tell content authors and editors to fill in form fields to create content, but there’s a lot more that goes into content creation and management.

In a hybrid CMS, the authoring experience is robust. It provides all the core capabilities of content authoring, including adding, editing, and tagging content, but it goes further by providing critical management capabilities for your content.

  • Content Preview: Because a headless CMS separates content authoring from content delivery, you can’t see how the content will look in the end destination. A hybrid solution provides remote preview by simulating different destination channels so you can see how your content will look and quickly make changes.
  • In-context Editing: One of the nice features of a traditional CMS is the ability to edit your content in-context (edit a web page directly). You can’t do this with a headless solution. In a hybrid CMS, however, if you create a delivery tier within the CMS, which many marketers prefer to do for their websites and landing pages, then you have this capability.
  • Governance: A hybrid CMS provides many important governance features that aren’t available in a headless solution, including URL redirects, link management, accessibility, SEO, spelling and grammar, and others.
  • Scheduling: Content has a shelf life. But that shelf life may be different depending on where the content is published or the version of the content. The ability to set up review schedules, as well as the end of life schedules for content is something a hybrid CMS can offer.

Another benefit of a hybrid CMS is that you have the best of both worlds in terms of how you create content experiences. The content API enables the publishing of content to websites, applications, and other channels external to the CMS. But there are situations where you might prefer to use the CMS deployment tier to serve your content.

Your website is one example. Landing pages and campaign pages for marketing are others. Marketers need the ability to quickly and easily update these types of pages to meet the evolving demands of customers and to spin up new campaigns quickly. They can’t do this if the web pages are managed externally by developers.

Robust Workflow and Reporting

Workflow is another key capability that a hybrid CMS has over a headless CMS. We all wish we would write great content out of the gate and automatically publish it to every destination channel. In reality, content goes through a review and approval process that involves more than one person. Which is why workflow is so crucial to content management.

When you set up your content environment and define your content strategy, you outline workflow processes that you set up in your CMS to manage your content. Some of the basic workflow processes include:

  • Check-in/Check-out: To manage content that multiple authors/editors work on.
  • Versioning: You may want to work on a new version of your content while an older version is published. Or you may want to publish a new version only to certain channels.
  • Review and approval: Content may go through multiple reviews and approvals.
  • The publishing of content (and the unpublishing of content) through start and end dates.
  • Translation workflows for content that is published in more than one language.
  • The publishing of related social media posts.

You can also bridge workflows creating a more intricate set of processes to ensure content is managed and published properly. For example, a review and approval workflow is the first step, followed by a translation workflow, followed by a publishing workflow.

Reporting features in a hybrid CMS give you a high-level view of your content, its current stages, where it is deployed, and more.

Managing Digital Assets

Most content models focus only on text-based content. But as more and more content is comprised of digital assets like images, videos, podcasts, and documents, it’s just as important to apply your content model to these assets.

The right hybrid CMS will enable you to map taxonomy and metadata to your digital assets. It will support workflow processes that include these assets, even if they don’t live within the CMS itself.

Ensuring Content Agility

Too often, people don’t consider all the effort that goes into creating a piece of content, especially when you have solutions that offer simple input forms and consider content creation done. Whether you publish content to a website, an application, a mobile app, or voice assistant, you need to be able to manage that content according to defined rules and processes. A hybrid CMS supports multi-channel publishing while ensuring you have the proper content management on the back end.

Posted by David Hillis