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Surviving the content management jungle (Cont..) dynamic content delivery

There’s no denying that content management is huge. Special features that any CMS should have to fit the definition (one that is being extended on a daily basis!) are:

Dynamic content delivery and personalization features

Sites need dynamic and user-relevant information today. A user demands real-time changes and updates to content, along with personalized and targeted content.

Now, how does a CMS make all of this happen? Any user, beginning from the author to the editor to the designer to the administrator can add and modify content anytime. Updating a news section is as simple as navigating to the section and clicking on 'add' and then filling in the content and saving it. Price lists, entry forms and feedback forms can be defined and displayed in the manner needed and stored in a database on submission or triggered to send an email alert to the specified address.

Content types can be defined, categorized, deployed and published. A CMS breaks down and tracks individual documents thus allowing easy personalization of content. The site can deliver custom pages based on user preferences.

Content repository

Storing content in a common repository with the ability to reuse and re-purpose content (Text and form are stored separately) and a preview of the content as the user views them. Content is stored here without being associated with a presentation template and can therefore be deployed in a variety of contexts.

Workflow

The core of any CMS tool is the workflow engine -the workflow process that connects the document from the author to the production staff in the smoothest and easiest possible manner. It breaks down every step of the process and can be managed by the administrative staff regardless of their technical expertise. A workflow engine helps organize content from inception through deployment to eventual archiving and deletion - the complete life cycle.

A user is permitted to modify some areas of the site and can view, edit, approve and deploy content through a standard interface. So, authors and designers can work without getting into each other’s way. While editors and content creators don’t have to worry about the presentation elements, the designers and template developers can concentrate on the presentation of content without worrying about where and how the content is created.

In today’s globally distributed offices, production staff from different locales can collaborate on content production and publishing.

Organization and management

When we talk of the multitude of content being created and deployed from different locations – text, images, media types and design varieties, we realize the dire need for organizing work and content, and a CMS must support this feature. Companies hire people to maintain their many web sites. They need an interface to create new content sections and delegate management responsibilities. Content categories need to be approved before publishing.

Since text and form are stored separately in the content repository, it makes it easier for editors to handle uploading without actually knowing HTML and design. This results in early publishing of content with more accountability.

Collaboration

Content grows with any organization. As the organization spreads its wings and takes root globally, content contribution takes on a gigantic scale and so does the production process. Workflow collaboration and streamlining the production process go hand in hand. Efficient workflow engines facilitate collaboration, not just within the process but also with customers outside.

Content, its users, and the relation between content, users and its owners and the process when controlled and tracked, right down to the individual staff and content items, promotes collaboration.

Flexibility

When production environments change the CMS should be flexible enough to deviate from the process and also configure the existing process to multiple production environments. Handling complex workflows, iterations to the process and shifting of tasks from one user to another are extensibility features required.

Publishing

Preview a content item and its presentation elements together, view the editing history and selectively make changes if necessary before publishing it. Marking items for release and removing the expired ones are a few benefits that a publisher or editor can avail of when using a CMS. A user can browse and search through live and archived content and at the same time users can be given restricted access to certain parts of the site and the rest can be locked for viewing.

Implementing a CMS requires a thorough assessment of the specific business application needs in the organization. Handling correspondence documents, claims processing, whatever, the successful implementation involves using the right technology to suit the specific needs.

To summarize, what a CMS does is to manage interactions with content stored in a repository, administrate workflows and define roles and tasks and manage them. A WYSIWYG or a “what you see is what you get” preview of content enables efficient production without the knowledge of HTML or design. Design conformity makes sure that editors don’t interfere with the content presentation.

Sometimes, banner management systems, online poll management and online forms building facilities are offered as a part of CMS solutions.

Future of Content management solutions

The range of documents, media types and content types are exploding today and being able to define and manage all these types and then deploy and publish them is not easy. Content management solutions that offer decentralized maintenance of content and are extensible, integrate easily and are flexible.

The typical uses of a CMS are in large corporate web sites, portals, e-commerce, and Intranet and knowledge management applications. In wireless applications, a CMS delivers relevant and targeted content in a timely manner to mobile computing services like PDA and cell phones.

What a CMS does is for a customer the ease of use and for a developer, the design and setup according to customer needs built and deployed in record time.

A CMS process explained
  1. Define the content type
  2. Organize, manage and track content
  3. Process in multiple data formats
  4. Define and manage workflow
  5. Common storage
  6. Library services
  7. Presentation templates
  8. Search archived and live content
  9. Complex workflows
  10. Real-time changes to updates to content
  11. Targeted and personalized content
  12. Decentralized content maintenance
  13. Customer self-service
  14. Flexible and extensible

 


Content Personalization


 
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