Surviving the content management jungle (Cont..)
Theres 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
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.
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.
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 others way. While editors
and content creators dont 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 todays 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
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
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.
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
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 dont
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
|A CMS process
- Define the content type
- Organize, manage and track content
- Process in multiple data formats
- Define and manage workflow
- Common storage
- Library services
- Presentation templates
- Search archived and live content
- Complex workflows
- Real-time changes to updates to content
- Targeted and personalized content
- Decentralized content maintenance
- Customer self-service
- Flexible and extensible