Your content creation process will change dramatically

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Is your brand considering a headless content management system (CMS)? Join the club. Nearly 30% of software makers plan to replace their current CMS with a new one, according to a Forrester survey 2020. When B2C and B2B companies explore headless technologies, it’s usually because they want a better way to catch up with their customers; they want to bring them content across an explosive array of devices, apps and platforms. A headless CMS makes this job much easier.

But before you take the plunge, here’s what content marketers and content strategists need to understand: Your content creation process will change dramatically when you go headless. You will need a new mindset and a new approach. Once you get the hang of it, you will recognize the tremendous efficiencies of a headless rig.

How is content different in a Headless CMS?

The easiest way to understand Headless is to compare it to a traditional CMS, which has a back end where you create and edit content, and a front end where it’s published, usually a website. But with headless, there is no front-end at all. This is no longer the job of the CMS.

Content management is now separate from content presentation. The Headless CMS simply sends the content where you need it: a website, mobile app, chatbot, product interface, social media feed and more. You create these platforms separately, and the headless CMS connects to them through an application programming interface (API).

In an omnichannel world, this approach makes life much easier for content creators. You don’t need to write and publish a snippet for each of these platforms – you write it once and your headless CMS does the heavy lifting. Need to modify the copy? Do this once in your CMS and the update appears on all platforms.

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The power of structured content

To accomplish this feat, a headless CMS relies on structured content fields, where content is broken down into its individual components or blocks, and then reassembled or customized for different channels.

For example, technical information about a SaaS product might consist of separate structured fields for the following: product name, brief description, list of main benefits and features, product update / version information, case study ‘customer usage, product FAQs (a structured field for each Q&A), and much more.

In the past, all of this information could be written and published as a single static web page. But through structured fields, these small blocks of content can appear as needed in apps, web pages, product interfaces, and chatbot responses. This structure gives developers and content creators much more flexibility to prioritize customer needs and deliver the right information at the right time, through their preferred channels.

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A New Mindset for Creating Headless Content

Creating these smaller blocks of content requires a new mindset for content creators and a new approach to content strategy. In a headless environment, you have to let go of thinking about content in terms of rigid and static formats like web pages or FAQs. Instead, focus on content blocks and smaller pieces: what they should be, how they should be organized, how they will relate to each other, and how they can be reassembled and reused across different canals.

This process is called content object modeling, and it takes careful planning up front to ensure that the content structure you have in place will meet your needs. A recent content article Say it well: “Forget what you know about traditional CMS that limit your modeling to predefined content types and stop thinking about content in terms of individual projects. The new approach to content modeling is to organize content types, not page types.

The success of content modeling depends on close collaboration between content strategists and developers. And before you create a new block of content, you need to be aware of the channels, planning ahead where it might live and how it will be consumed.

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The content hasn’t really changed

Some might argue that a headless CMS turns content into another field of data. But content will always be more than data, and great content will always be defined by its ability to engage readers and deliver value. A headless CMS simply requires a different approach to creating great content and, in turn, delivering a better content experience to your customers.

Lindy Roux is Executive Vice President and Partner at Tendo Communications, a B2B content agency based in San Francisco. She has over two decades of experience in the areas of content and digital strategy, CMS, SEO, user experience, consumer insight, branding and analytics.

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Jenny T. Curlee