It’s 6 AM and the alarm rings on your smartwatch. It’s time to start the day! So you check the weather forecast on the watch. As you head to the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee, you speak to the Amazon Echo on the counter. "Alexa. Play me some music."
As you await your caffeine fix, you open your tablet, and cycle through your progression of apps: email, Flipboard, Facebook, Nuzzel and NY Times for Android. You finish your coffee, hit the shower, then jump into your car.
After a quick peek for time-sensitive emails, your Waze app fires up. It connects to your car dashboard via Bluetooth, and is ready to tell you the best way to avoid traffic on your morning commute.
What’s Missing from This Picture?
Your morning routine represents how we consume content today, and
provides hints at how we'll do so in the future: smart devices embedded
in all aspects of our life, and an evolution from typing, clicking and
swiping to using your voice.
And, oh! I forgot to mention that you’re Generation X. Your consumption
habits lag behind your more progressive colleagues, who are Millennials
and Generation Z. Follow them around and you'll understand even better
what the future will bring.
You arrive in the office and power up the laptop. We now get the answer to "what's missing from this picture."
Websites and browsers!
Once upon a time, we sat at a desk, used a computer and visited
websites. We still do that today, but far less frequently. As our
morning routine shows, content consumption no longer happens when
sitting still, but instead when we’re moving, away from a desk or
If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this article, it’s this:
Your content must be ready to reach users in this new world.
In other words: you need a Content Management System (CMS) that
publishes beyond websites. Let's consider how a CMS makes this happen.
Carrie Hane, principal strategist at Tanzen has a good definition of structured content:
"Structured content is content that is planned, developed and
connected outside of an interface so it’s ready for any interface. It
treats content as data, so it makes sense to people and computers."
In the morning routine I covered, here are the list of devices:
- Coffee maker
- Amazon Echo
To manage content in a scalable manner, it must be stored outside of
an interface, and it must be ready for any interface. Instead of storing
web pages, you’re storing the individual content chunks that comprise a
web page. These chunks can be made accessible to a smartwatch, an
Amazon Echo, or any other device, even a coffee maker!
Content strategists refer to this as COPE: Create Once, Publish
Everywhere. Imagine if you needed to manage separate content systems for
each device: to update a product description, you’d need to repeat the
same steps for smartwatch, Echo, tablet and smartphone!
Metadata and Taxonomy
Metadata is data that’s used to describe content. Taxonomy is the way
we organize and classify it.
Both are essential: it’s not enough to
make content available to any interface, it must also be meaningful and
contextual in the channel it surfaces.
The rendering engine of a CMS knows how to take structured content and
have it come to life on a web page.
But in other systems where there's
less structure on the front end, it's metadata and taxonomy that help
determine which content elements to display.
Application Programming Interface (API)
Structured content, metadata and taxonomy prepare content to be ready
for the future. But we can't predict what devices we'll use in the
And what’s where an API comes in. An API enables devices to make
queries to a CMS to access the underlying content items.
The API is the conduit to content stored in a CMS: as devices and form
factors proliferate, the API will be used to query and retrieve content,
then package and present that content to end users.
Let’s say a restaurant stored its menu items in a structured content CMS.
It could tag a particular item as the daily special. When I ask,
"Alexa. Tell me the restaurant's daily special," the Echo knows to make an API call to the CMS to retrieve content items with the proper tag.
To learn how to make content available to applications via an API, you can register to view this on-demand webinar.
While we'll be building and supporting websites for a while longer,
maybe it's time to take the "Web" out of "Web CMS." After all, our job
is to create and manage content, then make it available wherever
customers need it. If we ask,
"Alexa. Tell me what the future holds" she may not know the answer. But rest assured, our content will be ready for it.
Note: This post was originally published at CMS-Connected under the title "Content Management Systems Need to Publish Beyond Websites."
Related White Paper
How the Right CMS Makes Content Available When and Where Customers Need It
To have your content reach customers when and where they need it, you need a CMS that takes a structured content approach. By storing content outside of an interface, you make it available for today's technologies, along with the technologies that will come tomorrow.
Download the white paper now.