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The pace of change in modern CMSs often leaves editorial users behind. Why?

The system your editorial teams use to create content is full of rich potential, which many editors are completely unaware of. Rethinking your approach to your CMS opens the door to a new world of publishing possibilities says Glide Publishing Platform’s Rob Corbidge.

By Rob Corbidge

The pace of change in modern CMSs often leaves editorial users behind. Why?

Publishing has always been an industry in a constant state of change and adaptation. It’s not new that reader expectations change and the things we make change to suit – it’s always been that way.

In traditional terms, this meant page sizes, colours, edition times, regionalisation, print stock, distribution methods, all things print has done to stay relevant and accessible – always demanding change from content teams to satisfy.

In digital, it’s been more visible and rapid – from basic websites to better websites, the rise of multimedia journalism, apps, video, audio, social media presence and so on. Again, each requiring content teams to rethink their requirements for a good story.

Add in the mystical needs of Google to rank high in SEO, and today’s journalists know every story requires proper consideration of what its highest uncommon denominators are to rank highest and attract the widest audience.

Yet here is an industry dilemma: I am certain you had countless workshops and training sessions to cover off changes in modern reporting and media production. But how often have you retrained your staff in the power of a modern CMS?

Everything described above leans heavily on the CMS content teams use. It can control the content, how fast it gets made and can be published, much or all of its look, where it goes, how it is delivered into all your channels, scheduling, categorisation, access levels, and much more.

But when it comes to onboarding new staff to your business, or when an entire new CMS is rolled out to it, editorial training usually focuses on what they need to know to get the content out the door – and only that.

That sort of makes sense if you believe CMSs only do the most basic things: users just need to know where to put it and what format, add some categorisation and perhaps some SEO, and boom – job done. There’s not much more to know. Leave it to the front-end tech to do the clever stuff.

Well, to believe that in 2022 is a bit like believing your customer data platforms are just a store for basic data on your customers. In fact, those tools now are all about letting you understand your customers better, and helping you work out what they want more of and how they want it, and how much they will pay for it: they are proactive tools for your revenue teams to grow audience engagement and spend.

A modern cloud CMS is equally a tool that can be at the heart of your growth strategy – and editorial users should be given much more insight into what their possibilities are. To keep them in the dark as to how they can be used is to throttle the pace at which they can create new things, and force your business to become over reliant on development teams to turn new ideas into reality, which is both slow and costly. Or even worse, they are developing the CMS itself rather than leveraging what it can already do.

Today’s modern cloud SaaS CMSs are what content teams have been crying out for for years. They are designed and architected to do new things at no effort to users – things which used to require a developer to code things outside the CMS or on your sites – and they grow new features at a rapid pace.

Cloud CMS put real power in the hands of editorial, so it’s vital we rethink how we can let them make the best of it, and that starts with how they engage with them.

Getting more from your CMS

I don’t think our model at Glide is unique to us, but will let you know how we and the latest generation of editorial teams are doing it.

In the past, when a new CMS was brought in, editorial users were generally there to help establish requirements and help lead migrations, and in turn ascertain the ways to do their jobs – basic user training. The technology teams were the ones getting up to speed with the real capabilities under the hood.

That’s changed. Now, when we establish a working group for a new CMS, it is routine for that team to include one or more key editorial staff whose role is to understand those powerful under-the-hood capabilities and translate them into new ideas for content. It’s a small but very meaningful change.

We now meet content people as up to speed with their new CMS’s possibilities as their technical team is. Those people help inform editors and colleagues of capabilities, kickstart new ideas and plans, or actively use the knowledge to get hands-on, working the levers on sites and apps as page editors and section managers.

What benefits do we see this quickly bring? Well, while your tech team can know very well a CMS, they can’t really predict editorial plans and ideas like content people can.

Knowing what’s possible leads to more “Ahh! So now we can do that!” moments, which spur growth and yield great new ideas that readers love.

‘That’ might be a new paywall strategy, or being on a new device, using data to do something really clever, or covering events in new ways.

In the old ways of CMS tech, you had an idea and worked out if the CMS could do it. Now, CMS tech should proactively lead you to new avenues to play in.

If we were to agree that constant change is now a permanent feature of publishing and not a short-term aberration, I think it’s time we as an industry rethink how we engage with our CMS.

About us

Glide Publishing Platform is a cloud-native content management system especially for publishers, delivered as a SaaS to give the scale and robustness publishers need but without the need to ever develop the back-end.

GPP is at the lead in transforming the old mindset that publishers should build and maintain their own CMS, and removes the need to have developers working on CMS tools full stop. Instead, they can focus all their time and effort on the things which make revenue and which audiences love.

Because Glide is created by people steeped in publishing, for publishers, it’s filled with features and functions which lets editors do more with out-of-the-box tools, such as a full collaborative Live Reporting toolset, image management, paywall-friendly features, and super accurate categorisation. Meanwhile commercial teams thrive with Glide because of the sheer pace they can now move without the need to force new products or partnerships into old systems.