Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Development Media Web Strategy

What is 'Content as a Service?

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Development Media Web Strategy

‘Content is King’!

No doubt, if you have anything to do with digital, marketing and website development, you’ve heard this phrase plenty of times in 2013.

And indeed, it is true that in 2013, we’ve all come to appreciate the importance – no, make that criticalness – of content in terms of website success: good content means happy users, longer sessions, better engagement, incremental revenue and the like.

We’re also getting smarter with our content: designing it, making it readable, making it interactive.

Our content is becoming more human, more easy to read.

And both website users and website owners are benefiting.

One of the driving factors behind all of this is a realisation and understanding of how people read online. Or to the fact, don’t read.

Eye-tracking - though really, you only need to think back to your own experience scanning web pages – has shown that users skim pages: they don’t really read them.

Whereas once we wrote large A4 pages and stuck these to our websites, we’re now thinking much smaller in terms of how we write: bite-sized pieces of content, easily scanned and digestible by users.

And here-in lies the conundrum.


The old publishing process doesn’t work

As one article I read put it, ‘in the past, content is published for reading’.

Except as we’ve agreed, we don’t read online. We just scan for the quick bits of information that grab us.

Which means that the process by which we create and define content needs to change. Writing nuggets of copy and headline, ‘Did you knows’ and other such morsels of content instead of writing and publishing big A4 pages.

It is not so hard for a content author to get their head around writing bite-size copy and grab-lines. Not so easy however for the web developer or content editor who does not have the luxury of being the content author and so doesn’t have the context of what content belongs together and what content goes where.

Which subsequently necessitates that the content author become involved in the content publishing process, something which slows things down across the board. Indeed, if a change needs to be made to copy on a published web page, it needs to be authored, marked-up, approved and published all over again.

All the time, involving the content author in the content publishing and design process just so their content makes it to the right place and says what they want it to say.

Which is where ‘Content as a Service’ comes in.

Essentially, Content as a Service is like any ‘as a Service’ where rather than the content (or logic) being hardcoded in the website, it is separated from the website and served on demand from an external source such as a cloud (or wherever you host the content).

The content is tagged up and given context (by the content author) and then made available to the content publishers (together with the context and structure supplied by the content author) so that the content publisher can confidently use the content across the website (or wherever) without the need for review and approval by the content author.

This is because as part of the ‘Service’, the content author can stipulate how the content can be used, ensuring that the content publishers cannot alter the original vision or requirement of the content author.

Better still, if the content author makes a change, the change is immediately reflected on the website or indeed, any websites subscribing to the content service.

This concept of multiple websites subscribing to a content service is great where a business wants to disseminate content to partner websites: one source of content truth, with updates flowing immediately when the content author wants them to.

And all without the content author becoming involved in the publishing process.

You will need to get quite a few people in the room to even work out how this could work for your business, though my experience within banking and insurance clients is that the effort will be worth the medium-term return.

Increasingly, modern/sophisticated websites separate the content/data/business layer from the presentation layer and there is nothing to say this shouldn’t now happen at the content level.