Why Drupal Delivers as a Single Source of Content

By Rajdeep Paul 10 min read

Content is the key to effective brand-customer engagement. Successful brands use a mix of platforms and channels to deliver the right content to the right audience. As consumers engage with brands, the biggest challenge for content authors is to maintain consistency and continuity across these channels.

Customers use different ways to gather information about brands. Their experience varies across channels and devices. To deliver a consistent customer experience, the same content must be used across channels. However, content creation and distribution is complex, and brands must be prepared to deliver the right content to the right devices.

Let’s explore the problems of content creation and its maintenance in an organization. We will also see how Drupal 8 (a CMS – Content Management System) can be leveraged as a solution to this.

What are the different types of content?

Content is the sum of fresh, readable, relevant and useful information. Good content always engages readers and helps them gain information about the content’s subject. It also looks good and is easily understandable. There are several types of content which authors create to share knowledge about a subject. Some of these are mentioned below:

  1. Marketing content
  2. News
  3. Manuals
  4. Blogs
  5. Social media posts
  6. Audio
  7. Videos
  8. FAQs
  9. Whitepapers
  10. Graphics

How a brand uses its content

A brand uses content to connect with its customers. Rich content easily conveys the requisite message about the brand to customers. This includes website content, mobile app content, social media posts, emails, etc. For example, if we visit any car company website, we will see information about Ford’s cars and information to contact its representative. The content is enough to make the reader interested more about the brand and its product.

How to create content for a brand?

Brands can create content through a multitude of ways. However, it is important for a brand to set targets/goals. Else, the content will be scattered and volatile. Generally, there are three goals to follow:

  • Entertaining: Audience will share your content if they find it engaging and relevant
  • Informative: People who are unaware of your product/services will gain knowledge about it
  • Conversion:  This type of content gradually changes the mind of the consumer.

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What is quality content?

Quality content is successful content. Quality content achieves a goal set by the organization. It possesses the following attributes:

  • Information: Rich content does not touch an issue on a high-level. It delves into details and adds insights to the issue which engage the readers to think more about it.
  • Entertaining and shareable: Best content is always straight and simple. It is full of information which engages its audience which makes its shareable.
  • Unique: Unique content helps readers to think in different way about the subject. The authors must add their own salt to the make the content different from others.
  • Adds value: The content must add new points to an existing subject else the readers will not be engaged. It must offer new viewpoints to the readers and explore unaddressed areas of the subject.
  • Authors should consider following points during writing:
    • Knowledge of target audience
    • Problems of the audience
    • Information related to problem’s solution
    • Unique viewpoints about the problem or the solution
  • Optimized: Authors must write optimized content which will help search engines to rank the content. It must be SEO friendly. Some points to follow for SEO friendly content:
    • Include target keywords in every possible way
    • Use high-quality images that have alt text
    • Write interesting headlines that make readers want to click
    • Check the page loading time
    • Maintain quality of content

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How to maintain content quality?

The digital world is competitive and content driven. To sustain, organizations push authors to prepare as much content as possible. Publishing a lot of content, specifically content that is rich and optimized for SEO, traffic and engagement will follow. However, this practice is being widely followed, and as a result, a lot of low-quality content is available. Rather than providing valuable information that can builds reliability and engagement, this approach creates a jumbled and frustrating experience. As we see actual performance of published content, the observations are:

  • A good number of websites with huge volumes of content have little traffic. However, creating this content is a time-consuming exercise, which results in wasted time and lost opportunity.
  • The authors mostly do not have the knowledge on why the content fails to reach the audience. Search engines employ complex logic to pull out the right content for readers.
  • Deciding the subject is critical as very few topics can attract a large audience. Brands can publish content on topics that are unique but if people are not interested, there will be no search and as a result, no viewers.

Its always a challenge for brands to publish content which has a large and sustained impact on readers. Here are some points for developing a program that generates quality website content:

  • Develop concrete objectives
  • Do research
  • Get into details
  • Align to marketing strategy
  • Keep track of content

What is content workflow and how complex it can be?

A content workflow is a sequence of jobs that a content author needs to complete for a given client or content type — website, blogs, news article, etc. Workflows can be different depending on project or the content’s subject. A typical content workflow includes tasks like these:

  • Outline
  • Write
  • Review
  • Edit
  • Approve
  • Publish

Content can be created in multiple storages for different usages. Some content will be used for websites, advertisements, emails, etc. Some will be for blogs, videos, webinars, etc. Content authors can create these in a web application like CMS or computers using software like Microsoft Word. They can use the same content in both storages by doing copy-pasting. By doing this, several versions of the same content are created in different storages which is the root cause for the inefficient content creation process.

What are the disadvantages of a complex content workflow?

When content is scattered across multiple areas, it leads to several challenges or disadvantages for the organization such as:

  1. Administrators need to log into different systems to add/edit/delete content. The content access settings will be confusing to those admins.
  2. When the content resides in multiple areas, it is hard to know what the actual content is. Moreover, it is not easy to determine how the content is being viewed by the visitors in different endpoints.
  3. A large volume of content will confuse the administrators. They will be unsure about the actual content and end up spending more time to validate the content.
  4. As the organization is maintaining different systems to store content for a different purpose, authors will be confused during content creation. The content creation interface is different, and it will show up in different ways. The authors need to switch from one system to another which will lead to quality issues.
  5. For example, the interface and rules to create content in Drupal are different from Magento. Day by day, the complexity will increase as new endpoints will come into the picture. That will make the brand to get more systems to reach to these customers. As much it is huge, it will be tough to maintain content’s consistency and that will make the disjoint customer experience.

Even if the organization is using a CMS and stores all content there, that content is coupled with its theme. That content is optimized in that way to display properly in that theme only. They must have an upgrade to their content strategy so that the same content can be used across all devices with different sizes and resolution.

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Solution: Single source of content for all platforms

Basic idea

The organization will use a single system for its content’s creation and storage. The system will have provision to expose the content via multiple methods like APIs, feeds, etc. The different platforms will pull the content from this single system using these methods and proper authentication. Any creation/update to content will reflect on every platform whenever it will be published. All the authors will log in to this system to create content for different platforms. Different authors’ accessibility to content will be governed by the admin of this system.

For example, if the admin like to change the organization’s tagline, he can update that in this system. The same tagline will start reflecting everywhere immediately. The admin or authors can see all the content in the same place and its different versions also. The challenges mentioned above will be addressed easily by using this solution.

Advantages

  1. Content structuring: We can create content types and use its different fields like title, body and its summary to store content. Depending on the platform, we can create specific fields also and developers will pull those specific fields to display requisite data. The content needs to structure in such a way that developers can pull content easily with the minimum level of customization. They can work for different platforms like website, mobile apps, etc and yet the same content must be shown. For this reason, the content pull must be based on APIs. The “API-first” approach will help developers from different platforms to get the requisite data.
  2. Reusable content: All the content resides in a single area which makes life easy for admins and authors to get proper and right content. Knowing the right content, they can reuse the correct channels.
  3. Single content repository: As the content stays in a single repository, it is easier to get the actual content. It is easy for developers to pull the content needed for different platforms.
  4. Content workflows: As the same content will be part of different platforms, a good workflow must be placed among content authors and their levels. That will help in maintaining proper quality among different channels.
  5. Content access controls: As all the authors are logging into a single system to create content, it is easier for the admin to manage them by giving proper content access permissions. Admin can create user groups and manage their access settings. It is easier for them to enforce proper guidelines or rules for content creation among authors.

Technology

Any CMS with basic features like storing content, content workflow with multiple roles and permissions can suffice this concept. Currently, we have several CMS which been used by many organizations to publish their content. Among them, Drupal, AEM, Sitecore are very much noteworthy.

The introduction of Drupal 8 in 2016 makes a huge leap in this scenario. One of the main objectives of Drupal 8 is to support this concept by making REST API as the part of his core framework. Using few authentication modules, we can make these API secure and expose content to any other platforms like Mobile Apps, Third-party applications etc.

Some other features of Drupal 8 which makes it way ahead of other CMS for this concept:

1. Opensource: The term “Open source” defines software whose source code is made publicly available. People use these to develop applications and can also extend its features based on available support inside the framework.

Opensource is widely famous and favourable due to some points:

  • No pricing/subscription involvement. It is free to download and if needed can be modified.
  • Community driven: Many developers used to contribute to the framework regularly
  • Stability is high as it is being tested and verified daily by mane developers. Any issue arises is submitted to open forum community and resolved.

2. Content-type and Taxonomy:  Drupal 8 had structured its content storage based on Content-types and taxonomy. Basically, we store content in Content-types and categorizes it using taxonomy. It has in-built capability to display these contents in blocks with provision of multiple layouts and themes. Creation of variety of field-types like date, email, text area in content-types gives extra edge to Drupal 8.

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3. Content workflow: The Content workflow is in the Drupal 8 core. This serves to provide easy editing and managing the filling of the site. This is a huge advantage when there is a content authoring team available in organization and multiple content for different platforms needs to be published.

In this workflow, we define multiple user roles and attach them to content authors like content writes, reviewer and approver/publisher. Whenever a content needs to be published, it must go through different states like draft, reviewed and approved/published. These states will be handled by the content team with different roles. For example, a content writer will write a blog in draft mode and send it to content reviewer to review it and change its state. The activity is logged in a history. Each step is recorded so that you can track who made a change and when they made it. Moreover, it is possible to know who reviewed and approved the revision and when was it done.

Basic features:

  • Review content by selected users before being published
  • Allows you to edit content and create new revisions to be approved
  • The groups are empowered to approve changes
  • All activities are being logged
  • Permits to have own workflow
  • Monitors code quality
  • Controls security and usability
  • Create content revision

4. Content Authoring: The latest version of Drupal has made it easier for site administrators and content creators to add and edit content quickly across multiple devices. It features a newly designed content creation page which includes two columns – one for the content fields and the other for optional settings. Its CKEditor has been revamped with a WYSIWYG editor that contains formatting buttons like bold, italic, images and links. This interface lets you modify the text, use ‘drag and drop’ feature to remove items on the toolbar and edit image captions. New inbuilt editing in Drupal 8 has streamlined the content authoring process, allowing users to click and edit content on the front end, without going to back-end.

5. Users, roles and access to content: Drupal can create users and attach them to roles. Each role has its own set of permissions. These set can govern the user to access content based on its role. Using this, the admin can restrict a specific set of Content be accessed by a role.

6. REST API: It is also a core Drupal 8 feature. It enables Drupal 8 to support API-first concept. Drupal 8 can expose content to third-party applications suing REST API. It can expose the content via JSON, XML format. Third-party applications like mobile apps needs to grab these contents after proper authentication and display.

7. Authentication: Drupal 8 supports multiple authentication methods like OAUTH2.0, Basic Auth by installing some extension. It is easy to configure and manage.

8. Multilingual: The translation systems in Drupal 8 has been completely rewritten. There are more than 94 languages available for installation as well as out of the box multilingual features and a more flexible language code mapping system. We can easily translate regional content and implement local languages with Drupal’s multilingual capabilities that can be applied to all fields, forms, and messages.

Developers can now build pages with language-based blocks and views filtering. Also, Drupal 8 supports 4 different modules for language and translation support.

Conclusion:

While customers access content in multiple channels and devices, brands must ensure that it flows seamlessly. For authors, the content creation process should be lucid and intuitive. By keeping content in a single place, businesses can simplify content creation and deployment while gaining efficiency and control.

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Written By

Rajdeep Paul