Clickability SaaS Web CMS Clickability is a web content management provider with a twist. Their product, the Clickability Platform, is provided On Demand and is a full service solution offering starting with Infrastructure as a Service and ending with what the company calls Innovation as a Service. The package covers both the back office content management interfaces and, importantly, the delivery and rendering infrastructure. While there's much more to the Clickability Platform then web content management, it is definitely the central component. This Quick Take Review is an overview of the Web CMS portion of the Clickability Platform. For the purposes of this review we have restricted most of our discussion on the Web Content Management capabilities -- although we do mention some of the additional components in their Software as a Service (SaaS) solution set, as interesting differentiators.


It’s safe to say that Clickability Platform -- known previously as cmPublish -- is more than a simple web content management platform. One look at their offering and you see an integrated solution package that includes content management, web 2.0 capabilities, analytics, email campaigns, advertising and more. But before we get into all the built-in extras, let’s review the basics.

Clickability Basics

Vendor Name:Clickability
Product Name: Clickability Platform
Product Category: Web CMS
Typical Scenario: Clickability Platform is the platform of choice for some major publishing and marketing websites

Company & Product History

Headquartered in San Francisco, Clickability was founded in 1999 by 4 Stanford graduates -- rugby players. "...nicest guys in the world but you wouldn't want to line up against us on the Rugby pitch.” They lived and worked out of a 2 bedroom basement apartment for a year (ever shake hands with a business prospect in a ‘fresh from the shower’ towel?), subsisting on Mac 'n Cheese, with tuna on a good night. In their first six months of business they spent US$ 24,000 (including rent, meals, computers, internet access, beer and salaries) -- and we're assuming in that order based on the amount of money. By 2003 they were in beta with their first CMS customer – Gray Television. This turned out to be the single largest SaaS CMS deployment in the world (1700+ seats, 2000+ new pieces of content per week, 30+ sites published). Today, the Clickability Platform is the platform of choice for sites such as Cantor Fitzgerald,, Amcore and of course Gray Television. In addition, the Clickability Interactive Tools are used by clients such as CNN Interactive, The Wall Street Journal and

Market & Pricing

Primary customers for the Clickability Platform are in the Publishing and marketing space. Publishing customers include broadcasters, newspapers, magazine and some pure online publishers. As for marketing clients, these include customers from various industries such as high-tech, manufacturing, financial services, consulting and transportation with marketing and communications sites. “Anyone who is looking for a scalable effective way to leverage their website strategy in a progressive and innovative fashion is a potential customer of ours.” Price Range: According to Clickability, their SaaS solution is 50-90% less expensive than installed software, once you take into consideration all costs associated with an in-house solution. Clickability has just announced three Product additions: Express, Professional and Enterprise which are described in the following diagrams: COptions.jpg
Product Features CPricing.jpg
Product Pricing Partners Network: Clickability has a pretty strong partner network, partnering with some of the top vendors in their area of specialty. Some of these partners include: * Content Delivery:/n Akamai (premium service partners) * Advertising: DoubleClick * Email Marketing: Vertical Response * Web Analytics: Omniture * Website Optimization: Google

Product Root / Original Business Problem

Clickability started by building tools to plug in to major websites. Fast Company was their first customer. Deploying these tools for over 500 sites (including the likes of CNN and Wall Street Journal) enabled them to see what was on the market for CMS products. What they realized was “that the CMS space was completely broken!” Their take was that it took far too long for companies to implement content management solutions and even longer to implement updates, enhancements and other improvements. They saw software as a service as the solution to these long implementation times. The diagram below demonstrates that a SaaS development solution can move as quickly as the changing web technology, whereas the traditional software model happens more as a series of steps that can take long periods of time for implementation. Clickability's Differentiator

Key Features and Ratings

The following sections outline the key features of the Clickability WCM solution. Each section is applied a rating between 1 and 5 (1 being poor and 5 being excellent). To review a summary table of Features and Rating see the Review Summary section below. Product Core Technology * Rating: 4 * Clickability Platform is based on Open Source technologies such as PHP and MySql and Java. It uses Apache as the web server and Velocity as the templating mechanism. Clickability leverages proven Open Source technologies for “cost effective scale”. Content Entities * Rating: 5 * The root concept of a content entity is an “item”. An author creates a content item by selecting a content type from the navigation. The Content Entry form opens and the author can begin writing the content. Figure 1 shows an example of a content entry form. * Clickability Platform comes with a number of out-of-the-box content types such as blog, Job, press releases, case study, FAQ. The nomclementure can be modified to suit the client. In addition, custom content types can be created. ContentEntry-Add.jpg
Figure 1: Content Entry * While an editorial toolbar is available, administrators have the ability to override content formatting using stylesheets in the content templates. Administrators also have the ability to limit the options available in the editor toolbar. * Authors can select a number of categorization properties for the piece of content they create. Categorization is a tiered approach and is defined by the customer. Figure 2 shows a sample categorization page. The fields that can be configured for metadata are limitless and configured for the client. * There’s also a media library that is used to store media assets for the site. A content type can be a media asset or it can contain a media asset. Metadata can be assigned to media assets. * Templating: If the core content entity is a content item, then how does content get into web pages to display on the website? It’s all done by creating templates. You can liken these templates to multi-picture picture frames – giving you the ability to display different content in different sections of one page. The templating environment in Clickability Platform looks pretty straightforward. Novice to advanced users should have no problems using the templating environment. * Developers have an environment for creating and managing templates and other assets like stylesheets. They can also create multiple versions of templates. For example, they can create multiple versions of the home page, each one used for a different purpose. CE-Categoy.jpg
Figure 2: Content Categorization * Another impressive capability of the Clickability Platform is the Targeting Feature. Authors can select multiple targets for a piece of content (Figure 3). These can be different sections on a web site or different web sites altogether. For each target, they can also set a different publishing schedule. Reuse of content is considered extremely critical when building web sites today. CE-Target.jpg
Figure 3: Content Targeting Content Versioning * Rating: 3.5 * Clickability Platform has support for unlimited versions. Authors can view the various versions created for a piece of content. They can make any version of the content the current version. * There is a Diff Function that enables administrators to look at the difference in content versions. * Auditing is also included which is a required feature by almost all companies today. * Asset Locking is another feature of Clickability Platform. When a user is working on an asset, whether it’s a piece of content or a media asset, it’s locked so no one else can work on it. CE-history.jpg
Figure 4: Content Versioning Workflow * Rating: 4 * Administrators can create custom workflows and assign them to content types. This includes the ability to create custom states and assign specific groups to be responsible for the content in that state. Generally, workflow is set up to match the business roles and business processes for a customer. So you are able to completely customize how the workflow is configured. * Workflow is sequential requiring each state’s actions to be completed before continuing to the next state. Step 1: Create a Sequence of States CE-WorkflowStep1.jpg
Figure 5: Workflow Step 1 Step 2: Link the States through Actions CE-WorkflowStep2.jpg
Figure 6: Workflow Step 2 Step 3: Assign Groups Responsible for Content in each State CE-WorkflowStep3.jpg
Figure 7: Workflow Step 3 Multi-Lingual Support * Rating: 4 * Clickability Platform supports multi-lingual web sites. Templates are created for each language required. A default language can be defined if the content is not available in a selected language. * Translation workflow is also provided in addition to the ability to integrate third party translation tools. * There is also a Diff Function that enables administrators to look at the difference in content between languages. This is a nice feature that helps create multilingual content quicker. Editorial Features * Rating: 4 * The role that users play in the application is defined though the sign-in process. When a user signs in, they have access to their Task List or Inbox. This task list displays all items in progress for that user, items waiting to be approved, etc… A user can delete a task, copy it and reassign it another user. * Other editorial features include the ability to spell check content (the spellchecker is provided via the editing toolbar), view older versions (although no side-by-side versioning), and a straightforward approval function which can include email notification. CE-Tasks.jpg
Figure 7: Clickability Platform Task List Customizability/Integration * Rating: 5 * Clickability works with the concept of configuration, not customization. Providing customized versions of Clickability Platform for clients can result in support issues and a decreased ability to innovate the application. * This is a hosted solution, so the key is not to customize it to suit a client, but to configure the options available based on the clients’ needs. By configuring and not customizing, they are able to deliver new functionality on a regular basis. * They do have a deep set of best practices, templates and experience that they access when working with a client during the initial stages. This “discovery” and Statement of process help Clickability to determine how to configure the application for that client. * Clickability listens to their client needs and when an enhancement is required for a client, they develop it and make it available to all clients. This may be why their clients are pleased; they are smart enough to know they don’t want a customized site that could cause them higher costs down the road. * In terms of integration, the Clickability Platform platform integrates with a number of third-party products to provide additional functionality to the client. These include DoubleClick for advertising, Vertical Response for email campaigns, Omniture for analytics and Akamai for highly available content delivery. * Integration can occur at several levels, including backend integration using web services, XML, AJAX and Flash. Content Delivery Architecture * Rating: 5 * Clickability Platform has been built from the ground up using the SaaS multitenant architecture as a key innovation. A SaaS multitenant architecture in one in which all users and applications share a single, common infrastructure and code base that is centrally maintained. * Clickability Platform is on a distributed platform, multiple datacenters and intelligent DNS routing. This means that the platform is well suited for enterprise web sites with high traffic and heavy content authoring. * There are several levels of caching to speed performance. Clickability Platform’s page generation application uses local and distributed object caches. These caches provide fast shared access to all the objects needed to generate a page. * Add Akamai to equation for clients requiring extremely demanding content delivery needs (i.e. a lot of video) and you find that Clickability offers a publishing solution that many clients could never afford in-house.

The Additional Features

Most of these features are out-of-the-box. You do not have to pay extra to get them, they are part of the platform and there to make your website better. Web Analytics and Reporting: Analytics are built into the platform suite. Content is automatically associated and included in reporting. No custom tags or coding needs to be completed. Reporting can be content item based or page based – so there’s a range of different ways to report on a website. CE-Analytics.jpg Some of the different types of reporting include: * Traffic * Social media * Newsletter * Clickability Interactive Tools * Visits * Site comparison * System / technical * Marketing – phrases searched, referring URLs, entry points, exit points. Newsletter: Administrators can create a newsletter of blog content and send it out to subscribers. They can manage subscribers and mailing lists. A double opt-in capability is also included. Advertising: Advertising is directly incorporated into the web site. Administrators can create and manage campaigns and the details of those campaigns. Ads are considered pieces of content, they have targets and Administrators can track the history of their performance. Users can use Clickability Platform’s own advertising functionality or integrate a third party provider like DoubleClick. Clickability Interactive Tools: These are Clickability’s social media tools for a website. Functionality such as email this, print this, save this and most popular is included. This package is an add-on to Clickability Platform and is an added cost. cmSideKick: In your browser you have your website running in one frame and the cmSideKick tool in a second frame. As your browse through your site in administrator mode, you can select areas to modify using cmSideKick tool. You can also view traffic reports on pages. It’s a tool that most Webmasters/Content Producers would not want to live without. CE-SideKick.jpg

Future Directions for Clickability Platform

For a company that embraces innovation, it’s unlikely that changes to the Clickability Platform platform aren’t on the horizon somewhere. We asked about future directions. Although they supplied no details, they did tell about these future enhancements: * Complete redesign and relaunch of Application User Interface * Publication of the complete API and SDK * Content Localization and Internationalization * Personalization / User Registration

Our Take, In Summary

Here's a summary table of the review:
Product Core TechnologyJava, PHP, MySQL, Velocity, Apache Open Source 4
Content Entitiescontent item,content types,reusable content,categorization 5
Content Versioningunlimited versions,version reverting3.5
Workflowconfigurable,sequential,notifications, comments 4
Multi-lingual Supportmulti-lingual support 4
Editorial Featuresspellcheck,my tasks4
Customizability/ Integrationbackend integration with Web Services, XML standards like RSS, XML,JS,AJAX,Flash,etc 5
Content Delivery Architecturemultiple levels of caching,distributed architecture,multiple data centers,intelligent DNS routing 5
Overall this is an impressive solution. The Administration interface is clean, crisp and easy to navigate. If you administer or author for more than one website on the platform, it's easy to move between the two to get your work done. It's also difficult to not look at all the additional integrated capabilities the platform has. These definitely contribute to the Web CMS service's viability for any company. A couple of areas where they could spend some more time is with the editorial capabilities and the versioning. But if they are focusing their efforts on what their clients want and need, then maybe these areas aren't as critical to customers today.

Final Thoughts

When we started this review, Clickability's CMS product was called cmPublish. It has since morphed into the Clickability Platform and is part of a greater solution offering. However, the actual CMS implementation hadn't changed that much. So what we think will be interesting is to see if there are new functional areas and alignments that come from this rebranding or if this is more of a marketing event. Stay tuned. Overall we found the product to be a solid option with pricing that is accessible to the SMB customers. So if you and your ops people are tired of long implementation periods or if you just want someone else to be accountable for the hardware and software needed to support your intranet or internet sites, then we recommend you pop over to Clickability and get in touch with a rep there -- you may just be ready to go SaaS. We would also like to know what you think of our review. Has it helped you understand the product better? What information would you like to see as part of our Quick Take reviews?