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A large part of business content used to be limited to the web or mobile applications. Since the advent of the CMS as we know it, we’ve seen the evolution of content management go from static HTML files to Web CMS, and finally land on today’s landscape of Headless CMS and DXPs.

A majority of the conversation around CMS and digital experiences has been centered around the ability to deliver immersive experiences across websites, apps, IoT devices, and other smart displays. While the ability to deliver this is impressive in itself, we’re slowly starting to reach a tipping point of what digital experience means, and whether that is restricted to experiences we can see.

But not anymore. Today we’re experiencing content beyond just the visual. What was considered just a fad not too long ago, is becoming quite the mainstay in modern applications. Technology like smart homes, smart locks, smart security cameras and AI are just a few examples of technologies we’ve begun to interact with on an almost daily basis over the past few years. But what is the infrastructure behind this? Surely there’s content somewhere, and that content needs to be rendered in a way that can be interacted with beyond just pixels and assets on a screen. In many ways, “Headless” CMSs, or content repositories are doing the heavy lifting of being destination agnostic, where a well-structured CMS project can be used to drive visual, aural and semantic experiences.

One of the reasons for Headless CMS gaining traction is its ability to truly take cross-platform content and make it omnichannel. With companies scrambling to meet their customers across multiple touchpoints, the definition of a DXP goes beyond most use-cases we’ve grown accustomed to hearing. The conversation deviates from heavy feature sets and really puts their ability to model content into the spotlight. We hear a lot on the topics of Atomic Content, Reusable Content, and Structured Content, and while they sound great on an RFP checklist, companies really have to understand the impact of the technologies they choose when setting out to build interactive CX.

Redefining Content Models

So when we approach the reality of our visual, spoken world, we need to redefine the primitives of content models that support these channels. While relatively easy to spin a Headless CMS’s pitch to say “here’s some JSON, it works with websites and mobile and Alexa,” it’s quite challenging to apply that in practice while staying true to the principles of reusable content. There are several considerations teams must look into when setting out to model content that can be equally relevant for visual experiences, as they are for spoken ones.

Some good questions to have answers where the stakeholders agree are:

  • What is the most important piece of information that needs to be communicated?
  • What other information also needs to be communicated?
  • How will people find/interact with this content?
  • Will this information change very often/stay the same over long periods of time?
  • How critical is this information to the broader messaging of the project or essential to the functionality of the application? (ie. metadata for a product UI)
  • What is the goal of communicating this information to the user? What action should they take now that they have this information (ie. sign up for your product, share the information, tell people about the brand)
  • What is the workflow for creating new content?/Which stakeholders need to interact with the content before it can be published?

Content Modeling Approaches

When divorcing the “Page Builder” mentality for such experiences, it’s also important to understand which format of content modeling to approach the problem with (the top-down or bottom-up approach), especially when spoken commands are scoped within the destination of this content.

The top-down approach to content modeling starts with thinking about the intended outcome first, then the high-level information, then the details that are essential to the content model.

Top-down content modeling approach

The bottom-up approach is essentially the opposite of the top-down approach. Instead of thinking about the content from a high-level first, in a bottom-up, you consider all of the details that need to be communicated throughout the project and see what is a good candidate for being repeatable or reusable information.

Bottom-up content modeling approach

Once the outcomes and purpose of the content has been defined, only then should the actual project creation process begin to ensure that content is being served to the right destinations in an efficient way – and can be consumed by all formats, including websites, mobile apps, TVs, watches, smart speakers and more.

Used by over 50,000 teams from companies like Burrow, Telenor, 2U and Unilever, GraphCMS is the first enterprise-class headless content management and federation platform. With the industry's most versatile GraphQL content APIs and a novel approach in external data sourcing via API extensions, the content platform enables use cases beyond simple headless CMS' capabilities.