Get Engineering out of the Way of Your Content and Marketing Teams

Are your Marketing and Content teams hamstrung and bottlenecked by your Engineering team? If so, this is a drama that you may be familiar with: your Marketing team wants to launch a new campaign, redesign, series of landing pages, or integration to help fuel the organization’s growth.

“How long will it take to implement?,” you ask your developers. The response usually comes in many forms:

  • “We have more important things we’re working on right now. We’ll get to it, eventually.”
  • “You should have thought about this the last time we worked on this. We don’t have time for it now.”
  • “We’ll make this a priority, but (eye-roll) we’re going to make you feel like a jerk for bothering us with things so trivial.”

In my role as a consultant, software developer, and marketing solutions engineer for clients, I have observed a common misuse of content management systems (CMS) that has resulted in myriad problems within an organization. And hey, I understand the frustrations of both Engineering and Marketing. After all, each has its merits.

Ultimately, however, I’ve concluded that the source of the frustrations are not so much a dysfunction of the team as they are a fundamental misuse of the technology.

Most People are Using Their CMS Incorrectly

The promise of the CMS was that your Content team, or even an intern, could maintain content on your web presence without the need of a software developer’s time. And to be fair, this does happen.

The traditional way folks use a CMS is great for “schematically similar” content, meaning things that are all mostly the same, like say, press releases, blog updates, or team member bios – and also listings of this content in novel ways, like on a team listing or press release listing page.

Where CMSs haven’t done so well is on pages that aren’t the same, like top-level pages on your site, or marketing landing pages.

Don’t get me wrong – for these types of content, most CMSs do have a “solution” - but it’s often messy, requiring a thorough understanding of more advanced elements of the CMS, or requiring custom html to implement, leading to mistakes because someone misplaced a closing bracket or forgot how to execute the complex content creation process perfectly.

However, if you’re looking for something that someone can update without involved training or a more advanced skill-set (such as experience with HTML), then these solutions are left wanting.

Project Ricochet’s Solution: a Component-Based CMS Page Builder

Based on our CMS projects with clients over the past decade, we have confronted these challenges with traditional CMSs and developed an approach that allows for flexibility with the creation of “custom” pages by developing a library of components that your team can insert into a page - and customize to suit the needs of a given content or marketing initiative.

Best of all, they can do so with no knowledge of HTML and very basic training on the creation of a page with the builder (which we also provide our clients).

When We Start Working With a New Client, Our Engagement Generally Goes Something Like This:

  1. Introductions and information gathering about the client’s needs.
  2. Wireframing for a small subset of pages to catalyze discussion. Each wireframe is made up of a discrete set of “components” that can be mixed and matched for other pages.
  3. Design comps for each component on a given page, such as the home page, or marketing landing page.
  4. Completion of comps and compilation of each with definition and parameters for customization in a digital “build kit.” Our client’s marketing and content teams can browse this kit as they brainstorm new pages to create from the various components available to them.
  5. Training on how the client’s team can (and when they should) request additional components for their build kit, along with turnaround times that should be expected and incorporated into the workflow.
  6. Training for the content team on how to build pages using the component builder.

It’s important to note that our implementation approach can work with most CMSs in many different programming languages (including Javascript and PHP), so the client’s team does not need to learn an entirely new framework to work with our solution.

We feel that this approach allows you to use a CMS such that the value from your Content and Marketing teams is maximized.

It also results in faster turnaround times for marketing initiatives, from inception to execution (especially since you can usually cut an engineering cycle out of the process entirely if your team is happy with the build kit components they have in their build kit library).

Interested in learning how we can help your team?

Learn how we can help your team design and implement our component-based approach in your content management system.

A bit about Casey:

Casey Cobb (Partner, Senior Software Engineer) has over 15 years of experience in web and software development. He has a B.S. in Computer Science and his specialties include Open Source web development (most notably Drupal), custom PHP, MySQL, jQuery, Zend Framework, mobile development, as well as project architecture and project management.