Nearly a decade ago, Contentful pioneered the cutting edge of content management solutions with headless CMS. With the exception of Paul Rudd, a lot can change in a decade. Cars can now drive themselves, and apparently bucket hats are all the rage again. How we treat and think about digital content has absolutely changed as well.
We’re at a turning point in how people prefer to work and develop content that they’re proud to show off. Customer preferences have also changed, shaping new trends in the experiences built – they’re faster, more connected, and adaptable – and the tools we use to build those experiences are reflected by a new category of content management: composable content.
Composable content is digital content that has been broken down into small but meaningful pieces that can be used in any combination across channels and experiences. Just as Paul Rudd and bucket hats have stood the test of time, so too has Contentful’s ability to lead the market into this next wave of content management, this time with the Contentful® Composable Content Platform.
What does “composable” really mean?
The term “composable” is fairly new and has been applied to all kinds of related ideas: composable architecture, composable enterprise, composable commerce, and composable content. The principles underpinning composable are not new, however.
Concepts like service-oriented architecture and object-oriented programming reach back nearly to the dark ages (well, at least the ‘90s and the ‘60s, respectively). Even structured content is about a decade old. The key in all of these is the idea of modularity: creating small chunks or components that can be composed and reused — and platforms make this possible.
The difference with composable content comes in the way we think about content and design for reuse — and scaling across channels, regions, and brands. It’s not simply a matter of creating content that might get used elsewhere, it’s about drawing on content wherever it is and determining which chunks can most easily be combined in various ways to create new assets and multi-channel, multi-brand experiences. Subsequently, how we structure that “chunked up” content within our systems has become critical to how we help businesses organize and access it.
It’s with these changes in mind that we’ve set the direction of our platform toward composable content. With the right tools and level of simplified sophistication, teams spend less time hunting around for that one paragraph that was just used for that other project or wading through tickets to update the website ASAP, and more time whipping up new experiences and content — which are far more fulfilling and effective uses of time.
Companies whose core business revolves around content have been pushing the envelope the furthest and fastest. For example, gaming is a huge industry where we’re seeing composable content play a strong role. They’ve already figured out how to manage all the details — characters, abilities, sequences, contexts — crucial to building successful games. They apply the same sophistication to their other content as well, whether it’s managing the complexities of game ratings or personalizing in-game offers.
Matching content sophistication to core business operations isn’t limited to entertainment. Take Moderna, the American pharmaceutical and biotech company that was one of the first to develop an mRNA vaccine for COVID-19. Moderna called on the expertise of Apply Digital, a Contentful solution partner, to change the way content is created, managed, and propagated across the organization. Apply Digital knew that directing the company toward composable content was the right approach to meet the “digitize everywhere” mandate while keeping the proverbial foot on the gas.
As Barbara Salami, VP of Digital for Commercial at Moderna, said during Fast Forward Live:
“I think it all comes back to this idea of what does the customer need? When, how, and how quickly can we get to them at that moment of need? And that's what we want to do with our content technology. And this composable content [gives us] the ability to provide them with the right information at that most critical time. That's literally what we're looking to do.”
At Contentful, we’re privileged to work alongside the trailblazers that are showing the way. But all kinds of businesses see the value of making composable content part of the way they operate. Our goal — and the vision for our composable content platform — is to push the trailblazers forward and make the benefits of their experience accessible to everyone.
This is why we’ve built solutions for working with composable content into our product. These out-of-the-box capabilities streamline more of that bespoke work into automated, simplified processes.
The Contentful Composable Content Platform
For Contentful, we know that the journey to perfecting our composable content platform is long, but we’re already making major strides. Today, we are excited to share our latest innovations.
Specifically, there are three key updates to our platform that are sure to improve the way teams across your company work independently, yet in coordination.
1. Connect content experiences across teams, regions, and brands
In most organizations today, content lives in giant, inaccessible repositories, or is spread across multiple disconnected silos.
Piecing together content from different sources to produce digital experiences is mostly a manually scripted migration process. This has proven to be both expensive to maintain and a time-consuming solution. Problems compound when multiple business units are involved and needs for localization or cross-channel publishing arise. These additional layers of complexity slow down digital production and impede businesses from achieving their goals.
To alleviate some of the redundant, monotonous work teams are faced with, we built new orchestration capabilities directly into the platform. These capabilities make it easier for organizations to reuse content, stretching the initial investment in that content even further, and increasing developer efficiency within the platform by centralizing necessary tasks.
The new orchestration capabilities announced at Fast Forward Live allow users to:
Use references to allow any team to easily reuse content across digital experiences
Create a library of content models to spin up new experiences, and sync those experiences at scale
Build apps that orchestrate any content, anywhere, for business-specific needs
These capabilities were built with developers, product owners, and digital leaders in mind.
Developers using these features can eliminate manual migration (and save content editors from copy/paste errors), reduce custom development and maintenance of middleware, and launch new digital experiences faster, at scale.
Product owners will likewise be able to replicate content architecture with the click of a button, sync common components across spaces, and reuse content to launch those digital experiences more efficiently and cost-effectively.
From their perspective, digital leaders will appreciate how quickly their teams can move and expand into new markets and channels once time-consuming, repetitive tasks become a thing of the past.
2. Streamline content editing, publishing, workflows, and governance
Day-to-day content operations using disconnected solutions are a heavy burden on content teams, and especially draining for people who thrive on creating and innovating.
Instead of doing the work they're good at, content teams are distracted by manual, error-prone, and time-consuming tasks required to assemble, edit, approve, and publish content for an increasing number of digital experiences. These teams are overwhelmed and struggling to figure out the right things to do to keep content flowing through an increasingly complex lifecycle.
At least, this is what we’ve been hearing from our customers. It’s why we’re excited to announce Contentful Studio – our new workspace built specifically with content teams in mind.
With Studio, you can easily access all the tools needed to produce high-quality content quickly, and with much less reliance on developer teams. Studio puts the power of content creation directly into the hands of those who need it most. And with Studio’s built-in workflow features, in-app guardrails can be set to make sure nothing gets broken.
Any and all content teams across the business – this includes content owners in non-traditional organizations too, such as Legal, HR, and Customer Support – will have the ability to work independently, yet in coordination with the entire business to build and scale content for maximum efficiency.
We expect these roles to feel especially giddy about this new editorial experience:
Copywriters will be able to create high-quality, consistent, on-brand content, without extra work or extensive training on how to use the platform.
Editors will be able to maximize content quality and performance, optimize content publication velocity, and minimize risks to the business and brand while also helping team members understand their responsibilities, how to complete them, and how their work fits into the bigger picture.
SEO managers will be able to increase rankings on search engines to maximize leads and conversions with access to quick and easy editing.
Developers will rejoice at the reduced overall time and effort required to set up and support content teams. With their non-technical peers able to produce content across all channels autonomously, the constant flow of IT tickets logged by content teams will come to a blessed halt.
3. Build any content experience imaginable with an extensible ecosystem
From day one, we’ve developed the Contentful platform to be extensible by design. This open-ended approach allows our customers and partners to take what is provided out of the proverbial box and adapt it to meet a wide range of unique business needs and use cases.
We’re able to provide this extensible experience thanks to the power of the Contentful App Framework, our robust ecosystem of technology and implementation partners, and the Contentful Marketplace full of ready-to-use apps.
Gone are the days of the monolithic “all-in-one” platforms that somehow managed to give you far more than you needed and not entirely what you wanted all at once.
Today, businesses want to adopt a framework that allows them to plug in the latest (and, dare we say, trendiest) solutions to extend your content platform for whatever your internal teams or your customers need.
Indeed, it is the App Framework that brings our composable content platform to life – we’ve even built new experiences like our Merge app on top of it!
We aren’t just tooting our own horn, either. Recently, we’ve had well-known companies build their own integrations using the App Framework that are available today in our Marketplace, including:
Writer app, an AI-powered grammar and style checker that keeps copy typo-free and on-brand;
Wistia, which allows users to insert Wistia videos into their content without the need to copy an embed code or open a separate tab to access the Wistia site;
Shopstory, a visual/no-code builder that allows e-commerce designers, marketers and content teams to build new visual content without waiting for developers; and
Ninetailed, which brings a powerful personalization tool to our platform, letting editors personalize content and run A/B tests.
We see hundreds more custom apps built using the App Framework each month, and far more customers than that using custom-built apps. We’re continuously engaging with developers to learn how we can further streamline the app development process, and we’re building what we learn directly into the framework.
In this past year alone, we’ve shipped many new App Framework features, including these crowd favorites:
App actions, which allow individual apps to link up together and power complex workflows.
Cross-environment support opens the doors for building apps that tie together multiple spaces.
A new version of our open source design system Forma 36 brings Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) level AAA compliance in all of our React components – except for our color palette which is optimized for level AA – giving you a chance to enhance our platform with features that look native to our app but are also fully accessible.
And finally, one of our most highly-requested features, the ability to customize each space's home screen, which users see when they first log in. This feature update allows that initial experience to be tailored to the things that are most important to the user, to get started for the first time and streamline their daily routine.
The richness of our ecosystem buoyed by the incredible partnerships we’ve grown over the years is what drives us to continue innovating on the Contentful Composable Content Platform. We’re excited to see what new apps and integrations we build in the coming year!
We’ve only just begun
It bears repeating: the journey to perfecting our composable content platform is long. But with this batch of product releases, we’re headed toward a world of composable content.
We’re already hard at work on the next wave of releases that will further the realization of our composable content platform, and we look forward to sharing them with you soon!
In the meantime, check out these resources to learn more about what was shared at Fast Forward Live: