Supercharge your website with a scalable CMS
Tear down organizational silos and build better digital experiences
Building and maintaining an enterprise website will always be a team effort — but in too many organizations, the marketers, designers, and developers who share core responsibilities are siloed and separated.
As consumer expectations for engaging, personalized online experiences continue to rise, the old methods of producing and publishing content through traditional content management systems — or CMSs — are failing.
Competing priorities lead to bottlenecks and slow down progress. Conflicting processes dilute efforts to create the best possible experience for the end user. And disparate, often outdated technologies fracture ownership and prevent autonomy.
Webflow offers a better way: a visual-first, fully integrated CMS that increases autonomy and delivers potent functionality while meeting the highest standards of speed, security, and scalability for any enterprise business.
If you’re looking for a new approach to powering your enterprise website with a visual CMS, keep reading.
This whitepaper will cover:
- The problems traditional CMS solutions leave unaddressed
- How an overreliance on code may be undermining your marketing team
- Why a fully integrated, visual-first CMS is the most sustainable path forward
Recognizing the limits of the traditional CMS
The shortcomings of legacy and headless platforms
Most CMS solutions used today fall into one of two categories: legacy providers that rely on templates, or headless platforms that rely on code.
And the marketing teams that use these solutions are often frustrated by one of two limitations: their designers are too restricted by rigid templates, or their ability to get work done depends far too much on developers.
Restricted by templates or reliant on developers: an expensive lose-lose for marketing teams
Traditional CMS providers — like WordPress — promise to make content creation easy by using repeatable templates. But for modern teams, those templates are incredibly limiting. Designers aren’t able to make their visions for more engaging or user-centric content experiences a reality — at least, not without tapping into engineering resources to update or replace a template through code.
And teams encounter the same core issue with newer headless CMS platforms like Contentful. Designers can create more customized front-end experiences, but they require front-end developers to bring them to life.
These limitations arise from different types of technology, but the outcome is the same.
When a time-consuming development cycle is required to create every new experience, marketing and design teams can’t fully leverage their website to engage with customers or generate leads.
Their hands are tied, and they must rely on outside development support to edit or adjust the site’s visual design or database models. This typically includes:
- Changing page styles
- Adding new page templates
- Adding new components to existing pages
- Creating new fields for blog posts
- Creating new data attributes
How relying on code holds marketers back
In most enterprise organizations, this reliance on code means two paths forward for the marketing and content teams tasked with producing and publishing content:
- Rely on in-house engineering resources to handle front-end development, or;
- Outsource development work to an agency that can build, implement, and maintain a separate CMS into the overall web tech stack.
In both cases, marketing teams lose true autonomy. Content workflows must incorporate external teams, and marketers’ ability to execute their work becomes reliant on roadmaps, priorities, and timelines they can’t control.
When engineering or agency teams have to play a role in creating or updating content on your website, your marketing team (and overall performance) will suffer in three ways: speed, feasibility, and flexibility.
Involving external teams, whether in-house or agency, slows down the cycle of planning, creating, and publishing content. In-house teams are often busy with other priorities, like building or improving your core product, which means website updates are often put on the back burner. And agency teams are often restricted on available hours or need advance notice to resource and incorporate new requests into their schedules.
If something as simple as updating the text on a button requires a product or project manager’s time and energy, it’s a good sign an overreliance on code is slowing down your productivity across teams.
When engineers need to incorporate requests from marketing teams into their cycles, they may push back on more creative or time-consuming requirements in favor of simpler, faster updates. And while an iterative approach may work well in agile software development, it can be incredibly frustrating for content teams who are fighting for resources and used to seeing their requests deprioritized and delayed.
If designers and marketers have to repeatedly compromise on their vision to make more feasible requests, you’ll end up with a less innovative team, a less engaging website, and a poorer user experience.
Modern marketing leaders need to stay agile and respond swiftly to changing circumstances. Across industries, the expected cycle times for executing campaigns, advertising, testing, and implementation are speeding up. But when marketers need to account for weeks-long development cycles in their content plans, that hinders their team’s ability to be nimble and proactive.
If engineering resources are needed to get new pages, banners, or headlines added to your website, your business is likely missing out on timely opportunities — or possibly putting your brand reputation at risk by responding too slowly in times of crisis.
When more teams are involved, more work is involved. And that means lower levels of productivity — and higher overhead.
Adding up the total cost of ownership for your website
In addition to the intangible costs of lost productivity and the missed opportunities described above, it’s just downright expensive to build, maintain, and iterate an engineering-dependent website. The total cost of ownership for an enterprise website usually sprawls across teams, functions, and budgets.
The true cost of engineering-dependent websites
- Initial design and development labor
- Site domain purchases and renewals
- CMS to organize data and content
- Web hosting
- Bespoke tech stack with tools, plugins, and services
- Ongoing development labor for monitoring and maintenance
- Time spent finding and vetting developer talent (in-house or outsourced)
- Time spent project-managing requests between teams or agencies
- Opportunities lost due to launch delays, bottlenecks, and resourcing limitations
Don’t underestimate the compounding costs of continuous overhead associated with making any code change to a developer-reliant website. When a marketing team member needs to update content, build a new page, or add a new section to the site, that takes time and resources to plan, communicate, prioritize, code, test, and deploy.
Whether you rely on outsourced development resources, like an agency, or in-house teams — the total cost of relying on engineers to make every code change will be steep. Plus, no matter the type, it’s likely your budgets will hide a significant portion of the total cost of ownership for your engineering-dependent website.
Siloing your CMS adds friction
Beyond slowing down marketing teams and running up organizational budgets, the traditional approach to content management adds friction by separating the CMS from the rest of the tech stack involved in content creation, design, website hosting, and integrations.
How a decoupled CMS sits in the tech stack
Classic platforms like WordPress or Drupal are monoliths: the front end and the back end of a website are connected in an application code base. They contain everything from the database for content all the way up through the presentation layer, requiring development teams to write code to bring content and design to life. These tools include templates to give non-development teams the ability to publish and update static content, but as discussed earlier, creative teams are restricted in what kind of content they can build with these preapproved pages and layouts.
By contrast, headless CMSs like Contentful provide the back-end structure, while developers build out the front-end presentation and connect the layers of the website via application programming interfaces (APIs). Essentially, these tools treat the CMS as a microservice by using API calls to create, preview, deliver, and modify content types like text, images, and video. While this approach is more modern than the monolithic platforms, the same limitation remains: Marketers and designers are reliant on engineers to create new digital experiences.
How a traditional CMS adds complexity to decision-making
Beyond the creative process, treating the CMS as a separate layer introduces complexity and restrictions around deciding which platform to use in the first place. With traditional content management solutions, engineering and IT teams have to integrate the platform with hosting, security, databases, and other layers of the tech stack that tend to already be in place. So while the marketing or design team may have a preference for a specific platform, they may be overruled by tech teams who feel their chosen tool isn’t compatible with the existing ecosystem.
How a siloed CMS disconnects creatives from the user experience
These kinds of CMS solutions aren’t just siloed from other web-related tools — they tend to be siloed from other marketing tech.
For years, the process of creating, designing, and publishing web content has been a multistep process accomplished across multiple technologies. Copy is written in a text document, visuals are mocked up in design tools, and interaction flows are mapped out in UX software. Feedback and review processes are complicated and version control can become a nightmare. And once everything is finally approved, files are handed off to a developer while the creative team crosses their fingers, hopes for the best, and waits to see what their work will actually look like once it’s ready to preview (or is actually published) within the CMS.
This disparate process often leaves writers and designers unclear about what the end user will actually encounter once the content is live. Without a seamless, real-time idea of how content will be experienced, it becomes difficult for creatives to put themselves in their audience’s shoes and make improvements accordingly.
Forward-thinking teams are beginning to demand something new: a CMS that empowers better user experiences, streamlines the creative process, and liberates marketing teams from an overreliance on engineering.
It’s time to talk about the no-code movement and visual web development.
Traditional CMS solutions are holding your organization back by:
- Slowing down your marketing team
- Preventing innovative user experiences
- Bloating your total cost of site ownership
- Creating harmful silos within your tech stack
Special thanks to the contributors of this whitepaper
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