Introducing Kentico Draft: Solving the Content Entry Dilemma
Posted by Brant Cline on December 10, 2015
There were many takeaways from the recent Kentico Connection Conference in Orlando worth writing about. The one I'd like to focus on today is the announcement of Kentico Draft, a new cloud-based content entry service. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of Kentico Draft, here’s a quick overview.
The Content Production Roadblock
The team at Kentico surveyed partners and reviewed countless web production projects with the goal of finding the single most frequent culprit in project timeline delays. They found that more than any other, the most frequently-cited reason for project delays was content production. There are many reasons that this might happen. In some instances, there wasn’t enough time left in the project timeline for content entry. Other times, the client was slower than anticipated in getting trained and up to speed with how to enter content, and as a result, exceeded the time allotted to get all content in place before launch. Often content creation languishes while the website is in development, and when the site is finally ready for content entry, there’s nothing ready to go.
The Kentico Draft Answer
The Kentico team has created a tool to alleviate this ongoing problem: the newly developed Kentico Draft (https://kenticocloud.com/). The cloud-based service provides a place for content structures to be refined, page content to be written, files to be uploaded, and a full workflow for team collaboration, editing, and approval, all separately located from the Kentico site under development. Whenever the site is developed and ready for content, Kentico has provided a connection that will allow users to map all of your content between Draft and your new site, then run an import, removing the need to do content entry work twice.
By providing a place for content production that can happen outside of the website production timeline, Kentico has eliminated dependencies on development milestones. The Kentico team nailed their research in this area, as far as I’m concerned.
This solution immediately resonated with me as I’ve seen many a project suffer delays because of content. Clients are often responsible for their own content creation in a WCMS implementation project, and while you can set up front expectations as much as you want, it doesn’t make ensuing delays any easier to stomach just because the client may be the responsible party for content entry.
A Superior Solution
It’s our job as the experts in the field to help clients navigate the digital landscape and get their project across the finish line successfully, content entry and all. I’ve seen many other attempts to address this issue within the project process, each of them having been met with varied success.
The classic approach has often been content created with a combination of Excel spreadsheets and Word documents, independent of the development process. With this method, collaboration and tracking versions becomes a challenge.
Some clients have moved that process into cloud-based systems such as Google Docs, which helps with collaboration and versioning, but even with this solution, teams still have the onerous task of content migration once the site is built and ready for content. With deadlines approaching, and clients freshly trained in the CMS and still getting their web-legs under them, content migration will still often fall to the implementation provider in an attempt to keep things moving quickly.
In more extreme cases, where content production was identified to be an issue from the project outset, I’ve seen the whole development process altered, in order to give the client training and access to their CMS environment as early as possible. While this method allows the client to start content entry fairly early in the project timeline, it's not necessarily the most efficient order to do things on the development side of the process. Not to mention, it creates a tenuous process when the client is continually seeing half-developed page templates and asking questions about “bugs” that are actually just development in progress.
Taking Draft for a Test-Drive
I've begun experimenting with a 14-Day Free Trial of Kentico Draft, and from what I’ve seen so far, this solution has the potential to alleviate most of the above content-related issues. The interface is simple, and requires very minimal training to get started. The collaboration, versioning, and team workflow provide major benefits over any static document repository. The content type-structuring feature allows developers to direct the segmentation of content, based on how it will eventually be put into Kentico. And of course, the import utility feature makes moving content to the final site a simple and immediate process.
The Kentico Draft team has also been very responsive in answering my questions as I explore the service. They’ve already released their first update to add new features, so it's clear this product will continue to only get better.
Since Kentico Draft is so new, here at BlueModus we haven’t yet had the opportunity to use it in an actual project. While it may not be necessary for every site we tackle, I can’t help but think that it will be anything but beneficial in instances where content production is complex and integral to the timeline. I look forward to being able to report back in a future post about our results, as well as client feedback once we’ve had the opportunity to use the Kentico Draft service a bit more.
You can learn more about Kentico Draft and give it your own 14-Day Free Trial at https://kenticocloud.com/. If you do try it out, be sure to let me know. I'd be interested to get your thoughts on this service as well.
Brant Cline is the Director of Business Development for BlueModus. Since 2007, he has sold, project-managed, and performed development for many large custom implementations of the Kentico platform, and has been a certified Kentico Trainer since 2010. Brant's biggest soapbox is configuring Kentico to appeal to the internal user experience and streamline content administration.