Decoupled Web CMS vendors have not disappeared

  • 12-Sep-2008

Over the past two years, Web Content Management vendors have fallen over themselves to provide more interactive services on the front ends of websites, closely tied into traditional content production services on the authoring side. Put another way: in an attempt to appeal to the ever-alluring (but often elusive) web marketing manager, CMS vendors are increasingly binding website management to content management.

Even Percussion -- onetime stalwart defender of the decoupled approach, advocate for flexible delivery environments, and ardent supporter of the website developer working separately from content people -- now talks avidly of combining content and interaction management.

At one level this all makes sense. You want to obviate the need for pervasive IT support for interactive websites.

But I'm also noticing a certain subset of customers feeling quite left out. Those who want a Web CMS that won't dictate (or interfere with) their delivery environment are becoming chagrined by constricting choices in the marketplace. They look around and see the likes of SDL Tridion, Interwoven, and RedDot (all traditionally decoupled systems) placing increasing emphasis on marketing applications and Web 2.0-style interactive services.

So it's worth noting that some established Web CMS vendors continue to buck the trend, including Refresh Software and Hannon Hill. As Web CMS Report readers know, Refresh Software appears headed in a newish direction though, towards DITA and component content management. Hannon Hill is more interesting, because they tout their unfashionable avoidance of interactive marketing with great pride. They argue that their higher education and government customer bases prefer simpler systems that "bake" static pages. SaaS provider OmniUpdate -- also decoupled -- makes the same argument. I suspect it's true.

To be sure, it's possible to embed dynamic logic in any of those systems for an interactive experience on the front end, but then previewing pages means the hassle of pushing content to a staging environment first. And perhaps more importantly, non-coders have no control over interactivity. So, there are trade-offs to the decoupled approach, but advantages as well. The good news is, you still have choices.

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