Free-Flowing Content as a Microservice
Decoupled, liquid…and headless?
DNN’s launch of Evoq 9 required a moment to understand what exactly those identifiers mean for content management, but the company’s vision becomes clear when their release is understood that marketers can now create content once and use it anywhere. We’ve heard this promise before, though, but where DNN’s new “content as a service platform” called Liquid Content (delivered as a microservice via DNN’s Liquid Content Cloud) stands to be different is that it keeps content agnostic and in its truest state allowing marketers to access, retrieve and re-use content for any asset (a blog, a landing page, a kiosk, an app) or device (mobile, smartwatch or any number of devices we’ve yet to imagine).
Let’s back up.
Content management has always been page-centric, says DNN’s VP of Product Development Will Morgenweck. In order to create content, businesses had to create a page and keep the content there. Without a lot of intervention (developer, designer, marketer, platform), there wasn’t a way to take individual content elements and use them on another channel (like a mobile app) in a way that matches the look and feel of its new home.
“Liquid takes the shape of the objects it’s placed in and flows around barriers and obstacles,” said Navin Nagiah, President and CEO, DNN (formerly DotNetNuke). “Our vision with Evoq 9 is to transform your content into liquid. Your content becomes fluid and adaptable, and can easily be published to any channel.”
The way it works is Liquid Content has visualizers (see image) that sit on top of content – kind of like filters used within Instagram but for content, says Morgenweck – ready to transform it to the look and feel that a marketer wants or that any channel demands. Using an API, marketers can “talk” to content and do whatever they want with it. Think about an About Us page; it often has executives’ headshots, titles, names, bios and social media links. Since those are individual content elements, a user can now leverage one of the 100-plus visualizers to take a content element, let’s say a photo, and make it round, square or any other shape that is native to where it will now be published. Rather than doing the rendering to make this happen, marketers are simply repurposing and applying separate design elements as needed using the same data elements.
It's where the industry is heading. Adobe, for instance, offers Adobe Spark. Even though it's somewhat of a WYSIWYG app (in the most Adobe way), Spark resizes graphics with one click to publish on any network a person chooses and is a good indicator of how companies imagine content to adapt.
Like with Evoq 8, one of the top storylines with this release is empowering marketers, which is a reason Evoq 9.0 is built on a microservices architecture to eliminate IT bottlenecks and so that updates (like more visualizers) can be pushed automatically regardless of whether a customer upgrades (like to 9.1) or not.
For the unfamiliar, microservices are said to speed up product development and make platforms more agile. DNN, for example, has its on-premise product and in order to give a customer one feature, according to Morgenweck, the company would have to build an entire product, release it and then it's up to the customer to update. Microservices allow DNN (and others) to separate everything, so they can focus on a specific feature and deploy that specific update. For on-premise customers, it gives them the benefits of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, which brings up a good point about DNN users with older versions.
Going forward, Evoq is cloud first, and every new feature will be designed as an individual feature. That said, DNN says it maintains commitment to backward compatibility, and is also ready, of course, to help customers with a seamless upgrade (no broken content, no broken images, etc.).
What’s particularly appealing about 9 is its microservices nature because DNN has plans to go in the direction of outbound marketing as well, which can easily be pushed to Evoq 9 users when it's ready in 2017. DNN now has the ability to pull content for any channel and measure it (see image), but the next step is multichannel publishing – taking that content and pushing it to Facebook, Twitter, etc., and being able to measure those efforts.
The way DNN handles metrics now is a deep integration with Google Analytics, and everyday content developers can see where exactly visitors are converting as well as top assets, navigation summaries (see image) and more.
For example, let's say a company has a product page with a lead-capture request for a demo, whitepaper or trial, and the conversion is people filling out the form. The conversion may not ultimately be directly tied to that page because it took the visitor three or four clicks around the site to eventually convert. DNN users can see the top pages influencing that conversion (see image) to pinpoint which pages may need optimization and which ones are working really well.
The next step is to measure that content as it’s going out to promotional channels as well - not owned by the company.
All in all, Evoq 9 is unique. Its visualizers and its separation between content and where it gets published are very marketer-friendly features. Evoq 9 helps companies so that their content is easily accessible and promotable - whether it's for IoT, voice search, or any other way end-users access content now and in the future.