Over three years ago, I typed up thoughts from my then-team’s use of GatherContent to prototype content in a new way. I never published those thoughts.

I’m not sure now why I held back. So now I have published them – “Rapid prototyping with GatherContent: reflections”, backdated to when I originally finished writing them.

Rediscovering these notes made me think about what I know now, and what I would have changed back then had I known.

Here are three thoughts I had while reading them:

  1. For a start, I would probably have talked more about using GatherContent as a “headless CMS” (if I’d thought it would gain any traction with stakeholders, anyway). A whole vocabulary has grown up around content that makes talking about these kinds of concepts easier. A headless CMS was exactly what I was trying to recreate at the time, and even though I’d read about them I never made the connection. Having now been the effective owner of a headless CMS for the last three years, I can see how close we were to it in our prototyping approach.
  2. I would probably also have talked about Content Ops and Content Design. At the time, the Content Team itself was relatively new and I was still trying on labels like DevOps from experience as a developer. Unless you know about DevOps already though, the analogy doesn’t work. Now there are almost-recognised labels for these content specialisms. I suspect the labels still mean different things to different people. But it helps to have some vocabulary to start the discussion.
  3. And I would have had more confidence. Although there were shortcomings in approach back then, these were down ultimately I think to technical problems – if they hadn’t been there, getting buy-in would have been easier. When I started my role at SSE, we faced no such issues in migrating to a “headless” way of working and embracing a more mature approach to managing content.

All of these thoughts are about communicating ideas.

I’ve been trying to piece these together with feedback from my current team about the perception of capital-C Content – both as a team and as a specialism. It’s resulted in some interesting thinking about maturity and I’ve been both looking into existing vocabulary and proposing terminology we could use to help with discussions about.

Time and circumstances allowing, I hope to write more about these ideas here sometime soon.