We will go through various current interpretations of mobile CMS, what technical requirements each of those have, and how those requirements can be met in various ways.By the end, our goal is to make you knowledgeable about the fundamental concepts of a mobile content management system, which are listed below:
When somebody says “Mobile CMS” they could actually have a few different things in mind. This is where the complication arises - there are various interpretations of what a mobile CMS actually is. The following are the 3 most common of those interpretations:
Therefore, when talking about Mobile CMS, it is paramount to make sure that everybody is actually talking about the same concept.
If you would like to create content that would then be delivered to a mobile application on a mobile platform, whether phone, tablet, smartwatch, or other, you have a few ways of accomplishing that.
In some ways, you could use the application itself as a CMS of sort. In other words, the content that you need in the application could be hardcoded in the application itself. This makes it a really straightforward option of having content in your app.
Except for extremely minimal and static apps, however, there are significant drawbacks to this approach. The following should be top of mind, if that’s the approach you would like to take:
While certainly a possibility, realistically speaking, for any meaningful mobile app experience, using the app itself as a CMS is most likely not the best option given the drawbacks.
As an alternative to hard-coding your content within your Mobile application, you could utilize a mobile Backend-as-a-Service product for your Mobile CMS needs. There are a few alternatives you could consider, depending on what you are after:
While a mBaaS is a great alternative to hard-coding content within the mobile application itself - it also does a good job for simple noncontent heavy applications, where the content is mostly static - the key functionality lacking with a mBaaS is the actual CMS. Therefore, for mobile applications that need content updated frequently or where there is a need for proper editorial workflows, especially involving non-technical users, a mobile Backend-as-a-Service is likely not the best solution.
Having reviewed alternatives, let’s dive into the details of what it would mean to have a true mobile CMS powering the content in your mobile applications.
As we can synthesize from the previous discussion, a true mobile CMS absolutely must meet the following requirements:
To address these requirements, the concept of a headless content management system was developed. A headless CMS is defined by the following characteristics:
There are a number of attractive options for such headless content management systems.
First, you may choose the familiar legacy systems such as Drupal, Wordpress, Acquia, Episerver, Magnolia, Sitecore or Adobe Experience Manager and either incorporate a third-party API plugin or work with the existing API.
Second, you may choose a newer generation API-first headless CMS with a legacy REST API, of which there is also a multitude of options, such as Contentful, Prismic, CraftCMS, CosmicJS, or Built.io, among many others.
Finally, you may choose GraphCMS - the first headless CMS to provide a GraphQL API. In addition to the upsides of being a headless CMS, GraphCMS provides the following benefits:
Of the three CMS for mobile options presented - using the mobile app itself as the CMS, utilizing a mobile Backend-as-a-Service, or finding a mobile CMS - we suggest you find a headless content management system that is right for you. There is a multitude of great options!
Mobile applications are certainly the dominating mode of consuming content on mobile platforms, with some estimates showing as much as 80-90% of the time spent on mobile devices taking place in mobile apps. There is still room for mobile websites, however, and it would be a mistake to neglect them.
The challenge with mobile responsive websites is in the fact that between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems, not to mention various smartwatches and other smart devices with a screen, there is a multitude of devices and screen sizes. Choosing to build a mobile responsive website means that you have to deliver a consistently smooth user experience across all of these screens, regardless of how different their sizes and proportions may be. Sounds daunting!
The good news is that, more often than not, a mobile responsive website is a counterpart to an already existing desktop website. This presents a few options on how to manage content in this case.
If the existing desktop website is already powered by a content management system, especially if it is a legacy CMS, such as Drupal, Wordpress, Acquia, Episerver, Magnolia, Sitecore or Adobe Experience Manager, you may choose to utilize existing themes and plugins to simply make your desktop website responsive. For Wordpress, you may opt for the default responsive theme, which has been installed more than 1 million times as of this writing. If you’re a Drupal user, take a look at the responsive plugins here. For other content management system providers, you may rely on the expertise of your design and development teams to make your existing website responsive.
If, on the other hand, you are building both the desktop website and the mobile responsive website from scratch, it is a great opportunity to consider the benefits of a content management system for mobile, as outlined above. Specifically, a headless CMS will be beneficial here because you would have the opportunity to deliver the same content through the same API to two different platforms. In other words, you or your content creators would produce the content once and the CMS would distribute it to any platform with ease. In this case, it would be a desktop website and a mobile responsive website. It could also be a mobile app and virtual reality headset in the future, however!
In cases when you would like a mobile CMS in the sense of an application for your mobile device to administer your existing CMS instance, you have a few options. If you already have a legacy CMS in places, such as Wordpress or Drupal, you could use the mobile app that Wordpress provides for your CMS on-the-go needs. You can dive in here. For Drupal, a third party iPad application (that is since depreciated) is also available here. Unfortunately, it is currently only available in the US app store. In case you’re coming from the enterprise world and already have a Magnolia CMS running, you can use their iPad app.
Alternatively, for really simple use cases, such as personal or corporate blogs, you could look to modern publishing platforms, such as Medium or Tumblr. Both of these are a great way to create simple content and offer mobile apps to do so on-the-go.
Hopefully, you are now well versed in the fundamentals of content management systems for mobile - the various interpretations of the term, the various technical requirements of each, and several options from which to choose one that fits your own use case.
Finally, if you determine that you need a CMS for mobile applications or mobile responsive websites, give GraphCMS a try. You can start a free trial with all premium features enabled, such as webhooks, content localization, and more. Once the time is right, we will work with you to find a paid plan that fits your needs. If, on the other hand, you are working on a personal project, you can always use GraphCMS with our forever free Free plan.Learn more about GraphCMS