Inside Brightspot: How content templates work

Every so often, our Vice President of Product shares an email with the company that tells the background story on why Brightspot’s features are the way they are. Not one to keep secrets, we’re sharing her insights with you here, in a series called “Inside Brightspot.” From creating users and permissions to knowing the difference between different dashboard widgets, this series will answer the questions anyone who publishes digital content has likely pondered.

Let's spend some time and words learning about Content Templates; I recommend also learning about Content Forms. Content Templates and Content Forms are similar in name, but each has a different application and use.

To start, we always recommend that Brightspot users think about Content Templates as "shortcuts."

Let's start with a few examples of Content Templates can be used.

Content Templates in Action: Use Cases

Take a political writer at a news publisher that is using Brightspot. This political writer associates herself as the Author on every Article she writes; she also always adds the Politics section. She may also frequently use the same set of Tags on her Articles, leading up to an event for example. Because her name is always her Author name, and her beat is Politics, the Section is Politics — those things never change.

With a Content Template, the politics writer can create a shortcut Article, one that is pre-populated with herself as the Author and Politics as the Section. Now, she doesn't need to take those repetitive steps every single time she creates a new Article.

A Content Template can also come in handy on other content types, such as Pages. Take a marketing team, for example — these teams create a variety of landing pages for different offerings, and the results of these marketing pages is highly tested.

Once the marketing team lands on the perfect converting layout for that Page, they can create a Content Template that can be made available to the rest of their team. That Content Template can be a set of pre-configured Modules, with placeholder text and images that team members can quickly customize and publish live.

With both of these examples, the underlying goal is saving Brightspot users time. With Content Templates, we're saving users the time they might spend searching for a Section or creating the perfect layout, simplying their work and allowing them to accomplish more with less effort.

Creating Content Templates: A Primer

OK, so let's get into the nitty-gritty of how to make a Content Template and how to make it available to a user. (For complete detail, refer to our comprehensive documentation.)

There are two ways to create a new Content Template:

1. From Admin > Sites & Settings > Content Templates > New Content Templates. From here, give the Content Template a name, pick the appropriate Content Type (for our politics writer, for example, it would be Article), then complete the desired fields with the right "shortcuts" (again, our politics writer as the Author, and Politics as the Section). This is also where all existing or live Content Templates can be edited, modified or deleted.

2. From Any Asset > Advanced > Create Content Template. This is the best possible shortcut to a shortcut with Content Templates. Take our marketing landing page example from above; this little trick means that a Brightspot user can go to any asset (in our example it was a Page, but this will work on any asset!), click Advanced, and make a new Content Template of that asset — exactly as it exists at that moment.

Creating a new content template from Assets

Making Content Templates Available to Users

Once the Content Template has been created, the final step is making it available to other Brightspot users. At this point, there's a choice to be made, which is — should the content template be available instead of an existing content type (Default), or in addition to that existing content type (Extra)?

If you'd like the Content Template to replace the existing content type for all users ever, you will set it as the Default Content Template. In our marketing use case, the team may want the high converting Page Content Template to replace the blank Page; however, in our politics use case, the team definitely wouldn't want the politics writer's Content Template to replace every single Article ever created because that would be annoying to every other writer in the future.

In addition to those Default and Extra settings, Content Templates can also be set at the Global, Site, Role and User level, meaning:

  • Global: You can add Default or Extra Content Templates. One replaces the original, one is extra in addition the original. Whatever you set here would go to all sites.
  • Sites: You can add Default or Extra Content Templates, per site. Again, default replaces the original, and extra is in addition to the original. Whatever you set here would display only on this site.
  • Roles: You guessed it. You can add Default or Extra Content Templates per role!
  • User: Add a Default or an Extra from User > Profile.

For our politics writer, the best path for her Content Template would be to set it directly on her User, as an Extra (she could opt to make it a Default as well if she wanted). A media publisher might opt to create a Content Template per role (let's pretend the newsroom had different roles for each editorial team: Entertainment Role, Sports Role, etc.) that populated just the Section, and assign that as an Extra to each role.

As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to apply Content Templates, and the system of distribution is designed to be flexible.

Pro Tip: You won't see Content Templates as content type filters in search. You will only see a Content Template in search under the Create New dropdown.

Why? Think about it this way: A Content Template of an Article is just an Article, so Articles and Content Templates are grouped together under the Article content type in search results.


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