Inside Brightspot: The importance of a live preview feature for a CMS

View content in context of site, easily share previews with others for review, and better manage those links to ensure only the most actionable feedback

It’s obvious that being able to preview content as you write it is valuable. Seeing your words in context with your site and its visual elements lets you experience your content as your audience will; however, the concept of preview in content management systems (CMS) isn’t just being able to see the content—it’s more valuable than that. At least, it is with Brightspot.

Brightspot’s preview feature

Brightspot offers a robust in-CMS preview pane that you can toggle on and off as you edit and write text in the CMS's rich-text editor. The preview updates in seconds, meaning you’re able to see your content in real time along with the site navigation, any modules that display on the page and other visual elements.

The default preview that Brightspot displays is of a small desktop display (1280 pixels), but Brightspot also offers the following displays out of the box:

  • Desktop - Medium (1440)
  • Desktop - Large (1920)
  • Mobile - Portrait (360)
  • Mobile - Landscape (640)
  • Tablet - Portrait (768)
  • Tablet - Landscape (1024)
In-CMS Preview.png

It’s not just that the writer gets to see what her audience will see on a small laptop—she also can preview what her content might look like from someone reading on a large monitor at work, or someone who’s reading on their phone as they wait to pick up food, or someone who’s reading on a tablet, reclining on a couch. The writer can see her content in a number of varying situations and then make decisions about how she wants to present it.

Preview sharing

Again, Brightspot’s preview doesn’t simply stop at presenting the writer with a front-end view of what they’re drafting. It goes deeper than that by allowing the writer to share that preview with other stakeholders, notably without forcing them to log into a system or plug in an API key to gain access in order to view. With Brightspot, all a writer has to do in order to share a preview is open the preview in a new window, then share that URL like they would share a YouTube video or a recipe.

In similar fashion, all the recipient has to do to view the preview is click the link. Once they do, they’ll see the name of the writer who generated the preview, the preview itself, and also a dropdown menu that allows contextual preview of the asset’s various references.

Shared Preview Reference List.png
Shared Preview, with a list of references

What that means is that if the writer is sharing a module that they’ve created, the recipient can see not just the module by itself, but also all of the locations where that module will live, whether that’s a homepage, on a landing page or on an article or some other content type.

That feature isn’t exclusive to the recipient, by the way. The writer can view these different contexts from within the CMS, too, ensuring they’ve eyed the asset in all of the places where it appears before sending it off for review.

In-CMS Preview Reference List.png
In-CMS Preview pane, with list of references

Preview security

With previews being so easy to share, it’s understandable that many preview links are generated and passed around; however, a draft is only relevant for so long. Ideally, sharing previews results in feedback, and then the writer takes that feedback and improves her content.

The old preview link, then, is no longer useful; however, it’s still hanging out there. That being the case, Brightspot also gives writers the ability to manage their preview links.

Right in the menu—the same place where a writer would edit their profile or log out of Brightspot—there’s a menu item called “Shared Preview Links.” Clicking this item opens up a list of all active preview links. With the click of a mouse, the writer can either delete individual links or delete all of them at once.

Shared Preview Link Management.png
Shared Preview Link Management

This is a great way to ensure that reviewers aren’t looking at stale content and providing the wrong kind of feedback (which is to say, feedback about an obsolete version of the content).

Before re-working her content and sending off a new preview link, the writer can delete existing preview links, and then pass along the new preview link, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Headless preview

And it goes even deeper yet. In addition to the deep preview features described above, Brightspot also offers a preview of headless content—something that many headless CMSs don’t.

And it makes sense at first: headless content doesn’t have a defined front-end—it may have many, depending on the organization’s preferences. And thus, headless CMSs are largely just databases with some light authoring tools, with preview functionality not making the cut. Unless you’re Brightspot, which still allows writers to preview their headless content by leveraging the power of appetize.io to do so.

Brightspot's preview feature, in sum

So, preview functionality in Brightspot isn’t just letting the writer take a look at what they’re writing in context with the site. Brightspot, of course, does that (across seven different contexts), but writers also enjoy an easy way to share those previews with others, as well as a way to manage those links so that only the most current draft is being reviewed. Being able to preview headless content is a fancy cherry on top.

If you’re looking for a CMS that understands that a major key to compelling digital content is by enabling content creators with a robust set of tools—preview being but one of them—then Brightspot is ready to tackle your challenges.

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About the Author
Mark is a Manager, Digital Content at Brightspot. When he's not gleaning insights from various developers from the company, he spends his time cooking new dishes at home with his wife and two hyperactive cats.

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