Brightspot was built for collaboration. We created it for editors who work closely with developers, and for developers who want built-in functionality as well as customizable control. We want both editors and developers to love our tool and easily work together—and with others on their own teams.
The CMS provides a publishing experience that’s flexible and nimble without overwhelming users with options. The authoring features are thus designed for collaboration and streamlined to maximize usability.
Brightspot’s authoring tools that promote collaboration include the following: a rich text editor with enhanced editing capabilities, live preview, field-level locking and a style library. Let’s look at how these four features can benefit editors who are working together, as well as the specific reasons why we incorporated each feature into the CMS.
1) Inside Brightspot’s rich text editor
Content requires different tools at different stages of the creation workflow. In early stages, writers need tools like bold and italics to drive messages home; they need the ability to add hyperlinks, images and social posts in order to give context to a piece of writing. Later in the process, editors need the ability to track changes in copy so that the original author and subsequent editors can review the changes.
Brightspot’s rich text editor includes a track-changes function that enables multiple editors to work together. There are additional controls to allow for customized editing and viewing options. Users can also add custom features they might need for their specific implementation.
Why we built it this way: Because familiarity matters
Writers and editors are usually most at-home authoring and editing in word processing software (think Microsoft Word or Google Docs). For that reason, we wanted to create a writing experience within the rich text editor that mimicked word processing software as closely as possible.
2) Inside Brightspot’s live preview
Brightspot offers a real-time preview that updates with every keystroke you make. You can see the preview as a side-by-side view with the editing screen, so the changes you make on the back end are reflected in real time in preview.
With a simple click, preview allows a user to see exactly how content will render across multiple screens—on desktop, tablet, mobile and mobile apps.
In addition, Share Preview allows you to show the preview to anyone by using a simple URL (no registration, username or password required). Once shared, individuals can see and interact with the mock-up without ever entering the CMS—which comes in handy when you need a busy C-suite exec to review a page quickly and easily. This is also useful if you need your content reviewed by someone external to your company.
Why we built it this way: Because looks matter
Knowing the way an asset is going to look on the front end before it goes live is crucial. Preview allows editors to validate that every detail of an asset—from images and captions to periods and semicolons—is perfect, across every screen and device where it will eventually be available. This saves editors time, in that presentation editing can be done up-front, reducing urgent changes once an asset is live to the world.
What’s more, this feature eliminates the need for an editor to wait around to see how scheduled-in-advance content looks once it ultimately goes live. Instead, simply preview your content beforehand, schedule it to go live in the future, and feel confident that your content will render precisely as you intended it to.
3) Inside Brightspot’s field-level locking
The ultimate collaborative editing tool, field-level locking allows only one person to edit each field at any given time. Each field locks individually when someone is working on it, making it read-only for everyone else. The page as a whole doesn’t lock for editing, as is the case with many CMS editing tools. Rather, since each field locks individually, multiple editors can be working on a page at the same time without overwriting one another.
A conversation tool in the CMS allows collaborating editors to communicate and work simultaneously on different fields on the same page or site.
Why we built it this way: Because speed matters
In large newsrooms, too often one editor is delayed waiting for another to finish their function, but with field-level locking, a photo editor can add a lead image, while an SEO editor adds a meta description and tags, while a copy editor reviews the story body, etc. Each editor’s changes are saved, and the piece can be published live in a matter of minutes instead of hours.
4) Inside Brightspot’s style library
Developers define the look and feel of various types of modules, which are then made available to editors to be placed on pages. Editors are able to choose from this variety of modules instantly, giving them the flexibility to change the presentation of content on the fly.
The style library makes it easy for teams to coordinate their use of various modules. Additionally, modules can be set to “shared” if a particular one is designed to be used across multiple instances. Shared modules can be easily searched and used again and again.
Why we built it this way: Because flexibility matters
Editors often need to change the layout of pages to help communicate a story; with Brightspot, they can do this without relying on developers. Furthermore, once a visual layout is built, it can be used again and again by different teams, making the style library infinitely reusable.
Additional time-savers within Brightspot authoring
Brightspot's dynamic image manipulation service (DIMS) makes it easy for editors to crop images. They can upload the biggest image needed and crop it within DIMS so the right image ratio appears in the right place, eliminating the need to upload multiple crops of the same image.
The CMS also enables editors to override the system's default settings and change the way the content displays on the front end. While default settings are essential to simplifying publishing, overrides give editors the freedom to customize templates to meet their content needs.
Brightspot’s collaboration tools are perfect for large teams, which is why Brightspot serves a number of newsrooms, including The San Diego Union-Tribune, U.S. News & World Report, and POLITICO, among others. But small teams can also take advantage of these options to make their web design and content publishing experience particularly seamless.
“It takes a village to manage a website now,” says Ashley Krauss, product manager at Brightspot. “Websites used to be an afterthought. But now you need a website, and collaboration is part of almost every website that we’ve worked on.”
Brightspot CMS was developed with the biggest teams in mind, but you don’t need a 500-person newsroom to see that these collaborative authoring tools provide excellent functionality to any website.