Inside Brightspot: How content templates work

Each week, our Vice President of Product shares an email with the company that’s filled with the background story on why Brightspot’s features are the way they are. It’s not just how Brightspot works but why its features were engineered the way they were. Not one to keep secrets, we’re sharing her insights with you here, in a weekly column called “The Whys.” From creating vanity URLs to knowing the difference between a document and an attachment, these posts answer the questions anyone who publishes digital content has likely pondered.

This edition of The Whys will focus on Content Templates. In a future issue I will cover Content Forms. They’re similar in name, but each has a different application and use. I'll start with Content Templates because, of the two, they are the less intimidating.

After reading this, I recommend you think about Content Templates as "shortcuts."

Their usefulness is best illustrated with an example. Let's say you're a political writer at a news publisher that uses Brightspot as its CMS. When you create a new article in the CMS, you write your headline (which is always appended with 'Latest in Politics:'), search for your Author page and then add the article to the “Politics” section. A Content Template is a shortcut that pre-populates that data so you don’t need to take those steps every time you write a new article.

This might not seem like a big deal, but let me explain why it is. Let's pretend those actions take a writer 10 seconds every time she writes a story, and she writes three stories a day. That's 30 seconds a day spent adding metadata. Let's say the Politics team has 10 reporters who all spend those 30 seconds a day adding metadata. That adds up to five total minutes a day for that team, or 25 minutes a week. The publisher also has 90 other reporters covering entertainment, sports, local news, etc. The time savings grow exponentially with the size of the newsroom. Saving writers time gives them more time to research, to call sources and to do more work—which adds up to a greater return on investment, higher productivity, more stories and more pageviews for ads.

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

How to Make a Content Template
There are two ways you can make a Content Template:

1. From Admin. You can go into Admin > Sites & Settings > Content Templates > New Content Templates. From there, you Name your Content Template, and then pick the appropriate Content Type (in our politics example, you would pick Article), then fill out whichever fields you want to be filled out permanently.

Selecting a new content template from Admin

2. From Assets. You can, from an asset, click the Gear, and select "Create Content Template."

Creating a new content template from Assets

How to Make a Content Template Available
Great, so you made a Content Template. Now you have to do something with it, which I think of as "tell it where to appear." This is the point when Content Templates can get a little intimidating because this is the point at which you have choices. You can make Content Templates available in two ways:

1. Default: Default means, if you created Meredith's Article Content Template, that is going to be the Article for every CMS user.

2. Extra: Extra means, if you created Meredith's Article Content Template, that will be available along with Article. Here's an example of a content template set at Global Extra:

Content template set at Global Extras

Keeping the idea of Default and Extra in mind, you can make your Content Available at the Site, Role and User level. This means:

  • Global: You can add Default or Extra Content Templates. One replaces the original, one is extra on top of 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, one is extra on top of the original. Whatever you set here would display on just this site.
  • Roles: You guessed it. You can add Default or Extra Content Templates per role.
  • User: Add a Default or an Extra.

In my original use case, the writer could create an Article, then create a Content Template, then set it as an "Extra" in her user profile. Or, the newsroom could 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. There are a lot of different ways to apply Content Templates, and the system of distribution is designed to be flexible. By first understanding what's possible, you should be able to implement a solution for customers that will meet their needs.

(Another good use case I will mention for Content Templates is on Sections. Let's say you have a Section, and it uses containers, and there are modules within modules and lots of styles. If you’re going to use that Section for every Section going forward, make a Content Template for that Section as a shortcut.)

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. 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. Here's my Global Extra Content Type—you won't see it in the Content Type filter:

Content types in filters

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Your guide to using Brightspot's content templates


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