Why Every CMS Beginner Should Start With A Content Project

CMS or a Content Management System, as we know, is a collection of basic building blocks which we call as ‘components’.

[Read More – What is CMS?]

There are components which are provided as part of the tool package – also known as ‘out of the box’ components (OOB components). Then again, there are components which are built to server specific needs, perhaps from scratch or on top of existing components – also known as ‘custom’ components.

Now, you’d be surprised to know that most of the existing (OOB) components, if not all, can be customised or configured in many ways.

You need to see it, to believe it.

Once you start going through multiple websites, you familiarise yourself with the components which are used, and the layout or different ways in which they are used. Just like the Lego blocks, which have different shapes and colours.

Then you start formulating your own ideas to how these can be used – some of these components are so rich with features that it takes a while to unlock the potential and explore them.

A little more digging will help you map the components to the current work you will be doing – either you’ll get help from content experts or you’ll find out the hard way (doing yourself).

This wouldn’t come naturally, unless you actually start creating content on your own – which is not as easy as it may sound. I’ve seen people struggle so hard with putting the content right and aligning all the elements together.

I don’t know about others, but I certainly felt good when I authored a page and previewed it. And, when the whole site was created, it almost felt like it was me who created it (although, it was a team effort).

Oh, it is such an exciting and rewarding experience, a sense of accomplishment and learning.

Not that you’ll get bonus for doing that, but just think about the world of possibilities it opens up for you.

Still don’t get it, do you?

See, working on those components can give you an understanding to the system (let’s say Adobe AEM, or Sitecore) – first of all.

Then, you get yourself at ease with the components and the common mistakes a rookie would do, like the related configuration, linking to areas within the system, and gaps left behind by the development team.

This, will give you an insight in to the areas which can be improved upon – be it your learning or the recommendations you could make.

Most importantly, you will get to look at the bigger picture rather than being limited to the components or areas you would work on otherwise.

At this point, it will matter less if you were from a development background, a testing, or any other area of expertise.

What matters, would be what you can or want to do now!

The knowledge and experience, while working on different components,

  • Would help to find the gaps, ask more questions to get clarity
  • Can be used to suggest better user experience, suggest optimal way to use a component, or suggest an alternative
  • Will equip you to develop components in a better way – don’t forget the scenarios you came across to configure a single component.
  • Will lead you to provide a better solution

All the things you can and must do, during the initial phases of the project, to reduce the loss of effort during the later stages.

It’s your choice now, if you wish to work as a technical person, a business analyst, or a quality analyst – the possibilities are never ending.

And if you thought otherwise, no one can limit a BA or QA from proposing a technical design (not literally a design document though).

Reflecting upon, would you have had so much clarity and vision of what you wanted to do or could do, had you not gone through this route?

May be… But, you can’t leave things to “may be”. It’s better to be informed, if you ask me, at least then it’ll be your choice and not something enforced upon you.

At the end of the day, it’s not only about doing right by the customers and delivering what’s best for them, it’s about doing what’s right for you and learning to become a better person and a professional, as well.” ~ P.R.


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What is CMS? Explain That To A 5 Years Old. Here’s Why?

So, you just had a glimpse of the post or heading and started scrolling away. Just when you thought it was nothing, you couldn’t let go of this feeling – Why would you want to explain CMS to a 5 years old?


I can give you many reasons, but let’s just say the psychology of a client responsible for an IT programme is similar to that of a child.


Like a child,

  1. The client would be hard to get convinced, especially when he is unaware of something new.
  2. The client would have qualms about moving to another thing, in this case a new platform.
  3. The client would want more for what he gives. Like a child, who only agrees to share his toys when he gets more in return.
  4. Last but not the least, the time a client would be willing to listen to you, as he would have many things going-on in his mind.


So on and so forth…



What is a CMS? ..Or.. What is a Content Management System?

If you know this already, please skip to next part – which I promise is much more exciting than this one.


If you are still here with me, then you must want to know about it.


CMS, is nothing but an application or a platform which allows you to drive your digital content, from a centralised (server) location.


All your templates, pages, and assets are at a common place; which along with components can be used across site and markets (which are copies of one master site).


So, if you were to launch your site at multiple locations across the globe, then you could have the same layout, use same assets (where possible), yet make modifications where needed.


The best part, you can achieve that from a single server and rollout any change across these sites, just by modifying it in the master copy. Moreover, you can make specific changes to these live copies, at will.


Now then, that was a brief about the CMS. I hope you got a fair bit of idea.

Or was it not what you were looking for?

Nonetheless… Let’s move on!

How to explain a CMS to a 5 years old?

  • It’s like a train set. You can align the tracks anyway you want, place the station wherever you want, and latch any bogeys with the engine to run the track.


How you design it, it’s your imagination.


However, these basic building blocks should sync to make it work, otherwise the engine would derail and never reach the station.


  • You know that painting book you got or the stencil which you use, it has pre-outlined figures which you can readily use to draw and paint.


There is a suggested design or the colour pattern, should you follow. However, the creativity is yours.


  • Imagine, you have multiple cut outs of a flower which you can colour differently and then place them on a sheet to create an image of a bouquet or a garden.


The content management system is similar to that; it provides various building blocks which you can use one or more time to create a page or a list of pages, so that you don’t have to create them afresh, time and again.


The only difference is, you use computer software instead of white paper.


[Good luck explaining what a computer and a software is. Look at the bright side, you have something to communicate and engage with the kid.]


With this kick starter, let’s see how many ways or different approaches you can come up with, to convince a child and make him understand.


Age is just a number!


If you can convince a 5 years old, you can convince a nagging client!


#YesICan #Negotiation #ArtOfConvincing #Leadership #Communication


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While Samsung Was Folding

The thing with technology is, it keeps evolving. The pace at which it currently is, makes me wonder if it’s a good thing or bad?! On one hand there are things which seem so futuristic that you would want to grab one of them, while the lifecycle of these products is reducing at faster pace than even; and I’m afraid it will continue to do so.

While I’m preparing myself to invest in one product, which mind you doesn’t come cheap these days, I need to be thoughtful of the changes or upgrades which might happen to it sooner than I could expect. So, it’s something like I’m planning to buy iPhone 7 while the company is ready to launch a new version in 6-8 month time. Shelling out $800 for a product which will be upgraded in less than a year is not something I would appreciate, unless I don’t mind the upgrades and can make use of this product for next 2-3 years.

How do you react when you read about an upcoming product?

Around the world, there are expo happening with major companies showcasing what they have been working on and would be launching those products soon. During one such expo, if news article is to be believed, Samsung showcased a folding smartphone cum tablet. Like many others, my first reaction to it was, wow! I liked the way the product could be folded and how the system would detect the mobile or tablet mode. Moreover, the device could then be connected to Bluetooth keyboard and can be used with much more convenience. However, when I looked closely at the video I noticed something unusual and kept on thinking whether this would hold up for long.

When the device is folded or flattened out, there is a visible impact on the screen which made me wonder how long the screen could sustain the pressure before it wears and tears out. If you keep on changing the views then the joints would become loose, there would be impact along the fold, and there is a high chance the screen would crack. I’m sure the company would have thought about it, but the usage of device over prolonged period of time could not be replicated and nor could the different ways in which user would use the device.

It might be too early to comment on any of that, but for the sake of argument let me know what you think?


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My Digital Transformation: Information Technology to Idea Technology

Closing my eyes and thinking of the time when, while watching a movie, there used to be a lengthy slot booked for advertisements, every 15 minutes or so. Households were switching to colour TVs, while most of population still had old Black and White TVs. It was late 80s or early 90s, and there were limited products in the market. The marketing trends were restricted to printed papers, or TV ads. The word of mouth was a commonly used and most trusted medium. Technology was still in its yearling stage, and large conglomerates were dallying with the idea of globalization. The notion of internet, or digital world was yet to be conceived.

Over a decade in making, the capabilities of computer technology started spreading its wings. With the nascence of the internet, the organisations started to have a horizon shift. Globalisation, market expansion, localised offerings were no more a distant dream. These term took a leap from the dictionaries and existed in real time. There was a rush to explore ways to reach people, make your presence visible to them, and eventually generate revenue. With online presence people were able to generate business, but then retaining customers, and recurring transactions were becoming a challenge.

The blending of idea and technology, became a game changer. The transformation of Information Technology to Idea Technology, created a freeway for businesses to think out of the box, and travel beyond imagination. E-commerce was the talk of every town. The printing jobs got replaced with creative art executives. The marketing was being done on internet and other information channels. The ideas which existed on paper were being digitised and spread out.

So why was this important for me? How did it bring about my digital transformation?

Well… Like any other business, it was an opportunity for people like me to make a presence and connect with the outside world; without actually having to visit and meet each and every one of them in person. The e-mail application, social networking sites, professional networking sites, and other sites where I could provide my details and get people to know me were my business cards. I could share them out in the open and connect with intended people, just with few strokes on the keyboard and clicks of the mouse. A decade back or so, I did not even have a mobile phone, and today I have my profile created on various platforms. My photograph, along with my details (dependent on how much I’ve provided) were there to be viewed by countless people wanting to know me, or about me.

The ‘idea’ behind it was simple – paint the (digital) canvas showcasing my interests, my experience, and my story. Create a leaflet, or a banner which could be distributed inter-state, intra-national, or internationally (of course within the bounds of the digital space). I wanted to link up with long lost friends, with people I’ve met, with colleagues, with recruiters, and just about everyone. I wanted to present ‘me’ as a brand, market it, and get to be cognised. In an essence, I transformed myself to become globalised. After all, I mean business!

Perhaps, ending on a humorous note,

Steuart Henderson Britt once said, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.”

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Most Projects Fail At The Onset

It took you years to reach a stage where you could start realising your dreams. You worked hard, planned your savings, and kept abreast with latest trends and market situation. The layout, the designs, the colour shades, and every other minute detail have crossed your mind a zillion times. And before you know it, you meet an architect to get 3D layout and discuss other things. With the blueprint ready the team of builders start constructing the house. Over the course of this development there are changes to you design, which result in adjusting financials, layout, and time-lines. You take a call whether to go-ahead with initial plan or turn out your pockets for better modifications.

Now, analyse the situation, when being a manager or project sponsor, you are tasked to get a new website launched; perhaps a product, new function, or new section within the site. The success or failure of the project can be gauged at the beginning. Most of the times, it’s the client (the project provider) who is at fault but seldom agrees; while the vendor gets more blame than he should be entitled to. I could almost sense the thoughts running in your mind, “You know nothing Jon Snow!” (Taken from a popular tele-series Game of Thrones).

How could I blame the clients? How could I know what it’s like to engage such a big project?

To reach a level of a project sponsor, you would need years of experience or born rich. A project, very much like constructing a house, needs a blueprint; filled with thoughts of your own. It’s not like you walk in to architect’s office and say, “Build me a house”. And then, leave the rest to his better judgement to ask questions to you: like “How many floors”, “How many rooms”, “Who all will be living”, so on … It’s your car, you drive it the way you want; unless you don’t care about the maintenance cost, time or fuel. You, along with your team, should decide upon the basic needs, the purpose, and what you envision. Take scrambled notes, write on walls, or prepare documents; the importance of well documented requirements is nonpareil.

How often do you move away from these importance aspects and spend time on the nitty-gritty of things: like the time-lines, the costing, and other resources?

Almost always!

The discovery phase or the workshops to close on the scope of project is like the stepping stone. The more you sweat it out during this stage, the less the blood will spill towards the end. For a sponsor, the project should be close to heart like his own and his involvement plays a vital role towards its success. While for the vendor (and every member of his team), the project should be a platform to showcase their skills. Don’t just build a project, build a long term relationship: which will benefit you in times to come, whether directly (giving more business) or indirectly (referring others to you). Is it only the sponsor who would be using the site? Think about a banking site, which you might be associated with someday; wouldn’t you prefer a better version of it than what you might be inclined to give. Reasons may be aplenty, but always choose to do the right thing (for the client) than choosing the easy way out (for you).

Whether it’s a flexible approach (agile) or a more structured process (waterfall or v-model), there has to be an initial plan: a list of building blocks. Construct a house, one room (or a wall) at a time or have different teams working in parallel, but everyone should know what it has to look like, in the end. The process should be a hybrid one, a mix of both. The involvement of client at each step of the development is important. Consider a scenario where he would like to extend a room size or have an open kitchen, because he has seen it somewhere and liked the idea. Would it be easy for both parties to make changes once it’s under development or once the project is complete?

Being a client, you are at your best when you are able to steer the project with focus, clear and crisp guidance, and limited changes. While being a consultant, you are at you best when you present the pros and cons or suggest an alternative; and not when you start negotiating on the cost, time-lines, or if you could cater the change request.

Author speaks: I’m not here to change the world; I intend to make an impact on one soul at a time. If you like my work, please press Like, or better yet put a Comment; perhaps a feedback. However, the best appreciation of my work will be to Share this with your friends and your social circles (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, and others).

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From Fad To Fade [Part II]: The “e” Which Matters

It’s all about perspective in this fast moving world. Think about The Sims, GTA, or Half Life, or any such interactive first person game. These are not just games people play: they live them. Sitting anywhere in this world, you just need a console and internet to be anywhere, talk to anyone, and do anything you like. Of course within the bounds of the game!

Sometimes I think, is this all because people are afraid to face reality? I wouldn’t dare to stroll around the town or walk in to a bar just to initiate a conversation with a stranger. Fear (of getting beaten up) would be the last thing on my mind. It’s the embarrassment I might face, or the reaction I might get from the other person which worries me. But, with a mask on (virtually), no one would know me. Moreover, the person on the other side will become playful too.

“The fact that all of this was happening in virtual space made no difference. Being virtually killed by virtual laser in virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are.” ~ Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

Oh no! I’m not against the technology or the advancement. In fact, being associated with so many social platforms myself, I have seen the benefits of it. I have been able to communicate with friends whom I last spoke in high school. I have been able to see what others have been doing (status updates), and share with my friends what’s happening in my life too. The important dates are reminded to me, and I can create social events to be shared with a larger audience. Most of all, I have been able to create a (limited) global presence for myself with a scope beyond my imagination.

But… How long can one continue like that. Perhaps, forever! Maybe not! At some point you would need to fill the void which has been created. People will not know how I speak, how I walk, or what kind of person I am. It’s our body language, our daily interactions, our manners and cultural values, and all our subconscious actions which define us. And, I can’t run away from the fact that behind all the virtual medium I’m hiding the loneliness, the urge to be known.

The darkness, which has stemmed within, can only be cured by rambling under the sun, meeting new people (face-to-face) and speaking your heart out, for a change. The limited light emitted from ‘e’ medium will not lead you anywhere. The inclination towards material world is impermanent. What’s lasting is your senses, your true self. So, go out and meet people, make someone laugh and laugh with them, make a connection, create some spark. But, don’t spark the connection, the relation just by sitting behind electronic media.


As C.G. Jung has said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”


Author speaks: I’m not here to change the world; I intend to make an impact on one soul at a time. If you like my work, please press Like, or better yet put a Comment; perhaps a feedback. However, the best appreciation of my work will be to Share this with your friends and your social circles (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, and others).

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