Content management systems often require, at best, a convoluted set of steps and, at worst, a team of IT professionals and two Excedrin to make real changes to a website. Enter Day Software Holding’s Communiqué v5.0 (CQ5). Designed to enable chief marketing officers and other creative personnel to have more ownership and management of their products, CQ5 seems downright intuitive.
According to Santi Pierini, Day’s SVP of marketing, clients began coming to the company saying they were suffering a bit as markets became increasingly global. To compete in Russia, the Middle East, and Asia, clients need access to the appropriate characters for those languages while maintaining a brand integrity that may be managed from another country entirely. Pierini describes the need as "freedom within a framework," where overall integrity is preserved while allowing for localized content to meet the needs of a particular market.
"Think of the conductor orchestrating a large group of creative professionals; the CMO is keeping a cohesive brand throughout the company, as business goes more and more global," explains Jean-Michel Pittet, SVP of engineering. "It is about providing a technology to facilitate that process. It’s not just about ease of use, but a tool where the creative person is being supported—not just annoyed—by technology."
The interface for CQ5 incorporates drag-and-drop functionality, so components of a page appear to the user as blocks surrounded by a blue line, indicating the element being worked on and where it can be moved. WYSIWYG features maintain a word processor-like feel, and spell check and preview options add a reassuring touch.
A user rights management component enables a top-level administrator to determine who below him has access to what elements. "You can have a bit of predefined material—number of columns or colors, for example—then users have the ability, assuming they were given the rights to do so, to play around with layout. There is a sense of empowering the user; saying, ‘if you can get the message across better in a different way, please do so,’" says Pittet.
There are no limitations in terms of number of users: "We can scale from two people to thousands of editors and hundreds of thousands of users," says Pierini. But with large numbers of users often come errors, so versioning and an elaborate workflow system can help administrators sort through which users have been editing what elements. Users can also be added for short periods of time, for example, to enable an intern to work on a site for the summer.
A digital asset management module with extensive versioning and annotating capabilities offers a central repository for housing images and other media, and a collaboration module enables real worldwide cooperation through blog, wiki, forum, and calendaring features.
One feature designed to appeal to large clients is that images are housed only once, so if a logo or other image needs to be changed, it’s a matter of changing it a single time, instead of on every page. "If you have only a couple of pages, it’s no big deal [to manually swap images], but if you have hundreds or thousands of pages, you need to ensure that things remain consistent," says Pittet, adding that one client wanted to change the gray of their logo by three points, which can now be accomplished sitewide in about 10 minutes.
Pierini acknowledges that it can be tough to get past the door with people who view a CMS as too technological for creative personnel to work with. "But once people see the product we’re home free," he says. "We’re doing very well once people engage with us so we push for conference room pilots."
Day launched CQ5 to its existing customer base at its global user conference Oct. 23–24, with a full launch scheduled for Nov. 14. A tech preview phase, in which one project was created for a specific client, followed by an extensive beta testing phase prior to the launch was scheduled because, "we need to make sure the thing is rock solid on the day it ships," explains Pierini. "This is game changing for us."