Thomas Schedler
Thomas Schedler
Co-Founder & CEO – Sulu GmbH
Sulu's technical Master Blaster. Tries to keep our code on it's toes and to master Heston Blumenthal recipes on his very seldom free days.

Modular Content: The New Standard for CMS and Enterprise Agility

In today's digital landscape, content is created and published at a rapid-fire pace. Delivering content across multiple channels and languages adds complexity to this creation-to-publication pipeline. Operating this pipeline smoothly and quickly for a global, multi-device, and multichannel audience is an enormous task for content managers, creators, and editors. They are doing their best but, frustratingly, they often end up wasting more time and mental power than they should, especially if their CMS is hampering their efforts.

Modular content, or breaking down content into reusable blocks, empowers content creators instead of making their tasks more difficult. Modular content grants the ability to reuse and personalize content more efficiently, and allows the content management process to scale up in a stable and clear way. By using a CMS that supports modular content, enterprises can achieve greater flexibility and agility in their content management processes. 

Structured vs. modular content

Modular content differs from structured content. While both refer to ways of organizing and managing content, they have diverging focuses.

Structured content refers to the way content is organized and classified. It's about breaking down content into identifiable parts, each with its own meaning and purpose. This structure, which often includes metadata and other semantic markers, provides context about the content. This additional information can help systems like AI understand not just what the content says, but what it means. In Sulu, structured content might refer to the way content types are defined and how fields within those content types are organized.

For example, consider a blog article: in a structured format, the title, author, published date, content body, and tags are all distinctly identifiable, making it easier for the content to be displayed correctly on a webpage, an RSS feed, or a mobile app. You can refer to our article on structured content for more information.

Modular content, on the other hand, is about creating reusable pieces of content that can be combined in different ways to create a variety of outputs. It's about breaking down content into smaller blocks or modules that can be reused across various platforms, devices, and audiences. In Sulu, this might refer to the ability to create reusable content blocks that can be added to different pages or layouts.

For example, a headline, image, product or service description, and a CTA would be considered content blocks, which you could combine to create a landing page, then remix for a social media post. You could also pull in other multimedia content blocks, such as an audio or video clip, to round out your “new” piece of content.

So, while both structured and modular content are about organizing content in a way that makes it more manageable and reusable, structured content is more about the classification and organization of content, while modular content is more about the reuse of content across different contexts.

In this article, we’ll cover modular content’s ascent, how it works in Sulu, a case study of successful Sulu-implemented modular content, and the future for modular content.

The Rise of Modular Content

Modular content brings flexibility, scalability, and efficiency to the table for large-scale or complex content assembly and management. Content that’s broken down into smaller, independent modules for easy reuse and repurpose saves time and effort in managing sophisticated websites and ensures a consistent experience across devices. Modular content's self-contained, autonomous nature also means it’s easier to scale your content production and publication as you grow. Additionally, modular content allows teams to work simultaneously without getting in each other’s way, improving productivity and reducing bottlenecks.

Modular content is also popular for the improved user experience it enables. Personalization is a very in-demand capability, and modular content makes it easier to tailor information to specific user segments and dynamically assemble personalized pages based on user preferences, behavior, or context. This leads to higher engagement from users and conversion rates for you. Another improvement to the user experience is that content modules can be individually optimized for different screen sizes, resolutions, and interaction patterns, supporting omnichannel strategies, responsive design, and harmonious experiences across platforms and devices. Modular content extends this harmonious experience by helping maintain a unified visual style, tone, and voice throughout your digital presence. The predefined modules help organizations establish a cohesive and recognizable interface, strengthening brand identity and enhancing the user experience.

Modular content can also have the ripple effect of making your organization more available, welcoming, inviting — internally and externally. Well-structured modules with clear semantic markup will heighten your search engine discoverability and positively influence your SEO. Modular content also enables easy integration of accessibility features, such as alternative text for images or semantic markup, deepening your web presence’s inclusivity and ensuring compliance with current legal guidelines. Across your team, modular content allows for parallel work, streamlined workflows, and improved content governance and version control, enhancing collaboration across your internal teams.

The benefits of modular content for different teams

Content creation and marketing teams are constantly creating a variety of content for different channels, audiences, and campaigns. Modular content allows them to reuse content blocks, saving time and ensuring consistency.

Modular content helps development teams build flexible and dynamic web pages. With a well-thought-out set of modules, designers can reuse and recombine them in various ways. “Clearly defined modules make it easier for developers and designers to work together to create a design system for their project,” says Alexander Schranz, Core Developer at Sulu.

For companies operating in multiple regions, modular content can make the translation process more efficient for localization teams. Individual content modules can be translated and used across various localized site versions.

Modular Content in Sulu

Sulu’s tools and features empower businesses to leverage modular content’s power for more efficient and flexible content management.

  • Content blocks: Pages and articles are composed of content blocks. A content block can be a text block, an image gallery, or other structured content. Users can create custom content blocks that can easily be combined and arranged to build pages and templates. “Sulu’s Blocks make it easy for the developer to create module-based components, and they give content managers the flexibility to put the different modules together the way they want to,” says Alexander Schranz.
  • Snippets: A snippet is a page fragment that is universally reusable, such as a block of social media links. Snippets are created through an XML template, similar to a page template.
  • Content types: Content types define the structure and behavior of content modules, enabling users to define specific fields, validation rules, and relationships between modules.
  • Multilingual and multisite support: With this built-in support, users can easily create and manage modular content across different languages and sites, ensuring consistency and efficiency for organizations with a global reach or those managing multiple brands.
  • API-first approach: Sulu exposes a powerful API for content management and delivery, enabling seamless integration with other systems, such as frontend frameworks, mobile apps, or third-party services. The API-first approach facilitates content reuse and distribution, allowing modular content to be consumed and displayed in various contexts and channels.
  • Versioning and workflows: Teams can collaborate on content creation and updates by tracking or rolling back content changes, and they can implement approval processes for greater content governance and control over publication.
  • Extensibility and customization: Developers can extend and tailor Sulu to their specific needs, enabling organizations to adapt the CMS to their workflows and integrate custom business logic or third-party integrations.

The benefits of using Sulu for managing modular content

Sulu’s tools and features like content blocks, and customizable content types simplify content creation and management. The ability to define standardized content modules and templates helps organizations maintain a consistent brand identity, which improves the user experience and reinforces brand recognition. Once created, reusable modular content helps teams maximize their efficiency, resulting in time savings and streamlined workflows. “Another benefit of Sulu’s modularity, in addition to its flexibility with Blocks, is that it’s easier to create a good template structure. It’s very important to keep the content manager’s workflow as the main focus when creating this structure,” notes Alexander.

With its API-first approach, Sulu allows for the seamless integration of modular content into various applications and platforms you may need as you scale. This adaptability ensures that you can grow as your content needs and the technological landscape change and evolve. Additionally, as you grow, you may turn to multilingual or multisite support to extend your reach. Sulu’s built-in features simplify modular content management across different languages and sites. This centralized control reduces complexity and effort in content localization and global content deployment.

Finally, Sulu offers a developer-friendly environment with extensive customization options. Developers can extend the CMS to match specific requirements and integrate with other systems, ensuring a tailored solution for managing modular content.

The Future of Modular Content

Modular content presents a shift from linear content creation to a more multi-dimensional one. As processes and attitudes shift, as Sulu we anticipate the current trends and developments in modular content will only evolve. For example, the shift towards headless CMS architectures and API-first approaches. Allowing content to be delivered seamlessly to multiple channels and devices makes it easier to adapt to evolving technology and enable rapid innovation. Additionally, the ability to create highly tailored digital experiences helps organizations reach a wider audience. “Sulu always advocates for separating content from presentation. This means for the content manager, what Blocks contain is far more important than what they look like, and should be taken into account when naming them. This way you make sure that your templates can live over several redesigns of your website,” says Alexander.

We are also seeing more dynamically personalized pages and experiences. As personalization algorithms become more sophisticated, modular content will play a central role in enabling real-time, context-aware personalization across multiple touchpoints.

AI-powered technologies bring automation and efficiency to content management that will enhance the scalability and effectiveness of modular content strategies. Organizations can automate content creation, optimize content performance, and deliver personalized recommendations by leveraging machine learning, natural language processing, and data analytics.

Content-first design systems promote usability and enhance the overall quality of digital interactions. By placing modular content at the core of design processes, organizations can ensure consistent, accessible, and user-centric experiences across different platforms and devices. “With the flexibility of Sulu templates, the developer is 100% the owner of how they structure the content, and so can follow the trends more easily,” says Alexander.

Enhanced communication and collaboration across roles and teams is crucial today, especially as more organizations have turned to remote work. The development of advanced collaboration tools that facilitate real-time collaboration, version control, and content workflow management will significantly improve teamwork and streamline content creation and updates. These tools will enhance efficiency, reduce bottlenecks, and foster cross-functional collaboration, now and in the future.

Make modular content your new standard

Modular content plays a significant role in flexible, scalable, and consistent content management and enterprise agility. By breaking content into modules, organizations can save time through content reuse, foster seamless interactions through multichannel delivery, personalize their content for a better user experience, and help collaboration to take root and thrive. Embracing these strategies empowers modern organizations to quickly and efficiently meet changing market demands while maintaining brand integrity.

The Sulu CMS provides a comprehensive set of features and capabilities that support the efficient and flexible management of modular content. Its focus on usability, extensibility, and multichannel delivery makes it a powerful choice for organizations looking to leverage modular content strategies effectively and sustainably.

Connect with Sulu so we can help support your pursuit of enterprise-level content management through modular content.