Localization at "scale" using headless content management.

3 min read


Publishing content is changing. This is not a new statement since due to the Internet and social media the WAY content is consumed has been changing for quite some time.  Unfortunately the “backend” of how content is created and managed has not seen much change. Many content management solutions have not changed much in recent years. Most content management systems still heavily rely on a relational database backend coupled with a front-end technology to publish web pages. This poses a challenge when you are attempting to manage multilingual content in these systems. More over having content at scale means dealing with multiple teams located in different countries around the world.


One solution is the evolution towards “headless” content systems.  With a headless content management system, it only holds the content and media assets. Other components such as  design layout, presentation and front-end templates are not included. Instead the content is “published” via API data services.


The benefit with this approach for developing multilingual web pages is that now you can de-couple the content creation and translation from front-end development.  So, for example, translators can work directly on the text and image assets. But the development of the language specific pages can be handled by a regional team on a separate regional site.  The headless content system acts as the central repository for all forms of content.


Here’s a more specific example. Say you were in a country that had certain regulations with regard to the languages that content was published in.  Your website is required to have both English and French versions. With traditional content management the team that handles building the English content is often tasked with the french as well.  Since it uses the same platform. Often this means a lot of development repetition and often the primary focus it put on the English pages with the French as just a simple translation as an after thought. With a headless system, you simply supply the developers with your APIs so you can give each team content filtered based on the language.  Now the English and French can be handled by two different teams! Not only does this means to can run parallel language projects, but you can also ensure that each language gets the best focus and attention from developers.


At scale, when you are dealing with a large organization with many business units, this becomes even more important.  In these cases you will want to separate out content not just by language but also by region. There are a few reasons why separating by region is important, but probably the biggest reason is due to regulatory requirements. Recent laws like the GDPR have forced online companies build region specific sites, or downgrade aspects of all of their sites. Having a site located in the region which follows the local regulations is a huge benefit to this approach.


At Cloudwords, we encourage the “headless” content approach. This approach represents many of the localization best practices we have been recommending  to our customers for years. Cloudwords integrates directly with "headless" content management and provides the rich user experience features, like in-context review, that you would expect from a traditional approach.


Written by Matthew Jackowski