The ideal 2016 Content Management System needs to be elaborate. Leading Content Management Systems today are renowned for usability, but what’s clear is this: different users expect different things. We know well that what the Content Marketer wants is different from what the Developer wants, or the Site Owner (or our customers for that matter).

As more depends on an effective CMS, more focused CMS specializations surface: highly sophisticated content authoring experiences, mobile optimization, better caching and performance, support for web services and related API needs, rich image and media integration—the list goes on. The ideal 2016 Content Management System should have it all for everybody. (*cough* Drupal 8 features)

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2016 has been great for the CMS industry altogether. Right before the new year, WordPress came up with Calypso, which is a headless implementation of WordPress. This year, positive discussions around the headless implementation of Drupal have been about headless Drupal’s great success. Trends are emerging, and like many meaningful trends, they reflect needs.

2016 Content Management System Trends

Drupal’s founder has said that the ultimate goal of a CMS is to provide fantastic digital experiences to end users and that apart from this, it should also be equally flexible for developers and site builders. The ideal 2016 Content Management System will have more headless implementation capabilities, more rich content authoring experiences, and more sophisticated content authoring workflows. Let’s explore what the top CMS needs to provide this year and beyond.

1. Highly scalable content architecture

Content has found itself at the heart of every system. CMS’s that aren’t Content Editor friendly to the max are useless. In 2016, we expect sophisticated content workflows that allow integration from various sites, seamlessly. Richer media and file integrations should be possible as media becomes more rich and complex. Uploading and positioning this media needs to be easy for editors.

2. Headless implementation

Headless implementation means highly scalable and decoupled architecture. We should expect more 2016 Content Management System platforms to embrace this approach. CMS’s like Drupal and WordPress are paving the way. We can anticipate these systems to work with flexible architecture, although I think it should be up to developers whether a headless implementation is possible in each case.

3. Web Services & REST API’s

We know technology develops rapidly. We need something that can easily communicate with external technologies, a system that can request and respond to device data. For the 2016 Content Management System, it may soon be required to have web services integrated into the BackEnd of the system. Mobile applications and various devices that consume and feed data from web applications need to be efficiently connected. Essentially, this means the 2016 CMS needs to be a first-class REST server.

4. Enterprise readiness

If our CMS isn’t enterprise ready, I won’t plan on growing anytime soon. But beyond that, if we’re not able to integrate with enterprise-level applications, we’re missing out on what today is considered to be standard tools. This level of functionality should be expected from CMS’s. Our platform should be secure on an enterprise level; it should be available from anywhere at anytime. It should have analytics, personalization, commerce ready capabilities, etc. These features should be there for us as needed.

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5. Easy setup

After years of esoteric content management, it’s expected in 2016 that even the BackEnd should be less complicated. Form builders should be integrated, for example. Data modeling tools should be available for quick views building, content listings, and enhanced layout capabilities.

6. General vs. specific

In recent years, there’s been a demand for CMS specialization—eCommerce needs, social media needs, content editing needs. But in 2016, a generic, customizable CMS is what’s needed. Customization is everything. The ability to leverage any functionality using various plugins and modules provided is invaluable. Module availability is everything. Let’s say for an eCommerce suite for example; we can have multiple eCommerce modules to choose from. The 2016 Content Management System will enable decision makers to select the modules best suited to their specific needs.

7. Developer friendly

The 2016 Content Management System needs to be built in a way that makes it easy for developers to learn and teach. Learning curves should be smaller than ever before. Recent PHP CMS and frameworks all are adopting similar approaches, like PHP Standard Recommendation (PSR) basics, Object Oriented Programming (OOP), Composer support, and more.

Could Drupal 8 be the answer?

As we see in these various trends, a modernized Drupal summarizes all in one. Drupal 8 has various content moderation modules (like workbench) which allow a fully flexible content workflow to function for university and eCommerce Site Owners alike. A new module from Drupal 8 core allows us to build our site as REST server, making D8 a win from REST API perspective.

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Drupal 8 is very performance centric, with BigPipe module for core allows a BigPipe caching mechanism to be included, a serious gain for site performance. What’s more, Drupal is easy to setup, easier than ever before.

There are a vast number of modules and installation profiles available; there are distributions dedicated to specific purposes but from a general platform. Everything is in one place. Modules like Views and Panels allow Drupalers to build any listing or page layout quickly. Its user-friendly features make it a huge gain for content editors and site builders alike. And finally, Drupal is using the latest PHP trends so it is easy for PHP developers to jump in quickly.

What if we’ve found our answer? What if the top CMS of 2016 is Drupal 8.

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