Ideas, Artifacts, and Experience – What Do We Understand About Content?

managing content

The modern world of content management is filled with various abbreviations and names. And the further we go, the more new words appear. All this can become quite confusing. In this series we will explain the basic terms of content management, observe what tools we have in the market, and look at the opportunities they give businesses today. Let’s go to the very beginning to define content itself and see how we get from managing content to managing experiences.

What’s the Difference between Content and Data?

The first question we need to answer – what we can call content and what is data? To understand the difference try to “feel” this 3 statements:

  • Is created through editorial human process;
  • Is intended for human consumption;
  • Has a goal, created for a reason.

Content is everything that is created by humans because it gets editorial spin, is intended to affect other humans, and last but not least has a reason..

On the other hand – Data is just a record of historical information. 

Let’s imagine, you purchase something in the nearby shop. Information of what you’re buying, how much it costs, what time it happens. will be recorded. This doesn’t take an editorial process, because it is just a fact. It doesn’t affect any human and it doesn’t intend to further any goal. That makes it just data about your purchase. When we go to tell someone else about that purchase and include or exclude specific details, we are adding editorial thought to the facts which makes it content.

Content is wider than you think

The content we describe above is only textual content. Is that all that we can tell a story with? Well, obviously, you could add images, texts, videos, graphics and audio to the list of what is considered content. But there is even more than that!

Your information architecture, layouts, and the interactive elements you use (such as buttons or website search) –  are also content. Remember the 3 statements above – they’re created through an editorial process, intended for human consumption, and have a goal


Next we have artifacts. If the content itself is some logical object in an abstract, then an artifact is a consumable product created with that content.

It wouldn’t be quite right to say that a webpage for example is a content. It is an artifact that is combined with different content records that can be used to create some other artifacts later.


From ideas we have in mind – we create pieces of content – then we combine them into artifacts (sometimes simultaneously if for example you’re typing your new article right in your CMS system) – and then we have experiences. 

Every human touch with your artifact can be assumed as experience. 

This is the place where we can start optimizing and conducting A/B testing. Try to slightly change the experiences we provide and see the effect. 

How did we get from managing content to optimizing experiences?

Maybe you have heard these terms before when talking about content  – CMS and DXP. Which are deciphered as Content Management Systems and Digital Experience Platforms. So how did we get from one to another?

Just a few years ago we had only CMS’s. Basically their goal was only to let us create and edit content. These systems existed even before they were used to manage web content or create websites.

Then the web part was integrated and web page builders were included. Editorial tools were increasing and  we got the opportunity to visually compose web pages by dragging elements around the page. And that became normal.

The next step was personalization of the content. Now we could create different versions of the content and show it to different consumers. 

Furthermore – the ability to test that content. Now we could see which of these simultaneous versions convert better. 

At last we could track users and see the behavior record of everyone who interacted with the content. 

From here we went beyond web pages and now could publish our content on different channels like social media or email. 

And this is where we got Digital Experience Platforms.

In truth, DXP still doesn’t have a clear, generally accepted definition. Each vendor uses its own wording. But what we can say for sure –  CMS was just about creating and editing content, while DXP is about user interaction. Digital Experience Platforms are primarily concerned about how a person perceives content, what experience they have, and how this experience can be optimized.

The ability to track the experience of interacting with your company for each client certainly provides endless opportunities for improvement and personalization of offers. But at the same time, we understand that doing such tracking manually is simply not possible.

That is why we need special systems and tools to manage content and experiences.

What steps are you taking to increase your user’s experience with your content?

The article is based on the session “”In The Beginning”: The fundamentals of content management” by Deane Barker, Global Director of Content Management Strategy (Optimizely).

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