Businesses regularly store data about "things" in their business - repetitive data collection to describe various entities in their organisation. A classic example of this is a product - which is entered into an accounting system, a website etc. Each product is described by a standard set of fields - so the account system and the website each collect data about these through a form interface (or perhaps a spreadsheet upload), and stored in a database.
Once that data is collected, the software then can use it in a variety of ways. In the case of a website, we can output listing pages showing a summary of each item in the collection (e.g. an overview of each service you provide), or detail pages showing more detailed information about each listing (e.g. a project detail page showing a case study of a project that has been worked on), or a variety of other interfaces. The interfaces can be much higher quality than a typical "rich text" controlled content page - allowing a lot more polish, especially for responding to mobile device screen sizes etc.
This works really well for a pre-supported data type which is built into the software. However each business is different and the things we want to store data about (and feature on a website) differs from one business to the next. And adding polished high-quality support into a piece of software for each new data type in an adhoc fashion is typically very expensive - putting it outside the reach of a typical business.
Content Collections (note: that is completely our lingo - not the customers) is a feature introduced into ZEST to address this. To make it much faster and cheaper for us to build support to collect and store completely custom ad hoc collections of data for a business, and then output that data as high quality, polished, responsive pages on the website.
There is support for numerous 'standard' collections built into ZEST including: staff; projects; services; stores; testimonials; google reviews. These can be rapidly customised - it is expected that they will be to match the precise needs of each business. It is also much quicker and cheaper for us to build support for completely new collections as required - we just have to define the data structure in a definition file along with some other configuration & the entire admin interface will be auto-generated. We then use standard polished templates for outputting that information on the website in a summary listing page with drilldown detail pages available for each option - or alternatively can create completely custom designs for laying out the data.
So for a customer we can decide what things are important to feature on their website and create collections of them. This provides the following benefits:
- You get a new section in the website management tool for controlling that collection.
- Significantly faster and more simple to load all of the data for that section (can even be done via spreadsheet import).
- The resulting website will be much higher quality than not using collections:
- Interfaces will be far better designed & polished
- Much better mobile support
- Much lower investment to set this up than if doing it as a customisation - and a much more polished result.
So that brings us to the new features being added to Content Collections.