March 4, 2021
Creating Flexible Content in Rock RMS
When should your church use Rock RMS Components vs. Content Channels (or other types of content Blocks)? Here's a breakdown of the differences and possibilities.
If you’ve used Rock RMS to build your public-facing website, you know that Content Channels can be extremely useful, and necessary to create things like Sermons or Blogs.
We’ve used them to create a staff page, grouping members by department. And we’ve built complex “Content Hubs” by aggregating articles, videos, sermons and other content from across multiple Content Channels.
There are many advantages to using Content Channels to build flexible and dynamic portions of your website, but with the release of Rock RMS version 9, a new feature was included called Content Components.
Today I want to explain what the Content Component does, and make an argument for when it’s appropriate to use Components vs. Content Channels (or other types of content Blocks). To be sure, Content Channels are still going to be an essential feature of your website, and Content Components will not replace them. But Components will make it easier to do some things that before may have required a programmer or some complex finagling with content blocks and HTML code. And who wants to deal with that?
Let’s start with what a Content Component is. According to the Rock Docs,
"Content components can be thought of as a marriage between HTML blocks and Content Channel blocks. They're a blend of content and style. Website designers can create great looking templates and define which elements of information an editor needs to provide, while editors get a simple and clean tool for inputting their content without having to worry about breaking the website."
This sounds great! Ideally, the Content Component provides some ease of use for the content editor, while allowing pre-designed elements to be displayed consistently within the context of your site theme.
To determine when to use a Content Component, a Content Channel, or an HTML Content Block, here is a comparison chart that may be helpful.
HTML Content Block
Pre-defined content fields
On-page content editing
Dynamic, repeatable content
Scheduled content publishing and subscription
So if we look at these three elements, here is my argument for the best use-case for each.
HTML Content Blocks
These are best used for basic text or images that are specific only to the page they appear on, and do not require complex styling. Think the intro paragraph on an About Us page.
These are perfect for timely content that will be published regularly, and will appear sprinkled throughout your site dynamically as new content is added. There will be elements of the Content Channel that are displayed in a list or “preview” version, as well as the full content displayed in a detail view with a unique page URL. Think sermons or blog posts.
These Blocks are great for building content that can be edited directly on the page where they appear, using a straightforward interface with pre-defined content fields. The real magic with Components is that a designer/developer can create templates to display those content fields in a visually interesting way, consistent with the overall site theme, without requiring the content editor to do any programming. It’s a win-win!
Since v9, Rock ships with three pre-defined Content Components - the Hero, the Side-by-Side, and the Cards. But the possibilities for how to use these are endless!
Here are a few examples of how we’ve designed complex layouts using Content Components to make them easily accessible for content creators:
Side-by-side content section with a background image, offset to overlap the previous section.
Multiple cards with background images, text and links. Hover effects zoom in images on mouseover.
Big graphic with editable image, text and link
Overlapping content blocks with editable headings, text, links, and imagery.