How «Heute» switched to Livingdocs – without anybody noticing

Text: Martin Sauter, May 14, 2020

When media companies replace their publishing infrastructure, they usually redesign their online portals as well. Our project for was completely different: the main goal here was to replace the old backend without touching the frontend. Challenge accepted!

«Heute» is the leading free daily newspaper in Austria. Their online portal generates more than 4.3 mio. unique clients. So never change a running system, right?

Well, this traffic-heavy website had one major challenge. The publishing platform it was built on did no longer match the requirements of the editorial staff. The briefing was clear: Replace the backend with a more powerful and user-friendly platform – but do not touch the frontend. Sounds like exchanging the engine of a driving car? Well, you get the idea…

This project was simply made for us: Being a headless CMS, Livingdocs has no preference for the frontend that consumes its content. It can basically serve any frontend based on any technology available. Nonetheless, it was a challenge to develop a solution that was able to replace the old platform without changing the existing frontend visually or technically in any way.

To match the requirements of the editorial staff, we added some functionalities to the Livingdocs platform as well. For example, needed more metadata options to manage their media assets. They also asked for a character limit per component to make sure that editors do not break the layout by adding too much text. And they needed a significant number of additional third party embeds on top of what Livingdocs offers as a standard.

Smooth Transitions

The welcome screen of the new backend looks also somewhat different from other Livingdocs implementations. The reason for this is simple: To make the transition for the editorial staff as smooth as possible, the welcome screen mimics some elements of the old backend.

The project is excellent proof that the Livingdocs editing experience can be implemented anywhere – even behind an existing portal that already has a great frontend for its readers and needs an improved system for the journalists. We are excited to welcome among our valued clients – as our first client in Austria, by the way.