Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

The Big Bang: Livingdocs as KStA’s reliable CMS partner during its full-scale tech relaunch

When it comes to product development, speed, agility, and creativity are crucial elements for achieving success. However, this isn’t the case for numerous traditional media companies; many face difficulties when attempting to move forward and evolve due to slow processes characterised by extensive, drawn-out discussions and (often overly) meticulous attention to detail.

Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (KStA), the leading German news publisher in the region of Cologne, encountered similar challenges when it became apparent that its website, ksta.de, could not be developed any further under its existing conditions, and achieving any growth of note seemed infeasible. The company‘s content creation was sluggish, distribution was not up to date, and the technical infrastructure was outdated. 

So KStA decided to forge ahead in the most ambitious, albeit risky, way: by changing everything in a massive overhaul, aptly named the “big bang” relaunch.


  • Complete 8 massive projects in only 8 months 

  • Former CMS cumbersome, overly customised and unable to handle desired speed of content creation

  • Overly complicated and tedious user experience 

  • Old CMS so difficult to use that it distracted from content creation itself


  • The successful and timely finalisation of all projects 

  • Over 300 articles published and distributed daily with multi channel alignment thanks to Livingdocs

  • Intuitive, straightforward and streamlined UX within one unified CMS

  • Livingdocs CMS so easy to learn that 200 editors were trained in just 3 hours

“Such a drastic approach was essential,” explains Timo Schillinger, Senior Product Manager at KStA. “Our tech stack and CMS were nearing end of life, and we had hardly any remaining maintenance ability. We were running out of updates and licences, so there was no foreseeable way to move forward with the systems already in place.”

The limitations imposed by this outdated tech had far-reaching implications when it came to the daily activity of the news publication: due to these obstacles, KStA was unable to develop new types of content, improve distribution, implement AI, integrate personalisation, and much more. After a lengthy series of intense discussions, the KStA decided that the best approach would be a full-scale reinvention, recognising that this path would be the riskiest with the greatest potential for significant challenges.

“We included eight projects in this one big relaunch,” Schillinger says, noting that each of the eight projects was a sizable challenge in and of itself. “It would have been an enormous amount of work to complete just one of these projects. Yet we set a goal to put all 8 projects in one relaunch. Moreover, we set the target to finish the relaunch by a fixed date less than eight months from the start.”

One of the most salient issues creating resistance in the forward-thinking development of KStA’s news website was the monolithic, overly-customised CMS which couldn’t handle the rapid speed of delivery required to remain current, relevant and competitive in digital news publishing and media. According to Schillinger, “[KStA’s] content creation was too slow, our distribution was not up to date. When we decided to do the big bang relaunch, we had to make sure that we had a reliable Content Management System which would minimise the risk related to this aspect of the overhaul.”

It is here that Livingdocs played a pivotal role. With the Livingdocs CMS designed to suit the needs and speeds of today’s newsrooms, KStA was able to meet their digital-first goal of launching all 8 projects by the defined deadline. In November 2022, the KStA website was officially relaunched on Livingdocs. Livingdocs now supports ksta.de in publishing and distributing approximately 300 web articles daily with more efficient communication, multiple channel alignment and consistency of asset distribution thanks to collaboration tools and a wide breadth of functionalities and features.

When working with Livingdocs, editors are able to create articles, pages, and coordinate a variety of assets and services (e.g. video, podcasts, newsletter tools, revenue ad integration, paywall and subscription management, etc.) all without having to leave our CMS; everything they need is either built into or smoothly integrated with Livingdocs. For example, users can explore the potential of article metadata and gain access to automated tagging capability related to topic, level of significance, reader needs, etc. thanks to the integration of our partner iMatrics’s AI auto-tagging solution.

We wanted our editors to focus on the one thing that is important: writing articles and creating top-quality content without having to waste operating a critical yet overly cumbersome tool.

Timo Schillinger, Senior Product Manager at KStA

It should be noted that a team’s genuine interest in wanting to work digitally is a determining factor for a successful digitalisation project, especially one as ambitious as KStA’s 8-in-one project. In this way, the quality of CMS user experience should not be underestimated. At Livingdocs, we are driven to ensure our user experience is intuitive and easy-to-use. Schillinger recalls that with the former CMS, creating an article was tedious and overly complicated, akin to filling a tax form, a far cry from the enjoyable, straightforward experience KSTA’s journalists have while working with Livingdocs. “We wanted our editors to focus on the one thing that is important: writing articles and creating top-quality content without having to waste operating a critical yet overly cumbersome tool,” Schillinger elaborates. In fact, Schillinger recounts that, when KStA held their Livingdocs training – which lasted only a swift 3 hours for over 200 editors – people left with a smile, expressing their eagerness to have Livingdocs be rolled out ASAP and universally as the new ksta.de CMS.

Moreover, Schillinger remarked that it is not just the user experience that inspired KStA to select Livingdocs; it is also the pleasant, friendly customer experience working with us. And a better user experience supported by a competent and refreshingly friendly team means more time and energy to focus on creating better journalism.

The future looks bright as KStA moves ahead with Livingdocs by its side. It has already seen some positive changes since the implementation of Livingdocs. “In our ideal vision, content creation for all channels is digital first; this includes our print products. We are currently working on an interface that will bring digital content into our physical newspaper. We will be able to take this live very soon,“ Schillinger shares. “The relaunch allowed [KStA] to depart from our dead-end outlook and paved the way for further growth and development.” We at Livingdocs are thrilled to be part of this journey, and to grow alongside, support and guide KStA as it continues its progress into the future.