25 years of web content management innovation with Tridion

Arjen van den Akker 02 Sep 2021 5 min read
It’s amazing to think that it was only 30 years ago when the first website went live. It all started with a British scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, building a website at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to help scientists exchange information with colleagues and universities around the world. Back then, no one could have imagined how the World Wide Web would come to dominate our lives. In 1991 there were just 10 websites. By 1996 this had risen to 2 million, and today it’s estimated that there are a staggering 1.9 billion websites.

The birth of Tridion

Back when Google debuted its first search engine in 1996, a Dutch software engineer and entrepreneur, Arjan van Rooijen, was looking for ways to bring companies closer to their audiences. He built the Internet Publishing System (IPS) – a content management system that allowed companies to share content and information online. He was invited by a Dutch national newspaper, de Volkskrant, to build its website. It was a highly complex task – but one that helped define the future of the platform. IPS later became Tridion and has been at the forefront of innovation ever since.
As one of the world’s leading content management platforms, Tridion is trusted by some of the globe’s largest brands to manage their highly complex content needs. As we celebrate 25 years of Tridion, let’s take a look back at some of the platform’s firsts and highlights.

Top 10 Tridion innovations

1. Security at its core
Since day one Tridion was designed as a decoupled CMS to ensure optimal use of hardware resources, flexible scaling, and superior security in highly complex and demanding content environments. Now, at a time where cybersecurity is on everyone’s radar, this continues to be a compulsory cornerstone of any digital experience platform.
2. Simple management of hundreds of websites
BluePrinting®, conceived in 1997, is still at the very heart of Tridion, and no other CMS vendor has been able to replicate it in the past 25 years. It addresses the virtually impossible problem of managing dozens – even hundreds – of websites in multiple languages for multiple brands, in a way that is sustainable, eliminates risk, promotes content and translation reuse, and provides high-quality customer experiences.
3. Dynamic content delivery
Tridion’s single source publishing capabilities are based on a strict separation of content from design and the use of componentized content from the outset. Two decades later, CMS vendors are often still working with a page-based approach to their content – instead of putting atomic content first to allow dynamic content assembly for better and more personal digital experiences across touchpoints.
4. Unrivalled translation capabilities
Tight translation integration has always been key to Tridion. Since the acquisition by SDL, and now RWS, this has been further improved to the point where Tridion offers unique translation review and translation preview capabilities – fully synchronizing and optimizing the translation and editorial web workflows, ensuring correct Translation Memory updates, and facilitating easy handovers between web and translation teams.
5. Multiple delivery models
Once cloud adoption among customers accelerated, Tridion was quick to market with a fully microservices-based cloud offering, allowing a Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) deployment model. Important features such as Topology Management and Digital Experience Accelerator for China were added to deal with a distributed workforce, globally dispersed delivery endpoints, and the Chinese firewall.
6. Build your own ecosystem
Integrations between key marketing systems are crucial in supporting a joined-up customer experience – as well as smooth back-end operations. Tridion’s Integration Framework builds on Tridion’s history of interoperability, where it integrates with a wide range of systems spanning DAM, CRM, Video, MRM, Marketing Automation, Campaign Management, Document Management, ERP, HR, PIM, Enterprise Search and many other technologies.
7. Headless ahead of time
Headless CMS technologies went mainstream about five years ago, but interestingly enough, Tridion has always been a headless CMS, so nothing new to us – just a new buzzword for the same thing. Headless delivery, combined with traditional WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) editing, is what most marketers need and so what we provide.
8. Blended web and structured content
Today’s web visitor wants more than just fancy marketing content. We recognized this early on and allowed Tridion to publish in-depth DITA-based product and business information, fully blended with engaging marketing content, so organizations can deliver end-to-end customer journeys – spanning pre-sales, sales, and post-sales and support content.
9. Early GraphQL adoption
GraphQL adoption is starting to gain more traction among CMS vendors, but Tridion was already capable of doing so back in 2018 – ahead of many competitors – allowing it to drive today’s modern digital touchpoints and delivery frameworks such as Angular, React and Vue.js.
10. Driving AI innovation
Semantic AI is the latest addition to Tridion, where Tridion can match content to visitor intent. Through the use of NLP-based semantic AI, Tridion helps content authors with Smart Tagging to categorize their content faster and better, while Tridion semantic search improves both the findability and discoverability of content, and can be applied in a wide range of employee, partner and customer- facing use cases.
Tridion continues to be at the forefront of innovation in CMS technologies, paving the way for others to follow in our footsteps. 25 years of experience have culminated in a product that takes on any challenge, no matter the requirements. As we look ahead, we’re excited by the prospect of continually finding ways to ensure that Tridion remains the top choice for global enterprises.
Arjen van den Akker

Arjen van den Akker

Senior Director Product Marketing
Arjen van den Akker has a 25+ years background in computer engineering and marketing and has worked at a series of international B2B software vendors. He joined SDL in 2012 (acquired by RWS in 2020) and works as Senior Director of Product Marketing for RWS’s digital experience and content management solutions.
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