Content Management Systems

By | April 27, 2015

An author-friendly CMS is the most effective way to manage your content. A surprising number of organisations rely on word documents, which are uploaded manually, and hard-coded content. I define ‘hard-coded’ as content which is doesn’t live in its own easily-accessible system but can only be located, by developers for example, within the code for the website page or app.

Depending on the volume of content being managed, there are many proprietary systems on the market. The majority of these have the facility to manage multiple languages and complex hierarchies. There are several elements of functionality which should be taken into account when reviewing different systems:

  • Is it user-friendly; how long does training take; is it intuitive?
  • Can user access be defined and regulated?
  • Will it be able to link to an industry-standard connector allowing for content to be sent to a translation agency and returned to the system?
  • Can the content, in any language, be accessed to allow for easy updates?
  • How regularly will content updates be published?

The CMS user may be the writer, a subject matter expert, linguist, developer or legal reviewer.  As a user interface, between the content and the database, system functionality may include the following elements:

  • metadata fields
  • version control
  • reports (for example, last updated date/name)
  • process notification triggers
  • a coherent IA/taxonomy structure;  not necessarily hierarchical but allowing for content relationships

A poor author experience can lead to incomplete, inaccurate and difficult-to-find content.  The frustrations of the teams tasked with managing, reviewing and deploying the final content for customers can impact the quality of the final content.  Content creators and system users should be fully involved in defining requirements for content management systems in order to enable them to effectively develop the ideal content experience for their customers.