Content Strategy

CMess and the content team

Elena Plaiter
2012 brings thoughts of a new CMS for me and the team.

Now, i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again. Sometimes working in digital content is like being the petulant kid in the corner screaming “but what about the content?” with arms flailing in the air.

So if we’re having a new CONTENT management system, then the content producers are getting a say, and the digital team, and the editors, and the contributors…

The Content strategy, content management tools, and the happy ending talk by @kate_kenyon (below) at a Content  Strategy meetup last year has provided a lot of food for thought…

Here’s a few brain dumpings as a result, that i’ll probs be banging on about as we scope for a new CMS.

Who should own it? (the content team)

Because ultimately if the CMS doesn’t fulfill our needs, or the users needs, then we are damaging the potential success of any work our whole organisation does. Or creating content without demand or audience. The website is our voice to the outside world, and the CMS is the tool that allows that to happen.

If our content isn’t live in time, looks wonky or doesn’t work, and we’re telling the outside world about it, then all of our effort is wasted, and our reputation is at risk.

Who decides what it should do? (the content team, or the user)

They content team are the ones that know their audience, know their objective and have the insight to know what works, and what doesn’t. If content are asking ‘what should it do’, then IT can answer ‘how will it do it?’. But even this needs to be answered in consultation with the content team. Because if content editors can’t use the CMS, or train business users on it then it’s useless. And if we can’t make the content work as hard as it can then it’s useless. And if we can’t amend it based on changing internal and external environments, then it’s useless.

Who upkeeps it? (the content team will nudge the techy guys)

Oh – you can’t push anything to live and the biggest story of the year has broken? Take a ticket. Oh, all your links are corrupt and you’ve just done a direct mail door drop to 2 million people? Get in line. The shopping cart isn’t working and it’s the first day of the online sale? Stick your hand in the air. Without the content team putting things in context (and flailing their arms around like a child) then the whole organisation’s effort goes to waste.

Some CMS metaphors

  • The CMS is the foundation to our site – and those foundaitons should be solid.
  • The CMS is a part of our toolkit – the hardest working and least reliable!
  • The CMS is an enabler – delivering the content strategy to fulfil business goals: it needs to cope with whatever the strategy throws at it.

My ideal, ‘dream’ CMS won’t restrict me or the organisation’s content in any way. As we travel down the road to a new all-singing, all dancing CMS, i’ll continue to analyse our content, processes, style, governance and training. Because i agree with Kate – it doesn’t make up for crappy processes or poor training. It is just a tool.

Kate Kenyon — Content strategy, content management tools, and the happy ending from Together London on Vimeo.

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