Organizations typically realize significant benefits from using a web content management platform in lieu of the traditional webmaster-driven single file per page approach. The advantages are frequently so substantial to an organization that it represents one of the key levers an IT organization can pull that almost always increases the effectiveness of the function and reduces its cost.
Traditional approaches to managing web content frequently rely on a cadre of web editors, typically residing in the IT organization, to individually edit web pages and the styles these pages rely upon for look and feel. The approach, based on legacy technical approaches for delivering web content, often possesses significant drawbacks for an organization. First, because the web editors are required for additions or changes, they in essence represent a bottleneck which can materially reduce how dynamic a site’s content is. Because most organization’s web presence is now a strategic enabler, anything that effectively inhibits the flow of content to various audiences inside and outside an organization is a potentially serious weakness.
Additionally, the traditional approach is expensive. The manual, labor-intensive nature of editing web pages to update content typically requires more dedicated resources. Web editors and related IT resources represent in essence a duplicative step as they take content created and edited by others across an organization and add it to new or existing files. Additionally, organizations spend additional funds to continuously fix issues such as broken links, unify branding on different pages, and piece together analytical reporting required by the organization’s management.
Web content management systems enable an organization to automate deployment of content by enabling authorized users across the organization to maintain web content directly. Based on this approach, an organization can reduce its footprint of webmasters in the IT organization or direct the resources to higher value information management activities. Web content management systems also deliver automated workflows for content approval, lock-down look and feel aspects for centralized control of branding, automatically disable broken links, and even provide user-friendly modules for adding forms, calendars, and image rotators to pages for example. Web content management systems also rely on a centralized database rather than individual page files frequently resulting in reduced expense associated with infrastructure support.
Evaluating the Value and Feasibility of Web Content Management
Organizations that have not yet implemented a web content management system to reduce the costs associated with maintaining its web presence often look at five key areas to determine fit and value of various alternatives in the market:
- Who and how many users will need to edit content in the organization?
- Does the organization have unique requirements, including the need to support localized or regional content, perhaps in different languages?
- What level of sophistication does the organization require in terms of features and functions?
- How complex is the implementation within the organization given the expected user community, existing content, and new processes required?
- How much effort will it take to convert the existing content?
Some organizations maintain hundreds of thousands of web pages over thousands of domains, spending tens of millions of dollars to maintain each individual page and their associated cascading styles. Successful implementation of a web content management system frequently results in major reductions to this support footprint while increasing the currency and value of the information presented even in environments with extremely complex requirements.
Implementing a Web Content Management System
Many organizations find the implementation of a web content management system to be more straightforward than other system implementations based on the data already available about their web content and approaches, the mature nature of the packages (both commercial and open source) available, and the tools and resources provided by many vendors including semi-automated content ingest of traditional page files into a web content management system. Organizations that undertake the migration typically:
- Develop a high level concept of operations and future state site architecture.
Inventory and map existing content and develop branding/page templates.
Implement the infrastructure and platform software.
Establish workflows in software and initiate content migration.
Review content and site for functionality and migration success.
Conduct training and knowledge transfer activities for successful operation and support.