Tuesday, March 29, 2005

creating an online content strategy -- the "why" before the "how"

I'm giving a talk about online content strategies at the Gilbane Conference on Content Management Technologies in San Francisco next month. In developing the presentation, I keep stopping at the "why" of content strategy before delving into the "how."

Why is this? I keep asking myself.

I think it's because content strategy is not really understood, especially by folks in IT, who are focused on figuring out which Content Management System (CMS) to buy. To IT, it's clear that there is too much content and there are too many people in a flurry to post, change and remove information from the site, and CMSs hold the promise of taking responsibility for doing all of that away from them and put into the hands of the "content owners."

But it's not that simple. In fact, if it were, the chain of command for information would have been figured out a long time ago.

The reality is, most organizations have never had a content strategy. Why? Three reasons, as I see it:

  1. They didn't know they needed one. And maybe they didn't. If each of their business units operated as an independent entity, publishing information (sales sheets, newsletters, marketing materials) to discrete audiences with no overlap with the organization's other business units, they may not have needed to become unified.

  2. They didn't know how to create one. That's understandable, since folks have only been thinking about content strategies for a relatively short time, since the Internet became prevalent in the 1990s.

  3. They didn't have the time or people to do it. That's where I think I get stuck, because if an organization just chooses to overlook this process, they're making a big mistake. (For more, read my article on the risks of not managing content.)
Well, I hope Gilbane conference attendees learn something from my talk.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

content management system vs. page update tool?

I was recently emailing with a former client, who told me that rather than buying a full-fledged CMS, they had purchased a smaller system they call a "page update tool." I'm a little surprised, I guess, but not entirely. And I imagine that the folks who will be using the tool might be pleased about it.

With a completely decentralized publishing model, this organization probably can't do more than enable folks to reuse their own content -- and even that might be in a future phase. If this tool gives the central IT group the time to think through the bigger-picture issues, it's money well spent.

does the world need another blog? maybe....

This is my first real foray into the world of blogging. I've had this blogger account since 2001, but I couldn't really make it work. My first vision for using a blog was as a homepage for my synagogue's website, so that the synagogue administrator could post news as it occurred, then gather it into a newsletter at the end of the month. But the admin was intimidated by the idea of instantly posting information, or never had time to try it out -- not sure what the exact reasons were, but my idea went into a black hole.

I also planned on experimenting with this blog to discuss my thoughts on Web content, but I wasn't sure how to determine what to publish or not. I'm still not sure, but I'm more comfortable with that unsurety now.

Well, I definitely have a lot to say about online content, and people do seem to want to hear my opinions, so this seems a good way to share them.

That's it for now -- more soon!