(The Hosting News) – Defining “CMS” is more complicated than it used to be as it now often encompasses a number of disciplines, some new and some old. Generally speaking, an effective WCMS brings a company and its web content together, and while most large organizations realized this years ago, small and mid-size organizations continue to reach the same conclusion. WCMS software concerns itself with the large suite of collaborative processes that facilitate and streamline the management of an online presence.
With that in mind, a viable WCMS must accomplish six things:
- Automate and facilitate the content creation and publication processes
- Empower stakeholders to flexibly delegate content management duties
- Provide content workflow, approval, and security capabilities
- Use current technology to deliver key features and integrate strategic applications
- Centralize and secure the content and branding of a company or organization
- Tangibly reduce overall costs through efficiencies
In this first installment in a series of articles aimed at assisting website stakeholders who feel they’ve lost (or perhaps never had) the content control they need, we’ll focus on the first item in the above list: How should a WCMS automate and facilitate the content creation and publication processes?
Companies generally seek a new WCMS when the handling of existing content has become inefficient, fragmented, or unmanageable. This may be due to simple volume, changes in processes, transitions in operational structure or management, shortcomings in technical infrastructure, or the increased speed of a competitive market.
An effective WCMS leverages content in a number of ways, both in how it’s created and how it’s distributed. It has to, because content delivery is now multi-faceted, and can include a wide variety of sites and channels. A large organization may have a sizeable public-facing website, multiple delivery platforms, a suite of dedicated marketing sites, an intranet/extranet, syndicated feeds, integrated SEO elements, legacy and third-party applications, multiple databases, and a host of other custom requirements. A WCMS becomes extremely valuable when it can manage the entire web footprint, and provide the ability to automate the content creation and publishing processes.
Before content is created, the author should ask him/herself who else (or what else) might be able to take advantage of the content. That type of foresight is often a tremendous time-saving exercise. A WCMS will often allow pages to be “shared” in a site, so other sections of the website can dynamically borrow the content that was just created (versus replicating it elsewhere). Similarly, content that is generated in database-driven format (such as news articles) can then exist as a flexible asset in the system (versus a flat section of HTML code). In similar vein, foresight with respect to distribution channels can also be a huge time-saver. For example, WAVES2 lets users fully manage content and database structures, making the web-based content as “extensible” as possible. Users can instantly create an XML feed for content, or immediately assign existing content to a design template earmarked for mobile devices. WAVES2 fully separates content and design allowing one central edit to refresh every instance of that content in an online presence. Similarly, central publication can push revised content to every template using it – the power of one process is automatically distributed to many.
Some TIPS to consider when authoring content:
- Delegate content creation to the stakeholders who know their subjects the best.
- Review all content from your target’s point of view to ensure the voice and jargon are appropriate.
- Create content generation timelines to usher the process along and provide accountability.
- Think about how the content may be used or taken advantage of by parties within and outside of your organization.
- Take advantage of “shared” features or database-driven content within a WCMS whenever possible.
- Avoid system-generated page titles and use descriptive page titles, which allows for a more intuitive site structure and cross-marketing.
- Use CMS tools to modify or format existing assets (such as images) versus creating and uploading multiple versions of the same base asset.
Every WAVES2 client takes advantage of automated content creation and publication processes – it’s one of the main reasons clients seek out WAVES2 as their WCMS solution. Certain clients also leverage content by letting users get in on the action. UGC (or User Generated Content) is now so ubiquitous that it’s hardly novel, yet it continues to be extremely effective and efficient means of sourcing valuable content. The Scottish Tourist Board (VisitScotland) uses a custom WAVES2 social media aggregator widget to bring unbranded YouTube, Flickr, and Vimeo content onto their site. Sign.com uses a WAVES2 e-commerce module to populate and manage a marketplace where the products are created and managed by site users (a wide range of graphic artists).
Launched in late 2010 as the successor to a proven WCMS, WAVES2 is offered in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, or as installed software that sits behind a client firewall. Both the software and the company behind it play equal roles in making it an approachable and surprising enterprise-level WCMS.
Aptinet Inc. has locations in midtown Manhattan and Boston, and offers both in-person and online demonstrations of the WAVES2 WCMS for your staff or CMS consultants. For more information call 917-408-6386 or 212-725-7255, send email to info(at)waves2(dot)com, or visit http://www.waves2.com.