You think Content Management should be easy? Think again!

It happens to me all the time that a client or a trainee asks me for an easy way to do content management. Usually, after a couple of questions, I find out that with ‘easy’ is actually meant ‘fast’. Especially on web productions containing a lot of content, people want to do things fast, like assigning tags and keywords. This is always the basis for a lengthy and heated discussion that always ends the client telling me, more often than not in anger ‘I want it anyway!’. But every single time after two or three weeks, sometimes even longer, I receive a ‘thank you’ note or apology, mentioning that after a bit of research, or even by making the mistake of trying to do it all faster, there might be some truth in me telling them they should not want to make it easier or faster.

Content Management is the thoughest and most under-appreciated job in the whole online environment. And usually, underpaid. Content fills your site, makes it up to date or outdated, makes you trustworthy or not. It makes or breaks you. I have produced two pretty advanced and quite widely used content management systems that require the editors to put a lot of attention in their work. The initial problem seems to be that it is taking them longer to put the content in and finish it, because it requires editors to think about how to compose it. But then, after that is done, it is a breeze to publish it, archive it, reuse and edit it. This is not to be credited to the system, but actually that editors had to focus so much on doing it right, it’s information just lingers with them, making it also easier to manage it. It is like writing a cheat-sheet during a school test, more often than not writing the cheat-sheet made you memorize the information, so that you did not need it anyway (too bad if you still got caught 🙂 )

You do not want a system that makes it too easy. Because if you manage content, it needs to be done well. So it should require attention. You might want to have something that can make changes to 100 articles at the same time, because you think it might save time. But it is easy to make a mistake here, by for example publishing the information to a accidentally selected article, making it soar into oblivion with search results.

See content management as filling your IRS papers; it requires attention, and people who pay that attention and do it right, often are rewarded after-wards, or with a greater tax-return because you found 100 new ways to cut taxes, or in this case, a more solid web site with content, and easier management after all. After all, you also would not like your accountant to handle all your stubs alike and quick and just reads one and handles all others as if it was the same one.

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