The roles and skills required for a successful Web CMS project completion can be divided into three groups: business, content and technical. These groups often work in different departments with conflicting priorities. The first two (business and content) typically belong to marketing, and technical roles are staffed by IT.
When a web CMS project goes well, it’s because of the hard work of people behind the project, who are able to surface and deal with the challenges, not only individually, but also as a team that builds on each other’s expertise.
What content management systems (CMS) do Universities use? Here are some examples.
- University of Leeds – Jadu, WordPress
- University of Cambridge – Plone
- University of Essex – Sitecore
- University of Manchester – TERMINALFOUR
- University of Edinburgh – EdWeb (Drupal)
- London School of Economics and Political Science – Contensis
- Cardiff University – Squiz
- University of South Wales – Wagtail
Having worked with Web CMSs for more than 15 years, I’ve seen a wide range of CMS products—including bespoke solutions built by digital agencies to suit the needs of their existing customers, open source platforms developed and supported by large communities, and proprietary commercial products developed by software houses serving a wide range of industries and use cases. I’ve worked with market-leading CMSs, as well as average, “good enough” CMS platforms. I’ve worked on selection and procurement to replace end-of-life, officially dead CMSs too. Some of these WCMSs were better than others, but most of them proved frustrating to the developers as well as the editors using the system. There was always a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. If the platform was flexible, it required exorbitant amounts of configuration and developers’ time. If the platform was simple enough to run out of the box, it was lacking in some business-critical features. Almost universally, content editors had to suffer in silence, doing their jobs in counterintuitive, inefficient ways that were dictated by the quirks of the system.
I grew up in Ukraine and studied English in school every day from age 7. Speaking English fluently was by far the most valuable skill I acquired during my school career. It provided access to better education and a wider range of career opportunities. It enabled professional development beyond what my own country and my native language could offer.
When I built my first website in 1995, it was in English and in Ukrainian. Back then, 80% of all online content was in English, and I was determined to fit in with this trend. I wanted my website to be accessible to anyone in the world, and going global meant writing in English.
Fast-forward 20 years, English is still the most-studied second language in the world and the most popular language online. More people speak and understand English today than ever before. This might give an impression that publishing useful, usable content in English is a good strategy to acquire new customers globally, but is this really the case? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
If you work in digital marketing, IT or internal communications, chances are you’ve heard about SharePoint. Perhaps you’ve heard that SharePoint is difficult to use, ugly and immobile – so bad in fact, that it’s pretty much a dying platform. Or maybe you’ve heard that SharePoint is a market leading product, adopted by many large organisations and supported by one of the most talented and active development communities in the software industry.
So which one is it?
As I’m midway through the migration of the University of Leeds faculty intranet from legacy platforms to SharePoint, let me share some first-hand experiences of what SharePoint has to offer its customers today.
The world is overwhelmed with web content. Yet many organisations publish content blindly and operate without a documented content strategy, exposing themselves to business risks and missed opportunities. Content strategy is planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content. It guides web content management projects to deliver business value. Effective content strategy relies on a variety of skills and disciplines, including marketing, communications, editorial planning, web development, user experience and analytics.
An opportunity to make a business case can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it’s an indication that the project is taken seriously. On the other hand, it formalizes the intentions, emphasizes responsibility, and implies approval by multiple stakeholders (smell internal politics, anyone?). Writing a good business case requires a pragmatic approach, strategic thinking, and persuasive language. Done well, it can convince the top management to invest in your project. Done poorly, it can cause delays or even stall the initiative entirely.
The keys! Not in my pockets. Not in the drawer. Not on the table. Where are they? It’s bad enough to have to turn everything upside down when your house is, sort of, tidy, but it takes even more time and energy when the house is a mess. Chaotic, disorganized places are stressful.
The same is true for websites. Managing badly structured web content is hard.
In the beginning, there was the word. It wasn’t content managed. There was no HTML, no templates, no workflows. Things were easy. But then there was a paragraph, a heading; there were links, images, and interactive content. Before long, things got complicated. Updating websites became hard work.
CMSs made this hard work easier. People without specialist knowledge of web development started to create web content too. It became possible to publish more content faster—except there was a catch. The CMS didn’t produce quality content. It simply published whatever it was that people entered into the system.
Many web CMS vendors and open source communities describe their web content management (WCM) systems as enterprise. But what does enterprise mean? Are there Web CMSs out there that are not enterprise? Does it matter? Is it beneficial for organizations to invest in an enterprise web CMS, or is it just a fancy marketing buzzword that carries little meaning?