If you define content as all drawn or printed materials, then content management systems have been around since history began. Long before Gutenberg invented the printing press, people were binding pages together to make books and collecting the books in libraries. Written lists, card catalogs and the invention of the Dewey Decimal System made it easier for patrons to locate a certain book.
Today, most content is digitized. You have blog posts, product catalogs, ecommerce sites, instruction manuals and a host of other online content. More than ever before, content is king, and you need a web content management system if you are to deliver an engaging, personalized omni-channel experience to your customers.
At first glance, you might think that implementing a WCM would be no different from any other implementation. However, there are issues specific to WCM implementations, and if these issues are not addressed properly, your WCM implementation can fail.
Here are some tips on making sure your implementation succeeds.
- Start with the basics, such as deciding whether you need to re-design or migrate to another platform. Define the basic system before you start planning the complexities.
- Define your primary objectives and beneficiaries. For example, do you need better editing capability, additional features for your website or code that is easier to maintain?
- Determine the fundamental features you need. Do you need high performance and high scalability, or do you need greater personalization and better integration?
- Decide who will be responsible for maintaining your WCM. If you plan to keep everything in house, do you have staff with the right skills? If not, do you plan to recruit or provide training to current staff?
- Determine whether you will run parallel or switch over all at once. Running parallel is more work, and content will need to be loaded into each system and maintained. However, this strategy may allow you to reach the market sooner.
- Refine your workflow. Do all C-level executives, for example, need to approve every new blog post? Start simple and expand later, if needed.
- Decide how granular you need your templates to be. As a rule, the more granular, the greater the control developers have to enforce functionality. Editors will likely need to follow the template closely and will probably be required to "click" a few more times. As templates become less granular, editors have more control over the content's format, spacing and other design elements, but the risk is that they could produce pages that vary significantly in appearance.
- Do not overlook the users. The WCM is essentially two applications in one — an editing interface for your content editors and an external site for your users. Make sure that each application has the appropriate cues or headings.
- Define all the data types that will be stored in the WCM. Some data, such as customer invoices, is not suitable for storage in the WCM, while other data, such as text content and images, is very appropriate.
- Do not rush content loading. Templates are frequently changed as the process moves forward. The best approach is to wait until all templates are finalized before you begin loading content. If you absolutely must start sooner, wait at least until template completion is above the 80 percent mark.
- Decide the location to store every part of your code and templates.
- Determine the best way to maintain old URLs. With luck, you have them consolidated in a central location, such as a database or existing CMS.
- Remember that your editors need training. If they are unhappy with the tool, you will probably encounter some major issues when attempting to make the implementation a success. If possible, secure feedback from editors during the early design phases. Some companies use the content loading phase to train their editors.
- Build your team by selecting the right people for the job. Naturally, you need to select team members with the appropriate skills, but you should also consider their attitude and willingness to function as part of a team.
Countless WCM implementations have been overwhelming successes, but you should remember that implementation failures have happened. If you follow the above tips, temper your expectations and establish realistic goals, you can avoid major issues during your implementation.