A Working Definition of Digital Content Management

Been thinking lately about an enduring challenge for digital product teams: content management. So much of the problem–like so many problems–is definitional. So let’s propose a definition:

“Web content management comprises the set of tools and practices by which the appropriate experts throughout the organization are able to create and update the online content that they care about, according to their own priorities and schedules, without specialized technical or design skills and with exactly the right amount of intervention from technical experts.”

Breaking it down:

  • “…Tools and practices…”: it’s not enough to have a tool; you also need a set of understood and obeyed processes and policies.
  • “…appropriate experts throughout the organization…”: The right people, all over, own their content. This doesn’t say anyone can write anything; it says the right people can write their things.
  • “…create and update…”: Not only can they make it in the first place, but they can change it when necessary.
  • “…according to their own priorities and schedules…”: This is big. If, for example, HR wants to post 50 job openings on one day, they should be able to, and it shouldn’t dramatically affect the web team’s capacity.
  • “…without specialized technical or design skills…”: Authors shouldn’t have to know much about web technology or web design. In fact, they shouldn’t be able to make sophisticated technical or design choices.
  • “…with exactly the right amount of intervention from technical experts.”: In a content management environment, experts are certainly necessary, but they provide genuine technical, design, or editorial expertise, not maintenance/rote work.

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