Thursday, March 08, 2007

Better Content Management through Information Architecture

"Everyone understands the business case for Content Management: Organizations drowning in information can’t learn from, act on, or leverage knowledge and resources trapped in assets that already exist. You lose the content’s value if you can’t find it to use it.

To solve problems like these, business often purchases a technology, assuming the former is a feature of the latter. In the content management world, we hear the same kinds of promises from IT stakeholders, again and again:

• Our developers will provide forms that authors will use to update content online (and every one will live happily ever after).

• We will use XML (and every one will live happily ever after).

• We will buy This software from That vendor—off the shelf—and authors will use this to update content. We will customize These options to match our requirements. (And every one will live happily ever after.)

Unfortunately, business often confuses technology for the solution. Forms, XML, and software won’t manage your content. Neither will they help authors create content, nor do they help you leverage content for later use. When Content Management Systems go wrong – and they frequently do – you can end up with terrible nightmare scenarios:

• Authors write content, and try unsuccessfully to use the CMS.

• IT updates content in relevant format and uploads for authors to review. The authors make power point presentations with changes and mail them to IT.

• IT reviews the PowerPoints and uploads the changes.

Authors approve the changes, and IT uploads the final version to the site.

To prevent these kinds of scenarios, we try to customize off-the-shelf systems or develop our own, but… IT and business, focused on issues with technology and business process neglect the system-wide ecology that governs how those technologies and processes will be used."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows:)    [Usability Resources]

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