Stop letting people use your CMS
Seth Gottlieb at Content Here is on a roll lately with some great thinking.
His post on The Myth of the Occasional CMS User was timely based on some conversations we’ve been having around the office. There is a lot to unpack in it, and of course anything with Myth in the title catches our attention.
Seth summarizes a frequent pain point with CMS rollouts:
“Often, one of the big justifications for a CMS is removing the webmaster bottleneck and delegating content entry to the people who have the information. The implicit assumption is that everyone wants to directly maintain their portion of the website but technology is standing in the way”
He goes onto explain all the reasons why this can wreak havoc and have people assigning blame to the wrong areas. He correctly points out that CMS failure often comes down to expectation setting, a topic we’ve covered here on the Myth as well.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen organizations buy a CMS, take their same content structure, and simply distribute authoring ownership to every far flung corner of the organization. And let’s not entirely blame the organizations. It’s how CMS is sold. And it’s a myth, straight up.
Here’s a familiar scene.
You have dozens of users in CMS tool 101 training sessions with no idea why they are there, no familiarity with the publishing model and no incentive to learn how to keep their piece of content up to date which rarely needs to be updated anyway. This never ends well.
And the CMS technology itself only magnifies this problem. Content management systems do a lot of things well, but they are not built for the occasional user. Far from it.
They typically expose all the functionality you need to build pages and sites, but they are not organized around supporting task-based content entry. And occasional users have very specific tasks.
I know vendors will disagree, highlighting things like inline editing, roles based security and workflow. But in almost all cases, it still doesn’t work for the occasional user. The pain far outweighs the gain.
So, I’ll take it one step further than Seth. Stop letting people use your CMS unless they are an integrated part of your web and editorial team and need to be in it on a regular basis. Even then, they may not need to be in the tool.
Seriously, don’t let them in. Even if they beg.
Build other processes for allowing them to request updates and get content into the system. Lie if you have to (sorry, all out of seats!).
Your content publishing process should be oriented to serving your site visitors (content consumers) not the internal structure of your company.
Build an editorial process and team that supports getting this content published in the most effective way possible and stop forcing administrative assistants to sit through tools training.
Everyone will be better off.