Internal CMS users matter (a lot)
I’m not sure what rock I’ve been hiding under, but it took a @McBoof retweet for me to discover Michael Kowalski’s blog on CMS and User Experience called CMSISH. I clearly need to get across the pond more often in my blog reading.
Michael has some solid takes, including his most recent post, Hey, agile developers: the CMS is a different product from the website.
Agile programming aside, CMS implementations that struggle usually fail to address the unique needs of the internal CMS users themselves. Michael hits squarely on this challenge.
But really, the CMS is a distinct product (in the agile sense). It has a different set of customers, ie. the staff who will be updating the site content. They have different goals from your site visitors.
As far as the discipline of user experience strategy has progressed, most digital projects still focus on the external users. This of course matters, but the success of your CMS to enable those experiences depends on how well your internal users can manage and publish content. You rarely see research, personas and plans put in place for internal groups.
Michael advocates for a strong internal owner
Most importantly, CMS development (or, more likely, customisation) must have its own customer representative, who represents the product stakeholders (the staff), and who drives development priorities
But internal owner aside, what this really means is that CMS is not purely a technical exercise. Success will depend on the user experience, content, and business owners of digital initiatives to really understand how CMS intersects their world. Having rock star CMS developers are the table stakes, not the end game.
As Michael says, it’s a recipe for a bad product.
If you treat it just as a component, then chances are your developers will be implicitly be taking this role on themselves… making decisions on behalf of stakeholders who they simply don’t represent….This is a recipe for bad product.