There’s no crying in content management
The team from Loyola University of Maryland gave a fantastic presentation at eduWeb 2014 in Baltimore about empowering authors for success with web publishing. April Arnold, Kimberly Hall and Amy Filardo co-presented on the case-study-driven story about how they wrangled more than 200 content authors from what was described as a “content crisis” to a more empowered, supported, and happier place.
The presentation, awesomely titled ‘There’s no Crying in Content Management,’ started with familiar CMS woes inside higher education. The CMS had a “bad brand” on campus thanks in large part to a decentralized environment with little structure of support.
As one of our higher education clients in a similar situation put it, “we’re a feudal society in search of a central state.”
The story at Loyola started to change in 2006 with the formation of a web communications group, shifting strategic responsibility for content and digital from IT. The new team quickly discovered that…wait for it…the pain wasn’t entirely the fault of the technology. The CMS had become a scapegoat for people not to update content and be engaged in the care and feeding of the institution’s web properties.
While it’s a common tale, organizations often complain about these realities without taking steps to improve the situation. The team at Loyola has worked hard to change the narrative.
The best takeaway for me was about the community they created called the Content Owners Network which formalized a center of excellence, training and peer encouragement among the hundreds of users in CMS. As part of this network, the web communications team requires all users to attend CMS training and works hard to provide useful tools and worksheets they can take back to their desk after the memories of the instruction fade.
Also key to the success of the network are in-person events featuring topical web themes and lecturers as well as drop in labs allowing authors to work alongside of the trainers with real scenarios. For sites that are more custom, they provide more hands on 1-1 consultations and training.
We’ve seen aspects of this type web community executed in many other organizations, but Loyola’s approach was comprehensive and consistent. It’s a good reminder that all organizations have pain around web publishing and technology, but it takes intentional actions and leadership to work through them and actually make web content management work.
Thanks to April, Kimberly and Amy for a wonderful presentation.