The Age of Smart Content Management Dawns – Guest Post

Despite years of investment in CMS (Content Management Systems), insight into content quality and readability remains poor. But this is changing.

This is a smart content management guest post by Web Governance expert Shane Diffily. Shane talks about how website review and content evaluation reports can give you the data you need to assess the quality of online editorial content.

The Age of Smart Content Management Dawns

The best sites know that high-quality, readable content is at the core of online success. Just consider all the recent talk about the importance of content marketing from organizations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Red Bull. Yet, a core challenge remains. How to make sure everything that goes online meets minimum standards for readability, clarity and consistency?

While a site with low content volumes can rely on manual processes to review everything, there is no way this can be applied to a large-scale operation. The cost of staff and the complexity of administration simply spirals out of control. Something new is needed.

Enter Smart Content Management

The automation of smart content management has been unstoppable for some time – and the reason is simple. It is just too expensive and too cumbersome to do things any other way.

“Assigning resources to manually check sites and apps for compliance is inefficient. That’s why companies have begun to automate these activities”.

Ron Rogowski. Forrester Research February 2013: Digital Customer Experience Governance Demystified

Admittedly some early attempts at automating content failed quite badly. In particular, the technology of Content Management Systems (CMS) promised too much and delivered too little.

The problem was that these tools were – and are – essentially “dumb”.

Sure, they provide some visibility into things like site structure, versioning and user access. Sometimes they also include a few Quality Assurance functions, such as link integrity and accessibility.

Yet they remain utterly opaque as regards the most important measure of online publishing: Is your content any good? They have absolutely nothing to say about that.

The truth is that Web Managers in many large organizations are flying blind as regards the quality of their editorial content. They hope that their writers are sticking to the rules and producing clear and engaging content. But apart from conducting expensive and lengthy manual reviews, they really don’t know.

Clever content management

The advantage of smart content management tools like VisibleThread Web is that they can penetrate this wall of uncertainty and expose editorial content to detailed examination. For example, VisibleThread Web can scan and review the readability, clarity & consistency of thousands of pages in minutes (a process that can be repeated as often as desired).

This can be used to show where complicated or duplicate terms are used and provide suggestions for how to fix them. For example, VisibleThread Web can show if both the word “Doctor” and “Physician” are in use when only one is approved. It can also show if and where you deviate from your corporate Web Standard by using forbidden terms such as “the disabled” in place of “people with disabilities”.

As such, by easily tracking all online content it allows Web Managers to have confidence in enforcing standards. This means:

  • Content creators know what is expected of them during production.
  • Editors can easily identify good writers, which can be used to encourage others.
  • Project managers can request rework if contractors fail to meet minimum standards.

This is a tremendous boon to Web Governance professionals who crave information that helps them get maximum return from limited resources in pursuit of online goals.Indeed, a lack of data on editorial quality has resulted in an underinvestment in content simply because it make no sense to spend on something that is so hard to measure.For example, what if Web Analytics suggests that people are able to find your content via Google (indicating good SEO) but are not converting to sales?Is this because of bad design (poor layout, clunky interface) or bad content (poor readability, confusing text, inappropriate themes)?

You could try to investigate your content manually, but reviewing text on a site with even a few hundred pages could take days or weeks. As such, it is much easier to spend on better design, where measurement systems are more transparent.
But no more.

Data and Visibility

VisibleThread Web gives Web Managers the visibility they need to measure the quality of editorial content in the same way as any other aspect of online performance. This can then be used to build a sound business case for investing in content. For example, Web Managers can triangulate data from VisibleThread Web with insight from Analytics and User Engagement to identify areas where content is genuinely at fault and make targeted investment decisions as a result.

automatic analytics for traffic engagement and content quality - website content quality

This really is the start of a new age of smart content management. For the first time, the managers of very large websites can have confidence in the quality of their online content.

There is no doubt that the certainty this creates will lead to better use of limited resources, better decision making and ultimately a better content experience for customers.