For a small or highly homogeneous organization, managing website content may have its challenges, but it lends itself to a highly centralized approach. However, as an organization grows and becomes more diversified, life can become complicated in a hurry.
Problems may occur when different departments, divisions or product groups begin to appear. Each one may operate with some autonomy, as they should, so that they can respond quickly to seize opportunities based on the needs of their customers and their product innovations. If each group were to involve the others, or senior management, in every customer facing decision, it would slow them down considerably.
For most companies, the website offers one of the more important channels for disseminating information about their products and services.
For a diversified company, each significant product group or division should usually have their own section of the website, dedicated to providing their customers with information about their own products and services. Depending on the size and scope of the operation, this can be anything from a single page to hundreds or even thousands of pages covering such areas as sales, customer service, application ideas and customer reviews.
Unless your products and market are really static, there is little more important than informing customers about the latest developments. For that reason, there is great value in empowering each product group to publish new content on their section of the company website on their own schedule, without involving headquarters, senior management or other product groups or departments.
While this sounds simple, there are a few wrinkles in actually making it happen. For one thing, it is important that the newly published content maintain a professional appearance, which in turn requires that it adhere to corporate standards. At a minimum, this may require content management or content publishing software that is configured to automatically format content based on usage as, for example, body copy, headline or subhead, rather than asking the user to provide raw specifications for font faces, colors and sizes. To learn more, see our recent post: Keeping your site looking like your site.
In some cases, companies may want to go further, providing editorial reviews to ensure conformance with things such as grammar and writing style. While editorial reviews can never be as hands free as appearance specs, the workflow can certainly be automated and the requirements for approvals enforced via software.
Another important consideration is the timing and regularity of updates. While most people agree that they should publish new material regularly (while it’s still news), it’s sometimes hard to stay focused as your day-to-day annoyances unfold. In my personal experience, I’ve found that the best way to stay on track is to develop a content release schedule well in advance. Depending on your business, this may cover a period from a few months to a full year. Of course, changes and additions may occur, but you at least have a base scenario in place, preferably with firm release dates. This is what almost every professionally produced periodical does.
It is much easier to support the idea of a publication schedule when you use a content management system that directly supports this mode of operation. Both the WordPress and Drupal content publishing platforms support pre-defined scheduling of individual posts, so that new content may be created and queued in advance, automatically publishing itself at the appointed time.