Technology Record - Issue 25: Summer 2022

102 V I EWPO I NT A wider perspective of content management DE ANE BAR K E R : OP T I M I Z E LY By stepping back and considering the entire content life cycle, organisations can ensure that the flow of content remains fresh “The entire life cycle of content is far larger than just what ends up in your CMS” There’s a great trope in adventure or thriller movies where the main character finally understands what’s going on. They pull their perspective back and take in everything, and they realise they were just looking at some tiny corner of reality. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, for example, our intrepid hero is in a library looking for clues when he goes up to the balcony and can see a massive ‘X’ drawn on the floor. Often, we don’t realise when our perspective is limited. We never step back to take in all the details. It’s like this with digital content. We tend to get myopic around things like content modelling, editorial user interfaces, content aggregations, templating and such. These are the mechanical details that enable the management of content. But all this assumes the content exists. Where does it start? Think about the Seine River, in France. You’re probably thinking about the section where it flows past the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. But that’s just the part of the river that runs through Paris. The Seine is 432 miles long, and the waters start at a wellspring several hundred miles away in Dijon. Likewise, when content floats through your content management system (CMS), it’s probably well into its life cycle. It originated in a different part of the organisational or logistical chain, so how well are you managing that process? Step back. Enlarge your perspective. You’ll find that the entire life cycle of content is far larger than just what ends up in your CMS. Content isn’t born when someone logs into the CMS and selects ‘new article’. Content is born when someone comes up with an idea, when they toss the idea over to a co-worker, and say, “What do you think about this?” Back in 2006, I dubbed this process ‘the first 85 per cent’, meaning that what happens in a CMS is just the last 15 per cent of the process of creating content. A few months ago, I threw together a list of all the things that had to happen for a piece of content to get published on a website. You start with an unexpressed need for content. The website has become a bit stale, and there’s no forum or platform, much less a schedule, to articulate this. Finally, someone pronounces that we need some more or different content. Since there’s been no standing review of existing content, we first must figure out what’s out there. Then we need to review what our competitors are doing, dust off the analytics and figure out what’s worked in the past, and then schedule and re-schedule a meeting to discuss what content we should create. Only then can we come up with some ideas in a mishmash of Word documents. Finally, we have someone write the content offline, email