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Quality Not Quantity : Delivering Value From Your Web Content

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Maintaining the quality of your content is critical to the long term success of your website. That involves establishing rigorous pre and post publication editorial processes.

Slowly but surely, organizations are beginning to realize that the quality of their content is critical to the success of their intranets and websites. However, there is a long way to go. I still come across many organizations who give little or no regard to the quality of the content they publish.

Things are changing. I was with Microsoft in Redmond in May and was very impressed by the strong publishing culture that is now there. Yes, in the past, Microsoft has been guilty of churning out content by the truck load, much of it poorly organized and written in a way that geeks might understand but the general public would be left sorely confused by. Consequently, Microsoft has a website with millions of pages that is often a trial to navigate or search. When you do find the content you need, the information it gives can be confusing and/or plain wrong, as I have discovered myself on numerous occasions.

According to a Microsoft senior manager, the company is suffering from “extreme content proliferation”. Part of the cause of this proliferation is because Microsoft initially directly translated a print culture to the Web. This print culture was focused on documenting everything about a product and having it all ready as a big manual when the product shipped. Nobody really asked the question about whether a particular piece of content was actually needed. Nobody really tested the content to see could an ordinary person follow the instructions and do the things they needed to do.

Microsoft thought of content in the same way most organizations did. It was a low level commodity that deserved low priority. The product was the software. The content was just stuff you had to include with the box.

Microsoft thinks differently about content today. The Web has allowed it to increasingly find out what content is being read and what content isn’t, what content is working and what content isn’t. Before Microsoft publishes content it now thinks more like a professional publisher, focusing on a quality, not quantity approach. After content is published, it tracks reader ranking and feedback, and seeks to improve content that is getting poor ratings.

When I was with University of California, Los Angeles recently, I was told about a particular intranet that held scientific content. This had a team of 20 people who spent 20 percent of their week publishing new content and 80 percent reviewing old content. When I tell this story to some web managers, I’m told that they would never to be able to allocate so much time for review. Maybe that’s why many websites are full of poor quality, inaccurate and out-of-date content.

I spoke to someone from Intel recently who informed me that they have an “end of life” process for their web content. Every three months, content is deleted that doesn’t meet certain minimum standards. I am also aware that Johnson & Johnson and Tetra Pak have rigorous review processes for their content. These and other organizations recognize that if you want your content to deliver value, you must focus on quality.

For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern http://www.gerrymcgovern.com

Subscribe to his New Thinking Newsletter: subscribe@gerrymcgovern.mailer1.net

Quality Not Quantity : Delivering Value From Your Web Content
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