Monday, July 28, 2014

3 Tips to Avoid a Post-Content-Migration Slump

During your content migration project, employees worked tirelessly to tame your existing site content. Now, their efforts to inventory and evaluate site content have paid off, resulting in a leaner, more user-focused site. But what happens the day after the site launches? All too often, this is when the content-management backsliding starts.

How Does This Happen?

It’s a familiar story: Everyone wants content management, but no one wants to manage content. Recognizing poor content management habits prevents you from repeating history and encountering the same challenges later on.

Here are the three most common instigators that cause content pile-ups:

· Hoarders. “We can’t get rid of that newsletter from 1998. Someone, somewhere might want it… Someday.”

· Avoiders. “Look. Everyone knows that’s there’s a problem. But there’s just too much stuff to sort through right now. I’m too busy.”

· Ghosts. “Who’s in charge? Um, I think Bill was before he left. No, wait… Was that before the Web team merged with the IT department?”

What to Do About It

During your migration project, your organization pulled together to analyze, prioritize and refine your content. The following tips will ensure you keep the momentum you gained:

· Create clearly defined, broadly communicated governance rules. A governance model places structure around oversight, strategy and operations. The importance of such rules may seem obvious. However, even at global companies, responsibility for entire site areas can sometimes fall through the cracks. (This issue is especially prevalent for Intranets, but customer-facing sites are not immune.) Establishing clear lines of ownership provides accountability for ensuring that content is current, accurate and useful. This includes identifying roles and responsibilities for a central web team and/or cross-departmental contributors.

· Set content lifecycles. You should also identify the shelf life of your content. This includes rules for how often to review or retire each content type. Remember, you don’t have to wait until another wide-scale migration to evaluate your content again. Any site can benefit from periodically reviewing and refreshing its information.
Typically, you can leverage your CMS to apply these rules more efficiently. For example, you can send automated email reminders to annually review highly visible, strategically important or time sensitive content. You can also create automated processes to remove and archive specific content, such as newsletters, after a defined time period (e.g., two years).

· Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Throughout your migration project, poor communication with stakeholders was not an option. You probably spent a lot of time explaining how and why each step was important. And you had to work hard to generate buy in and make sure that everyone was on the same page.
It’s hard work to maintain the same level of engagement after launch. But it’s worth the effort. Establish ongoing communication with key stakeholders, such as regular meet-ups, email updates or Intranet discussion groups. This will reinforce best practices, promote internal engagement and show that content management is valued by the organization.

Following Through

The most challenging stage of your new site’s growth may begin after your migration project has ended. All too often, organizations fail to follow through with proper governance and content management. If you treat these issues as a lower priority, your employees will too. However, if you create the proper structure to support people, process and technology, then you can build on your success.

Recommended Reading

Effective Evaluations for Content Migration Projects, Christopher Leporini

3 Evaluation Approaches for Large-Scale Content Migrations

It's Not About Post-Launch Either: Principles of Constant Change, David Hobbs

Website Migration Handbook, David Hobbs (Version 1 available for free download)