Week 9: Content Management is Never Done
(Post 2 of 2)
Content management is one of those things that we don’t really think about when it’s done well, but can make us very crabby when it’s not. We’ve all experienced the frustration of not being able to find something we need, especially if the need is urgent. Until I began the Tech Comm program here at Stout, I hadn’t thought of it in the least. Now I’ve had two classes in it, and I realize how much effort goes into the initial design of a content management system.
(Forgive me for the following big ol’ reference to quality management-I’m responsible for our quality system at work and we have a big audit coming up in November, so I’m armpit-deep in that subject right now.) One of the basic tenets of a quality management system is continual improvement. In the quality world, this means that once procedures are put into place, they are not set in stone. We should always be looking for a better way to do things, usually through inputs from our own employees and customers. The problem with continual improvement is that people in general don’t like change. The original writers of the procedures can feel dejected or insulted because it can seem others don’t think their work was good enough. Users of the procedures can be annoyed with having to learn how to do the same job a different way. Neither of these reactions is helpful. Everyone must buy in to the idea that they are all members of the company “team,” with a common goal of the business’s success.
I suppose continual improvement is a big part of both information design and content management. It’s not possible to please all of the users all of the time. Changes are bound to be suggested, even if we do all of the research beforehand, with usability studies and such. Not all problems can arise during testing stages, and the corrective actions are one of the forms continual improvement takes. Changes to information design concepts discussed in Spilka’s Chapter 4 are limitless, as there is no one correct answer to design issues. Content managers do their best with usability data they can accumulate and with skills and understanding of concepts of mapping, signposting and general use of space, but they need to stay open to suggestions for bettering their project. A teamwork attitude has to just be part of their personality in order for them to be successful, and pride can only hold the project and the company back from improvement. Their job is never really done – they make it the best it can currently be, but tomorrow a change might come along that makes it better.