Web Content Management Systems (Web CMS) have been around for a while -- yet there still appears to be quite a large number of organizations that are either not using one at all or are not using one properly when implementing their digital marketing strategy for multi-branded websites.
There are quite a few causes for the latter scenario, but it all starts with not dealing with key "non-functional" requirements at the right moment for one of several reasons (cost, time, lack of skills or seniority, etc). In this case, the requirement is known to the team, but there is a conscious decision made to not prioritize it.
When this decision is made and the requirement is ignored, the company is actively accruing technical debt. At a certain point in time, the company will have to “pay back” this technical debt that they accrue -- and for content management-based websites, the payback date is coming earlier and is costlier than ever before.
I’ve put together a list of five common requirements that I've noticed are being either ignored or not given the proper attention when building websites on top of a WCMS -- and they all come back to haunt the product owner and development teams at some point.
1. Editorial Team User Experience
Although the main audience of the website is the consumer, the user of the site and the one that you want to get attention (or money) from, you must not forget the website content editor's user experience during the development process.
Editors are becoming key decision makers when approving digital marketing strategies, as they will heavily use the CMS interface to keep the website and mobile site’s content up-to-date and competitive.
Several CMS come with core or add-on capabilities to help enhance the experience for the editor, but a well-designed project plan will include tasks for configuration, testing and validation of those user stories, not to mention training of the users.
2. The World is Already Mobile
You can't deny it. No one can. Why fight it? Why not start with mobile first? Why not lay out the foundation of your enterprise WCMS to expedite the release of mobile sites?
Editor's Note: Have a look at 7 Key Mobile Experience Trends & Topics from Adobe's Kevin Cochrane for more insights on this topic.
This should be taken into account both from a platform perspective and on a project by project basis. Will you use responsive design? Maybe develop a mobile app? Each choice has its advantages and ideal scenarios. But the bottom line is: the WCMS must not be a bottleneck to your digital marketing mobile strategy. In fact, it must add on to it.
3. Web Experience Management
This is quite a fancy term, but at a high level, it means providing your key stakeholders (mostly marketers) with the tools and data required to make proper decisions around their goals for that mobile/desktop site. For example, goals can include increasing the conversion rate, increasing the amount of coupons being released, increasing brand awareness, etc.
This requires enabling your site CMS to easily adapt to A/B testing and to provide flexibility to connect to any analytics tool -- or easily improve the current action mapping and allow a real re-usability strategy, for both on-site features and digital assets.
Editor's Note: Read What is Web Engagement Management (WEM)?
This has been around for decades, but there are still companies not leveraging the full potential of a global strategy around a product site and the CMS behind it. Products and markets have grown to a global level. You can travel around the world and find exactly the same product in all places -- but with key differences such as language, local regulations, culture and UX habits.
Needless to say, your web content management system cannot be a barrier when Japan decides to localize the English version of a site. As with the mobile item above, the CMS must actually facilitate this change. Dramatically.
5. Prepared for Viral
Your site is social. Cool. All WCMS provide easy and almost zero cost tools to allow that. But what if that content page or that registration page goes viral?
Are your site and platform prepared for that? Again, this is not new, but there are still common mistakes that occur. To ensure preparedness for your site going viral, the development team should assess caching mechanisms, CDNs, and site performance optimization either up front or continuously.
Imagine the price you will have to pay if the site goes down and you miss the opportunity for anxious users to provide you with their valuable email address during a campaign. "Social debt" (your brand being viewed negatively by the public) can be much worse than technical debt.
There are, of course, more scenarios like these occurring every day. The takeaway from these examples is that many organizations are still not preparing their websites correctly to deal with their ongoing use. Companies are still not starting with the right WCMS choice, architecture roadmap, implementation or project execution, based on their needs.
Failing to prepare properly from the onset of a project will only cause technical debt to accrue at every possible point during the project, and the time and effort that it will cost to pay back that debt down the line will be much more costly than most companies could ever imagine.