Web Content Management (CMS) will continue its shift away from a technology focus towards a content one. 2005 will be the year when the professional editor will be given more responsibility in running the website.
Every time a new technology arrives, we go a couple of steps forward and a couple of steps backward. The Web has been one of the great technological breakthroughs in publishing. It has made it easy for millions to become publishers (from websites to blogs).
The Web has also given us the concept that information should be free. Unfortunately, many believed that if information is free, then creating this information must be easy and cheap. Content became a commodity.
Many technologists have looked at content management as a discipline of moving bits and bytes. It didn't matter how content was organized, the great search engine would sort it all out. From portals to personalization, from dynamic content to automated metadata, technology promised to efficiently and cheaply solve the content problem.
I have watched as the technology-only approach has made a mess out of so many websites. It's still happening, but it's happening less.
Knowledge, information, and content are key resources of the modern economy. How we create and manage them makes a big difference with regard to how successful we will be as individuals and/or organizations.
Technology is a marvelous thing, but too many treat the latest technology as some sort of god that will quickly and cheaply solve all problems. The foundation for success of content management is having professional editors and writers.
If you have expertise in communications and/or marketing, then the Web is a natural home for these skills. Intranet or public website, government, university or commercial website, the challenge is the same: publishing content that will help them to complete the necessary task more quickly.
- The editor-the person who knows the difference between good and bad content-will get increasing authority for the website.
- Websites will get smaller, as editors begin to get rid of the large quantities of out-of-date content that have built up over the years.
- Websites will get simpler as complexity is hidden, and a set of straightforward choices are presented to the impatient scan reader.
- Senior management will get more involved in developing web strategy.
- Some hard questions will be asked as to the value websites are delivering in relation to the money that is being spent on them.
- The importance of writing quality web content will be recognized, but the people who write quality web content will still not get due reward.
- As the attention span shortens, so too will content. It will become more and more difficult to get anyone to read anything over 500 words.
- As the need to get people to the right content as quickly as possible increases, the importance of writing quality metadata will grow.
- Website design will continue to standardize. As websites focus more on navigation, the principle of reducing uncertainty and increasing familiarity will become more important.
- Things won't change dramatically in 2005. The Web has begun to mature, and certainly when it comes to text-based content, it will be about getting the basics right.
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.