One of the biggest problems websites face is that they lack proper planning in the design and development phase. Generally, the design of the website tends to overreach, in that what is built requires more staff to professionally manage than are available.A problem with the Web is that it lacks limits. If you have a shop or office then there are only so many things you can put into that shop/office. If you're running a fleet of five trucks, then you'll know that you'll need at least five drivers if you want to keep things running efficiently.
It's not like that on the Web. I've seen web teams that are supposed to manage websites that are impossible to professionally manage with the number of people they have. This is because many organizations lack a clear understanding of where the value lies in a website.
The value of a website lies in its content, and this content needs to be professionally published and managed on an ongoing basis if it is to be effective. Instead of this professional approach, we often see an approach based on the volume of content. It's like there is a voice inside the heads of people designing websites shouting: "Have gigabytes, must fill!"
I see classifications designed that are much bigger than they should be. I see event calendars that show event information that is six months out-of-date. I see staff directories implemented but there is nobody updating the content and therefore they quickly go out-of-date. I see search engines that are not just ineffective, but are actually broken, and they have been left this way for months, because nobody had the time to fix them.
If you don't have the resources to professionally manage a search engine, then don't have one. You are much better off with no search engine than with one that doesn't work properly.
To keep your events calendar up-to-date may mean that you will have to stop doing something else, and that's a perfectly good idea.
Stop rushing to publish all that badly written content. (Less is more.) You've only got so many hours in the week and there's no point in wasting time making yourself really busy.
Stop developing that new application and make sure that you instead put the processes in place that ensure your staff directory is up-to-date.
The job of content is to communicate knowledge, and to drive action as a result of that knowledge. If the content is badly written or inaccurate then it fails in its objectives. Content can lose its value over time. Let's say you've got 5,000 documents on your website. Let's say that these documents require 30 minutes a year to be read over to ensure that they are still relevant. That's about 62 40-hour weeks.
Very few organizations that I have come across allocate sufficient time for the professional review of their current website content. Many simply keep publishing new content while ignoring the content that is already published on the website.
It's time to stop ignoring the problem. It's time to start publishing a website we can professionally manage. If you only have two web staff then you should only have a two- staff website.
Gerry McGovern, a web content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994. He has also authored several authoritative books
on the subject.