What is Web Content Management (WCM)?

Jan 06, 2012


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Managing a website is a 24-7 job. While most internet users are only concerned with the end result--having instant access to their favorite blog site or social network--they forget that these websites don't just appear out of thin air. Someone created their favorite website, and they did it using Web Content Management (WCM).

Web Content Management is the process of authoring content, be it textual, visual or aural, and posting that content to a website, often through a Web Content Management System. There are a number of key components that need to be considered when tackling content management online, such as how a website is laid out and how to organize content into various categories for easy navigation, just to name a few. Sure, the quality of the website content is important, but if visitors can't easily access that content, a company will risk losing that traffic for good.  

How to Successfully Manage Web Content

As with every business undertaking, in order to successfully manage content online, companies need to have a content management strategy. One of the first steps to managing content online is to decide what kind of content you want to have on your site. The kind of content you want to publish directly influences what kind of authoring tools you will need. For example, if you just want to post blog updates and link to other sites, the architecture of your site will differ from a company who wants to post, say, videos or interactive tutorials.

Keeping content organized will not only make it easier for visitors to navigate your site, but will help avoid content overlap or repetition in the future. HowTo.gov provides a check list to managing online content, suggesting publishers need to organize content based on audience needs; use common content, terminology, and placement; use consistent navigation; manage links; and finally, apply metadata, or a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.

Web Content Management Systems

Luckily for web publishers everywhere, there are a number of WCM tools on the market that can handle most of these issues. A Web Content Management System is a software system that provides website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools designed to allow users to create and manage website content with ease. CMS Critic compiled a list of WCMS, including popular solutions such as Drupal, an open source software maintained and developed by a community of 630,000+ users and developers, WordPress, a self-hosted blogging tool, and Joomla!, a free open source content management system. Fortunately, many of these systems can be customized to fit any company's needs.

Choosing the right WCM system can be tricky, considering the dozens of available options. Inc.com suggests that when looking for a WCMS, a company should first determine whether their website undertaking will require a basic CMS, mid-range CMS, or complex CMS. In addition, companies should conduct internal research, figure out which type of technology will provide the biggest near-term value, and test each system before choosing a final solution.

WCM Isn't Just for IT Anymore

It used to be that WCMS only targeted a company's IT department when designing its features, but there has been a consumer shift in how many companies approach WCM. In his article, "Strategic Content Management," Jonathan Kahn points out that today, a WCM tool's "target audience is an organization's internal editorial infrastructure; and a successful outcome is a complex mix of achieving business objectives, implementing a content strategy, and crafting a user experience. The game just got more serious."

This means that web content management is no longer handled by one department, but should be a shared goal for the entire company, from the IT staff to the editorial staff and everyone in between.