New Years Resolution: Year of the editor
New Years seems to be a good time for a blog post with either reflections on the past year or predictions and wishes for the year to come. But it’s also a good time to set goals, make business plans and formulate new years resolutions. And so, with all this new years frenzy going around, I figured I’d add my 2 cents – albeit a bit late.
I would like to see 2011 to become the year where the editors are put into focus and given the power and attention they deserve! “Oh, but why?” I hear you cry. I suppose the (ch)easy answer is that in a world where “content is king” the people that manage the content must be the queens . But seriously, the best “online presence” (see, I too jumped on the web engagement band wagon) is the one that’s updated and relevant for it’s audiences. It’s that simple. If you provide the content your visitors want, in a way they want it – and where they can find it – then your web site is off to a good start. And in order to do that you need skilled and dedicated editors. And to keep them effective you need a content management system that doesn’t frustrate them or make them feel stupid.
For way too long the entire WCM industry has been neglecting it’s core user community – and left many of the basic problems of content management unsolved. Note: Although most vendors claim to solve every problem in the world I strictly don’t consider a problem solved until it’s solved in a way where the solution works for the personas actually having the problem in the first place. Many vendors might actually have features that addresses the problems their users face – but far too often are the features designed by developers and for developers – not for the very different breed of people that will be using them.
How many UIs haven’t we seen that looks more like database management tools, rather than a web / content management tools? In so many cases we really do have inmates running the asylum. And unfortunately the market trend is not to improve usability or be slowed down by interaction design, but rather to expand into new markets with new features that are just as poorly designed as the older ones. Of course, I’m making a crude generalization – and there really is vendors that are trying to improve – but still.
But who is this editor then? From my experience, when we look in the corporate / enterprise / government market segments, they generally fall into 1 of 3 personas:
- The Site Owner. Typically marketing background, responsible for an entire web site – but in smaller organizations often have to do a lot of editing, content creation and management as well. Sometimes also functions as team leader – or editor-in-chief for a team of full time editors / writers. Medium tech-savvy. Most used apps: Powerpoint, Outlook, Word, Visio, CMS
- The full time editor. Works full time editing the site, creates a lot of content herself, but is also often emailed articles that needs to be formatted / rewritten and put online. Often has a background as a librarian or marketing assistant – but could also have come from knowledge / communication teams. Most used apps: the CMS
- Occasional editor. Anybody in the company with a non-web role, but who occasionally adds content to a part of a site. Often a secretary / assistant – for instance an HR assistant that updates the company’s online job-board once or twice a month. Usually not tech. savvy. Tends to forget how to use the CMS.
As part of my job I do a lot of competitor research – and I interview a lot of users. Both EPiServer customers – but certainly also users of competitive products. And although a lot of editors at first claim to be satisfied with whatever system they have, it always turns out that they have lots of daily challenges that their system should be solving for them – but isn’t. In some cases the features exist, but the editors don’t know about them – or how to use them.
When I look at many of our enterprise customers I typically see that they have 1 site owner, 4-10 full time editors (often in different countries and time-zones) and perhaps 300-600 occasional editors. Training all these people to better understand the intricate workings of a run-of-the-mill CMS is a significant cost. And perhaps even a risk to the entire web project.
At EPiServer we pride ourselves in having some of the more user-friendly software in content management, e-commerce and online communities for the above mentioned market segments. But we can still do a lot better – especially when it comes to designing for the personas that use our software the most – the editors. I’d like to dedicate my New Years Resolution this year to the editors. We will work hard on improving their every day work-life by
- Continuing to designing our software for them – and putting interaction design before YAFIPWN (Yet Another Feature I Probably Wont Need)
- Improving the usability of Digital Asset Management
- Making it even easier to create and approve content
- Giving them more power over design and layout
- Helping them to collaborate
- Making it easier to tag, categorize and find content
- Helping them to distribute their content through any channel they choose
- Providing the right content to the right visitors
- Measuring and testing if their content is successful – and showing them what they can do to improve.
I wish everybody a happy 2011!