Thursday, 28 February 2013

The hidden costs in devolved content management

An interesting article reporting on the annual Society of IT Management (SocITM) review of local government websites and calling into question the cost-effectiveness of devolved web publishing. Something that Gerry McGovern has been saying for a long time and a point equally valid in the higher education sector.

The annual SocITM report summary is always insightful - Higher Ed and local government share many of the same challenges - and worth tracking back through previous years if you've not come across it before.

A couple of quotes from the article:
"Apart from the inconvenience, failed web enquiries also cause councils unnecessary cost. The reason for this is that frustrated web users will turn to the council's phone or face-to-face facilities to answer their enquiries, and these cost the council significantly more to support than their website..."
"People out in service departments are writing this content, but to write things simply on the web is not the easiest thing to do. There are always examples of people who have got it right, but they are very much in isolation. It is a major issue, and calls into question the devolved content model."
Jargon still a plague on devolved council websites - news article on
Of course this isn't a new idea and one that Gerry McGovern has been highlighting for a long time. In a recent post, Gerry says:
"Decentralized web teams rarely reflect a professional approach to web management. They tend to be a cost reduction tactic."
And he's absolutely right.

Decentralized publishing equals amateur web management - article by Gerry McGovern
I work with an enormous devolved web publishing community. Loads of great people who really know their stuff, and are keen to deliver good website content and learn more about improving their visitors' experience.

But they have little or no time and are not specialists. We've raised the bar considerably in terms of website experience and content quality in recent years with significant attention given to CMS user training and support but there's only so far you can go.

And as these two articles highlight, ultimately the cost-saving exercise of devolving website management responsibility ultimately is a costly experience. It's just the cost of poor user experience is spread further round the organisation.

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