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Content Management Systems don't manage websites - people do

Creating content is fun

The great thing about a content management system (CMS) is that it makes it really easy to create and publish content on your website.

So that's what most webmasters and editors do: they create and publish content like there's no tomorrow. Cause it's fun. And it's what they're being paid to do.

They're often judged on the amount of content they produce. The number of pages and articles they put online. A nice and easy box to tick during the annual evaluation talk.

Managing content is boring

If you're responsible for the quality of your company's website, your main task should not be publishing new content.

You should be managing and improving the content you've already got. It's less fun than creating new content. But it's vital if you want to have a website that works.

6 essential questions and tasks for every content manager

If you can answer yes to the following questions, you're a good content manager.

  • Is the content on your website up to date? Are you sure there's not a single page you haven't looked at in over a year? (For convenience's sake, we'll leave your news and blog articles out of this. Even though ideally you should have a look at those once in a while as well.)
  • Are there no pages with overlapping or contradictory content on your website?
  • Are your texts clear? Are they written with your visitors in mind? Are they really? Did you research that or are you just saying yes because that's what you think?
  • Do you have a list of all pages that were hardly visited over the last 6 months? Did you analyse those pages and try to figure out the reasons why?
  • Do you know the bounce rates of the 100 most popular pages on your website? Have you looked into the pages with unusually high bounce rates and developed alternative pages? And then checked to see if those performed any better?
  • If you've got landing pages, have you checked whether they are really contributing to your website's goal? Have you tried changing them? And then checked again?

Can you answer yes to all of these questions? Congratulations, you are either a great content manager or a fantastic liar.

You can only answer yes to less than 3 questions? Don't sweat it. Your competitors aren't doing any better.

If you would do better though, that would really make a difference. Not adding new content on your website or doing a flashy new redesign.

Yeah but, isn't that why we got a content management system?

Management's reaction to content-related issues often is:"We've invested heavily in a state of the art content management system. We don't have to do all this stuff by hand now, do we?" Yes, you do.

A CMS allows you to publish content and to assign it to a particular place or places on your website. You can add a publishing date and an expiration date as well. Hurray.

But that's about as far as it goes when it comes to 'managing content'.

A CMS won't tell you: 

  • That the page you're writing is a piece of fluff nobody is interested in. 
  • What you're writing here looks suspiciously like 5 other pages you've already got.
  • Which pages are really working for you and which ones are just dead weight.

A content manager's job

  • 80% of a content manager's time should be devoted to managing and improving existing content
  • 20% should go towards creating new content

You don't like that? Tough.

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