Live from Congility: Workflow that Works under Pressure

Workflow that Works under Pressure, by Jeff Eaton

Congility2014Content is everything for some organizations

  • Content as the product – organizations produce content
  • Lots of it, consistently
  • It’s dynamic
  • It’s often time-sensitive
  • Jeff has a lot of feelings about this.

We adapt to the tools we’re giving

  • Jeff had a friend with a “potato” button on the microwave
  • When the microwave got old, only the “potato” button worked
  • They adapted to cook other things in increments of “potato”
  • Our clients do this with our CMSs when they don’t have the tools they need

Everyone says their CMS is the simplest/most intuitive design ever

  • The creators and consumers are seen as different
    • Creators are editors, writers, authors
    • Consumers are visitors, customers, end users, readers
    • In reality creators and consumers are a giant muddle of content roles
  • Workflow is rarely one-size-fits-all
    • Specific CMS almost never fits the customization the user needs
    • One size does not fit all
    • So many organizations start from scratch

When creating a CMS for a company, keep these things in mind:

  • Workflows are often overwhelming
    • Inexperienced users need clear paths
    • Experienced users need shortcuts
    • Both need consistency
    • UseĀ their vocabulary to label things, so that they recognize them
  • Tasks should be made simple
    • Don’t try to map each content type to a form; look for places that tasks should be connected to one another and show them together, contextually
    • Understand the goals as well as the processes that currently match those goals
    • Automate the repetitive tasks to save time
    • Take into account offline tasks that should be connected by the CMS
  • Workflow should WORK
    • 12-step approval systems never work
    • Model the states that the content will be in (draft, proposal, deleted, archived, published)
    • Model the responsibilities/roles (who is in charge of it in each state, and who can assign what)
    • Model the process based off that
    • Restrict access to risky actions, if they are actually risky (this solves for the “we need 1800 approvals”)
  • Divorce the design
    • Focus on the priority, emphasis, and grouping rather than the design (“We need this in a prominent spot” as opposed to “we need this in the upper left corner”)
    • Slim down the actual market
    • Treat curation as content – for example, homepage, so handle this as content rather than as rules (i.e. let it be edited and viewed, rather than simply setting up “pull in first 3 headlines” as a rule)

Success stories

  • WWE
  • The NYTimes
  • Why are they successful?
    • Tons of metadata
    • Rather than making tasks “faster” the CMS has screens based around tasks for pages
    • Customized view options or bulk or automated options based on their tasks/processes
  • How can you be successful?
    • Map the content to business goals, to find that elusive budget
    • Remember to iterate – everything will evolve


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