5 Signs You Could Use a Content Author Experience Assessment
As they say, the best technology is the technology you don’t notice. This is particularly true for modern web experience platforms where content authors are no longer simply content producers plugging data into fields. They’re digital marketers with more responsibilities and less time to achieve even greater output. With that in mind, when we think about the architecture of any new page, component, or application at Velir, we ask ourselves how we can save content authors valuable time by reducing the number of decisions they have to make.
If your website’s content authors find themselves thinking too hard during any part of their content entry process, we can help. Take a look at the five common pain points we see content authors experience, and if your content authors are dealing with one or more, you might want to reach out to us for a content author experience assessment.
1. Poor Information Architecture Makes it Hard for Content Authors to Focus
Every author experience (AX) assessment we have conducted has revealed operational inefficiencies that are more often the result of poor information architecture (IA) than any shortcoming in the web content management platform itself.
Sometimes resolving this issue is as simple as optimizing your page templates by ordering sections and fields the way your content authors intuitively enter information. This involves naming similar fields/sections consistently and reducing the unnecessary appearance of fields that are only applicable on certain pages. A thorough inspection of your IA can reveal where content authors lose time trying to locate the right inputs. It can also identify obsolete or unused fields in your content management system to consolidate or eliminate.
2. Content Authors Have Too Many Time-Consuming Processes
There are tasks content authors frequently complete that they don’t realize can be automated or simplified. Examples include preparing and selecting media assets faster or quickly applying taxonomy tagging with machine learning/IA tools. Using multi-object templates to create a page with a specific set components in a layout can also ensure your content authors don’t have to create article or event pages from scratch each time. This this applies to components on a page as well. Leveraging default values (e.g. placeholder images and text) to ensure that content authors can easily do the "right" thing, prevents content-based errors, and makes authoring more intuitive.
3. Your Template and Component Architecture is Too Rigid for Content Authors
One of the most common pain points we hear from clients looking for an assessment or a website redesign is that their current system is too rigid to meet their content authors’ rapidly evolving needs. They’re looking for a flexible design system of shared layouts and features that can be mixed and matched for a variety of use cases. We assist our clients with design system planning and looking for opportunities to consolidate similar components for efficiency and greater consistency. Establishing a flexible component design system also has the benefit of removing your dependency on technical/development support to provide your content authors with greater editorial control.
4. There Are Too Few Guard Rails for Content Authors
It’s surprising how often instructional guidance for authoring teams seems to be an afterthought. With so much time spent in the authoring interface, all the micro interactions with the system really add up over time, especially if content authors find workarounds and make common errors because the system allows them to. We frequently notice content authors toggling back and forth between editing modes and navigating ribbons that have more commands than they need. We also see them have trouble finding items, jamming complex HTML structures into rich text because a relevant component doesn’t exist, accidently publishing things prematurely, or deleting items that should be protected. The list goes on and on. With our assessment, we present a strategy for implementing a role-based content authoring workflow and configurations that maximize efficiency and minimize mistakes.
5. Content Authors Don’t Have a Clear Taxonomy and Tagging Strategy
Many of our clients’ sites have thousands of articles, reports, and structured content pages. Without a clear taxonomy and tagging strategy to establish a unified method of associating objects in the system there is no way to create relationships that drive dynamic listings and faceted search applications. Even some platforms with structured taxonomies for tagging sometimes apply them too broadly or inconsistently. It’s worth evaluating your taxonomies to make sure they’re inherited by pages in a consistent and relevant manner. Once a shared web of associations is established, content authors can configure dynamic listings for latest news, upcoming events, related authors, etc., instead of spending time manually configuring these the things.
If you’ve heard about these pain points from your content authors, your organization should consider assessment and remediation in one or all these areas. This will ensure that your website’s information architecture is clearly organized and consistent, tedious tasks are simplified or eliminated, layouts are flexible, taxonomy is fully leveraged, and clear guardrails exist to help content authors get in, get out, and focus on the highest value work.
Contact Velir for more information on how we can help you optimize your experience or learn about our content author experience enhancement services.