Why an Intranet Solution Must Support Your Content Managers

Great intranets thrive on high quality content. Employees need to be able to access up to date, relevant and well-written content which helps them carry out their role and stay informed. Without valuable content your intranet solution will not be a success.

Meet the content manager community
Most modern intranets work on a decentralised publishing model, particularly in larger organisations. An army of local authors, publishers, editors, content owners and site owners from right across your organisation will be writing, reviewing, uploading and editing content with little or no involvement from the central intranet team. Let’s call this important group the “content manager community”. While some content such as news may be produced centrally, intranet teams rely on their local content manager community to:
• Write, edit and commission relevant content
• Keep content up to date
• Adhere to high quality publishing standards
• Make content findable
• Structure pages so they are readable
• Do all this while still focused on their day job!

How central intranet teams help
Central intranet teams support their local content managers to achieve these goals through:
• Training and support
• Establishing clear publishing standards
• Providing clarity over the content management process
• Giving ad-hoc advice and problem-fixing
• Managing the community of content managers to keep them engaged
But this can be challenging! Central teams are extremely busy. Sometimes one person may be supporting a content manager community running into the hundreds and employees running into the thousands!

Let your intranet solution do the heavy lifting
Your intranet product and its related content management capabilities can help by empowering local content managers to be as self-sufficient as possible. It can do some of the “heavy lifting” for the central intranet team, making your intranet more successful and a decentralised publishing model more sustainable. But the features which make life easier for content managers (and therefore intranet managers too!) are not always focused upon by those evaluating an intranet product to purchase.
There tends to be more of a focus on the front-end experience, but it’s important to consider those capabilities which support content managers.

Five essential features for content managers
Here are five essential content manager-friendly features which every good intranet solution should include. The best intranet products are those which have been shaped and influenced by real customer experiences and feedback. We’ve worked with many clients and listened to them. We know how important these content management capabilities are and have made them a core part of our offering.

1. An intuitive and attractive interface
We all know the importance of usability. An intuitive and attractive interface will help intranet content editors to be self-sufficient, especially if they are only occasional users of the system.
Central intranet teams will spend less time fielding calls from confused content managers asking basic questions. A popular interface with content managers is a useful dashboard which helps them to stay on top of their daily tasks, save time and generally make their role easier.
Ideally a content manager’s dashboard should be packed full of all the essential elements needed to set up a site, but also manage it going forward.

2. A library of awesome site and page templates
A library of awesome ready-to-go site and page templates makes life as easy as possible for your content managers, both to set up their site and create individual pages, but also publish other content on an ongoing basis.
The type of templates could include homepages, landing pages, news and blogs, but also specialist areas such as collections of organisational documents. Ideally, there should also be some choice between different designs and layouts, so content managers feel a sense of ownership in designing the site or pages and can exercise a little creativity. One little feature which has proved popular with our clients is the ability to switch between different page templates, without having to delete the content.
Having a library of templates also makes life easier for the central intranet team, enforcing publishing standards and reducing the chance of errors. While great templates may be available out of the box, there should be the ability for central teams to configure these or create new templates.

3. Killer content governance features
Strong content governance is an essential foundation for high quality content. Two small content governance features in an intranet product can have a huge impact. Every page in your intranet should display a named owner who can be contacted by users. This feature should be hard-baked into your page templates. Transparent ownership drives accountability for content, helping to keep it up to date.
Secondly, having a review date for your content where a content manager is automatically notified to regularly check content so it is up to date, makes a real difference. Central teams don’t need to send out reminders and content managers can keep on top of this important task.

4. Highly flexible content workflow
When it comes to the publishing process, content managers from around your organisation will have different needs. Technical content may need to be reviewed by an expert before it can go live, but other content might need not to be reviewed at all.
Having highly flexible publishing workflow to suit every individual content manager is important. You can meet different needs with easy ways to review content by different approvers.

5. Metatagging for strong findability
Good findability is critical. Employees must be able to find the content they need quickly. Content managers should be able to easily drive “internal SEO”, enabling their content to appear prominently in relevant topic searches. A good intranet CMS should allow content managers to easily add metatags using controlled terms to their own content, resulting in better searching.
In some intranets, it is also possible metatagging might also allow content to be surfaced on other relevant parts of the site, again better connecting your employees to the content they need.

Make it easy for your content managers
Make sure you make it easy for your content managers! If you’re evaluating an intranet product make the ability for content managers to be largely self-sufficient one of the criteria for success.
Your central intranet team will not be able to do all the things they need to do unless this is in place. Taking a detailed look at the features of an intranet solution is important, including those we’ve highlighted in this article. With these in place you’ll have a happy local content manager community!

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