One of the most troublesome aspects of managing a multi-user website is ensuring the structural integrity and editorial quality of the site’s content. Here’s why:
- When it comes to content appearance – unless your content creators are web developers — managing page layout can be a nightmare.
- Font-proliferation and poor image placement are two basic problems.
- If the site enables users <shudder> to use forms or polls or other applets, there’s sure to be trouble.
- Even good writers need editors.
As a web manager, I’ve tried and witnessed multiple approaches to preserving structural and editorial integrity. Several techniques almost worked, but not quite:
- Become a “site Nazi.” Yes, build an environment that tightly controls user behavior. On the plus side, this solution works pretty well on sites with relatively uniform content types. On the downside, no one likes Nazis. Content providers desert in droves.
- Train users. Ah, yes, “teach a man to fish,” etc. The truth is: for most people, web design training is a black hole. You simply can’t do enough of it. Arguably, becoming proficient at page layout and design requires immersion. It’s not for the dabblers.
- Channel content through the web team. With a team of web professionals adding the content, you take those users out of the equation — sort of. No longer posting their own content, they will have plenty of time to hound you, now known as the content bottleneck, about the ways you’re screwing up their stuff.
So, what are viable solutions for managing content on a multi-user site? That’s my next post. . .
I nominate Time Warner as one of the best corporate web pages: (See Time Warner Inc.)
As a web communications professional, I am picky and (perhaps) somewhat idiosyncratic in my website aesthetic.
In my eyes, 95% of all corporate websites are incredibly ugly. Common uglifying elements include:
- Garish sales pitches, coupons, and special offers.
- Lots ‘o boxes.
- Tiny text.
- Photos straight out of the stock image bin.
- Worse, a big fat image with a triangular overlay. Oh yippee, a video. (Yawhn.)
The best corporate sites use their domain root to enhance their brand, not sell stuff. Arguably, elegant branding is difficult for corporations whose sole mission is selling stuff. Oh well.
Anyway, after mousing around to more than 20 corporate domains (including Apple and Seimens and The Gap and Tesla Motors, and IKEA, &etc) I discovered that media companies seem to build the most attractive and useful websites. No surprise, really.
The Time Warner site features full-size images in a slide show that showcases the many, currently running, Time Warner productions. The appealing images are filled with interesting-looking people. I actually felt compelled to click-through. It takes a lot for me to click through. I clicked through the whole set of slides, 15 or 20 images. In fact, I learned something from the TW website: The Hobbit is a Time Warner production.
Score one for TW.
Runners up: Martha Stewart.com and Edmunds.com
(Originally posted 12/21/13 in my Quora feed.)
As a tech-oriented professional, one of the most efficient time-investments you can make is to join a community or two at Stack Exchange, a collection of topic-specific Q&A sites.
Joining a Stack community is one professional development activity that doesn’t require an expensive trip to Orlando (or wherever) to learn fundamental elements of your trade, whether you’re a web developer, a librarian, a project manager or a food blogger. You don’t even have to join the group to read the ongoing conversations.
At the moment, there are about 100 Stack communities. Each consists of experts (and wanna-be experts) willing to answer (and ask) very smart questions on very specific topics. Myself, I’m on the writers and English language Stack. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Over the past several years I’ve been intrigued by the addictive power of curiosity. Following a question thread, especially one with complex little knots, must certainly release dopamine, pleasurable brain juices that, in turn, drive the curious to spend even more energy pursuing questions. (Mirenowicz and Schultz) On the internet, the pursuit and satisfaction of human curiosity, idle or profound, is magically simple.
Sometimes a question that seems casual and crass, like, “Why did LCD Soundsystem break up?” can lead to fascinating little discoveries that bring minutes of joy and enlightenment. James Murphy, a pop genius, will take you there in 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Interestingly, the satisfaction won by curiosity is not dependent on truth or accuracy or even utility.
Our curious brains are too easily satisfied. Just try to tear yourself a way from theuselessweb.com. Say what we will, the Internet may bloody well make us stupid.
Despite the fact that educational sites like Khan Academy do an admirable job harnessing the rat-and-pellet mentality inherent to Internet info-seeking, this kind of directed satisfaction may differ significantly from pleasure earned by organically generated questions. According to the 1994 primate research from Mirenowicz and Schulz cited above, unpredictable rewards stimulate dopamine neurons more reliably than predictable ones. Strange, no?
For most content marketers, the most daunting challenge is time. Here are six ways we must learn to beat the clock.
- It takes months develop a library of content. Even with a blogger posting 2-4 times per week, you need content-mass (with coherent keywording) to build solid SEO. Ideally you’ll have several different content-creating teams working in parallel.
- Learning the best ways to pitch and broadcast content also takes time. You’ll make mistakes and have to rethink your approach. Simply gauging the effects of each new tactic — takes more time.
- Another time-eater: building symbiotic relationships with bloggers and publications who will reproduce and share your content. Add two months.
- Building a social media following takes at least six months. So you have lots of Likes and some Shares? You need a steadily greater number of reliable fans that click on and share your content week after week.
- It takes at least 10 hours per week to monitor and report on blog or website traffic. Not counting the time you take to develop tweaks and changes to your measurement tactics.
- Strategic planning aside, new market technologies present new challenges. Currently, for example, you ought to be syndicating your content. Are you?
The ticking clock could drive anyone crazy, even a PR flack. What’s the answer? Focus under pressure. More on that topic to come.