Intranet content so often fails to deliver what users want. That’s because many companies still favour the distributed publishing model in which content is written from the perspective of the department that owns the process. It doesn’t address what’s most important to users.
We come to the intranet with a task in mind, not to idly browse and see what initiative or ‘messages’ might be of interest to a particular department.
When we want to check the disciplinary policy or start our annual performance review process, the last thing we want is to be confronted with an HR sub-site that insists on putting up vanity pictures of HR execs and pages of information about the supposedly “transformative” five-year HR strategy. We just want to get our task done with minimum fuss – and that means in one or two clicks. Often, that just can’t be done – and we simply hit ‘back’.
A powerful case against the distributed model is made by my favourite web guru Gerry McGovern in the latest issue of his ‘New thinking’ newsletter. Gerry provides a compelling example – from the successful revamp of the Norwegian Cancer Society’s external website – of the importance of putting content management in the hands of content professionals:
“The old distributed publishing model allowed 45 people to independently contribute to the website. Now, six people oversee and control the site. Not all of these people are full-time . . .
“The departments no longer own the content. They’re sources. For many years, distributed publishing has been the preferred model for website management. Give control to the department / author, the thinking went. They know their own content better than anyone. Distributed publishing was also cheaper because you didn’t need a central team. In other words, you didn’t need to hire professionals.
“However, distributed publishing has major weaknesses:
- It can result in silo-based publishing and thinking. There is no overview of everything that is being published and this leads to organization-centric writing and duplication as different silos create the same content.
- Many content authors like to publish their own content. This can result in a content explosion that causes confusing navigation and search. Also, as the site grows bigger it becomes harder to manage and review.”