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Published on June 8th, 2007 | by Rahel Bailie


Post Vancouver DocTrainUX conference reflections

It’s the Saturday after DocTrainUX – the Vancouver version. The post-conference workshops are still taking place, but for those of us who were staffing our booths and making presentations at the conference for the last couple of days, guaranteed we’re in our offices, catching up on work. The conference speakers that I managed to sneak away from the booth to take in were very interesting. The presentation by keynote speaker, Salim Ismail, on “The Future of XML Publishing: Understanding Web 2.0 | Internet 3.0” was an eye-opener. I’d heard a precursor to this presentation before, actually, but always get something new out of it.

My presentation, Technology by CMS – Powered by People: The Human Side of Content Management, discussed why, during content management implementations, all the talk of content management systems about the technology: which system will be adopted, on what platform, and with what feature set, when what we should be discussing is the governance, process control, and change management issues – the top factors for successful adoption of content management.

As projects grow larger and more complex, and the stakes get bigger, progressive companies are starting to pay equal attention to the human perspective. User experience and content management becomes an entanglement. It can mean how the usability of the system affects the output experienced by the end user experiences. It can mean how system usability affects the staff, whose experience is primarily of entering content into the system. User experience can also extend to the changed in business process that are necessitated by the changes in technology. And whether the reception is positive or pushes staff outside of their comfort zone, the user experience affects the dynamics both within and between departments.

My session covered common factors that affect the human side of content management projects – factors that result in hard costs, project delays, and other common stumbling blocks, and discusses what can be done to mitigate the risk of failure. I promised to post the presentation, and I’ve done so in PDF format: Technology_by_CMS_-_Powered_by_People.pdf.

As an aside, a consultant, technically a competitor of mine, approached me at a social function that evening and complimented me on the presentation. He said he nodded his head all the way through because he recognized everything I said from an implementation he’d done a few years earlier. He even wagered that he knew which product it was, and gave me the product name. And I shook my head, because it wasn’t. The problems that I cited are, depressingly, too universal to be able to pin on a single vendor or single client.

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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,

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