A group for people that are in government organizations that are doing website management. This groups is meant for a discussion on best practices of websites.
Centralized vs Decentralized
June 21, 2010 at 5:28 pm #103528
Can anyone share thoughts on a centralized web management structure where all updates and changes go through a centralized office versus a decentralized structure where all updates and content changes go though the content owners? Advantages/Disadvantages, would love to hear what your experience is with either or both. Currently we are a decentralized structure with a central office that supports the design and cms system and are having difficulty getting content owners to keep their content up to date.
June 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm #103546
A centralized management structure works if you’re well-staffed, have a clear operating plan, and have a strong web team that drives the process. If you don’t have these requirements, then you can end up with the classic “webmaster bottleneck”, where even routine updates are stuck in some overworked staffer’s to do list. To succeed, a centralized structure needs authority, resources and a vision. The disadvantage is that innovation can sometimes be squashed by a central authority that controls everything on the web site.
A decentralized structure works best if you have active and engaged content owners who are passionate about the web and their content. Then you just need to give them the tools to succeed (like an easy to use CMS). But, if you don’t have that, the web site can end up becoming stagnant because no one is really in charge.
I’ve worked as a web manager and a web editor in both systems. Decentralized works best because it allows lots of people to contribute to the site. The secret to participation is to make sure that content writers get rewarded and recognized for their work.
June 21, 2010 at 8:22 pm #103544
I don’t think centralized works in a Web 2.0 world. Each department must be responsible for their own content updates. Empowering them to do it themselves is what saves time and money and leads to success.
For one thing, I’d look at the tools you’re having them use to update the site. Are they easy enough to use? Maybe a survey or a poll could help with this.
Second, I’d look at company culture. Is there an acknowledgment that the web is an important place to be engaging citizens? If not, than maybe that’s what needs to change. More often than not, you’re going to find difficulty in this area. You’re going to have to work with each department and empower them to use the tools to make their jobs easier and more fun. If that’s not the message, and it’s “you have to update this”, then you’re not going to win a lot of support. Make it an easy part of their workflow, that always works better than framing it as another thing to do…
Another thing to take note of is that dynamic content might not belong on your static website as much as it should be used on social media sites, Twitter, blogs, Socializr, e-mail marketing, and other useful tools that are easier to maintain, where content can be shared and subscribed to.
I hope this is helpful…
June 21, 2010 at 9:02 pm #103542
The challenge isn’t with the external site where we engage citizens, it lies with the maintenance of the internal site. It’s becoming the junk drawer for file management, even with the CMS system which is easy to use. Thought I would throw this out there to hear from others. Right now we are figuring out how we can enable those who own it but don’t have time to maintain it. Appreciate you taking the time to offer some feedback.
June 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm #103540
I’m not understanding the internal/external distinction. Do you mean the intranet?
June 25, 2010 at 4:13 pm #103538
There are different challenges for both, but the primary challenge right now is the intranet. No one wants to be embarrassed publicly with bad content so the external site is well kept up to date, but there doesn’t seem much motivation to keep the intranet up to date. We have a new idea though, will post about it shortly.
July 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm #103536
Consider pulling together a group of intranet volunteers. We are about to do this for our external site, as it’s going through some major changes in the next year. The main goal is to make sure the Web Team and the Content Owners are on the same page as we transition into a redesign project.
We’ve not asked our employees to take on content responsibilities for the intranet — mostly because our external public site needs the attention right now. Our intranet is on SharePoint and it houses our HR and management forms. We do have a blog, and the intranet homepage is a bulletin board for agency news and events. A few people maintain microsites here; I host the Web Posting toolkit here, HR hosts a list with jobs and trainings. But that about covers it.
I’m curious what content you have on the intranet that needs to be updated…? It sounds like WSDOT has taken the intranet to a place OSPI has not.
I’ll be very interested in seeing what solution you come up with, Jeremy!
January 31, 2011 at 7:29 pm #103534
We just updated our intranet to WordPress. it’s just a site for access to policies, forms, benefits and collective agreements, resource booking and links to other tools, and of course, notices and memos.
for the most part the site has been centralized (in IT) in terms of content submission. however, now some of those tasks will be offloaded to the departments that publish frequently – HR, Health & Safety and IT. WordPress makes it pretty easy for non-techy users to submit information. our last open source cms was a bit tricky to use.
January 31, 2011 at 8:52 pm #103532
Interesting – haven’t heard about too many intranets on WordPress. Sounds cool.
January 31, 2011 at 9:20 pm #103530
yeah, you can find the right plugins to make it work. the active directory/ldap plugin is a big plus.
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