Web Content Publishing: What Do I Need to Do to be Half as Good as the Washington Post or Yahoo?

Our corporate clients find themselves leveraging their online web sites or mobile apps to facilitate a growing number of customers and transaction types. In fact, you can do darn near anything on the web these days: file a claim, check a balance, compare your household energy consumption to your neighbors’, etc.

In light of this, the volume and breath of content and digital assets needed to support this activity has grown significantly. Unfortunately, though, most organizations have not matured their publishing processes to become correspondingly more sophisticated. Many ask us: “What do we need to do to become half as good at the Washington Post or Yahoo? Can we get content published that quickly, can we repurpose the material dynamically?”

And so we explain to them what makes these objectives more difficult:

  • More customization is required. Most organizations cater to different constituents or groups of users, and they want different content and experiences to match their respective customers’ individual needs. This may be as simple as showing site visitors only the East Coast inventory that they have available in their East Coast warehouse, or serving articles of interest to retirees (as opposed to, say, college savings fund ideas).
  • Personalization is next. This means taking the customization concept above and doing it for every unique online or mobile visitor.
  • The volume of content and digital assets used in today’s digital world is exploding. To achieve some level of customization or complete personalization, all of these digital assets need to be tagged to determine their relevance to the various segments or individuals.

To address all three of the requirements above, the foundational publishing process needs to be optimized. Commerce companies were forced to do this years ago. The media publishers are the benchmark; they’ve had to mature just to survive.

But for many other industry segments – insurance and financial services, for example – the world needs to change. And boy, can they take a clue from their commerce or news media brethren. It’s going to require creating streamlined processes that can efficiently tag content for repurposing, creating modular components or fragments that can be assembled for a web page or an email notification, etc. Not easy stuff, but very doable with a little forethought. Throw into the mix responsive design requirements (pages and context adjust dynamically to the form-factor of the viewing device), and now we have a mandate for corporate web content managers to modernize in a significant way.

Rich Medina
James Watson
I’m President and co-founder of Doculabs, serving as executive sponsor on consulting engagements for financial services clients.