Categories
Content Strategy

One-person web teams are cheap not inexpensive

Single-person web teams might seem like a great bargain but they’re not. They tend to become stuck in a content uploader role which is bad both from an HR and day-to-day business perspective.
When discussions and collaboration happen in another realm, the one-person web team only gets e-mails with attachments or content copy-pasted for immediate release. No wonder that all the person can do is make the markup remotely OK and hit “Publish”. Ron Bronson captured the challenges of being a one-person web team very well in his recent slide deck.
As a content uploader, the only way you have of gaining respect and trust seems to react ever faster and put things up as soon as they land in the inbox. It becomes the new rule of the game. You may protest that with more forethought and planning, you’d be able to edit it and content would have more impact. By putting up the content just-in-time, you allow everyone to save face. By doing so, you also remove their incentive to listen when you propose to focus on better processes. All you get is shrugs and excuses.
Having the web team stuck in this reactive mode is bad for business because the website usually ends up sucking. Always being on alert with an e-mail client open; ready to drop what you’re doing to copy-paste stuff into the CMS eats into energy, time and attention. It prevents one-person web teams from growing and learning new skills that the organisation will ultimately need.
It is much better to allow enough time and resources for the web team to work with subject matter experts, pair write and/or edit the content. It takes a little more money and effort but, in the end, the website can only be better for it.

Categories
Content Strategy

Low cognitive budgets for web projects

A cognitive budget measures the amount of time and attention the stakeholders allocate to various aspects of their business. I am especially interested in the amount willingly given to the website and other web initiatives. Web teams can work around financial constraints. However, when the stakeholder cognitive budget is low and the web team doesn’t have much power, delivering great work becomes exponentially more difficult.
Way too often, the website is a dumping ground for content and there’s, therefore, little need to discuss or even think too much about it. As for homepage real estate, carousels and slideshows make it easy to never have a conversation about that at all. So it follows that the website is a solved problem. It’s off the managers’ plate. The people in the last office before the server room have to upload things they receive by e-mail from all over the organisation and never talk back. No editorial back-and-forth. Congratulations. That’s a non-issue.
Or is it? When things are set up like this, uneasiness creeps in. People responsible for communicating through the website aren’t sure they’re reaching their target. They feel that something is off kilter. Sometimes anxiety reaches levels that warrants an e-mail to the web person with questions about the templates’ age or alerting them to a lack of “sexiness”. Of course, the website has no appeal. It is an ever-expanding closet holding three ring binders that each and every person in the organisation can add to.
When dissatisfaction reaches their ears, people ask for prettier wallpaper and wider doors to the closet, at least in part, because mandating technical fixes or redesigns doesn’t tap into their cognitive budgets. That’s when good teams or good webmasters come back with questions about branding and goals and content workflows which, in such an organisational culture, never get answered because web stuff is supposed to be a non-issue. It’s supposed to be cheap in terms of money and cognition.
It’s OK to cut corners but avoiding thinking about your organisation’s website isn’t a smart move. Websites are infrastructure that is important to your business.
When the culture is to treat the web as a solved problem and neither allocate sufficient cognitive nor monetary resources, there’s very little that can change in terms of introducing digital governance and content strategy even though these tools can bring positive change and make the website run more smoothly.
Have you tried strategies to work around this? Would you care to share stories?