by Cathy Hodson
How does content get from a Word document, or a note scribbled by your boss, into a web page and then onto the company’s website? Is there some kind of workflow or procedure that takes place? Is there an approval process this content has to go through in order to reach the website? If it is done right, yes – there is a workflow, and there is an approval process to most business or organization websites.
Deciding on a workflow process for a company’s website is a big decision. Depending on the size of the website, how many people are involved in adding content to the website, as well as how experienced these “authors” are in adding content to a website all play into how content ultimately will be added to the website.
Larger websites by their very nature need more people to add content. However, if the staff involved is not trained in the ways of the web (HTML formatting, for instance) or journalistic styles and editing, companies may require someone who has expertise in these areas to review, edit and approve submissions to the website. If it is one or two people, or even a core team of people, this is what is called centralized workflow. All content flows to a central location and is then, after review and approval, posted.
The content is added to the content management system by a content author, and submitted electronically, usually to a web or content editor, or the web editing staff. They review the submitted content, and anything that does not match the style (is this capitalized, is underlining allowed, does the link need to open in a new window, etc.) is sent back electronically to the content author to be fixed before it can be posted. This is to ensure a consistency across the company’s website. Once everything is up to snuff, the content and any associated documents and images are posted.
Decentralized workflows are basically where multiple authors are each allowed to post their own content. There may be an internal review within their particular department or division, but the process stays within that department or division, or however the site is covered (subject matter, for instance). The department authors are held responsible and accountable for upholding the website’s style and maintaining consistency throughout their sections of the website. They may be subject to a governance body or document, and it may be part of their official responsibilities within the company – to which they can be held and reviewed for their annual salary review.
Can you have a large website that has a decentralized workflow and a small website that has a centralized workflow? Absolutely. Pretty much any configuration you can imagine is possible. Sometimes a single person maintains the entire content of a website. These are usually smaller websites, or single-purpose and uncomplicated websites. The author/editor may have additional responsibilities as well – social media, IT responsibilities – it can vary widely. Other times there are scores of people throughout an organization or the branches of the organization – sometimes scattered across the country or even countries, who add and maintain content across the corporation’s website.
However your company’s website is maintained, hopefully you have good people put in place who care passionately about your company’s message and mission, and are wholeheartedly dedicated to upholding the style and consistency necessary to make your company maintain its professional face to your customers and audiences.