The first time I heard the phrase “content management” I made
the pretty silly assumption that content management was a
discipline focused on how to professionally manage content. How
wrong I was. Content management was, and to a large extent still
is, about content management software.

The school of content management brought us such developments as
portals, customization, personalization, and distributed
publishing. These management-free, technology-driven solutions
have led to public websites and intranets teeming with poor
quality, badly organized, out-of-date content.

What do you get when you personalize crap content? Personalized
crap content. What do you get when you distribute publishing
rights to people who can’t write, don’t care about what they
write, think metadata is a country bordering Outer Mongolia, and
will never, ever review or remove what they publish? You get the
website you deserve.

Why do so many organizations think they can solve the problem of
customers finding stuff on their websites by simply buying a new
search engine? No extra staff. No management of the search
process. Magic mushrooms may exist but a magic search engine
certainly doesn’t.

Technology is important, even critical, but we still need
quality people to manage websites if we want those websites to
deliver value to the organization. Web managers’ number one task
is to develop a deep understanding of customer web behavior.
There is no better way to do this than to observe customers as
they seek to complete top tasks on your website.

Recently, Amazon got in a lot of trouble when a ‘technical
glitch’ or ‘cataloging error’ resulted in thousands of books,
including many gay and lesbian books, becoming much more
difficult to find on its website. “This whole mishagoss could
have been easily avoided but for the one thing Amazon (not to
mention a whole lot of other online entities) is notoriously
remiss – actual human-on-human customer service,” MSNBC’s Helen
Popkin writes.

“Like many of its online compatriots, Amazon wants to automate
everything,” Ann All writes for ITBusinessEdge. Amazon is a
truly customer-centric organization that continuously invests in
understanding its customers, but sometimes even they get it

To understand web self-service it is much more important to
develop an understanding of human behavior in an online
environment than to master any technology.

Gerry McGovern