• United States

Limping Web sites need to clean up their act

May 01, 20062 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Fixing underlying Web content management faults

Is your Web site limping along? Do you have misfiled and miscategorized content, broken links, incorrect formatting or any of the other minor errors that make your site sub-par? It seems that a surprisingly high percentage of corporate sites that have lots of content have pernicious problems with quality.

I mentioned some problems with a friend’s corporate site and his reply was “Yeah, we’ve got issues in Web design.” But despite a broad recognition of its problems with Web content quality it seems that his company has gotten no nearer fixing its site than it was two or three years ago.

I think what happened was that sites like his company’s got into a groove with a workflow that worked as well as any experimental business process could but never got refined as the sites grew.

Today these sites are anything from 10 to 100 times the size they were when problems first became apparent and nothing has changed – the same problems keep emerging and keep getting fixed while the underlying content management faults are still there. Worse still, with each day the problems became more deep seated and harder to find because the content keeps expanding.

The problem is the workflow process or rather where that process fails.

What these sites (and yours if you are in this group – which is highly likely) need to do is put aside a day and walk through your entire Web content management workflow.

You need to identify inputs to the content acquisition process, formatting and standards, editorial and presentation transformations, quality assurance (QA) checkpoints, feedback loops, instrumentation and performance data collection, and reporting.

Once all of those components are accounted for, dimensioned, and analyzed in a flowchart you can start figuring out where things go wrong. Typically, the problem lies with a QA step that isn’t performed reliably (for example, tagging or categorizing is omitted or simply wrong).

The goal is to find these “holes” and fill them in so that the content management process is as perfect as it can be – and the issue of how perfect the result of the process can become is key. No matter how great the process is the result will always be limited by human abilities and attention.

Set your sights too high and you will never reach your goals. Set them too low and … well, that’s where you are today.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

More from this author