We’ve had some interesting discussions this afternoon and now I am a-pondering.
We’re reaching the end of a project to upgrade our content management system (sort of). We’ve sailed on choppy seas throughout this project and now we’re looking to chart a course in calmer waters. Talk turned to that most vague of things – the medium- to long-term future.
Since bringing web work in-house and into the CMS around five years ago we have worked a devolved authorship model. Once trained authors throughout the organisation were responsible for creating and publishing web content through our CMS. For some of our sites the content passed through workflow to our team for a final approval on house style and accessibility / usability before actually being live.
The question has been raised today about whether this model is working out for us or not. If not, why not. Having personally trained the majority of our authors, often on more than one occasion; classroom style with practical exercises and one to one with bespoke guidance; on writing for the web and on our CMS; and provided support (drop in sessions, online, telephone, in person) I have a whole raft of views on what the answer to the question might be.
But I wonder:

  • What experience does anyone else have?
  • Do others implement devolved authorship?
  • What is the ratio of authors to size of organisation / website?
  • What skills do those authors have? Why were they chosen as authors? Is it a dedicated web author role or part of A N Other job?
  • What training is provided? What is the incidence of retraining?
  • What level of support is needed / provided?
  • Is content ‘let free’ by authors or is there an approval system in place?
  • Has anyone gone from devolved authorship to centralisation of publishing or ‘super users’ (sort of extension of the web team)? How was any change to the process received?
  • If you run more than one website do you have different levels of devolvement / approval? For example, do you approve web content but not intranet content?

I’d like to take the discussion further and if anyone is willing to share their thoughts or experience on authoring web content in an organisation I’d be really interested to hear this. Or if anyone wants to grab me at localgovcamp this Saturday (or maybe have a short session on this) this would also be great.