One of the only truisms of the digital age is that the ink is never dry on a web site. And it shouldn’t be. Those days of putting up a brochure site and letting it sit there unattended are long over. Today’s sites must constantly evolve, change, and present up-to-date information to those who stop by.
But putting procedures into place to make these changes can be tough. Maintaining the web site usually falls into the hands of those unlucky enough to be sitting at their desks the day the CEO walks by and assigns duties for the new site. In a lot of organizations, there isn’t even this much forethought many companies just put something up and hope that it takes care of itself.
Getting content up that’s supposed to be there is bad enough, but handling the inevitable flood of changes can be even harder. A word here and a word there and a picture swap can add up to an avalanche of change requests that the aforementioned harried, appointed “Webmaster” has to keep track of, usually with a flurry of Post-Its stuck to the monitor. Sure, today’s ubiquitous content management systems make those changes easier to implement (no more hostage payments to your web firm for “maintenance!”) but there’s gotta be a better way of dealing with the flood. And there is.
Continuus’ WebSynergy and ChangeSynergy products are the latest leading-edge tools I’ve found to make sure that your site is up and humming and current. Combining workflow and change management systems into a web-based interface that runs on a variety of platforms, these products might just give you the edge you need to keep your site as current as you want it to be.
Here’s how it works. Say your VP of Marketing’s got one of those “quick copy changes” to the Products and Services section. All she’s gotta do is feed the information into the ChangeSynergy system where it is logged and forwarded to the person who’s supposed to make the change. The change is made, change logged, and everyone’s happy.
If you’re doing web development, you know what a problem asset management can be. Whole industries have sprung up around managing all the assets pictures, text, multimedia, data that go into a site. Other companies have developed software that helps developers with their software work flow, but these are usually optimized for application development and often don’t take into account all the content that goes into a web site. The cool thing about WebSynergy is that it takes all of this into account.
Content developers get access to a whole range of tools that allow them to change the stuff they need to change and make sure that the rest of the team knows it. There are even tools to help developers work with other developers when putting together content a common set of tasks for most web sites.
Application developers can work in concert with those developing content, doing their programming in whatever language they need to use for the job. Changes are tracked, versions are controlled, and the whole project stays on track without anyone overwriting anyone else’s data a common occurrence when several developers are working on the same project.
As we all know, testing is vital to any project… and often gets overlooked or pushed to the end of the schedule. WebSynergy lets you test modules as they get developed, rather than at the end of the total project. “Approved” modules get moved to the web, modules that need help to get pushed back to the developers.
Finally, managers get final approval on project elements and can communicate with team members as the project progresses. Status reports are easily generated, too something that web project managers with clients to please will be sure to appreciate!
Will these products solve all your web updating problems? Probably not, but they’re a dang sight better than relying on sticky notes. These days, where a users’ first experience often determines whether or not she ever comes back to your site again, having the information your users are searching for as current as possible can mean the difference between a sale and a bail.
As sites become more complex and more and more corporate information gets placed on the web, maintaining currency is vital. Customers aren’t going to come back to a site that looks like it was updated a year or so ago, and it can be vital to your customers to have the latest information on everything you sell or do. Make sure you’re in control of your project.