Government CMS Found Lacking

“The average manager isn’t going to be able to output good content for the web”

Roger Johansson has posted an article dear to my sensibilities today - Content Management Systems used by public sector websites found lacking - which discusses the findings of a Swedish report into Swedish public sector websites. I think a lot of what is said there is directly applicable across the board so I thought I’d reiterate some points.

The people in charge of many public sector websites do not necessarily understand the marketing of these companies and can buy substandard products not of their own fault.

Its imperative to hire client side web developers who do know how to create accessible, web standards compliant solutions. Invest in the knowledgebase of your staff - upgrade in-house skills in these areas. I’d say the content management system developers and public sector web units should paste it onto an office wall.

My two cents to add to this is the basic content management system issue itself. Don’t let any old manager write pages, even if they’re edited later they’re going to want to do dippy stuff with jargon and mightn’t appreciate an alt attribute from a proper heading. Ultimately, in my solid advice, have a dedicated group of specialised (non-jargonised) individuals working as a team on the same gameplan to create a solid site which is both accessible and usable. Politically I can see this as a challenge but professionally to create a high quality product its a no brainer. I can’t fix sports cars, I can’t ride race horses, and the average manager isn’t going to be able to output good content for the web.

Roger’s parting line is another solid one

Knowledge of web standards, accessibility, and usability is a must for CMS developers in the 21st century

And for those empowered with making the CMS content. Also, writing for print and the web are two different things so don’t make the mistake of hiring the policy writer or pedantic office clerk to do that writing without some serious re-education. The web is its own beast rather than turning it into a public sector document storage facility for its own sake.

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