Over the next few months, I will post a series of 6-8 best practices for ensuring a high degree of usability in WCM implementations. This first entry in the series focuses on the ability for users to author content in the context of actual web pages.
While many vendors claim to support in-context editing, there is a lot of variation in how this feature is presented to users. In some cases, content authors fill in HTML forms and then click a preview button, which renders a virtualized copy of the web page. In other cases, authors double click on a staged version of a web page, which launches a WYSIWYG editor. Upon saving content in this editor, the author refreshes the web page and sees the updates. In the best cases, authors can simply edit content directly on web pages without having to fill in separate web forms or to launch an external editor. Content on web pages can be edited just as though it were in MS Word.
These differences may at first seem trivial, but it quickly becomes apparent to those who spend much time authoring content or creating web pages that eliminating unnecessary steps and reducing the number of applications in these highly iterative processes produces dramatic time savings throughout the organization. For example, if an enterprise has 25 content authors who each maintain 10 web pages daily, and each page update takes just 10 extra minutes because of redundancies, the time wasted over one year totals more than 10,000 hours. This represents about $500,000 of unnecessary labor costs.
Recommendation to enterprises: Be sure to analyze carefully during vendor demonstrations exactly how content can be edited directly from a web page. The most highly usable WCM systems will allow you to treat the web page like word processor.

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