The devolved authoring paradox

One of the many reasons for having a content management system (CMS) is that it enables non-technical people to update web pages. In a large organisation this ability (devolved authoring) is invaluable because it prevents the bottleneck that would occur if all changes had to be made by a small central team.

Beforehand, only those with an in-depth knowledge of website creation could make changes.

Read that again.

It seems to me that this is something of a Catch 22. Although devolved authoring is not exactly a digital snake oil peddled by CMS vendors, I for one would welcome a greater emphasis from them on the effort required to do it well. It doesn’t matter how easy a system is to use if appropriate amounts of training, support, governance and, quite simply, time are not available to the CMS authors distributed around an organisation. Creating good digital products is hard.

(I should say this is not borne out of some bad vendor experience. It’s merely something I’ve been pondering.)

I wonder whether the production of high quality content is now so important to businesses and so nuanced when considering all of the digital channels and contexts available to us that we are coming full circle.

Should we restrict authoring only to those with an in-depth knowledge of digital content creation? What does that mean in practice? How many of your devolved authors would qualify?

(I’d love to hear your strategies for ensuring content quality. Does workflow work at scale? Do you devolve some types of content and not others? Do you find governance tools like SiteImprove effective? How much time do you invest in training?)