Content! Content! Content! Nudging along reluctant content owners

As consultants one of the biggest challenges we face on nearly every project is the encompassing idea of content: who is the owner of your content and who is responsible for the lifecycle management of that content. When building intranets, often for the first time, it’s incredibly difficult to design the information architecture and prioritize the information hierarchy if we don’t have all the content. Content is what drives both of these and that content is the primary reason employees are navigating to the intranet - to help get their jobs done.

How do we get content?

There are (4) main avenues we take to identify the right content. First, we suggest inventorying the existing content. You need to figure out what already exists and what is the value of each of the existing content. Second, you need to determine what is important for your employees or associates, including those in another line of business. Third, create user stories. There are often multiple perspectives when it comes to what content needs to be available and user stories will help you ensure that you provide the correct content in the right context. Also, you can tweak the idea of user stories if it seems a little too hypothetical or abstract. Maybe you audit your phone calls for a week and keep a list of the common questions - maybe you audit your email for the past month and find the similarities. This idea leads to our fourth suggestion: listen to end users. If you’re getting the same questions over and over, continue to evolve your content to meet those needs.

Typical Timeline for building each site

Visualization of typical timeline for building each site

Making a clear and defined timeline at the start of the project will not only help ensure that the project is completed on time but will also define to your site/content owners what their duties are. These individuals need to know when they’re required to have their content created, when we are going to review it, and when it will go live. This is true whether it’s a net new site or a content migration. Remember that deadlines drive activity.

How to identify who owns what content

A model that’s been around for decades yet still holds true when it comes to understanding the right roles and who fits into those is the RACI model. This stands for: responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. Think about each individual piece of content and determine which individual fits into each of these roles. Keep in mind, however, that each piece of content should be thought of differently. For example, a policy is different from a contract or a quote. Therefore, for each piece of content you not only need to determine the individuals that fit into the RACI model but also what is the right format for the content, what metadata do you need, and what is the lifecycle and retention?

It might seem overwhelming at first to determine all these specifications for each piece of content. However, the aforementioned tips combined with user testing will help you define your project and ensure that your navigation is intuitive and you are presenting the right content in the right context. Although you want to ensure that the intranet content is correct before launching, keep in mind that the intranet is never done. It’s always dynamic and changing. The content owner’s work is not done once the site is built but instead the lifecycle of the content begins. Catch our AskSympraxis on July 13th for more information on being a content owner!


Do you have any questions for us? Continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #AskSympraxis and mention @SympraxisC.