Workflows: Keep Control over Your Site’s Content

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As I’ve written in the past, a Content Management System (CMS) is a valuable tool to your business’ online presence.  They enable anyone to maintain their Web site, with no Web development skills required.  As I tell potential and current customers when demonstrating our CMS of choice, “With Cascade Server, if you know Microsoft Word®, you can maintain your Web site”.  This powerful statement is the difference between hiring an expensive Web development staff and having your accountant maintain your Web site (instead of writing big salary checks).  Your Web site “contributor” (a user whose job it is to maintain the content of your site) now has the ability to keep the site up-to-date.

Of course, the “anyone” part does introduce a big problem:  how do you keep control over what your contributors are putting out there?  Chances are they’re not publishing inappropriate content:  anti-government, anti-(insert-your-favorite-sports-team-here), etc.  But what about spelling errors, inaccurate content, general formatting issues, and anything that you just don’t approve of?

Enter CMS workflows.  What is a CMS workflow?  Hannon Hill, the manufacturer of Cascade Server, states that a workflow “ensures that content entered into the system is quality checked by mandating that the entered content go through a series of approval steps.”  In short, it’s a way for a Web site manager to control what’s added to their Web site.

How does a workflow work?  Let’s take a look at a simple workflow.

The first step is to set permission levels for your users.  A contributor in your system should only have the ability to edit content, and not be able to publish that content to your live Web site.  Furthermore, a user can be locked down to a specific section, folder, or even page of your site.  Here, they can make any edits to an existing page, create pages, or if given permission, delete pages.

Once their edits are done, they submit the page into the workflow.  The manager is notified via email that the contributor has submitted content for approval.  The manager then logs into the CMS and reviews the content.  From here, the manager can either reject the content back to the contributor with personalized comments (which notifies the contributor via email as well), or the manager can “approve” the changes, which then publishes the page and associated files to their live site.

Pretty simple, yet effective, right?  By implementing this easy workflow, you maintain control over your Web site, while your contributor does all of the work!  Of course, workflows can be much more robust than our example, and can be tailored to fit your organization’s specific quality assurance practices.  You can have the contributor submit to a manager, that manager can submit to Legal, Legal can submit to Marketing, Marketing can reject back to the manger or submit to IT for publishing, and…well, you get the idea:  it’s completely flexible!

Below is an example of a workflow that we have implemented for a large Cascade Server implementation.

What kind of quality assurance program do you have for your Web site right now, whether it’s in a CMS or not?  Is it robust with several review checkpoints and processes?  Or do you not have one at all?  Whatever the case may be, my team and I can bring your entire Web site into Cascade Server, and apply a custom workflow that fits your needs.  Contact us to find out more.