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Managing web content.

TITLE: Web Content Management: A Collaborative Approach

EDITOR: Russell Nakano

ISBN: 0-201-65782-1

PUBLISHER: Addison-Wesley


LENGTH: 238 pages

PRICE: $39 U.S.; $59.95 Canada

SOURCE: Pearson Education Corporate Sales Division, or 800.428.5331

Few enterprises involved in the distribution of goods or services via the Internet can do so any longer with a free-form management style and loose control mechanisms. The ability to rely on a lone webmaster as asset creator, developer, auditor, and site manager has become a luxury of the past. With increased reliance upon Web sites and increased specialization in the creation and management of Web sites, there is a need for rational, organization-wide management of Web assets and processes.

Russell Nakano and a small but growing group of practitioners have struggled to articulate a new type of organizational management that is applicable to increasing and evolving Internet complexity. These pioneering Web architects have developed a set of concepts, "Web content management," which they define as the principles and practices supporting the development, management, maintenance, and deployment of Web content in an organization. Most successful enterprise-wide Web sites have not only e-commerce segments but also information about a plethora of other corporate activities; all of these assets must work without conflict, failure, or appreciable down time.

Nakano has produced a highly readable, understandable, and practical book about a very complex topic. Web Content Management: A Collaborative Approach systematizes the steps, stages, and principles necessary to manage Web assets for all sizes and complexities of organizations with varying sophistication of Web assets. It is a well-organized explanation of and guide to rational development and deployment of Web assets for a growing and evolving technology in a commercial environment. Web site managers and general organizational managers, Web architects, and Web-asset developers unsure of their place in the volatile and rapidly changing environment of Internet management can use Web content management to identify their place and determine the next step in the evolving structure of an enterprise-wide Web site.

The book is divided into four sections. Part one explains the need for content management and what can befall an organization when Web content is not managed carefully and systematically.

Part two introduces the concepts and principles required by Web practitioners to develop a content management approach for their organization's Internet assets. The tools and theoretical concepts explained in this section are essential to manage the natural confusion and inevitable disastrous consequences of free-form Web asset administration. Web content management can prevent mixing Web asset development with Web asset deployment or wedding quality control to asset development and having untested assets deployed to a public or production server for all the world to see. Among the tools and techniques of Web content management presented are templating, workflow, asset deployment, versioning, and branch design.

This section introduces fundamental steps for the construction of a content management structure that will hold together as technology and asset complexity advance. It also defines the essential concepts such as identification of enterprise stakeholders (internal and external), separation of development and production phases of Web site development, inventory of assets, efficient and effective use of feedback, use of site versioning and file versioning, and assessment of control mechanisms needed in an enterprise at any stage of evolutionary development.

Chapter four, "Best Practices for Collaborative Web Development," shows the means and advantages of separation of developmental activities from staging and editing. This separation produces a more tested, refined product that is released under tight quality control and on schedule, and it increases efficiency due to work-cycle coordination. The work area/staging area/edition (WSE) model is made understandable and applicable through excellent diagrams and simple flow charts.

Chapter five thoroughly covers the advantages and techniques of initiating a templating system for an organizational Web site. A templating system is an architecture for separating Web contents or assets from their presentation format. The distinguishing of appearance and performance from contents can accomplish the five requirements for a vital Web site: (1) consistent format, (2) rapid evolution, (3) fresh content continually introduced, (4) different designers making concurrent content changes, and (5) efficient and economical runtime architecture that performs well under increased demands.

Chapter six addresses one of the most difficult problems facing the manager of a complex Web site: creating an efficient virtual assembly line. Coordinating workflow and work cycles permits one to manage busy wait time and largely eliminate the idle time that eats up staff resources and makes the Web site less fresh and vital.

Chapter seven, "Deploying Content," explores the systematic deployment of assets from the development side of the process to the production side and explains the importance of having a "roll-back" version and deployment plan if changes do not work out well. This chapter also discusses the complexity of making small changes and large version deployments to the production Web site as well as on-demand changes and scheduled deployments.

Chapter eight explores how to simplify staffing and asset integration by using the "branch" approach to complex Web sites and organizations. The process of separating independent but related functions into separate functional activities (branches) for the sake of efficiency is clearly written, and the voluminous diagrams greatly assist readers in working their way through their own organizational structure and Web site.

Part three of Web Content Management includes chapter nine, "Using Web Content Management for Globalization," a truly insightful look at the complexities and strategies of successful design and deployment of a Web site with an international audience. The chapter will assist Web managers with all the special complications that inevitably arise when internationalizing a Web site, such as language, time zones, cultures and, in many cases, multiple-server networks.

Part four consists of four short appendices that discuss some of the tools used to accomplish the essential steps required to deploy a vital and productive Web presence. The appendices cover such issues as "Smart File Systems" for versioning Web assets, workflow design for handing off products between work groups and for scheduling asset deployment, and best-practice processes for implementing Web content management.

Web Content Management is a valuable and useful resource for anyone involved in overseeing a Web site in an organization of any size. The difficult and complex subject matter is logically organized and clearly written. Well-designed diagrams and flow charts are complemented by highlighted examples, principles, and rules. The readability of the volume could be improved by layout changes that would more closely link the text to the excellent and essential diagrams and illustrations. For managers of organizational Web initiatives, members of Web development and deployment teams, the persuasive and well-articulated discussions of problems of overwhelming complexity may well introduce a common vocabulary and a set of principles leading to wider perspectives, deeper understanding, and teamwork.

Michael E. Holland, CA, is director of archives at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He may be reached at
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Book titled Web Content Management: A Collaborative Approach is reviewed
Author:Holland, Michael E.
Publication:Information Management Journal
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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