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6/7/2005
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What to Look for in Web Content Management

How do you pick the right Web content management (WCM) system? First, recognize the different demands of internal- and customer-facing sites, and when it's the latter, look for integrated content delivery so you can track content usage and segment site visitors.

How do you pick the right Web content management (WCM) system? First, recognize the different demands of internal- and customer-facing sites, and when it's the latter, look for integrated content delivery so you can track content usage and segment site visitors. These are among the findings of two recent reports on WCM by Forrester Research (www.forrester.com).

WCM remains a top corporate priority, with 84 percent of 55 IT decision-makers surveyed reporting they will add WCM deployments over the next 12 months. Surveyed for Forrester's "Web Content Management 2005" trend report, respondents identified "improving customer-related initiatives" (34 percent), "improving employee-related initiatives" (24 percent) and "consolidating rogue sites and departmental intranets" (17 percent) as the top three motivations for new WCM deployments.

While repository services and administrative features are important, respondents placed an equal emphasis on content delivery, citing a desire to define user segmentation, content targeting and delivery rules.

"Historically, content management solutions simply published or deployed managed content to a separate, unmanaged application such as a portal server or J2EE application," explains Kyle McNabb, a senior analyst in Forrester's Information Delivery research group. "That meant delivery was left to IT developers to figure out and manage. But many organizations now say this model is a bit flawed."

Site managers and power users running external-facing Web sites are leading the call for more control over the site experience and intelligence on content usage. In contrast, intranet environments have to cater to the needs of content contributors and business users who aren't keen to use separate WCM tools, preferring instead integration with desktop tools such as Microsoft Word, Excel or Internet Explorer.

Forrester's core advice, then, is to choose a system based on your core need, be it internal- or external-facing. Forrester's "Wave" report for the first quarter 2005 ranked WCM vendors Tridion, FatWire and Vignette among the leaders for external Web sites, while EMC/Documentum was among the leaders for internal sites. Only two vendors, Interwoven and Stellent, were ranked as leaders in both categories.

The content delivery capabilities needed for external sites include the ability to perform dynamic queries on content/metadata, personalization based on user profiles and segmentation information, and analytic features detailing content navigation and usage. In the last regard, McNabb says users complain that click stream and Web analytics tools offer only generalized reporting on page hits and where visitors are coming from.

"They're missing more discrete information related to how the site, and its content, are impacting end-user behavior and helping them achieve their overall objectives," he says. "The delivery capabilities provided by some WCM vendors — Tridion, FatWire and Vignette, for example — include more discrete analytics on the content being consumed, the segmentation of those visitors and the overall performance of the site."

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