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Michelle Hay

Clarity, knowledge and engagement: Working with your digital team

General


There are many critical elements to ensure your digital channels and the related content are of high quality and fully compliant with the law. Perhaps the most important of all these is people – those that you rely on to deliver strong digital experiences. This is not only your immediate team, but also the wider group of people responsible for channels and content, such as local website teams and a wider group of content owners and editors. Depending on the size and complexity of your organisation, the number of people involved can span from a handful to hundreds.

These people, often at the periphery, are responsible for content, upload and editing, correcting issues, reviewing content and more. Their contribution is critical, but central teams often struggle to make sure that they contribute in the right way.  For these local contributors, their digital and content activities may be a minute slither of their “day job”, or a low priority because they simply have too many other things to do.  Meanwhile for the central team, maintaining publishing standards, correcting issues and content improvement starts to feel like “herding cats”. It can be a nightmare. 

So, what can central digital teams do to make sure the wider digital team carry out what they need to do? There are three main elements to focus on:

  • Clarity of role: making sure everybody has clear expectations of a role and what is expected
  • Knowledge and expertise: equip contributors with the knowledge they need to perform their role with confidence
  • Engagement: make sure contributors are fully engaged and motivated to carry out their role.

Let’s explore these three areas in turn.

Clarity of role

Outside your central digital team, it really helps to define (and document) the expectations around different roles and any related activities for local channel and content owners / editors as part of any digital governance framework.  Providing clarity:

  • Helps different employees understand and plan what they need to do, so means more things get done
  • Helps to define any knowledge and skills gaps they may need
  • Helps them to articulate their role to their own boss or team, helping them to get recognition and / or balance workload
  • Helps them to view a progression in what they do relating to digital channels and content, for example develop specialist areas of knowledge.

In defining different roles, ideally these should include:

  • What they are responsible for
  • Why it is important
  • All the specific processes and activities involved – be granular!
  • Likely time commitment
  • Areas of knowledge e.g. accessibility
  • The support they can receive from the central team.

Knowledge and expertise

Making sure your content editors have the right knowledge and expertise to carry out their role is essential. This is likely to involve both the basics (e.g. how to use your CMS and any related tools, how to structure content, writing for the web, compliance requirements etc.) through to more specialist practices (e.g. what you need to do to resolve specific issues etc.).

There are multiple ways to support content owners through:

  • Onboarding sessions and related training
  • Regular check-ins
  • On the job experience to embed knowledge
  • Access to experts and peers who can answer questions.

Bearing the importance of developing knowledge in mind, we developed the Sitemorse Academy, a series of bite-sized relevant “how to” videos that can be accessed at just the right point in time when a team member is required to address a specific issue identified by the Sitemorse platform. The combination of the instructional video and the actual experience of carrying out a fix (usually more than once) is a powerful way to embed knowledge.  

Engagement

It’s critical to keep your content owners engaged, so they feel motivated to keep carrying out their activities. Anybody who is unengaged and disinterested is simply not going to carry out the content management processes you ask them to.

Keeping team members engaged needs to ensure there is:

  • Recognition – individuals are recognised from managers and peers for their good work
  • Impact – individuals can see the positive impact of their work
  • Progression – there is a sense of improvement and moving forward
  • Realistic – what they are being asked to do is realistic and achievable, especially in the content of their normal “day job”
  • Community – there is a sense of community with other content and digital roles
  • What’s-in-it-for-me – users are getting something out of it for their own personal development or career
  • Avoiding frustration – ensuring that any pain points using systems are kept to a minimum.

As far as we know, Sitemorse is the only digital quality and improve platform that takes engagement into account. We do this in four main ways: 

  1. By prioritising issues and sending a limited number of actions to be addressed gradually by relevant roles, so that individuals aren’t overwhelmed or asked to carry out tasks they are not suited to. Other platforms like Siteimprove deliver an endless list of issues based on assessing your whole site; this takes ages to process and immediately demotivates everybody because they feel like they have a mountain to climb before they’ve actually taken any actions.
  2. Through the Sitemorse Academy your content team get more knowledgeable, providing them with essential on-the-job experience. 
  3. By measuring and benchmarking site performance across different aspects including accessibility so that individual owners can see a clear impact of their own actions, as well as how efforts are progressing.
  4. Avoiding frustration with a product that is very easy to use, can be up and running quickly and slots into the way people actually work, for example through email alerts and even integrating with your CMS as one experience.

Don’t herd cats, work with real people instead

If you really are herding cats with your wider content team then it’s time to take a different approach. Consider how you can provide clarity, develop knowledge and also engage your wider content community. This is not always straightforward, but you can make a real difference taking a structured and holistic view. 

We’ve based Sitemorse on a model where the needs of your content team are carefully considered, and where people feel like part of the wider content team and less on the periphery. This is essential for making digital compliance and improvement achievable and sustainable.

Training

Automatic delivery - Just-in-time

Direct ‘just-in-time’ training materials are offered against actions, delivering immediate understanding and confidence in actioning. These videos provide help prevent the same issues being repeated.