What Made the Content System so Bad?

When we buy things, we want them to just work. We want no hassles and we want no downtime spent reading instructions or calling support lines. But is this what we get?

Book cover for Metadata for Content Management by David Diamond

Metadata for Content Management by David Diamond

There is a trend in enterprise software development toward user friendliness and sexy user experience, fueled mainly by the focused simplicity of mobile apps. So much so that the enterprise software industry now finds itself scrambling to figure out how to serve massive complexity through UIs that offer only a few widgets.

This is good and bad.

When it comes to content management and digital asset management software, “off the shelf” readiness simply means the system comes preconfigured to perfectly suit no one. It’s akin to some drug being marketed as “effective for curing things.”

Sometimes things just aren’t so simple. Managing content is about defining and adhering to policy, routing and tracking it all. If you can envision a simple app that will do all this, the content software industry is waiting for you to own it.

You’re reading an excerpt from the book Metadata for Content Management by David Diamond. Additional excerpts will be published here over time. You can purchase the complete book via Amazon.

Configuration is key for content software efficacy. In fact, the very same software heralded as a godsend by one customer can be cursed as a nightmare by another, simply because of the differences in the way the system was configured or is used.

Unfortunately, too many content systems are ill-configured or ill-suited for their intended purposes. It would be easy to blame software salespeople for leading customers astray, but there is a significant amount of responsibility here that lies squarely on the shoulders of the purchaser. The Toyota Prius owner who commutes a hundred miles per day is going to love her car much more than the Toyota Prius owner who gets stuck in the mud every time he goes off-roading.

While the similarities between content systems are greater than the differences, being able to choose the best system for your needs and goals lies in your ability to determine which system can most effectively and easily do what you need it to do. This, in turn, means you must be able to define those needs with some precision so that you’ll know when a system you’re considering (or have already purchased) is up to the task.

This is where taxonomy and metadata design come into the picture. Taxonomy and metadata are the basis for how content is tagged, categorized, found, valued, licensed, moved through productions, etc. While there are many other important aspects to system configuration, such as access permissions, user and group accounts, content processing configurations and more, virtually all of these considerations are secondary to how your core taxonomy and metadata schemas are designed and managed.

If your system can’t support the taxonomy and metadata schema models you need, it’s not going to work for you. It doesn’t mean you have a bad system, but it will considered a bad system by your users if you can’t configure it as it should be configured to suit your organization’s policies and workflow requirements.

Keep this in mind as you read through Metadata for Content Management. Forget what your content system can do now, and forget what software vendors promise their software can ultimately do. Think entirely in terms of the organization of content. With a handle on how you want to accomplish that, you’ll know exactly what you need from your software.

This excerpt from Metadata for Content Management is published with permission from author, David Diamond, who retains the exclusive copyright. Additional excerpts will be published in the Picturepark blog over time. You can purchase the book via Amazon.