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Managing Web content: ECM or pure-play WCM?

Those users are looking for out-of-box functionality and tight integration with Microsoft Office and Sharepoint. Among the products in that category are those from Ektron, Mediasurface and SilkRoad.

When a Web site is a major part of an organization's business model, agility is essential. "Interest is lost if the information is not fresh," maintains Ed Rogers, COO of Ektron, "more so than with enterprise content." Yet knowledge owners do not know how to tag and publish information to the Web site, and overburdened Webmasters are often a bottleneck in the system. Therefore, WCM solutions place usability high on their list of features. Content contributors should be able to work in a familiar environment such as Microsoft Word, and publish quickly to the Web site.

The same requirement for ease of use applies to developing the functionality of the Web site. "The business case for Web sites often is related to marketing," says Rogers, "and while the content on the site is very important, functionality also has a leading role." Visitors to a Web site need to be able to accomplish their goal, whether that is to make a purchase, enroll in a service or solve a technical problem.

"Many creative agencies that develop Web sites were overtaxed by the complexity of making all the different software applications work together to achieve the desired visitor experience," Rogers says. Ektron's bundling of various Web site features--such as blogs, search engines and Web analytics--into one solution helps simplify the work of the developer.

Usability was an important factor for CureSearch in selecting Ektron's WCM solution. CureSearch is a non-profit organization with a mission of providing information about children's cancer. It was using a homegrown content management system with no workflow, and when the site was redesigned, CureSearch wanted a more robust system.

"We considered a number of products," says Marcelo Alvarez, manager of Web technologies at CureSearch, "and evaluated them against a variety of criteria, including cost and support." Of the solutions that CureSearch considered, Ektron's CMS 400.NET was the best match for its needs.

One reason CureSearch wanted a user-friendly WCM system was that various departments were going to be contributing content. In the past, the content department had been the sole publisher of Web content. Now, information from other departments, including development, marketing and IT, can be published more quickly because not all the work has to be done by the content department.

"It is easy for other content owners to contribute," says Alvarez. "We can get information posted about upcoming events or other activities sooner, because numerous staff members can put the information into a workflow that goes to the content department for review."

Although Ektron's WCM system does not have a records management component, it has bi-directional APIs through which it can interact with RM systems. It can also take in content from enterprise content management systems, so that the same content can appear on an intranet and a public Web site.

Keep an eye on compliance

No matter which approach is taken--ECM suite or standalone WCM--the issue of RM for Web site content is likely to assume increasing importance. Latham of Gartner believes that vendors should devote more attention to Web archiving technology that integrates Web content with other records.

"Compliance and litigation demands could reach into this area because a company might need to be able to verify that on a given date the user saw a certain set of information and clicked a particular button to make a purchase or engage in some other transaction," Latham says.

User organizations may, in fact, be more conscious of that issue than vendors. "In a survey we published early this year," says IDC's Webster, "we were surprised at the degree to which companies recognized that Web content is one more type of content they need to manage for compliance and risk."

Stellent and Vignette are among the ECM vendors that Webster believes are taking a broad view of content, by including Web content as records to be managed. 

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