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This chapter is from the book

Content Management

A good content management plan addresses both the design of content as well as its ongoing maintenance. As you develop your content management plan and responsibilities, you need to keep both design and maintenance issues in mind at the same time, so we have intentionally combined these two activities in this discussion.

As general guiding principles, you want to be sure that the content in MOSS meets the following characteristics:

  • Usable. The content organizational framework needs to match how users think about their work. Usability relates to both content design and maintenance.
  • Credible. Content needs to be maintained—it must be reliable, timely, and accurate. Credibility is primarily a content maintenance issue, but as discussed in the section "Credibility and Relevance," content credibility is an important consideration in your content conversion plan and thus has an impact on content design.
  • Relevant. Content must be relevant to the users' daily needs. Content relevance is an important part of both content design and maintenance.


Usability strategies ensure that the MOSS content continues to provide value to users over time. This section discusses three elements of usability as it relates to MOSS content:

  • Structure Your Content to Facilitate Search. Your content management strategy needs to define MOSS content in a way that facilitates accurate search results.
  • Create a Logical and Organized Content Taxonomy. Your content classification strategy needs to successfully support browsing and navigation.
  • Leverage Personalization Capabilities to Target Content. Your content structure should support both targeting content to specific users and allowing users to personalize content based on their specific business needs.

Structure Your Content to Facilitate Search

The content in MOSS should be optimized for the effectiveness of the MOSS search engine, including both documents and external data sources:

  • Monitor usage of MOSS over time to ensure that users find what they are looking for quickly, with the minimal number of steps and "clicks."
  • Assign appropriate coordinator(s) to maintain lists of values for global Site Columns and Content Types to ensure search consistency.
  • Ensure that users can find what they are looking for in their own terms. Leverage the thesaurus capability in MOSS to create substitution terms for commonly used word and phrase alternatives. For example, ensure that the thesaurus includes common abbreviations that are unique to your organization and substitution terms such as business process renewal = business process reengineering. Assign responsibility for maintaining thesaurus information for the MOSS search infrastructure.
  • Monitor site usage to ensure that you have created an intuitive structure by working with the different user communities to better understand how users access the content. Consider conducting user focus groups to ensure that you have an optimal design.

Create a Logical and Organized Content Taxonomy

A taxonomy is a collection of relevant topics and subtopics arranged in a hierarchical or networked structure. A library card catalog is a classic example of a taxonomy. In MOSS, the taxonomy is represented in the overall structure of the pages in the site, which provide a navigational taxonomy, as well as in site metadata—the Site Columns and Content Types (see Chapter 5). An effective taxonomy helps users navigate to documents in which they are interested without having to do a search (although in practice, users use a combination of taxonomy navigation and search when both are available). Taxonomies also allow users to see documents in a context, which helps them assess whether a document is relevant for what they are trying to accomplish.

As you design your MOSS solution, you will need to carefully review the initially proposed taxonomy with key users. Carefully analyze the need for "required" fields. Encourage users to provide descriptions if the purpose of the content is not clear from the other metadata (for example, for graphic files). Ensure that content contributors assign appropriate metadata to content as it is loaded into MOSS but that the burden of content classification is balanced with the need for finding documents once they are posted. You need to ensure that existing documents are searchable and review existing content to ensure that document metadata properties are assigned and valid. Assign content owners to test initial content prior to implementation across the enterprise.

Leverage Personalization Capabilities to Target Content

MOSS includes several important "out of the box" capabilities that have the potential to significantly improve usability for your users. These include the ability to target content to groups of users via Audiences (a group of users defined based on attributes in the user's profile), the ability for users to choose to be notified about content changes via alerts, and the customizable My Site feature that enables an individual user to personalize a private portal page. To optimize usability, your design should identify key Audience groups and incorporate audience targeting for documents, news, or items in lists. Your design plan should also ensure that users take advantage of My Site personalization capabilities. Your MOSS portal solution provides some significant usability advantages over a traditional intranet because of the ability to target and personalize content. Leveraging portal content personalization capabilities will help make your portal more valuable to users.

Credibility and Relevance

It is especially critical to keep content current over time to ensure that it stays relevant. Without good strategies for content management, your portal content can become stale, and users will begin to lose confidence in the information it contains. It is important that content owners understand their responsibility for ensuring that content is managed and maintained throughout the life of the portal.

New Portal Content

As you load content to the portal, you need to decide what content requires review and approval to guarantee credibility and accuracy. Because not all content requires the same degree of review and approval, establish guidelines for which types of content should be reviewed and approved and to what extent. The review requirements will be based on both the audience for the content and the type of content, which includes how the content will be used. For example, critical content that is actively relied upon and is broadcast widely (such as HR information and global policies) might require a high level of review before publishing to the portal. On the other hand, content that involves commentary, team discussions, or works in progress may require little, if any, review. Think about the following types of content as you determine how you will review content for accuracy and credibility prior to publishing. You will likely have different policies for different types of content:

  • "Published" Content. Authoritative content managed by one or more "experts" and made available to a larger community. HR information or global policies are examples of published content.
  • Collaborative Content. Nonauthoritative, "living" content that is part of a project or team and is managed, for the most part, in team sites. This content is managed and used by the same community. A working document for a project team—such as a draft project deliverable—is an example of collaborative content.
  • Records. Historic content maintained for business continuity and regulatory reasons. This content generally cannot be changed once it has become a record and will have a defined lifetime specified as policy.
  • Reference. Content that is used by the system or application, such as a lookup list of product categories or regional offices.

The degree of review for content will have a significant impact on the design of your MOSS environment. For example, a global organization established a design strategy that encourages users to use Document Workspaces to work collaboratively on the creation of content, effectively using the collaborative workspace as the content approval mechanism. Once the content and appropriate metadata classifications are agreed to in the Document Workspace, one of the collaborators is assigned the responsibility of publishing the content formally on the appropriate page of the portal, a process that can be automated. Thus, the strategy for creating and approving content can be much more than just a content maintenance decision.

An important content design consideration is ensuring that it is apparent to the user the degree to which the content has been reviewed and whether the document he or she is reviewing is in Final form, Draft, or Work in Progress. Designers can consider adding a "Status" Site Column to all document libraries with values of Final or Draft so that users will clearly know the intended use of the content. Solution designers can decide how Work in Progress will be shared in MOSS publishing sites or whether only Final documents (this could vary by department or project) will be shared. Many organizations determine that Work in Progress should only live in private team sites until it is ready to be shared more broadly. At that time, content is officially published to the portal.

Existing Portal Content

Sometimes the minute that content is loaded into a portal, it is already "old." MOSS has several "out of the box" features that help you ensure that your content is maintained over time. On sites built with the "Publishing" template, MOSS automatically adds two fields to the Document library: Scheduling Start Date and Scheduling End Date. Scheduling Start Date offers two options: "immediately" (the default) and "on the following date," where the user must enter a date. Scheduling End Date offers two options as well: "never" (the default) and "on the following date," where the user must enter a date.

You can use the scheduling fields to create views and workflows to recertify content prior to the expiration date and "dispose" of content (by sending it to an archive or deleting it) if it is no longer relevant.

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