Bad content will ruin your site

After reading D Keith Robinson’s Content Management - A Process, Not a Technology and then the article he links to, Gerry McGovern’s Content management: web publishing needs real discipline, I thought I’d join in with a rant of my own.

One thing that makes me pull my hair in frustration and disgust is when a team of web designers and web developers have worked their asses off to build a well-designed, logically structured, easy-to-use website only to find that a few weeks after the initial launch the client has destroyed it.

Popular weapons of site destruction are bad copy, bad images, attempts to do “creative” layout and failure to understand how the web works. Usually a combination of these weapons is used, and it goes something like this:

  • The editor adds a new section to the site but doesn’t understand that logical structure is important so the section ends up in some random place. The top level is a pretty safe bet.
  • After that, some badly written copy full of bad grammar and bad spelling is pasted in from Microsoft Word, adding 100 KB of invalid, non-semantic tag soup to the page. And every link has the word “click” in it.
  • Then it’s time to add some images to spice up the boring page of text. So someone brings out a cheap digital camera and snaps some pictures of… anything. It doesn’t have to be related to the copy. Just need some pretty pictures here. So that adds a few washed out amateur photos to the page. The images are often randomly aligned. Some to the left, some to the right and some centered. Makes the page look more “creative”. Making the pictures really big to make sure that the page layout breaks is also popular.

After the site has been destroyed, the client approaches the team of hard working professionals and asks what went wrong and why their site is broken…

I feel much better now.

Posted on November 3, 2003 in Content Management