How Marketing Leaders Can Create a Great Global User Experience

Happy customers are the goal; but are your developers and content creators getting the same love?

You know the old saying, "You only get one chance to make a great first impression." Not long ago that adage was apropos for company websites. Today with social media and mobile channels, companies are under even more pressure to make great impressions on their core audiences. While many are indeed rising to the occasion with compelling websites filled with interesting content, often adaptable to mobile devices, many are operating under a mistaken impression.

So, how does a savvy marketer make sure his or her company is on the right side of this equation? First, by understanding who users are. They're not just the folks who click on a hyperlink to gain access to an online store, website or company portal. Users are also the people behind the scenes who form the foundation for a great customer experience-content creators who write the website copy and upload videos and developers. Collectively, their experiences can be described as "the global user experience" whose brain is a modern content management system (CMS). In fact, delivering compelling digital customer experiences is virtually impossible without an advanced CMS.

Focus on the creation, not CMS mechanics

Content comes from a wide variety of content creators, many of whom aren't professional writers and editors or have time or interest in learning complex systems. Content is also diverse and content creators have to be able to create or acquire text, video, audio and social information from many sources and easily manage all of the information. Today and going forward, content is also likely to be multi-lingual. With our ever-growing global markets, companies that don't offer multiple language websites will miss out on a huge audience for their products and services. That means the CMS must step up with tools and capabilities that are easy and intuitive for all these needs.

But CMS users consistently note "ease of use" as both a key requirement, but also a key failure in many CMS. Many require authors and content creators to have a great deal of technical knowledge and understanding of underlying content structures. Yet, as noted above, many content creators lack deep technical skills and knowledge.

Developers' needs: It's more than ROI

Line-of-business executives are increasingly driving CMS and other technology solution purchasing decisions. One example: Gartner has stated that CMOs will outspend CIOs on technology by 2017. Non-IT people doing the buying can be a problem if they don't know what IT people need. This mindset can be a problem as developers are the key to a successful CMS implementation. A CMS acquisition is not a one-time project-it is a living, evolving process.

Customer-facing digital products and services are competing for the attention of users and must be immediately usable and useful; engaging and interactive; and suited to the task at hand. That requires intense concentration and focus on the part of designers and developers, as well as the availability of built-in and integrated third-party tools to realize their vision.

While some organizations have the skills and expertise that would be found at a commercial software vendor, others lack deep skills for developing customer-facing digital solutions and are under pressure from business executives to quickly develop and launch web and mobile sites. Ideally, there should be excellent cooperation between IT and executives in crafting long-term purchasing decisions that take into account long-term plans. But that's not the reality. An IBM study found that almost half of responding marketing organizations makes technology decisions on a case-by-case basis. That means that they will increasingly be reliant on the IT department to knit together the pieces into a unified whole-No insignificant task.

The key to effective developer support is that the CMS and ancillary tools must provide a flexible, cohesive, and collaborative environment that enables developers to focus on high-value activities while letting the systems handle low-level, low-value ones. Also important to the developer experience is what the developer doesn't have to do. An effective CMS makes it possible for non-technical users to perform activities that on lesser systems often call for IT support.

The best solution to assuring a great global user experience is a well-architected CMS that provides core functionality tuned to the various needs of content creators, developers and, ultimately, the customers who click on your links wherever in the world they are.