How to Design & Implement a Workflow for Publishing Online Content

By Jillean Kearney on March 17, 2016

The best way to maintain and standardize the quality of your website's content is to design and implement a publishing workflow that is managed by your content management system.

A publishing workflow will ensure that everyone involved in the process of creating and publishing content is able to maintain communication while keeping to the editorial standards set by your brand.

For a lot of brands, the team responsible for managing content is small (maybe just one or two people), and they're responsible for reviewing and editing work from a much larger group of contributors. Setting up a workflow to streamline how and when editing and publishing tasks happen will make everyone's job cleaner and easier.

But before any details of a publishing workflow can be planned out, you must have a solid content strategy first. Your content strategy will directly inform your publishing workflow. It's important to define what you want in return from producing content, how often content will be posted and what type of content will get you to your goals. Another important aspect of content strategy is understanding who is responsible for what when it comes to producing and planning content .

Talk to Your Content Team

The best place to start when planning a publishing workflow is by learning as much as possible about current processes in place for content creation. Ask your content team questions to find out how content is conceptualized, created and pushed to the live site.

This is a great opportunity to find out which steps work well for your team and where you have weak spots or pain points that can be optimized using your content management system's workflow functionality.

Outline Workflow Tasks

From the conversations you've had with your content team, break down their entire content creation and publishing process into individual tasks.

Examples of workflow tasks include adding photos to content, embedding videos, revising existing content, adding notes about edit changes, scheduling content to be published, etc.

With this step, it's good to be as detailed as possible for what happens to get content up on your site.

Define Roles

Next, you'll need to figure out which tasks belong to which members of your content team. A typical workflow includes content authors, editors, approvers and publishers.

Once you've figured out which roles are part of your workflow, then you can assign roles to everyone that is part of your content team.

Draw it Out

It's very helpful to draw out your workflows for different use cases as flow charts. It's easy to find gaps and missing steps this way.

Let's use creating a blog post as an example. Typically, the post would be created by an author. Once they're finished their draft, they hit the "Submit" button that sends the post over an editor for review.

Upon receiving notification that a post is ready to be reviewed, the editor will review, make changes and add comments. Then the editor hits the "Request Approval" button that sends it over to the approver, or senior editor.

The approver reviews, makes any necessary changes and hits "Approved." This triggers a notification that the post is approved and ready to be published. The publisher receives notification and then, finally, publishes the blog post.

You may find, for example, that the approver within the workflow doesn't have permissions to view comments from the editor, and you make the appropriate changes accordingly.

Introduce Content Guidelines

Making content guidelines a part of your workflow will streamline the process of producing standardized content. If your content team has file naming conventions they would like everyone to adhere to for the sake of organization or preferred formatting to fulfill SEO requirements, include these guidelines as part of your workflow.

You can store checklists, templates and other documents in your CMS and make them available to your users.

Test, Test, Test... then Launch

This is where you get your CMS users to test out your workflow by having them perform their tasks. Get their feedback on what they really like about the new process and what they don't like. Make changes where you must. It's important that your workflow provides a user-friendly experience for all of your users.

When everyone's happy and comfortable with the workflow, all that's left to do is launch!

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March 17, 2016
Categories:  Blog posts

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