Usability in Portals and Content Management

Focus on Usability is going to be a big trend in Portals and Content Management implementations. This follows from two main reasons:

More and more organizations are rationalizing and consolidating different sites and portals that had proliferated in the enterprise. Each of these have a different look & feel, navigation and a different user experience. Hence, it will be important to focus on usability in order to provide a consistent user experience.

Secondly, most of these products force you to follow a “design template” provided by the product. For example, almost all portal products let you choose a single column, 2-column or a similar template. It is certainly possible to have your own design but it is really difficult to actually implement it. Hence, the design is actually driven by what a product can (and can not) do rather than the other way round.

5 thoughts on “Usability in Portals and Content Management”

  1. I shall share my thoughts later but want to quickly point out that very often the usability of the CMS system (for example, the content entry screens for the publishers) itself is overlooked – this has contributed to the failure of many a CMS implementation initiative.Cheers,KashyapKashyap KompellaPractice ManagerWipro Usability & Design

  2. I do not believe that the design of the Content Entry Screens is not considered. I have been involved in projects where we can extensively build Content Entry screens , complete with work flow, preview and content publishing and expiry features, access control.
    I believe the problem is whether consulting companues need to take into account this when providing solutions. Becos this is a very important aspect, but given the least importance becos the user community is internal.

  3. Usability of content entry screens is always a tough call. Making things easier and more automated is either too much work or ties the content entry screens too tight to the current UI design , or both. However a lot can be done none-the-less.
    I subscribe to the philosophy of microsoft word being the example to follow – where newbees can use context menu while the experts can use the keyboard shortcuts. So I find nothing wrong with easy to use pre-built templates and tough to construct custom templates.The problem usually is the need to force content to fit print media or a design which looks like that – page breaks / limited real estate and all.
    So can we really seperate content from presentation ? I am not too sure about that. The whole concept of sub-editing and mutiple versions of stories will remain. Language is after all a complex thing.
    Unfortunately search in the CMS also becomes the weak link as free text searches on database tend to be too expensive or too slow limiting the usability.

  4. I think the view is correct but a bit oversimplistic, the solutions of usability are to be done in business context. If out of box capabilities offer business advantage for e.g. a large organization decides to implement WPS (Websphere Portal Server). WPS comes with in out of box capabilities, which are tied to software support and upgrades by IBM. If one does custom development, it costs money (immediate and long term). time to market is another key factor.

    This investment has to be compared against benefits and organization priorities.

    #2, the look and feel can still be standardized across these products to a great degree. Most offer CSS control. There is a lot that can be achieved with CSS and JavaScript itself.

    This in no way means Usbaility is not important, but it is a meant for a business solution, as long as it work in that context, it’ll be successful and deliver results.


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