Seamless, user-centric systems support digital transition in the newsroom

By Sarah Robins


Zürich, Switzerland


When news publishers incorporate new technology and connect several different systems in an effort to support their workflows, the resulting constellation sometimes doesn’t operate as smoothly as intended.

If the different systems are not well integrated, editors may be forced to toggle between systems to execute what should be a straightforward task — creating and publishing an article, for example. Or, they may encounter overly complicated elements within an equally complicated user interface (UI) in order to create an article in the first place, resulting in time wasted and an unpleasant user experience.

Utilising tools that make it simple for news publishers to move and manipulate content ensures work gets done efficiently and effectively.
Utilising tools that make it simple for news publishers to move and manipulate content ensures work gets done efficiently and effectively.

None of this bodes well for a newsroom’s prospects of efficiently creating quality journalism. Creating and publishing content should be easy and intuitive, not tedious and exasperating.

Which leads to the crux of the issue: Does your technology truly make your editorial team’s life easier?

When workflows and editors suffer due to an unpleasant user experience with their content creation tool, the solution is to simplify and streamline.

The key is to incorporate a product that is easily integrated and compatible with existing systems, and provides a streamlined user experience within itself and between different systems. After all, it is ideal if users do not have to jump between systems in order to complete a task and can carry a workflow to completion without friction.

In modern news publishing, content creation tools and systems should bring journalists closer to the digital product they are creating. We recommend a robust, stable product that provides genuinely helpful, industry-relevant features, and is consistently pleasant and easy to use from the first moment of training onward.

Rather than working with an outdated, overcomplicated interface to create content — one that looks nothing like the desired output — editors should ideally work with tools that feel easy, where what they see is what they get.

This should be achieved with as few clicks as possible. Editors should be able to test previews of both desktop and mobile content. They should also be able to create and edit all content without having to jump between systems to accomplish various tasks, thereby interrupting a workflow with accumulating clicks and delays.

In short, your content management system should be user friendly.

One of the key factors that makes a publishing system user friendly for news media teams is the presence of industry-specific features that allow editors to do their job with more ease and less friction.

For example, what does an editor do when an article has been published, but the story is in full flux? How are they able to keep an article current and accurate as news is breaking? It’s important to have features and functionalities that accommodate a rapidly developing story, offering editors with options on how to communicate the story as it evolves.

It should be possible to use ticker articles and components that can be scheduled to be added or removed at defined future points. Features like these allow editors flexibility and variety when communicating a developing story. They also give editors the chance to focus on delivering quality journalistic content rather than navigating around the tech that supports it.

Rounding out industry-specific features are the features that lighten editors’ load so they can focus more on the content they are creating rather than the “behind the scenes” details. This includes collaboration tools — like real-time comments, change tracking, and versioning — and less tedious approaches to deal with search engine optimisation (SEO), like configurable meta-data and solutions for auto-tagging and auto-indexing through pragmatic integrations.

Another functionality to consider in our increasingly connected, global society is having multi-language capability, which also allows for new business models to emerge.

All of these elements come together to form a consolidated, user-centric approach that allows journalists to create content faster and more smoothly.

When products are easy to use, this helps the entire digital transformation paradigm shift go more smoothly.

It should be mentioned that a poorly integrated set of technologies doesn’t have an impact solely on the user experience; it can be extremely costly. When it comes to systems complexity, total cost of ownership is a salient issue.

There is a cost to build products, and there is a cost to run them, especially when making any changes is not easy. Just think of the opportunity costs incurred when critical changes are hard, if not impossible, to carry through. Until a system is turned off, it will incur costs. And when there are multiple systems running at once, having many moving parts adds complexity and increases the total cost of ownership significantly.

Moreover, overcomplexity leads to too many dependencies, which in turn creates more risk and resistance in newsroom workflows.

Speaking of the broader digital transformation aspect, we understand why news publishers often work with multiple systems to fulfil different functions, whether it’s a planning tool or a system to manage your media assets.

It is no secret that the “best of breed” approach is one that many news media companies follow; a publisher may use a media library from one provider, a content planning tool from another, and a task management assistant from another.

We aren’t suggesting that you take a tabula rasa approach and erase the existing ecosystem when implementing a new product. We do believe, however, that the complexity of your systems structure, processes, and tools supporting them should be simplified and reduced wherever possible in the interest of improving user experience. This is also likely to reduce the cost of ownership, whether through well-integrated systems or through compatible external tools.

Change can be hard for news publishers looking to adopt a digital-first approach, but it doesn’t have to be. With the support of a robust and flexible content management system (CMS), a well-integrated ecosystem, and tools that matter (and actually work), editors can seamlessly create content, plan distribution, manage tasks, and collaborate with their colleagues, allowing them to focus their attention on the content itself, and ultimately create better journalism.

About Sarah Robins

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