Our First Content Management Class!
July 21, 2008
First Content Management Class – A Great Success
Coming from a background in managing PC based products I have seen how important education is to product users. As a windows developer in the 90’s I really learned how important is was for programmers to be connected to their users.
Many programmers tend to be removed from users (and are not always comfortable in the user environment – or simply struggle to actually relate to their user base).
As a product programmer I remember my boss walking into my office and asking me if I would go to a client’s site to train a client on using the system (that I had been a primary developer of). I actually jumped on the chance – and from that first ever training session I have always had a strong focus on the client from a systems point of view. It was actually the best thing I ever did as it made me a much stronger programmer and gave me a very clear picture as to who I was really serving.
But That Was PC products – Isn’t The Web Different?
Actually the internet is simply a different operating environment and in general your ability to use the systems (websites and internet applications) is critical to success and efficiency online. In particular the Web Content Management Systems (CMS) are probably the most used websites in the world today. But just like the amount of education that went into PC (Windows based Products) – today I believe that Web Content Management Classes are a vital requirement for business that has a CMS websites.
Back in my PC days I actually went from the systems programmer to Professional Services Manager that included a full training department under my wing. This was not something built overnight – after visiting new client sites for training for approximately a year or so we saw the need to create classes. Once we started holding classes we simply never looked back – the classes included our primary PC product, add-on produces and also a Report Writer Class. I left the company to start BeareWare in late 2000 and I am sure the training programs are probably huge now as the company has continued to grow and prosper.
History Repeats as I visit Client Site for CMS Training
Over the last 2 years as BeareWare has developing more and more websites part of that process has been visiting new clients site for a final review and training session before their website goes live. I believe this is critical to a clients success and it is currently one of the huge black holes with companies that design websites.
The fact a content management system allows you to update your website in no means assures a web owner is actually capable or confident about doing this. Of course it is easy – (if your name is Waldo the Web Dude) – but I have no doubt that education in this area will absolutely increase the results for client and give them a great base to grow from. Adding to that is the reality that if inform a client upfront of our recommended training I think it helps them recognize that the long term success of their site requires both us and them and a lot of work. Like any other aspect of business – having a website and making it a part of your business requires hard work!
Of course as you know every website is unique in its design – but the amazing thing is that they are not necessarily unique in operation. A Content Management System is basically the same system and just like PC applications of the past they have lots of options and require training and education to use these systems efficiently.
Over the last 2 years of going to client’s sites and taking clients live I have really learned about our client’s abilities and also their challenges with learning how to use a CMS system. And watching the development and improvement of clients over the past 2 years (and their overall website success) – this has really reinforced to me the importance of education.
With all our client reviews and training we provide a custom CMS Users Manual. For quite some time I believed that each client training was really unique in nature (as clearly their website was) so I did not actually consider the thought of CMS classes. But as we did more and more websites and training sessions I really started to see how similar the operation of a CMS site and add on components.
So a Web Content Management Class It Is!
I announced our first CMS class in June of 2008. The class was set for early August. Part of the organizing of the class was giving clients options to attend – even clients that have previously had onsite training session. I created two classes – Introduction Class (2 hour morning class) and an Intermediate Class (2 hour afternoon class). To my delight both classes received good sign up. It was particularly pleasing to see that BeareWare’s clients are as positive about web education as we are.
We were very fortunate to have a great training facility as part of the class (Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce rocks!). Clients bought their laptops to the class and we had Wi-Fi available for each attendee to sign up. And from my opening welcome our clients were full of questions as we ran through our class agenda. The room had clients from various different industries but the questions were always easily relatable to everyone.
And The Class Was Interactive
The nice thing about our training setup (WiFi and client laptops) was that each client could update their websites specifically as we went thru training modules (Our class is agenda is completely based on updating your site so every module gave everyone the opportunity to take control of content areas. I quite often saw clients showing other clients specific items as we worked thru our program. That was also very pleasing.
And of course I could bring up any clients site to assist or demonstrate site updating (yes – CMS sites can have multiple uses that can be updating the same website at the same time). Even covering different 3rd party products really had a great amount of attention. Surprising to us was the interest in 3rd party products and add-on components. Many clients saw products that were good fits for long term web planes. We actually found the class environment really helps promote new product to clients as well.
Discussing SEO and SERP Really Added Excitement
As well our very hands content updates our class really reached a buzz when we looked at Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Ranking Page. When any owner (or Web Content Manager) gets to talk about a tool such as a search engine that can deliver new customers to their door step (perpetually) you can imagine the interest.
Having our clients understand SEO is really pleasing again. I have heard horror stories of companies spending $1000’s of dollars for SEO services that they simply don’t understand. And as with most complicated areas that are not understood it is easy to how web owners can be really confused, deceived, and financially abused by SEO companies (who can magically place a companies website at the top of a search engine – and bring you thousands of new leads). Just like any aspect of life – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is – and if you really on things you don’t understand you are eventually bound to get burned.
I believe empowering clients with information is one of the greatest services a website design & development company can provide. So at the completion of our first class we really felt we had completed a very successful day. Our client’s enthusiasm was so pleasing. It is really great to be able to work with folks that are willing to head into new technologies with open minds. There is no doubt that web classes including CMS classes will really enhance our clients success. More classes are in the planning for our upcoming winter and spring of 2009.
Peter Beare – Webmaster
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Peter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.