The web content lifecycle is the multi-disciplinary and often complex process that web content undergoes as it is managed through various publishing stages.[1]

Authors describe multiple "stages" (or "phases") in the web content lifecycle, along with a set of capabilities such as records management, digital asset management, collaboration, and version control that may be supported by various technologies and processes. One recognized technology for managing the web content lifecycle is a web content management system.[2]

Concepts often considered in the web content lifecycle include project management, information management, information architecture, and, more recently, content strategy, website governance, and semantic publishing.[3]


Various authors have proposed different "stages" or "phases" in the content lifecycle. Broadly speaking, the stages include content creation/development, revision, distribution, and archiving.[4] The lifecycle processes, actions, content status, and content management roles may differ from model to model based on organizational strategies, needs, requirements, and capabilities.

Two stages

In 2003, McKeever[5] described "two iterative phases": "the collection of content, and the delivery or publishing of that content on the Web." She also explains a Web Content Management (WCM) "four layer hierarchy" (content, activity, outlet, and audience) intended to illustrate the breadth of WCM.

Three stages

Bob Boiko's Content Management Bible[6] emphasizes three major parts: collect (creation and editing is much more than simply collecting), manage (workflows, approvals, versioning, repository, etc.), and publish. These concepts are graphically displayed in a Content Management Possibilities poster[7] developed by Boiko. The poster details such content management concepts as metadata, syndication, workflows, repositories, and databases.

Gerry McGovern also sees three "processes," designating them creation, editing, and publishing.[8]

Four stages

JoAnn Hackos' Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery[9] argues for four "components": authoring, repository, assembly/linking, and publishing.

In Managing Enterprise Content,[10] Ann Rockley argues for the planning of content reuse through four stages: create, review, manage, deliver. A stage can have sub-stages; for example, the "create" stage has three sub-stages: planning, design, and authoring and revision. She notes that content is often created by individuals working in isolation inside an enterprise (the coined term is the Content Silo Trap). To counter this content silo effect, she recommends using a "unified content strategy," "a repeatable method of identifying all content requirements up front, creating consistently structured content for reuse, managing that content in a definitive source, and assembling content on demand to meet your customersí needs."[11]

Five stages

Nakano described five "collaboration operations": Submit, Compare, Update, Merge, and Publish.[12]

The State government of Victoria (Australia) produced a flowchart with a diagrammatic view of the web content lifecycle with five stages: Develop, Quality Approval, Publish, Unpublish, and Archive. Some of the stages include sub-stages (for example, Archive consists of Storage, Archived, and Disposed) intended to further delineate content status. In addition, this model depicts three aspectsóStatus, Process, and Rolesóas part of the flow for web content. The four roles in this model are content author, content quality manager, business quality manager, and records manager.[13]

The AIIM speaks of managing content to achieve business goals.[14] AIIM ECM 101 Poster from 2003, and the AIIM Solving the ECM Puzzle Poster from 2005, present the same five stages: Capture, Manage, Store, Deliver, Preserve.[15]

Six stages

The Content Management Lifecycle Poster[15] devised by CM Pros suggests six "steps":

  1. Plan
  2. Develop
  3. Manage
  4. Deploy
  5. Preserve
  6. Evaluate

Each step contains sub-steps. For example, step 1, Plan, consists of Align, Analyze, Model, and Design; and step 2, Develop, consists of Create, Capture, Collect, Categorize, and Edit.

There is also another six stage model based on the concept of product lifecycle:

  1. Goal setting
  2. Creation
  3. Publishing
  4. Promoting
  5. Maintaining
  6. Retirement

Seven stages

Bob Doyle[16] suggests seven stages of the Web content lifecycle:

  1. Organization
  2. Creation
  3. Storage
  4. Workflow
  5. Versioning
  6. Publishing
  7. Archives

Doyle argues for seven stages based on the psychologist George A. Miller's famed magical number "seven plus or minus two" limit on human information processing. He notes this is merely a suggestion and that one should "add or subtract a couple of your own favorites."

Governance rather than workflow

In a 2005 article, Woods[17] addressed governance of the content lifecycle. In his model, there are categories of issues to address, rather than a simple, cradle-to-grave pathway. He writes that most content governance questions fall into one of the following categories:

More recently, Kristina Halvorson has humorously suggested 15 discrete steps in the web content lifecycle: Audit, Analyze, Strategize, Categorize, Structure, Create, Revise, Revise, Revise, Approve, Tag, Format, Publish, Update, Archive.[18]

Role of technologies

Enterprise content management as a business strategy might incorporate web content management:

When integrated with an ECM system, WCM enables organizations to automate the complete Web content lifecycle. As soon as new content is developed, the system ensures that it goes live the moment it is intended toónot a minute earlier. By specifying timed releases and expiration dates, content is published to and removed from the Web according to recommendations, requirements and even regulations.

— Jenkins (2004)[2]

A web content management system can support and enhance certain processes because of automation, including document management, templates, and workflow management. However, the absence of well defined roles and process governance will greatly dilute the effectiveness of any technology intended to augment/enhance the publishing process overall.

Role of information management

Information management describes the "organization of and control over the structure, processing, and delivery of information."[19] The goal of information lifecycle management is to use policies, operations, and infrastructure to manage information throughout its useful life. However, businesses struggle to manage their data and information.[20][21][22]

The missing stage in all the major sources is the organization of information, structuring it where possible, for example using XML or RDF, which allows arbitrary metadata to be added to all information elements. This is the secret that the knowledge managers describe as turning mere data or information into knowledge. It allows information to be retrieved in a number of ways and reused or repurposed in many more.

— Doyle (2005)[16]

Using semantic markup in the publishing process is part of semantic publishing. Tim-Berners Lee's original vision for the Semantic Web has yet to be realized, but many projects in various research areas are underway.

See also


  1. ^ Berners-Lee, T.; Hendler, J. (2001). "Publishing on the semantic web". Nature. 410 (6832): 1023–4. doi:10.1038/35074206. PMID 11323639. S2CID 32243333.
  2. ^ a b Jenkins, Tom; Glazer, David; Schaper, Hartmut (2004). Enterprise Content Management Technology: What You Need to Know. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Open Text Corporation. p. 300. ISBN 0-9730662-5-3.
  3. ^ Berners-Lee, T.; Hendler, J. (2001). "Publishing on the semantic web". Nature. 410 (6832): 1023–4. doi:10.1038/35074206. PMID 11323639. S2CID 32243333.
  4. ^ Phillips, Lindsey (2018). The Life-cycle of a digital asset. Brandfolder.
  5. ^ McKeever, Susan (2003). "Understanding Web content management systems: evolution, lifecycle and market". Industrial Management & Data Systems. 103 (9). MCB UP Ltd: 686–692. doi:10.1108/02635570310506106. ISSN 0263-5577.
  6. ^ Boiko, Bob (2004). Content Management Bible (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 1176. ISBN 0-7645-7371-3.
  7. ^ "The Content Management Possibilities Poster". Metatorial Services, Inc. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  8. ^ McGovern, Gerry; Norton, Rob (2001). Content Critical. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press. p. 256. ISBN 0-273-65604-X.
  9. ^ Hackos, JoAnn (2002). Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 432. ISBN 0-471-08586-3.
  10. ^ Rockley, Ann (2002). Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy. Reading, Mass: New Riders Press. p. 592. ISBN 0-7357-1306-5.
  11. ^ "What is a Unified Content Strategy?". The Rockley Group. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  12. ^ Nakano, Russell (2002). Web content management: a collaborative approach. Boston: Addison Wesley Professional. pp. 222. ISBN 0-201-65782-1.
  13. ^ "Web Content Lifecycle". State Government, Victoria, Australia. November 2005. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  14. ^ "What is ECM?". AIIM. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  15. ^ a b "CM Lifecycle Poster". Content Management Professionals. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  16. ^ a b Bob Doyle (September 2005). "Seven Stages of the CM Lifecycle". Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  17. ^ Randy Woods (September 2005). "Defining a Model for Content Governance". Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  18. ^ Halvorson, Kristina (2009). Content Strategy for the Web. Reading, Mass: New Riders Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-321-62006-4.
  19. ^ "What is Information Management?". AIIM. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  20. ^ Aaron Zornes (May–June 2010). "10 Key Trends in MDM". Information Management. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  21. ^ Helen D'Antoni (August 1, 2001). "Companies Struggle With Data Classification". Information Week. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  22. ^ Ladley, John (2010). Making Enterprise Information Management (EIM) Work for Business: A Guide to Understanding Information as an Asset. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann. p. 552. ISBN 978-0-12-375695-4.

Further reading