There’s a really good article over at Smashing Magazine about how the balance of control needs to be spread between client and designer, outlining many of the design issues created by giving non-designers too much control. The argument is pretty neatly summed up by the following diagram:
We have seen this first hand on many occasions, where clients come to us with websites that use unwieldy content management systems (CMSs) and need help to get things under control. More often than not, these websites are set up with good intentions, theoretically allowing the client to maintain their own website and add new features themselves without having to pay a developer or designer to do the work for them. However, in practice, most clients don’t want to have to learn about shortcodes, columns, HTML or PHP code snippets.
At Modus Digital, we understand this issue, and there is always a drop-off in usability as CMSs and web tools approach high levels of complexity. However, with clever planning and development, we see it as our challenge to stretch the graph as far as possible and give clients the highest levels of control while minimising the usability compromise. One way we do this is to sit down with a client and work out exactly what they will need to change, down to the individual element. We can then focus on these key areas without worrying about areas of the website that will never be updated. We also work out how the client will be supplying new content to the website – whether it is videos, text or images etc. We decide the best resolutions and aspect ratios, and then fix the content so that it is either cropped or resized automatically – meaning that clients no longer have to worry about using expensive or complex photo/video editing software to prepare their content before uploading it.
We also use some very clever PHP tricks to split out the editable content into different sections within the website’s admin area. One of the biggest complaints we get from new clients is that they are simply overwhelmed by the editing functions of their website admin area. By splitting apart these functions, the whole process is made much simpler and more intuitive, while maintaining the level of control that the client has.
If you are struggling to get to grips with your website’s CMS you are definitely not alone. There are lots of ways that any good developer will be able to help you simplify the updating process, but if you want specialist help and a free quotation, give us a call or drop up an email to see how we can help you.