Keeping Barriers Low for Clients Updating Their Websites

The ability for clients to update their websites has become a common project requirement. Thanks to content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, this functionality is now well within reach. In its most basic form, a user just needs an account and a web browser to get started.

But while the technology is in place, a streamlined experience for clients is not guaranteed. Depending on the types of content they need to add or edit, the process can become overwhelming. The result could be anything from a broken layout to desperate calls (or emails) for help.

Therefore, web designers must carefully consider how we implement certain features. Building a UI is one thing that a seasoned developer can manage. Another thing that is easy for a non-coder to work with is to do something else.

The answer is to make things as simple and intuitive as possible. Here are some things to keep in mind when setting your clients up for content management success.

Think About What Could Go Wrong

A little planning now can save a lot of pain in the future. Especially when it comes to the parts of a website that will be maintained by your client.

A lot can change between the time a website is launched and when a client needs to make a change. Needs may have evolved. And clients may not be aware of the limitations of what you have built.

That’s why it’s important to think ahead. You should not only think about the expected use of a feature, but also how it will respond to the unexpected.

Consider a field containing text. What if your client decides to add an image to the mix? How will that affect the integrity of the layout? Will it continue to work across mobile and desktop devices?

While you may not be able to prepare for every situation, you can build a great deal of resilience into site design. This will keep things looking good – even when there is a rogue client with content. Plus, your clients won’t have to face the trauma of a broken website.

Don’t Assume Clients Are Tech Savvy

In situations where you are implementing a UI, simple is always better. And it’s crucial to remember your intended audience.

Sometimes, it is difficult to put ourselves in the user’s shoes. Not everyone lives and breathes code or high-tech tools. So don’t make assumptions about how thoughtful the person using your creation is. If anything, start from ground zero.

Language is a great example. Use terminology that anyone can understand. Avoid buzzwords and complicated explanations. Instead, choose content that is short, concise, and easy to read.

Visual indicators can also be helpful. The use of icons, animations and quick tutorial videos create a more intuitive onboarding experience. And they can also act as a handy reference if a client isn’t sure how to do a task.

By designing the simplest UI possible, you’ll empower clients while saving future support requests.

The use of icons and visual aids can help guide users.

Take Complex Processes Out of User’s Hands

The more tasks we ask a user to complete, the more opportunities there are to make mistakes. This rule of thumb applies as much to the back as it does to the front.

For example, consider a feature that allows your client to swap an image. That image may need to be cropped to a specific size to keep the layout intact. Or it may need to be in a specific format to maintain a transparent background.

That’s fine – as long as the client is proficient in using a photo editor such as Photoshop. And they must also remember to crop and save the image to meet the needs of the website.

Still, there’s always a chance they’ll forget one or more of these steps. It is also possible that a new team member is not aware of the process you have put in place. This may lead to undesirable results.

This kind of situation could be avoided by using some tools. In the case of WordPress, the software is able to automatically crop an uploaded image to a predetermined size. And using a plugin like Advanced Custom Fields allows us to limit the types of files that are uploaded to a particular feature.

By automating these processes, we are removing multiple layers of complexity. Therefore, our client will not have to remember these steps. Instead, they are taken care of in the background. And if the client makes a mistake, we can put in a failsafe to check and remind them what needs to be done.

Build features that require fewer steps.

If a Task Is Too Complex, Tell Your Client

Despite our best efforts, some tasks may require a high level of technical knowledge. This could be a difficult design feature insisted on by your client or a bit of custom code that powers a critical function.

This introduces some additional risks in terms of maintenance. As we noted above, multistep processes leave more room for user error. With anything left out in the open it’s fair to break.

Rather than leaving a gaping hole in your client-proofing efforts, discuss the situation with your client. Explain the risks involved and offer ways to avoid problems. And if a feature is too difficult, it might be best left in your capable hands.

No matter how you manage the task, open dialogue is the best place to start. When clients understand the limitations, they are more likely to help you find the best solution.

Discuss potentially difficult tasks with your client and create a plan.

Show Clients the Best Side of Technology

There are many reasons why a client would want to manage their website updates. And web designers have different ways to provide the necessary functionality. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

The challenge is to make the process accessible to all users with basic skills. That means building intuitive features that can withstand unexpected use. Users can greatly benefit from automating complex tasks whenever possible. And if a task can’t be simplified, it might be worth managing yourself.

It all starts with creating a plan. Think about how things should work and what could go wrong. Communicate with your clients and help them establish a workflow that eases their burden.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. But the ultimate goal is to help clients help themselves. When they can do their job efficiently and without problems, everyone benefits – including you!

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By LocalBizWebsiteDesign

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