A big part of what web designers do is to implement creative solutions. And one area that requires a lot of attention is making things easier for clients to manage. This often comes with the use and customization of a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress.
But autonomous websites are not yet a thing. So, no matter how much customization we’ve done, clients will still have to do some things for themselves.
Therefore, they must have a working knowledge of some relevant skills. They may not be fully aware of what is involved. Therefore, it is essential to communicate this information.
With that in mind, here are five such web-related skills that clients will need to get the most out of their website.
Basic Image Editing
Modern websites can be very media intensive. We often include features like hero fields and slideshows that act as a display of images.
They may require images to be sized to some specifications that we have set during the design process. And there’s a chance that normal stock photos will need to be cropped to fit. If your client is the one updating these elements, they will know how to achieve this.
For some people, image editing can be intimidating. Therefore, it is better to advise them based on need. That means we don’t need to direct them to complicated or expensive tools. Photoshop and GIMP are great but may be too bad for someone who just wants a quick way to crop a photo.
Instead, it may be more appropriate to recommend simple tools – even online image editors. They will help your client do what they need without overwhelming them.
Here’s a story for you. Let’s say you’ve built a beautiful, perfectly organized website for your client. You train them and you’re on your way. Six months later, they want to add a feature. So, you log in, and… the content structure is a mess.
You might think this is how your client wanted to “organize” things – so be it. What is the harm? Well, this can turn into a nightmare in a relatively short period of time.
For this reason, when there is no clear hierarchy on the pages or when different types of content are mixed and matched, it becomes difficult to find items when you need to make changes. This also results in scattered URL and navigation structures.
It is important to mention the concepts of keeping content organized. This is particularly useful within a CMS, where different job types may have a specific purpose. There’s no guarantee they’ll listen, but any effort towards a well-organized website is worth it.
Accessibility and SEO Best Practices
Although these two subjects seem to be separate entities, they have one very important thing in common: Both subjects require a focus on the end user.
Here, it’s about doing things that not only satisfy the boss but are in the best interests of the people who visit their website. Accessibility and SEO are excellent examples.
This includes ensuring that everyone can access the content effectively. Of course, it’s our job to build sites with accessibility in mind. Still, clients can help the cause by using descriptive ALT text on images and, where applicable, choosing colors that provide an acceptable level of contrast.
When it comes to SEO, this is an area where clients can get confused about who they are writing for. Sometimes they worry about pleasing an algorithm or an automated content analysis tool, rather than real people.
In both cases, it is important to know the best practices and how they can be integrated into the client’s workflow.
Simple Security Measures
We can’t expect our clients to be complete security experts (web designers aren’t usually in that group, either). Still, some basic skills in this area can go a long way.
Concepts like using strong passwords and giving colleagues only the amount of access they need help create a more secure website. Furthermore, recognizing the risks associated with installing plugins or granting access to third-party services helps develop a healthy sense of cynicism – which can help with security.
Again, the heavy lifting should fall on us. But things tend to work best when everyone is on the same page.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked skills for clients to manage their website is understanding their limitations. This is crucial, as an adventurous (not to mention careless) soul can damage a website.
Now, this does not give us license to lecture them on good behavior (good luck getting paid later). Must be approached sensitively.
For example, you might mention that certain functionality is very sensitive and can be broken. And let them know they are welcome to contact you if they are not sure how to do something.
Many problems can be avoided by knowing that you are a resource to go on. Also, it’s best not to give them access to anything remotely breakable, whenever possible. That said, it’s always a good idea to take a cautious approach.
Helping Clients Help Themselves
It’s a safe bet that most of us don’t have the time to impart all our wisdom to clients. Still, we can at least make them aware of the skills they will need to better manage their website.
If you conduct training sessions, this would be a great time to bring up some of the principles mentioned above. In addition, you can share resources that they can use to learn on their own.
The goal is to help clients better understand this incredible new website you’ve built for them. Afterwards, they can use what they have learned to achieve their goals more effectively.