When it comes to building a website, the front-end gets all of the glory. However, I find it just as exciting to build out the admin area.
When we build a site, we do our best to make sure that all site elements are editable via the CMS admin (no coding required). This ensures that client won’t need to contact us every time they want an image replaced, copy updated, or new content added.
Looking at WordPress as an example, below are several methods we can utilize to make content entry and updates as easy and appealing as possible.
Our goal is to empower our clients, giving them the ability to easily make updates themselves.
For security reasons, the admin area should have a unique URL (not the typical /wp-admin) – this will make brute force attack on the admin area less likely.
In addition to the custom URL, replace the default WordPress logo with your client’s logo.
Use custom CSS styles where applicable, you might consider styling the interface to match the brand colors of your client. One particularly helpful tip that has been used is to style the custom field headers and sections using a different color than the other standard sections. This helps the custom fields stand out separately from the default WordPress fields.
Advanced Custom Fields
Creating custom fields has never been easier with this plugin. Utilize the targeting rules to display custom fields in only relevant areas. For example, if there is a slideshow that is only used on the homepage – make sure to set the field visibility to the homepage only, so the fields don’t clutter up other pages or post types on your site.
Another great feature that Advanced Custom Fields offers is for an Options Panel, with the Pro version of the plugin you are able to create unlimited amount of panels for different scenarios. A common scenario that I find this useful for is social links that get displayed in the header or footer. Combine this with a repeater field, and FontAwesome field – and the client will have the ability to add to or edit their social links and icons at any time.
The page builder plugin essentially replaces the standard WYSWIYG editor, and allows a drag and drop type interface for the client to add different types of individual content modules to a page. These content modules range from galleries and accordions, to standard text editors.
The plugin also has the ability to save out pre-defined templates, or pages, in addition to the individual modules.
During the site build, we are simultaneously working on training materials to help educate the client on content entry. We conduct training sessions prior to site launch if the client is going to be assisting in content entry. Otherwise, we will walk them through everything once the site has launched.
Either way, we want to make training materials easily accessible to the client so we build them in Google Docs (giving us the ability to update it as needed, and they will have access to the latest version at all times). We utilize a dashboard widget that is visible at specified user levels, this dashboard widget contains links to the training materials for quick access.
Another great area to feature training materials is by using the contextual help menus within the admin area. These menus are specific to the type of content being edited at that time (blog posts would contain training materials specific to the blog, for a resource center, there would be specific training materials for resources).
Recently we’ve added screencasts to our training materials. The screencasts provide a visual training guide for clients who are less likely to read every step-by-step instruction listed in the training manual.
In the end, our clients are better educated about their own website (and WordPress in general) – allowing them to make updates with ease.