Most web development agencies take on projects with the front end of a website as their primary focus. Though the front end is important, developers often overlook the importance of creating a user-friendly back end. When developers create CMSes for their clients it's common for them to build an interface that might make sense from a coder’s perspective, but that's too complicated and technical for the everyday user. Vector understands how detrimental creating CMSes that are not user-friendly can be. We focus on crafting CMSes that offer a seamless experience for authors and that don’t interrupt user workflow. Internally, we call this “Author Experience” (AX). We use strategies that help us ensure the CMSes we build are easy to use and understand.
For the authors who use CMSes to upload content, interacting with the CMS is a huge part of their day-to-day lives. If this interaction is frustrating, too complex, or wastes time, users become dissatisfied and can even begin to view their work negatively. Creating CMSes that allow authors to do their job efficiently is an integral and important part of the job of the developer.
Designing an easy-to-use CMS is a process that's essential to start at the very beginning of a development project. We work with clients to understand who will be using their CMS and what they will be using it for, and we solicit their input and advice to ensure the end result meets their needs. Eventually, the CMS we create will become the client’s, so we allow them to help create their own experience. By working with clients during the development process we stop problems before they start. Solving CMS usability issues during the development process is much easier than solving them once the project has been completed, when fixing them would become expensive, time consuming, and inefficient.
Another tool we use when building effective CMSes is Parse.ly, which allows authors to see their readers in real time. We know authors want access to audience data, and Parse.ly’s efficient API allows us to integrate that data in way that provides a great author experience.
Our focus on creating CMSes that authors, editors, and administrators will easily understand and actually enjoy using can be seen in all of our work with our clients. Our work with Associated Press was an example of how our attention to who would be using their CMS shaped how the interface we created functioned. AP's a large client with multiple sites and numerous users, so any inefficiencies would cause tremendous frustration and waste many people's time.
The most important thing to keep in mind when creating CMSes that are optimized for user experience is to focus on the human element. CMSes should include instructions that are descriptive, clear, and written in an accessible way. It’s easy for developers to write code in a way that’s practical for coders but not for users, and then try to train users around it. In the long run however, it's not efficient to take the easy way out. It's more important to try to eliminate the frustration and dissatisfaction that stems from creating a system that's tedious to learn and difficult to figure out. We know from experience: the way the dashboard looks and functions is just as important as the code behind it!
(Want our help creating a usable and efficient CMS for you or your company? Click here to contact us today!)