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The importance the DXP and CMS admin and editor experience

  • By 3chillies

Why the CMS admin and editor experience is critical

When there is a a digital project such as a new website or an app, the focus will be on the quality of the final experience that is delivered for customers, and the positive impact that this should then have on lead generation, visits, sales and more. With the eyes on this prize, sometimes it is easy to forget other groups whose experience also needs to be taken into account.

In many respects the user experience of the internal administrators, publishers and content editors who work with a digital experience platform (DXP) or content management system (CMS) is just as important as that of site visitors. The delivery of a successful customer experience is wholly dependent on the people who update the site and manage its content, but the ease of use of a DXP or CMS is sometimes overlooked. A system that is very hard to use can negatively impact the quality of a website, as well as be very inefficient.

In this post we’re going to explore why the admin and publisher experience is so important and some of the ways in which you can ensure it does not get overlooked in your digital project.

Why is the admin and publisher experience critical?

The admin and publisher experience on your DXP or CMS is critical for a number of reasons.

  • Leads to a more sustainable approach to the platform
  • A DXP or CMS is a major investment that delivers your digital footprint and should last several years, so you want to get the best out of it. But if that platform is hard to use, it will be far less sustainable. Marketing teams will need to lean on external digital agencies to get by, recruit from a smaller talent pool with specific CMS experience, and may even fall out of love with the platform. Your DXP or CMS will be simply less sustainable and is far more likely to be replaced early.

  • Reduces issues and errors
  • There’s nothing more frustrating than a CMS or DXP that continually has bugs and issues that are impossible to fix without the support of your digital agency. A platform that is complex and hard to use is more likely to keep on producing issues either due to user error, or because it is harder for the marketing team to diagnose what the problem is and then take corrective action.

  • Encourages more sophisticated use of the platform
  • When your admins and content publishers find your DXP or CMS easy to use, they are bound to be more engaged with it, and more likely to want to explore other features and uses. This can help teams to explore more sophisticated uses such as personalisation and marketing automation, which sometimes get overlooked despite best intentions. A marketing team that finds a platform difficult to use will disengage with using the platform, and may even limit their use to basic CMS functions. They will be far less confident in exploring more sophisticated features.

  • Supports a devolved publishing model
  • Many websites have content which is contributed by a wider group of authors or publishers outside the core digital marketing team. For example, these might be a group of bloggers or people who contribute more technical content. Generally, it is more efficient if a CMS or DXP can support a devolved publishing model where authors or publishers can enter their content directly into the platform, which might then go some approval proves before going live. If this isn’t in place, the marketing team may end up having to load all the content themselves into the CMS, which is not an efficient use of time.

    But a devolved publishing model is only possible with a CMS that is intuitive and effortless. Publishers all have day jobs and don’t have the time or inclination to engage with a CMS that is hard to use. At the same time, core marketing teams don’t have the time to do lots of hand holding or fix errors, but with a difficult-to-use CMS they may find it is preferable to enter all the content centrally rather than support publishers.

  • Supports better agency-client relationships
  • Marketing teams want to be self-sufficient and manage their content and platform. They want to use their digital agency for value-add activities rather than continual bug fixes or basic advice. An easy-to-use DXP or CMS will definitely support better working relationships between an agency and client.

How to ensure a better experience for admins and publishers

There are several ways to ensure that the admin and editor experience does not get overlooked in any website or digital project.

  • Choosing the right platform
  • Some DXPs and CMSs are easier to use than others, either because the interfaces have been designed with that in mind, or the feature and functionality is more limited or streamlined. The ease of use should always be considered in selecting the right platform for an organisation or even for a particular project. For example, we sometimes suggest using Umbraco, not only because it’s a highly flexible and open-source platform, but it’s also because its really easy to use for marketing teams and publishers.

  • Focusing on easier editing experiences
  • Even more complex platforms such as Sitecore have simpler editing experiences, which can help to make using the platform easier. Often these will involve directly editing on a page to see all the different elements as they appear to visitors. Focusing on these in-page editing experiences – particularly in any ongoing training and support for publishers – can make a significant difference for less confident users.

  • Don’t expose too much of the back end to content publishers
  • Some DXPs allow you to configure which backend features in the CMS and associated marketing tools can be used or viewed by different groups. If you are working with a wider set of publishers who only need to be focused on updating their content, then using permissions to limit their exposure to backend features they don’t need to use, can make their experience of using a feature-rich DXP such as Sitecore that much easier.

  • If it works well offline, keep it offline
  • If it’s possible for your CMS to support a devolved publishing model, then this is great. But before you bring some of those “offline” processes into your CMS, it’s worth checking if there is genuine value in setting it up. If processes around drafting, reviewing and approving content involving authors and content owners work well outside the CMS you may be about to create an unnecessarily complicated experience for some people who are less confident using a CMS. Sometimes if something works well offline, keep it offline.

    Often a balance can be reached; it might be that the authoring of the content and its approval takes place offline, but then a trained local content administrator in a particular department then adds the content into the CMS.

  • Adding hints and tips
  • When we’re coding within a DXP or CMS sometimes we will build in specific hints, tips and reminders for admins and editors, particularly if there are things they need to remember that might impact design or performance. For example, perhaps there is a component or widget which spotlights content but is only designed to include four items. We might leave a tip in the editing interface such as “Don’t add more than four items here”, add a warning if more than four items are added, or simply not allow more than four items to be added. The specific approach may differ depending on platform, team and what needs to be conveyed, but the point is we code with our admins and editors in mind.

  • Ensuring the impact on the editor and admin experience is part of any acceptance criteria
  • There are also ways to ensure the editor and admin experience is always a point of focus through any project. One of these is to involve admins and editors in requirements gathering, prototyping, reviewing output, and testing and taking into account their feedback about how ease of use. More specifically, you can also ensure the editor and administrator experience is part of the Acceptance Criteria, for example specifically noting there are no additional steps required of editors or avoiding exposing any of the backend to content owners.

  • Providing ongoing training and support
  • Sometimes encouraging the better use of a platform is also about ensuring there is a good training and support for the marketing team and for publishers. Keeping on revisiting this will help make a CMS more sustainable.

Never forget your admins and publishers

A website or digital product needs to deliver an excellent experience for customers, but also for your administrators and publishers. If you’d like to discuss how to improve the admin or publisher experience on your DXP or CMS, then get in touch!

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