Making The Best Out of Your CMS

A Well-Designed CMS: A Love Letter To Our Clients

Taylor Horak

It’s no secret, we love our clients. And, like in most relationships, just saying we love them isn’t enough – we like to show our clients how we love them. We do this in countless expected ways, including clear communication, well-organized functional spec docs, and well-designed deliverables, just to name a few. However, one way we show our clients we love them (that may not be as expected) is with a well-designed user interface for their content management system (CMS). We would even go as far to say that the CMS is a love letter to our clients, as giving them a flexible, scalable, and easy-to-use tool gets our hearts all aflutter. It’s our way of saying, “We get you.”

Here’s an example to show you what we mean. Think about a conversation. It can be any conversation, with a team member or family member – you pick. When both parties are engaged, the conversation moves forward effortlessly. But we all know smooth, engaging conversations don’t just happen. Conversations require work and for both parties to be engaged in the outcome. A well-designed CMS is no different. It requires us to think beyond the page and the basic functionality. For us, a well-designed back-end user interface for CMS users should be an effortless conversation between the user and the CMS tool. When a CMS is well designed, not only does it give marketing the unbound freedom to manage content and presentation across the entire web experience, it is adaptable and versatile enough to drive the user’s experience and build upon it for years to come.

So, what does it take to create a CMS that gives all of this freedom and flexibility? Let us count the ways in which we love thee, as we’ve pulled together eight great examples of the Authentic thinking that goes into every CMS we design.

Well-thought-out CMS design means that content is separated from presentation – opening the possibility for endless design innovation and variation as well as dynamic storytelling and richer content creation for rebrands, full site redesigns, etc.

A thoughtfully designed CMS is tailored to the client’s editorial process needs, and it enables greater efficiency and quicker turnaround times. Governance models, for example, can be better managed and more effective.

An adaptable CMS means marketers are less reliant on IT for content creation. This has huge impacts on timelines, effectiveness, and flexibility for content presentation. If updates do have to be made, it will usually be on the front-end to support new presentation, rather than the heavier lift of back-end development.

Properly structured content within a CMS supports the creation of distinct user journeys because that content can be pulled from anywhere. So a user’s experiences are richer and easier to create. When content is structured, and thought of more as data, it can be categorized and interrelated more easily.

Structured Content means content is omni-channel ready, for desktop, mobile, apps, tablets – even devices we haven’t thought of yet. Because it is separated from specific presentation, it can assume any form required by users accessing the site.

Structured Content plays well with Google and its robots – it’s findable, meets Google’s content standards, and enables Google to pull content from all over the internet for search results pages.

Well-structured content scales. It supports the creation of even more content without having to create multiple versions of the same content. And because it is structured, presentations can pull in the elements that they need.

A well-designed CMS becomes a great legacy system to work with in the future. Clients will inevitably redesign their sites – new copy, rebranding, etc. If we take the time to create a thoughtful CMS design during the initial implementation, we are making the one static part of their site as flexible as it can be and giving them content structures that are as future-proofed as possible.

These thoughts and our approach to designing a CMS is always applied with our clients’ needs (both stated and unstated) in mind. Our goal is to create a system that’s easy to use, easy to train, and accepts changes and redesigns without running up costs. The result is a simple-to-use, efficient CMS that’s sophisticated enough to change with the times.

We’ve got more love to share. Stay tuned for upcoming posts in this series where we’ll share how we approach back-end user experience (UX) for CMS systems, including client examples you won’t want to miss.


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