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The Side Dish

How to Make an Editable Website

Nathan Atkinson, Software Engineer / 12.15.2017

One of the biggest reasons clients come to BIG YAM for websites is because we can deliver a site that not only perfectly matches their brand, but we also can provide them with a website they can update on their own. This is done via a Content Management System (CMS).

Empowering Our Clients

A CMS simplifies updating websites so that those without coding experience can make changes. The trick is that not every CMS perfectly matches a client’s use case right out of the box, and we almost always add custom functionality.

It’s incredibly important to us that even with these customizations, a client can still update their website after launch. This is done by keeping the end user in mind and reducing the increased complexity by adding features. When done right, these additional features don’t have to come with a price tag of confusion.

In addition to simplifying website customization, we help our clients learn how to update their own site with CMS training meetings. Once a site is complete and live, we meet with the client to go over how their site works. By the end of the meeting, our goal is for the client to be comfortable with updating their website.

These CMS training meetings go over a variety of topics but are mostly split up into two categories:

  1. What can be updated
  2. What shouldn’t be changed

Read on for a breakdown of the discussions within each category.

How to make an editable website

A CMS integration enables you to create an easily editable website.

What Can Be Updated

I like to start these training meetings by understanding the technical level of the group. By knowing what they’re familiar with, I can compare the functionality we’re providing with what they already know how to use. This helps trainees understand things quicker and helps avoid boring them by covering things they already know.

Here are some common items we address in these meetings:

  • How to update posts, navigation menus, pages, images and files on the site
  • Image sizes and what pages they are used on
  • A side-by-side comparison of pages and how things are updated in the CMS

Sometimes, the client even has a change they’d like to make then and there, so we walk through that together. Oftentimes in these meetings, there are items that may be a bit trickier to update, like something that is used across multiple pages. Plenty of time is taken to explain these items, showing where the copy and/or images are used on the site.

Once a couple pages have been reviewed, connections between additional pages are shown, describing their similarities and differences. These extra connections help the client better understand their website more holistically and how to do these updates over the long term.

What Shouldn’t Be Changed

To help simplify things, a list of items that shouldn’t be changed is also provided. There are many reasons certain items should not be changed, but the most common example is a setting shouldn’t be changed without a supplemental change in code.

At first glance, it may seem silly to spend time on what a client shouldn’t manage. However, there are some distinct advantages to doing so:

  • It simplifies the list of to-do items for the client to manage
  • Clients are much more comfortable in making updates because it’s clear what should be avoided and the fear of making costly mistakes is drastically reduced

The last thing I always do at these meetings is let the client know that we’re available to answer any questions they have, either in the moment or down the road. There’s always a question that comes up later, no matter how simplified and extensive the customized training. It may be a year from now before an update is needed and a lot can be forgotten between now and then. We also post regular blogs that empower our clients to maintain their own website, such as https://bigyam.com/blog/maintaining-content-wordpress/

Having trouble making an editable website (or just want a new one)? Our full-service digital team is ready to help!