Post-CMS training

Posted: March 15, 2007 by cuhl

All good developers using the CMSMS know how flexible it is and easy it is to develop a good website with solid design and good functionality. One caveat of the dilligent work we put into making websites is that 9 times out of 10 the client wants to take a stab at making the changes themselves. This is a major selling point for people, many of then used to phoning up a web company, only to request a few changes, wait forever for the work to be done to the right standard, meanwhile their own deadlines are shifting and bosses giving hassle wanting to know what is going on. Eventually when an invoice comes in the door in exchange for the hassle, they will only jump at the chance to take this painstaiking process out of their work day.

The important part to know about developing a site with the CMSMS is that the site isn't done on launch day. The training element is crucial to the successful website. Many days spent on validation and good code can be wrecked by someone in the client's company copy and pasting from Front Page, or Word, or some other horror that has been imposed on us all. This can invalidate the good put into the site and in the end affects your own reputation as a developer.

It is a good idea to think of the CMSMS not from your own familiar point of view of it, but from the client's noobie look at the back-end. Simple things like restricting their access to the really important (and dangerous) items such as custom content blocks, templates, stylesheets, php code etc can save alot of grief and questions in the long run. The more comfortable a client is with non-technical areas of the site and the less bewildered they are at the total package, the more eager they will be to make an effort at making changes without worrying about 'breaking' something.

Compliant standard editors (we use x-standard as a default) are helpful to clean up bad code inserted from the above mentioned offenders of bad code. But added to this, a small user manual is often helpful. Take the main important sections of the site that a client will be using and put the process clearly down on paper. Numbered lists of what to do in a step-by-step basis, along with screenshots helps guide them through editing or adding pages and images. This gets rid of the fear factor often seen by clients facing an imposing admin panel.

Taking the time go sit with them and go over the manual helps build your relationship with the client, adds to their own assurances that they will not 'break' the site and incur the wrath of their respective bosses, and lets them know they haven't been left on their own to fend for themselves. In our own experience as much as a client wants to 'do it all all by themselves', when the time comes to make the leap, they tend to hesitate on actually pushing the 'submit' button. A little hand-holding in the way of training goes a long long way to the future success of the website.

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