Is Editing Your Own Website Everything It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Content ManagementContent Management Systems (CMSs for short) allow site owners to edit the content of their websites. Some CMS packages given more control over others. The extend of how much control one has in editing a CMS based site is, for the most part, based on the core functionality of the Content Management System in question.

Giving site owners the ability to create, edit and manage their own websites has several benefits. But, at the same time, having TOO many features can actually be a disadvantage to the client and ruin a well designed website.

Disadvantages of having TOO Much Control in Content Management Solutions

1): WYSIWYG Overload

“WYSIWYG” (or “What You See Is What You Get”) online editors (sometimes known as rich-text editors) that most CMS sites have. They allow website owners to create, edit and manage web pages without having to know or learn HTML coding. But is it such a great idea to allow one of your junior employee administrative access to edit your web site and perform such operations as centering text and changing that text to the color green let’s say? I would argue not.  For example, have you ever been to a site with blue underlined text that was not a clickable hyperlink? I sure have (not any websites we have designed, however). This probably happened because these sites had default WYSIWYG editors, which general come with everything but the kitchen sink.

The truth is, one of the first things most clients ask us is if we can actually LIMIT how much their in-house administrative staff can use the formatting features of a CMS site to avoid design inconsistencies.

We normally suggest and configure any CMS websites we design to be limited to these standard editing features:

Text Formatting:

  • Heading 1
  • Heading 2
  • Heading 3
  • Blockquote
  • Ordered / Unordered lists
  • Italics
  • Bold

Web Content Elements:

  • Links
  • File Upload/
  • Images
  • Tables

We normally get rid of and direct our CMS clients NOT to use:

  • Underlining (because the best web design practice is to use underlines only for hyperlinks)
  • Direct font controls (such being able to change the color)

A rich-text of WYSIWYG editor with too many options and features can overwhelm a notice website administrator and can run the risk of having your once nicely design website look like the MySpace page of a twelve year old (remember MySpace?)

By actually limiting the CMS’s editor, site administrators can have a less difficult time creating and editing content on their site.

2) Trying to Edit HTML

A person with a level desire and time learn can edit HTML directly. That is also true about anything, I suppose. Just as television manufacturers don’t expect you to understand every internal functioning aspect of a TV in order to be able to watch it, you should not expect your staff or yourself to know HTML programming to be able to run your site.

We try to train our clients and their staff with HTML and CSS so that they may be fully empowered to make changes to their own websites with third party software you can buy for your computer such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Adobe Contribute. Usually within a year or so, the client was so tired of it and spent so much time doing it when they could have been working on other projects or tasks for their company, they had us take back control of their sites and maintain it for them, more often than not.

3) The Term “Expert”

I read a recent posting that mentioned several studies which have shown in order to be considered an “expert” at something, you need to have at least 9,000 to 10,000 HOURS of experience in that field or activity. This is usually true for such tasks as chess, music, business in general, and I will go out on a limb here and say web development as well.

Both of the principals at Bower Web Solutions have been in the web design business for over 12 years at this point. And even though we are considered “experts” in the filed of web design, not even we have the answers to everything (although we will always know where to look for the answer in question). As a new web design administrator, you may only have a few hours of experience in web design and web coding. This is not a criticism, I am just merely light the reality of the situation.

If you feel you do not have enough experience to be an expert at usability and web design or are just uncomfortable with the whole process or simply don’t have the time, just let us know. We are always available to take over any webmaster site maintenance updates you may have.

Most of today’s content management systems will have more features than you will every really need. Our goal at Bower Web Solutions is to educate our clients to find the best solution for them to keep their sites current.