A Content Management System (or CMS) is essentially built for consuming content, either by customers and external stakeholders (websites) or employees and internal stakeholders (intranet). When content consumption is the primary goal, user interface of the system becomes even more important. A poor or confusing interface may result in miscommunication resulting in serious setbacks for any organization.
Here are 10 CMS user experience and usability tips for creating better websites.
1. If Not Sure Then Don’t Go For It
If you are not sure if the CMS you intend to use has the right UI interface, then it would be a good idea to go with some other CMS. There are hundreds of CMS products available in the market and all have their own strengths and weakness. If you are going with an open source CMS, then you need to be willing to make your own customizations to make it suitable for you as most open source CMS don’t have optimum user experience out-of-the-box.
2. Safeguard Users From The Intricacy
Your CMS may be advanced and robust, but users don’t care. Don’t expose your users to the inner workings of the system. Make their journey on your website as smooth as possible with minimum complications. For instance, a problem in majority of CMS products is “hub and spoke” or “pogo sticking” where end users are asked to go back and forth between various parts of the system to complete their tasks. This happens with some degree of “duplication” or “double handling”.
3. Speak Users’ Language
You must keep your communication clear using terminology that users will understand. User research would help find out the language, content tone and vocabulary that you should use for optimum results.
4. Know Your Users
Who are the end users of your CMS website? Know them well. They might not be techies or developers or administrators. The end users can be sales people, editors, writers, producers or product managers. You can do some research and find out how and why your users are using your website and accordingly structure the user experience.
5. Don’t Forget Its Purpose
CMS is made up of three terms. Don’t get trapped in the glory of the system and overlook its real purpose, which is to manage content. You should keep in mind everything from designing to the development of the system. You should also focus on the technical aspects of CMS.
6. Do A Few Things Really Well
Knowing your users includes some kind of task evaluation. Look for the most significant tasks that your users perform. Focus and prioritize tasks and perform them well. Have a tailor made interface, automate certain tasks to simplify processes. For a content heavy website, the focal point of the user interface will be quality content. So more than anything else, focus on making the content good enough for users.
7. Customize To Meet Specific Business Needs
Tailoring your CMS as per your needs may also mean using consistent visual design and branding. CMS customization should include removing unnecessary elements, creating simple interface and speaking the language of your customers. For example, if the particular purpose of CMS is for an intranet then the user interface must be customized to serve the needs of the intranet. You should avail of competent CMS customization services to ensure the customizations are done as per global coding standards.
8. Use Natural Mappings If Needed
Adding natural mapping is possible in the case of a CMS. For example when you deal with images on your website show natural mappings. It could be thumbnails on the search or listing pages and bigger versions when you view the individual properties. It becomes easy to identify content with the help of visual attributes.
9. Be Consistent
User Interface must be consistent when it comes to pages, components and screens. It includes navigation, forms, controls, text styling, buttons, form layouts, terminologies and feedback mechanisms. This is the case if particular parts are customized; those are normally different in look and feel.
10. Stick To Traditional Conventions
CMS should not only be consistent within itself, it should also include what users expect from other similar systems. For instance, if content management system is a web app, standard website conventions apply. Like for placement of search box, use form controls such as drop downs and single click links.