HomeBlogCMS and Finding The Balance

Can I Edit My Website, Please?

Published August 27, 2009

Many clients over the years have asked me to build them powerful CMS solutions (Content Management Solutions). This would include a way for any non technical person to control the content on their website. Of course this functionality is addictive like a drug they taste it they want more. Can you give us a way to make it bold, italic they ask? Of course I say. I add an HTML editor to their admin section. The next day they ask to be able to change the fonts add pictures insert hyper links. For someone who knows HTML this is no big deal but try to give functionality to someone who barely knows what a web browser is and the problems are just beginning.

Let’s list some of the issues that arise:

1. The content starts looking ridiculous. Every other word is bolded. The text looks like a rainbow.

2. The pictures they enter are never cropped properly

3. Some of the text is so large it starts forcing other elements of the page to get pushed over or down and now the entire page is messed up

4. Pasting an HTML document created with Microsoft Word (Nuf said).

5. The text looks nothing like what you had designed because the user changed the font.

These are just some of the typical issues I face every time a client wants a CMS and we implement it.

So how do we find that balance?

We need to know who the client is and make sure there is an understanding that "With Power Comes Responsibility". I try to explain to them that the HMTL editor is not easy to use. It’s like trying to format a word document. It takes time and or knowledge to get it look 100% the way you want it to look, it’s not magic. I tell them to make changes on a test server first so that they don’t have an emergency at 12:00AM when they just messed up their homepage (although they usually claim we just change the spelling of one word). I try to give them only the options to generate a minimal amount of HTML only things they must have. As they get more experienced I add options slowly. If they have any issues they should contact me and let me know what they are trying to do...And when all else fails I just strip out their HTML and they usually don't notice (Joking on this last one but sometimes I wish I wasn't).

And that is what its all about finding that balance of giving a user enough power to accomplish what he wants to do but still keep control so that he does not break his website while I am trying to catch some ZZZ's

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Joseph Cohn has been helping companies across many industries find high tech web and mobile solutions to the wide variety of challenges facing them. He has a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Science from Touro College in NYC and currently resides in the remote hills of Rockland County with his precious family.

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