Several years ago, usability testing on the web was a bit of a myth. Few people had heard of it and only web giants like Amazon or Ebay could afford the time or resources to invest in carrying it out properly. Fast forward 10 years and the practice, now commonly known as user experience (or UX), is a huge industry worth millions worldwide.
A large part of the growth of the industry is no doubt attributable to the wider availability of affordable tools, particularly Google Analytics which makes it cheap and simple for owners of even the smallest of sites to analyse the behaviours of their visitors. However, with all of the money that goes into researching and improving UX worldwide, I find that one area of the web experience is still lacking more or less universally – the content management system.
Recently I was asked to take on a work-in-progress website and help get it to launch. The website in itself wasn’t anything complicated – a basic WordPress site, with a few simple content pages, a few images and a contact form. It was to be based on a pre-purchased template, which came packaged with several of the features required. Bread and butter stuff. Or so I thought.
While the features that came with the template would have been useful, they were actually so complicated and unintuitive to set up that I just found the whole process horribly frustrating especially considering WordPress itself is actually quite easy to use.
Now, I’ve been programming more or less since I was 5 years old (on my trusty Commodore 64), so I consider myself a person with a decent level of technical know-how, but making this site look and work the way I wanted was a bit like building a functioning space rocket from loo-rolls and dried pasta. It didn’t even look like it should, never mind work the way it should.
The point is, if I, with all of my experience found it so hard to display some simple content on a web page in the correct format, how on earth (I’m still here – my rocket didn’t work) could I expect a client to keep their site up to date and maintained?
It’s a problem I’ve heard about countless times from clients, who have come to us because they are beyond frustrated with trying to update their website using a system that makes no sense to them.
It seems to me that as web professionals & UX experts that we’re forgetting to consider that the content management system should be as simple and intuitive to use as the website itself. We need to strive to be better. You don’t produce a manual for your website users, so why should your content management system need one?
Consider your content management system when you’re building your client’s website. It’ll save your client countless hours of frustration – and may even earn you their future business.
At MINUS40 we put a lot of thought into design, where it matters. If you would like to work with an agency with a refreshingly well-informed take on how to do digital better, get in touch.