Comments on Managing Your Content Management System

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  1. Content Management Systems are quite the beast to tackle, but this certainly gave me ideas to solve some current problems I have. Great read.

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  2. Love the article and agree 100%.

    Do you know about MODX CMS (http://modx.com)? It is one of the few systems that does exactly what you describe: give the freedom developers need, but allow you to limit the editor options any way you want.

    I used to work with Wordpress and Drupal but since I found MODX 7 years also I have not looked back…

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  3. Awesome article! :) I’m in the same boat as Menno. MODX allows designer, developer and content publishers all work together on the same platform and framework. MODX works in the opposite way compared to many CMS’s - You decide how much you want it to be involved in your website or application.

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  4. Great article. Having built a few CMS sites for a couple of clients, I can totally relate to the paradigm of giving clients the freedom they want with the limitations they need!

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  5. “I haven’t actually used MODX. I’ll have to check it out”
    While you’re at it, make sure you check ProcessWire. From individual field permissions, to choosing the buttons in each wysiwyg field, and passing by field visibility based on the values of other fields, you just described it in your text :)

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  6. I was going to mention MODX, but the others beat me to it, nice! MODX deserves more recognition in the CMS community for the scalability, power and customisation options it provides developers with.

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  7. ProcessWire developer and designer here. Good read. One great advice is also to take the time to write contextual helps for users into your CMS. Knowing how many characters a field takes or what filetype to upload is great but does not help much. However, instructing users on tone of voice, image style or data specifics next to appropriate fields will help keep content consistent.

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  8. This is a great article. I can get behind most of it.  A good CMS is a customized one is spot on. A decent CMS (like Craft) makes this easy.

    A couple little things I found myself disagreeing with:

    It’s probably going to be more trouble than it’s worth to have a strict character limit on a text field.

    It’s helpful to have some kind of soft limiter, especially on something like a meta description.  Your front end templates can define what to do if it does over but I agree with this.

    if you only want editors to be able to sarcastically strike through things their writers write, only let users with editor permissions have a strikethrough button.

    This completely does a 180 from the previous statement recommendation above. I get the gist of this but I think a better example is needed here.

    I fundamentally disagree with micromanaging (formatting) permissions.  There’s a fine line between empowering people and creating animosity among users because they can’t do certain, basic things.  “Why do Linda’s posts look so much better than mine? Why does she have access to the blockquote tool?” Just because the tools are available doesn’t mean someone is going to abuse them.

    I totally understand the need to lock down certain things and only allow privileged users with elevated permissions to do certain tasks—for example, a workflow where editors have the final say over a published document or simply making sure an intern doesn’t delete every page on a website is typical.

    But there comes a time when the best solutions aren’t technical, they’re teachable moments.  If one group is forbidden to make a headline because an editor is afraid a content contributor is going to blow up the formatting of the site, you have bigger problems.  In other words, if your users are constantly misusing features or not adhering to the style guide, you retrain them on how to do it right.  And if someone still can’t get it after that, they’re not doing their job so you replace them with people who will.

    Training isn’t rocket science, it just takes time.  There always needs to be someone being the “brand police” so to speak—basically an advocate to how the website is supposed the look and the way to accomplish it in the CMS.  That’s never going to happen by itself, regardless of how much you lock it down.  Yet I think a lot of organizations would rather take the easy way out and make it a programming endeavor.

    Sometimes it’s not even the users’ fault at all, maybe the way a certain feature in a CMS is broken or used in a way it really shouldn’t be. I see that happen often. If someone has to go through 6 steps to publish something when another CMS can do it in 2, maybe it’s time to revisit how you’re publishing.

    To paraphrase Karen McGrane… “what’s the cost of a bad authoring experience?” Just because the developer is the smartest guy in the room and knows how to do something in a CMS doesn’t mean the “average” user will be able to replicate the procedure. modX has a lot of power but its UI is terrible. When I hear “well, it shouldn’t be that hard” or “he’s clearly an idiot” from a developer after being told a user was struggling to do something,  maybe it’s back to the drawing board and it’s the interface which needs room for improvement. There’s no room in an organization for developers who want their users to jump through hoops just to save their jobs.

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  9. Agree with Ritter there, training should be part of every project and its best to choose a CMS that is easy to teach/learn.

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  10. RE character limitations: just be careful if you manage multi-language websites.  Certain languages are much longer than English. We once did a test on a travel website, and our German tester couldn’t input his full name on his reservation.  Would you reserve if you couldn’t input your full name? I wouldn’t…

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  11. Haha I love the reference to Dostoyevsky, though if the client doesn’t accept my reasons for wanting to spend more time on the CMS, I just might end up brooding like Fyodor with writer’s block.

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  12. I love your sense of humour, Rory. And thanks for the tips - a lot of them feel very spot on, even if I bailed on WYSIWYG a long time ago. I was curious, though, how do you handle long-form articles? Say, an author routinely writes 6,000 word posts, any tips around securing the CMS against possible calamities in this situation?

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  13. Great article. I think that being thoughtful when implementing a site into a CMS is one of the things developers and designers have to get better at if we want out clients to be successful. When a dev complains about a client doing a poor job of editing content, I just picture that poor client being endlessly frustrated with a poorly designed CMS solution. Often, the CMS implementation of a project is a one-and-done solution where the dev tackles it herself and not another thought is given to it. Indeed, a sad state of affairs.

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  15. Hi Rory,

    I’m curious what cms you work with. I develop with Perch Runway because it’s straightforward to combine structured content with design flexibility. I’m always interested to check out contemporary content management systems and appreciate how Perch helps ease of entry while still powerful.

    Because it’s markup is so clean I can use Perch for React.js sites as well as regular HTML sites.  They wrote up an interesting blog post inspired by your article. If you want check it out its here.

    I also want to look into Craft but have yet to dive in as I’m unfamiliar with the twig templating system. Point is that I’m finding a whole new class of cms are hitting the market that facilitate the kind of customization your article covers. For me, although popular, Drupal has a steep learning curve. WordPress, although vastly improved and popular still depends on plugins like Advanced Custom Fields and isn’t designed from the get go for structured content which impacts performance.

    Eric Mobley’s comment is right on. Pretty much any system, can let editors post quickly. It’s doing the upfront work to carefully model content and understand business goals to implement a well designed appropriate cms that is hard. However, a modern cms, of course with support and training post-launch —  can make it pretty easy for editors to add rich content while still be keeping markup clean and help us publish in a variety of platforms and sites.  I look forward with great optimism to see our tool sets develop.

    Thanks again for sharing your article and experience. Its an exciting topic and time for content management systems!

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  16. Great article! I’ve found myself with the same issues many times. I’ve personally started using Craft (http://www.buildwithcraft.com) and don’t expect having to use anything else any time soon. It’s extremely easy to template from static html to the CMS, image transforms for srcsets, etc. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it! Will work well for anything from blogs to database driven websites :)

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  17. Wordpress is clearly the winner. Simple yet easy to manage. Been dealing with magento lately its a nightmare for a large store with mickeymouse caching plugins…

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  18. With growing business and increasing expectations from the customers the need has arisen to have dynamic and responsive websites. Content has been a crucial part of business strategy that speaks about offerings and improves trust. Enterprise web content management systems are a great platform that allows a business to effortlessly design and maintain multiple websites. There are various CMSes available that vary in terms of features it provides and platforms that they use as base. It is important to consider CMS as a part of business strategy and ensure to select the one that suits best with business requirements. Once installed, make sure to update it regularly to keep it afloat with the changing trends. Updating plugins and extensions ensures website safety. It should be understood that managing websites is a regular task and must be given priority.

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  19. Great article! I’ve found myself with the same issues many times. WP is power full - Harga Ban FDR

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  20. Awesome article! :) I’m in the same boat as Menno. MODX allows designer!!

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  21. Sorry, commenting is closed on this article.