Sunday, 14 April 2013

CMSs: 4 missing features that drive content editors nuts

When choosing a new content management system (CMS), it's vital to consult the people who are going to be using it day in, day out: content editors.

Content editors know what CMS features they need to create good content. And when these features are missing, you'll have an unhappy editor on your hands.

Why features are missing

Sometimes vital features are missing because the client has skimped on modules to cut costs. And sometimes it's because the CMS doesn't work in the way the client expected - or the CMS has been set up in the wrong way.

Proper preview

Before you publish anything live, you need to see exactly what it will look like - you need to proof read everything on the page:

  • browser title
  • left hand navigation
  • top tabs
  • hierarchy of headings

Forward publishing

If you want something to go live at midnight or first thing in the morning - for example a press release that's embargoed until a certain time - you need to be able to schedule this in the CMS.

If you can't schedule something to go live at a future point in time, it means content editors have to stay up late or get up early to do it.

Foolproof templates

Often the aim of introducing a CMS is to make it easier for people with no knowledge of HTML to create pages. Organisations plan to roll out CMS access to people who own large volumes of relatively straightforward content to free up the web team to work higher up the food chain, focusing on the more creative bits of content.

One example of relatively straightforward content is event information. Each event follows a certain pattern: title; description; date and time; venue; ticketing link.

But in practice, it turns out to be difficult to create a foolproof template for non-HTMLers to use. There's just so much that can go wrong: H2 headings lose their H2-ness; bullet points pasted in from Word lack the proper HTML code; etc

Good back-end Search

If you need to create a link to another document that exists within the CMS, it can be surprisingly difficult to find the other document. You can't always remember what the document is called or where it is - so having a good Search facility at the back end is vital.

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