For a lot of content authors, designers and even tech-savvy marketers, the prospect of taking ownership over a website’s content management system (CMS) can feel like a nightmarish task that’s better left to developers. I often hear people say, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” or “I’m afraid I’m going to break something!” But the truth is that being beholden to a development team to make any and all significant changes to your website is not only inefficient and risky in this day and age, it also negates all the benefits of using a CMS like WordPress, Drupal or Pimcore in the first place.
At their best, CMS platforms have out-of-the-box (OOTB) features that allow for a more streamlined and intuitive administrator experience. But customizations and complexity are inevitably added to the system over time by teams with various content management processes and workflows, rendering the back-end unrecognizable and truly terrifying to some. Here’s how you can minimize the fear factor and take back control.
TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND CONTENT DEPENDENCIES
Sometimes one type of content can depend on data from a few different sources within your website (these are called dependencies). For example, let’s say that on each blog post, the author’s name should appear next to her image, as well as an author summary. But when you publish the post and check it on the front end, the summary is missing. The next logical place to look for it would be where all the “authors” are kept to see if there is an empty summary field waiting for content. Once you understand the universal dependencies within the system, it will make for a less stressful administrator experience.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
There likely will be a few things in the website admin experience that will be out of your control, so focus on what you can: keeping content organized. Let’s take media files as an example, which can include image, video, and PDF files. If your CMS has a folder structure, make sure you use it consistently and avoid uploading to the main media folder if there is a more specific home for something. Not doing so can result in duplicate uploads, a very messy library, and zombie files! In some CMS’s, media is ordered by the date in which it was uploaded, which can be handy but doesn’t always feel very organized. One thing you can do to ensure a clean CMS is make sure your filenames are accurate representations of the image (EX: jane_doe_headshot.jpg as opposed to “image_024.jpg”). Now when you’re faced with the horror of an unsortable media library, you can do a quick search for “jane” or “headshot” and get appropriate matches.
PREP YOUR WORK
By preparing your content before logging in, you can get right to work and knock off all the “to-do” items. Paste the title, paste the content, set an image (already uploaded with the appropriate naming structure 😉), assign an author, and hit publish. Check your work on the front end of the website and voila — you’re done! You are now the ghostbuster webmaster.
Content management can be an overwhelming task. By taking a few simple steps to better familiarize yourself with the content, focusing on what is in your control, and prepping all your files before entering them into the CMS, you are moving in the right direction.