Editing your Website - It's Not Always As Easy As You Think It Should Be
- by Urszula Richards
- 9 March 2016
After many years of training clients to manage their own websites, there are a few observations I have made which I hope will help you as you embark on the important job of managing your website.
An Hour of Training is not enough!
For quite some time now, websites have been built with the ability to be edited using a Content Management System. This is a great thing, but has also led to the expectation that everyone should be able to edit their website easily, whenever they want.
This is not quite the truth.
While the basics of logging in, accessing a web page, and changing some text around should be easy (and generally is), sometimes the way a particular page or function has been created make it less than easy to edit - without breaking the layout.
Perhaps you need to put in an image, or you want two columns, or simply the page editor is not doing what you think it should. It can get super frustrating, especially when you don't know whether the problem is you, or whether something is just not working as it should.
So what is the solution?
Invest time in learning
When a new website is released to a client, I include an hour or two of training.
This is to show how to access pages and make some basic changes. But trust me when I tell you that it has taken me many years of being online and working on websites to fully know my way around, understand the nuances of how things work and to know how to troubleshoot when things which should work a particular way, don't.
If managing your website is something you intend to take seriously, you will need to invest time in learning.
Spend time practicing
A common problem is 'doing some training' when you first get your website, and then not implementing that training straight away. It is vital to put into practice what you learn straight away, and to keep practicing, so your sense of confidence (and real competence) grows.
Unfortunately it is not unusual to see people invest in training and then not spend any time practicing, so by the time the task needs to be done again the training has been forgotten.
Many times it is not 'hard', but because it is a sequence of many steps, you only need to forget one part of a sequence and you can't complete what you started.
Work out what you will want to manage frequently, and what you don't
There is a trade-off between very simple pages with text in them, and attractive looking pages with different layouts and images. The more complex the layout on a page, the more likely that things can go wrong when you edit it. If there is something on your website which is difficult to change and you don't need it changed often, it is much more efficient to ask us (or another Business Catalyst developer) to do it.
On the other hand if something is a little complex but you do need to change it frequently - then you have the option of either taking the time to learn, or have us look into an 'easy edit' option. This involves additional coding on our part (and your website may need to go onto a different monthly plan), but it will be far more efficient (and less stressful) for you on a daily basis.
Know when you should get a professional to make an edit or a change.
Some things should simply not be done by you !
While it is possible to generally make edits to most existing parts of your website, where it involves a layout change, or a change to a template which affects every page on your site, we recommend this is done professionally.
Find out about some 'help options' for editing (in context editing & web apps)
Yes finally there are some 'help options'. The rule of thumb is - the easier we make something for you to do - the more work it is for us to set it up in the first instance. You have a number of options, including in-context editing and using web apps which help with editing. These make mistakes far less likely, but this does require specialised development, so you may wish to get a quote about this.
If you intend working your site frequently this could be the best option. Get in touch if you would like to discuss this.