WordPress is great. I’ve tried Snippet Master, PageLime, Joomla, Drupal and various other CMS packages but for some reason I ‘clicked’ with WordPress.
One of the main challenges with creating a CMS website for a client is making the administration back-end or ‘Dashboard’ as user-friendly as possible. A lot of CMS packages overwhelm the end user with too many options and some are just not powerful enough for many websites.
WordPress started out as a Blogging platform and is still very much a blogging platform. Through the various releases of WordPress we can see where it has developed into something a more like a CMS but it is still not a back-end I’d want to hand over to 90% of my clients in it’s standard configuration.
One of the best (and worst) things about WordPress is the Widget functionality. It’s really cool how you can stick widgets here and there on ‘widget-ready’ themes but on the other hand you don’t really want to have to tell your client; “Yes you can put that special offer in the sidebar but you have to learn HTML and CSS to format it the way you want” and “Sure, if you want an image there you’ll have to type the whole path. You want it linked too? OK, just put in one of those little left-angle brackets, then type in A HREF=….”
You see what I mean. YOU know what you’re doing. YOU don’t mind inserting bits of codes into little boxes. Your client on the other hand probably won’t be very impressed with the hoops they have to jump through.
Again, Short Codes, while very handy, are still not completely ready for the end user that wants pure WYSIWYG editing…
People want to see what they are editing, not a piece of code that says your (whatever) will appear here.
These days there are LOADS of nice themes out there that depend heavily on widgets and short-codes to achieve funky home-page layouts. I recently bought a theme that has twelve different places to insert widgets to form the home page. Very cool, very capable but not very (end)-user-friendly.
I’ve done a lot of searching for and experimenting with various WordPress Plugins to achieve a Dashboard experience that’s as close as I can get to a simple interface that most clients will feel comfortable with. I’m not saying this is the best approach but this works for me.
Here is my checklist for setting up a WordPress installation that is probably as ready as you can get to hand over to a client without getting a few blank stares and loads of questions.
- Install WordPress
- Set up your Permalinks to make more sense to humans and search engines.
- Install the following plugins:
- Create your site, pages, initial blog posts, news but don’t setup any Home Page or Footer Widgets yet…
- After installing Custom Post Widget, you will find you have a new menu entry in your dashboard called ‘Content Blocks’. This is an awesome plugin that allows you to use your WYSIWYG editor to create content for widgets. Click this and start creating the content blocks you want to put into your Home Page and Footer Widgets. For more information about this fantastic plugin please visit Vanderwijk Consultancy and don’t forget to make a donation to help keep development possible!
- Go to your Widgets area and drag the Content Blocks into the Widget areas you want to populate. Change the dropdown on each one to select which Content Block to display.
- Open up White Label CMS and choose the options you want. (I use ‘Branding’ and ‘Dashboard Panels’ but leave the rest to the Adminimize plugin.)
- Open User Role Editor and create a new Role with a new name. Edit that new role with the checkboxes so you set what that role can do (or not do). Basically you want to end up with a user that has more rights than an Editor but less than an Administrator. Screenshot of my settings to follow…
- Go to ‘Adminimize’ and set what your New Role sees when he/she logs into the dashboard. Here you have control over practically every menu and submenu on the dashboard.
- Create a new User with the New Role.
- Log in as the new User and test it out. Adjust anything if needed by logging in again as Admin. (I find another browser is good for this so you don’t have to keep logging in and out all the time. Dual Monitors are a plus too! 🙂
All of the above plugins worked with my standard install of WordPress 3.2.1 when I set it up. I do not accept responsibility for any problems you may encounter with this setup or by using these third-party plugins. For support, please visit the WordPress forums or the individual support pages for the plugin/s.