Whether it’s changing imagery, fonts, colours, your navigation, headers or page structure, you’ll be surprised just how much you can do to your website. Spending time on really getting to grips with your CMS, you’ll be able to make a big impact without the support of tech-savvy developers.
It all comes down to confidence, and throughout this blog, we’ll give some pointers to help you master your CMS so you can get more from your website and potentially save some money too.
Know who your administrator is
Your business will most likely have multiple people with access to your CMS but it’s important to know who internally holds the administrator keys. There will be at least one person with the necessary permissions to add or edit user access and with authority to make specific onsite changes. It’s worthwhile knowing who your administrator is so you can speak to them first before logging a ticket with your agency, just to make sure they’re not able to help.
Resolving login issues
There’s nothing more frustrating than login problems. Before you’ve even got started, you’re stopped in your tracks. A common issue, login troubles causing a nuisance for in-house editors are something we’re often contacted about. The good news is that they are extremely simple to resolve, it can simply be down to confusion over credentials with an email address rather than the username being used. If you really do get stuck, your administrator has the power to change your password and get you logged in, in no time.
Avoid unnecessary charges
When you encounter an issue, it’s quite typical that you’ll escalate this through your agency’s support system, but does the issue really need their help or could you resolve it yourself? Whilst we’re always on hand to help our clients, there are times when helpdesk tickets are logged for tasks, incurring charges, that the client could have unknowingly completed without our support.
A common example is content entry where, without the knowledge or confidence of which buttons to press, it’s easy (and natural) to seek comfort from your reliable web agency to implement changes. With just a bit of training and tinkering, you could master such things yourself, saving both time and money in the future.
Invest in training for multiple team members
Being properly trained on your CMS will empower your team to get more from your website without relying on your agency for support. When your site was first built, it’s probable your agency trained you on how to use the CMS but it’s also likely that for quite a while after that you didn’t really have the need to change anything and put that training into practice. As time goes by that knowledge gets rusty, people within your team come and go, and your site may even have updates or additions which all make it important to continue refreshing your knowledge.
A common problem we see is that all internal knowledge of the CMS sits with one person. If that person leaves the business, you’re going to suffer from a lack of internal support, you may even end up creating a temporary site due to the inability to manage the main site. More often than not, this leads businesses down a path to building a new website, incurring increased costs and wasted time.
We recommend setting a budget to train new employees, provide a quick refresher for those longstanding team members as a way to ensure multiple people are trained from the outset. The more members of your team who know how to navigate your CMS and make site edits, the better. It not only means that changes can be made quicker, it also protects your business if that one person who knows your CMS inside out does decide to move on to pastures new.
Make use of user guides and training resources
Use all of the resources available to you, make sure they are easily accessible, and everyone knows where to find them. To support CMS training and ongoing maintenance of the websites we build, we put the following together for our clients:
- User Manuals: We create visual usual manuals to support the use of the CMS, documenting screenshots and annotations of important site areas that an internal team will often use such as the dashboard, adding a new page, adding a widget and creating a new user.
- User Videos: A format we’ve found works especially well is user videos. They provide screen recordings with visual demonstrations on how to do specific tasks. Even if your site has bespoke widgets and functionality, our developers can create user videos and guides to support use of these features.
Add notes and instructions
When your site is being built, remember to consider how your internal team with use it and what they need to know. Adding tooltips, prompts and reminders during development will help to support your team, providing the notes you need to refresh your memory on what you need to do. This could be to ensure proper sizing of imagery, a reminder of what a change in settings does or clarification on how to use categories within your blog.
Through your ongoing retainer, you could even add tooltips retrospectively as you uncover those practical additions that will really help your internal team. Often, you won’t notice the things that you find difficult to use until you’re working in the CMS yourself. It’s important to communicate this with your agency as sometimes a quick fix can make a huge difference to your experience using the CMS.
Know what you can change
In many cases, building confidence in using your CMS is as simple as knowing what can be done. The majority of websites are built in a way that makes it easy to change content, imagery, colours, fonts and text sizes, as well as add widgets and banners. You’ll be surprised at just how big a difference you can make to your site with these alone - they can completely change the look and feel of your whole website.
Navigation changes are something which clients often ask for support on. You may want to reprioritise or add to your navigation, both of which are usually simple tasks that with the right know-how don’t need the support of a developer. We take the opportunity to advise our clients, giving them the choice to either make the changes internally or lean on the support of our team if they prefer.
As platforms move away from more traditional architectures, sites are tending to be built using a component-led rather than page type approach. This increases the flexibility of your website, making it easier for editors to reorder, remove or add content as required, as well as create new pages that are not restricted by limiting templates. Instead, you can build your pages exactly as you want them.
Whilst this approach offers clear benefits, it does take a little bit of getting your head around to fully make the most of the opportunity. It requires a solid knowledge of the different components available, how to use them and where they’re best applied on your site. To make this easy for you, we can create a test page, showcasing every single website component available so you can quickly identify which is the right component for your requirement.
Use your site preview
When you’re scared of making mistakes or worried that you might break your website, it can stop you from experimenting with your CMS. Our sites are built in a way where you can’t really break them, so you don’t need to worry about that. For extra reassurance, we advise all our clients to always make use of their site preview. In both Umbraco and Kentico, there are preview options so you can see how the changes you’re making will look before publishing. This allows you to get comfortable with what you’ve changed and alter until you’re 100 per cent happy before pushing it live to your site. Even in the very worst case, if you publish a page to find something isn’t quite right, you can easily take it down to make adjustments and republish again when you’re ready.
Don’t be afraid of your CMS. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and quite simply the more you use your CMS, the more you’ll learn what you can do without your agency’s assistance. While your web agency is of course there to support you and provide guidance, getting to grips with your CMS will empower your team, help you get more from your website and preserve your budget for more complex tasks.
Offering bespoke training, crafting tailored user guides, conducting refresher training and producing user videos, we’re not satisfied until your team feels they have the skills to properly maintain your website. Learn more by getting in touch with our team.