When I build a WordPress website for a client, I have to remember that while I’m fully comfortable managing, editing, and adding content or enhancements, they aren’t necesssarily. So I make a few slight changes on the administrative side while building their website, which (hopefully) improves their overall user experience.
One of my big selling points about why I want to build a client’s website in WordPress is because it is so easy to use. The last thing I want is to have the client be dissatisfied with the website I gave them because they find don’t find WordPress to be that way. That makes me look bad, and dissatisfied customers generally don’t lead to repeat business or give out referrals to others.
Here are the things that I do to make it easier for my clients to use WordPress.
There are a number of reasons as to why you should customize the WordPress login screen, which I covered in a separate article on the topic. But the main one that applies here is the sense of familiarity that you can give a client from the very first moment that they go to manage their content. And since first impressions are everything, not only is it a nice touch on your part as the designer, it’s a potentially invaluable change you should make.
In WordPress 2.7, when you first log in you’ll see the administrative dashboard with all the options for what is displayed on the screen. Fortunately, you can customize what will appear, which is a nice feature that came along in this version of WordPress. Just click on the “Screen Options” tab in the top right corner of the page to make your choices.
Most users who aren’t technically savvy don’t care about such things as WordPress development blog updates, the latest plugins, etc., so you can safely remove them from the dashboard. The goal is to set up the dashboard so that when the client logs in, they’re not overwhelmed with unnecessary information (which might make them intimidated about using WordPress), but rather will see a clean dashboard with only the information they need to see on it.
If multiple people within your client’s business or organization are going to post content, then you’ll need to set up multiple user accounts so that each person can post content on their own. Make sure to select their user level accordingly so that they can only do what they’re supposed to; for a good explanation of the different user levels, read through the page on the topic in the WordPress codex.
The other reason you’ll want to do this is to separate the purely technical and administrative functions (managing plugins, overall site settings, etc.) from the purely content-related. What you’ll end up with is the default admin log-in, which could be used by whomever is managing the website as a whole, and then the separate user log-ins.
Just don’t forget to give a list with all of the user ID’ s and passwords to the client, so that they can distribute them accordingly.
Working with WordPress means that there will occasionally be the need to upgrade something on their website – either a plugin or the actual version of WordPress itself. Although upgrades aren’t necessarily a bad thing, from a client’s perspective they might get nervous that what they’ve grown accustomed to doing will change.
The release of WordPress 2.7 is a perfect example, especially since it brought such a dramatic change to the administrative experience from previous versions of WordPress. When there are major changes that will be taking place, it’s a good idea to let them know ahead of time so that they’re aware of what’s going on and what, if anything, will change. (You don’t necessarily have to do this for every time a plugin needs upgrading.)
There is a business benefit to this as well. Keeping them updated after you turn the website over to them shows that you’re not just dropping it in their lap and running. Doing so gives them the impression that you’re thinking about them as your client even if you’re not working directly with them at the moment – a sentiment that might go a long way in the future.
If there are any plugins that you know of that will make it easier for them to do something they need to on the administrative side, make sure to install those in addition to the plugins that function only on the actual website. The WordPress Database Backup is a great example; installing it and showing them how to use it could save tons of headaches later on.
This is the probably the most essential thing you can do when turning over a WordPress website to a client. Making the transition to a content management system can seem overwhelming at first, especially for those people who aren’t technically savvy or have never done it before.
You need to do everything you can to help ease your client into it and to show them how easy it is to use. Make sure that you show them (and by them, I mean anyone who will be using WordPress) everything that they’ll need to know in order to use WordPress as they intend to. I prefer to do this in-person if possible, since it’s much easier to teach something on the computer to someone when you can see it with them as they do.
While you should always be there if your client has questions, you might also want to provide them with some online resources that they can turn to for answers in addition to turning to you. That way, they won’t always have to come to you for answers to simple questions, but at the same time, they’ll know that if they can’t easily find the answer to something, you’re there for them to turn to.
Just make sure that you build this teaching time into your overall price quote, and that the client knows that it is as much a service that you’re being compensated for as the actual website is.
If you build WordPress websites often for clients, what are some of your suggestions for how to make it as easy as possible for them to use? Share your ideas with everyone by leaving a comment below!