Client Empathy in the Control Panel

A Case Study in Making the Control Panel Easy for the Client

The client has a Content Management System powering their website. They can edit and change things whenever the want. It’s perfect and well-structured. The only problem is that they still want me to edit their site for them.

The client has been trained to use the CMS, they have lots of documentation with clear examples too. What is wrong here?

It’s the Control Panel

After some reflection on client feedback, I think the Control Panel is the culprit.

The basic Control Panel screen for this Case Study

The Control Panel is one of the primary aspects that should be considered as part of the client’s experience with their CMS-powered site. The client may not think of the Control Panel itself, but rather how easy, or hard, it is for them to edit their site. So, the Control Panel should be configured so that your client can easily use it.

Use Their Language

Great communication happens when you speak your audience’s langauge. So, why not use the client’s own language in their site’s Control Panel? To the extent possible, the Control Panel should use the same language that your client uses in their own workday words.

Here’s an example from a family growth organization. They don’t think in terms of data points, permissions, or roles like we in the tech and dev world do. They think about Family Members and these members’ roles in their organizational family. So, why not use those same words?

The screen in the Control Panel in which the client creates “Family Members”

The client, in their own day, isn’t creating data files, or entries, they’re growing their own family. They know more about their family members than we can, so let them describe their family in their own words.

Tell Them how It Relates to the Site

It’s a well-known fact, arguably a UX maxim, that form labels help people complete forms. As the Control Panel is basically a set of forms dedicated to editing their site, use these labels liberally.

Name the fields with their words and offer explanations how the content fits into their site.

The screen in which they talk about their Family Members

In the Video fields, I explain to the clients what happens when they input the YouTube link. Knowing the result they get helps them to visualize what I am asking for in this field.

What About the Data They’re Creating?

Everything the client adds is data. While we are collecting data, we have to consider how to best represent in data what we’re asking the client to input into the Control Panel. The data’s representation affects how we can manipulate it on the site.

You can see that Family Members’ roles are represented as checkboxes as these Family Members can have more than one role. Oh, and when they talk about their Family Member, they may want some basic text formatting too.

Earn their Trust, Create a Great Experience

When the Client feels at ease with the Control Panel, they will feel confident about updating their own site. It seems a small thing in our own techie eyes, but it means the world to them in saved time in their workday. In the case of the family growth organization, it means they can spend time growing families instead of laboring over an email trying to explain to me what they want changed.

When you use empathy in developing the Control Panel of your own CMS-powered site work, or web application, you will also find that a little empathy goes a long way.