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Client Content Practices

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#1 snapcridge


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Posted 02 March 2008 - 05:54 PM

I need opinions, ideas, resources, pros and cons to allowing clients to edit content on their websites. I would also like to know of the best and most user friendly software programs out there to do this. I have looked at Adobe Contribute and the Contribute Publishing Server as an option, but wonder is that's it's intended purpose.

Any help here will of course be greatly appreciated. Thanx in advance.

#2 DCrx


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Posted 02 March 2008 - 06:53 PM

Well, what you're talking about isn't covered by software. It's called content management strategy.

You can enforce some kind of content workflow from the interface of some content management systems. That would be like anybody being able to post, or only certain people. Or having to get someone with editorial privileges on the system to greenlight an article before others can see it.

Such a feature is useful if you want proofreading and fact checking before an article is exposed to the public.

What CMS users are seeing is not unlike what you're seeing when posting in a forum. It's a somewhat wordprocessor-like window with formatting options. There are dozens of CMS systems, with different options. For example some have a facility for importing Word documents. Not the greatest results, but tolerable when you've got a client with hundreds of documents in Word to get online.

They can post other things, like pictures and do some basics, like sizing. The selling point of the CMS is, if you only have privileges for posting content there's a barrier to mucking with the code running the site. All those users see is their content format interface. Of course, if you have admin privileges -- or the client logs everyone in as admin -- all bets are off and you're back to the starting point.

Content Strategy 101 is a basic primer. Most clients have zero communication strategy. Zero copywriting. And only a vague idea about the relationship of what they put on the site to results.

Edited by DCrx, 02 March 2008 - 06:56 PM.

#3 Feydakin


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Posted 04 March 2008 - 08:07 AM

I picked up a new client a few months ago that really wants to write his own content.. He knows more about his field than I ever will, so we sat and talked about it and worked out a "deal"..

Since his site is based off of Wordpress he is "allowed" to write all he wants about anything, but not push it live.. It all ends up as a draft.. Then I can come back in and edit what he has written for both grammar, spelling, optimize it as needed, and add pictures etc to make the page more interesting.. Then he gets a final read before it gets published..

He was adamant about having this process in place.. He wrote exactly 2 pages in four months and decided that it was far too much effort and just lets me write as needed for the site..

I think a similar process may work for you.. Let them write what they want in Word and send it to you for publishing.. Yes, this is 'old school' but when clients start to see just how much work is needed to be effective they find that they don't really want to be creating content.. And if they really do?? Look at giving them an "area" of the website using a CMS that you can roll in to the website easily and let them write all they want..

#4 Angela Charles

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 01:42 PM

We've run into the same situation in trying to prevent a client from overwriting content we've optimized. We give the client a list of the pages they are not allowed to edit, explaining that these were pages that were optimized and that they'd be erasing work they'd paid for.

That seems to work for us.

RE: CMS -- We hate it. Usually, when a client asks to have their site built with CMS, they have much more grand visions for what they'll be able to change once the site is done. Unless the site is massive or has a catalog, we've reverted to advising the client to edit using DreamWeaver and we provide the training.

#5 SEOigloo


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Posted 12 March 2008 - 04:35 PM

As Angela brings up, do be sure that training is a big part of the game plan for any client who wants to manage and create their own content. They need to know not only how to operate their system, but they'll need a crash course in writing for humans, writing for the web and writing sales copy so that they will be representing their business in the most professional and useful possible way!

WordPress is great for enabling much content creation. We love it.

#6 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 05:08 AM

I personally like the idea of CMS.
It means the client can do a ton of work, and doesn't have to pay anyone for it.
Additionally, if they want to get someone in to do SEO work, it's a doddle... and no ine has to play with the code, at all, ever (unles something drastically changes).

I wouldn't say the problem lays with any software/application/method, but with the lack of thought/skill/knowledge of those editing/adding content.
So long as they are aware of the dangers, and make informed decisions, then things should go well enough. If they go around deleting strong content and adding stuff that is not particualrly suitable/professional/advisable, it is not your fault.
Just make sure that you have regular backups (I do weekly for all my sites), plus give the client the ability to save/backup before making changes as well.

Then if something goes horribly wrong, it's a whole 5 minutes of time to slap in the previous db (your choice to charge).

#7 A.N.Onym


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Posted 13 March 2008 - 05:55 AM

CMS is just a tool, and how much you and your clients get from it depends on how well both you and your client know how to use it.

For example, with Drupal, you can restrict page editing to user roles, thus eliminating the need to create the 'page tracking' report at all. The client will just not be able to edit your pages.

Technically, I'd give my clients some education on how to recognize an optimized page (at least), so they see where you've worked and don't smudge it. At least it's an option.

#8 Lyle


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Posted 13 March 2008 - 10:41 AM

While I tend to agree that a CMS is useful, it does leave the client open to an awful lot of potential problems - members of their own staff/team who can do the writing, but don't necessarily have the preferred level of spelling/punctuation/grammar knowledge, for example.

I've seen too many clients with fantastic sites where the content lets them down because of silly spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and the like.

Instead, I tend to either let the client do their content first and see how things go, or suggest a "support contract" type thing where they get one large update per quarter (or whatever is agreed, up to one large update per month) and they pay a small fee for each update.

In my experience it means that the client supplies the basic text to me, I edit/copyread/proofread it, and set it up on the site (even if I'm using a CMS for it myself). Basic copy updates happen ASAP, larger ones have a turnround of 48 hours at most (and usually a lot less). It's a five to fifteen-minute job where the client is happy (they don't have the extra hassle of getting text on the web, they 'outsource' it to me, and they know it's done right first time rather than screwed up and then fixed) and I'm happy (the site doesn't get broken, and I get paid).

So far it's something that seems to work in my business model, anyway.

#9 A.N.Onym


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Posted 13 March 2008 - 11:35 PM

Well, I guess there are different clients and different approaches to them. In a technical company, for example, having the client/company managing a CMS shouldn't be a problem after some training sessions.

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