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(I was learning)

Making A Better CMS

Though the article is four years old, I think the CMS landscape is about the same now as it was then. I find all of this relevant, but two points particularly stuck out to me.

Write task-based documentation first.

Most systems have installation instructions that are quite good: “First do this, then do this, this, and this.” But when it comes to actually using the CMS, they revert to feature-based docs, carefully outlining what each feature does, and typically from a back-end perspective.

Remember, I want to get started quickly, so give me the basics in sequential order. Do I have to create users first? Can I make a template right now?

I am currently starting a CMS documentation project and will need to keep this in mind.

Separate CMS administration from the editing and management of content.

I know most systems have the notion of administrator and user; I shouldn’t have to switch accounts to make changes. I mean separate them in the interface.

Remember: 98 percent of your audience will be using the CMS to manage their Web sites, not to manage the system. Yet most systems are optimized for the other 2 percent.

Too often the admin-y bits of a CMS are presented to a majority of users just because that is the easy way to do it. One must take the time to compartmentalize the admin bits and keep them out of the way of everyone else.