AUTHOR EXPERIENCE - IT'S JUST AS IMPORTANT AS USER EXPERIENCE!
Some top tips from the DestinationCore team about how to make the content editing experience on your website a joy. You'll discover why author experience is just as important as user experience and how the two are linked!
Written by: Will Wright, Managing Partner at DestinationCore
Will Wright, Managing Partner at DestinationCore
Read time: 5 minutes
AUTHOR EXPERIENCE? WHAT’S THAT?
‘Author Experience’ is an often overlooked, but very important, aspect of building a new website. By now we’re all used to websites being built on Content Management Systems (CMS) – this is what allows non-technical people to update the content on a website – create blogs, change contact details, add new events and offers, change pictures and so on. Such website editors are often referred to as ‘Authors’.
Author Experience essentially refers to how easy it is for these website editors to make subtle tweaks and add, update or delete content. Websites are built by website developers – learning how to ‘code’ is complex, it takes years of learning and expertise to become a truly efficient and effective web developer, and there are several different specialisms – front-end developers, back-end developers, dev-ops specialist to name just a few. Because these are highly skilled individuals, they often assume that everybody knows how the complex relationships in the ‘engine’ of a website work and can therefore overlook how easy it is for a website editor to use.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR MY DESTINATION WEBSITE?
“It’s not so bad to use once you get used to it” - Said many a client about their 'not so easy to use' CMS
Hearing a client explain that once they’ve added content a few times and found the appropriate work around that ‘it’s not so difficult to use’ is incredibly frustrating! Why? Because it shouldn’t be like that! Author Experience should be just as intuitive as User Experience. The end user of a website wouldn’t spend much time on your site very long if they couldn’t figure out how to get to the information they wanted, without having to ‘get used to it’.
Taking ownership of a website on a CMS should give you the control to make the changes that you, as a destination marketeer, require to adapt to the needs of your end user. Ultimately User Experience (UX) is related directly to Author Experience (AX) – the easier it is for content editors to update and adapt a site, the more likely it is that users will find the content, experience, offer or event they are after.
And the easier it is for you – as a website author – to add and adapt content, the more likely you are to do it.
Let’s be honest, crafting great content that your users will love and encourages them to visit the place you’re promoting is one of the more fun parts of the job – it gives you the opportunity to showcase the expertise and affection you have for your destination. So, adding that content to the website should be a breeze.
If it’s simple to do, and there are no barriers blocking you from adding great content, then you’ll do it more often – giving users more reason to visit your website. And if you’re able to adapt the structure and content of your site according to the behaviour of those users, then it’s more likely that they’ll take the ultimate end action – actually visit!
IS YOUR DESTINATION WEBSITE LACKING WHEN IT COMES TO AUTHOR EXPERIENCE?
If you feel that the CMS on your current site doesn’t give you the control you require over your content, then the first thing you should do is raise this with your current provider. At the very least they should be able to provide you with some refresher training.
The second thing on your “to do” list should be to give us a call at DestinationCore. We pride ourselves on providing websites which place just as much emphasis on Author Experience as User Experience (in equal measure).
But if you’re not using the DestinationCore team to help you build your new online destination website, then here are a few tips to ensure that your current CMS works as hard as possible for you:
- Insist on a user guide; it may seem pretty obvious, but a lot of web development companies need to be nagged to provide you with a user guide. It doesn’t need to be long, just a few quick pointers on the key sections of your website. It’s easy to forget how to add an offer or event to your site if you don’t have to do it very often – so something to refer back to is always handy.
- Ensures pages and tabs in the CMS have names which mean something to you; developers know all the technical terms, but you might not. Ask CMS to be labelled in layman’s terms – so you know what they are. Instead of ‘articles’ ask for ‘blog’ or ‘news’ whatever makes most sense to you – the author. The less thinking you have to do around terminology the more attention you can divert to making great content.
- Ask for a handover meeting; again, this may seem obvious, but it is easy for this essential meeting to be overlooked. Chances are that you’ve been using some aspects of the CMS while the site was being finalised – adding content and so on. It’s easy for your provider to assume that you’re familiar with everything the CMS can do. A handover meeting where the provider (and perhaps even the developer) responsible for building the site walks you through everything that’s possible on the CMS, or they could just over cover a few gems of what’s possible. The more you know the more control you have.
- Build refresher training into your support package; no matter how good your memory is. You’ll never remember everything that the CMS can do, and without even knowing it you’ll fall into bad habits or work arounds that take longer than they should. Ask for refresher training to be included as part of your ongoing support package. If you pick up just one new feature every session it will be worth it.
- Create a CMS dashboard on login to your CMS; the dashboard or initial page you land on after you login on the CMS normally comes with some degree of configuration. Ask for it to be set up with the shortcuts which are most useful to you – if 60% of the work you do on the website is adding events, then ask for a shortcut to that section to be added to your dashboard. Some CMS offer the ability to add short form content like news directly from the dashboard. Enquire what’s possible with dashboard configuration and then ask for your developer it to be set up in a way that works for you.