Your CMS has TWO customers

WordPress, which I am using to write this, allows me to efficiently publish my ramblings for you to read.

The same is true for Drupal, SilverStripe and  <insert name of platform you use>. Saas platforms do likewise for services – they allow the service to be provisioned and used by the consumer.

So, every platform has to meet the needs of two customers, the internal user and the consumer, and allow them to connect in a way that allows the business to fulfil its mission.

The Internal User

The platform must allow staff (writer, administrator, whatever) to reach a state of flow in their work. The tool should provide what only what the provider needs, at the time it is needed. Staff should ideally not be aware of the tool as they use it. It should not get in their way.

Toolbars? Don’t give people 75 options, or five ways to do the same thing. Give only the relevant options as they are needed, and make one way to do one thing. It is less confusing, and training is simplified. Design hotkeys into the system. Mousing is bad for flow.


The Consumers

What is the job to be done by your product or service? The consumer experience must be designed with this in mind.

The Platform

Is the conduit between staff and consumers. Design principles apply on both sides to ensure a connection. Too often the focus is on getting the consumer-side right – beautiful design and great user experience – but the poor staff are left to struggle with tools that don’t work well, and don’t allow them to meet the consumers’ needs.

The challenge is to provide something that is great for both while also facilitating innovation and continual improvement. Nothing stands still, but too frequently systems are left to languish, and staff struggle with tools that no longer align with what they need to deliver to consumers.

Too often resources are so focussed on the consumer that staff can barely do the work required of them with workarounds.

The solution is careful selection of your platform. Off-the-shelf is rarely so. Customisation is rife. Bespoke systems are often captured by vendors. Be informed, collect data, talk to people, measure, evaluate. Then act. And be ready to evolve and change what you do as your customers and the supporting business processes change.

2 thoughts on “Your CMS has TWO customers

  1. This made me think about the weirdness of the current WordPress.com user interface. There’s a dumbed-down, somewhat restrictive ‘new’ style way of doing things alongside the old WP Admin that offers far more flexibility and depth.

    It reminds me of Microsoft’s first take on Windows 8 where you switched between two different interfaces.

    The new approach is closer to the ideal you mention, but it misses many of the features that makes WordPress so powerful. Frankly, if WP dropped WP Admin, I’d have to move to a different blogging service.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know WP has been pushing to simplify things, and as a power user I found some of the ‘lost’ things annoying too. I think the key is layer the functionality in such as way so as the common stuff is fast and simple for everyone, but the more complex stuff is only a click or hotkey away, and access to this deeper layer still allows flow. Having written UIs that get used by basic users, intermediate users, and advanced (admins), along with the public-facing side, it is not easy to execute. The power users want it all, the basic users want none of it.

      Liked by 3 people

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