Creating a good content experience for site administrators

Most people see and experience what’s called the “front-end” portion of a website. This is the part that contains the content intended for consumption, or perhaps products to be sold, or whatever the intent of the website. However, most websites require thoughtfulness and planning in a place very few people actually see: the “back-end,” or administrative area.

One of the most rewarding moments in my work is that first time I share with my client how they'll be managing the content on their new site. If I’ve done my job well, I’ll get a response that’s something like “Wow, that’s easy!” The truth is that the back-end content management planning often takes a back seat to the front-end design and behavior. And that really is a shame.

Conditional fields in WordPress

The animated image above is from a WordPress site I worked on for a real estate company (kudos to the wonderful Advanced Custom Fields plugin). We worked together very closely to make sure their content management experience was compatible with their workflow, and we did it all before we even started on the visual design. There were at least three revisions before we were satisfied that we had created the most efficient workflow possible. This really worked to our advantage―we were all so engrossed in the content that the front-end portion was much easier to plan and design.

The point here is that there’s usually much more to a good website than the part you see while browsing the web. I now try to emphasize to potential clients that my pricing may differ from others because I normally build in time to plan and design a solid, sustainable back-end that can grow with your site and your content. After all, you’d never build a beautiful house with a lousy foundation, right? ;-)


Logo and website design for local animal hospital

Luckney Animal Hospital is a different sort of animal clinic, and the Zierens wanted their logo and website to reflect as much. Dr. Zieren's wife, Erin, is an architect, and she had a very clear vision of how they wanted to look to their customers: hometown and friendly, yet knowledgeable and compassionate. As we worked together, the result was what you might call a “yesteryear local vernacular” with eclectic layouts and typography. In the end, the final work was spot-on, and the Flowood community has an awesome new veterinary hospital at their service.

Business card mock-up

Luckney Animal website

Visit Luckney Animal Hospital online at luckneyanimal.com.


Logo and website for Mississippi software developer Lifecycle Solutions

Occasionally I get to design for people that I love to work with. Lifecycle Solutions does amazing work right here in Jackson, Mississippi, and partnering with them on projects has completely upped my game. I designed their logo and website a few years ago, but I recently had the opportunity to revisit both and do some freshening up. The results are clean and simple, and we intentionally departed from more common tech themes to help them look and feel as unique as they actually are. Visit lifecycle-solutions.com to see the full site.


Firing the website back up again

I had briefly taken this website down, leaving only a simple landing page stating that I was no longer taking on any new clients. Well, that simply did not work, and it left me with nothing to tinker or communicate with. So I’m firing the old website up again. It’s due for a redesign, but I’m not going there yet. Instead, I’m going to focus on making this version better—both on the surface and under the hood. Sometimes a little housecleaning can make things feel like new again.