Proponents of user-centric design are always thinking about audiences. Who are we designing for? What are their habits, frustrations and desires? How can we craft an experience that complements or changes these behaviours in a positive way?

On any given design project, you may encounter entire walls/rooms/floors filled with audience research, persona development, user journeys and prototype testing results, all focusing on a better understanding of how the end-user will experience the product.

Typically, ‘end user’ means customer; the target demographic of the brand or organisation that has commissioned the work. However, there’s one very important audience segment that can often be overlooked; the client themselves. The person who will be responsible for the ongoing administration and publishing workflow of the app, website or application being developed. What about their user experience?   

"The lesson from all of this is simple: poor client experiences lead to poor end-user experiences, negatively affecting brand success."

The impact of poor client experiences

In many of client meetings, we’re told a variant of the following story:

“Three/five/eight years ago we developed a completely new solution, designed from the ground up to meet the needs of our end users. Unfortunately, the back-end is a bit of a mess and creating new content requires a lot of training and experience, so the site is mostly static. The template sets are restrictive, so we’ve started embedding our own HTML snippets to update layout and functionality. It’s a bit crude, but it gets the job done.”

This scenario isn’t anyone’s fault really. Older systems may have been restrictive, and often the existing solution made use of best practices at the time of development. Budgets can be tight, timeframes and deadlines shift – we get it. The point is that the restrictions placed on the client (as site administrator, content creator and publisher) lead to the gradual decay and ultimate abandonment of the original site design. The intended end-user experience is lost.

The lesson from all of this is simple: poor client experiences lead to poor end-user experiences, negatively affecting brand success.

If you build it, they will publish

Many of the world’s most popular platforms can be thoroughly confusing, requiring a significant amount of training and experience to master. Clients tend to dislike the traditional ‘nested’ content found in most CMS admin/edit panels, preferring a more visual approach to content creation and editing.

At Deepend, thinking through the content creation experience and designing the optimal workflow using the best tools available has become a significant focus on each project.

We call this Designing the Client Experience.   

Customised experiences with Umbraco Grid

We recently delivered an improved client experience solution in Umbraco, a content management system that we’ve been using for many years. Our development team loves the power of Umbraco’s Microsoft ASP.NET framework, and our clients love the low cost and accessibility of open-source. It’s a win-win, made better by enhancing Umbraco’s ‘Grid’ feature to enable completely customised, modular, drag-and-drop solutions.

Umbraco Grid has been around for a couple of years now, and it’s getting better with each release. Like many ‘grid-based’ layout editors it offers a visual, drag-and-drop approach to page design, enabling clients to forget about nested content and focus on great storytelling.

Using the latest Umbraco Grid development techniques, plugins and functionality, Deepend’s development team created an entire library of custom site components, based on client requirements. We then programmed custom logic, views and permissions, all aligning with the client’s internal business structure and publishing workflows.

Finally, we screen-captured training videos for the publishing team before conducting face-to-face training and handover, to ensure everyone felt comfortable and confident using the new CMS.

The result? One happy client with a web presence that delivers for both the end-user and the internal marketing team.

We’re now moving into phase two of the project, which will expand upon the initial library of custom components to deliver an even more powerful solution. We’ve also created a generic library of Umbraco components – like a ‘starter kit’ for new clients – that will enable Deepend to deliver greater value and better project velocity in the future.

You’ve gotta love open source.

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Glen Jeffreys

Glen Jeffreys

Consultant (UX & Behavioural Change)
E: Glen.Jeffreys@deepend.com.au
P: (02) 8917 7900

Mark Libres

Consultant (Technology)
E: mark.libres@deepend.com.au
P: (02) 8917 7900

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