Remember the last website you launched for a client? The design was clean and looked awesome, that is until they got a hold of the CMS. Even if you clean up any code they dump into the site, the quality can still go downhill overtime. For instance, maybe they like using all caps for titles, huge blocks of bold or italics text or they upload fuzzy pictures. It’s rare to see a huge site that can maintain its quality over time without having to redesign it again, unless there are some strict limits on what goes in certain fields. We’ve all seen sites that launch with an impressive design, then over the next 3 years they tack on more and more features without any real thought to how best to place or present that information. Overtime the site becomes jumbled, bloated and its time to redo it again.
Financial situations may pressure you to squeeze in another ad or your web stats prove video is hot, so the powers that be require you to have a video widget on the page. Another department requires you have a link to their content above the fold or someplace prominent with a icon or hideous color. People that use CMSes can’t see how the information looks as they enter it or if it’s consistent with the rest of the site, afterall most admins screens are rather plain. Thus, content that wasn’t originally planned or laid out in the initial design just gets dumped in.
So, what can you do?
- Filter out CSS and HTML (although sometimes people need the ability to create tables, or put in some YouTube code). You could possibly allow a few tags and then filter out the rest but be sure to remove style attributes.
- Setup your CSS to try to override any possible color or font changes (nothing is worse than having a site all in Verdana and then someone dumping in font tags using Lucida Handwriting or big ugly blocks of bold red text).
- Make rules or guidelines for entering data into your site.
- Suggest to users they should not use all uppercase for titles, let them know that CSS can transform the text for them (that way you if you redesign later you won’t have some titles in uppercase and others not so).
- Suggest alternatives to the bright yellow background colored box they want for video player.
- Add a Preview feature that shows them exactly what the data will look like on the live site.
- Check the dimensions and filesize of any images uploaded (resize and save them with backend code like PHP if possible or do the alternative with nasty HTML squashing and force them to be a certain size with the height and width attributes).
- Be sure they know any images that are uploaded need to look crisp (any really dark, red tinted, or blurry photos can make a good site look bad very quickly).