Do your customers make you look bad?

One of the most used lines amongst my fellow website builders is this:  “We’ll be using a CMS, so you can easily add or change things yourself.”

True.  The goal of a Content Management System is that the end user can easily add or change content.  However, there’s a catch.  While it might be easy for a user to write articles or make changes to articles, that’s not an excuse for you to “train” them properly.

When you build a CMS based website, it doesn’t suffice to say “Just click Add Article there, and start typing away!”  You need to take things a bit further.  You should help the users make their site look good / decent.  You can do this, by teaching them the fundamentals.  Help them to avoid making their site look “bad”.

Why is this important?  Maybe it’s just me.  But when I visit a website and I see that things look “wrong”, I want to know who’s responsible for this mess.  I don’t point fingers at Company X , but at the people who built the website.  Company Y created the website, and it looks bad?  Tsk, tsk, tsk, Company Y. Not very cool.

An example, perhaps.  A week or two ago, a young woman who had starred in a TV show announced that she had just launched her website.  Curious, I visited the website.  The first thing I noticed was that it was built in Joomla!  How I immediately recognize a Joomla! site is something I’ll never understand.  But that’s off topic.  The second thing I noticed was a text on the front page, that didn’t “fit” in the design.  The text was waaaaaaaay too long – or the design was just plain wrong.

I didn’t blame said woman for this mistake.  You don’t expect her to have built the website herself, so you look for the designer.  I decided to blame him instead.  A few days later, the problem was “solved”; by performing some Joomla! tricks that didn’t really solve the problem, but merely “masked” it.

The problem?  Mr. Web Designer hadn’t taught his client that there was such thing as a “read more” button, or how she should use it.  This allowed the woman to make him look bad as a web designer.


Take some time to teach your client the essentials.  Help them make their site look good – not only is it important to them.  It’s also important to you and how people mighty “see you” as a web designer.

2 thoughts on “Do your customers make you look bad?”

  1. I have to agree and disagree with this article. Time spent training an insistent on self management client is time/money wasted and let’s face it…some clients want to do every thing themselves but can barely tie their own shoes.

    The average CMS system (be it Joomla, WordPress, Durpal, Mambo) I’ve found to be too difficult for the average client to use.

    In fact, of the 80 sites I built last year, probably half of them were re-builds that were originally done by another developer, keeping the same look and functionality, but switching to a table based HTML 4.01 design that could be easily edited by the client via the simple cPanel File Manager’s HTML Editor. (and yes they got great search engine rankings and were W3C valid)

    Yes, you should help you client understand basic principles and even before training learn your client’s skill levels so you can build the site on the best platform for them, but you can’t spend 20 hours a month for 3 months teaching a client who only spent $500 on their site.

  2. John,

    The training I’m talking about is the very basic training you refer to in your last line. Very basic stuff, like telling them to use the “read more” button. Or how to align an image. Nothing fancy. If you’re using a content management system, teach them how to create that content. Unfortunately, some train their customers by saying “just click here and start typing!”. That’s just asking for problems 😉

    Also, I admire your courage. I wouldn’t trust my customers editing any html page other than the ones they can create in their CMS 😀

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