Ever since I started converting static sites to WordPress for clients, one problem has become clearer and clearer. WordPress is too complex for many small business owners to use right off the bat.
Despite the fact that WordPress is fairly easy to use, it doesn’t give that impression when a small business owner first encounters it. Even if I only give editor rights to the client, the initial dashboard is so overflowing with information, widgets, and menu items, that the client often feels overwhelmed and unsure how to proceed.
I’ve finally decided enough is enough. It’s time to make WordPress seem as easy as it is, so I started on my quest to make it so. Luckily, there are tutorials on how to streamline the WordPress admin section via functions, and if coding is your thing, you can code your own solutions. Even better, for me, is the fact that there are plugins to make this task quick and easy. Several are available and all work pretty well, however, after trying a few, I decided that the free White Label CMS plugin, along with Howdy Tweaks, would work perfectly for my needs – and of course, for the needs of my small business clients. If you want to try others, take a look at Adminize or Point and Stare CMS, among others.
So what does a typical admin-level user see when they get to the WordPress dashboard?
Even a typical editor-level user might see something that looks like this:
Yikes! The average small business owner with no modern website or CMS experience is ready to run when faced with all of that, and frankly, they just don’t need to deal with all of the irrelevant (to them) WordPress news, etc. Many of them just want to be able to do the basics – manage pages and/or posts and related media. In fact, many of my clients don’t want anything to do with blog posts at all. They simply want a way to manage pages, so that’s the example client I’ll talk about today.
For this example client, who I’ll call ABC Services, I want to limit their access to admin-only functions so they don’t accidentally delete important theme or plugin code, hide most of the dashboard widgets, hide some of the menu items, and give them some extra help items. Of course, I’ll give them the username and password for the admin user, but I will make it clear that they should really never login as the admin for normal site management. They deserve to have the ability, of course, since it’s their site, but they should only use it when absolutely necessary. On a normal basis, they will login in as a user that has been set up with Editor rights. (Of course, what I include or hide will depend upon each client’s needs and experience level, and naturally, any admin-level user who logs in will see and have access to everything).
Once I install While Label CMS, I start making the changes to its settings.
There are more options than I’ve shown in the screenshots above, but basically, you get the opportunity to brand the login screen and the dashboard, hide dashboard widget panels, add your own dashboard panel, and quite a bit more. Now let’s take a look at what my fictional small business client, ABC Services will see after I’ve customized the WordPress admin are for them.
First, they see a custom login screen, with their own logo, to help them feel as though they are in the right place. Next, they see the custom, branded dashboard.
How much cleaner is that? Ok, let’s look at a screenshot with some red arrows overlaid so you can really focus on the changes.
You can see that the client’s branding is carried over to the dashboard, and that I’ve included developer branding in the footer. I always want my clients to know how to find me if they need help. Most of the widgets are gone, and in their place is a new custom panel that I can put anything into – such as a welcome message, links to help, etc. In addition, the menu is much shorter than before.
You’ll notice I’ve also changed the word “Howdy” in the upper right to “Hi”, and included a link when they hover there to “Get support from Donna”. I could include any other helpful links in that area as well. This part of the customization, however, did not come from While Label CMS; this was accomplished via the Howdy Tweaks plugin I mentioned earlier.
With this kind of customization, plus instructions and links to WordPress video tutorials, my small business clients stand a much better chance of finding WordPress as easy as it really should be.
If you create WordPress sites for clients, I hope you consider customizing the experience for them. And if you hire me to convert a static site to WordPress, I’ll do my best to make the experience as easy and pleasant as possible.