Customer focused WordPress (Part 2)

November 6, 2015

If you missed part 1 of this article, check it out here.

Ok now that you have covered the front-end of the website, the design is right and the functionality fits the customer goals, lets move on to a few ways to improve your customer experience in the the WP Admin.

There are a few things we like to do to help our customers in the WP Admin.  They are:

  1. Brand the login.
  2. Hide unnecessary admin navigation
  3. Limit plugins
  4. Don’t use a canned theme, unless its perfect.  (We mean really perfect for this customer)

These are pretty simple items but will dramatically improve the administration of the site. So lets get into it.

1. Brand the login.  We wrote a recent post about this.  You can find it here.  Basically, put the customer logo into the login instead of the WP logo.  Next color the login button with a branded color.  These two simple items will make the customer feel like this is their site, not some random WordPress site.

2. Hide unnecessary admin navigation.  You can find details about this in the WordPress documentation here.

function remove_menus(){
  remove_menu_page( 'edit-comments.php' );          //Comments
  remove_menu_page( 'edit.php' );                   //Posts
add_action( 'admin_menu', 'remove_menus' );

Why remove Posts you ask?  Well not every WordPress site uses Posts.  Hiding the item from view doesn’t remove the functionality, it just creates a less cluttered admin view for the website.  This will help your customer feel like the site is more focused on them.

Another question we ask is: is a piece of WordPress functionality not useful on this project?  For instance, if the client uses Facebook commenting, then why display the Comments nav.

3. Limit Plugins.  This one should be easy but you’d be surprised.  We have taken on client maintenance projects where there are 40+ plugins installed and no clear documentation for the project. Why install so many plugins?  Because the developer didn’t know how to build the project correctly from the beginning.  Here is a few criteria that we use to define if we will use a plugin or not. If the answer to a given question is “Yes” then we don’t need a plugin

  • Is the functionality built into WordPress?  (whether we know how to implement it or not)
  • Is plugin going to require frequent updating?
  • Could the feature be built efficiently?

A good example of a necessary plugin is Contact Form 7 or Gravity Forms.  Both plugins are very valuable as they provide functionality not available through the WP Core, they will require updating but the core feature is intact either way, and while we could build a form, once, giving the customer the ability to build new forms is a valuable piece of functionality.

As a general rule: less plugins equals more stable.

4. Don’t use a canned theme unless its perfect for this project.  Themes are great.  Most of us have developed a base theme that works well for our development process.  The issue with canned themes is that they often come pre-baked with a ton of functionality that is overkill.  They usually need several plugins just to run correctly and bulk up your project without adding much value.

When is it ok to use a canned theme?  Here are few items to think about:

  1. The customer is specifically requesting it.
  2. The design is something you couldn’t pull off
  3. There is a specific feature that lowers the cost to the client without compromising plugins count, functionality or any other piece of the project.

At Ravenna we work hard to keep things customer focused, what ways do you use to keep things customer focused?  Comment below and lets make site administration easier for our customers!

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