A butterfly and a fly close to a flower

Making editors life easier with Neos - Part I

In many projects editors are rarely mentioned in the initial requirements. No or little research is done in the project concept phase what they actually need to do their daily job. This is also a reason why many websites get irregular updates after their initial go live.

Often in our projects we only found out by accident or late where the editors have problems. If any of the tasks they have to do many times a day needs a few more clicks, they waste a lot of time. Some companies don't care about whether editors need 3 hours or 30 minutes to fulfill their tasks.

To improve this situation Sreyleak and Sebastian teamed up.

Sreyleak is a Project Coordinator at Web Essentials who has little technical background. Sebastian is a freelance consultant and contributor to the TYPO3 and Neos CMS projects.

Once Sebastian was in a meeting with his customer and their editors. The later asked him whether there was an easier way to do one of their usual tasks which always took a lot of time. Sebastian said yes, but the customer interrupted and said this has to be discussed. The conversation ended and everyone was unhappy. The topic was never prioritised again because of "budget reasons".

As experts we should help our customers understand the importance of good editing workflows. This needs to be part of the conceptual phase with defined goals. In our opinion those goals are best found in collaboration between integrators and editors. Of course this costs some time and money. But in the end more motivated editors create better and more frequent content. Having a dynamic website also keeps visitors interested.

The editing experience also needs to be validated in the ongoing project reviews.

We feel it's rewarding when the editors thank us:

Yes the new CMS also has some problems, but it's so much better than the last one we used. Thank you.

This was after the their first week using Neos CMS. Sebastian did a 30 minutes workshop with them and they were confident to work on their own.

Neos doesn't solve content editing issues, it gives integrators tools to provide great experiences.

In actual projects it was clear that not every workflow can be self explanatory. That's why in new projects Sebastian creates short videos explaining the tailor made workflows. This was much faster than writing a long documentation with screen captures. With Neos CMS we have the possibility to create customised solutions for any kind of customer. So the documentation has to reflect that.

By creating a video you also see how long a workflow takes and the complexity of each task. When it's too complicated and takes too long, it's an opportunity to go one step back and improve the workflow before delivery.

In one example the video went down from 4 to just 2 minutes. The editors gave great feedback and didn't even ask for extra training sessions. And don't forget websites have a long life and editors come and go. Those also have to understand the system.

A video also shows that a feature works as expected.

After a few videos it will only take a few minutes to create them. So how about adding "Create training video" to the definition of done of your user stories?


Conclusion:

It's important to deliver software which is usable and simplifies content creation. If you don't find a good way to simplify a workflow, provide help that is actually used.

In the next chapter we will talk more about empathy for the users during development.

Follow us on twitter (@awesome_leak, @sebobo) to stay up to date on "Making editors life easier with Neos CMS".