Website Documentation for Content Administrators

Going beyond help text for content admin support

Raise your hand if you love reading or writing documentation. …Anyone? Well, in either case, there is no denying how appreciative we are when we need it. At The Web Atrium, our focus is on building customized website interfaces, and this is not just for the end users, but also for content admins. When our customization goes beyond default setup, a little help goes a long way. Making website documentation for content administrators is part of our service.

Many clients already have internal structures for documentation, and in these cases, we are happy to add and edit information on the build and usage of the website in the designated application. For those that do not, we can build it into the site itself!

illustration of a smiling sun, with warm rays supporting a web browserWhen working in platforms like Drupal or WordPress, customization of the admin workflow is possible. It’s nice to have a reference at hand so you don’t have to memorize everything. This goes for us devs too! We don’t want to have to memorize where the documentation section is either, so it’s nice to include a link in the footer menu, where you might also have an admin login link for example.

But we don’t need to have the inner site workings exposed to the public. In both Drupal and WordPress, the permissions for this section can be set for only logged in users with a particular role, or accessible via a password. Building this section from scratch each time can also take a lot of effort, so we like to start with a boilerplate.

Using WordPress as a more detailed example, we’ve made a plugin that creates a custom post-type for documentation. It includes its own taxonomy structure, base templates, and menu location. All of these items appear in the admin dashboard, ready to be filled with helpful text. When a new documentation post is added, there is code that designates it as Private, so only admin users can have access. It’s nice to have this in the code, so we don’t have to remember that setting each time. Since this is a plugin made in-house, we can easily customize the code and structure per our client’s needs, so nobody ends up with more or less than what is needed.

Note: We aren’t selling this plugin on the market, it is something we use just for our clients. There are other documentation and help text plugins out there, and we’re glad because we believe in this practice and think it is an effort well spent.

So, where it lacks drama and excitement, documentation and help text can really support the efficiency of the workflow for site admins and devs alike. Writing or editing the documents in tandem with building out templates and new features keeps the task doable for those who need to write it. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, just clear information. Creating internal structures to house these documents is a great way to make them easily accessible. We do find it to be a little bit exciting, to be honest, when we consider how helpful it is for those we support.