If Content is King, then the Author is Queen

Lead UX Designer - DK

July 22, 2015

Author Experience (AX) is a design discipline that too often is neglected. As an experienced UX designer, I strongly believe that any CMS should be built with AX as a priority. Why? Because the author should be able to create content without having to jump through hoops because of a system that was not built with the author’s workflow in mind.

Author Experience starts with the simple premise that the user, or the author, is the most important person when it comes to interacting with a content management system and creating critical output

AX is a low-hanging fruit for the consultancy and if it isn’t taken into consideration at the beginning of a project, clients miss out on a host of benefits:

  • Less resources spent
  • Faster content handling
  • Measurable output
  • Profitability

With these benefits in mind, it’s time for consultants to start thinking about the author’s workflow and the system’s accessibility. In all honesty, I have seen many cases where AX has not been prioritized, in particular in terms of looking at terminology and workflow layout. And that's a shame because it is a discipline where the consultancy can directly add value to their client’s business.

Benefits from AX

An efficient and simple content management workflow carefully aligned with the client’s business needs will allow the author to easily edit without a thorough introduction. Even when a CMS is used infrequently, editing will be done in a meaningful flow. In the end it will lead to fewer resources spent by the client due to faster content handling which again will result in a measurable and profitable outcome – not to mention, a more pleasant author experience.

The overall outcome of a great Author Experience will be a long lasting alliance between the client and the agency, as the author is more likely to be loyal to both the CMS and the consultants.

So, how do we make sure we deliver on these benefits?

All parties in the project team are responsible

In a nutshell, everyone in the project has to work closely together and dig deeper into the field of AX. By adding a number of AX specific activities, the UX designer can incorporate an author-centric approach into the existing User Experience methodology. The below list of activities should be seen as a recommendation and is by all means not an exhaustive list:

  • Perform an initial AX analysis keeping the author's content management purposes and goals in mind. Take the time to involve stakeholders from both the client side and the developer team.
  • Provide author journeys as part of understanding the daily author workflow.
  • Provide a document with the author’s possibilities and constraints to secure workflow transparency.
  • Create an AX styleguide and terminology guide in order for the developer to ensure consistency (in labelling, language and layout).
  • Sketch critical CMS parts by hand or by using a wireframing tool and PLEASE share it with the author and the developer to align their perceptions.

Additional activities can obviously be added. It all depends on the project scope and the project team.

So, why not put AX on the agenda? You know what they say, behind every good king is a great queen.