LTB Photography and Admin UX

In my daily work at FPX, I’m usually concerned with the “end-user UX”—that is, what’s it like for the person at the end of the chain who actually uses the software as part of their job? We do have some administrative tools for general configuration and tweaks, but since they’re largely for internal use, they rarely get much UX love. When I was tasked with creating the website for LTB Photography, it gave me a chance to really focus on making the site as easy and delightful to administrate as it is to use.

In this post:

Content planning

Before we could focus on making the admin area easy to use, we had to figure out what content was going to be on the website. The two most complex parts of Lori’s site, from a content-editing point of view, are the Investments and Testimonials pages. The content itself may not be that crazy, but it does need to be adaptable to a few different types of views.

For the Investments, we decided on a “home” page that listed each investment, along with a relevant picture, a blurb describing the photo session, and a link to the particular investment’s pricing page. The testimonials required an investment name, the customer’s name, and their comments.

All Investments page
Wedding investment panel on the all investments page – View full size
Wedding Investment page
Detail view of wedding investment – View full size
Testimonials page
All the Testimonials – View full size

Custom post types

With the plan in place, I set to work creating an Investment and Testimonial custom post type. I used a combination of built-in WordPress functionality and the Advanced Custom Fields plugin to add simple creation pages for Lori.

Investment page
Simple page for adding a new Investment – View full size
Testimonial page
Simple page for adding a new Testimonial – View full size

Taking the time to create these simple creation pages for Lori means that it’s trivial for her to add new content to her website. She doesn’t have to worry about special HTML or Markdown formatting, or whether or not she used the correct heading level in the WYSIWYG editor. All we need are some text strings and the templates take care of the rest.

Tidying the rest of the admin area

There’s one last little catch that we had to address before handing the keys over to Lori. It can be tempting to give the client “admin” level access in WordPress, but it’s usually too much power. More importantly, there are settings and configuration areas that can be distracting to the client when they’re just wanting to add or edit some content.

WordPress admin
The standard admin view in WordPress—lots of links in the sidebar that just aren't relevant or helpful to Lori – View full size

In most cases, it’s better to give the client an “editor” account. They still have permissions to control the content of their site, but without the distractions of the other management links that they really shouldn’t be messing with.

editor view
Lori's view when she logs in to manage her site – View full size

Much better! Now Lori only sees links that are useful to her—links to manage her investments, testimonials, and other content. Creating this targeted environment for her has helped her keep up with featuring new photo shoots on her site.

Wrap up

We often talk about designing and refining the end-user experience and the “front” of websites and applications. Working on Lori’s site was a nice reminder that UX design encompasses users on both sides of our work.

Lori now manages the LTB Photography site on her own. A previous version of this blog post included links to relevant pages, but I have since removed them as they no longer accurately reflect the current state of Lori’s site. We’ve moved on to collaborating on the website for The Manor at Stowers Hill 🙂