When you’re focusing on your design projects, you’re likely thinking about things like keeping your client happy, making something that looks great, and creating real results with the final product. But something you might not think of is how easy the final website you’ve created will be for your clients to update themselves.
Krista here! This definitely isn’t something I’ve always considered. I’m sure if I went back to the first few sites I did for clients, I’d cringe at how difficult certain things are to update. But since then, I’ve seen what a difference it can make to empower your clients to do their own updates.
So today we’re chatting about why it’s important to pay attention and the different options you have in WordPress for making your designs easy for clients to update.
Why it’s important
Your clients will be happier and feel empowered
First of all, when your clients have the ability and knowledge to update their own website, they’re going to be happier with your project overall. It’s likely that if they had to contact you for each and every change that they’ll feel annoyed or frustrated and we never want to end a project with someone feeling that way.
They won’t come back to you for so many small “emergency” changes
Allowing your clients to make their own updates will also make your life easier. It will mean fewer emails from past clients expecting you to do something simple for free or acting like a change is an emergency just because they don’t know how to do it on their own.
What these updates don’t include
Even though we want our clients to be able to make updates to their sites, this does come with limitations. While we want them to be able to update, say, their about page, we don’t want them changing large parts of their design.
So we’re talking about things like updating their page content without searching through HTML in a page, a ton of widget areas, or complex plugins.
For example, if there’s a call-to-action in the header, it should be easy for them to go in and change out the text without having to go into a theme file.
4 ways to make your designs easy to update
1. Widget areas
Widget areas are helpful for places like the sidebar, footer, and after blog posts. They’re so great because it’s easy for clients to replace or rearrange what’s in those areas without worrying about messing up code.
Most themes come with widget areas built in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add your own to make things easier and more flexible!
However, even though they’re great, there are some mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t load up the website with a ton of widget areas. Your clients will just get confused if there are more than a few.
- Use widgetized homepages wisely. Sometimes they’re more confusing than flexible or helpful.
- Don’t leave extra widget areas that came with the parent theme if you’re not using them.
The Customizer is my personal favorite. It’s so nice for keeping things easy to update, but it’s something that a lot of designers seem to be a little intimidated by. Even though it’s a little tricky to get the hang of, it’s totally worth the work.
It’s perfect for things your clients will need to update without having to worry about CSS and HTML and things that don’t need to change much. For example, I love to use the Customizer for full-width images and calls-to-action in website headers.
However, be careful not to limit your clients where they shouldn’t be limited.
3. Advanced Custom Fields
This option is a little easier than the Customizer, but still requires a bit of PHP coding. It’s especially helpful when your clients need extra options available in their posts or pages.
For example, if they want the option to toggle on or off the page title or set an image to show in the header that’s different than the featured image, adding fields for those things can make this super easy on them.
However, don’t go crazy with putting too many fields in a page. More than a couple is probably overdoing it (not that I’ve done that before or anything 😉 ).
4. Beaver Builder
Now we’re on to my personal favorite. Beaver Builder (affiliate) is a simple, flexible, and powerful page-builder plugin. It’s great for letting you add custom styling easily, while making it super easy for clients to update. And unlike Divi, there won’t be shortcodes left if the plugin breaks or your client decides to use something else in the future.
This tool is the easiest one to use for pages with a lot of custom styling and formatting.
- Do a little research on any of the options you haven’t heard of or used before
- Get those things set up on a test site of your own and do some experimenting