We often come across situations where clients find a way to accommodate a particular need on their websites on their own. In the long run, these “hacks” can make development and redesigns difficult, and hurt the perfectly clean data structure you set up for them on day one.
Examples? An embedded Twitter feed at the bottom of the body field of every blog post. Files uploaded to a 3rd-party service and linked to from a client’s site. A news item used as a holder for a page that has no place being in news (because the client can easily publish there). I’m sure all developers have seen this at least once, and in many cases reversing such work may cost us more time and our clients more money.
Should we blame them? Absolutely not. Lets blame ourselves for not properly educating our clients on the power and flexibility of the system their website is built on.
This is why we always talk about this with our clients during CMS training or around the launch of their websites. It’s quite simple. Let them know that if they ever want to do something that their website isn’t built to do, to run it by you. Include some examples. You can automatically embed that Twitter feed on every page, give your client a file upload field, or build them a system to create whatever type of page they need.
These solutions will not only save them time in managing content now, but also help to reduce budgets in the long run and keep your site as organized as it was on launch day. Win win!