Designing and developing a website, one can focus a lot on its front-end to build a smooth experience for site visitors; but this is just a tip of the iceberg. When someone is reading or watching the content, there should be someone who uploads and edits it. So what about the smooth experience of these guys? The most potent reason why sometimes an easy CMS like WordPress wins over Drupal is probably that it is more friendly and less intimidating to the content editors. And Drupal as a CMS that is manned by a dedicated community of developers is undoubtedly a ‘Developer Oriented’ platform. A quick conclusion: for a Drupal developer, it is vital to ensure that Drupal is convenient to use. But during the entire process of site development, somewhere down the line, the editor experience is missed.
Fortunately, you can ensure to make a Drupal website editor friendly. In this article, you'll find some tips that can help you with this.
1.Choosing an Editor Friendly Admin Theme
The ‘much-desired’ Seven Admin Theme, used out of the box in Drupal 7, was introduced a long time ago. But as the time proceeded, the smartphone industry witnessed a phenomenal growth, directly influencing a huge share of the web traffic. Needless to say - this is the reason webmasters today want to administer their Drupal sites through different screens (be it a tablet, smartphone or an iPad). A responsive admin theme is the need of the hour.
The ability to edit and administer the site over the web from any location and device is indeed great. Therefore, choosing an editor friendly admin tool is a valid decision. One of the most popular Administration themes available for Drupal is Adminimal. Adminimal provides a responsive layout, easy-to-use modern design, has neat form UI elements, streamlines the arrangement of content through detailed columns and blocks and improves navigation with the help of Adminimal Menu submodule.
One of the coolest features that we like about using Adminimal is that it's neat, has good contrast and colors, and renders the elements of Drupal's backend in a legible and convenient manner, which editors love.
2. Choosing a (Mobile) Friendly Admin Bar
Along with an editor friendly admin theme, your Drupal website also needs a ‘mobile-friendly’ admin bar. I would recommend something as versatile and powerful as Navbar admin bar. Earlier regarded as ‘Mobile Friendly Navigation Toolbar’, Navbar brings a very simple navigation toolbar to practice. Way back in the year 2012, when Navbar was first developed as a part of the Spark Project, it cameton rescue to counter some mobile editing problems with the Drupal 7 toolbar. At that time, the shipped toolbar with Drupal 7 was not very convenient and friendly to the small screen devices.
With the Navbar Admin bar, you can see a bar containing all the top-level administrative components on the top of the screen. The bar also displays the links provided by other modules, such as the links of core Shortcut modules, Responsive Preview Module and so on. Apart from providing the required responsive solutions, the vertical orientation of Navbar is highly regarded for helping the deep-level access to the administrative functions. For this, you don’t even have to refresh the page!
The Navbar module is also available in Drupal 8 core.
3. Using The ‘Shortcuts’ Wisely
For all the content editors, using the Shortcut menu is nothing but a great option. The dynamic toolbar on the top of the page that is provided by the Shortcut module helps the editors to add links. A site-wide toolbar, Shortcut module can add the most used links to the bar (making it visible to the users who are permitted to access Shortcut toolbar). If an editor is using Shortcuts wisely, then they can easily create links to the most commonly used pages of the site. Organizing multiple links with the help of shortcuts is quite convenient with this module.
You can also use the Shortcut bar along with the 'Shortcut per Role' module for a dynamic experience. The module works on a simple functionality, as it assigns different shortcut-sets on the basis of some roles. For using this module, having core shortcut module is mandatory. Using something like this with proper shortcuts is surely going to help editors experience a friendly Drupal.
4. Consider Field Groups for Keeping Forms in Structure
It is unusable to use long undocumented forms for the content editor. So what are the ways in which you can fix this? Well, while building a website with Drupal, make sure to use the 'Field Group' module. The purpose of this module is to group different fields together. For instance, if you have an event, you can separate from each other venue fields, date (starting and end dates) and basic information (title, description, and main image) in different groups. The categorization of fields has to be considered for what makes sense to the types of data and information your editors will be using.
The module comes with a default HTML wrapper to group fields together. The HTML wrappers are vertical tabs, horizontal tabs, accordions, fieldsets and div wrappers. Use Field Group module for node entry forms to make the forms well-structured with the right amount of information displayed.
5. Use an Enhanced Dashboard That Gives The End User: Total Control
By creating a default panel page with useful administration tools, the Total Control Admin Dashboard provides a much better aggregation of site’s function in the friendly and customizable dashboard. Using Views and Panels, the dashboard works for the purpose of creating a ‘central location unit’ of the entire site. The dashboard also includes several panes for site stats and quick references. Each view panel pane in The Total Control is customizable through the pane settings. Don’t forget to edit the dashboard to provide a tailored experience for your site editors.
6. Use Strings Overrides to Make Drupalized Terminology Become More Familiar
Sometimes, Drupal uses unfamiliar jargon that makes things confusing to the editor - if you’ve never worked with Drupal before, you probably don’t know terms like Nodequeue, Taxonomy, Fieldable Panel Panes, etc. So what to do? Switch to String Overrides that provides the easiest and quickest way to replace any text that passes through t() on the site. String Overrides allows the editor to override strings in any language, providing locale support in a convenient way.
As site builders, we must think about the editors of the website as somebody non-tech savvy people, thus, rewording these terms in a layman approach. For instance, you can use the module “String Overrides” to change Drupal jargon to more universal terms such as:
Example 1: Nodequeue to Content queue and Nodequeues to Content queues
Example 2: Taxonomy of Categories and Vocabulary to Category.
There are several necessary steps that a Drupal developer must consider to make the site friendly for the content editors, and as I explained at the beginning of the blog post, do think about the content editors as one of the most important users of your site. As a site builder, the content editor’s experience is entirely dependent on you.
While this is just the beginning of the discussion, I will surely get back to you with more tips and suggestions to make Drupal friendlier. And as always I'd appreciate your ideas! Meanwhile, have a look at this distribution 'Uber Publisher' to witness for yourself our takes on an optimized and editor-friendly Drupal experience. Now, this is something that can certainly change the way content is curated with Drupal. Uber Publisher is a distribution built by Vardot on Drupal. It’s built a tight-knit set of modules and configurations to provide powerful content management solution. It also helps different content functions like layout management, custom workflow, content featuring, and others.