Unable to edit your website?
In this article I discuss a practice that some web developers still do with the only intention in mind is for them to make more money doing something for you when you should be able to do this yourself.
I am referring to the practice of disabling basic functionality, in this case the Editor.
Personally I cannot see any GOOD reason to do this. None whatsoever.
The editor is baked into WordPress, why remove it?
I am referring to making simple editorial changes to your content, whether to a page or blog post on your website.
Let's take WordPress for example. Out of the box it has an Editor baked in allowing you to make simple content changes as required.
The other week a colleague contacted me requesting assistance to see whether their client's website was broken and why they couldn't easily add content. They were able to add simple things, but they had to do it by knowing a little bit of HTML. Contacting their web developer yielded no assistance. I wonder why? My colleague was HTML savvy and could edit the site, business I am sure the developer was missing out on.
Why would they make it so hard for the customer in the first place? This practice makes me mad. There are bad seeds in every industry that bring us down. I abhor this practice.
Here's the thing, I'd say less than 1% of business owners out there know how to edit HTML. The entire reason for having an Editor is so you do not have to. The other beauty of the Editor feature, especially in WordPress, is it takes what you type and converts it to is compliant HTML markup - fancy terminology for the correct way to write HTML so a browser will read it.
I love my food and love making food analogies. Put simply imagine getting a hot apple pie out of the oven but surprise there is no apple inside. It promised to be a hot apple pie with apple. That's no fun. I'm deflated. No amount of whipped cream will make it better.
So too with your editor in your website. If this is missing, it's game over. There simply is not apple in your hot apple pie.
Now you can expect several things to happen:
- You will have to pay for simple website updates
- You become disillusioned about web developers and websites
- You lose interest in your website as it is not easy to update
- Your website looks old and stale
- Your competitors gain an advantage over you
- Your website doesn't convert as it gets little traffic due to lack of love you show it
- You start to not like web people
Not all web people are cut from the same cloth.
This is where it gets interesting
There could be a couple of reasons for the web developer to do this. The web developer:
- believes you are not smart enough to use the built in Editor to add content; or
- they figure by disabling the Editor you will not be able to add content and will need to request them to do it only to get charged for something you could have easily done.
I believe it is the latter. By confusing the bejesus out of you when it comes time to edit your website, you figure it is all too hard and you relent and ask them to do it.
If it is either one, they're a dinosaur developer. What computer user has not grown up using Word or a similar tool. Word is far harder to use than a Website Editor! Period! Especially the built in WordPress Editor.
Depending on the changes you want, let's say it's a grammatical change or a new paragraph you wanted to add, on a WordPress website this should take you less than 5 minutes to do.
BUT because they have disabled the key feature of your website it now costs you:
- more time / delays
- more money
- more effort than you need to do
- you have to hire them or someone else to make a simple change
All just to make a simple change. This practice infuriates me no end. You are now beholden to the whim and availability of your developer. Ka-ching!
Now I do not begrudge web developers making money. We all have to eat. But making your customer jump through hoops to do simple stuff is plain wrong. If you are a web developer and you are reading this - there a more ways to derive your income in really taking care of things your client cannot do.
Provide massive value
- Add value where you can
- Make it easy for them to edit their own content
- Provide training videos
- Offer Coaching Calls or Training Webinars
- Put on a Workshop
- Let them edit their own content!
- It reduces your support requests and it makes for happier clients.
In the world we currently live information is instant. I blame Google for this. Where almost anything you want to do or find out is at your fingertips and seconds away it is making us very impatient.
When you make your clients jump through hoops or when it comes time to get a new website or get that referral you will not be their favoured web developer.
This is the standard WordPress view in Editor mode.
This is the non-standard WordPress view with the Editor disabled.
Why We Want You To be able to publish and make your own website changes
We've been developing websites for 15 + years. We've built our own CMS (content managements systems) to using off the shelf platforms like DNN (Dot Net Nuke) to WordPress. WordPress is our CMS of choice.
We believe it is by far the easiest platform to use and develop with. I just love the community around WordPress and the relationships nurtured. There are some amazing WordPress plugin developers and programmers out there.
The one thing that absolutely takes the fun out of what we do is Support. We have to provide it since there a million moving parts from your PC to the web server and everything in between. We're expected to know it all and when the proverbial hits the fan - we are the first ones to be called - even when the issues resides elsewhere. Unless you have your own IT Department - the first person you contact is your web guy or girl.
Support sucks the life out of you and takes us away from doing the fun stuff or playing *cough* testing shiny toys.
The other thing is we want you to publish. Publish more blog posts. Show off your Authority. Get your content shared. Give more value. Get More traffic. Get more Leads. Make more Sales. Thrive.
Things You Should Know
- Get it in writing. Make it part of your contract with your developer that you will be able to edit your own content. That the editor WILL NOT be disabled. That you want to be able to use the Editor as it was originally intended by the developer of WordPress, That you want to be able to create headings, add links, highlight content via bold, italics or underline. That you do not want to have to edit your site via HTML to add content. DEMAND this.
- Understand that some things will be out of your control if you do need style or layout changes. These kinds of changes need to be done mostly by your developer. Unless of course you are using a Page Builder tool with your website. (we have one of those too!)
- Do they have a Training Manual or Training Videos to cover the basics? If not, can they point you to some videos they recommend. Telling you to look on YouTube or Google is a cop out.
- What is included in their Support terms?
With great power comes great responsibility
Peter Parker aka Spiderman.
There are several other levels of access in WordPress higher than the Editor Role that you can get. Just because they exist doesn't mean you need to have that access.
Through our years of using DNN and WordPress, without fail when we have provided higher levels of access the client inevitably tinkers and break things. It's just a universal law. It will happen.
Just like when you tell a kid to not touch the fire. Guess what? They touch it. The remedy? Remove the object of desire so they never touch it.
Like in WordPress we provide the minimum level of access we believe you need - Editor. Next level is Administrator. This is, as far as I am concerned, the Developer's Level.
There are other layers above that which is FTP / cPanel. Unless you want to move or want to have a look behind the curtain this is why you want this access.
- Behind the curtain is pretty boring and
- If you want to move - no developer likes you moving - unless you are a problem child and we're happy to see you go, but more often than not, losing a client is like losing a limb. Part of you dies inside. Well that's how I feel. It's like we failed somehow - and I HATE failing.
Anyhoo onto nicer thoughts:
- Understand that if you request this access your developer can no longer control or guarantee the integrity of your website.
- They have developed it to an inch of its life and your website is a delicate balance of code and awesomeness.
- If you tinker it could cost you all sorts of issues from allowing the site to get hacked, parts if not all of it deleted.
- The cost to repair or replace will take time and cost you.
Here is an analogy. You love cars but are you a mechanic? Do you cut your own hair or do your own taxes? Most likely not. Then there is no need to tinker. Leave that to us.
BUT do you need to ask permission from your car dealer to drive your car? No. What a ridiculous notion. So too with your website. You need to drive it and you do not need our permission to do so. We want you to drive it.
Things You Should Do
If you find yourself in this position of not having an easy to use website to add a blog post or page or just edit it as you need to then:
- Check out using WordPress - make the change.
- Demand your web developer unlock your editor to allow you to do it. If they have developed the site in a way that by using the editor it will upset the balance of their feng shui code then you might be stuck with what you've got.
- If you are about to take the web development journey - make sure the developer develops your site around the Editor not the other way round.
- Take the BOLD step and ask your developer why you cannot make simple editing changes including creating a blog post or adding a page and being able to edit the posts or pages without needing to know HTML.
Taking that step is brave. Some developers believe they walk on hallowed ground and how dare you question them. Believe me, I've seen this. They do exist. So weigh up whether you think you have a good relationship before you ask. It may come off as antagonistic to those developers with a delicate ego.
It's the main reason we stopped developing in DNN and moved to WordPress. The WordPress community is amazing, supportive, sharing and incredible vs DNN. That's another blog post.
Now you know it is not broken. It's been disabled. You are complimenting them but showing them up at the same time.
If they do not revert this practice and turn this on for you or do so and bill you for the privilege that was there in the first place.
Like ordering the Apple Pie only to be told the Apple is extra? But it's a freaken Apple Pie! Even if it is implied you can edit your own website, make sure you get it in writing.
You could start like this:
"Hey [insert developers name here],
Trust you are well and business is good.
Just wanted to check-in and say that I am getting loads of compliments from my clients and friends about my website. Thank you!
The one thing one my clients are asking me to provide, is helpful articles on the [insert your product or service here] that we provide. I would but my site is so darn hard to update.
I am aware other colleagues can easily update their own WordPress website. Is my website broken?
I have loads of articles I want to write and share with my audience that I need to be able to simply log in and post.
Can you take a quick peak for me and let me know if my site is broken or turn that feature on for me please.
"I/We/You can easily edit my own website, add Pages and Blog Posts using the built in features of WordPress including the Editor to do so. That I need not know any HTML to update my site content."
Then you will know if the writing is on the wall. Shop around and ask questions. Get ready to move when you feel you need to.
A foot note here: The one thing that annoys me too is programmers who build a website purely on how it looks without considering the end user who will have no clue how to edit their own website. My simple instruction to my own programmers is - Make it so the client can edit the website easily. They need to be able to use the features baked in without needing to come to us to make it happen.
Boy have we stopped using programmers because of this very simple request.
Not sure whether you have the power to edit your own site? Shoot me a screen shot of your WordPress Editor and I will able to tell if your site is not doing what it was baked to do.
Keep baking delicious content and delivering your secret sauce.
If you have something to add or a story to share. Please comment below.
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