Handing a completed website over to a client is an exciting time. Now is when you get to see your work pay off and your client finally gets access to what they’ve been excited about for months.
However, a big problem with custom website designs on WordPress is that, if done incorrectly, they can be difficult for clients to manage on their own. Think about things like:
- CSS and HTML embedded in their Work With Me page to make it look perfect
- A pile of widget areas to give them the freedom to make updates
- Extra complex plugins to manage special features
These are all parts of a website that can cause your clients to run into road blocks after working with you. Of course, you want your gorgeous web design to stay exactly how it is, but the reality is that your client will make changes. Especially to things like copy and images.
It’s important that these updates are easy for clients to manage on their own. Giving them ability to make limited changes will keep them much happier than they’d be if they had to come back to you for each and every tweak. This also means less maintenance work for you and more future projects with satisfied past clients.
If you don’t know the tricks to developing in WordPress, it can be hard to keep things nice and simple for clients so today we’ll go over my 4 favorite tricks to keep your web designs easy for clients to update.
1. Widget areas
The first way you can make things simple for your clients to update is by using widget areas properly. A mistake I see in themes is having too many widget areas or not counting on clients wanting to change the contents. But when the numbers are kept under control and a little extra styling is added in areas in case your clients wants to move things around, they can be really helpful.
The areas I most commonly use widget areas include the sidebar, footer, and the end of each blog post.
Utilizing a limited number of widget areas ensures your clients can make quick edits to areas of the website that would otherwise require them going into a PHP file. To keep things as simple as possible, remove any widget areas that come pre-built into the parent theme you’re using and only leave the ones that are being actively used on the site.
The WordPress Customizer is quickly becoming one of my favorite tools to use to keep things simple for my clients. It’s perfect for times that your client may want to tweak things like images, copy, links, or colors without having to dig into the CSS or HTML of a page.
One way I’ve liked using this lately is for full-width calls-to-action in the header section of websites. On my website, my full-width header is a combination of widget areas. It’s easy enough for me to update, but those who aren’t familiar with code would likely be pretty confused. Instead, you can use the Customizer and create settings for the background image, text, buttons, button text, and button link. That way your client can go in and tweak whichever settings they need and are good to go.
Here’s how I used this functionality for our latest theme at Coded Creative, Olivia:
3. Advanced Custom Fields
The next tool that’s great for keeping your web designs easy for clients to update is the Advanced Custom Fields plugin. ACF is an amazing plugin when your client needs a special feature or two, as it allows you to put additional fields in your post and page editing screens.
In the past, I’ve used it for things like:
- Setting a hero (full-width header) image, that is different than the featured image
- Allowing for a featured image to be set to show on the Blog page that is different than the post’s actual featured image
- Making multiple content sections
- Showing or hiding sections of the page
Since the settings are right in the post or page editing screen, it’s simple for clients to get used to and control.
However, it’s important not to misuse this feature. I’ll admit, right when I discovered ACF I overused it and now have a couple past clients with pages that have fields everywhere. This can be just as bad as including all of your CSS and HTML right in the page. If you find yourself wanting to create a ton of fields to help your clients update things easily, stay tuned for the next point.
Advanced Custom Fields is a tool that requires knowledge of PHP. If that’s outside of your comfort zone, check out my post about why you don’t need to code to offer custom website designs.
4. Beaver Builder
I can’t really say enough good things about my most recent find, Beaver Builder (affiliate). Beaver Builder was introduced to me by my friend Amanda and it has made it so much easier for my clients to edit the contents of their pages.
Now, I definitely don’t think entire themes should be built off of page builders, but Beaver Builder gives you the ability to create the contents of your pages and you can even assign CSS classes to each individual item. This is great for separating the page contents from the code, making it more difficult for clients to accidentally delete something that you didn’t mean for them to touch.
An example of this can be seen on the homepage for Blacksburg Belle, which was designed by Amanda. This gorgeous page would have been extremely complicated if something like widget areas, Advanced Custom Fields, or coding within the page template would have been used. But thanks to Beaver Builder, April is now able to go in, click on any text or images she wants to change and make the update without difficulty of finding the right area to edit or fear of ruining any coding.
How can you make your web designs easier for clients to update?
Each of the four options we went through above has a time and place to be used. For example, Beaver Builder would be perfect for creating a complicated page design, while Advanced Custom Fields would likely make it even more difficult. It’s important to become familiar with each option so you know when each tool will be the most beneficial.
How do you plan to make your website designs easier for clients to update in the future?
If this is all a bit more tech-heavy than you prefer your design projects to be, it might be time to consider teaming up with a developer. That will allow you to design gorgeous websites without the worry of anything tech related.
To get started, unlock the ultimate checklist to go from hours of code to development-free design projects. Click the button below to get started!