Look behind the scenes - reducing complexity for editors

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Published on 15.03.2023 from Marc
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A central point for the success of a website is the acceptance of the new system by the editors who work with it every day. In my view, a lot of potential is often wasted here. 

At the ISB, it was clear from the outset that there would be some fluctuation of the editors over time and that we therefore wanted to make the system as simple and self-explanatory as possible.  

Furthermore, sections of the website will be maintained independently by different editors and groups of editors. However, all sub-areas should still fit into the concept of the website and form a common line. With different responsibilities, this is not always easy. 

We have approached this question conceptually by very consciously reducing complexity and thus restricting the editors somewhat. For example, there is only one column on the entire website where editors can maintain content. On selected pages there is an optional page column, but its content is always generated automatically and cannot be adjusted editorially at page level.

Links: Backen-Ansicht; Recths: Frontend-Ansicht
On the left the structure of the content page in the backend, on the right the frontend view for the website user. The page column is built up generically.

This is a fully intended conceptual decision and not a technical restriction. However, together with our client, we are firmly convinced that the system is not made better but rather poorer by additional degrees of freedom.  

This page column displays, among other things, the contact persons for a specific topic or page area to make it easier for visitors to the website to get in touch.  

With the old system, there were always problems with the maintenance of the contact persons at this point. Here, too, there are always changes in responsibilities; some contact persons are responsible for more than one sub-sector or school type, and so inconsistencies crept into the maintenance over time that were difficult to avoid.

We have addressed the problem: We created standardised records for contact persons that can be referenced from different places. If a detail of a contact person changes (e.g. a new telephone number), this change is made in all places. If the responsibility changes, this is also adjusted with a few clicks and changed consistently at every point on the website. 

To make maintenance easier for the editors, we have introduced an inheritance process. If a contact person is stored on one page, this person is automatically active for all sub-pages, unless it is explicitly overwritten there. This gives us the necessary flexibility as well as the possibility to quickly change entire page subtrees.

Eingabemaske für Kontaktdatensätze
Systematically structured interface for contact data records. The aim was on the one hand to grant certain freedoms (reduced rich text editor) and on the other hand to provide structures to guarantee standardised data records that can be used in different places.
Ansicht der Seiteneigenschfts-Maske im Backend
Via the individually introduced tab "Sidebar", the structure of the sidebar can be editorially controlled from defined components that output context-related content.

Furthermore, we automatically generate overviews of all contact persons who are responsible for a corresponding area and link to this overview page; no editor needs to intervene here. New contact persons are added fully automatically, and changes and deletions are also taken into account. 

Due to the standardisation of the data sets, minor changes in the design could be easily implemented during the creation of the website by simply adapting a template at a central point. The individual pages of all contacts are generated automatically and kept up to date for search engines, including the sitemap. The system automatically recognises where a contact person's data record is referenced and takes this into account when creating the sitemaps.

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