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Should the administration section of a website have the same look & feel as the other parts of the website?

I'm building a SAAS application and all of the public-facing parts of the website (home page, blog, about us, etc) share a HTML/CSS look & feel. I now need to add HTML/CSS to the admin section of the website (the bit that someone gets access to once they have signed up so that they can configure the SAAS options). Should the admin section share the same look & feel as the website proper? Is there any reason not to have a completely difference layout and colour scheme? Is it better to keep the same look so that users know they are still in the application or have a different look to differentiate the admin from the public-facing pages?

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marked as duplicate by ChrisF, JonW Nov 14 '13 at 11:37

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It's good for the front end and back end interfaces to have some degree of parity from a branding point of view (particularly since in your particular example, the same users will potentially see both interfaces) but that's not to say they should have exactly the same look and feel. They are after all serving different purposes and aimed at (initially) different audiences performing different tasks in different contexts.

The public-facing site has a short amount of time to capture attention, explain the service and convert that visitor to a paying customer. It needs to be clear and concise. The admin interface on the other hand isn't trying to sell in quite the same way. Once a user has signed-up, the priority for the interface is making it as easy as possible to do the things they need to do, which probably means more complex functionality and a different UI.

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