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My question is very simple - is separate admin better for UX or is it better to integrate it inside front-end?

I care only about UX and what is better (and easier to explain) for end-user, I don't care about possible code-duplication.

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3 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I think you need to answer a couple of questions:

  1. How different are the administration functions from the normal day-to-day user actions?
  2. Are your administrators also "normal" users of the site?

Taking Stack Exchange as an example, the "administrators" of the site are the higher reputation users and diamond moderators, but they are also primarily users of the site. The "administration" functions (keeping the sites "clean") are extensions of the functions that are accessible to "ordinary" users (editing, retagging, closing, deleting).

In this case it makes sense to integrate the administration functions into the front-end of the site so that these tools are available to people as and when they need them - i.e. when they are reading questions and answers.

If, however, your administration functions are more divorced from the day-to-day activities - running reports, checking logs etc. then a separate UI might well be better.

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I like your answer, Chris. Plus, I saw you were almost there, so I wanted to push you up above the 3000-mark :) –  Charles Boyung Apr 23 '11 at 19:21
    
Good points! Thx for answer. –  Kamil Tomšík Apr 24 '11 at 5:24
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I have always found it strange to be in a different environment when administrating a website. The UI might of course be different like @ChrisF said, depending on of the task. But I think the general looks should stay the same, using the same layout.

Also, by staying closer to the real content, you don't loose feeling with it. For example, deleting a post might be done too easy when not seeing it in the context of the user posting it.

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From a UX perspective an integrated solution would be easier. As an example, use the same navigation for consistency even if there might be an aditional Admin top navigation items. You may also consider highlighting the admin content if they are integrated into the average user content. Highlight a distinct EDIT-button, if thats only available to admins...and so on.

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