I am working on redesigning a CMS and I am looking for some more possible patterns. Does anyone know some good books or websites where they discuss CMS UI Patterns?

  • Are you designing a new CMS, or just a site hosted on a CMS (i.e. a Wordpress site vs. a Wordpress alternative)? – Rachel Keslensky Nov 22 '12 at 4:36
  • @RachelKeslensky I am redesigning the CMS, it needs a facelift and was wondering if there are separate design patterns for them. – Jo- Nov 25 '12 at 23:45

More than any books I have found getting a clear expectation of requirements from the end users is key. Along with this, spend the time to find out what they are using now and watch how they use it.

Some people hate WISWYG editors because they think they function like MS Word, which we know they don't. For situations like that abstracting people from that context and moving them to inline editing, like this pattern http://ui-patterns.com/patterns/InplaceEditor can make a world of difference. I currently like http://etchjs.com/ for this.

Other times you have a very tech savvy audience and you can just let them type into markdown http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/ and they are happy.

Sometimes, darn it, they want tinyMCE, because that is what they have used for 6 years and they know how to use it. So give http://www.tinymce.com/ to them.

I would recommend breaking down you re-design into common components like text editing, forms components (like adding a new user - via an admin panel), forums, etc.

Even though the books are not titled "How to build a CMS" most CMS components can be reduced to some great interface design books like....

Also, look at some other CMS's platforms and see if what they are doing would fit into your current context. I saw a demo of Adobe CQ5 http://www.adobe.com/products/cq.html and made fun of the mess it would create for the dev team. Out Editorial Director saw it and if she could have would have left her husband for it. It was the exact tool she needed to do her job. So that is what we used as the launch pad for improvements we are building now.

I get on a soap box about this all the time, so I apologize if this sounds like preaching. When you building a CMS you are potentially building the tool that a person will use 40 hours a week for years on end to do their job. So the most important design pattern is to understand the person/people who are using it, and then make that person/persons a tool that allows them to do their job better.

No ones job should ever be fixing the output of a bad WYSIWYG editor, except the person who wrote the editor.

So in summary:

  • Figure out the pieces.
  • Find the pattern to those pieces in UI references.
  • Let the users guide you as the best way to put it together.

That probably either does not help you at all, or gives you a good starting point. Either way I would love to hear how it goes as the re-design progresses, and hear what other people think on this.


And for good measure, dig through this list for some additional resources: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/06/15/40-helpful-resources-on-user-interface-design-patterns/

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