You’re Not the Only User of Your User Interface

As developers, we’re expected to have a deep understanding of how things work in the CMS platforms we use. This gives us the ability to extend, integrate and customize the tools our clients need. Unfortunately, this “back-end" focus can often leave us with a less than optimal user interface and ultimately, a poor user experience.

One area where we find this is in Sitefinity’s Module Builder tool. The Module Builder lets us add various fields tied to specific data, which then create a form used to enter content items in the CMS. Sitefinity has done an excellent job of making this a simple process and with little effort we have a tool that does what it’s supposed to do. The issue is when we don’t give the necessary attention to each field’s label and helper text; we get a UI that works, but not necessarily one that’s easy to use (for anyone besides us, anyway).

For example, we might see a staff modules that looks like this


By default, Sitefinity does its best to use the original field names as labels. You can see from the example above that these attempts, while convenient, fall well short of a good UI. Even though this module would technically work, if we make a few tweaks and add some helper text, we can make it a little easier to use. In the updated image below, you’ll notice that we’ve changed the labels to something more readable and included some additional helper text to the image field.

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This is a much better experience for the end user, but let’s take it a step further. Sitefinity gives us the option to rearrange and group the form fields as well as choose which fields to display in the item listing. You can find these options under Administration > Module Builder > [Your Module] > Backend Screen Tweaks.

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Finally, we have a module that does its job and makes sense to the user. Whether you’re a seasoned developer creating a complex module or a casual editor making the most out of your CMS, these extra steps can make the difference between a tool that just works, and one that offers the best user experience. Don’t assume that because you built it and know how it works, other users will have the same success.

Always remember: A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.


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