How to Make Your Drupal Admin UI Content Editor-Friendly: 7 Usability Tweaks

How to Make Your Drupal Admin UI Content Editor-Friendly: 7 Usability Tweaks

Let's play a little empathy game! One which will help you realize why you do need to bother making your Drupal admin UI content editor-friendly:

Step into the shoes of a first time Drupal user, of an inexperienced content editor accessing your Drupal site's admin interface for the first time. What do you think? Is that:

  • intricate network of forms loaded with “alien” terminology
  • and the “specific” clutter of defaults in the Drupal 8 admin user interface
  • … “welcoming” enough for you? 

So, what's your opinion, from your standpoint as a Drupal developer? Would you rather:

  1. keep the admin interface as it is and invest in never-ending staff training on the intricacies of editing and adding content to a Drupal site?
  2. configure it so that it should deliver an improved content admin experience; one which translates into more self-confident content administrators, empowered to carry out their tasks without further assistance?

If it's the second scenario that you go for, here are 7 tweaks to consider for making your Drupal admin UI content editor-friendly:
 

1. Set Up Specific Roles and Assign Custom Drupal User Permissions

The devil is in the detail when you're trying to create a great editor experience! Yet, it's precisely small tweaks like this one that Drupal developers often overlook.

So, once you've got a clear picture (an intake with your client would be most helpful) about the specific business workflow that you're dealing with, go ahead and:

  1. set up specific roles for your content administrators
  2. based on those roles, assign them custom permissions, as well

This way you'll be:

  • simplifying the user interface (no need to visually “bombard” them with lots of tasks they “could” do, if their roles don't require them to)
  • helping content editors gain focus: fewer distractions, that unnecessary permissions present them with, mean that they get to focus strictly on what they need to carry out based on their roles and their specific permissions
  • making your Drupal site more secure: if content editors don't gain access to content/functionality of critical importance, there are fewer chances for them to “break” anything, right?
     

2. Configure Content Types So That Editors Can Easily Distinguish Them

Another super easy way for you to make your Drupal admin UI content editor-friendly is by properly naming/describing the content types.

And by “properly”, I mean that:

  • one content type should stand for one distinct type of data (prevent any confusion possible!)
  • you need to go for a meaningful name and description for each content type (do avoid vagueness in naming them or going for a one-size-fits-all type of description)
     

3. Enable Them To Edit Content With A Single Click

Being able to edit content on a page with just one click is, no doubt, any content editor's expectation.

But how can you make one-click editing possible on content-heavy pages and, moreover, on pages (e.g. landing pages) with complex architectures of blocks/related nodes?

Well, you still have 2 options in this case:

  • you use the Inline Entity Form module: content administrators can edit referenced entities inline, on the fly, and these would only go live when the “parent” form has been submitted
  • you use Paragraphs: for setting up the whole “content cluster” specific to a landing page
     

4. Customize The Drupal 8 WYSIWYG Editor 

The good news is that the Drupal 8 WYSIWYG editor is built-in.

And the "bad" news is that the editor has no clue:

  1. what version of HTML you're using on your Drupal site
  2. what specific content editing needs it is expected to meet

The solution to these 2 “issues” is but one: customizing the WYSIWYG editor so that it:

  • doesn't present editors with tools that they won't be using anyway
  • features precisely those tools that they're using most while creating/editing content (so you might need to add those which are missing)

Moreover, you could also set up which “Format” and “Styles” options editors can add from the editor.

How do I configure the WYSIWYG editor?” you might say. Here's how:

  • go to "Configuration"
  • select "Content Authoring"
  • and then "Text formats and editors"
     

5. Contrib Modules for Making a Drupal Admin UI Content Editor-Friendly

There's always one or a group of contributed modules in Drupal to rely on for carrying out your customization plans.

When it comes to building a great content admin experience, there are at last 4 of them:

Field Group: for grouping similar fields in the Drupal 8 admin UI (you could put together a “Media” chunk of fields, for instance, which would include all file and image fields)

Entity Browser and File Entity Browser: for enabling editors to re-use files, a more than helpful functionality if they're dealing with large, files-packed libraries

Linkit: for enabling them to easily insert links via the user-friendly interface that the module provides them with
 

6. Set Up a Dashboard/Custom Drupal Administration Views

Now, what if you could make your Drupal content editors' lives even easier? What if you “spoiled” them with a dashboard of their own or maybe with some custom Drupal administration views so that they can easily:

  • search content 
  • edit content 
  • get quick and easy access to those links to the Drupal 8 admin page that they access most often

Luckily for you, the content admin page is built with Views in Drupal 8. If you add Views Bulk Operations (VBO), as well, you instantly “unleash” a whole load of functionalities easing content editors' work.

Then they would be able to filter the searched content by:

  • author
  • type
  • title
  • vocabulary
  • status
     

7. Configure The Fields So That Editors Can Intuitively Manage Them

Breaking up a large “chunk” of content into multiple fields is the quickest path to consistency when putting together and displaying content on your Drupal site.

Now the challenge that arises is: how do you make those fields easily manageable, as well, for your content editors? And this is a “detail” that you can't leave out when you're trying to make your Drupal admin UI content editor-friendly.

Here are a few tips and tricks to consider:

  • make the required ones... required; don't turn them into a “guessing” game for your editors to play
     
  • use the proper, context-suitable field widgets (in this respect, just scan through the widget settings listed in the Manage Form Display tab) 
     
  • make sure the fields are arranged in a logical order in the admin interface, one that should remain consistent across different content types
     
  • if you've integrated Paragraphs fields with your content, remember to set up the widget so that it should display those fields' previews instead of edit forms 
     
  • use “help” text when the situation requires it; for instance, if content editors should format their content in a particular way or if they have to insert a specific image size

Bottom line: you really have no excuse for delivering a Drupal website with a poor content admin user experience!

From:

  • basic content editing interface tweaks
  • to modules that you could leverage
  • to complex configuration processes that you could engage in

making your Drupal admin UI content editor-friendly is anything but impossible.