ExpressionEngine Client Documentation
January 15th 2010
One thing I found out about at this month’s ExpressionEngine meetup is this Client Guide which has generously been shared by Kyle from Headspace Design. They have produced a very nicely designed documentation file for their clients, which they are sharing in PDF format as well as the original InDesign files so that you can brand it and edit it with your client’s own details.
When I made my first EE site I spent a long time writing up a documentation file. It was written in HTML and linked from the “User Guide” link in the Control panel. This covered lots of the items Headspace included in theirs, like how to upload files and marking up your text. Ultimately though, I felt that a system which required such detailed documentation couldn’t be very user friendly, which is why – over time – I built up a must-have collection of extensions and plugins which simplified some of these tasks.
For example, before nGen File Field and FF Matrix came along I used Mark Huot’s File Field (either way) combined with Imagesizer so that the client didn’t have to use the built in (and overly complicated) Upload File area. I also use Leevi Graham’s TinyMCE plugin to provide a WYSIWYG editor for them.
These add-ons make lots of the explanations in Headspace’s documentation unnecessary for my clients, but there are still some general overviews of the Edit pages and filtering which would always be useful. If you are new to ExpressionEngine and curious to find about more you’ll learn a lot about it by reading this guide too.
It is interesting to discover this now, because I have just made the decision to stop offering documentation; it took me so long to customise each time (because I was adding instructions for the particular set of add-ons and weblogs which I was using for that site); and my clients always seemed to call me before they remembered to look at it anyway.
Seeing Headspace’s documentation is making me rethink this. Perhaps I will make a more generic overview of EE like they have done, leaving out the site specific details. If/when I do this I will definitely share it here, so if you’re not following me on Twitter just add a comment here to be notified when I post this.
The other nice thing about sharing your documentation file is it exposes how you are using ExpressionEngine. I noticed in Kyle’s guide that he seems to be using the Gallery module to offer crop/resize tools even when the site doesn’t have a Photo Gallery per se.
Do you provide your clients with a user guide or other form of documentation? If so, in what format and do they use it?!
Project 52 stats: Week 2, Post # 3
Time spent: 1:45 min