The scope of client training for web site management has become fuzzier over the years. When I say that, I mean the agreed upon skill sets that a web design/development firm agrees to teach to the client in order for them to maintain content within the current design.
Those parameters are core to the agreement, however. It is based on current design. Content management systems evolve, and sometimes software functionality changes, and sometimes software management tools change. Sometimes software has to be discarded for a better option. None of these things are true upon the release, but simply the evolution of software will create additional need for the client and potentially additional work for the supporting agency.
Sometimes the client chooses to add additional functionality or change current functionality. Again, this can be an evolution of need and cost based on the reality of how websites – and users – change.
And then there are the external needs. How does the website jigsaw into the client’s matrix of social media, search engine optimization, use of other content and data providers? Online transactions come with their own slew of variables. When those change, it can cause changes within the site.
Web site management has become easier in some ways, such as updating regular content. But in more ways it has become more complicated, because there are more items that occur that are NOT regular content maintenance, and each of those items have an area of expertise involved. The upcoming Google Analytics conversion, which I’m positive very few web site owners are very familiar with, is just a recent example. I’d be willing to bet that most web site owners don’t follow their analytics much, and are not cognizant that Analytics is going to have a substantial change in 2023. The setup used will stop working mid-year at all, and they will need to be converted to GA4 version. The information GA4 is going to provide isn’t the same, and the tools do not look or work the same. It is a major change.
The way it works now, most web site owners are not going to be able to deal with it. Maybe Google will make it easier to install, but I wouldn’t count on it.
In the past we’ve trained our clients to review their Analytics data. I honestly can’t say we’ll do that in the future. At this point I’m not 100% convinced that Google Analytics is the way to go at all anymore for such data. But we will convert our clients to GA4, so at least data is being collected still.
But it’s quite a bit of work as currently required by Google. And that’s just one example of an external component impacting web site management.
Web developers and designers that work for clients, rather than for products, are finding themselves in a constant expansion of the waterfront they might need to cover in educating their clients. At some point, reach is limited. The client-focused web support industry is grappling with that, and that includes us.
That is no more truer than in the area of client training of site management. First of all, the trainer must attain a level of expertise in the tools being trained on, and then needs to keep current on the evolution going on in those tools. The trainer then must be able to translate that to a client base that has varying needs, interest, and most importantly, capabilities in learning these tools. And then must try to keep the client current as well.
And then, of course, there is client staff turnover.
All this goes to say that I think we’re going to see a reduction of custom training options for web site owners for their web sites going forward. Larger scale web sites – those with online sales or membership or registrations – are going to need somebody in house with the responsibility to create internal documentation on all aspects of the web site, from domain registration to connected accounts information to site maintenance and timelines and dates and vendors. Your web developer/maintenance contractor is an expert that can provide you information but may not have the time to teach how to do all things connected with the web site at a beginner level.
Staffing needs to be appropriate to the task of maintaining the web site. Previous experience should be considered highly valuable. And effort should be made to train that staffing on those issues from a variety of various sources.