Optimise user experience with author experience

Authors: Vanessa Schauer & Alexander Sauer

In the competition for digital customers, an optimal user experience is often the decisive differentiator. But who actually creates the user experience for the end customer? Whilst designing the user experience (UX) is the responsibility of UX designers, website authors are responsible for implementing the design specifications. Nevertheless, many authors struggle with complex user interfaces, the handling of which makes work difficult and costs valuable time. The author experience (AX) is intended to remedy this. By focusing on the author experience from the start, dissatisfaction can be avoided and results achieved faster.

Why author experience is becoming the success factor of user experience

In most cases, frontend and backend developers develop for the website authors and not for the end customer. Website authors are therefore a crucial part of the user experience. They are however rarely perceived as users and often neglected in the digital value chain: user interfaces are too technical, configurations offer too many choices and functionalities are not obvious. Website authors have to find their way around in different systems and invest valuable time searching for hidden functions. Content is not fed in as planned, functionalities remain undiscovered and cannot be adapted to the design agency’s concept. Mock-ups created in advance differ from the resulting solution for the real website content. As a logical consequence, the end customer’s user experience also suffers. Frustrations are the result of an inefficient allocation of resources.

This problem has various causes: as a rule, different developers work on a project, which in most cases extends over a long period of time. In addition, in an agile approach with Scrum only the intended functions are described in the user stories, not their implementation. This results in a large number of possible solutions. If the developers involved in the project work independently of each other, the individual operating methods of the respective dialogues make the process even more difficult. If there is no uniform solution, authors have to constantly reorient themselves when editing content. So what’s the solution?

IBM iX has found an answer to this problem with author experience (AX). Author experience focuses on website authors and their needs as users in order to facilitate their work through user-friendly interfaces and operation. Ultimately, a unique and optimised user experience (UX) can only be created for the end customer if authors are empowered to carry out their tasks.

How to make the author experience efficient

At its core, a good author experience should be based on the characteristics of a good user experience: the software can be used intuitively and follows a familiar structure. This requires a recognition value and a consistent interface. Ultimately, an optimum AX is based on well thought-out information architecture that enables authors to find the right information in the right place at the right time. Descriptive error messages can also help here.

A good AX has a coherent system resulting in a faster time-to-value: authors achieve higher quality in a shorter time, which in turn benefits the user. Satisfaction for the users and website authors increases through the optimisation of usability and user experience. Which approaches lead to a sustainably good AX?

There are three main approaches here:

  1. Multi-purpose content: this approach can be followed by using (headless) content where the source is always the same. Digital asset management (DAM) contains all content blocks such as images, headlines and texts that can serve different purposes. What is displayed depends on the component: for example, if a content piece provides a title, image and text, only the title and image are used for a teaser. If the page is viewed, the text is displayed in addition to the title and image – from the same source. The main advantages of multi-purpose content are the separation of the content from the websites and a tidy DAM. Since the content is independent of the website, the website structure is retained when the content is adjusted. What is already common practice with images is also used here for content and linked metadata.
  2. Content as a service – multi-purpose delivery: this approach prepares content for the author so that ready-made content pieces can be used directly. The content is statically personalised with the CMS according to the target group. For example, if there is content for a teaser and a page, it can be presented in different channels – in a newsletter, on the homepage or on a display. In this example, the content does not have to be re-entered each time but can automatically be drawn into the system in question, saving time.
  3. Atomic design: in atomic design, the components form atoms, molecules and organisms. Templates and pages form the basis of a design system. The next larger parts are built from the smallest possible parts and the atoms are assembled into molecules. If all components are consistently set up using atomic design, all elements are based on the lowest common denominator. When changes are made to a component, these are automatically adopted wherever this component is referenced. Reusability shortens backend development time by up to 70%. Efficiency increases whilst the susceptibility to errors decreases.

How you can benefit from high usability for authors

The issue of author experience and its far-reaching impact is often underestimated and ignored in projects. AX is a central building block for optimised usability and user experience. The user only benefits if the author can implement the design specifications according to their ideas. It is therefore of enormous relevance to provide website authors with functional systems with a high level of usability.



Related projects

Link copied Link copied?

Explore more of our work at IBM iX