So you’ve built a fancy new website for your client and now it’s time to show them how to use it. When we build websites for our clients using content management systems, there will inevitably be a bit of training involved. Even if your client is familiar with the selected CMS, there will still be areas specific to their site that you will need to walk them through. Leading CMS training for your clients can seem like a daunting task, but with the right preparation, you can begin to lead more effective training sessions and give your clients the tools they need to succeed.
Preparing for the Meeting
Before you jump into scheduling the actual CMS training session, take a step back and evaluate what you and the client are looking to accomplish with the meeting. This will help shape your presentation style, as well as which topics you cover and how granular you get. Here are a few questions I’ve found to be helpful for this:
- First things first, who will be attending? Copywriters? Editors? Members of the executive team? A mix of different departments? If there are a lot of people attending, you may want to hold several smaller meetings so you can give proper attention to everyone.
- How much experience, if any, does each individual have working with the selected content management system? If someone has never worked with a CMS before, would they describe themselves as fairly tech-savvy? Are they comfortable working in programs like Word?
- What aspects of the site is each individual looking to make changes to? If possible, ask each person to send you a bulleted list with items like “change hero image” or “add new blog post”. You can then compile everyone’s responses and see which areas of the site you will want to focus on in your training.
This might seem like more work, but asking these questions before the training session will help you to solidify your approach and help your client get the most out of the meeting.
Drafting an Agenda
Agendas are a great way to show which topics will be covered in your training session and when, and can help keep your meeting on track. You don’t need to have specific time slots mapped out for everything, but a simple list of which items will be covered in which order can go a long way. You should be able to draft an agenda using the answers to the questions you asked your client earlier. How much experience did they say they have with the CMS? Depending on this, you may need to include a general CMS introduction and walkthrough of how to login and navigate the back-end. Which areas of the site do they need to make edits to the most? You might want to lead with these sections, or it might make more sense to start with something more basic, like adding a new post or uploading images. No matter the order of topics, make sure to include everything the client wants to learn and leave plenty of room for questions, both at the end and throughout the session.
I like to send out the agenda with the meeting invites so that everyone knows exactly what to expect. I also encourage clients to bring a notebook to the CMS training so they can jot down notes and any questions they might have. Scheduling with multiple people can be tricky, but try your best to make sure there is adequate time to cover everything with some buffer afterwards in case the session runs long.
When it comes to the actual meeting, here are some tips:
- Introduce yourself and let everyone know how to contact you in case they have any follow-up questions.
- Take things slow. You might be in the CMS every day, but your client most likely isn’t familiar with it yet.
- Try to stick to the agenda as best as you can. If someone has a question about something that isn’t covered, let them know you’ll cover it in the time you’ve allotted for questions or one-on-one with them after the meeting.
- Encourage everyone to ask questions if there is something they don’t understand. If they don’t feel comfortable interrupting, ask if there was anything that was confusing or needs more explanation at the end of the session.
- This should go without saying, but never belittle your client if they aren’t as tech-savvy as you or are having trouble picking something up. You’re here to train them, not to make them feel embarrassed or insecure.
After the meeting, thank everyone for their time and let them know that you’ll be sending a follow-up email with their account credentials and the website documentation you’ve prepared (I’ll cover documentation in another post). Try to follow up with everyone while the training is still fresh in their minds in case they have any outstanding questions, as well as a week or two later once they’ve had time to dig into the system.
Future Development Implications
Even after the hand-off, there might be additional work your client would like you to implement in the future. If this work impacts how the client manages their site, you’ll need to account for this. For major changes, it’s a good idea to host another CMS training session with your client. This wouldn’t need to cover everything, just the areas impacted by the new development, but it could also act as a refresher. For more minor changes, a training session might not be necessary at all, and a simple communication might work best. Either way, be sure to inform the client how the changes you’ve made impact their management of the site and provide them with updated documentation.