User Experience



Providing Content Customization

Friday, February 12, 2021
Layer One - Associate Developer - Andy Firkus

Often times, Content Authors wish to have the same component, albeit in a slightly different manner. For instance: They may want less padding above, below, or around some content. Or even a whole different display of the same data used on the site.

What are the options we can provide for a CMS?

Option 1: Create a New Component for Each Type of Display

For example: multiple components with different styles to match the specific needs of each use.


  1. This will provide Content Authors with the desired result


  1. Each new design could require duplicate work
  2. Bloats the list of components available
  3. The content editing experience becomes more difficult with the inclusion of multiple similar components
  4. Longest implementation time

While you may receive the ideal result, the resources required for Option 1 are very heavy.

Option 2: Dropdown Styling

For example: give Large/Medium/Small select for style options on padding.


  1. One component to select from
  2. Simplified experience for Content Authors
  3. Good Introduction to new/intermediate Content Authors
  4. Implementation time is shorter than option 1


  1. Still rigid in design, albeit not as much as option 1
  2. Requires multiple iterations to identify general styles
  3. Abstracts design away from Content Authors

Option 2 is a nice gateway to providing a more dynamic experience. There are still some specific guardrails and overhead required to enact this implementation.

Option 3: Style Field

For example: Give a field that allows a Content Author to explicitly define a style value.


  1. One component to select from, like option 2
  2. Gives ultimate control to the Content Author
  3. Direct control of specific styles for Content Authors
  4. Fastest implementation time


  1. Best for experienced Content Authors that understand styling
  2. Gives ultimate responsibility to the Content Author
  3. Potential to go outside brand/design guidelines

This option is the quickest way to give full flexibility to the Content Author, while also granting the greatest amount of responsibility.

What is Our Approach?

Avoid. Option. 1.

We avoid option 1. It avoids development best practices and delivers the least value possible in every situation.

We choose to take the path that works best for our clients. The more flexible we can make our components, then the more options a Content Author has in building a page. This allows a Content Author to make independent decisions and experiment.

If a Content Author is comfortable, we provide fields to allow them to explicitly define their own styles where needed.
If they require a little more guidance, we provide some flexibility with style option dropdowns.

Taking this path allows us to shorten our feedback loop, save time, and provide our clients with the ability to make more dynamic content decisions.

We want to provide the experience that provides the most functionality available, while maintaining ease of use.

Interested in learning more?

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