Happy Content Publishing with ExpressionEngine - part two

Susan Snipes / Posted 8.7.2012

Happy Content Publishing with ExpressionEngine
part two: customized admin menu

Make publishing content in ExpressionEngine a treat for your clients AND cut back on unnecessary clutter in their control panels.

A better content publishing experience will make the editing interface clean and optimized. Fewer options means more clarity and an empowered content team. When they're happy, you're happy.

In this second installment, we explore Flexible Admin from ExpressionEngine Zoo. Zoo Flexible Admin is an add-on that enables powerful control over a content editor’s menu in the ExpressionEngine control panel. It allows users to choose how many or how few menu items to display, and to arrange menu links in more intuitive ways.

“Brilliant. The saved cost in client support is worth the cost alone. Will be using on every build from now on.” 
Zoo Flexible Admin gets rave reviews, including the previous accolade from devot-ee user Deeper.

If you aren’t using Zoo Flexible Admin for every EE build already, here’s why you should.

What Zoo Flexible Admin can do

This handy add-on lets you fully control what menu links are visible in the control panel per member group. For example, a company’s blog editors may have a control panel centered around creating and editing blog entries and a tag module. But on the same site, a different editorial team may have access to manage all content, as well as additional add-ons like polls, photo galleries, and user accounts. Both of these user groups can have optimized and custom-tailored content management experiences!

You can:

  • Hide menu items. If there are some items a content editor shouldn’t see, you can choose to hide them on a granular level.
  • Rename menu items. Menu items in ExpressionEngine are not all intuitively named or some would be better updated to the jargon your client uses. So change them.
  • Rearrange menu items. If you think some menu items could be grouped in a more logical way, this add-on can make it happen.
  • Insert custom links. You can insert menu links to anything you like, even external sites.
  • Automatically shows smart breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are created and displayed based on the custom menu you created.
  • Control the start page. You can set the start page on a per member group basis.
  • Auto-collapse the sidebar. You can hide the sidebar automatically on a per member group basis.

The screenshot above is a view of the Zoo Flexible Admin menu builder. The right hand panel shows the new top level navigation menu for the Editor.

Zoo Flexible Admin in action

I love that this add-on makes the control panel so neat and tidy. There are a lot of links that I don’t want be in a “just ignore that” category. Why should my clients even worry about what an “Extension” is? With this add-on installed and thoughtfully configured, content management confusion is minimized.

Here are a few specific examples of my top things to do with Zoo Flexible Admin for a typical Editor group.

  1. Create a Publish list and an Edit list as separate navigation menu items. Since most editors will primarily be editing and publishing content, I like to split the standard “Content” menu item into “Publish Content” and “Edit Content” that display as separate parent menu items in the main control panel navigation bar.
  2. Remove some channels from the publish dropdown list, but keep them in the edit list. Often we’ll have a channel that has some entries that a client editor should have access to, but I don’t allow them to create new ones. For instance, a channel for featured content like home page callouts only needs to have editable entries, but not new ones.
  3. Pull out add-ons from being buried within the Add-ons menu. Say we’re using the Tags add-on and I want editors to be able to manage their tags, then I’ll make a new menu called Tools and put a link to the Tags module within it.
  4. Remove unused menu items. Even though an editor may be able to manage user accounts, I don’t need them to worry about Member Fields and Preferences, so I’ll remove these from displaying anywhere in their control panel menus. The more things I can remove from view for an editor to never worry about, the better.
  5. Rearrange and rename menu items for more logical groupings.  For websites that have lots of functionality and content types, the standard EE menu arrangement gets to be unwieldy. Recently, we reworked the member-related links on a site that had a large membership-based component and we merged the standard “Members” navigation items (View All, Register Member) and our Member Profiles channel into one new section on the menu called “Manage Members.”

Ahhh, now doesn’t this all sound so organized? I’m smiling just thinking about it. What do you think?

If you missed the first installment on Happy Content Publishing with ExpressionEngine, check out part one: native EE tools. Stay tuned for future installments of Happy Content Publishing with ExpressionEngine as we explore additional add-ons.

Photo Credit: Filipe Dilly

Susan Snipes

Susan Snipes

President and Founder

Susan Snipes is the founder and president of Q Digital Studio. As a community-minded web entrepreneur, developer, and ExpressionEngine expert, Susan’s innovative approach to the web has benefited well-known companies and organizations ranging from technology, healthcare, education, nonprofits, local and regional governments, and more.  For more thoughts on entrepreneurship, leadership, and inclusivity in technology, follow her on twitter @SusanSnipes.