Content editors, the forgotten Drupal users


With most websites a great deal of thought goes into the end user, how will they view and want to interact with the site? What are their key workflows? etc. So often content editors are forgotten about and left with only the basic tools to fully manage their site. Installing a few modules, making some quick configuration changes and adding some code snippets can enable users to more effectively manage their content and their site as a whole, leaving a happier editor as well as front end user.

The easier a CMS is made the use the more it will be used, the more it will be enjoyed and the more effectively it will be used, these elements combined will create a truely successful site allowing editors to want to do all they possibly can because it's easy to. The more effort and time a task takes the less likely it will be done to the fullest possible standard. 

Below is a list of the key points I generally use (depending on the site) to ensure I'm getting the best out of a Drupal CMS for the content editor user.

Install Shiny

Firstly I kinda love this for its name, I often describe things I like as shiny (my linguistic skills are clearly very evolved) and this certainly comes under that category. Kicked off by the Commerce Guys it aimed to provide a much cleaner and easier UI for admins to manage their site. Download it over at

Effort: 2/10

Benefit to content editors: 4/10


Install Admin Menu

This module changes the default admin toolbar to one with drop downs, allowing you to drill down into the admin menu structure with no effort. Just install it, configure permissions and go. Make sure you disable the core toolbar menu after you install this one. Download it here.

Effort: 2/10

Benefit to content editors: 8/10

Increase the shortcuts

Sometimes the default seven shortcuts aren’t enough for some people. If users want to quickly access menu items deep within the navigation or shortcut something to come back later they will quickly use these up. You can increase the allowed number by entering the below in settings.php

* Configuration option to set max number of shortcuts on the shortcut bar
$conf['shortcut_max_slots'] = 20; ?>

Effort: 2/10

Benefit to content editors: 5/10

Replace the default content/users listing

After a while a site can build up a great deal of detailed content and users, finding and sorting through the default listing to find something you want can become a lengthy task. Depending on the size and type of content and users a site holds it may be beneficial to replace the default listing with custom views. This will allow you to add fields or general term searches, filter by tags etc and will allow an admin user to save time and effort in finding the content and users they want to. To ensure you don’t lose any functionality you will also need to install and configure views bulk operations, allowing the user to bulk publish/delete/etc content as before. This is one of the bigger tasks to undertake and manage with additional changes, so you’ll need to be sure the benefit will be great.

Effort: 8/10

Benefit to content editors: varies – depends on site size

Install Node Clone

Sometimes an admin user will want to reuse some content; an example of this would be a webform. One is created and they want to copy it for another area of the site, or run the same survey but keep the results separate. Installing and configuring this module will enable them to do it in one click rather than having to manually add each field in again. The module adds a ‘clone content’ link to the top of nodes (you can select which node types to display it on) and once clicked the user is taken to the node/add form with all the fields containing the content that was cloned, simples! Get it over here.

Effort: 3/10

Benefit to content editors: 7

Install Multi select

This is a particularly useful module if entities can be tagged with multiple tags. If formats the select list to two boxes with ‘add’ and ‘remove’ buttons allowing an admin user to easily select tags/etc. A perfect example of this is a website where healthcare data is posted and admin user can select numerous terms to tag content with (such as dementia, mental health, urgent care etc). This modules makes it easy to manage and the easier something is the more likely it is to be done. Grab it here.

Effort: 3/10

Benefit to content editors: 8

The end bit

These are just a few things you can do to help your content editors get the best possible use of the CMS. The site size, admin team and functionailty will help dictate what and how much you can do as well as deciding what they'll actually benefit from. Keep in mind when designing and building a site, it's not just for the people that see it, but also those that manage it.

If you have any changes you make to help content editors out it'd be great to hear from you.

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Update 09/06/14: A second post with additional options is available here: Content editors, the forgotten Drupal user pt. 2