Hat stand with several hats displayed
What hat should YOU wear?

Pick a Hat: What role should your users have?

Figuring out the extent of access a person should have in your site can be something of a head-scratcher, but consider some questions to ask yourself when deciding what role to assign.

#1 What is this person supposed to accomplish in the site?

The role should always match up with the nature of the person's assignment. Have you hired a student to temporarily help you with adding content to your site? A Contributor role is perfect, especially since they can only add and modify content they create or have been assigned. In fact, now that Content Moderation and Workflows are available this role will be ideal for creating a path for review and approval prior to publication to the web.

Is the person a full-time staff member who is tasked with organizing the content in the site and keeping it up-to-date? The Editor role will give this person access to every piece of content in the site, including any images and files uploaded. They can work on layouts, including adding blocks for enhanced functionality and presentation. Editors will eventually be able to be part of the Workflow mentioned previously to oversee work done by Contributors.

Does the person have to configure high-level elements such as a site email contact? A site logo or footer information that will display on every single page of the site? Configure URL redirects after migrating content from Cascade or Wordpress to SiteFarm? Add more users to the site? This individual should be a Site Manager with access to all the configuration interfaces available.

Finally, anything remotely custom--views, content types, JavaScript or CSS--can be added to the site, either through a restricted interface or in our sub-theming layer, but the person will require the Site Builder role. This is considered an expert level role and requires the person to already know how to implement these custom solutions or have the willingness to teach themselves what they need to know. This role is an add-on to one of the other three, but most commonly to the Site Manager role.

#2 What is the lowest role I can get away with giving this person?

It's an aspect of human nature, but we tend to get all bristly and upset if someone takes something away from us we had for a time. It's far better to appropriately match the role to the task, keeping the role selection to the lowest level of access possible, then upgrade as necessary when tasks simply can't be completed without the next level of access.

Use Case Example

A student was provided a site manager role and was tasked with adding content to the site. The student switched the WYSIWYG content editor from "Basic HTML" to "Full HTML" and used HTML table tags to build their layout, adding content into the cells to make the page look the way they wanted.

Result of this approach:

  • The conversion of the page to "Full HTML" means the page was now locked and only editable by Site Managers, who would then need to either know how to write HTML to update the content or be willing to lose all the work by switching the page back to "Basic HTML".
  • Using HTML table tags for layout is a violation of best practices in web design, and reflects very poorly on the site owners, the designers, and UC Davis.
  • Mobile design in this example would be broken.
  • Tables, unless carefully designed and not used for layout, can cause serious accessibility issues and result in a lawsuit if the visitor experiencing the issue wishes to pursue a case.

In this case, it would have been far more appropriate to make this person a Contributor or, if necessary, an Editor, which would bypass most if not all these issues. Assigning the appropriate role minimizes the types and severity of errors that can occur.

#3 Have you limited your site managers?

Unless a person is going to be working on configuring global elements of your site, needs specific access to a part of the configuration interface (URL redirects, for example), or will be doing custom work, they really don't need to be a Site Manager in the site.

How many should you have?

  • If it's a small site, say less than 50 pages, 2-3 people would be ideal unless you need an additional alternate for back-up.
  • For larger sites that contain multiple sub-sections, such as Finance, Operations and Administration or School of Veterinary Medicine might have, more Site Managers might be advisable just to handle questions, account creation, or back-up needs in the event of absences or particularly busy points in the office's calendar that affect web content and site traffic. Consider 3-5 people to start and then expand that number as the workload and experience level of your users grow to a point where you're comfortable granting someone this level of access and responsibility. 

#4  Do I need to check the role matrix?

If you haven't perused it yet, consider taking a look at our Role Matrix, which outlines in greater detail exactly what each role can do in a SiteFarm site.

And, as always, if you have a specific use case you're concerned about, don't hesitate to contact the SiteFarm team for guidance.

#5  Would the Advanced Access feature be a good compromise?

Added in May 2020, the Advanced Access module gives Site Managers a new role one might consider as Contributor Plus or Limited Editor. It's an in-between role meant for users who should be able to publish, but only have access to specific areas of the site. Find out more in our Advanced Access documentation for Site Managers.

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