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Mark Embling

Where Does the Administration Go?

A question I've wondered about for a while now and not yet come to a conclusion on is where to put the administration for a web-based application. Take a store for example, or a blog. Should the functions for managing items or posts and so on be separated out into a designated 'admin' area or distributed throughout the site, visible to those with appropriate permissions.

Up until recently, I'd automatically grouped all administration into a separate area (whether that's in a subdirectory for old-school sites or in a designated admin controller or module/area for MVC-based sites. However, I've begun to wonder whether this is an optimal solution, or whether its just down to personal choice. This site for example has a hastily-added set of administration controls for managing posts and so on, and they are spread throughout the site, visible when I am logged in to it. However other blogging software like Wordpress keep the admin area completely self-contained.

I'm beginning to tend toward putting the administration functions within the site. I find that when its done well, it makes the whole thing feel a lot more fluid, with no need to change 'modes' or flip back and forth. It also fits in much better with the more restful approach - why split the creation and editing of items from the viewing of them when they are all grouped logically together in terms of URLs or resources. It'd certainly be a bit strange having these sets of pages who's only function was to display forms used for posting to other virtually unrelated parts of the site.

Perhaps its down to personal taste, and depends on the site in question. I don't know. I'd love to get the point of view of a usability expert on this.