Myth #1 - My app is too specific. I need a home-made admin

The Forest Admin project started with the idea to build the best admin panel and make it available as a service for all developers and business teams.

As daily users of modern apps, we have developed high expectations for great UI/UX. Surprisingly, common ideas that are prevailing in modern software development are nowhere to be found when it comes to admin panels.

This series illustrates common myths about admin panels. It is dedicated to people who believe that more attention should be given to those often left-behind applications, as well as to their end-users. Let’s give more love to admin panels!

Building an admin panel from scratch is a common choice

There is a strong belief that an admin panel needs to be built from scratch in order to adapt to custom business logics. Here is a typical reaction from a developer when hearing about the Admin Panel as a Service idea:

Listen, this idea sounds great, but my app is too specific to use a third-party admin. You see, the admin needs to match my specific business workflows. We get constant feedbacks from operation teams and it would be difficult to implement everything in a third party solution that we didn’t architect fully.

During our ideation phase, we had a lot of interviews with companies that were kind enough to show us the admin panel they had developed. We noticed that there were two main cases:

  • Case #1: the UI/X was terrible. Of course no one can blame developers to give priority to the user-facing part of their application. We just felt sorry for the business team.
  • Case #2: the UI/X was not too bad, but the developers obviously spent too much time on building their admin. I don’t think this is the correct strategy for companies working with limited resources and whose success depends on happy end-users.

We obviously also found well-thought admins that had been developed in a reasonable amount of time, but those were a really small minority.

Those results made us wonder what was wrong with admin development. Here is what we found:

Most people are just constantly reinventing the wheel

We noticed that about 80% of the features needed in an admin panel are generic. Here is a list of features that are almost always present in admin panel:

  • List views, Pagination system
  • Detail views, Navigation through relationships
  • Search, Filters
  • CRUD operations, Data import/export
  • Permissions management, Audit trail
  • Dashboards, KPIs

The fun part is that those innocent and generic features are the source of most of the problems related to admin development. Developers spend most of their time developing them, they are often poorly realized and the related maintenance time is not well anticipated.

There are many things you don’t necessary think about when you start building an admin. For example, you think having a search feature is necessary. Then you realize that you should add filters. Finally a teammate tells you he wants to filter data based on the “created_at” field. You quickly end up spending a ridiculous amount of time on questions such as: “how should I define operators to filter data depending on a date-type attribute?”.

Developers get constant feedback from the business team, asking for small improvements or modifications. As any application, an admin panel can always be improved. Are you really ready to split your maintenance efforts between your main app and your admin panel?

You don’t imagine the number of testimonials we got from employees saying that their admin panel was a real shame and completely outdated compared to their actual business needs. This is quite problematic, as a poor admin UI/UX dramatically decreases the efficiency of teams in charge of operations. Keep in mind that some people spend most of their time working in the admin panel.

We believe teams deserve a great admin panel

We started the Forest Admin project to empower business teams with a beautiful and powerful admin panel and free developers from the painful work of always reinventing the wheel.

Our team is doing its best to develop the best admin panel. As this admin is our main product, every detail matter. We strive to create a great experience for our end-users.

We’ve made all the work for you when it comes to generic features. And for the remaining 20% features that are specific to your app, you’re free to add them smoothly on top of Forest Admin, as you would have done with your hand-made admin project. Our promise is to get started in minutes with a new admin for your project.

If you’re excited by this concept and believe your application deserves a great admin panel, welcome to the Forest Admin (it’s free).


Sandro Munda

Sandro Munda