for the designer who has no choice but must learn CMS

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by pelsar, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. pelsar macrumors regular

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    #1
    i'm one of those website designers that am not to interested in learning programming....i used Dreamweaver as my primary program and have learned to manipulate flash actionscripts and xml files that come from bought animations as well as manipulate some html when necessary.However, more and more of my cients have requested (and i understand it) the need for them to make their own changes, hence the cms system. However, if i outsource the project, my profits and control, leave my office nor am I interested in hiring a full time programmer, as i have neither the workload nor do i want to lose control over my designs (what can and cant be done..) and the personal service that i give as small business owner/designer.

    ___

    My first initial attempt has been to use WebYep. A small CMS system based on Dreamweaver, it adds a menu system and does seem to work. One does have to make a "virtual server" out of ones mac...for that i picked up on XAMPP. (that too was "fun" learning how that works)

    The pros (WebYep)....its does work, and my clients now open up the website on line, open the dialog boxes, choose the appropriate style sheets and put in their text and its then shows up...

    the cons.....its can make a mess. It seems just choosing the appropriate style sheet doesnt always work and if you choose the wrong one and then correct it or decide to make it bold etc (which the client can do) it makes for very messy code. I for one dont care how messy the code it, as long as it looks proper, except that is not always the case, so i find myself checking their site and basically reformatting the text they put in.....(nor can i charge for this)

    Also with these CMS systems all pages have to be fully defined first..though there are ways of adding a pict in the middle of a text block, its not "idiot proof" as you will find with the more sophisticated and complicated CMS systems.

    so where does that leave us?...us designers...Though it does work, i'm also looking for other alternatives.....my main condition?..it has to work through Dreamweaver, anybody have any other experiences?

    i'll be happy to answer any questions about my first CMS experience....
     
  2. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    USA
    #2
    So you're essentially wanting to have a perfect system without having the knowledge. That's called a shortcut. If the CMS was as easy as you're wanting, your clients wouldn't need you at all. There's a number of sites that talk pros and cons of different CMS, including and page at Wikipedia.
     
  3. pelsar thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    I"m looking for the middle ground...its not called a shortcut its a combination of economics, financial viability, client needs and good design. My experience with programmers is that not only do they have little idea of what good design is, but that they cant be 'trusted" to even make little changes without being watched over. More so when a small company outsources and the changes start coming in, the hourly of the programmer can take all the profits...if not the client eventually.

    My experience with webdesign and programming goes back over 10 years (yes, when it started.....) and have been balancing the programming vs design for all of that time. However the requirements are now getting more and more sophisticated and my adaption (and other designers) will require programs that we can use, without becoming programmers....or requiring them.
    -----------
    a footnote about clients who can program themselves.....they still want us because they recognize the difference between a professionally designed website vs one done by someone who knows programming and not design.....thats why i still design powerpoint presentations, datasheets, brochures, etc...
     
  4. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    #4
    Web design goes back quite a bit farther than 10 years. I'd think in those years of experience you would have picked up on more of the developer skills so you could do more than just design. It's not for everyone though. I'm well aware of the designer vs developer situation, as I work right in the middle of it. I'm sure those programmers are excited to hear that you want to bypass them. Maybe you should find ones you can trust, as there's plenty of them. As I mentioned before, there's articles outlining pros and cons of various CMS, so you can pick the one that comes closest to meeting your needs.
     
  5. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    Nov 23, 2007
    #5
    Well, I haven't delved my self inside CMS yet cause now Im busy with learning C++, and then Objective C and finally Objective J, but I heard Drupal is a good platform to start with :D
     
  6. design-is macrumors 65816

    design-is

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    Oct 17, 2007
    Location:
    London / U.K.
    #6
    Have a look at cushy and CMSfS

    Both are simple in different ways & have videos showing you how to use them as well as other documentation.
     
  7. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    Dec 7, 2007
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA, USA
    #7
    Most people pick a COTS CMS and then use the template system and plugins to create custom modules for their web sites. The designer is primarily responsible for layout and graphics, the developer for back end coding (i.e. editing templates, adding plugins, customization of the software, network and hardware technology stacks and SDLC for any custom apps). Usually a Content Manager (CMS provider) takes care of daily content infusion, but a designer might be asked to take on this role -- which is apparently what pelsar seems to be doing.

    I agree that over ten years should have have picked up on more back end skills, i.e. basic CSS and HTML and probably a few specialty skills such as integrating Flash, DHMTL, Javascript frameworks, PHP and basic SQL. Not to be an expert in any of them, but familiar with the basic implementation and the knowhow of where to search to extend your knowledge and get help.

    I also understand pelsar's attitude, but I have to agree with angelwatt that it is pelsar's burden and responsibility to respond to the challenges presented by the bosses in the form of new technologies. What pelsar called "more sophistication". Speaking generally, now, in addition to making you potentially more money, making you (anyone) more valuable to your employer and making you more well rounded in the marketplace in a tough economy, knowing more about the back end and practicing such technologies makes you a better designer.

    Most of the college newbies know front end, but not back end - i.e. I am in my 40's and not considered generation Y, I grew up learning about server setup, virtual subhosting, DNS and zone file editing, routing, building my own ethernet cables, router configuration, Perl, C, Java and *nix long before I got into web development. I'm not saying you need to know all these things, but I never saw a division between design and development, to me it's all interwoven and infused into my daily duties.

    Pelsar, you are apparently concerned about the division when you should be focusing on narrowing that divide. This is my opinion, and no disrespect intended.

    -jim
     
  8. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 13, 2008
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #8
    Hi Pelsar,

    Unfortunately, I don't think the tool you are looking for exists.

    You note that you are creating sites in dreamweaver. Many of the "code" issues you describe seem to point to the lack of coding to web standards. Any modern CMS system relies on a clear separation of content and form, and dreamweaver is not so good at this.

    Also, most modern CMS systems use a hybrid of CMS/HTML and PHP to create the dynamic features that users expect in a modern web site. So, the ability to design templates for such a system requires an understanding of programmatic logic.

    I agree with the others that it will become increasingly difficult to do high-level web design and avoid these issues. One cannot overlay static design thinking onto a medium who's foundation is built upon dynamism -- not in a day where the most popular websites have more in common with applications than static brochures. The "design problems" we need to solve today go far beyond visual form.

    The good news is that today we have a generation of young designers graduating from design schools who, like SrWebDeveloper, do not perceive this gap between design and development.

    back on topic: I also use Drupal. It is one of the most stable and extensible open source CMS systems. In the hands of the right designer, the templating system presents few limitations.
     
  9. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816

    ChicoWeb

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2004
    Location:
    California
    #9
    Hey Pelsar - I dealt with the same issues a few years ago. When I started doing design I was doing 4-5 page sites that were static. However, the more you do, the better you get, and the more people request your services and expertise and the harder your jobs get :) Thats the evolution of a successful web business.

    My business had a gap between higher budget projects and lower budget clients who wanted it all for cheap. So, we came up with a solution that we are licensing out for our lower end clients, who want CMS, blog, ecommerce etc at a reasonable price.

    As the designer, you can hand over your xhtml templates and we can integrate the CMS back end functionality, and front end for you in about 72 hours. We've deployed full e-commerce stores in less then 72 hours.

    Unlike some CMS's there are no limitations to what we can do. It's a remote API system, so we can call the data back to your front end in any manner you wish. This also means you can host it on whatever platform you choose because it uses API calls and XML to transfer the data.

    As a designer, we have reseller packages set up so you can brand the back-end how ever you want. Anyways, take it for a spin and PM me if interested, or any designer for that matter.

    https://myadmin.mavieo.com/?demo=true
    We actually just revamped a lot of the gui!!
     
  10. pelsar thread starter macrumors regular

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    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    israel
    #10
    you guys are 'funny"....

    actually i was pretty busy with learning about how use the calculations in photoshop, learning exactly how to match rgb/index/cmyk colors on my screens to fit printing colors at the press, not to mention how to take graphics developed in coral draw bring them into adobe illustrator and then into freehand and figuring out why postscript doesnt print properly...or for that matter versacad into carrara (3d) and render on multiple computers before the "rendering farm" was developed..in short as an independent i've had my plate full learning and working the multitude of design/drawing programs...learning programming was the last thing on my mind.....(i had a course in college with fortran...using cards and that was traumatic enough for me-i prefer little pictures (icons). And i wont even start about animation programs like Director (4bit, 8bit, 16bit, 32bit...) and its shockwave and flashs animations and actionscript....

    The point is i'm a designer not a programmer and the design programs had more than their fair share of bugs to learn and to work around.....But living in the real world as an independent i cant farm out every little bit of work that is problematic, its up to me to find solutions and keep my business going.....farming out the programming is a sure fire way to lose clients.....becoming a programmer and the time involved is also not the solution since i'm not a programmer and dont have that mental "frame of mind" that is required, nor can my business (or clients) afford a full time programmer.


    so my question still remains and i noticed a few suggestions which i shall look into.....

    ___

    btw, whereas a programmer can pretend to be a designer and design an ugly or not friendly website and thinks its good (so they believe they "know design" the reverse is not true, i cant kid myself that i am a programmer

    __

    i'm not running away from the problem, on the contrary i'm trying to solve it....a new challenge that must be met. No longer can i get away with 10-20 page websites in dreamweaver using tables (please no comments from you guys on that either....).......
     
  11. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    Dec 7, 2007
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA, USA
    #11
    Only one comment on that --- you obviously know from this forum we disdain people using tables for non-tabular layout. The fact you know that means you actually know a heck of lot more than you think! This is a compliment to you, and to suggest you continue to work towards expanding your skills - maybe focus on open source frameworks, because even if you don't master them, even more advanced technologies still all work the same under the hood.

    Keep it positive! Okay, that's my final .02 and thanks for listening to us.

    -jim
     
  12. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #12
    Yeah, I honestly find it a problem that now to develop a web page it is separated to a web designer and a web developer. To become a web developer is no easy job, in fact Im struggling with it. Designing seems easy once you start learning about web developing.

    The 1 major thing Im not happy bout web developing is the amount of extra code language we must learn and know, doens't mean we have to be experts in it but we need to have a fair understand and knowledge in how the code works and that is one of the things that piss me of with web development.
     
  13. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    #13
    You shouldn't take my comments as an insult or anything. I was just trying to make some points because it seems like you have some somewhat unrealistic expectations, at least in the way I've interpreted your posts, which of course could be wrong. I don't really care what you've been doing the past 10 years, I would have given the same comments for someone that has been doing web design for 10 minutes or 50 years. I wasn't trying to say you need to become a programmer either. Some people just can't their head around it, or don't care to. Either way is fine, it's nothing against you, but when you seemingly want to accomplish some things that programmers usually do, there seems to be a disconnect. That's the root of what I was trying to get across, not some pointless attack.

    Most CMS will likely need some tweaking to do the things you want, which would require knowledge of things like PHP. ChicoWeb's offer is a pretty good sounding route to look into if you're needing some customization that doesn't exist in the CMS you've looked at. I haven't given any CMS recommendations because I simply haven't been using them and knew others here would fill that gap.
     
  14. pelsar thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
  15. pelsar thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15

    that in fact is what i also have to comes to terms with....are my expectations not realistic....and if they are, what are my solutions?

    i wasnt insulted....for some reason i just enjoyed explaining how us non programmers have "bugs" too.
     
  16. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816

    ChicoWeb

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    California
    #16
    Coming from experience, you will at least have to be educated on the project management of a dynamic web solution. I can't code a if statement to save my life, however I understand the underlying concepts between a database and web site and you will have to grasp the concepts to make it as a good project manager.

    This thread has gone many different routes, but if you are looking to create a successful web design business, web development is a concept you'll have to familiarize yourself with. As a business owner, you'll have to learn to wear a few hats. There is no getting around it. No one wants just a 5 page website anymore.

    Thanks angelwatt - I'd really like your opinion on the framework one day. We've dumped close to 1000 hours into it so far and are getting ready to make a big push with it to other designers. Right now I have about a dozen or so of my clients on it and they love it.
     
  17. pelsar thread starter macrumors regular

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    israel
    #17
    to fill in the gaps

    Hi ChicoWeb...just to fill in the gaps...i started my design company in 1987...and i've been rolling with the changes ever since and learning the new programs as they come out. The concepts i get, the change in websites is the CMS requirement...i could even continue with using tables but thats not the point...the CMS requirement requires a whole lot of new thinking on the way we design and build the sites....
     
  18. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816

    ChicoWeb

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    #18
    It should never inhibit design if you find the right solution. Which is why we created our own CMS.
     
  19. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    Pa
    #19
    I think that's the OP's point... I'm not sure anymore... but from what I gather he's trying to find a CMS that doesn't interfere with good design, and that's rough.

    I hate trying to put a design around, say, joomla, it's just so much work- not that it can't be done, it's just a pain. But then maybe I just don't know joomla well enough ;)
     
  20. pelsar thread starter macrumors regular

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    #20
    no tweeking allowed.....

    so far..one of my frustrations is the "no tweeking allowed" syndrome. The CMS systems with their demands for consistency and "design before we have the content" means that when the content does arrive and i want to make some minor modifications, perhaps only on certain pages...i cant. Im either forced to make a new template for that particular page or forget it.

    And if the work was outsourced, signed off by the client, there is no way i'm going to open up that "can of worms" of changes and modifications.....

    but i'm still checking...
     
  21. werther macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    #21
    Have you looked into textpattern? I myself use and love drupal but I think that textpattern falls more in line with what you are looking for. I only dabbled a bit with it but it is very easy to learn, has a very straight forward UI and is standards based.
     
  22. eclipse macrumors 6502a

    eclipse

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    Nov 18, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney
    #22
    I'm horrified... web design is SOOOO much bigger than I thought. :confused:

    Isn't Dreamweaver CS4 working on some sort of limited CMS thing?

    Blargh! I've just downloaded Mamp tonight, for the very first time, and am trying to install Joomla (because my mates all sneezed and said "Bloat" when I mentioned Dreamweaver. But then, what would they all know? They all sneeze "Bloat" and "Expense" when I mention mac!

    EDIT TO ADD: I avoided the peanut butter and managed to click on the Joomla folder showing up in my Mamp / Safari browser window thingy (local servers just use Safari automatically hey?) and then I was away.... filling out mysterious questions, blindly following the lead of some spanish/english translation that was a bit choppy on the English... but I got there in the end.

    Now I get to play with Joomla and .... who knows? Get a tiny window into what on earth the discussion above was all about when I check back in in 3 months?
     
  23. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816

    ChicoWeb

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    #23
    Dreamweaver and a CMS are two different things. Dreamweaver is and HTML editor and Joomla is a content management system. DW is used to created a website and Joomla is used for the novice with little to no experience to maintain an already built and coded website. Dreamweaver is a stand along application that is on your personal computer, Joomla sits on a web server and interacts with a mysql database and uses PHP.

    We use DW all the time at my business. It's just a preference though. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to editors.
     
  24. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #24
    Mamp is good, installed PHP, MySQL and Apache easily, no sweat. I like MAMP, straightforward, installed XAMPP, failed to work, I'm too dumb to make it work :(

    Anyway, installed WordPress using Mamp and it work smoothly, now I need to learn how to custom design a website with wordpress as the blog CMS.

    Oh yeah, here is a very good site to show how to install WordPress using MAMP, its foolproof (as long as you follow his instruction and don't change anything before installing wordpress)
    Wordpress - Mamp video walkthrough
     
  25. hobbbz macrumors 6502a

    hobbbz

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    Mar 8, 2005
    #25
    Dreamweaver CS4 has a CMS built-in its a lite version of Adobe Contribute.
    You should check that out since you're already familiar with DW
     

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