Web designers, what to demeanour for in a CMS


Web designers, what to demeanour for in a CMSThere are a whole garland of CMSes out there trimming from lightweight micro-blogging platforms to outrageous craving packages.

I don’t wish to discuss any names here or tell we what to use.

Instead, I’m going give we some critical points to consider, so that we can make an prepared preference on your own.

And hopefully, not deposit a outrageous volume of time and appetite into a CMS we will have to desert a year or dual down a road.

The training curve

Sadly, many designers collect a CMS on this indicate alone. Don’t get me wrong, selecting a CMS we can indeed figure out is important, though we are investing a lot of time and appetite into this square of software. Potentially, years of your life will be spent operative with this CMS. Don’t usually go with a easiest one to configure though holding in some other considerations. A one-click implement is nice, though should not be a determining factor.

With that said, how quick we can get up-and-running, and building elementary sites is important. Every CMS has a training bend though some are many steeper than other. Consider how many time we have before creation a choice. If we are a student, we competence cruise holding a thrust and digging into a some-more formidable to learn though feature-rich CMS, given we have a time accessible to do it. If we are operative and need a CMS resolution yesterday, we competence be forced to go with something we can get adult in using in a few days.


If we are not informed with a term, by theming we meant formulating a skin, a manifest partial of a front-end of a website. How this is finished should be a outrageous consideration. Remember developers are a people building CMSes and they like to make growth easier, infrequently before deliberation we a designer, and unfortunately, a finish user, too. Which means, a approach a front-end is put together competence have been neglected or finished unnecessarily complicated. Some CMSes are many easier to thesis than others. Also, how a control row is set adult and how easy it is to use should severely change your decision, given we will be spending outrageous amounts of time operative with it.

hurdles to burst over when theming a design

You need to cruise how stretchable theming for a CMS is. Are we means to emanate or import immobile HTML and CSS or are there a ton of hoops to burst by first? How is a record structure set adult and are we compulsory to save apart pieces of your pattern all over a back-end? A good CMS, once we are proficient with it, will save we time. But there are unequivocally some CMSes out there where growth takes additional time.

How many leisure are we given to build a website we want? Every CMS has some pattern hurdles we have to burst over. Are we forced to start with a starter or default template? That can be a vast cramp in your pattern character and it can eat adult additional time. Although, some people cite carrying templates to start with. Which do we prefer? Do we have to write markup right in a browser or can we use a calm editor? Think about how we cite building immobile webpages and check to see if we can use a same routine or will we be forced to do things differently.

Documentation and resources

A CMS is usually as good as a documentation. I’ve played around with a few extraordinary CMSes that we finished adult carrying to desert given we got stuck, and satisfied there wasn’t adequate correct support to get me out of a jam we was in. So right after looking during a elementary specs for a CMS, puncture into a documentation. You should be means to start with 0 believe and build a finish website usually from reading a documentation. If it doesn’t demeanour like that is a case, we competence wish to demeanour into another CMS.

Most CMSes list their facilities though a support is unequivocally where we can see accurately what is offered. For example, a CMS will substantially offer some arrange of selling transport solution, though what that is exactly, can change severely from CMS to CMS. If there are one or dual things your CMS contingency have, be certain to review a support about them specifically, and see if they will work for you.


Even a best support can’t answer any doubt we will have. Is there a place to go where people will answer your questions? If there is, how useful is a village to designers and novices? Some communities can indeed be utterly antagonistic or simply omit beginner’s questions.

If we would like to ask some questions, don’t be that chairman who gets on a forums or Twitter seeking “Is this CMS any good?” Browse around a small bit. Someone has substantially already asked a doubt we have. A good approach to sign a peculiarity of a village is to see what kinds of responses people are removing to their questions, and how many hours/days it takes to get them. Nothing is worse than carrying a doubt we can’t answer and not carrying a apparatus to spin to.

Another caring not mostly suspicion of is paid support. Do a CMS developers yield support and how many does it cost? If they don’t, are there people in a village that we can trust to get timely support from? Inevitably, there will come a time when we need a tradition appendage built or something else comes adult that is over your believe level. Someone needs to be there to do it for we or travel we by it.

Community also includes a third-party developers. Who and how many people are building add-ons for a CMS? Most CMSes have a executive appendage community. Have a demeanour around and see what is available.


Not any website we build will be for yourself. How easy a customer can supplement and revise their possess calm is unequivocally important. Complicated back-ends and miss of facilities means some-more growth time and some-more time training clients. One of a many elementary and many critical facilities of any CMS is a calm editor. Editing site calm should be a primary regard for we and a people we will be building websites for. How easy is a WYSIWYG editor to use and goes it write purify markup? Will clients who are not mechanism savvy be means to use it?

Also, along a same lines is a record upload system. How easy is it to upload images, video, PDFs, et cetera? Many clients don’t have a program or believe to revise and resize images, nonetheless need this functionality on their website. Is there built-in picture resizing your clients can take advantage of?

The usability of a control row should be deliberate as well. You competence have to sight people to use a system, that can be many hours of work over a years. Is it elementary adequate your grandmother could use it? Also, how configurable is a control panel? Can we spin off or censor areas a customer doesn’t need entrance to? It is good to be means to usually let clients revise a areas of a site they need to though carrying to understanding with other collection of a control row that competence upset them, or worse, concede them to mangle a website.

Clients need to be means to do these elementary things:

  • Edit existent page content
  • Add new pages simply and have a navigation updated automatically
  • Add photos, papers and video content
  • Give entrance to a control row to other employees

They all sound flattering easy though there can indeed be a series of problems. Tabular information or heavily styled areas that need HTML and CSS believe can be formidable for a customer to edit, and some WYSIWYG editors don’t do a unequivocally good pursuit here. Some CMSes don’t yield an discerning approach of adding additional pages or simply up-datable navigation. You don’t wish to leave these things adult to a customer if we don’t have to. we like to follow a order that if a customer could mangle something, they will mangle it. Some CMSes don’t concede certain record forms to be uploaded or have an upload record distance limit, that can means headaches for clients perplexing to upload vast PDFs or PowerPoint presentations.

All things to consider.

Programing believe requirements

You chose to be a engineer for a reason, right? Some of us competence be proficient in a denunciation like PHP though that doesn’t meant we wish to spend all of a time doing it. Take a demeanour during a denunciation a CMS is created in and see if it is something we are informed with and could work in if we had to. Also, see how many scripting is finished in a templates. Some CMSes do a unequivocally good pursuit of gripping a PHP or whatever denunciation out of a templates, so we can concentration usually on a HTML and CSS. Other CMSes can have their possess templating denunciation to use.

They are all a small bit opposite and, depending on your comfort spin with code, we will have to select one to live with. Generally, we contend don’t go with a CMS where we have to learn a whole new denunciation to get started, unless we unequivocally would rather be a developer and not a designer.

How active are a developers?

How good a CMS is now is important, though where it is going in a destiny is usually as important. So find out what a developers are adult to. Look during a time it takes for any vital recover and any dot recover to come out. If it has been dual years given a final dot release, a CMS competence be passed or on hold. There is no ideal CMS though a some-more a developers are operative a improved a CMS is going to get. And what competence be a best CMS now competence not be 5 years from now. Don’t get stranded with a failing CMS.

Find a bug tracker and see usually how prolonged bugs go unfixed. If something is damaged on a site we build, clients are going to rest on we to repair it. Telling them a CMS developers haven’t bound a bug yet, isn’t a unequivocally good excuse.

Flexibility and reach

What does a CMS come with out of a box? A CMS with small functionality means we have to rest heavily on 3rd celebration add-ons. On a other palm a CMS with all built in competence be magisterial and formidable to get adult and running, generally if we are building a elementary website. There needs to be a happy middle between a two. An ideal CMS can be set adult fast though a lot of pattern wanting to be done, nonetheless has all a collection compulsory for some-more formidable features.

Just given we are usually building elementary websites now doesn’t meant we competence not be building some-more formidable websites in a future. Think about a forms of websites we would like to build or competence be asked to build and does a CMS concede for it. How tough is it to supplement a membership area to a website, multi-language support, or to supplement a store?

Does it make we better?

Learning how to build website with a CMS is a good thing to know though usually how many incomparable your ability set becomes, can vary. Being means to let clients revise their possess calm is a executive underline of a CMS, though they can offer so many more:

  • Ecommerce
  • Membership functionality
  • Multi-language support
  • Dynamic media galleries
  • Multi-site installations
  • Integrating blogs and forums
  • Pagination
  • Easy syndication

To name a few. You substantially would not have been means to emanate this form of work though some growth believe though a good CMS can make that possible.

After operative with a good CMS for a while, we should find that we are means to work during a same speed or even faster than if we were building a immobile website. A good CMS saves we growth time, though should also assistance urge a approach we rise a front-end as well, by formulating reusable snippets of content, embedding templates inside any other, and displaying calm from a database that we would have had to markup yourself in a immobile site.

Where are we going?

Think about where we are in your career now, and where we wish to be 5 and 10 years from now. The CMS we select will be with we during slightest that long. Are we going to be operative for a vast pattern organisation or do we wish to work for yourself? Will we be doing freelance work on a side?

Not any organisation uses a same CMS though there are some that are used some-more regularly. If we unequivocally tumble in adore with one CMS in particular, we can always find a firms that use it, too. Less renouned CMSes have reduction pursuit opportunities though a firms that do use them would be many some-more prone to sinecure you, being proficient with a CMS, over someone who has never overwhelmed it before. Using a reduction renouned CMS creates we some-more of a specialist. Using a renouned CMS means we have a broader operation of opportunities.

If we devise on freelancing full or partial time, we will wish a CMS where we are gentle doing any aspect of development. Typically, your projects will be smaller in range as well, so a outrageous CMS with a prolonged setup time competence not be a best option.


Every chairman is opposite and what CMS works for me competence not be a best choice for you. So take these points into consideration. Take a demeanour during what CMSes are available, and collect a one that will work best for you.

Written exclusively for Webdesigner Depot by Tyler Herman, a web engineer and blogger during Couchable.co. You can also follow Tyler on Twitter @couchable to find out what he ate for lunch, see photos of his 24 cats, and review rants about sports teams we don’t caring about.