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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    May 2006
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    Hi all,

    I've been a web designer for several years now. I also fully code the sites I design, minus any vast knowledge of CGI, PHP, etc. I do use standard HTML (or XHTML), Flash, and full CSS. I'm pretty up to speed on CSS, standards and all, but may be fairly "old fashioned" otherwise:

    When I complete a site, almost everything is .html files on an FTP server, which are editable via FTP or GoLive or whatever, saved and/or uploaded. There's a lot of integrated Flash, CGI scripts, etc, as needed, but while I do design the Flash, all other stuff (CGI calendars, site searches, form processing, shopping carts, etc) I just download and customize.

    I take a lot of pride in the design aspect above all, my clients are always happy, and I think my sites look good and varied.

    I've played webmaster for a few sites (doing monthly updates for clients) and others are sort of static, rarely-changing sites. But now I have a couple of clients who want control over constantly editing their own sites -- uploading images, news updates, calendars, other pages. Problem is, like most clients, they don't have great design sense (and NO coding skills) so I don't want them just FTP'ing in and editing the HTML like I might if I was making updates for them. Plus, of course, even if they COULD do that, FTP access to edit your code should never be a place for a client anyway. aranoid:

    So I'm sensing a transition from my old-fashioned "FTP-by-myself-and-forget" ways.

    I have been reading that CMS is the way of the future (er, the present) but haven't found anything that works for me and the way I design yet.

    I'm currently testing Drupal 4.7, but haven't even been able to figure out how to make my design a template/theme. I can't find a separation between designing/putting together an HTML page -- and suddenly needing to code PHP just to set my layout! I've heard Mambo, joomla, and opensource are also pretty respected. But is this the ONLY way to go? Using preset templates, editing some preset CSS, adding a logo, and giving the client a site?

    How can I design a website (i.e. actually DESIGN it in Photoshop), build it like I normally would -- or at least templatize it to some system -- and allow the client to edit content without ruining the design (i.e. breaking tables, going crazy with 72pt Times, uploading 300dpi images)?

    I've also looked at Macromedia Contribute and that looks nifty, only it costs $70 for every user, and seems more in-house than client-based. And the closest I've come to having client control over content is using Coranto for news updates -- the client can use a browser, enter the text, and all of my PRESET styles take care of how it looks with no worries. I'd basically like that functionality for a whole site -- editable content, preset design which I actually DESIGN (not edit from a CSS template that ships with a CMS).

    So how do you let your artistically-challenged clients take over the website you designed for them? Is CMS the only way (and is there one that really accommodates original designs)? Is there another solution I haven't found?

    I'd really love to hear what you all do!

  2.  

  3. #2
    Senior Member
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    May 2003
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    UK
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    If you would like your clients to be able to add the content you mentioned, then a CMS is your best bet.

    Worrying over large fonts and so on, ruining designs should not be an issue, as any CMS worth it's salt would have a stylesheet attached.

    www.opensourcecms.com lets you try out CMS's before you download them.

  4. #3
    Junior Member
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    May 2006
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    Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Is that really the only way?

    Via CMS, I'm not so concerned about fonts, etc, as like you said, it should be pretty much controlled by style sheets.

    But my biggest hurdle was finding one that would accommodate my style of designing. Something where I design the site in Photoshop, code my .html page (template), and plug the content in. I've been able to do that for individual scripts -- i.e. Coranto, a CGI photo gallery, calendar, in-site search engine, e-commerce, etc. They all have a very similar format:

    Code:
    <html>
    <head>My Site</head>
    <body>
    (My regular coded HTML design here; all tables, CSS, Flash, etc, as I designed them.  Use my own Flash menu or CSS/JS menu).
    
    <!-- INSERT CONTENT -->
    <!-- news content, photo gallery, whatever data is loaded here -->
    
    (Close out my tables, rest of design, etc)
    </body>
    </html>
    So simple, and the content is simply "framed" by the HTML template I designed.

    All the CMS demos I've tried appear to limit, if not force, what I can or have to do.... i.e. learn a bunch of PHP or use a specific pre-determined menu system. I haven't found one that acts like the templatizing of all the scripts I've been able to customize, where I can simply load CMS-editable content into my existing designs/coding.

    The search continues...

  5. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Holy crap, I think I found the perfect CMS for my exact situation: "CMS Made Simple" (www.cmsmadesimple.org).

    I can take my exact .html page, drop in some {stylesheet} and {content} tags, and watch as CMS-editable content fills my designed pages. It was simple to install, simple to set up, and, at least up front (still have yet to really dig into it) looks simple to use. Apparently the name wasn't just marketing jargon.

    I can use Flash, embedded javascript, my own old CSS files, even a full table layout if I want. I am not restricted by editing CSS/column presets, nor am I required to use built-in dropdown menus or other modules I don't need. Since I can use my own Flash menus or whatever I have already coded, it would be extremely easy to port any of the sites I've already built to CMS Made Simple without revamping them in PHP (i.e. Drupal) or re-thinking them to fit categorized menus (i.e. Mambo).

    Of course everyone has their own CMS preferences, and I'm sure some of the bigger ones like Drupal or Mambo are probably great if you put in the time and are willing to fit your site(s) to those particular systems. As for me, I HIGHLY recommend CMS Made Simple if you're looking for an easy way to transition into the world of content management systems while keeping your focus on YOUR design and YOUR original coding.

    I'll post back if I happen to find any major downfalls (lack of high-end features aside; it appears in its infancy and obviously does not have the community or wealth of options/add-ons the other ones do), but right now I'm very happy with my find.

  6. #5
    Junior Member Frinkky's Avatar
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    Nutlog13,
    I've faced the same situation myself lately and turned to open source cms. Having looked at the various opensourcecms.com choices, I opted for e107 and must admit I was quietly impressed with the overall functionality however, as you say, really personalising it with a theme looks to be a right nightmare. Currently i'm running a premade template with adapted graphics, not really what I wanted but acceptable until i had managed to create a theme (http://www.storm-wind.com).
    I had not checked out cmsmadesimple, so thank you for posting your findings. Now it looks like i'll have to install this and start again :P

  7. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    8693
    What about designing your own CMS?

    I have a feeling that companies want to hire designers who don't use resources like Open Source CMS and instead know how to create a CMS system by themselves. Also, the idea of using a program that someone else has created is a small sting towards my pride, even though the DIY method can be frustrating and time-consuming for myself and others.

    So as an alternative to the cool resources offered to us, what are the ways we can create our own CMS? Clients who are not as web savvy as we are, who want to have things done quickly couldn't care less about the programs we're using in regards to CMS..but maybe sony.com or some neo dot-com company might.

  8. #7
    Junior Member
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    May 2006
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    Yeah, I still haven't found any real problems with this CMS. Once I grasped the basics -- and they really are basic -- I had my template set up in no time. With my site structure fully intact so quickly, I'm already on to customizing the admin area for the client and working out the menu system and other CMS specifics...

    In the same amount of time spent with Drupal, all I managed to do was get it installed, find the PHP template system cumbersome and borderline ridiculous, and punch a lot of things. In three days I never got it working beyond seeing my test content wrapped in Drupal's default blog-theme. In one afternoon I had CMS Made Simple running my whole site, looking exactly like I wanted it to.

    What I like is, rather than taking a standard CMS template designed for a 3-column blog and trying to morph pieces of your code/design around that system, you take your own code/design and simply plop in pieces of the CMS. Seems so straightforward to me, I can't understand how the "bigger" CMS's can do it so back-asswards.

    Anyway, hope it works out for you!

  9. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by samsoner
    What about designing your own CMS?

    I have a feeling that companies want to hire designers who don't use resources like Open Source CMS and instead know how to create a CMS system by themselves. Also, the idea of using a program that someone else has created is a small sting towards my pride, even though the DIY method can be frustrating and time-consuming for myself and others.

    So as an alternative to the cool resources offered to us, what are the ways we can create our own CMS? Clients who are not as web savvy as we are, who want to have things done quickly couldn't care less about the programs we're using in regards to CMS..but maybe sony.com or some neo dot-com company might.


    I don't know, I've never promoted myself as a programmer, and I flat-out do not have the knowledge or skill to create something like that from scratch. :nervous:

    Yeah, I assume if you were looking for a job with Sony, being able to develop applications on top of doing the graphics would be golden. But I know my clients just want something that looks good and that works. So I'm happy I found CMSMS, as it gives them a simple menu-based back end to edit their pages, while allowing me to use MY design I created for them.

    I would also definitely see a problem between giving a client their content slapped into one of these standardized "templates" (i.e. the 3-column blog style running rampant in almost all the other CMS's I've seen). The key thing here is that I still designed AND coded the website for them. Only difference is, instead of duplicating an .html page 30 times and inserting the content into each one on an FTP server, the CMS does the duplicating and allows the client to edit that same content via an admin panel in their browser.

    So while other CMS systems were creating the site for me, what I like about CMSMS is that I'm still creating the site. Given that, I take no hit to my pride when using it.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Shani's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Designing your own CMS is somewhere on par with designing your own forum software.
    Shani

    I have an eye for detail like you'd never believe.

  11. #10
    Senior Member
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    Location
    UK
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    Depends on how far you would like to go.

    If you are efficient in a server side language it is fairly easy.

    I am writing forum software ATM.


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