I am a small business owner who needs to get started with a designer to build a new, functional website. My business is video and photography.
I have been surprised that I have not been able to find any introductory information on which TYPE of platform (if I am using the right terminology) to go with. I am NOT interested in learning how to build the site - I want a pro to do that, but I would like them to be able to hand off to me at completion, showing me to how to add content to the site on a perhaps twice-monthly basis.
There's plenty of 'within-application' material out there, but it's harder to gain the wider approach of sorting the wood from the trips.
In searching through previous sitepoint forums for possible existing answers, I did find this closed thread posting : "WORDPRESS, DRUPAL, or JOOMLA for a corporate site"
at URL : http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?682156-WORDPRESS-DRUPAL-or-JOOMLA-for-a-corporate-site&highlight=choosing+site+type
My ongoing, regular contributions would be :
- Articles (blogs, etc)
- Samples of new work - video clips, photos
My key goals are to :
Launch a truly elegant, pro site. It does not need to be large, nor complex. It has to look very good.
Have the site be as efficient and simple a user experience as possible (a lot of my clients are harried and have short attention spans. They need to ‘get in/get out’). Fast loads, navigation tools locked into place on screen as much as possible, etc.
Have sufficient understanding that I can be pretty much in charge of clean, elegant looking updates to content, knowing also when it’s time to go back to the design team for the more structurally-oriented changes.
I've gone as far as doing wire-frame mockups of my proposed new site, and have
worked my way through the tutorials here : http://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page
Can you help me understand which platform/software is the best approach? I have been able to glean that WordPress started out as blogging software, but has been able to take over the functions of a basic site such as what I would need. With that in mind, is this the model I should be requesting?
I consider this THE front-end issue. If I get this wrong, I could be faced with a total teardown-and-rebuild of the site at some point in the near future. Naturally, I’d hope to avoid that!
If you're getting a pro to design the website, I would take their advice on the platform as well. Some people will find it easier to work in one rather than another, may already have templates set up, or can produce a better site – not because the platform is inherently better or worse, but just because of what they are used to working in.
To be honest, most off-the-shelf CMSs are pretty dire. Your design pro may be able to come up with something better, for example based on the ExpressionEngine system.
Rather than restrict the options available to your designer, I would recommend giving them free rein to use whatever system they think is best for your site's needs, including the facility for you to continue to make updates once the initial design is completed.
There's no software that can be considered best. It boils down to what you can work with best and whether or not a CMS (should you go for a non-custom solution) is suited for the task.
If maintenance is your priority, then I'd go with the system that is not only well-coded but has a administration panel that you find intuitive. I use ExpressionEngine. It's my absolute favorite CMS. Not only is it flexible in terms of structuring and organizing your site, but it also has a nicely structured user interface. You also have the option to simplify the admin area's appearance by using a third-party admin theme. By default, you have three admin themes to choose from, so you're not stuck with using the one that comes pre-installed.
However, ExpressionEngine is a commercial application. Not only the application itself, but the majority of add-ons are commercial as well, so you should take that into account. I don't mind paying for quality software because I'm not a fan of having to mess with programming languages.
WordPress is good, of course, and the admin interface is very, very good. Coding and configuring your site can be a nightmare, however, unless you're well-versed in PHP. The out-of-the-box code is, well, somewhat cluttered. If you intend to have clean code, your developer will need quite a bit of time to trim the fat.
After ExpressionEngine, my most favorite CMS has to be Textpattern. It's not nearly as popular as WordPress, the community is small, but it's a darn good piece of sophisticated software, well designed, well structured, lighter than ExpressionEngine and not a commercial product, should that be of preference to you. The interface is very simple, very easy to use, a no-nonsense type of admin interface that may appear a bit spartan at first.
There are many more, e.g. there's MODx, also a open source CMS. I've used it very rarely, but it's been said to be good, so that's one you could check out as well.
By the way, before you decide, you can test-drive all these open source CMSes via demos hosted at: http://php.opensourcecms.com/. They have recent versions of Textpattern, MODx, WordPress, and many other applications.
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