What are CMS’s?
Prior to the 1990’s, if you needed to design a website, you usually had to learn HTML extensively to create content for your pages. You would then add a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) to standardize the look of your various pages with color schemes, standardized fonts and predefined container sizes. Then came the creation of a hypertext reprocessor (Php) in order to create interactivity with the user, such as creating a contact form or animating menus and managing cookies. Finally, in order to manage any type of variable data used by the website (user accounts, e-commerce inventories, etc.) All these elements required hours of training and practice in order to create websites that were interesting to users and generated traffic to your pages.
In 1995, along came PHP-Nuke and Zend, which are considered the first Content Management Systems (CMS). However, these tools were heavily dependent on an advance mastery of PHP programming. Therefore, the creation of websites was still restricted to computer scholars and geeks.
In the early 2000’s, design systems such as Joomla, Mambo and Dupral came along and permitted less advanced designers to create websites through the use of templates. This helped to popularize the use of the CMS platform, but these tools did not produce very nice websites and required a lot of customization on the part of the designer.
The big game changer arrived in 2003 in the form of WordPress, a CMS that made extensive use of plug-ins and tweaks developed by third party companies. The benefits were two-fold; the designer now had access to thousands of templates and customizations and the developers could charge fees for premium content.
With the adoption of adaptive design, developers can now create websites that are tablet and cellphone ready, without having to create alternate pages designed for smaller screens. This is a very important development, considering the explosion of cellphone and tablet use in the last few years.
In the past few years, the whole market has exploded. Many companies are beginning to develop their commercial websites in-house and the amount of specific-use templates is currently in the tens of thousands.
Top CMS platforms
Currently, the market is looking at regular users with no design background to spread the gospel of design interfaces. Hosting services like Squarespace offer very comprehensive tools to design fully adaptive websites that can be as simple or complex as required.
For any hosting service, the essential design interfaces are:
- Abantecart (e-commerce)
- Prestashop (e-commerce)
- Opencart (e-commerce)
- phpBB (forums)
The main reason for using a CMS to create a website comes down to the ease of use and the extendibility of the platform. Your website can begin as a simple structure of a few pages (i.e. home page, information about your company, contact page, blog pages, etc.), but you can easily build up your website by adding e-commerce elements, SEO functions, social media functionalities and many more advanced features.
The other appealing feature is the portability of your website to alternate media devices such as tablets and smartphones. Most CMS packages have integrated responsive design. This spares you the task of learning responsive design programming, such as Bootstrap.
While all CMS platforms, in their current iterations, yield very appealing and high performance websites, we at K-Logik Media have adopted WordPress as a preferred tool for the design of our websites. Being a market leader has lead many third party developers to focus their efforts on offering all types of functionality in the form of templates, plug-ins and various tools. Almost any esthetic and functionality aspect has seen developments to help designers create highly functional and great looking websites.
If you have created an account with a reputable web host, chances are they offer a control panel containing all the functionalities you need to manage your website. In our case, the web hosting service uses cPanel. It contains tools to manage your websites, your email accounts, security settings, databases and other elements.
With WordPress, website creation begins in the control panel. You’ll probably find a WordPress icon or an installation interface such as Softaculous. All the designer has to do is follow the step-by step instructions to get the basic WordPress template installed. The process includes the creation of a MySQL database and the creation of default static and blog pages with sample content (latin gibberish).
Once the template is installed, you are on your way. The next steps involve making the website your own.
It is important to note that, at this point, you should have your content and media files in hand. You should also know what type of site you’re trying to create, since you will be looking for a WordPress theme that greatly resembles the look and feel that you are aiming for.
One of the most impressive features of WordPress is the amount of themes that were and are being developed for the website interface. At this time, there are approximately 10,000 themes. Independent firms have developed most of them. Many are free, but the really nice ones have premium versions containing many extra features that give you more flexibility in the customization of your website.
Considering that the basic WordPress theme is, well, basic, a lot of third party developers have come up with an array of specific functionalities that come in the form of plug-ins. Want to create a contact form? There’s a plug-in for that. Want to automatically share your new blog entries across social media platforms? There’s also a plug-in for that. In fact, there is virtually no limit to plug-in development. Any functionality you can conceive that is not part of the theme you’ve chosen can be integrated through the installation of plug-ins. Be aware, however, that many of these plug-ins are initially free, but have a paid counterpart that unlocks their full functionality.
Another great feature in WordPress is customizable CSS. This permits you to change color schemes, fonts, menus, etc. This means that you can start with a standard WordPress theme, create a child theme (more on this at a later date) and modify the CSS code to create a website that is uniquely yours.
For all these reasons, and a few more, we at K-Logik media, have chosen to make extensive use of WordPress for any project that we take on. The interface permits us to get our customers’ content, choose a general look and feel for the website and begin designing in a minimal interval. The benefits are that our customers get highly performing websites within a small turnaround period. This gets the client online quickly and at a minimal cost.