What is the best approach to designing a website that clients can edit?

by Staff

Creative Design Pros It's not a new trend. Clients have been asking to 'edit' their own web pages since the early 1990s. The problem was, for years, it was html or nothing! For years we tried them all from 'piggyback' programs to designing and building CGI page generaters from scratch. Then Content Management System (CMS) software was born -- and the world changed.

The first WISIWYG package was PagePress from Symantec, but it went bust. Then there were all sorts of "piggyback" digesters attached to word processing programs like WORD, ClarisWorks, WordPerfect and others. None of them worked well -- none of them left a site that could be edited by the client.

Giulia J. Creative Specialist - Visual Artist, Graphic & Web Designer writes :

Quoting  begins I'm working on a quote for a new website and am considering both options of using a CMS like Wordpress to develop the website or to just build the website using HTML and incorporating a lightweight CMS for editing content only. My clients want to be able to edit and have a blog, of which why I was thinking of Wordpress. Any input would be appreciated and suggestions for other CMS' that work are welcome! Quoting  ends

Kevin H.- Designer / Developer, Modern Leaf Design and Design Consultant
      Years ago I created a custom CMS area for clients who would like to edit certain parts of their website, as a regular CMS would allow them to "break" areas of the site that they shouldn't be touching. However, the amount of work to create a custom administration area is simply not productive except for very specific cases. I lean toward WordPress since you can easily customize the Admin area to actually custom code certain features on the site and create user restrictions on what they can modify. Since it is fairly basic and has a WYSIWYG style editor, they can achieve a lot more without too much code training.
GO wordpress.org

Liam F. -- Owner at Frequency Design
      For a simple site where only the blog will be regularly edited I would recommend Craft as it's a simpler and more elegant solution than Wordpress. The basic version is free and there are options to buy more complex functionality should your client's needs change.
GO http://www.buildwithcraft.com/

Manpreet S. -- Multidisciplinary Innovation Specialist at Digital Native Academy (DNA)
      I use to develop bespoke CMS for small to large scale websites but from the time I started to use WordPress (4 years ago) I found it really useful for small and medium scale website. But I still develop bespoke CMS for large-scale websites as wordpress still have some limits in terms of ease for clients using Wordpress admin as it sometimes confuse with number of options.
GO Bespoke from Pasilda.com/

Shannon B. ~ Web Designer, User Interface Designer, Graphic Designer
      I've used a tool called CushyCMS for VERY non-tech-savvy clients who only want to be able to change text. It will not allow them to create new pages, or modify the look and feel of their site at all. But if they just need to edit text on a page it's super easy (and there's a free version which is all my clients have needed so far).
GO www.cushycms.com

Andrea M.
      I agree with some of the others that wordpress can be complicated for your clients, and sometimes they are not too tech savys. That's the main reason I usually use Weebly. Have you checked out that option? I think it's one of the easiest CMS and even though it has its limitations, for the most part there is a workaround. It also has a designer's platform from which the clients will have access, so bonus points for your image.
      I am aware though, that some projects simply can not be done on Weebly, but on my experience, a great deal of them can and it makes both yours and your client's life easier. There are some premium templates available, but I have found that making your own is worth it.
GO www.weebly.com

Dozens of others chimed in with WordPress as their favorite or most recommended, but some of the other more high-end packages like Drupal or Joomla were mentioned as well.

I have had personal experience with Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress, and my only advice would be to stay away from Joomla. Our experience was
a) you're cemented to the Joomla developer for even the most minute changes, which can become expensive, and
b) once it breaks, it really breaks, thus requiring a lot of tedium and time to fix it.

For one client, we hired a "joomla" developer who came very highly recommended, and reasonably priced, to develop a client site. After 6 months of trying to train the clients who generated a long list of problems using they ordered it to be scrapped. $7,000 down the drain. We hired our favorite developer Cre8d-Design, at the same hourly rate, built an exact, working, duplicate for about $2,700 ... which came out of MY pocket! So there's a real-world, living example of the differences between Joomla and WordPress.

Beware the Bad People -- Now, on the other hand -- we had three client web sites, all running beautifully for several years on NetworkSolutions.com using WordPress. Except, then the evil axis hit Network Solutions with an injection exploit and took them all out -- replacing them with a Muslim jihadist front page. The hack was so well embedded, even when the sites were resotred, it happened all over again, and the sites had to be scrapped. Network Solutions refused to pay compensation or rebuilt the sites, and of course, once the SQL files are corrupted, all your hard work in postings, images and content are gone for ever. Our clients were devistated.

creative_design_pros In keeping with the Fare Use regulations, we've only posted less than 20% of the full thread, so if this discussion is something you feel important to follow, then join in all the fun in this LinkedIN discussion : www.linkedin.com/groups/Creative_Design_Pros

And, thanks for reading

Fred Showker

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