The way that I design websites has evolved over the years. From simple HTML written in Notepad to custom websites coded in programs like Dreamweaver to the use of content management systems such as WordPress. Each method has it’s pros and cons and the demands of my target audience have often been a key factor in how I design my websites.
In the beginning
When I started creating websites I would code everything by hand. I would also create my own graphics and learn to code whatever functionality was required. As you can imagine this was a time consuming process and required proficiency in many related disciplines – web design, web development and graphic design. I enjoyed doing this though because it allowed me to learn a lot and the end product was always unique. The downside was that it took a lot of time to roll out a website and would also cost more than a template based approach. Allowing clients to update their own content would require the creation of a content management system or the use of a software solution such as Adobe Contribute (since discontinued).
What works now
Nowadays, nearly every client I come across wants control over modifying and updating their website content in-house. The simplest way of doing this is with a content management system (CMS). There are numerous options when it comes to choosing a CMS but I find that WordPress is one of the easiest to use and manage. As a result of this, I design quite a few websites using WordPress. There are a lot of themes and plugins available for that platform which makes getting a website up and running much quicker than if I had to code from scratch.
Merging both worlds
While content management systems make life easier, they can also give websites a cookie cutter look and feel that lacks originality and does not stand out. Just imagine another website using the same theme and layout and you can see how brand recognition can be affected. While themes can be tweaked and CSS can be modified, I am exploring the option of creating my own WordPress themes for both personal use and for my clients. This will bring back some of the originality of a hand coded website while keeping the valuable content management aspects of WordPress.
The journey continues
As I delve into the world of WordPress themes I have been directed to valuable resources for developing a new theme. Underscores is a starter theme which allows you to set up some basic details about your theme even before downloading it. I also intend on spending some time in the Theme Development section of WordPress Codex.
The end result of all this will hopefully be a more unique look and feel for my personal sites and business websites along with those of my clients. This is an interesting challenge and any feedback or tips are always welcome in the comments.