Tip 3 Pick the Best CMS for Your Needs

All but the very simplest of sites should be built with a content management system (CMS). A CMS makes adding content, and keeping it updated, much easier. There are hundreds of content management systems in the market today. So how do you choose the best one for you? In this chapter, we’ll lay out the CMS landscape and give some suggestions on how to evaluate them and which ones are most appropriate for different circumstances.

Static Sites: Simple But Limited

We often hear from designers who have been building static web sites for years, and question whether they need to shift to using a content management system (CMS). They’re comfortable with their workflow, typically building sites in Dreamweaver and then pushing them up to a server via FTP.

A static site is the simplest to create and launch, and the least expensive to host. But it is a poor choice for all but the simplest sites. In the past, static sites were very common, but today they are rarely the best approach. Among their many limitations, static sites:

  • Generally cannot be updated without dealing directly with the HTML code, making them hard for anyone but the coder to maintain.
  • Do not support blogs or RSS feeds, cutting off one of the easiest ways to add content regularly and improve search engine optimization.
  • Often require entry of the same content in multiple places, making it harder to update and often leading to inconsistencies within the site.
  • Do not automatically create any pages, so every page on the site needs to be manually built.

Why You Should Use a CMS

If you’re building six-page brochure sites that are rarely updated, then perhaps you can work without a CMS. But for almost anything else, you should be using a CMS. Here’s why:

  • Your clients can edit their own content. This is hugely empowering to them, and it results in sites that are updated more frequently and are therefore more useful for visitors and deliver better business results.
  • You don’t have to spend time on every little content change, so you have more time for creative work. You came to web design to be creative, not to spend time updating a store’s hours or announcing their next sale, right?
  • When the time comes for design changes, you can update a template or two, and the entire site is instantly updated to the new design. No more tediously making the same change to page after page.
  • Your clients’ sites can have RSS feeds, commenting, and other features that aren’t possible on a static site.

Given all these compelling reasons, why isn’t everyone building sites with a CMS? Because it has added complexity to the task of building the site and, if that task is contracted out, it can add significantly to the cost.

Today, costs have fallen low enough that there is no reason not to use a CMS on virtually every project.

Choosing a CMS

Once you’ve made the decision to use a CMS, you’re then faced with the daunting task of choosing a particular CMS. There are literally hundreds of them, and each has its fans.

To begin making sense of the wide range of offerings, first consider each product’s target audience. At the low end, there are simple systems that are designed for small businesses or individuals to build their own simple sites or blogs; these include WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress), Intuit Sites, Google Sites, and Godaddy’s WebSite Tonight. Assuming you’re a professional designer building custom sites for business clients, you can discard all of these immediately; they lack the design flexibility and the power for your needs.

Licensed and Open Source CMS

Pick the best CMS for your needs

At the other extreme, there are high-end content management systems aimed at big organizations that are equally unsuitable. Systems such as SiteCore and SDL Tridion typically have five- or six-figure price tags, putting them entirely out of range for the vast majority of sites.

These systems typically have lots of features designed for big organizations, with multiple user roles, workflows for sending content from an author to an editor and then to a site manager for approval before going live, and so forth.

In this ebook, we’re assuming you’re building sites for small to midsize businesses, and these features just aren’t very useful for this class of clients. In terms of design flexibility and ease of use, these “high-end” systems are often no better, and sometimes worse, than opensource or inexpensive options.

Hosted vs. Self-Hosted

Your first big decision point is whether you are going to manage the software and its hosting yourself, or use a SaaS (software as a service) solution:

  • A hosted (SaaS) CMS, such as Webvanta, LightCMS, or SquareSpace, is a self-contained solution that you manage via a web browser and is operated by a third party.
  • A self-hosted CMS, such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, or Expression Engine, is a body of software you download from the source, and then modify, upload to a server (which you typically rent from a hosting company), and manage on your own.

If you are a developer at heart, like to be able to modify the back-end code, and have a budget of at least a few thousand dollars per site, then self-hosted solutions can be a good choice.  They are used for millions of sites, including many well-known ones.

The Growth of Hosted CMS Options

The option to use a hosted CMS is relatively new, and we believe it better serves the needs of designers and site owners who want to focus on the design and content of the site, not on the technology.

If you use a self-hosted CMS, you are responsible for all the code that runs the site. This can be a nightmare when hacks occur; with a CMS such as WordPress, sites get hacked with terrifying frequency.

Even in the absence of such nightmare scenarios, using a self-hosted CMS inevitably means spending more time dealing with back-end code, software updates, security, backups, and server management. You’re exposed to much more of the full technology stack and operational issues, and it’s hard not to get buried in details.

With a hosted CMS, all that is taken care of for you.

In the past, most hosted CMS offerings were very limited in terms of design flexibility. Even today, few provide the flexibility to set up custom databases, so you can organize things like business listings and news items, and have pages automatically created for each item.

The Hosted Service Tradeoff

Life is full of tradeoffs, and the decision to use a hosted CMS is no exception. With any SaaS system, you’re giving up control over the back-end software, in return for being relieved of all  responsibility for building, maintaining, and serving that software.

As long as the system meets your needs, this is generally an excellent tradeoff. You get to focus on your design and business needs, and let someone else take care of the technical details and day-to-day operations.

Picking the Right Service

Part of the bargain you’re making when you use a hosted service is that you’re going to live with whatever that service is designed to do (or that it can be extended to do), so it’s critical to pick one that meets your needs. Here’s some hosted services to consider:

  • If you are building custom web sites, for which you need full control over the design and the organization of content, Webvanta is an outstanding solution (if we do say so ourselves).
  • If all you need is a simple blog, WordPress.com is an excellent option.
  • If you want more design flexibility but don’t have a lot of content and don’t need database capability, SquareSpace is a great product.
  • If you’re building an e-commerce site, take a look at Shopify and BigCommerce.
  • If you need a private social network, Ning is the leading hosted solution.

Choosing Among Self-Hosted Options

If you don’t want to use a hosted CMS, then you have two choices: open-source software and commercial software.

Open-source software is extremely popular, and it can be an excellent solution if you have the skills and desire to manage it well.

The biggest downside is that there is generally no support provided by the authors of the software. You’re typically depending on the user community for support. Fortunately, there are large user communities for the major open-source CMS systems — but it can still be frustrating trying to get questions answered and problems resolved.

Of the open-source content management systems, WordPress appears to be the most popular, at least among designers in the U.S. Joomla! has more community features, so if you are building a community-oriented site, Joomla! may be a good option.

The “big gun” of the open-source CMS world is Drupal. It is used by many big-name sites, from whitehouse.gov to major media properties. In the hands of a capable developer, Drupal is a powerful tool, and there is no doubt that it is capable of delivering highly customized, database-driven sites.

Most designers, however, tell us that Drupal is more than they can manage on their own. Unless you’re a developer who likes to work with PHP, you’re likely to want to outsource the setup and customization of Drupal, and this typically costs several thousand dollars. For a large project, it can be an excellent solution, but for a typical small to midsize business site, WordPress is more efficient.

The most popular commercial CMS among designers in Expression Engine. It gets high marks from designers who use it, though it can be more involved to set up than WordPress.

CMS Selection Summary: Things to Consider

There’s no way to make selection of the best CMS for your needs a simple task; it is just an inherently complex landscape, with many options.

Here are some factors to consider as you are evaluating CMS options:

  • Ease of setting up your custom HTML and CSS so the site looks exactly how you want
  • Whether the template system works around your code, or has a fixed approach to page structure that you must work around
  • Availability of the features you require, either as core components or as add-ons
  • Support for blogs, with RSS feeds
  • Ease of use of the back-end interface, both for you (the designer) and your client (who will be maintaining the content)
  • Support for custom database structures, so you can make the structure match the needs of a particular site
  • Whether any PHP or other back-end programming is required to customize the system
  • Ease of adding images, for use in photo galleries or combined with text, and whether images at various sizes can be generated automatically or need to be created by you and uploaded individually
  • Level of support available when you have questions, find bugs, or need modifications to the software

So this is it for today’s post. Will be back soon with another tip on use of jQuery soon.

Tip:2 Think In Terms of Information Architecture

Hi guys, after a long time I’m back with another post. Hope my last post would have helped you. So let’s get into our next tip “Think In Terms of Information Architecture“.

It is tempting to think of a web site as a collection of pages, each with an assortment of content placed on it. That is, after all, how things work in the physical world, and from the perspective of someone viewing the site, that’s just what it is.

If the site you are building is more than a few pages, though, you’ll be able to create much better results with less effort when you think in terms of the data patterns that underlie the site’s content. Then you can craft a site that is easy for the client to maintain, while preserving the integrity of your design and scaling naturally to large amounts of content.


Think in terms of information architecture

For a large site, designing an optimal information architecture can be a big task. But for most small and midsize business sites, it is straightforward once you get accustomed to thinking this way.

Thinking through the information architecture before you start building a site will result in a site that is easier for visitors to understand, and easier for the owner to maintain. And, if done right, it can be easier for you to build.

The Problems with Unstructured Pages

For a simple brochure site, you can get by without any information architecture or content structure. As the site grows, however, this approach becomes problematic in a variety of ways:

  • Redundancy: Information you want to show on several pages needs to be entered on each of those pages, so updates require making the same change multiple times, increasing the  effort required and the chances for errors.
  • Fragility: Since the content and the HTML markup are intertwined, it is difficult for anyone to edit the content unless they have HTML skills. If the content editor mis-enters a tag, they  can easily destroy the entire page layout, making the site fragile.
  • Lack of automation: Suppose you have a site with a page that lists projects, and also a page for each project. Adding a project requires building a new project page, with all its markup, and then adding the project to the project list page, with the proper markup there as well.
  • Difficulty of reuse: If all the information is just placed on pages, then you can’t easily reuse it. But if it is structured in a database, you can deliver it via RSS, or a mobile app, or anything  else that comes along.

Start With Content, Not Pages

Start by identifying all of the different types of information:

  • If you have pages on different topics, what kinds of things are listed on those pages? Probably links to other sites, and maybe events, books, research papers, companies, and so forth. These are your database item types.
  • Look for anything where there’s a repeating structure. For example, in a page that lists staff members, each may have a photo, a name, a title, a bio, a blog link, and a twitter name. That’s a  repeating structure. Create an item type in the database with the corresponding structure, and new staff members can be added just by filling out a form.

Then consider all of the ways you want to organize the information. For example:

  • If you have the same set of information but on different topics, then the topics are your categories.
  • If your information differs by geography, use a category for each geographic region.
  • If you have an organization that has board members, executives, and advisors, you’d create categories for each of them, so you can use a single “person” item type and still have a separate page for listing people of each type.

It takes more work up-front to do this sort of organizing, but it pays off handsomely in how effective the site is for visitors and how easy it is to build and maintain.

Database-Driven Sites Put the Content at the Center

Storing the site’s information in a database of content, rather than as pages, has many benefits. When you put the data at the center of your architecture, then the web site become only one of many ways you can deliver the content.

Think in terms of information architecture

Think in terms of information architecture

Each page is created from a skeleton that provides the page structure, with content drawn from the database. This approach puts the information at the center of the site, rather than its  presentation (the pages). It brings many powerful advantages over the static HTML approach:

  • Content and markup are separate. Content editors can add and modify content using web-based forms that are independent of any page on which the content may be presented.
  • Content is easily reused. When the content is in the database, it can be displayed on as many pages as desired.
  • Content can be intelligent. Back-end software can check the database to make sure links are valid, to expire content after a certain date, or collect content from other sources (such as RSS feeds).
  • Changing the visual design is easy. Hundreds or thousands or millions of pages can be generated from just a few templates, and only those templates need to be changed to redesign  the entire site.

So Why Aren’t All Sites Built This Way?

Given these compelling benefits, why aren’t all sites built using database-driven designs?

Many sites start out small and grow over time, so they end up pushing the simple, static approach far beyond the realm in which it works effectively.

The biggest issues are skill sets and cost. Since most web designers have neither the expertise nor the desire to write back-end (server-based) software, or design database architectures,  moving to a database-driven site structure can be a big hurdle.

With the right technology and partners, however, creating database-driven sites with a robust information architecture need not be significantly more difficult or expensive than building unstructured sites.

A Recycling Example

Let’s look at a specific example of how this can affect the design of a site. Suppose you are building a site about recycling. You might want a page about glass, another about plastic, and another about paper. For each of those pages, you’d have some photos, some general information, related companies, and lists of resource links.

If you’re not thinking in terms of a database, you’d approach each of those pages as a unique design. But in a database-driven site, glass, plastic, and paper would each be categories. For each category, you’d have a main image, additional images, a description, a list of companies, and a set of links.

With this approach, you only have to design one category page. For the site owner, adding more categories, or more information about any category, is just a matter of adding more information to the database.

When you add a company or a resource link to the database, you just indicate which categories it should be associated with. It then appears automatically on those category pages.

You can also have multiple sets of categories. For example, if the recycling information varies from one geographic region to another, then you could assign items to both a material type  category and to a region category, and then the site could automatically have separate pages not only for each material type but also for each region.

This approach makes the site easier to maintain, and it reduces the number of pages you need to design, but it does put some additional constraints on you. Each category page should  follow the same structure, and the content areas need to be able to adapt to varying amounts of content. You can’t hand-tune the design of each page to the degree you can with a static  site.

The payoff, which makes it all worthwhile, is great: fewer pages for you to design, and a site that is much easier for the site owner to maintain. In addition, you can now provide the information in the database via an RSS feed, or create different pages with some of the same information, such as for a mobile version of the site.

The First Step: Content Management Systems

The first step toward moving a site’s content into a database is to build the site using a content management system (CMS). A CMS is essentially a database system designed to manage web pages.

In a static site, there’s a file on disk for each page, and there’s a one-to-one correspondence.

When a site is created in a content management system, a “page” becomes a more abstract construct. Each page is assembled from a variety of components, including a template that defines the structure of the page and various blocks of text, all stored in the database.

The Power of Custom Databases

A typical simple CMS, such as WordPress, makes it easy to create pages whose content is stored in the database. You cannot, however, easily create custom structures of any complexity for your content.

With a database designed to reflect the site’s information, adding a project, for example, is as simple as filling out a form.

Think in terms of information architecture

Think in terms of information architecture

The system automatically updates the project list page and creates a new project page. The user entering the project information never has to be concerned with HTML markup.

Most content management systems fall short when it comes to organizing content in sophisticated ways, especially when the site has content that has its own particular structure. Consider, for example, a site for a home builder who wants to showcase an assortment of their past projects. Using a basic content management system, you could create a page for each project, but all of the content for that page would have to be manually placed there, as in the example earlier in this article.

A more powerful approach is to create a custom database structure to store the project information. Now the person entering the content can do so via a database input form, with fields  for each of the elements of the page. These might include the name of the project, the city, its cost, and the date of completion. Some advantages of this approach:

  • Separation of content and markup. The person entering the content does not have to worry about any markup surrounding the text, such as which heading tag should be applied to the name of the project.
  • Consistent information. The content entry form ensures that the same kind of information is entered for each project.
  • One design, many pages. The designer can create a single template page from which the system produces all project pages, and changes are instantly applied to all projects.
  • Automatic list pages. Lists of projects can be created automatically, and can be filtered and sorted by any of the project attributes.

You can easily build a page that displays all the projects in a particular category. From this single page, you automatically get a page for every category. And there’s never a need to enter the same project information twice; just assign it to two categories, and it shows up on two list pages.

This is but one example of how a custom database structure can make a web site easier to maintain and more useful for its visitors.

Many Paths to Database-Driven Sites

There are many ways to build a database-driven web site. You can code it all from scratch in PHP, use a CMS like Drupal, or build it upon a web application framework such as Ruby on Rails.

All of these solutions share some common drawbacks: they generally require developers to create (or at least configure) the software; the development cost is usually much higher than clients would like; and the web designer has to deal with contractors, additional complexity, and reduced control.

Webvanta is one hosted CMS that is designed to make it easy to create custom database driven sites, without requiring any back-end programming.

So this is what you need to work out with your information architecture.

Tip 1 : Draw the Line Between Design and Implementation

Tip 1 : Draw the Line Between Design and Implementation.

Tip 1 : Draw the Line Between Design and Implementation

Now let’s get into dip of every point that we discussed in my earlier post. Many designers say they’re the most effective when they spend most of their time on design, not implementation.  But your clients want working sites, not descriptions of them, and there’s a lot of technology involved in translating your design into a working, modern web site. Depending on your skills,  interests, and experience, you may choose to design in Photoshop or Fireworks and leave the HTML and CSS to others. Or you may choose to do your own coding.

Line Between Design and Implementation

Line Between Design and Implementation

Graphic designers typically don’t get involved in HTML and CSS coding. Front-end developers code designs in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The term “web designer” means different   things to different people, but typically it implies taking on both the graphic designer role and at least part of the front-end developer role.

Wherever you choose to draw the line, you  probably want someone else to deal with managing servers, installing content management systems, and customizing back-end code. If you use a designer-oriented CMS, especially one that is provided as a hosted service, you may be able to handle the back-end setup and maintenance without delegating these tasks
to someone else.

Choosing where to draw the line

By making a conscious choice about where you draw the line between design and implementation, you can more effectively find partners to handle the tasks you choose to outsource.
It’s rare today for a high-quality web site to be designed, built, and deployed by one person. The full process requires a range of skills that stretch any one person unreasonably far. Web projects often become a source of frustration to everyone involved when one or two people stretch to do jobs for which they don’t really have the experience.

To make the most of your design abilities, it’s important to understand web technology to a certain level. You don’t need to know how to implement everything yourself, but you must  understand the vocabulary of the web and the design elements at your disposal.

There’s a range of reasonable places where you can divide your site-building projects between what you do and what you outsource to others. At the two extremes are:

  • A graphic designer who works in Photoshop (or Fireworks, or even pencil) to create web page mock-ups. He or she then hands these off to someone else who builds the site.
  • A designer/developer who may start in Photoshop or go straight to HTML and CSS, which he or she gradually refines until the site is complete.

Each approach has its strengths and its weaknesses. The best approach for you depends on your interests and aptitudes, your partners, and the kinds of sites you expect to build.

Advantages of the Designer/Coder Split

Graphic design and programming are very different skills, and relatively few people have a natural talent for both of them. Design is mostly a right-brain, creative activity, while programming is mostly a left-brain, analytical task.

This divergence of skills and aptitudes supports the approach of dividing the work between a designer and a coder. For many  designers with art school backgrounds, dealing with code in any form is just not what they want to do, but they have the skills to design beautiful web sites.

By handing off Photoshop or Fireworks comps to a coder, a visual designer can do what they do best and let someone else turn that design into code.

Complete separation of tasks works best on large projects that can afford to have a group of specialists and someone to coordinate them. The larger the team (and the budget), the
more appealing specialization becomes.

Advantages of the Jack-of-all-Trades

If one person can create a great visual design and implement it in reliable, easy-to-maintain code, they have many advantages over a team that has split up the design and coding tasks:

  • Efficiency. When the designer and coder are the same person, they don’t need to spend time meeting with each other, less documentation is needed, and the chances for a misunderstanding are minimized.
  • Emergent design. The site can start out with a wire-frame-level design but with the content and HTML markup all in place. The visual design can then be iteratively improved, while using the site with real content and full interactivity.
  • Matching of design and technology. The more you know about the technology that’s being used to implement your design, the more likely you are to make effective use of it.

The big disadvantage of this approach is that it requires you to have a broad range of skills. Most great designers aren’t very good at programming, and most people who love to
program aren’t great visual designers. So the reality is that, in most cases, to build sophisticated sites you’re going to want to hand off the implementation details to someone else at some point.

Making Your Design Business More Competitive

If you draw the line between what you do yourself and what you outsource to others too far “to the right” (in the diagram presented earlier in this section), you spend a lot of time working your way up the learning curve and struggling with things that don’t quite work. This makes your project either very expensive, if you charge the client for all that time, or
unprofitable, if you’re covering that time on your own or working against a fixed-price bid.

The further to the left you draw the line, however, the more you are dependent on others.

When you find the sweet spot, your profits go up because you’re not spending time on things that don’t deliver a lot of value. You can take on larger and more complex jobs when
dynamic pages, database-driven content, JavaScript widgets, and more are added to your repertoire, because you have a resource that makes those things easy and inexpensive.

The cost-effectiveness of your implementation partner can have a huge effect on the profitability of your business. In effect, you are reselling the implementation services, combined with your design and nurturing.

By combining your design with a good implementation partner’s services, you create a more valuable end product and earn higher prices. You can charge a markup on the outside services, and you add value to your design work.

Managing Outsourcing

When you are outsourcing the implementation of your site, you’re putting someone else between your design and the end product. This is tremendously empowering, because someone else is taking care of so many details for you. But it also makes it essential that this partner be someone you trust and can communicate with easily.

A local freelancer can be the best solution, if you can find someone who meets all your needs. As wonderful as electronic communication is, it doesn’t quite match a face-to-face meeting. But by limiting your pool to people who are local, you’re dramatically limiting the number of possible people. If you give up on having in-person meetings, you broaden your
area from a 100-mile radius to the entire world.

When you hand over a design for implementation, it is essential that you communicate very clearly what you expect. You probably have all kinds of ideas in your head about how the site is going to look and behave, and only some of these ideas show up in your mockups.

In addition to the visual design itself, your documentation needs to cover:

  • The site map: what are all the pages and page types
  • Information architecture: what kinds of information is stored, and how is it organized and presented
  • Interactive behaviors: anything that doesn’t appear in a mock-up

Estimating Costs

Being dependent on others for part of the site-building process requires collaboration when quoting jobs.

You can work with a contractor on an hourly or a fixed-price basis – a tradeoff you are no doubt familiar with from your own work. Hourly arrangements give you maximum flexibility, but less predictability in terms of cost.

Rates vary extremely widely. If you use job sites such as Elance.com, oDesk.com, and Guru.com, you can find web developers who will work for $10 to $15 per hour. In the U.S., you can hire students or entry-level freelancers for $20 to $30 an hour, but if you want someone experienced, you’ll pay $75 to $200 per hour.

Using offshore developers isn’t always as much of a bargain as the rate difference suggests, however. Communication difficulties can add hours to project. If a miscommunication causes something to be built incorrectly, the cost in time and dollars can make the low-cost labor seem very expensive.

HTML Markup for Designers

If you’re a designer who prefers to stay focused on design, you can still get a lot of benefit from developing your coding skills a little. While we advocate outsourcing at least some of the site implementation tasks, this does not mean you can ignore all the technology.

Anyone who is serious about web design should be comfortable with HTML, as well as with at least the easy parts of CSS. If you’re not, you’re cut off from your sites: you can’t tinker with them directly and see the result. This makes rapid iteration difficult. It also makes communicating with your outsourcing partner, and evaluating their work, more difficult.

HTML markup, when stripped of presentational detail that should not be there anyway, is simple. This is not programming, it is markup; it doesn’t demand the same skills as does

You can mark up most content by learning only half a dozen tags. Applying HTML markup requires little more than identifying each conceptual element, such as a heading, paragraph,  or list. To apply visual styles, without needing even to know what they look like, you just apply a CSS class, like this:

<p class=”intro”>

Learn at Least a Little CSS

If you put aside the overall layout of the page, however, and focus on a single block of text, most CSS is simple. There’s a small enough set of terms you need to learn, and then writing CSS becomes a compact, easy to use, and detailed representation of how you want the text to look. When you can adjust any aspect of the design easily, you can polish it quickly after the initial version is built.

For example, this code specifies the style for h1 headlines:
h1 {
font-family: Helvetica, arial, sans-serif;
font-weight: bold;
font-size: 24px;
line-height: 30px;

Even if you have never seen a line of CSS before, you can see how to change the size or style of the headline.

By using a CSS framework with a grid system, such as Blueprint CSS or 960gs, you can gain access to a simple, reliable way to layout out columns in as complex an arrangement as you’d like.


The technology that leads many web designers into programming is JavaScript. It is the language of the browser, making it the primary way to have dynamic things happen in the web browser that don’t require an interaction with the server.

As with CSS frameworks, JavaScript libraries make JavaScript programming dramatically easier (only more so). jQuery, the library most designers prefer, provides a CSS-like syntax that is designer-friendly, once you get used to a little bit of JavaScript structure. At its
simplest, for example, consider this line of jQuery code:


This says “find any elements with the CSS class ‘intro’ and hide them.” You can probably figure out the line of jQuery to then show the elements without knowing anything more. Inside the quotes. you can put any CSS selector. This syntax makes basic jQuery code almost a natural extension of HTML and CSS, so writing it requires only minimal programming knowledge.

If you’re disinclined to do any programming, you can avoid JavaScript entirely and connect up with someone who can do it for you. If you like the idea of dabbling in a little programming, then learning jQuery is a great place to start. (See the online companion at http://www.webvanta.com/5tips-resources for jQuery books and online resources.)

Whether you dabble in JavaScript code or not, you should at least understand the basics of how it works, so you can see opportunities to enhance the user experience on your sites.

Server-Side Programming

The next step down the slippery slope of programming languages is PHP. It fits in easily intermixed with HTML. Once you can write a little PHP, you can connect to a MySQL database — just learn some SQL, and how to structure relations between tables… and, if you’re like most designers, you’ve gone way off the deep end.

Once you are writing server-side code that works with a database, you’re really in hard-core programmer territory. If you aren’t expert in what you’re doing, you can easily create security holes. And building an administrative interface for adding content to the  database is a non-trivial task, entirely separate from building the site itself.

A hosted CMS such as Webvanta, WordPress, Joomla makes it possible for designers without any programming skills to include custom database features, making this capability accessible to far more sites.

Deciding on The Best Approach for You

Only you can decide how far you want to go down the technology path. You need to decide if you want to leave all the coding to others, or be able to do some of it yourself. Whatever approach you choose, we recommend that you:

  • Understand HTML and CSS code enough to be able to modify it on your own.
  • Find one or more partners you trust to take care of the parts you don’t want to do.
  • Understand what your partner can do and what it costs, so you can incorporate that into your discussions with clients.
  • Choose a partner who can give you quick quotes, so you can include their costs in projects you are quoting.
  • Create a clear hand-off process so whomever is implementing all or part of your design understands exactly what you want.
  • Always test thoroughly whatever gets built, and expect there to be some iteration.

I hope this would definitely gonna help you in your day-to-day process. So this was it for today’s post. We’ll discuss the next point regarding “Information Architecture” in my next post.

5 Tips for building Better websites – by WEBVANTA

5 Tips for building Better websites.

5 Tips for building Better websites – by WEBVANTA

What is better?

“Better,” like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
But there are a few goals that we bet you share. You’d like to:
• Create sites that are more effective.
• Realize your creative vision.
• Not get bogged down in technology details.
• Have more fun.
• Have happier clients.
• Make more money.
Through our work with designers of all stripes, and building hundreds of sites ourselves, we’ve distilled five key techniques that we describe in this ebook. We’ve found all five to be part of most highly successful web design practices. We aren’t going to tell you how to understand your customer’s business needs, or how to do visual design. We assume those are the parts  you do well. Our goal with this ebook is to help you deliver better sites to meet the needs of your customers, to have more fun and less stress doing it, and to make more money is  the process.

  1. Draw the Line Between Design and Implementation
  2. Think In Terms of Information Architecture
  3. Pick the Best CMS for Your Needs
  4. Know What jQuery Can Do For You
  5. Drive traffic with SEO and social media

We’ll discuss about each and every points in my upcoming posts. So please stay tuned to get more and more information about Web design / development, Graphics design, Print media and many more things.

100 Amazing Concept Designs We Wish Were Real – by Webdesigner Depot

Concept designers are also referred to as “visual futurists”.

These concept designs may not be on the market yet, but they can still inspire you to create something just as futuristic and exciting online.

The designs may be impractical in some cases, but the idea is to put the concept out to the world to see how it evolves and grows.

Remember that these are all just conceptual, you can’t buy them yet! Some may be closer to being produced than others, particularly when they come from a large company like Braun or Samsung. Otherwise, who knows if or when they will be available.

With that said, here you have 100 amazing futuristic design concepts that will make you crave more.



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