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  1. #1
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    Code from scratch or Wordpress for responsive site?

    I've decided on a layout/functionality for a responsive website and since I know HTML and a little CSS (learning more as I go along) I thought I'd code it from scratch, but am having trouble understanding how a grid system works....

    So I've been looking at the many responsive grid templates around (Skeleton, Twitter Bootstrap, 960 grid etc.) except it's hard to understand what it's about in practical terms. Things like where to enter my content, how it actually works and so on.

    So someone suggested I look into Wordpress and save myself a lot of grief and time. All I really know about WP is that it's basically a CMS based blogging system which relies on pre-designed templates, so I managed to install it locally on my Mac together with MAMP. That way I can play around without uploading stuff online. I do have some questions though:

    1) Is it possible to edit the HTML and CSS in order to get a customized website to my liking/needs in the same way as coding a site by hand or do I have to settle with a theme made by someone else (most likely becoming a compromise)?

    2) I'd like to have a search function for the site (it should also search through the site's existing and corresponding mailing list archive) but am struggling to find solutions for this. I understand that Wordpress has a site-search built in, which includes a MySQL database for indexing the site. Is this correct?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    You certainly don't have to work with grids to code a decent site.

    It is possible to edit WP templates, but you often have to know some PHP, and some template designs make it difficult to access the inner workings. You'll have to ask a WP maven about the built-in site search.

  3. #3
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    Hi pyxxel. As you've started to find, grids can make life more difficult than necessary, so if you know any CSS, you are much better off coding your layouts by hand. As Max said, you can indeed alter your theme as much as you like, but with WordPress it gets very messy. There are much better CMSes around that do everything you need, so don't rush into WP just because everyone talks about it. It's not the best tool out there for creating dynamic websites.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast Yallow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    There are much better CMSes around that do everything you need, so don't rush into WP just because everyone talks about it. It's not the best tool out there for creating dynamic websites.
    This is so true, that just because Wordpress may be the most popular CMS out there doesn't mean that it is right for every project. I would recommend looking into Drupal or Joomla! as well to see if they might work for your project. There are also certain cases where a hand coded website does the job better than any CMS could do.

  5. #5
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    ALSO. I think the question misses its own point. Responsive design happens in the CSS ( or at worst js) of a site. In other word it's the skin of it not the brain. CMSs deal in content. It is quite possible you could have a well coded WP theme, and skin it to be responsive. Sure, the worse the code organization the harder it would be to accomplish... but this would be the same issue with a poorly coded Joomla or Drupal template, or even static HTML.



    This is compounded by the CSS frameworks you mentioned. What is it that you are trying to do, EXACTLY? Which is also the problem right there. WP doesnt know your intent, and 960 doesn't know your intent so they throw every class in the book at you and it becomes a substarctive process: what DONT I need? Ironically, in order to knwo what you don't need you need to know what you do need, at which point it would be just as easy to code from scratch.

    OH and...
    Is it possible to edit the HTML and CSS in order to get a customized website to my liking/needs in the same way as coding a site by hand or do I have to settle with a theme made by someone else (most likely becoming a compromise)?
    You could do that with ANY CMSs' AND premade template, as I said before. And again, the problem would be that you would have to be able to decipher what the original creators of the template were thinking in order to make effective tweaks.

    2) I'd like to have a search function for the site (it should also search through the site's existing and corresponding mailing list archive) but am struggling to find solutions for this. I understand that Wordpress has a site-search built in, which includes a MySQL database for indexing the site. Is this correct?
    Yes, WP does. But it I warn you it's no Google. WP search is basically a "string" search through the DB and, because it was designed for blogs, results are return in chronological order. You could write your own engine for WP (WP_DB_QUERY) and some knowledge of PHP and MySQL would be required... but then you could do that for any other CMS.

  6. #6
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    I've found it is always better to start with something that is already made like a Wordpress theme, but if you or your client is looking for something really specific that can't be found then you'll have to code from scratch. But before doing this, make sure there is not a theme similar to what youre looking for.

  7. #7
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    You might find this Responsive Grid System handy - you can plug it into the CSS of a site you're building from scratch or your WordPress template.
    Last edited by TechnoBear; Jun 18, 2012 at 04:13. Reason: One link to your own site is plenty. ;)

  8. #8
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    Having specific design/functionality ideas I think I might have to forget about a "one shoe fits all" solution such as WP. Perhaps it's better suited for other projects later on though.
    It's not that my site will be overly complex (basically I'm looking at a basic 2 column + header/footer layout, but responsive), but coding that from scratch is a daunting task. Since there are so many templates available for the mentioned layout, such as this one -why am I having such a hard time finding a similar layout, only responsive?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyxxel View Post
    why am I having such a hard time finding a similar layout, only responsive?
    There's a lot out there. Maybe try this one:

    http://www.cutcodedown.com/for_other.../template.html

  10. #10
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    I've found it is always better to start with something that is already made like a Wordpress theme, but if you or your client is looking for something really specific that can't be found then you'll have to code from scratch. But before doing this, make sure there is not a theme similar to what youre looking for.
    I disagree. the problem with WP themes, as much as programmers try to be courteous and standard, is that the output and functionality varies greatly. Even if you are just skinning a site...and with WP's virtual ( pun) cornucopia of class'ed and ID'ed tags, familiarizing yourself with a new theme may take as long as coding basic theme yourself. :/ It is a good thing , when picking a theme not just to consider the layout, but to view source as well, does it look like the code is organized well and easy to follow?

    the PHP rat will still be a gamble; sometimes wrapping as a CSS hook can extra tag can be hell. Still as a ready built CMS , which is what I was talking about, WP is handy. so, either way, you dont have to worry about handling an SQL DB or most of the PHP that is oft tied with things like that.

  11. #11
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    I think it'll be WAY easier to use one of the responsive templates than a Wordpress site to recode. They are not that hard to figure out once you spend some time with them. Wordpress code, on the other hand, is very complex if you're new to it. When I find good links for responsive sites, I add it to my page of links online. You might find some helpful: http://iphonedevlog.wordpress.com/ph...r%20Guidelines

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevenHu View Post
    I think it'll be WAY easier to use one of the responsive templates than a Wordpress site to recode. They are not that hard to figure out once you spend some time with them.
    So far I haven't found any responsive framework which explains in layman's terms how to get started with where to place your contents and the basic concept. They all seem to bypass that and jump right to the features and advanced stuff for experienced coders it seems.

    Is there a practical newbie guide for any of these frameworks/templates?
    Thanks for the links by the way -I've started looking through the sites already.

  13. #13
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    +1 for Wordpress. There are a few free responsive WordPress themes that can fulfill your needs with little coding. To get started, I would look for free themes built on a solid framework such as LESS or Twitter Bootstrap (which includes LESS).
    Last edited by Stevie D; Nov 9, 2012 at 13:27.


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