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  1. #1
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    Should I use a CMS?

    Hi Guys,
    I have a background in Graphic (print) Design, but I've spent the last year working with books and Lynda vids in an attempt to learn as much about HTML/CSS as I could.

    I'm now at the point where I plan to launch a commercial site which teaches various craft skills. I want the site to host ads, include a shopping cart (with credit card payments) and support a forum. I'm going to need to spend most of my time concentrating on content, and won't have time to develop skills in things like PHP and JavaScript.

    So my questions is these:
    1. Should I just get stuck in hand coding from scratch, or would I be better off working around a CMS?

    2. As a designer, I would like to have a lot of control over the appearance on the site, is there a particular CMS that would support this (and my other requirements)?

    3. Can I get inside the CMS and make changes using HTML/CSS?

    4. Do most CMSs support responsive/adaptive site design?

    5. At first glance, there are many things that appeal to me about Wordpress, is it heavy duty enough to support this kind of site?

    6. If so, can I make manual adjustments to Wordpress using HTML/CSS?

    Thanks in advance for your help,
    Simon

  2. #2
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    ralph.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomis66 View Post
    Should I just get stuck in hand coding from scratch, or would I be better off working around a CMS?
    Much better to use a CMS—especially as coding is not your focus. It would take years to learn this properly.

    I would like to have a lot of control over the appearance on the site, is there a particular CMS that would support this (and my other requirements)?
    Basically all of them allow you to change the styles, but some make it easier than others. Some have rather complex, contorted template systems that make is hard to change the layout, while others are very flexible and leave complete control of the front end coding to you. IMHO, ExpressionEngine is the standout example of this.

    Can I get inside the CMS and make changes using HTML/CSS?
    Yes indeed. As I said, some make it much harder than others to do this.

    Do most CMSs support responsive/adaptive site design?
    Usually, styling, appearance and behavior of this sort is up to you, not the CMS. So it's up to you to create / style the temples to behave in this way. Again, the better CMSes make this easier. If, for example, you use some junky old CMS that still works in tables, you are up the creek—though I suspect there are few, if any, that still do that.

    At first glance, there are many things that appeal to me about Wordpress, is it heavy duty enough to support this kind of site?
    Yes, but it's a friggin mess behind the scenes, and you have to hack it around to do anything other than blogging. I would recommed you check out other CMSes first before rushing into WP. [Runs for cover now that he's bagged WordPress ...]

    If so, can I make manual adjustments to Wordpress using HTML/CSS?
    Yes you can, but WP templates are a bit of a mess to work with ... harder than they need to be. Check out something like ExpressionEngine. It's a dream to work with. If you don't like the price tag, check out something like MODx or Concrete5.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks, Concrete5 definitely looks interesting, but I've noticed that the only CMSs that seem to be covered in any depth by Lynda are: WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, is there any reason for this?

    On a slight tangent, do people think that it's possible for a site like this to generate a "living wage" (whatever that may be) purely through advertising revenue?

    And lastly, If I were to use something like AdSense, is there a way of predicting the numbers of hits/clicks required to generate a set level of revenue?

    Cheers
    si

  4. #4
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    ralph.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomis66 View Post
    I've noticed that the only CMSs that seem to be covered in any depth by Lynda are: WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, is there any reason for this?
    They are probably the three best known CMSes. Of course, "best known" is rarely the same as "best". (Drupal is a good CMS, mind you—probably the most powerful of all. But it has a steeper learning curve than some others.)

    do people think that it's possible for a site like this to generate a "living wage" (whatever that may be) purely through advertising revenue?
    From what I gather, it's highly unlikely. A few very popular sites generate decent revenue, apparently, but not necessarily enough to live on. (How many times do you click on ads? I never do—absolutely never.)
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    A couple of things to keep in mind:


    • Cost: Can you justify to yourself the cost of purchasing, licensing and support for a paid for solution, you need to factor in the current traffic levels and potential future traffic levels.
    • Upgrading/Downgrading/Migration: If you do decide to go for a paid for solution make sure that there is a clear path for migrating over to a free solution if you should find that your site doesn't get enough traffic to justify a paid for solution (also with any paid for solution you should have a good read through the terms and conditions for each one for any gotchas like early cancellation fees, or anything else that could catch you out - if in any doubt, consult a lawyer).


    imho no site should rely on advertising revenue as a major share of the sites income as you have no reliable way knowing if your target audience look at ads or have them blocked.
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  6. #6
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    At the risk of asking an incredibly naive question. With a site that is based around craft tutorials with a modern (e.g. Manga, Steam Punk, Scifi) theme, can anyone suggest other revenue streams?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomis66 View Post
    can anyone suggest other revenue streams?
    Maybe washing dishes?

    But seriously, perhaps you could also offer files for download, for a fee—images that you've created. Sites like iStockPhoto do this. You can download vector art files for a fee, for example.
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  8. #8
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    Personally i finds cms good for adding content but if you want to control the design part of cms you need more expertise in coding too.


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