Hi, have been using my own custom CMS site for the last few years, where by i design a site from scratch in photoshop, then code it to html once the client has signed the design off and then integrate my own custom CMS into the site.
I have finally got around to testing out wordpress after a lot of persuasion from friends and colleagues. I have been trying to think about the best way to approach new projects using wordpress… i would appreciate any advice or input you could give to me on my following approach:
1 - pick 5 parent themes (one being twenty eleven)
2 - for each parent theme, map the main design of that theme into photoshop and re-create the layout (header, divs, footer, plugins and widgets) of that theme using separate groups and layers in photoshop
3 - create a template child theme for each parent theme along with the matching psd
4 - let the client choose from one of the 5 parent themes along with choosing various plugins and widgets that I have added to my approved plugins list
5 - copy a child theme template for each new project once the client chooses the parent theme
6 - customise the design using the matching psd along with using various widgets and plugins to alter the design
7 - when the client signs the design off, make the changes to the live child theme itself
I have 2 questions:
A - what do you think of my approach above
B - does this eliminate the need to design a site from scratch in photoshop and furthermore eliminate the need to have to code a design into html for each new project that i start from now on
Your process (of working with Wordpress) is a decent way to be proficient at rapidly tailoring the look of a site with known functionality.
When I have to work with a CMS then I favour another approach:[LIST=1]
Have designed a media query template that has 26 different zones that work from large displays to basic web based phones. I transformed this template into a Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal template; think of this as a blank canvas in these CMS/Sortof framework (Drupal).
I work with customers regarding refining their content and put only the content headings, paragraphs, lists, tables, taglines with basic C.S.S. styling. I review the content with the customer to ensure that they are ‘saying’ and clearly conveying to the customer the points they need to make. Typically a run through with a ‘test group’ is done at this stage to find if they like the content; too much to read, did they get the point, would they cut-out, edit, or add anything.
Provide an impression design to customers: Here is what a heading will look like, this is what your headers will look like, a menu might look like this. Keep in mind that my template has to change sizes of columns, number of columns, size of content and buttons (bigger as your get into phone sizes), reduced graphics and or css styling in favour of graphics for small layouts. This means that a single ‘Photoshop’ template would not work. When a customer understand how this functionality works they seem to focus less on a single design; instead they look at more of how their users will interact with their info at different sizes, and more importantly the quality of their content (I loads more of a weighting on content).
Apapt the templates C.S.S. styles and multi sizes of graphics, high, low res video with multi encodings
Throughout these steps the customer is watching their site being built and understanding how the design is taking form. This enables them to spot issues earlier to flag me downstream while typically being ‘less risky’. The type of design feedback is different with clients in this way of doing things as it is too hard for them to conceptualize all different ways their website will lay itself out so they don’t tend to nit-pick an overall layout.
As the template is like a blank canvas so this process is not as direct as your proposed approach which is simply switching a single layout’s graphics and styles, but I really like the flexibility of the outlined process.
[/LIST]Hope this alternative approach allows you to further reflect on what you are doing.
Finally your process will definitely work and if you have found success using a similar approach with your custom CMS then perhaps ‘don’t fix it if it is not broken’ - the Wordpress way that is?
Hi Steve, thanks for your input… it is much appreciated… i never thought of designing a site the way you have suggested… it always seemed a backwards approach, but it infact it makes perfect sense as the content itself is influencing the design…
The reason i am changing to wordpress and the mentioned approach, is that clients do not seem to have a large budget for websites anymore…
It is true the client budgets seem to be shrinking; however playing the card of 'Well our design process will give you a site that works for desktop and iPhone/Android phone users without spending more". Because customers tend to get drawn in that their site could work on a phone they don’t do an apple to apple comparison of what a single template site would cost and what they are willing to squeeze out. Most of the CMS projects I have landed recently the customer had roughly a budget of $1500 - $2000, but after selling the merits of the media query process/end result for them I was able to get between $3500 - $5500. I believe the phone craze (plus reaching more customers in a modern way ) helped me establish better budgets.