Designing / Coding / Platforms

Hi, for the last 5 years, i have been designing and coding my own custom built sites… custom design and a custom CMS.

A few clients have asked lately whether i use any “off the shelf” systems / platforms such as Joomla / Presta Shops / Wordpress etc…

I develop my own CMS for each site as i think it offeres greater flexibility… however i think it may be time to start reviewing and using some of the these “off the shelf” platforms, however:

My worry is, how do i approach projects like this…

1 - can i still design a completely independent custom design (i know it depends on what platform i plan on using…) and then try and fit it into the platform (i don’t want to design a site, then code it (html / css) and then find out that it is impossible to install it into the chosen platform

2 - or should i get the client to pick a template and then just customize that as much as i can

I really appreciate your help on this as it has been something that i have thought about for a while but i just don’t know how to approach it, thanks in advance

Regarding #1, there’s nothing really impossible as long as you’ve enough knowledge to tweak the templates according to your needs. At the end, everything that is displayed - regardless of the server-side technologies envolved - is composed of HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

A lot depends on the cost the customer wants to incur…and you can offer more flexibility for less work for you.

If you can make yourself familiar with the various CMS options, you can work up “standard” templates that you can charge a specified fee. Most of these CMSes allow a lot of flexibility, and it depends on how you want to hook into them, so these standard templates can look very different very easily. If the customer chooses that, they’re paying you to do the styling for them, but there’s little work involved on your part.

You can also then offer a customized service which offers a one-off, unique design. This, of course, means a higher profit margin, but you’ll be doing the work you’re doing now, so no harm, no foul.

Ok cool, thanks for all your help… i think as you said about, there is nothing impossible and it also depends on the clients budget…

About 5 years ago I had a very similar story… I had been developing websites for some time with a coding background and had developed my own CMS which was pretty cool and which I used as a platform for many of my client’s website. Then I was directed by a client in no uncertain terms to use Drupal. It was a learning process that I was not initially happy about going through but after I was done that site I realized that the platform provided a lot of freedom because everything no longer relied on me and my coding skills. If I wanted to add some new functionality to a Drupal site I could search the module repository or code my own extension. The API is awesome and reasonably well documented. I do use it as a platform for writing apps but it’s like a framework with a whole lot more going on underneath it.

As far as design goes, IMO you’re best to create your themes from scratch rather than try to re-purpose someone else’s design.

I’m a Drupal guy so that would be my suggestion but I’ve got friends who do lots with WordPress and seem to like it.


Ok cool, thanks for your help on this :wink: