Is it better to be a platform evangelist or a platform atheist?

I’ve seen a lot of freelance design companies develop all of their clients’ sites on one platform, for example, WordPress. Some even go as far as to say, “we develop all of our client sites on the Thesis theme framework for WordPress. It’s easy for us and it’ll be great for you, too.”

For a while, I had that mentality, where I would only use WordPress for every client’s site because WordPress is what I know. However, I’ve learned since then that WordPress is not one-size-fits-all. Sometimes, it’s overkill and sometimes it’s too hard for non-technical clients to maintain. It’s ridiculous in my mind to hack and mod the hell out of a CMS just to make it work for a client. That should ring bells that it’s the wrong CMS for the project.

My new approach will be to involve the client in his/her selection of CMS. I’ve expanded my CMS repertoire to include Unify for simple, static sites; Concrete5, Joomla or WordPress for business sites and WordPress for blog sites. I’ll recommend a CMS to a client based on our initial conversations, and then I’ll ask him or her to test drive it to make sure it’s something they can work with and enjoy. Because in the end, when the seeds are planted and the shovels put away, they’re going to be the ones maintaining it all. It should be about what works for the client, not for the designer, right?

So what do you think? Do you like working with only one CMS for all client sites or do you like the approach of offering multiple CMSs and letting the client play a big role in choosing? I know there are pros and cons with both approaches, but I’m just interested in getting some other opinions!

It depends on your goal. If your goal is purely to build a successful business by deploying quality applications you would be wise to be agnostic.

Of course, if you are dogmatic enough to believe that a single platform is simply ‘best’ under any and all circumstances then you may disagree - but I have never seen any technology that is so superior that it should be blindly followed.

But, being platform agnostic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t specialize just for convenience - it’s hard to make money when you are dabbling in too many things.

But what about the iphone (:

:wink: joking aside.

I’m doubtful most clients even use their CMS. If you have your own in-house CMS then the client can hardly choose, they’ll just go somewhere else if they don’t like your CMS.

A lot of CMS’s do try to cater for developers rather than clients. Take Concrete5 for example, inline editing, but the whole content block concept is confusing enough for developers to setup let alone clients to manage. But feature rich technology is never going to be “easy”.

Sure, sitting down with the client and saying “pick one” maybe a good idea. As long as custom is on that list as well.

I’m a developer though, my client’s are designers and project managers that make the decision before they get to me. I make my decision about the services I offer based on unpopularity and interest.

There is also a middle ground.

My company ONLY does joomla and wordpress for clients who need a cms. That’s not because joomla and wordpress are the best platforms for any client - not remotely.

It’s because we prefer to be excellent at one thing as a business model rather than trying to offer a variety of solutions. If a client needs/deserves/wants/should have something other than what we offer, then we aren’t a good vendor for them.

So you can be specialized without being evangelical :slight_smile: