There are many different types of Content Management Systems in the digital world, but not all of them are easy to work with. Personally I want to delve into this beast called WordPress. From all of the reviews that I have read it seems to be the reigning champion.
WordPress is a web software built by hundreds of community volunteers who contribute thousands of different plugins for endless customization. Sure, it’s a bit daunting but the fact of the matter is that WordPress sites are what clients and customers need.
As designers and developers, we need to be able to sell a product that people will buy. There really is no better way to do that than buy using WordPress as your CMS. It allows you to create a site up to the specifications of the client, then gives the client complete control over which content they wish to sell.
What intrigues me the most about WordPress is the fact that there are literally thousands of different plugins that you can use to customize your site. Of course I’ll always be partial to the development process of the static HTML site, but the ability to add features like shopping carts and payment processing without any real need for hard-coding
looks like a nice change of pace.
In all, I hope that this semester’s crash course on different Content Management Systems will be an enlightening one.
So What Now?
This past semester has definitely been a learning experience to say the least. Before I took this class I had never heard of Content Management Systems and always just assumed that WordPress was used to scam people into buying templates.
Not only have I learned that CMS’ are a powerful tool to have in your arsenal, but it’s also just as creative and rewarding as a static HTML site. Through WordPress, we as designers can develop beautiful looking sites that customers will not fully understand, be be able to manipulate with ease for their own particular business needs. That right there seems to be more than I ever thought I was capable of.
Whether or not designers should specialize is completely up to the individual. While it is incredibly useful to expand your education and knowledge of the ever-changing technological world, there will always be a need for those who choose to master their niche.
Personally I am planning on attending a the University of North Carolina Asheville after my run at AB-Tech in order to broaden my horizons in the digital media world with a degree in New Media. After that I certainly hope that I will find what makes me happy with a degree in developing new things in the digital frontier.
Harry Potter and the Missing Feature
One of the most frustrating things that a designer has to deal with is making the page look good. Whether it’s a factor of the design elements used or something in the back-end of the code, it always takes more time to fix than one desires.
As a group, we were definitely having troubles creating an aesthetically pleasing site to go along with the complicated ins-and-outs of the Woocommerce plugin. Eventually our teacher suggested we try a plugin called What the File.
What the File is a plugin that allows you to view what file and template parts are used to display the page you’re currently viewing. You can click the file name to directly edit it through the theme editor, though it is not normally suggested to try this with big changes. It is currently at a five-star rating on the WordPress rating and reviews page, while being last updated in March of this year.
Following the installation of this plugin, we as a group were easily able to find and fix almost every problem in our layout thanks to this great functioning plugin.
What makes a site appealing comes down to a variety of components. When these components are thrown together in just the right way, something special can really happen (and of course by “thrown together” I mean fine tune and nit pick with every last detail).
One of the crucial elements to include on a customized CMS site would be an image slider. These are specific galleries of images that developers place on the home page of a site in order to advertise the very site you are visiting. In order to keep visitors on these sites, designers choose the best quality images along with eye-catching titles and descriptions.
The CMS that I am using in my group project is the almighty WordPress.org Here we have dozens of different types of image sliders to choose from. Our group has decided to develop a shopping site that sells high end shoes and footwear, therefore the appropriate thing to include in our slider would be something with a professional kick.
Looking through all of the different types of sliders together, we decided on using the HUGE-IT slider. It is one of the highest rated image sliders based on the consensus from WordPress.org and from the testing that we went through, it sure looks beautiful.
The HUGE-IT comes with unlimited amount of image space, a drag and drop functionality for easy to update customer service, and automated short-code for the easier process of adding the slider to a webpage.
The contact form plugin found in the WordPress CMS is a great place to start when dealing with form. The Contact Form plugin allows you to implement a feedback form to a web-page or a post in no time. It is an extremely easy form, that doesn’t require any additional settings, though there are some available options. All you need is just to activate the plugin and insert the short-code needed into the text. There is also a premium version of the plugin with more useful features available.
To install this plugin all one has to do is upload the Contact Form folder to the WordPress content/plugins directory. After that you activate it using the “plugins” menu on the WordPress admin panel. Once activated, there are plenty of variations to which you can apply to your new found form.
The only criteria I am using to base my investigative work would be the knowledge gained from using it first hand. I am not going to say that I am an expert on the subject of Content Managing Systems, but I feel that if one spends enough time figuring the ins-and-outs of a particular system, then they will make progress eventually. Another useful tip comes from reading other people’s reviews from WordPress/reviews and trying to recreate their progress.
When it comes to using a CMS, it’s usually best to customize an existing template rather than creating one from scratch. This puts less pressure on the developer and guarantees a working product for the client. After all, the reason why we’re learning how to develop these content managing systems is to eventually be hired by clients who want to be able to manage a site for their company (without the need of a programmer).
A site that I found interesting with it’s approach to design was orange.ch Here they have developed a a beautiful integration of information rich features with a modernized layout. Our project will consist of selling shoes to customers, so there’s going to have to be some changes, but I feel like this site definitely has the approach that I want to take.
I believe every site that is promoting a product needs to include a slider of some sort. That being said, Orange has created a visually stimulating slider and I believe that with the usage of high quality images and smooth transitions, our group project will be able to achieve the same effect.
As a group we decided to develop an ecommerce based site that includes several different types of products with categories, a shopping cart, and customer based reviews. To add these features to our site we looked at both the django and the woocommerce plugins. While both had very interesting features and options, we felt that it would just be easier to stick with woocommerce being that it doesn’t stray too far from the WordPress formula.
While brainstorming about all of the things that we wanted to include on our site, a lot of question came up about whether or not we could really make all of them work. with content rich sites it’s always a fear that we might not be able to create the best site possible. However, the beauty about WordPress is that as a CMS, it’s customizable almost to a fault. with limitless plugins and endless customizations at your fingertips, there should be no worry whether or not you can add something to your site. I suppose the only thing really holding you back is your ability to manage it.