CMS an overview for novice web designers

I have been surprised to learn that there are still a great number of web site designers who are not aware of what a CMS is or to give it its full name Content Management System/Software is. Essentially a system that will alow your clients to maintain the content on the web site you develop with your intervention or requirement to know HTML.

So is it a fancy term for software that allows users without HTML knowledge to update their own website? well there is a little more to it than that. Essentially it seperates the design of the website from the content. The content will usually be stored in a database (although there are some basic systems that use a flatfile system)

You may say that design and content is already sepearate as you make proper use of CSS stylesheets and that your clients can use just the most basic of web editors to create content. A CMS system will go a step further. So if you want to add a new element to a website or a whole new section of content you will not need to amend dozens of pages to make room for this.

You may well say that you can do this with simple PHP includes. However a CMS system will let you go further than PHP includes ever could. The other benefit of using a CMS system is the dozens or even thousands of plugins that will be available to you. So if your client asks you to add a gallery, forum or twitter feed you will usually find their is an easy to install application which will extend the web sites functionality without having to start from scratch.

As a web designer you will find 50% or more of your clients will want this kind of website. When it comes to designing for CMS systems every system has its own intricacies, however many use the SMARTY template engine. If you choose to specialise in SMARTY there are multiple applications you could design for.

You could on the other hand choose to specialise in one of the leading systems that are out there. No matter which system you choose you can be assured of a steady stream of work if you are any good. The main system that are popular today are Joomla, Drupal and WordPress.

If you want to continue designing web sites then you will need to get to know more about CMS systems and designing themes for them. Keep coming back to for more.

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