A spot on analysis of the modern stance on why designers should know how to code.
My son turns 3 this fall and ever since he has been able to move hehas been using our family iPad. I have always been impressed with how well he navigates the device and seems to immediately know what button to push or slide to get to the application he wants.
I have been developing with the latest beta of iOS7 on my test devices and while my son has had plenty of exposure to the new os (he likes to hang out in my office with me). He still has a very difficult time understanding what is a button and what is an object you slide. Having slide to unlock not appear as a direct slideable button with an arrow, and buttons now just appearing as text seem to baffle him.
Is this a sign of new iOS user problems Apple is likely to be causing with iOS7′s design language? Or simply a now experienced user that needs to re learn what he once knew. Either way, the profound design change in iOS7 is surely to cause some confusion for a certain percentage of users.
I build websites for myself, but more often I am building them for someone else. And generally I am building one for individuals who aren’t very technically savvy. I like building compelling and innovative websites but I don’t want to manage the content for all of the sites I build. I can’t frankly. I can manage my own personal sites, but managing the content for all my clients would be impossible.
This is why choosing a user friendly CMS becomes increasingly important. These days designers and developers have so many choices. It used to be that managing your content meant grabbing your sites html file over ftp and opening it up in your editor of choice. Clients would be doing this too and invariably break something as they didn’t close a paragraph tag or link. Thankfully today we have a multitude of options that get us a lot closer to a utopia of web design without content management entanglement.
WordPress – By far the most popular CMS used. WordPress was once a blogging platform that has since adopted a myriad of features that allow it to serve as an overall CMS for just about any site. It’s core strength is making content entry so simple and flexible and its near impossible for an end user to break their site. It is one of the best at allowing the user to manage their content visually without touching a single line of code. And as the most popular CMS, it has a library of community plugins that can’t be beat. If you need a certain piece of functionality on your site, chances are someone has built a plugin for it and you can add it to your site in seconds.
Drupal – Drupal is a very powerful CMS that is geared towards developers creating apps that would like a basic GUI to go with. It offers a myriad of ways to get its content and data but lacks a great content editing UI for the non tech savvy. The current version of Drupal (drupal 7) has caused a bit of a backlash in the community as it made a number of radical changes without enough benefit to both developer and designer. At this point I wouldn’t recommend anyone utilize drupal on any new projects until we see what comes in Drupal 8.
Expression Engine – Although expression engine isn’t free, it does offer an awful lot of power for both the web designer and developer to create what they need. I think I can best characterize EE as a GUI for your database with a modest GUI for content producers. I think WordPress overall has a better GUI for content producers but the power of managing data and code in Expression Engine make it a compelling option.
Square Space – Perhaps one of the most elegant and powerful CMS’s for site managers who don’t want to code. Square Space offers a one of the most advanced wysiwyg editors out there. The primary issue with Square Space is that it is not an open source solution that you can install on your own server. If you want to use square space you have to use their hosting and you can only tinker with certain aspects of the code. Unlike WordPress or Expression Engine where you can change anything you want.
More to Come
There are many more CMS’s out there and its difficult to really examine all of them in the way each deserves. As I get to try more and use them I hope to add more to this CMS comparison.
One of my favorite design resources, Codrops, has posted an excellent article about great design and why its invisible.
In other words, if you are doing things right, no one will notice anything.