Designing a WordPress site or designing a Web site?

March 26, 2010

I came across this video from a Twitter link the other day. I liked that it condensed a panel discussion about designing for content management systems. The video helped me to think through the major points of the issue being raised.

I like the point that Dan Mall makes. He says we need to approach a design project with the mindset that “I am going to design a Web site.” Not “I’m going to design a WordPress site”. Or “I’m going to design an Expression Engine site” or insert any CMS into this sentence. CMS systems are a tool but they should not define how you do a design. It limits the creative process.

I would much rather design a site and then figure out how I am going to pull it off using the tools I choose to implement the solution in. This is the approach that I have taken in my own design projects. I did not change anything about the way that I approached a design that utilized WordPress as a back end solution. If anything, WordPress just helped me to simplify the development process. In fact, several of the sites I have designed were moved into WordPress after they had been static sites. So WordPress did not even factor into the design decisions that were made in those projects.

I would not consider myself a “WordPress theme developer” or designer in the sense that my main goal in a design project is to create a WordPress theme. A WordPress theme is only a vehicle for me to implement a visual design solution. I do offer WordPress solutions but I am not sure I would feel comfortable calling myself a WordPress designer. Of course I wouldn’t call myself a PHP designer either. To me WordPress is just a solution.

What are your thoughts? Do you think designing for content management systems has lessened the creativity of Web designers? What do you think of Dan Mall’s approach on designing for a content management system?

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