What I want from a CMS
I wrote this post a while back. The content can still be relevant but the information I've linked to may not be available.
I've been thinking about my business, my skills and knowledge, the type of projects that I do, and the best CMS or website system. This is a brain dump post with a few thoughts about all of that. I may add to the post as my thinking develops.
I'm not saying these are the best systems for everyone. They are what I have been thinking about recently. Currently, I work with Perch and WordPress and have used Craft CMS and Squarespace in demo/trial mode; so, my knowledge of these is less.
Things I want
Not prioritised. Just a list.
- Great theme designs that I can customise (if the project requirements and budget are limited).
- Full control of all code.
- Quick to build a site (turn-round times, I always feel that I need to get more projects done).
- No bloat.
- Live preview mode (a nice-to-have, mainly for clients).
- Cheap to buy (software costs) if the project budget is low.
- Feelgood factor (I want to work with systems that are a joy to use).
I probably don't have to explain most of the above but live preview might need more explanation. Obviously, it's not an essential requirement but I think it's a great selling point for clients. And I like editing a post with live preview. I just do, so there. It's not fully indicative of a responsive design, yes I know that, and I explain that to clients.
Some CMS options
- Does a lot of the above.
- Great themes and the Genesis framework is very good.
- But, unless I custom build a site (with longer project times), I don’t have full control of all code.
- Ecommerce with easy to use and comprehensive WooCommerce plugins.
- Bloat (sometimes).
- Incredibly popular.
- I'm getting more and more WordPress site updates and maintenance jobs at the moment.
I saw another developer/designer's site where they specialise in Squarespace sites and had fixed price packages for that. That's an interesting niche/specialism. And, one of my clients moved to Squarespace so I have signed up for a 14-day trial to see what it can do.
- Great designs with a lot of customisation (CSS editing and code blocks) but no control of the code output.
- Nice interactive editing experience. I don't have clients on the system but I'm sure some of them would love it.
- Best for small sites with limited functionality (but isn't that most of my sites?)
- Not entirely sure how I would move/export a full site from here. But, it's possible to export some of the site into an .xml file that can be imported into WordPress.
- It's a great system that I love working with (given the right projects).
- No theme marketplace. Yes, but website themes/templates (Bootstrap, HTML5 Up).
- If not a website theme/template, projects would need a custom design - which I would prefer - but this cannot be done with smaller budget (£1000) projects.
- No live preview.
- Fully customisable and with full control.
- The shop add-on is very customisable and has some great features.
- Not sure I could focus solely on Perch sites and get enough work ... although that might be a nice thing to aim for.
- I liked the admin when I tried a demo.
- Learning curve for me because of how it is organised (nomenclature) and templating system.
- Does have live preview.
- Fully customisable and full control of code.
- Fits the same type of projects as Perch (custom builds).
- Craft Shop is above my typical project budget.
Much of the above is dictated by my position as a freelancer in the low-to-medium end of the market. I'm not 'bargain basement' but I'm still pretty cheap (I think). My projects are (typically) small business brochure and online shop sites.
OK, that's it for now. All comments welcome. If you think I'm comparing the wrong things, let me know!