CMS Website Development
What is a CMS?
A content management system is software that keeps track of every piece of content on your Web site, much like your local public library keeps track of books and stores them. Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of. A major advantage of using a CMS is that it requires almost no technical skill or knowledge to manage. Since the CMS manages all your content, you don't have to.
How is a CMS different from a regular website?
A traditional, or Web 1.0 website, is in it's simplest form a group of html or css-styled pages tied together by hyperlinks. In the mid and late 1990's, MS Word-created websites were fairly common - documents made in Word that contained text or images hyperlinking to another document. Dreamweaver and Flash-based sites function much the same - images and text hyperlinked to another document, or "page".
With a CMS, such as Joomla, there are no "pages". What we have is a collection of content - news articles, products, information articles, videos, etc. - that is essentially "in the cloud". Menu's are created to group content and built out the frontend architecture, pointing to the content, content category - or directly to an application that manages content in a special way.
Since the frontend of the website is basically a display of source content, it has three major effects:
- The display of content can be controlled without changing the content itself
- Rather than changing every page a piece of information is on, you can simply change the source content itself and the changes will be reflected anywhere the content is displayed on the website.
- Menus can be changed, moved, added or removed without ever breaking any links. This means you can decide to put a news article under "News" today - and move it to "Press Releases" tomorrow in about 20 seconds, with no broken links.
Modules, or Widgets
On the frontend, modules (think of these as little widget's that can each display content in their own unique way) manage the display of source content. Modules can be placed in any available position on the template and moved around at will. There are all sorts of module types - Slideshows, Item Lists, a dropdown menu, accordion menu, Image Gallery, Twitter Feed, Login/Registration - even a simple logo image is a module. Most kinds of modules have display options, and they all have source content. If you wanted to display "Latest Products" for example, a module would be created that points to items in your product catalog. You would choose from the module's display options (example: number of items to display, horizontal/vertical, media on left/right/top, etc) and assign it to a module position on the template (example: left). If you didnt like it on the left, you could simply change the position. Additionally, you can assign it to whatever menu items you want the module to appear on.
This is where major differences begin to unfold. With a Dreamweaver or Flash, or any Web 1.0 traditional website, you would need to open several page files and manually update information for every page an item appeared on. With a CMS, you simply update the source content and every page it appears on will instantly be updated.
With Joomla, a template is essentially a "skin". The basic elements of a template are module positions, module variations, menu and of course graphics. Depending on the developer or firm, a Joomla template can be as old-fashioned as any Dreamweaver or Flash site - or can be truly state-of-the-art. This is because it takes a significant amount of development to create a modern frontend template that harnesses all the features we would expect - HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, etc.
Newbies often start out with a free template developed by a company specializing in Joomla templates. Sadly, the lack of technology in the template can give users the impression Joomla itself is a second-rate system.
Our approach to Design
Every site we develop is custom designed and branded for the client. Down to the last detail, each design is completely unique and customized for our client's brand. Whether it's a Joomla site, or Wordpress, Magento or Drupal - all of our custom designed templates are built on the UIKit universal framework with Bootstrap. This means if you ever change platforms, your design is still able to function.
The UIKit and the Warp framework provide a foundation for us to build your custom template. Bootstrap-powered, they give us the basic technology for flex grids, the base responsive behavior for phone-flipping and touch devices, and all the mundane typography coding that is universal throughout the web. We start off with a blank, white base. Your design team or in-house designer may have a concept already. We can match it with precision.
With a CMS like Joomla, layout is first a matter of what the template's possibilities are. We create positions in the template - toolbar, menu, side columns, and many body-area positions (top a, top b, main top, bottom a, footer, etc). The Warp framework gives the site administrator the ability to make adjustments to the layout after the template has been created. This means you can go in and adjust a section, like "Top A" and change it from being 1040 pixels wide to 100% width of the visitor's screen. Or, you may want the side column to be wide, or thinner for a specific area of your website. Thanks to Warp, you can easily change your selection. You can create all kinds of variations and apply them to specific pages or sections. One client, for example, is an audio manufacturer. They produce high-end home theater equipment ($50,000 in-wall loudspeakers, etc). They also produce consumer-level car speakers and amplifiers. These two divisions have very different markets, and as such they wanted different looks. The home theater division is mostly white and elegant, while the car audio side is dark and trendy. They can very easily apply the colors of either variation to a new page, in seconds.
Much of what makes a stunning Web 2.0 website is in the layout and choice of modules - how content is displayed. Hiring a seasoned Developer to design a business site "cashes in" on experience and technological know-how. Having been in business since 2007, and served more than 200 clients to-date - in addition to our staff's individual professional history - we have a wealth of knowledge as to "what works" and "what doesnt".