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Web Design Can and Should Be CMS-Agnostic (and why we love WordPress more and more)

webdev_smHere at Matrix Group, we use a variety of platforms and frameworks to build client applications. On the content management system (CMS) side, we really like Sitefinity and WordPress for building websites, although we have worked with other platforms, including DNN, Expression Engine, and Kentico. WordPress has come a long way in recent years, and we’re doing more and more with it. We love its flexibility, extensibility, and clean code, to name just a few things.

During a client meeting the other day, I was pitching doing a magazine website in WordPress. The client was surprised and said, “WordPress, the blogging CMS? Isn’t that too simple for our needs?” I explained that no, WordPress has come a long way, it powers so much of the web these days, and it is perfectly capable of the complex functionality she needs. She countered with, “So show me a site that you did in WordPress that doesn’t look like a WordPress site.”

So I did. I showed her Endocrine News, the magazine of the Endocrine Society, the website for e-discovery firm eTera Consulting, and a convention site for the National Electrical Contractors Association.

But then I got curious. Does my front-end team design differently based on the CMS platform? I asked my Creative Director and Senior Designer, “Do you take CMS into consideration when creating designs?”

The response: “Heck no, half the time, we don’t even know the platform that will be used.”

So then I asked my Lead Front-End Developer, “Does the CMS platform affect what we can and can’t do?”

The response: “Nope. Some things are easier in WordPress, other things in Sitefinity. Just depends.”

I know I’m involved in many Information Architecture projects, and I no longer wonder if a platform can do something I’m envisioning in a wireframe.

I hadn’t really thought about it but it appears we are now CMS-agnostic when it comes to designing the front-end of our websites. Does that mean every CMS can do everything? Probably, at least in the arena we play in. But we definitely express favorites, and choice of platform can affect HOW a specific requirement is implemented, as well as price and timeline.

Makes me think of a wise client who said to me some time ago, “Joanna, I don’t care what system you use to build my site, as long as it does what I want, it’s easy to use, and you can maintain it easily.”

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