What Is WordPress? What’s a CMS? Should Your Website Be Theme-Based or Made From Scratch?
The terminology used in web design may seem like a foreign language to even our more computer savy clients. And it is completely understandable that the majority of people not involved in a computer related profession do not know some of the common terms used in web design & development. For this reason, we decided to write a blog post in order to clarify some basic terms and make this information more readily accessible.
WHAT IS A CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, OR CMS?
Before we explain what WordPress is – let’s define what a Content Management System is. Simply put, a Content Management System (CMS) is a computer application that allows for publishing, editing and modifying content, organizing, deleting, as well as maintenance, from a central interface. Typically, CMS’s are often used to run websites containing blogs, newsletters, and shopping carts. The primary advantage of using a CMS is that it enables a user (a business owner for instance), even with limited expertise, to add, modify and remove content from his or her website without the intervention of a webmaster or programmer. For instance, if you’re a busy restaurant owner who wants to update your menu and prices on your website on a daily basis, then a CMS is the perfect solution that enables you to do just that.
The primary advantage of using a CMS is that it enables a user (a business owner for instance), even with limited expertise, to add, modify and remove content from his or her website without the intervention of a webmaster or programmer.
SO WHAT IS WORDPRESS?
Wordpress is a TYPE of Content Management System. It is a free and open source blogging tool based on the programming languages PHP and MySQL. (Don’t worry about understanding the programming languages). Features include a plugin architecture and a template system. There are many different types of CMS’s, written under different computer programming languages. PHP is the programming language we use at Zora Creative, and some of the CMS’s we develop are WordPress and Magento. Generally speaking, WordPress is great for clients who need to update information on a regular basis. Some of the features of WordPress include thousands of beautiful themes, many of which are free, which can be customized or used ‘out of the box’ without any editing on our end. In addition, WordPress offers its users thousands of plugins, which can be downloaded and installed right into your website. For instance, WooCommerce is a plugin that can be used if you’re interested in selling products online. As an attest to its reliability and flexibility, as of August, 2013, WordPress was used by more than 22% of the top 10 million websites, thereby making it the most popular blogging system in use on the Web, at more than 60 million websites.
WHAT IS MAGENTO?
Alternatively, another Content Management System we can develop is called Magento. This would be for our clients (mainly large companies and corporations) who require a very high volume, fast and secure shopping cart for their business.
DEFINING TEMPLATE VS. THEME
Many users, including web designers often use the terms template and theme interchangeably. Let’s clarify the difference: a template is a single page (or file) – and templates are used to make up an entire theme.
SHOULD YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN BE BASED ON A WORDPRESS THEME OR MADE FROM SCRATCH?
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.
Designing New Theme from Scratch
- Uniqueness: Investing in a website built from scratch will ensure that the uniqueness of a business will be reflected in the highly customized design and development.
- Stand Out: No one else will have your website design so your company will stand out from the competition.
- Control: You will have a lot more input into the specifics of the design.
- Flexibility: Much more flexibility and options for the design to turn out exactly as you wish.
- Longevity: Custom design is much easier to upgrade and will last for years to come. This ultimately saves you on cost in the long run.
- Growth: Adding other elements such as a custom eCommerce (online shop) may be a lot more difficult down the road if the site is based off a template design without those upgrading capabilities.
- Can take a lot longer – both to design and to build.
- Needs a lot more development work.
- Can be a lot more expensive for reasons above.
As designers/developers, it’s important to follow new trends – so to create something new is always satisfying.
Designing from Existing WordPress Theme
- Thousands of beautiful, responsive themes to choose from.
- Perfect if you find a theme that suits your business well.
- WordPress has a great WooCommerce plugin if you need to sell products online.
- By choosing a popular theme with well known developers, the ongoing support can be great.
- Can make putting a website together very straightforward and simple.
- A great cost-effective and affordable alternative to a site built from scratch.
- May take a long time to find the right theme.
- Much more difficult and time consuming to customize an existing theme (if you’re not happy with the current layout of the theme).
- The original designer/developer of the theme could potentially move on to other things in future, which means there won’t be any support for changes, or future updates.
Ultimately, you must choose based on what you think is the right fit for your business. Whatever your decision, we are here to help you with every step of the process along the way.