There are almost as many ways to build a website as there are ideas for web content, and even more opinions on what coding languages are best, which platform you should build on, whether you should consider responsive or static, the list goes on.
Don’t let the idea of too many options intimidate you into thinking you can’t unravel facts from opinion. Just like there is a proper tool for every job (i.e. duct tape!), there is a right fit for your online needs.
Whether you’re a small business interested in updating an outdated website, or you’re a dedicated B2B company shopping around for the best eCommerce platform, there are options, options, and more options. Content Managers are essentially a platform on which your website is built which allows you autonomy with the content on your website.
Something to keep in mind when deciding the foundations of your website is: longevity and reliability. A good website is an investment, and to ensure your investment pays off, you want to make sure it will work for you, scale with you, and be viable in the long-term. So no matter what you decide, keep in mind the popularity of the platform, the resources available for it, and community size for whatever platform you choose.
After all, nobody wants to be stuck in a lurch with a platform for their website that only a select few designers have experience with!
One of the newest, most exciting opensource Content Managers out there right now is Concrete5.
Concrete5 is an up-and-coming favorite among front-end developers because it is built on a framework that is clean, intuitive and lends itself naturally to valid code. One of the key features of Concrete5 is the ability to edit your website right from the front-end of the site – you simply log in, and start clicking on highlighted areas you’d like to edit!
Magento is the industry preference for eCommerce platforms. It is both user-friendly and incredibly robust.
The capabilities of Magento range from streamlining inventory management with ordering and sales, all the way to providing a flexible, scalable platform for your entire online sales force. Magento boasts an active community of developers and an ever-expanding library of extensions to further enhance the usability.
Due to the fact that WordPress has been around as a content manager for so long, the community of developers, plugin designers, theme makers and support forum specialists has grown to impressive numbers.
WordPress may have started out as a blogging platform, but has since found its footing in highly customizable, very robust websites. Wordpress continues to be a favorite for personal and professional use around the world due to the large libraries of designer themes, plugins to extend the usability, and customizations available for the more technically savvy web designers.
Responsive vs. Static
This is one of the primary decisions any good web designer will ask you to make during the planning stages of your website. Before we get into which is better, let’s go over the basics.
Static Web Design
This is a layout that doesn’t change no matter what type of device you are looking at the website with. Traditional websites are static – when viewing a wide website on a small screen you would have to scroll horizontally to view the entire width of the site.
Fluid Web Design
These layouts are less rigid and are built using percentages as measurements for different elements of your website, allowing the website to change depending on the measurements of the device the site is being viewed on. Using liquid layout alone is best for optimizing your website for small variations on one type of device – e.g. desktop computers. Often this layout method is ineffective for smaller devices such as smart phones or tablets.
Adaptive Web Design
Based on screen resolution, these site layouts have different settings for predetermined sizes. Similar to having multiple websites; one for each size of device being used to view the website.
Responsive Web Design
This layout combines the functionality of fluid web design and adaptive web design. The content on your site adjusts as the resolution is reduced, and when the screen size becomes too small for the content to display the way you’d like it to, the content rearranges itself to another style of layout so that it displays optimally for that screen size. This method isn’t restricted to specific devices or to specific screen sizes, but is responsive to the content.
When it comes time to make the decision of what kind of layout you’d like, the simple answer is what type of users do you envision will be visiting your site? If you’d like an optimal user experience on any device, and it makes sense that your content should be viewable on mobile devices, we highly recommend a responsive web design.
So when you’re ready for your first website, or for your next big upgrade, just remember that while there are a lot of options these days, and certainly a lot of opinions on how you should build your site – it’s really a matter of what works best for you and what makes sense.