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Is being a designer AND a programmer the way forward?

Discussion in 'Website Design Forum:' started by davver79, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. davver79

    davver79 New Member


    I'm hitting a bit of a brick wall here. The design company I am part of (12 staff, 4 designers) is trying to expand it online offering. As designers we are attempting to design & build a fully content managed website. The website must be a social hub where people can share information, comment on blogs, register as a user, upload information, and include Twitter feeds, word clouds, flickr feeds, etc etc.

    We have basic experience of building websites using CSS and Dreamweaver, but no experience of PHP, databases or anything else to do with programming a content management system. Our lack of programming knowledge seems to be holding us back.

    I have looked at a couple of options:

    JOOMLA - Ok, but limits the design in that the easiest way would be to use a pre-built template and modify it, and many of the 'modules' are designed by others and I'm limited on how much I can style them. Building a bespoke template from scratch seems to be a minefield.

    CONTRIBUTE - good for editing basic websites but not database driven.

    Admittedly I am a designer, not a programmer and do not especially wish become a programmer full time. I'd like to know how other design companies go about doing this - do you have an in-house/freelance programmer that does it all for you? Do you design AND program? Should we bite the bullet and attempt to be a designers and programmers too?

    Any thoughts greatly appreciated!

  2. KevJaques

    KevJaques Member

    Hi David

    It makes total sense to have dedicated programmers with that small sized company, but it would help you all to be aware of the basics.

    I'm a software engineer and designer who can adapt to most languages and databases, Have been doing this for many years now but there is so much to learn which is part of the enjoyment. I would say if you needed to hit the ground running then employ a software engineer/web developer (even if you use a prebuilt CMS).

    Another option is to partner with an excellent web developer, by doing it this way you can hit the ground running without having to employ someone and both parties have a vested interest going forward. It's a win win situation imo that can strengthen the business.
  3. DougBarned

    DougBarned Member

    I agree with Kev. Another team to consider is Outsourced web development, content management and ecommerce solutions - - they are industry leaders, great to work with and specialise in working with clients who outsource their development needs.

    If it all needs to be done in-house, by you, consider WordPress or WordPress MU. It sounds like they could suite your needs (with the use of some plug-ins) and creating a custom template isn't too hard if you have some basic CSS and HTML knowledge.


    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
  4. JohnRoss

    JohnRoss Member

    Hard to see how you could do what you intend without programming, php, .NET, whatever.

    There are heaps more - WordPress is an obvious option, as DougBarned says and I'm a Drupal fan, myself (lots of scope in terms of categories), but your choice will depend on what exactly you want your site to do. The template thing should not be an issue - you design it in HTML /CSS and get your CMS developer to adapt it, it isn't usually a problem.

    You couldn't, not by this time next month, at least. I would think you could become sufficiently familiar with the concepts to run a CMS-based site, though. I've been 'programming' on and off since pre-PC days and I don't do it well enough to call myself a programmer, but I don't mind describing myself as a web developer. The key to using a CMS is that it is the art of the possible, you have to find out the limits of your CMS, stay within them and not try and make it do things outside its scope, for that way madness lies.

    Today's business climate seems to favour specialization against generalization, but I'll point out that you will probably need someone to be working on your new site nearly full time after it is set up, assuming you get it to work, i.e., find an audience. I don't want to put you down or put you off, and I hope I'm wrong, but I will be surprised if you do. I say that because I get the impression that you haven't thought through just what it is you want your site to do. The purpose of a content-management system is, obviously, to manage content. To get your content, you need to build a community, and the difficulty with launching the kind of site that you describe is not making the system work but making the community work. It needs a focus around which the community should grow, if carefully nurtured, and you haven't got one. Look at this site, for example - Graphic Design Forums works on the one hand because it fills a niche, but on the other, because it functions as a community, which it wouldn't do if Boss Hogg and others didn't put a lot of hours in on it. The Twitter feeds and word clouds are here today, gone tomorrow, what matters is the content.

    So I think you need to:
    i) Decide what you want your site to be about
    ii) Decide how and what you want your site to do in order to supply that content
    iii) Hire a developer to get it up and running, at the same time as you
    iv) Design the site in such a way as to enhance the content and get your developer to implement that design
    v) Hire or appoint a webmaster to keep it up and running, and/or*
    vi) Have someone in-house to liase with your developer / webmaster.

    *You could combine your in-house person and webmaster in the same person, except that, as I say, I think running a site like this - if it works - should take up a lot of someone's working hours, and maybe that isn't the most efficient use of a trained designer's time.
  5. Display Wizard

    Display Wizard New Member

    I would get an experienced programmer on board! I'm more of a programmer than a designer and my design ideas aren't great so I think having a team of designers to design the look of the website would be great. Then all I would have to do is code it!

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