10-10-2012, 09:57 PM
I have a new potential client that wants a website done for his organization. He needs a CMS built for it, and he wants the site to have a forum and an admin page along with a lot of other stuff.
I am used to designing/coding my clients projects by hand, but not something to this extent. Most of my sites are static with jQuery and a little bit of PHP here and there. This seems too complicated, and it's way out of my skill level. Anyone have any idea how I can go about tackling this project that covers a wide variety of what I need done (creating forums, user login pages, etc.)?
Also I wish to avoid stuff like WordPress because when it comes to design, I just don't think it's all that great and hard to customize unless you know serious backend stuff. Powerful yes, but it is more for blogging.
10-10-2012, 11:50 PM
That’s a good project to get you into learning to work with CMSs etc. I agree in your opinion that Wordpress is primarily meant for blogging but I’ve seen fora created with it, too. You will have to work with some CMS in any case, and all of them require a little work with PHP (or derivates like Smarty or whatever).
Now, all decent CMSs allow you do design/style your pages in any way you like. You have most likely come across websites that are built with a CMS in the background where you wouldn’t even expect it because the layout might be so extravagant. Also, most CMSs have modules/add-ons where you can extend the basic functionality, e. g. with a forum, blog, guestbook, image gallery, and what not. However, one thing to note is that not all CMSs are good in everything. And while many might have a forum add-on, sometimes it might be better to install a software that is a dedicated forum software, such as Vanilla (http://vanillaforums.org/), vBulletin (https://www.vbulletin.com/) (which is what this forum here is powered with), or phpBB (http://www.phpbb.com/) (just to name a few of the most popular) next to the regular CMS. This will require two databases then and have two log-ins/admin areas but it might be the lesser evil, depending on the requirements of the site.
All CMSs have an admin area of some kind with different permissions for different types of users (e. g. “editors” can edit content but not change the design, “designers” are able to change the design but not add/edit pages, “regular users” can sign up and post comments on the page and access pages that are hidden to the general public, “admins” can do everything, etc.) but each CMS has its own strengths and weaknesses and each CMS has a different workflow that either fits the users’ or it doesn’t.
I, personally, have made good experiences with CMS Made Simple (http://cmsmadesimple.org/) and Concrete 5 (http://concrete5.org/) but also among the most popular are Drupal (http://drupal.org/) and Joomla (http://joomla.org/). But there are lots and lots of different systems out there, free and paid, and you should at least check out http://opensourcecms.com/ for a comparison and demos (see menu at the left). You can see at the user votes/star rating ratio which CMSs are worth trying.