Easiest CMS/blog to get into design-wise?
April 13, 2007 2:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm an experienced webdesigner looking for a CMS/blog whose themes are easy to change or build from scratch (preferably just through CSS).
posted by dinkyday to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
As always, Wordpress.
posted by djgh at 2:50 PM on April 13, 2007

For comparison, what have you used, and how was it lacking?

I've found WordPress pretty usable, as far as heavy theme modification—I haven't come up from scratch yet, but I've got sites that are largely custom code. I've done a couple of small pure-CMS experiments with it and found it usable, though working through direct db or some custom data loading/management process rather than the web interface would probably be a sanity-saver if you mean CMS with a capital C.
posted by cortex at 2:51 PM on April 13, 2007

there's movable type
posted by phaedon at 2:52 PM on April 13, 2007

(again, thematically easy to change - back-end, more complex)
posted by phaedon at 2:53 PM on April 13, 2007

posted by kirkaracha at 2:54 PM on April 13, 2007

I've heard that Wordpress is good for exactly this. No personal experience though.
posted by xammerboy at 3:21 PM on April 13, 2007

here is another vote for WordPress. You may want to look at the K2 theme (getk2.com).
posted by Baud at 3:25 PM on April 13, 2007

i dont mean to hijack, but how hard is it to customize these recommended cms's to allow for some e-commerce?
posted by phaedon at 3:48 PM on April 13, 2007

I am not, actually, an exorienced designer... But I didn't have too much trouble with webgui, as mentioned a few threads back.

No, no interest; JT actually doesn't like me much...
posted by baylink at 3:57 PM on April 13, 2007

Acually, I would argue against K2. It's got so much extra stuff, and from what I remember (haven't used it in ages) the templates etc have a lot of code that isn't vital, but is K2 specific.

If you want to build your own theme, I would recommend taking the simplest Wordpress theme, and starting from there. The Wordpress Codex has a lot of info on it, and you can do pretty much anything you want. I would, in short, recommend building up from a simple base, rather than mucking around with a much more complicated theme to try and get it to do what you want to do.
posted by djgh at 4:09 PM on April 13, 2007

Again, Wordpress. I learned to pull apart the code in WP using UrbanGiraffe's Tutorial, but you may be able to use the Codex, which is slightly more advanced. Also, they have a very active Support Community.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 4:25 PM on April 13, 2007

I'm a Joomla user, and I would highly recommend it for its themes. However, it is a "thin" CMS, which means that some of the modules does not come "out of the box." They have a wide extensions directory though which you can easily install from the web.

I'm currently writing a 3-part series on a Joomla template tutorial. You can view part 1 & part 2 already. You can check it out to see if Joomla's template scheme is the right one for you.
posted by chette at 7:07 PM on April 13, 2007

If I understand the question as being a cms where the styling is easily separated out, then I second the Expression Engine recommendation. I like WordPress and Joomla and whatnot for their relatively easy theme switching. EE prebuilt themes are thin on the ground, but that's because the underlying assumption is that the target EE developer will want to create their own theme, presumably from scratch. Hence a rich set of tags etc cover the cms bits leaving quite a bit of freedom to style the container.
posted by cairnish at 7:54 PM on April 13, 2007

Drupal 5.1 is friendlier than it used to be, and several themes almost completely CSS. Its content management system now rivals early Lotus products, allowing creation, searching, and styling of arbitrary chunks of data without touching a line of code.
posted by jayCampbell at 8:00 PM on April 13, 2007

i dont mean to hijack, but how hard is it to customize these recommended cms's to allow for some e-commerce?

Drupal has modules for carts, auctions, donations and a multitude of payment gateways. Products can be shippable, downloadable, site access, or your own home-rolled (for us it was multiple levels of site access).

I hear Joomla does some of this too but isn't as slick under the hood.
posted by jayCampbell at 8:09 PM on April 13, 2007

ExpressionEngine has a "Simple Commerce Module."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:31 PM on April 13, 2007

ModX is still in heavy development and has a few quirks, but I love that literally everything the end-user sees can be easily modified with the templating system, and generating standards-compliant, accessible xhtml is simple. I've used it on one project and I'm evaluating it for another.
posted by Alterscape at 3:28 AM on April 14, 2007

The Style Archive is a standard set of templates designed to be styled solely by CSS, and works with Movable Type, TypePad, and LiveJournal blogs (n.b. I work with the teams that make those tools), but is also slated to be supported by other blog tools including Drupal and Habari.

The great thing about this, as compared to the other tools above, is if you want to make a theme from scratch in other tools, you have to use PHP to do so. With this scheme, you can just use the XHTML and CSS you're familiar with and it'll Just Work with about 20 million blogs, as opposed to a few tens of thousands.
posted by anildash at 1:36 AM on April 15, 2007

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