Now don't get me wrong, I am very much all for simple web based site development software. I think it's a great way for small businesses to get online and somewhere for say a student to set up their online portfolio or blog. Some of my peers within the industry would disagree with this as they believe it is killing our industry by providing a cheap and easy platform that makes people believe that anyone can be a web designer. I don't think this is the case at all. Everyone needs a starting point and maybe don't have the funds to hire a web designer at that time. Plus, when their company does become a big success and they do need to expand, it will be from them saving money on overheads such as using site builder software and not creating overheads by hiring a high cost web designer to build a simple six page site for them. When the time comes and that business is ready they will then hire a web designer to put together a much more complex and higher standard of website.
But this is something that does bother me. Word Press is supposed to be one of these simple to use web creation tools. But in my opinion I think it is probably one of the more difficult tools. If you are a web designer then you will understand this next part a lot easier than a complete novice.
When I come to build a website from scratch I tend to use Dreamweaver software. The reason for this is because as a web designer you need to be able to completely visualise the website in your mind just from the code you are writing. Dreamweaver takes this element away by displaying what content you have created so far within a design window. This is also great for novices just starting out and work very much on trial and error (thats pretty much how I taught myself web design). What you also do when creating your own website is label everything to your own understanding. While writing simple html you understand which elements you are creating and so makes it easier to give them features in your CSS document (I think this section is where I may loose some people). This is where Word Press begins to get very complex and if you did get lost at any point during that, then you too would find it near impossible to edit a Word Press site. Because Word Press runs on themes there are certain rules you have to follow and certain sections can only be edited to the pre-sets of that theme. However, some elements can be changed if you have some understanding of CSS in the styles sheet editor. But, because the styles sheet is not of your own creation it is like trying to use a foreign cash machine. You know that one of the buttons will give you cash, but you may have to press 3 or 4 before you find the right one. This is also made more difficult by the fact that there is no preview to any of the changes you are making. Which means with every change you are forced to save and update the file, then go to your site, refresh the page, and see what, if anything, has changed.
As you can see this is an absolute nightmare! Even if you just stick to the simple builder provided as part of the theme it is still guess work as there isn't much opportunity to preview the changes you are making. For anyone out there that is wanting a quick and simple way to build a site without any previous knowledge of web design I would advice you to download something such as iWeb or other simple site building softwares. Dreamweaver is also a fantastic piece of software but you need to take time to teach yourself the very basics of web design before you would be able to use the software successfully. The best website to use for this is http://www.w3schools.com. This is the site I used when I was first starting out as a web designer.
Finally I would like to say one good thing about Word Press. If you do eventually work out how the site works, how to add pages, how to edit pages, and learn how to use the foreign cash machine, you can actually use it to create a good looking website. But it is limited and you probably won't get everything you want. I did the best I could with the software and managed to get the site looking to a decent enough standard considering the limitations. You can check out my work at: www.propertysolutions4u.com.
As I say, small site builders like this do eventually lead on to bigger projects. I am now already in discussions with this client about building a bigger and better website from scratch (and it probably won't take as long either!)
Thanks for reading & keep being creative!