In search of a fitting CMS

Looking at the growing population of designers who want to create websites but don’t know how to code, and the “make your own website in 5 minutes” systems flooding the web, I find it hard not to pride my self in the fact that, unlike many others, I can code. That’s why from the start I was pretty dead-set on making my portfolio from the scratch. My options were following:

  1. use some fancy portfolio plugin for WordPress, spend time looking for a good layout, spend a lot of time figuring out how to make things look the way I want them to, spend extra time fiddling with adapting the layout, or
  2. take the same amount of time to design and code everything on my own, ensuring full control

The choice of option number 2 seemed pretty obvious (me being a control freak I guess), especially after seeing how intuitive and weird the portfolio WordPress plugin seemed. To be honest, I never really gave much thought to other alternatives to WordPress. Everyone is using and singing praises about SquareSpace, but I was never one to follow the crowd, plus I’ve seen a bit of the back-end there and deemed it too restrictive – I need access to HTML.

But coding it from the scratch is a daunting task. Where do I even start? The thought of creating multiple files, style sheets, toggling between editing code and refreshing browser, overwriting changed files over FTP, and then doing the whole responsive side just gives me shivers. SO. MUCH. WORK.

“Wait, what if I find a CMS that allows me to use my own layout?” Suddenly I got super hyped at the thought, and decided that yes, this will be the way I do it. And then… I ended up with a list of nearly 20 CMS’s that claim to be simple, fast, modular (whatever that means), to give you freedom and control.

Hours of reading about the cool features and checking the demos later, the search results were widely underwhelming. Most systems are very very alike, and none had a GUI allowing to drag and move around images, resize images or easily arrange content in columns, which was a big disappointment to me.

TidyCMS, featuring WYSIWYG editor

That’s why, the current winner is October CMS. It’s very manual, nearly nothing is automated. The whole system is basically a framework for writing code. It does provide easier management of all the files and will allow me to bypass all the FTP side of things. It has basic templates, but it gives easy access to their code meaning it should be easy to prototype with an existing templaye and change it once I do my own, it also allows me to have unique layouts for each project which is a plus. That’s why I’m pretty hopeful about October right now. Plus, my birthday is in October so I’m a bit positively biased towards the name 😉

October CMS, basically everything is manual