Alan Graham has been having trouble with WordPress:
Along with a few friends, I run a local networking organization. We have a blog, and it fell unto me to give that blog a facelift. So after doing some Photoshop/Illustrator work to make a new “theme” for the blog, I went into WordPress to do just a few tiny changes. Now I’m relatively new to […][via Web 2.0 Explorer]
I sympathise. While I really like WordPress for daily use once it’s installed and working, the template system is a nightmare for anyone who’s not a PHP programmer. I’ve recently been doing a lot of work with Drupal, and it suffers from the same issue: it’s extremely customisable for skilled users but anyone else has either got to use a ready-made template off the shelf or employ an expert.
For techies like myself this can be seen as an opportunity to sell our services, but I don’t think we should be too complacent about the situation. There are content management systems out there which are much easier to customise than our favourites and we should not assume that our skills will always be required. (Last night on TV there was a programme in which Ken Stott discovered how hard his tailor grandfather had to work, in the days when every man wore a suit and every suit was hand-made. Then there were thousands of tailors in every big city: today there are just 20 companies doing hand tailoring in the whole of Scotland. The same can happen in any industry.)
I don’t think web development is likely to disappear altogether in the near future, but will we still be hand-customising templates in 10 years time? I hope we’ll all be doing things that are rather more interesting. And because WordPress, Drupal and their ilk are open source, community efforts, we can help bring about the changes that’ll make them truly easy to use. The separation of presentation from content is a good thing, but it’s not the same as making presentation an irrelevance.
Not long ago any change on a website had to be carried out by professionals, expensively. Now we sell the idea of user-maintainable content, but many web designers are still trying to keep hold of the job of looking after the presentation of a site. Sure, there are good reasons why site design should be done by skilled people, but those don’t necessarily have to include technical ones. Aren’t computers supposed to remove barriers, rather than erect them?