This section is aimed at designers and includes those are involved with large, commercial CMSs as well as those who operate in a freelance capacity. It is also useful for new or budding designers.

There are two main issues for designers as regards CMS which are:

  • Customisation
  • Templates


Customisation means the ability to change or modify themes to fit a particular set of requirements. This means creating a particular layout which is then used repeatedly to ensure a consistent design and behaviour.

An example of this is a large, corporate website which has its own branding and logo which appears on every page thereby enabling the user to navigate their way through the site.

From a usability perspective: it enables them to know where they are, what the site is about and where they can go.

From a design perspective: it enables the designer to apply a consistent aesthetic approach to the site which also fits in with the goals of the website.

This is done by means of drag and drop tools which enable the designer to choose a range of features as per site requirements. Templates are used for page layout and structure, and which also help to separate content from design, e.g. graphics.


A template is a single theme (e.g. a design), whereas a theme refers to several files that work together, for example an e-commerce site.

Templates are ready-made web designs which enable sites to be built and maintained quickly and easily. They are particularly suited to large, corporate websites which have their own branding and colour scheme.

These templates enable the designer to adhere to the company theme as well as ensuring a consistent look and feel throughout. This is important from a usability perspective as it means that users can quickly find their way around a site, to complete a task or set of tasks which enables them to achieve their goals.

An example of this is an e-commerce site which uses a shopping cart system and checkout.

These templates are built in XSLT – a language which translates XML data into HTML or XHTML documents such as web pages. This takes the form of cascading style sheets (CSS) which aid with formatting and presentation of content on a webpage, for example, ensuring that all subheadings are in bold and are set as H3 tags.

Aesthetics are an important issue for designers and systems such as WordPress focus upon this as well as web standards, usability and accessibility. Bearing this is mind, it is important to choose a CMS which enables templates to be customised to your own personal design which enables you to stamp your creativity upon them as well as ensuring that your website differs from others.

Another advantage for designers is being able to change the layout of a page without needing to access the source code or requiring the services of a developer for this action.