If you have a website, then you’ve probably heard of a content management system (CMS). Some of the most popular CMS include WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!. A CMS makes posting and managing content amazingly simple. To an extent, you can customize the look of your CMS using plug-ins or modules.
At the same time, many people want to create websites without learning how to add code. PageLines has created a design management system (DMS) that allows users to design the looks of their websites using drag-and-drop tools. While DMS isn’t quite ready for the big stage yet, it could become a major player in Web design.
Amateur designers can choose from a variety of tools to create websites. Some choose to download templates and fit their content into the templates. Others try rudimentary DMSs such as Weebly.com. With a DMS, you can drag and drop features either onto a blank canvas or within an existing theme design. Instead of customizing your theme by coding or using plug-ins, you can drag and drop different features or use apps.
With PageLines, designers can use a visual workspace to create features ranging from sliders to navigation bars without using any code. If they can’t put together a feature in the workspace, then they can purchase apps in the PageLines app store. Because the system is open-source, designers can either visit GitHub and attempt to code some elements themselves or ask a designer to finish their sites for them if the job becomes overwhelming.
PageLines still needs work, according to reviewers. Lauren Orsini, who reviewed PageLines for ReadWrite.com, said that while moving large page elements was easy, figuring out smaller elements required a steep learning curve. Another reviewer, Tung Do of DevPress, said that although he could manipulate large items, he couldn’t figure out how to change his logo. Another issue is that even an easy-to-use tool can’t replace good design. For example, anyone can buy new furniture to redecorate a living room, but that room will not have the panache provided by an interior designer. A website can look fabulous but not perform well for users. For example, it could be slow-loading, hard to navigate and SEO-unfriendly.
Still, PageLines DMS does have a lot of potential. Since it’s built on top of WordPress, designers get both the built-in DMS components, in addition to DMS child themes and plug-ins, and the treasure trove of WordPress plug-ins to customize the site. Also, at $8 per month, the tool is reasonably priced. To use it, you need to know Web design, and you need to know how WordPress works. Otherwise, you may still feel lost when trying to operate the DMS.
PageLines founder Andrew Powers launched a similar program called Platform Pro in 2010. While Platform Pro became obsolete, Powers has big plans for PageLines. He hopes to create a single system that can combine hosting, DMS and CMS functionality. If he succeeds, then both designers and amateurs may benefit greatly from using his system.
If you’re building a simple website, such as a blog, then you can often make do with simple tools. However, if you’re doing anything related to e-commerce, then you should consider working with a designer. One important consideration is that a DMS may not generate a high-quality mobile website. As more people access the Web from their smartphones and tablets, mobile-friendly websites have become more important than ever.