I have two groups of talented designers that I am trying to nudge away from doing Dreamweaver sites — AKA static pages that are based on "templates" — and toward WordPress. In both cases I have encountered what I can only describe as fear.

This fear seems to be based on (a) a concern that they won't be able to "cut it" in this new world, and (b) that if they are "just" doing the main templates (and not all of the generated pages) they will lose billable hours.

I think (a) is a matter of education and I'm working on it, but (b) is harder to answer. I believe that they will be able to address oft-stated customer requests for "editable websites," and that they will be able to bid on sites that require more functionality and dynamic interaction with the user than they have dealt with in the past.

Question: Does anyone have any studies / examples / success stories / whatever that I can use to show them that WP may actually be a major step forward in their ability to find and please customers? It is important that these be from a designer's point of view. Some of this will be anecdotal, but I'm hoping for something more ... concrete.

After thought:  I wish I could give out more than one Correct Answer. I felt a bit stupid when I saw case studies because that should have been one of the first things I searched on. I liked the comment about The Loop because it gave me a little insight from a designer's point of view about what might be intimidating. I'm going to look for more of those.

Addressing The Fear is a bit more difficult because fear, by it's very nature, is not purely rational. Many people have been deeply traumatized by the recession — watching your billables drop by 75-80% overnight through no fault of your own can make you really nervous about anything changing. I saw this in my parents, who were in their 20's during the Great Depression; fifty years later they still had a sense of scarcity in the world.

6 Answers 6


Why not just ask them to estimate how much it will cost to change the layout for 600+ pages. And then ask them if they think their customer will pay for that, versus a designer using Wordpress.

One important thing to point out is that Dreamweaver is a tool on your computer for creating the design. Wordpress is a CMS for maintain content. You still need Dreamweaver (or whatever you like to write code in) to design new templates.

And ask them this: Are they designers? Or web administrators? Because if a customer only want's to add news articles, then he should not need a desigenr to to this.

Here is an example. Go to freyaolsen.com. This site is currently using static HTML. Now, If I want to add a new news, I have to do the following:

  1. Add a new html page for the news page
  2. Change front page to display recent news
  3. Make sure that the 50 or so other news items have updated also this month section

I don't event use Dreamweaver for this, I use notepad!

And I'm not doing point 3 because a) it will cost to much for the customr and b) a dynamic site is on it's way. Once dynamic, it will only take 10 minutes to write a new article and not the 4 hours updating each HTML page.

And what if I need to change the menu? Then I have to change the menu on every single page. And that is a lot of pages.

Another valid poiont is that if they focus on designing tempaltes, they will use less timne on each project, and thus have time for new projects.

case studies
I googled and found many case studies. Just look through them and see if you find one that is simple to follow.

Good luck.

  • Case studies! Of course! (Camera pulls back as he mutters to himself about getting old.) Unfortunately your point about less time on each project has two edges to it — it's cheaper/faster for the client, but it means the designers need to have a larger stream of new projects/clients. This cuts to the heart of The Fear. With the economy in the crapper, the kinds of small clients they have been working with have pulled way back on "nonessentials." Mar 4, 2011 at 16:23
  • Ah, but don't forget that the tempaltes you create, can be re-used. Simple way is to just change colour, images and logo. This way you can offer simple solutions for lower cost, thus get more customers. Then you can sell them upgrades or additional templates. What I often run into, is that the customers want a custom front page, and the sub-pages are more or less the same (displaying article, article listing etc.) Re-use of tempaltes = less time on development, but still able to charge at least 60-80% of full price of developing from scratch.
    – Steven
    Mar 5, 2011 at 1:06
  • That's not their market. They do highly customized corporate identity packages: logo design, stationery, advertising, etc., so there would be effectively 0 reuse of the materials. On the other hand, there is the ability to reuse skills, and that's what I'm trying to get them to see. Thanks again for your answer. Mar 6, 2011 at 18:40

I'm a designer who took the plunge into wordpress around a year ago. Never looked back!

I got into it in a round-about way. Having coded my sites in plain HTML, I realized I needed a better solution for my clients that the available CMSs out there and WP is the ultimate CMS after all.

I first started experimenting a little with PHP just including headers and footers that ultimately saved on production time in the real world. When I realized how simple that actually was, from there I wandered into wordpress.

Even though I was slightly daunted even by the famous loop initially, I soon found myself very at home with WP and I use it for basically everything nowadays. I pretty much googled my way through my first couple of builds and nowadays - especially with sites such as this - I can get help whenever I need it!

I guess you could explain that you really don't need to be able to write code to actually use wordpress. I couldn't when I started.

WP is to PHP what jQuery is to javascript.

  • Good point about The Loop. As a programmer it bothered me because of it's heavy reliance on global state, but for a designer it must be even more disturbing because "there's no there there." I wonder if there's something like a Top 10 Things about WordPress that Freak out Designers? Mar 4, 2011 at 16:18

Help them understand that generally speaking, designing for WordPress isn't really any harder than what they're used to. Do they use "Lorem ipsum" text as a placeholder? They'll do the same thing, except instead of "Lorem ipsum", they'll put <?php the_content();?>, and WordPress will fill that in with the real content.

There's really not that much new stuff to learn. Once you get used to how the header, footer, sidebar, and main template files fit together, and understand the basics of how WordPress uses each template (the Template Hierarchy), it's easy peasy!

And there are helper extensions they can install in Dreamweaver for working with WP themes, too. So they can still use the tool they are accustomed to.

  • Ah, a Dreamweaver extension ... that could be a real selling point. I need to do a little googling on that, and also on the possibility of an InDesign plugin/extension. Thanks! Mar 4, 2011 at 16:11

(a) a concern that they won't be able to "cut it" in this new world

As I understand this is primarily concern about WordPress being something they are not used to and skill they are not confident to master.

It is easy enough for them. WordPress is quite friendly to designers and vast amount of themes and designers working with it confirms that. The world of design had not changed, it had merely been given new tools and ways to apply them for clients that now want that.

(b) that if they are "just" doing the main templates (and not all of the generated pages) they will lose billable hours

Would they prefer to see someone else being paid for converting their design to WordPress? Or get paid for both?

The use of their just main tempaltes with WordPress is choice that is out of their hands and in the client's. They can get more work out of it or send that work away.

  • Excellent point! Sometimes a little tough love can be just what is needed. And thanks for the link to the Elance article. Mar 4, 2011 at 16:14

Point them towards some of the great WP galleries like:

Let them see great design, all working with WordPress

  • I understand what you're saying, but at this precise point in time I'm afraid that those sites would really freak them out because they demonstrate (over and over again) just how far behind the curve they are. Mar 4, 2011 at 16:09

You could show your designers the neat drag and drop and/or GUI based WordPress theme frameworks like Headway, Page Lines Platform, or WP Mosaic which make converting designs easier into WordPress themes.

Of if you're happy with their designs, continue having them do the designs and comps in Photoshop but hire WordPress theme conversions specialists to convert the designs. I know a few good ones on oDesk which will do it cheaply and with decent (B-grade) quality.


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