Developing For Designers - A Few Ideas

Over the past few years I've read and listened to a number of complaints from designers about some limitations put on them by the content management systems and frameworks they are using. Many of these limitations can be removed making for better looking websites and web apps. Here are a few of the things I've seen that could be done better.

Disabling CSS

Content management systems provide their functionality working out of the box. When you install a calender module or plug-in the calendar will display nicely out of the box. Many designers will want to customize the look. In order to do so they would like to disable all of the existing CSS that makes it look the way it does so they can start with a blank slate.

I've yet to see this feature natively supported. Making this simple and intuitive would go a long way to give designers some of the freedom they want.


Designers not only like to change the way elements look on a page but change the way they are laid out. This requires altering how the information is presented by it's module, plugin, or app. In these cases there should be templates that generate this information. These templates should be easy to override and customize with little programming language specifics needed. And, since a site can have more than one presentation layer these customizations should be able to be different per customization layer.

I think the upcoming release of drupal 6 provides a great example of this. Modules (add-ons) provide theme files (.tpl.php) files for the presentation of the information. Those files can be copied from the modules, placed in the theme (presentation layer), altered, and that changes the output.

This puts the output in the designers hands in a way that's fairly simple to do.

Presentation of RSS Feeds

One of the many overlooked places to style part of a site is the RSS feeds. RSS feeds can have styles and Feedburner is one place to see them in action. But, how many frameworks and content management systems support them? How many feed readers and browsers support them? Browsers do. I've yet to work with a CMS of framework that does.

For anyone interested the you can find the w3 spec here.

These are just a few different ideas. Anyone see any others? Maybe some that are specific to different systems?

Note: I have to give props to Bob over at Mustardseed Media for some of these. These are some of his chief requests.