It has been a pleasure to deal with Nathan from Picture and Word. He has worked with us on a number of projects and provides a professional service that is both friendly and efficient. Highly recommended.
Although this site and blog were built using Drupal CMS (Content Management System), I have a soft spot for Wordpress.
As a system for just getting content onto the web with the absolute minimum of hassle and fuss, nothing comes close. Of course if you are running a high powered site with really complex requirements, Wordpress might come up short, which is why I used Drupal here.
That being said Wordpress will do the job 99 times out of 100 for most clients who just want to show their content to the world. What's more, the way that Wordpress makes it easy for people to edit and create content is superb. You get an interface that you understand upon first sight, and as long as your developer has set up the site right, you should be able to use your site forevermore with limited fiddling.
One of the areas in which Wordpress (and all CMS's for that matter) makes it hard for a non-technical client to understand is how to get the page to look like they want it to. It's no use trying to explain to them that they need to learn HTML, CSS and a little bit of PHP. All they want to know is 'why won't this image fit in here correctly?' and so on.
Well, I recently discovered a 'theme' for Wordpress, although to call it a theme undersells it really. It's called 'Headway'. What it is is a complete theming framework. You upload the theme and activate it and then you have some pretty high powered control over the appearance of your Wordpress pages and posts. You have a drag and drop interface which means that you don't really need to have an understanding of the underlying code, you just need to know what you like the look of, and then you can then get Headway to do pretty much anything.
So long as you understand Headway's limitations, you are able to move parts of the page around the screen, add widgets to multiple pages and posts, change colour schemes on the fly and see your alterations in real time. The truth be told you can do a lot and save yourself a lot of designing and coding time by using Headway.
However, Headway had it's little quirks. You had to really understand the way that it did the background tasks if you really wanted to use Headway to make anything other than a 'cookie-cutter' looking site. This is not hard to do, but there were challenges, even if they were modest compared to trying to achieve the same tasks without Headway.
That leads me to the latest iteration of Headway. Headway 3.0. The team have been working to make the user interface much more friendly, so that a complete novice has a really strong chance of putting a decent site together. They have taken the idea of drag and drop site design and run with it. You want a header 200 pixels wide, but 40 pixels high? Headway will do that for you by a drag and a click of the mouse. It honestly looks really excellent and might well save me hours and hours of time fiddling with CSS.
Below is a video from the Headway team explaining what they are trying to achieve. It should be ready for general release very soon. If you want a copy then...