Drag and drop Wordpress site builder plugins and themes
I have been building some fairly advanced WordPress sites for me including www.vettimes.co.uk. The sites I’ve worked on have all used various Drag and Drop theme builders. I hadn’t realised until I read this http://www.codeinwp.com/blog/best-drag-and-drop-theme-builders/ how many theme builders there are out there. It is a pretty crowded market and seems that this is the way to offer an easy to build on flexible web platform rather than a fixed site for clients.
There are some obvious advantages that these theme builders offer beyond a typical WordPress driven site. These mostly come down to flexibility. But what sort of flexibility do they offer:
The flexibility for clients to add pages of different layouts. In more traditional WordPress driven sites the layouts that are available for new pages are not that flexible. The ability to add pages with sections with different layouts is the great advantage of these tools. The ability to add pieces of functionality wherever makes sense. Using WordPress widgets and shortcodes functionality could be dropped into pages accross sites before but these theme builders give the ability to drop the functionality within the pages with more control. They make it possible for the ‘containing layout’ for functionality like calendars, order or contact forms to be much more suitable. Non-coders can do a lot of the layout and revision tasks that typically had to be done by coders. Sometimes it may make more sense for coders to use these tools to speed the template building process rather than get non-coders building pages as there is sometimes quite a lot of css and other code tweaks that are needed. However it may be that non-coders can make the changes. Whether these people are designers or not depends on how your web development company is set up. Although these are obvious advantages of these tools there are also problems with using these theme-building tools:
Is there the strategy, design and content presentation expertise within the client organisation to take advantage of these capabilities? Most clients for whom their website is a tool that is part of their overall strategy, not their core buisness, will not be proactive in adding useful parts of their site. If they do, they may not have the design capability to take advantage of the tools on offer in these theme builder tools. Just because coding is not needed to add pages with new layouts doesn’t mean that a web agency can’t contribute to the new pages added with design and strategy help.
Will your design, markup and code within the site work and adapt with new additions to the site enabled by these tools? Very often new sites go live under a great deal of time-pressure! The code and design is almost always conceived, carried out and tested on the assumption that the site will always be the way it is on the go-live date. It would be great that a design and code could be created with change in mind.
Will you as a web developer lose that always more lucrative work in the later phases of a website : tweaking existing content and adding new parts to the site. The web development business is not as lucrative as some may think, the post go-live maintenance of sites is often where the money is to be made and with these tools enabling clients to make more of these post-live tweaks, a smaller proportion of this work will come to web development agencies hurting their profitability.