I teach a course in digital publishing at a university, and one of the main points that I try to impress upon students is the freedom provided by content management systems, particularly WordPress. You see, for a designer, having someone hand you a set of sizes and shapes for your work can at first seem very limiting. But in truth, having a team of coders proactively accommodate all of the web’s many (many) idiosyncrasies is incredibly freeing. Rather than worry about how your design looks on a tablet versus a phone, you can spend your energy building a powerful design, at ease that WordPress is taking care of all the formatting voodoo on your behalf.

In many ways, a CMS like WordPress puts you in a similar position as the greatest artists and designers of all time. Van Gogh had a canvas, Helmut Krone had the size and shape of a newspaper ad – great designers don’t see those dimensions as limitations, but rather as an opportunity to work with abandon without having to spend resources on minutiae. Without having to think about the rules, we can instead think about the artwork itself. Inside the universe created by WordPress, we have the ultimate power, confident that no matter what we choose to design, everyone will be able to see, use and enjoy it.

Some students embrace the idea, others chafe – constantly struggling against the boundaries imposed by the internet and its arcane code. The most successful of the bunch take the CMS and transform it into a thing of beauty, a medium for the delivery of communication that is both strategic and surprising. I’m proud to say that our clients very often hit this sweet spot as well, empowered by our programmers who understand that above all, the very best websites combine a sense of purpose with a sense of wonder.

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