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I'm a web programmer - fluent in PHP, MySQL and Javascript as well. The problem is I'm a terrible designer - I cannot design a website to save my life. This is a major hindrance for projects where the budget does not allow hiring a designer.

I need to build a website for which I need to have a user registration form, login, a member area etc. Is there any CMS that is flexible enough to allow me to do that - add my own MySQL tables, PHP scripts, user authentiacation system etc? I'd only need the CMS for the sake of being able to use pre-designed themes.

Or would you advise not going with a CMS in this case, and going with a HTML/CSS template?

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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

HTML/CSS template would be best, seeing as though the main guts of the CMS are going to be pulled out anyway. Using a CMS in this case would be a greater hinderance than not.

Also, have you considered using research online to help develop your own aesthetic design abilities? Art is very similar to programming in that it follows a certain pattern of rules, and the design factor of web programming is no different.

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ed.uiuc.edu/courses/ci235/tutorial/composer/nc1a_aesguide.html -- That link gives some good basics. –  Christopher Jan 31 '12 at 4:35
    
Its true that I'd be pulling out the guts of the CSS. I suppose in that case it would make sense to just go with a CSS template. I've never really considered working on my design abilities - I guess its partially a mental block and partially the fact that I only just got into web development. I'll have a look at the link you gave, though. Thanks –  xbonez Jan 31 '12 at 4:48
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Wordpress can do all of the functionality you mention above. You can also purchase theme frameworks (Thesis is a popular one) that give you a design base but make it really easy to customize it to your own design (read basic aesthetics are already there you just change colors and graphics for a complete custom look).

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I would go with a CMS, it really will make life easier. I'd also point you in the direction of themeforest you can lay your hands on some very high quality front-end's there for a <30$.

My personal recommendation would be wordpress, because it has an easy UI and huge number of plugins and support is easily available for beginner and advanced users. [But I always say that!]

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Actually since you are a developer you really could go both, as most current CMS do a great job separating the presentantion from the backend.

As a developer , and not a very good designer myself, I know where you are coming from, the problem is not setting up the theme on the template engine, but making a good webdesign!

luckly there are plenty of websites that sell both HTML/CSS webdesigns and CMS, and high quality ones! themeforest is the reference in such websites:

http://themeforest.net

I'm a "cms minion", so I would choose the cms who best fitted my website and coding style needs and then I would choose a template for it. For content websites I'm particulary fond of wordpress, it really became much more then a blogging engine, and there is plenty of premium theme designers out there.

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