an abstract image of a grid adhering to waves with various spotlights of teal and purple

5 Myths about Designing for CMS - It’s Not as Bad as You Think

Dan Miller
Dan Miller

From a creative person’s perspective, designing for a content management system used to be akin to torture. The limitations imposed by those older systems would box designers into the most basic layouts. It was like giving a kindergartner nothing but a black crayon to color with.

Luckily, designing for the latest generation of robust content management systems, like Sitecore, provides almost limitless freedom for designers. So don’t let your creative department scare you with these common myths about designing for CMS.

Myth #1: Content Management Systems restrict the design and limit creativity.

Reality: A properly implemented CMS will impose absolutely NO restrictions to design. On the contrary, it’s the content itself that needs to be thoughtfully considered when it comes to design, and not the overlying system that manages it. Content elements need to be carefully structured and designed to allow for all worst case content scenarios, but a good designer will consider this more as a challenge than a restriction.

Myth #2: You have to start with a base template or a theme.

Reality: Call it the Wordpress effect. Certain content management systems offer thousands of starter themes for all kinds of websites, but trying to kluge your content into their pre-defined layouts is the pits. Luckily, you don’t have to. Any CMS worth its salt will allow a designer to start from scratch, adding all the bells and whistles they desire.

Myth #3: Once implemented into a CMS, a design is difficult to change.

Reality: Again, any difficultly here is not the CMS’s fault. When brands are updated or marketing campaigns change, implementing an entirely new look or layout can be as easy as updating a stylesheet. The newer generation of CMS systems does a remarkable job when it comes to separating content from design.

Myth #4: Your content authors will be too restricted with styling content or creating interesting layouts.

Reality: The myth here is that this is a bad thing. Your content authors can have as much or little control as you want to give them. An inline WYSIWYG editor can be left completely open (and rife with opportunities for abuse) or locked down completely. We recommend an approach somewhere in the middle, giving content authors various styles and options to customize their content while not allowing them to add unwanted colors or blinking text. All it takes is a little upfront planning.

Myth #5: Everything has to be boxy.

Reality: Compartmentalized content will indeed make your page template more flexible, allowing for different content components to be utilized across various pages of the site. But “compartmentalized” doesn’t necessarily mean “boxy,” and a good designer should be able to strike an eye-pleasing balance between the ultimate flexibility of re-usable content and the striking effect of a forward-thinking design. Just work in tandem with your front-end developer to ensure the best of both worlds. The CMS won’t stop you.

Let's Get Started

We'd love to hear from you. We probably have a lot in common. I mean, you like chatting about data-binding, UX patterns, and javascript functions, right?


Cookies help us improve your website experience. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies and our privacy policy.