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I'm confused by the design of the CMS...please help?


#1

I want to create a website from scratch, creating the content and the design at the same time. The conceptual model of having a separate CMS View and a separate design View make no sense to me. I made a 'collection' even though i do not know what collections I want yet, and then I went to the CMS to write an article for the collection, but that does not even work. I cannot type anything in the text fields, which is also not the design view, but an abstraction from the design view anyway.

I went through all the videos about the CMS but I am growing increasingly frustrated with the conceptual model of how the CMS operates, as it's so far way from how I want it to work. I'm don't know if I'm asking for help or if I'm venting or just exacerbated.

If I want to create the content and the design at the same time, and let them evolve with each other, does anybody have any suggestions about how to achieve that workflow?

...le sigh...


How do I create and design content at the same time? ...or
#2

Hey @rchrdnsh the best workflow I have found is to create a template essentially of how you want your content to layout with some filler copy/placeholder images.

Then create your data collection with all of those fields (like name, title, date, links, images, videos, rich text etc.).
Then add a dynamic list to your site where you want it.

Then within the dynamic list, go to the dynamic item. Say now you made a blog post template, just drag your template of the blog post into the dynamic item, bind elements to tell them where to fetch their content from in the data collection. And boom. Created. :smile:

I'm here to help if you have any questions. Have strength, you'll be up and running in no time!

Thanks,

Waldo


#3

How do you design a website without knowing what kind of content that website will have? Design is always dependent on the content.

What I've seen some designers do is design their website without the dynamic content and once they have a designed it the way they want it they structure their content and plug into the design.


#4

I have to be completely honest, the @webflow CMS is really not what I was hoping for. I'm still trying to understand the overarching concept and workflow, but one of the biggest things I was looking for does not seem to be there, at least according to the tutorial videos and my cursory exploration of the interface...

I sort of assumed that I would be able to create content and design that content at the same time in the same interface, rather than having to jump around between several different interfaces. Also, the terminology used to organize and group referenced content, categories and fields, seems incomplete in it's implementation. I'm not quite sure how I would go about it, though, so I can not currently suggest an alternative.

The data binding system makes sense, of course, linking the same content so that it is editable anywhere and persisted everywhere, but I am not a fan of having to move to the content generator interface to add fields, as it were, to an article, essay, post, etc... and not having the ability to do that sort of editing on the content while in the design interface. And when in the CMS interface there does not seem to be a way to add fields to the current article, post, etc... without, again, having to go back to a separate content editor interface, that is still not the design interface. There are now 3 separate interfaces where I feel there really only needs to be one, or two, at the most.

As an aside, I'm also missing what I would consider to be fundamental field types like audio, table, graph, etc... maybe more will be coming later...and will we be able to extend the platform by creating our own custom field types?

In my opinion, content does not come first, and design does not come first either. They are created together, inform each other, and are iterated on continuously, until the creators and designers are satisfied with the finished product. To me, that is where the brunt of the work lies in creating modern, attractive content. To me it's a pleasant illusion to consider content and design to be completely separate entities, as CSS has tried to do for almost twenty years, but I feel that this is, in essence, a false dichotomy. Aesthetic design can be separated, sure, but layout is hard to divorce from content, especially when that content needs to reflow to be understandable on different screens sizes and orientations. This ultimately might be a much bigger discussion, though.

Maybe what I want is simply not possible at the moment with current web standards, but I was hoping that this would be at least a little closer to it. Then again, I do not understand the requirements and edge cases involved with designing and implementing a CMS, so my understanding of what is necessary is probably way off base. It also may be the case the content aspirations that I have are simply beyond a solution such as this, and will require custom code in the end.

I think the work that the @webflow team have done is impressive, it just seems to be sort of the opposite direction to what I was hoping for. I mean absolutely no disrespect, I'm just kinda bummed :pensive:

k, rant over...


#5

I want add another idea to this. What I was really hoping for was to have my content creation experience integrated seamlessly into webflow. For example, i currently use Apple Pages as my primary writing tool. It's ok, but not ideal, in my opinion. I could Word, Google Docs, or any other tool that exists on the market. But I got really excited by the idea that webflow could combine the experience of a rich text editor with the design experience of webflow, so I could create and design the experience together, using the brilliant UI of webflow.

This is what I was really hoping for with this webflow update, which was not the same vision as the webflow team had. The addition of the CMS seems just fine, and on par with webflow's competitors. It's just not the solution that I have been searching for.

Imagine styling text in word or pages or google docs. It's the same experience as styling text in webflow. I don't see the need for the abstraction of using yet another app to create content, then another app to design that content for the web.


#6

@rchrdnsh I moved your above two posts from a different topic into this one because they are covering the same thing.


#7

There are now 3 separate interfaces where I feel there really only needs to be one, or two, at the most.
I'm not quite sure how I would go about it, though, so I can not currently suggest an alternative.

This is a very tough design problem to solve. If you have any ideas do let us know!

I am not a fan of having to move to the content generator interface to add fields, as it were, to an article, essay, post, etc... and not having the ability to do that sort of editing on the content while in the design interface.

I think the designer should be able to edit content in the designer canvas like they can in the editor, but that wasn't in the scope of the release. I would personally like this workflow but not eta on this.

And when in the CMS interface there does not seem to be a way to add fields to the current article, post, etc... without, again, having to go back to a separate content editor interface, that is still not the design interface.

We chose to have a separation between content creation and content structuring. Imagine giving clients the ability to edit fields! Things would blow up. :wink:

As an aside, I'm also missing what I would consider to be fundamental field types like audio, table, graph, etc... maybe more will be coming later...and will we be able to extend the platform by creating our own custom field types?

These things will just come in time.

Imagine styling text in word or pages or google docs. It's the same experience as styling text in webflow. I don't see the need for the abstraction of using yet another app to create content, then another app to design that content for the web.

The thing that makes CMS with dynamic content totally different than Word or Pages or Google Docs is that content is structured in a database. It's conceptually and technically on another level.


#8

It sounds more like you are interested in simply building a static site using webflow. Why are you so focused on the CMS part when everything you have been saying can be built by simply using webflow without any collections? The new rich text element can be used on static sites too and is super powerful for styling text within a page just like you would in word or google docs. I think you should spend some time in webflow not using the CMS and just build some pages and sites using the tool itself.


#9

Hi @DFink, thank you for your reply. I appreciate your thoughts :smile:

The issue with static sites in webflow is that they are indeed static. Data is not dynamic and not linked to all instances of the same data. I prefer my data linked, so I can use said data in any manner necessary without having to manually duplicate data, which leads to errors and decreased productivity.

Also, sites in webflow are stateless, because they are more sites than apps. I cannot make dynamic interactions based on user input and save that input to create a compelling experience for the user as they navigate the web app. I also want AJAX, Fetch API style behavior, where parts of the view update, not the whole view. This is not there yet, however.

Static sites are not what I am interested in, to be honest :smile:


#10

Hi @thesergie thank you for your reply! XD

I've actually been thinking about these ideas all day and i might just make some mock-ups to help solves these problems as well. I think what I really want to see is a completely transparent designer that also creates solid, clean code, complete with a comprehensive database schema that is built in the background, but that can be fully controlled by the user as well.

I'm currently designing a music production application and there are many similarities in app structure and user flow with how webflow operates as well. I feel compelled to think about the design concepts facing webflow and maybe share some mock-ups. I'm really getting compelled to join Bret Victor on his quest to improve creative interfaces. :smiley:

Although, right off the top I think that rather than creating a separate content editing view, it might be a more elegant solution to simply limit access to tooling in the designer view. If a content creator/editor is not supposed to be able to add or edit fields, then those controls can simply be disabled, or even removed completely from the interface. This actually moves into a creating a more modular design for the interface, in a way that allows for different configurations of the interface based on access and necessity. The key to making this work is to make the user flow as seamless as possible for both designers and creators.

I agree that design is dependent on content, but as the content evolves, so must the design. For me, the real work is in iteration, and I want a platform that allows me to iterate my content and designs together as seamlessly as possible. Every layer of abstraction makes it that more cumbersome and time consuming to change and improve content and design, this is fundamentally why I want a unified platform. I can vaguely envision a platform that unifies all of the features of several different apps into one streamlined workflow that allows for rapid creation and iteration of content and design. At this point it is still quite vague, but i think that this is where my mind is going...

One of things that i'm getting increasingly frustrated with is having to design the layout of a document in pages or Word or InDesign or Dillinger or anything else for that matter, only to have to almost completely re-make that design in webflow. Could I not simply do that once, especially since i'm just writing for the web anyway? And if i make a change to the content way down the line, then i have to make sure that all instances of that content across multiple applications are updated manually, by copy and paste. Google docs is great for collaboration, but there is no real way to set up a database that would allow the user to create whole documents, or even sections of documents, that are linked, or bound together, so that edits in one instance of duplicate information can propagate to all other instances across many documents using the same content in different contexts.

So i guess i'm ultimately wanting one platform that will allow me to design and create content together, in one application, that i can intelligently and seamlessly iterate that content without all of the aforementioned issues...maybe this is not a good idea, ultimately, but its currently a strong desire that i have. I think there are natural limits to this, as i don't think i would ultimately want to make music or airbrush photos or draw cute little cartoons in webflow, but the tools in rich text editors like Pages and Word are so similar to web design as to seem rather redundant, to say the least. Honestly, using the designer pane in webflow and the designer pane in Pages are too similar as to make me yearn for a merger... (although @webflow's tools are more insightfully designed than Pages, in my opinion...still waiting for Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer and the like to support different border styling on each side of a rectangle)

R

But, as i said, still don't have any solutions, but I'm energized by the idea now...

Anyway, thank again for taking the time to respond. It is appreciated :smile:


#13

Sounds good @rchrdnsh! PM me if you have any ideas and we'll collaborate on the idea. I think we can always make the UX of design + data more integrated and intuitive. I have some ideas as well that have to be fleshed out.


#14

A post was split to a new topic: How to link to collection template in dynamic list


#15

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