36 Replies Latest reply: Feb 12, 2012 10:55 PM by martcol RSS

    Dreamweaver and CMS

    DS8108

      What tools can I provide a customer for editing his/her website (CMS) after I design in Dreamweaver.

       

      I have a customer that would like to maintain certain areas of their website. I looked for pricing on InContext editing and it appears to not be available any longer. So how can I set this up for them?

        • 1. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
          MurraySummers ACP/MVPs

          Investigate:

           

          PowerCMS from http://www.webassist.com

          Perch from http://grabaperch.com

          Content Seed from http://contentseed.com

          CushyCMS from http://cushycms.com

           

          All will require some familiarity with server scripting.

          • 2. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
            DS8108 Community Member

            Thanks, Murray. I'm going to look into those right now.

             

            I've almost finished my current project using Dreamweaver only. How do you feel about Adobe Business Catalyst? Doesn't it have some sort of CMS Maintenance for the client? I thought about using it for future projects. My main concern moving forward is to use something that is going to be around for a long time.

            • 3. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
              MurraySummers ACP/MVPs

              It's a possibility.  Longevity would be my worry here too.

              • 4. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                Nancy O. MVP

                If you go into the project knowing the client want's a CMS, install WordPress, Drupal or Concrete 5 on the server and use that to build your site.   Since the CMS is installed on your server, it can't go away.

                 

                 

                Nancy O.

                Alt-Web Design & Publishing

                Web | Graphics | Print | Media  Specialists 

                http://alt-web.com/

                http://twitter.com/altweb

                • 5. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                  DS8108 Community Member

                  Nancy,

                   

                  I feel like I'm learning a completely new language. It's a little intimidating. So please forgive my many questions to follow.

                   

                  Are you saying that if I build/design a website using Dreamweaver, then this client cannot use WordPress to edit those two or three pages they need to maintain?

                   

                  And would that be WordPress.org or WordPress.com? Is this the program that your clients use as CMS?

                   

                  Are there any tuts that you would recommend for me to watch/read first? I did try to use that famous 5 minute install once several months ago, got completely confused as it didn't seem to work and I didn't understand how to install it. I finally gave up.

                   

                  Thanks,
                  Donna

                  • 6. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                    MurraySummers ACP/MVPs

                    Honestly, I don't encourage new users who are totally unfamiliar with HTML/CSS much less server scripting to pick up Wordpress, Drupal, Concrete or Joomla.  Your head will explode in no time.

                    • 7. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                      DS8108 Community Member

                      Well I'm familiar with basic HTML/CSS, and trying my best to advance at this point. I know enough to be dangerous, but I'm smart enough to always keep a fresh backup copy of my site in case I destroy it at 3 a.m. when I'm too stubborn to give up and go to bed.

                       

                      But I need something easy that a client can just edit news items that appears in one page (I have this nested in an iframe) and also change out corresponding photos on the page. That's it. Very simple information and nothing technical.

                      • 8. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                        mytaxsite.co.uk MVP

                        Are you saying that if I build/design a website using Dreamweaver, then this client cannot use WordPress to edit those two or three pages they need to maintain?

                         

                         

                        What people are implying here is that if you decide to use WordPress then you don't need DreamWeaver.  The reason for this is that there is nothing to design in Wordpress!!.  All you need is a theme and your own logos and that is all.  As you are familiar with basic HTML/CSS, you should be able to make changes ro the various CSS files that come with themes in WordPress.

                         

                        Good luck and if you need any help with WP, you could try this link:

                         

                        <http://wordpress.org/support/>

                         

                        Get going and start doing something.

                        • 9. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                          Nancy O. MVP

                          Easy is a relative term here.  WordPress out of the box without any customization is simple to use.  Once deployed, you log-in to the Admin Panel to create pages, blog posts, etc...  Non-coders, seniors, kids, all manage to use it successfully.

                           

                          WordPress.org is  where you download the free software and get  documentation on how to use it.

                           

                          WordPress.com is instant gratification (hosting & WordPress in one place).  Sign-up for a free account to test it. https://en.wordpress.com/signup/

                           

                          That's the easy part.

                           

                          Under the hood,  WordPress comes with approx. 900 files in some 80 folders.  But none of these are actual web pages.  It's all just code.  The actual content is stored in MySql databases on the server.   When all the parts are assembled by the server, ta da, a dynamic web page displays in the browser.

                           

                          A static web site you built in Dreamweaver will have no connection to your WordPress site.   You would have to re-build the pages in WordPress to make them editable by the client.  Or keep the main site pages static (not editable without you) and let them use WordPress exclusively for blogging, press releases, event calendars, etc...

                           

                           

                           

                           

                          Nancy O.

                          Alt-Web Design & Publishing

                          Web | Graphics | Print | Media  Specialists 

                          http://alt-web.com/

                          http://twitter.com/altweb

                          • 10. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                            John Waller MVP

                            Murray *ACP* wrote:

                             

                            Honestly, I don't encourage new users who are totally unfamiliar with HTML/CSS much less server scripting to pick up Wordpress, Drupal, Concrete or Joomla.  Your head will explode in no time.

                             

                            In relation to Wordpress, I think it's excellent for new users. Simplicity itself.

                             

                            Sure, for custom tweaking the CSS, it requires intermediate to advanced CSS. But that doesn't have to stop novices from using its front end and experimenting with the built-in settings.

                             

                            I have seen many novices install it from a cPanel (Fantastico) within a minute and get a functioning Wordpress site filled with content up and running within an hour.

                             

                            The one-click themes, thousands of plugins and the many powerful but user-friendly Settings in the Admin area gets their creative juices flowing and shields them from being exposed to code until they're ready.

                            • 11. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                              adninjastrator Community Member

                              It sounds like you want to use the Web site that you have already designed and somehow incorporate some CMS into this existing Web site... is that correct?

                              While starting from scratch with a real CMS... WordPress or whatever may have been the best option, I'll purpose a second option that would allow you to use your currently designed site AND allow your client to do minor updates and edits.

                              Teach them some very basic HTML... how to edit what appears between a <p>and the </p>.... how to copy/paste an existing paragraph so now they have a second <p>and some more text</p> how to add an image, and maybe a <h1>Heading tag</h>

                              All you/they really need for minor edits to an existing site is to learn 6-8 HTML tags.... that would cover the vast majority of minor edits to an existing Web site.

                              They will need a copy of NotePad++ or a MAC text editor for the editing:

                              http://notepad-plus-plus.org/

                              and Filezilla or Cyberduck for FTP:

                              http://filezilla-project.org/

                              http://cyberduck.ch/

                              Give them a two hour or so tutorial/lesson and links to a few help sites like:

                              http://www.w3schools.com/html/

                              Might seem a little scary... but speaking from experience, I just moved this site away from a Drupal site and rebuilt the entire thing in HTML and with just a little coaching have turned simple edits over to the "Web Committee".

                              http://www.olympicdiscoverytrail.com/

                              Now they are making all the minor edits/ additions, etc and are finding it at least as simple as the learning curve associated with Drupal.

                              But whether you go with a full blown CMS or teach them a little HTML......

                              wishing you the best of luck!

                              Adninjastrator

                              • 12. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                cmspro Community Member

                                Cushy CMS (http://cushycms.com/) or Konductor (http://konductor.net) work well within the Adobe workflow.

                                • 13. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                  osgood_ MVP

                                  Persoanlly I hate Wordpress with a passion. In my opinion its only for those that want to choose an off-the-shelf designed theme and base their site design on that theme. Pretty restrictive in my opinion. To bend Wordpress to ones own design you have to jump through hoops to do so. I'm pretty good when it comes to html, css and a bit of php but even I found the workflow back to front. Yep if you want to use someone elses design right out of the box use Wordpress. If you have a custom design then steer clear of it and use one of the CMS mentioned by Murray. I favour Perch because its simple to set up and integrate with YOUR design seamlessly. The backend is uncomplex and easy for clients to use unlike Wordpress, which is overkill.

                                  Wordpress is either for beginners who know nothing or professionals who know css, html and php inside out. Its not for anyone inbetween in my opinion.

                                  • 14. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                    DS8108 Community Member

                                    Thank you everyone for your helpful information and advice. I've gotten some good information here to help me get started again. I may work up another question over the weekend.

                                    • 15. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                      DS8108 Community Member

                                      Thanks. I'm looking into Perch now. I have one last isue with this new customer. I'm really venturing out to learn with this project. It is a non-profit so they have an extremely low budget. I need a free or very very inexpensive way to have parents sign their kids up for sports teams. I can create a form, have the results (name, address, etc.) sent to an e-mail address, but don't know anything about having them check a box, having the form calculated to a result, etc. Then I need the total to push to paypal. It sounds difficult, but I know there has to be something out there.

                                       

                                      In other words the form will calculate like this:

                                       

                                      first child = $90

                                      additional children at $25 - 3 = $75

                                      total = $165

                                       

                                      Does that make sense? Like I said it's the calculation that I don't know how to do.

                                       

                                      I don't have a problem with buying an inexpensive software, I just don't want a monthly cost when there isn't going to be big money involved.

                                       

                                      Any help would be appreciated.

                                      • 16. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                        MurraySummers ACP/MVPs

                                        HTML has no facility for doing these things.  Fortunately, javascript does!

                                         

                                        If you have -

                                         

                                        <input type="checkbox" value="90" name="first_child">

                                        <input type="text" value="0" name="additional">

                                        <input type="text" value="0" name="total">

                                         

                                        Then you can get a total number by adding some javascript to each of the first two fields like this -

                                         

                                        <form id="price" method="post" action="whatever.php">

                                        ...

                                        <input type="checkbox" value="90" name="first_child" id="first_child" onclick="calcThis()">

                                        <input type="text" value="0" name="additional" id="additional" onchange="calcThis()">

                                        <input type="text" value="0" name="total" id="total" readonly="readonly">

                                        </form>

                                         

                                        and then adding this to the head of the page -

                                         

                                        <script type="text/javascript">

                                        function calcThis() {

                                             document.getElementById('total').value = (document.getElementById('additional').value * 75) + (document.getElementById('first_child').value-0) ;

                                        }

                                        </script>

                                         

                                        The value shown in the total field will always equal the first child plus 3*additional (assuming that's the number of additional children).

                                        • 17. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                          Ben M MVP

                                          DS8108 wrote:

                                           

                                          Thanks. I'm looking into Perch now. I have one last isue with this new customer. I'm really venturing out to learn with this project. It is a non-profit so they have an extremely low budget.

                                           

                                          Just so you know, you should try to reach out to companies before you buy anything.  Many companies have unadvertised specials for non-profit organizations because they realize that companies work on a tighter budget.  Usually just providing documents which the non-profits have could save you money on the license or in some cases you may be able to get the solution you need at no cost.

                                          • 18. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                            DS8108 Community Member

                                            Do any of your have any experience with the following companies? Especially Perch? Any sites you can refer me to that are using it? I'm leaning toward Perch for this project since they are non-profit and need to edit very little information. It's very inexpensive and appears to be fairly easy to learn. I also like that I can pay and download it, then host on my own server.

                                             

                                            PowerCMS from http://www.webassist.com

                                            Perch from http://grabaperch.com

                                            Content Seed from http://contentseed.com

                                            CushyCMS from http://cushycms.com

                                             

                                            Thanks, Donna

                                            • 19. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                              BlueShamrock

                                              Thank you for your input.  I took a course where we used Cyberduck and am familiar with it, so I guess I need to find the copy that will go with CS5 and use it.  My question about the container has not been answered, so I think I am just going to have to plow ahead on this, maybe try 2 different versions, save one with one name and another with a different one then save the one that seems to work the best as my index file.  The client will be posting himself, I am only doing the design which once again, is going to be a real simple one but customized with a photoshop banner.  Thankfully the client is a real patient person, but I would not say that patience is limitedless, so I best get started.

                                              • 20. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                adninjastrator Community Member

                                                Just to clarify, if you design your own site in CS5 using HTML, you cannot just import that site into a Content Management System. You can "integrate" the look and feel of your site by editing the CSS and some of the .php files, but it will be a completely different site than the one you designed.

                                                CMS web sites can be easier for your client to update but you style them around a prebuilt site... not the site you have already built.... but they are not the only possible solution.

                                                My question about the container has not been answered

                                                With all the discussion, I may have missed this part, can you repeat that question?

                                                Best wishes,

                                                Adninjastrator

                                                • 21. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                  Mcshifty

                                                  You may want to check out Konductor (http://www.konductor.net), you won't have any problems like this:

                                                  Just to clarify, if you design your own site in CS5 using HTML, you cannot just import that site into a Content Management System. You can "integrate" the look and feel of your site by editing the CSS and some of the .php files, but it will be a completely different site than the one you designed.

                                                   

                                                  Konductor just uses Dreamweaver and HTML to get set up on your side. Hopefully that's helpful.

                                                  • 22. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                    adninjastrator Community Member

                                                    Hey Blue Shamrock,

                                                    Seems like your "container" question may have come from another post. OK... so yes, best practice would be to put all you content into a:

                                                    div =id="main_container">

                                                    or some other "wrapper" <div> that holds all the content (which of course can and would be other <div>s etc).

                                                    But just to be clear, if you use WordPress or almost any other CMS, the container <div>s are spead out over hundreds of "building block" files, each which only have one or a couple containers and there is NO one page that holds all the containers.

                                                    The finished Web pages are created dynamically from those "building blocks" depending on Web address or user input.

                                                    So yes, it's a good idea to put things into a container <div>.... but how those <div>s are assembled on the Web page will depend on if you are using a static HTML site or a dynamic .php, ASP, or some other server side pages.

                                                    Best wishes,

                                                    Adninjastrator

                                                    • 23. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                      BlueShamrock Community Member

                                                      Does everything have to go in a container?  I think I am answering my own

                                                      questions guys, but thanks for your input.  In detail:  Sure you can put

                                                      everything in a container in your website but do you have to?  This link

                                                      will give you the article that got me to ask my question in the first

                                                      place:

                                                      http://www.adobe.com/devnet/dreamweaver/articles/first_website_pt2.html The

                                                      reason we use containers at all on our websites is positioning, so our

                                                      stuff doesn't float all over the place and look funny. *If, instead of

                                                      putting a container in the coding right away you just put a photoshop

                                                      document (a banner with a really wide width) are there any browsers that

                                                      will just either totally hide the banner or put your next line (either text

                                                      or maybe a menu bar) next to it*?  Photoshop documents seem to be just

                                                      really wonderful things.* Perhaps because they have a width and a height

                                                      they are already in a container?* I love the fact that with Photoshop

                                                      documents you select your typestyle, and no matter what, it will stay that

                                                      typestyle because it is an actual picture of the text and doesn't have rely

                                                      on whether or not the user has that particular typestyle on their

                                                      computer.  As far as the reason why I need to use something like wordpress

                                                      at all?  Well, the boss just wants to be able get on the internet, log into

                                                      his website type his article.  (He doesn't want to learn HTML, and actually

                                                      he doesn't even want to pick colors of anything.)  Imagine that, leaving

                                                      the design for the most part, up to the designer?  I know there are

                                                      millions of places where he can do this.  However, he wants me to do this

                                                      website for him, and I'm doing it.  Perhaps I am asking the wrong

                                                      question?  Perhaps I should have asked:  *What browsers make your stuff

                                                      look really funky?* Thanks for all your effort guys.

                                                      • 24. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                        MurraySummers ACP/MVPs

                                                        Does everything have to go in a container?

                                                         

                                                        No.  The body tag is a container and as such can be used for many things instead of the more traditional <div id="wrapper"> as a container.  As an example. consider this -

                                                         

                                                        body {

                                                             width:980px;

                                                             margin:0 auto;

                                                        }

                                                         

                                                        The page will be 980px wide and centered.  However, if you are using absolutely positioned elements on such a page, and need them to center along with the content then this will not work (at least I can't get it to - and intellectually, it's a bit 'off center', so to speak) -

                                                         

                                                        body {

                                                             width:980px;

                                                             margin:0 auto;

                                                             position:relative;

                                                        }

                                                         

                                                        Also, you frequently see things like this -

                                                         

                                                        <div id="menu">

                                                             <ul>

                                                                  <li><a href="">whatever</a></li>

                                                        ...

                                                         

                                                        when all you really need is this -

                                                         

                                                        <ul id="menu">

                                                              <li><a href="">whatever</a></li>

                                                         

                                                        and so on.  Containers tend to be overused, but other than code bloat, I suppose there's no real harm in doing so.

                                                        • 25. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                          BlueShamrock Community Member

                                                          This was helpful, and your site looks nice.

                                                          • 26. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                            DS8108 Community Member

                                                            Have you used WEBASSIST as a CMS? I'm really interested and since it's a "boxed" program with no monthly fees, am considering it. Any feedback on them specifically?

                                                             

                                                            On the other end of the spectrum is Perch.

                                                             

                                                            I just don't want a monthly service kind of situation.

                                                             

                                                            Thanks, Donna

                                                            • 27. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                              mhollis55 Community Member

                                                              I have used WebAssist, but not as a CMS. I bought their Power Suite.

                                                               

                                                              They build very good plugins into Dreamweaver and they are totally solid. Their plugins are not as customizable or adaptable as Project Seven's stuff, but P7 doesn't make a CMS. The rest of the company's tools do recommend the company.

                                                              • 28. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                Ben M MVP

                                                                On the other end of the spectrum is Perch.

                                                                 

                                                                I just don't want a monthly service kind of situation.

                                                                 

                                                                Isn't Perch a per-website fee and not a monthly fee?  From the Perch website:

                                                                 

                                                                Perch costs £35 (+ VAT where applicable) as a one-off unrestricted license cost per website. Perch runs on your own server and there are no ongoing monthly costs.

                                                                • 29. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                  DS8108 Community Member

                                                                  Yes. You are correct. I actually went through their trial and decided to purchase it, but my bank denied the charges. I called the bank and told them it wasn't fraud and tried again with no success. So I e-mailed Perch and they said there was nothing to do on their end. I'm on a time-crunch and need to get going so I gave up on it.

                                                                   

                                                                  I also looked into SetSeed. I love the way his program works, however I had troubles downloading the software. You basically install it, set up your site and then before making it all work, you buy a key. BUT I can't seem to get it installed so I moved on again.

                                                                   

                                                                  So I'm back to WEBASSIST. I really liked it from the beginning but it was too expensive for me. Perhaps I should pay more and worry less?

                                                                   

                                                                  So you have first hand experience with Perch?

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  • 30. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                    Ben M MVP

                                                                    So you have first hand experience with Perch?

                                                                    No I don't.  Just from reading your comment it sounded like you were dismissing them for having a monthly charge which they don't have.  Personally speaking I only like to pay in my own currency to avoid all kinds of fees and charges and exchange rates, which is probably why I've never used them although I have heard of them. 

                                                                     

                                                                    And with that SetSeed, if you like it have you tried contacting them for support?  If you have to pay them eventually and they want you as a customer I'd expect decent support responses from them.  They will be better suited to help you with the setup of their product over us. 

                                                                     

                                                                    With WebAssist I've never been impressed with boxed CMS solutions although I did briefly look into their Cashie solution for an ecommerce project I was working on (ecommerce was later dropped from site for budget). Personally I think some of the original recommendations for skinning Wordpress would be an excellent solution.  Plus it has plenty of modules to add-in and is very user friendly.

                                                                     

                                                                    I've also installed CMS Made Simple ( http://www.cmsmadesimple.org/ ).  That went pretty well for a client.  Setup is a little longer than a typical Wordpress, but it feels more like a CMS than a blog.  Modules are ok, but they are going through some updating and they haven't cleaned up the out of date modules in awhile.  Also everything is stored in the database: templates, CSS, page data and that has its pluses and minuses.

                                                                     

                                                                    There's also:

                                                                     

                                                                    ModX Revolution - Simple setup, easy to use for semi-tech background, lacks lots of modules, but very dedicated community.

                                                                    Joomla - I've seen companies get by with this.  Needs a developer to setup, but once skinned, the admin interface is pretty intuitive

                                                                    PyroCMS - This one looks pretty interesting from a coding standpoint and I am redoing a site in it now.  Definitely young compared to most, built on CodeIgniter framework, but looks promising.

                                                                     

                                                                    And a bunch of others I know of, but mostly by name not from experience like:

                                                                     

                                                                    Drupal - Horrible for non-technical, steep learning curve

                                                                    Typo3 - Another powerful CMS, very difficult setup, very steep learning curve, installation fairly technical

                                                                    Contao - Based on Typo3 - Easier to setup than Typo3 (I don't have real experience trying this one)

                                                                    • 31. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                      martcol Community Member

                                                                      SnakEyez02 wrote:


                                                                      Personally I think some of the original recommendations for skinning Wordpress would be an excellent solution.  Plus it has plenty of modules to add-in and is very user friendly.

                                                                      I think that Wordpress might be a good option to consider too.   However, if you are on a deadline, and have never used it before you will have a bit of catch up to do.

                                                                       

                                                                      Advantages of WP?  Very well documented, huge userbase, comprehensive, quick to set up, fairly intuitive (more so with latest 3.3), masses of plugins, masses of themes, Some excellent premium stuff but loads of free stuff, not too difficult for users to get the hang of.

                                                                       

                                                                      Disadvantages?  So much documentation can be difficult to find what you need, support forums can be a bit sniffy (Sitepoint forum is better), plenty of crap plugins out there, need to take care with security, users will need training, can take a bit of heavy lifting to put your own mark on it.  Lots to learn.

                                                                       

                                                                      You could get a straight forward WP site up and running in an hour or two.

                                                                       

                                                                      If you want to go this way and want to skin your theme, find out about child themes.

                                                                       

                                                                      Martin

                                                                       

                                                                      [edit] WP support forum can be sniffy - not this one!

                                                                      • 32. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                        jonathanbs1

                                                                        One system we use that we found quite easy to implement is CMS made simple. The template system is quite simple to use as it can render any HTML and CSS as a template with the use of Smarty tags.

                                                                        I use this CMS system being a northern ireland website designer. If you require any help with the CMS, let me know.

                                                                        • 33. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                          DS8108 Community Member

                                                                          Is this cms free? Or do you have to host your site with them? Do you keep everything on your own server?

                                                                          • 34. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                            DS8108 Community Member

                                                                            Martin,

                                                                             

                                                                            This may be another stupid question to add to my list of them, but is it possible to build this site in dreamweaver (which I already have) and then have my client pages that he/she needs to edit inside an iframe....and those pages be built in wordpress and editable in wordpress?

                                                                             

                                                                            Thanks,

                                                                            Donna

                                                                             

                                                                            • 35. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                              adninjastrator Community Member

                                                                              You don't need the iframe... you need to "integrate" the look and feel of the WordPress theme into the Web design you already have... so you need to be able to customize WP to match your existing site. Here is a very good tutorial:

                                                                              http://jonathanwold.com/tutorials/wordpress_theme/

                                                                              That way the client edited section of the Web site looks like the rest of the site.

                                                                              Adninjastrator

                                                                              • 36. Re: Dreamweaver and CMS
                                                                                martcol Community Member

                                                                                Sounds to me Donna, as though it is time for you to experiment!

                                                                                 

                                                                                I am a novice coder and if I am honest PHP is my personal Everest and after about three years, I still feel like Im tying the laces of my climbing boots!  But I have managed to build a couple of sites that I'm happy with:

                                                                                 

                                                                                pictopoetry.co.uk and I'm currently working in : martcol.co.uk/brightontherapyservice

                                                                                 

                                                                                Both those sites give full editorial control to the site owners.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Adninjastrator has given you a good link on integrating an existing site with WP and it is worth studying that.  Personally, I found that difficult when I first started with WP although I would probably find it easier now.  I think the easier approach is to ge hold of a solid, bare-bones theme and use a child-theme on that.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Wordpress has a mass of documentation which is at times overwhelming.  It has a solid user forum but it can be a bit sniffy, and i've often been ignored.  On Wordpress, I have found the Sitepoint forum better.

                                                                                 

                                                                                At the moment I am thinking about a small site for an electrician and I'm going to have a go with GetSimple CMS  http://get-simple.info/start/mission-statement/

                                                                                 

                                                                                It looks pretty straight forward.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Wordpress is both straightforward and complicated at the same time.  It has had me tied up in knots plenty of times.  But it is worth the effort.  The two things that most helped  me  were 1) using child themes and 2) understanding template hierarchy.  I also got myself a copy of Beginning Wordpress 3.0 and Smashing Wordpress: Beyond the Blog.  I think the former was most useful.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Martin