What I won't be doing with Zed X

Tue, Mar. 16, 2010

Through the process of working on Zed X, I have been looking at many other open-source CMS products, and seeing what sort of features they offer. In doing this, I have realized a few things that I don't like about other CMS's:

  • They have too many requirements making it very difficult to use on shared hosting, which, the majority of users will be using.
  • Many CMS's have a steep learning curve, involving over complicated interfaces, too many config options and confusing terminology that non-technical users don't understand.
  • Installation is a long and difficult process.
  • Templates are difficult to create, leaving non-technical users very confused. Users don't want to have to mess with PHP, just to customize their own template/design!
  • Many are bloated with so many features, that users think it is an overkill and don't choose that product.
  • Editing web content is confusing to users who are used to products like Microsoft Word, and don't understand why they can't edit in the same way.

Here are a few things that I think are absolutely necessary for a CMS:

  • A clean and simple edit and admin interface. Very minimalistic, not showing extra options to users when not needed.
  • You shouldn't have to browse through multiple screens just to change the name or design of a page.
  • Editing of content should be done visually, while "browsing" your website.
  • When editing a page, all tools should be available within that same screen, without browsing elsewhere. Think photoshop palates.
  • Users shouldn't have to know HTML.
  • Image editing (cropping/resizing, etc) should be done in-page.
  • In edit mode, users should be able to see real-time css changes to their content and layouts.
  • Rulers and guides should be available in edit mode for laying out a page.

Having said those things, I am going to make it crucial that I follow these while building Zed X. I don't want to end up with an over complicated product, that no one can understand. It should be useable out of the box, work on shared-hosting, and non-technical users should not be confused about a thing.

The programming of the CMS is coming along nicely. I am having to work on it in my free time, so progress is slow, but I think quality work is being produced. Duncan Robertson has expressed interest in helping with design, so that is exciting news.

I am happy to hear any other suggestions that you might have, be it features that you want to see, offers to help, etc.

Nicholas Hubbard


Apr 27, 2015
How is Zed X coming along for you now Nic? I agree with all your points that's why I still love using Wordpress CMS to build websites (that I don't build with Squiz Matrix). Out of all the CMS out there they seem to best understand best approach when it comes to UI and making it appear more natural and seemless. I have recently moved over to using Visual Composer to build the pages and its a great front end alternative to using the visual editor and abstracts all the complications in building tricky wordpress pages with shortcodes - still a bit of an initial learning curve though. I suppose it must be said, the more interactive and complex page being built - it becomes very difficult to make it easy for the common user to build it in a visual interface akin to Word.
Nicholas Hubbard
Apr 27, 2015
After working on it for a while I realized that it was too much of an undertaking for one person to do in their free time. I needed to take on jobs that actually made $$.

Add Comment