During the 2010 SXSW Interactive Festival designers debated whether or not WordPress is killing web design. The idea is that WordPress and other CMS are constraining designers to think outside the box and turning them into lazy designers. I was quite pleased to hear that no one on the panel agreed with this statement. Brendan Dawes, one of the panel members pointed out that WordPress is simply a tool that manipulates data. Said in another way, Gina Bolton confirmed what I believe, which is that WordPress is highly customizable and can be made to do whatever you want.
One of my latest project consisted of converting a design provided by Mizu Creative into a WordPress site for Paul Sangha. The site included a photo gallery which required jQuery animation, a few different templates, random background images and flash on the home page. I’m very proud of this work, but more importantly, by the fact that it looks nothing like a WordPress site.
I’ve worked with many graphic designers in the past and when asked about constraints, my only suggestions is to keep the width of the canvas to 960px. This constraint is only there to ensure that the site will look good on most browsers, but even this is debatable and will depend on the target audience.
The Paul Sangha website is a great example which demonstrates that designers should not be constrained by the CMS.