The Site Slinger Blog

Web Development, Design, and everything PSD to HTML
By Jeremy H.

Converting PSD to WordPress and Joomla Templates in 4 Easy Steps

Converting PSD to WordPress and Joomla templates

Creating a modern website is a project that involves generations of unique ideas and requires the author to handle large amounts of information. It is rather typical to opt for CMS use to save time and cut the amount of work overall. Content management software allows you to get your blog up fast and easy, and more importantly, no special expertise is required to perform basic operations. The most popular systems on the modern web are WordPress and Joomla, since they are the most versatile – with these CMS at hand you can easily create a blog with expandable menu, galleries, sliding images and other interactive elements. No expert knowledge is required either.

Yet, you need to add personal traits to your project to make it popular. No one is falling for another typical website, so it’s up to you to create a stunning design for your project. Once you have your ideas ‘on paper’ (or rather, in a PSD file), it’s time to convert the image to a fully-functional website.

What’s the difference between Joomla! and WordPress?

The main difference between WordPress and Joomla! content management software lies in the way they operate templates. WordPress pages are composed from a number of blocks: every single element is stored separately and used in a particular case. Once you make a change to an element (for instance, you alter background image for a menu) it takes effect immediately everywhere it is used.

Such ‘modular’ systems allow for faster work with complex projects. You create a set of components and assemble them at your wish.

Joomla, however, uses a different approach and handles every page as a separate set of components. This means that if you plan to use an identical item on every page (for instance, a navigation menu), you’ll have to add a separate menu to each one. If you change this component on a page, changes won’t affect the other parts of your website.

Every template should contain all the necessary code to make proper use of every single module type – authentication, navigation, text, images, video etc.

How do I convert a design project to a functional CMS template?

Working with CMS means you get to work with a product provided ‘as is’ by developers. Of course, there are advantages – you don’t need to hire a programmer to create frames for you, yet there is a drawback; you have to adhere to certain rules. Standard systems can be altered, but it takes time and certain web development skills; you would generally want to use a content-management system to save time and effort.

Converting a PSD project to a fully functional CMS template takes several steps:

1. Analyze your project. Split it into parts (separate pages and items – menu, text blocks, galleries etc.) and see which of them can be implemented by means of CMS systems. Generally, a WordPress or Joomla! website contains a header, menu, main block and footer. It is generally a good idea to stick with these modules to make further work easier.

2. Cut the PSD image into elements – buttons, triggers, decorations. Group up separate components – CMS will generally require you to place images in certain folders for the system to access it properly. For now, you have to handle components as separate parts (that are none-the-less tightly connected) and make them interactive.

3. Make every element work with the CMS of your choice. Assign each components its place on the page, qualities, set up the way it works (when it is shown, how it reacts to clicks and interacts with the user).

4. Run your website and enjoy the results of your work! You might have to check your code to get rid of unnecessary elements (some of them are implemented in the CMS, but you might never use them) to optimize memory and connection usage.

Keep in that you will be using classes to make your components work. Classes are basically unit types with a range of properties and functions – if you want to create a brand new item type, it should be compatible with the existing system. This is one of the limits set by CMS systems.

Is it worth using automated PSD to WordPress/Joomla converters?

There are a number of sites on the web that offer to convert your PSD file to a CMS template automatically. This option is certainly attractive if you are on a low budget, but it will ruin the whole project.

The process might be fast, but the result will leave you wanting more. Automated algorithms work with every project by a standard scheme. This results in a lot of non-optimized code with unnecessary components. Websites created by an automated system run slowly and lack functionality.

If you want an optimized website that runs fast and stable, you will want conversion to be done manually. It is a type of work that requires skill and knowledge; it’s best to let professional web developers to handle the project.

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