PHP for Designers (or Wanting to Drive Your Sister's Cadillac)

"Why use parentheses instead of brackets?" These are the types of basic questions asked by designers learning PHP. Such questions befuddle instructors and annoy developer-types in PHP classes, but making PHP accessible to designers is a huge leap toward advancing Drupal adoption.

Drupal instructors are fumbling to create PHP courses that are designer-friendly and don't scare away this huge group of potential Drupal users.

Laura Schoppa, Senior Designer
#Development | Posted

"Why use parentheses instead of brackets?" These are the types of basic questions asked by designers learning PHP. Such questions befuddle instructors and annoy developer-types in PHP classes, but making PHP accessible to designers is a huge leap toward advancing Drupal adoption.

Drupal instructors are fumbling to create PHP courses that are designer-friendly and don't scare away this huge group of potential Drupal users.

And designers are hungry to learn PHP. While they've been walking down the website creation street with their bag of design, CSS and HTML tricks, their PHP-literate sister is zooming by in her shiny black Cadillac.

PHP is the vehicle to making flexible, dynamic websites – not only for Drupal, but also for WordPress and other content management systems. Without PHP, the power of Drupal with its incredible flexibility – at least in its current form – is tantalizingly out of reach.

Some companies, like Squarespace are offering CMS's with very advanced admin interfaces and lots of templates to choose from. The problem is that most designers wrinkle their noses at designing to templates. It's like having someone tell you you can drive – but only to high school and back.

Its highly possible that Drupal will become more and more designer-friendly by offering more options for creating flexible interfaces in its administration panels.

In the meantime, designers can catch a ride with their Cadillac-owning sister, or they can strike out to try to get their own PHP skills.

Here are some resources I've found for those who choose the latter route:

  • php.net
  • lullabot.com
  • lynda.com
  • designtotheme.com – Emma Jane Hogbin has really gone far in addressing the need for Drupal and PHP instruction resources aimed at designers. From what I can see, her site is entirely devoted to this audience.

Laura Schoppa

Senior Designer