Zope Web Design: The Myth of the Zope-ish Look

by Todd Ogasawara

My development partner and I get email now and then from people who see the slide presentation I made at OSCON 2002 about the Intranet Portal we built using Zope, CMF, and Plone or see the 5 minute video (scroll down to the bottom of the page) we created to explain the Portal and the use of Open Source tools like Zope to various internal management groups. One of the most common comments that accompany the questions about the portal is: Do all Zope/Plone developed sites have to look the same?

My partner and I had only few months of Zope exposure with no mentors or training by the time we were scheduled to go to beta (April 2002) and then freeze the design at release candidate stage (July 2002). So, we didn't spend a lot of time worrying about the look of the site and went with the then-default Plone look. So, our site has a Plone-ish look to it.

But, this doesn't mean that every site has to have either a Zope, CMF, or Plone default look to it.

Plone.org's list of Plone using web sites provides a much better idea of what can be done with Zope and Plone that our Intranet Portal (done early in our learning phase) does.

In fact, my development partner was the project lead for one of the sites on that list (State of Hawaii Governor's public site). And, you probably wouldn't know what content management system was behind it if it wasn't listed in the Plone.org list. Note: My partner was responsbile for designing the content management piece. We were not responsible for the layout and graphics.

So, do all Zope sites have to look Zope-ish, or CMF-ish, or Plone-ish? Not at all. But, in my opinion those default looks are ok and provide a good start for those times when you just need to get the job done on a tight deadline and with few resources.

Have you used Zope, Zope/CMF, or Zope/CMF/Plone to build a content managed web site? What was your experience?


2003-06-24 06:13:58
Like you said...
Not all Zope sites look alike. One of the main reasons that so many CMF and Plone sites (especially Plone) sites stay with the default look is because the default look is quite usable and pretty. The one CMF site that I have launched had a designer making the design, so it looks nothing like a CMF site until you log in and see some familiar tools (Add Content, etc) in the nice layout.
2003-06-24 11:01:08
Does this also apply to Silva?


2003-06-24 22:47:16
I installed but did not really play with the Silva add-on product for Zope. So, I can't say how much control the developer has over its look-and-feel.
2003-07-05 06:17:10
The developer has a lot of control over the
look and feel of the public end of a Silva site.
The Silva backend cannot be easily adjusted,
but that's the backend only.

Here are some examples:





2003-07-05 06:21:17
Replying to myself:


has some details on how you can customize layout
with Silva.


2003-10-10 09:57:13
Zope sites can look like ANYTHING
Here are three examples of sites that we've created using Plone/Zope:


As you can see, they deviate from the default in an extreme way. We have another Plone-based site going live in a few months that will be a radical departure. As you said, if you want to get a site up quickly, the default Zope/Plone interfaces are perfectly fine. If you want to invest the time and money into a high-end design, that is possible and easy. And of course, this applies to ANY technical framework.

Scott Paley
Abstract Edge