We need a website and we need it now! HELP!
March 1, 2011 7:27 AM   Subscribe

My company is small and we need a website. We have about 2 weeks to get it done. Of the 10, I am by far the most web savvy and technically proficient - but I am, sadly. not a coder. While racking our brains for an alternative we stumbled upon cloversites.com and we were immediately impressed. But we have a few issues with the overall options...

We want to keep the cost to under 1,200.00 this is about the total cost for Clover.

What we cannot stand about clover is the limitations on 3 main things:

1. Very limited color manipulation - while the templates are stunning, the color selections are pathetic. Our company colors are very specific and clover for all its bells and whistles cannot change coloring

2. Window/content sizes/area. Very frustrating how small the available content areas are and no, there is no way to alter this. Called their pre-sales office and they confirmed that the content areas are unchangeable - we have a big problem with not having the tools to simply alter the content area's.

3. No ability to add things - like forms. We have some forms created with java for customer work orders that have been a success for us so far. We also dont have the ability to add things like a decent slide show as well. Its very limited in being able to even allow code snippets and so on.

So friends, I am begging you for help here. We have a proposal going out for a big contract and we really REALLY want to be able to provide a website. We absolutely LOVE how clear the clover sites look, not to jumbled and flashy enough to look very professional.

Any suggestions or helpful hints/alternatives would be phenomenal.
We are willing to buy whatever service or software needed to get the job done, just not the time to deal with a website developer (who in the past we've had bad experiences - see www.4labor.com)

Seriously, thank you guys and girls in advance
posted by TeachTheDead to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could also check out Weebly - it might work well for your needs.
posted by kellygrape at 7:32 AM on March 1, 2011

Wordpress. There is a huge, huge number of themes (which control every aspect of the site's appearance) and plugins (which add or alter functionality) for Wordpress. A lot of the themes extend its functionality in interesting ways. A lot of the themes allow for you to customize the color scheme and other aspects of the appearance. Most themes are free, but there are paid themes that cost $20-$100.

Most cheap webhosting accounts will have one-click installation of Wordpress, and unless you want to do something technically sophisticated, you can then handle all the plugin and theme management within the Wordpress admin interface.

There are form-building plugins that would let you reproduce your existing forms (not in Java), and it wouldn't be too hard to link in your existing Java-based forms if you need to. Wordpress has a somewhat rudimentary image gallery feature built-in, and there are plugins that can spiff it up.
posted by adamrice at 7:36 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about posting a request to Jobs? You could specify the kind of look you like, but make your corporate colors & existing forms part of the job specs.

(I know you said you don't have the time to deal with a developer, but there's a trade-off in that you're spending your time figuring this out when you could/should be working on your proposal, not on the site itself.)
posted by catlet at 7:44 AM on March 1, 2011

Response by poster: @kellygrape - a little to plain/basic and we hate the required bottom at the bottom saying 'created free by xxxx" looking for something quite a bot more advanced but thank you. As a rule of thumb we KNOW that we aren't looking for the free route.

@adamrice - we started the design/development on wordpress, which I love, but the issue is that while we can find thousands of great templates, its the customizing that kills us. We stared about 2 weeks ago using Wordpress as I have decent knowledge concerning the framework. We found a template we liked and bought it however it literally took me 4 days to get a banner to look even close to professional - needless to say the man hours that took alone convinced us that you have to have a damn good working knowledge of at least CSS which I dont. Great suggestion, would love to keep Wordpress, the fact of the matter is that to do any customizing requires a good deal of knowledge about coding.

Again, Cloversites gets us soooooo close...we are really looking for a solution like that.
posted by TeachTheDead at 7:44 AM on March 1, 2011

Ditto Wordpress, or DotNetNuke. Like Wordpress, DotNetNuke has a plethora of skins and modules available and is a free, open source content management system. Get the website software for free, spend a little money on theming and any extra modules if you need them, and you can keep the initial outlay *well* under your budget.
posted by Lokheed at 7:45 AM on March 1, 2011

Response by poster: @ catlet - 9 of us 10 are working on the proposal piece as I type this - I have the task of doing this and this alone. So that work IS getting done. The job idea wold be great, but as we both know, the timeline wouldn't be met period and we do have a small timeframe. I figured it would be a chance to ask here as I keep searching....
posted by TeachTheDead at 7:48 AM on March 1, 2011

I would suggest you find a mostly-neutral colored template on Cloversites and find other ways to introduce your colors. Your logo would be the primary avenue for this.

There will come a point where you have to choose between "so close" and nothing; you might as well cut to the chase and save yourself some wasted effort.
posted by rocketpup at 7:57 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Squarespace? Fits your needs.
posted by dizzycow at 7:57 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Try the Platform theme for Wordpress. It gives you a lot of control over colours and layout. Pretty much all you need to do design-wise is creating your header image. The free version gives you basic control; the paid-for version has lots of advanced customisations.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:12 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've personally not used web.com before, but I believe they're reputable.

On a side note - you seem to want quite a lot (custom pallettes, fast turnaround) for having only $1200 to work with. If this really is for a big contract, I'd see if you can expand the budget and work with a LOCAL freelance web designer who can work closely with you on short notice. If this is at all typical, you are likely gonna wanna keep tweaking the site up until the day you show it to your client, and you'll be glad to have a professional who can implement all of those last-minute adjustments.

Hell, it might not even total over $1200 to get the initial version of your site off the ground! Err on the side of too simple (but very well executed). You can always expand or re-design in the future.

Just my 2 ยข...
posted by see_change at 8:33 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest Squarespace as well. Their tools are slick, their features are pretty excellent, their platform is strong, and the price is right.

The fact that cloversites.com seems to be all-Flash does not inspire confidence in me about their product.
posted by mkultra at 8:34 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I cannot code beyond bold tags, etc, but I have designed websites with Dreamweaver - now owned by Adobe. If you keep it simple, it won't look too 1997. It's all wysiwyg, but you can flip to see the underlying HTML.

I don't know about adding forms - but I presume that you should be able to embed them into the HTML produced by Dreamweaver.
posted by jb at 9:03 AM on March 1, 2011

(as a consumer/browser, I can tell you that I really prefer vanilla HTML to any kind of flash - and not just because I often browse with an ipod. Dreamweaver should support CSS - my husband has used them with the older version in his own webdesign).
posted by jb at 9:04 AM on March 1, 2011

I just came by to third Squarespace. Flexible, robust....I like their offerings a lot. Fits all of your needs, i think.
posted by griffey at 9:54 AM on March 1, 2011

I use web easy and it works great. It's a cheap software you can buy at most office supply stores. It has a lot of premade sites, and you can also make your own from scratch. It's easy to use and it comes out looking nice. Perhaps this might do the trick.
posted by ljs30 at 9:55 AM on March 1, 2011

Response by poster: Guys, thanks so far - really don't appreciate the assumptions (like what we need and don't need) though, but that's the inherent risk of the Mefi community.

Squarespaces seems pretty close to what we need.
posted by TeachTheDead at 10:04 AM on March 1, 2011

It's not as user-friendly as Wordpress, but you might look at Joomla. I've had good and quick results using that and some of the templates and extensions from Joomlashack. Quite a few web hosts offer auto-installs of it, too.
posted by Pufferish at 11:54 AM on March 1, 2011

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