Need website help...or not
June 26, 2014 4:05 AM   Subscribe

I need help narrowing options to convert my site to responsive for tablets/mobile. I've developed chemo brain and just can't concentrate and stick to it myself. I don't have enough money to pay for a good developer/designer right now, either. I also need to get it done as soon as possible. (A bit more inside...)

The other bothersome aspect is all the frameworks (bootstrap, etc) out there now. They're great, but I find the need to delete, delete, to unburden the code. But, then I break things all over the place. I've also become convinced that building it from scratch yourself is more efficient and easier in the long run. Essentially take the existing website and restructure and update to html5, add media queries, etc. (It's a jewelry biz, btw).

I know most of this, but couldn't choose a non-column or various column layout, and am not sure that I can focus to get the queries right. It's a really simple site though - images, descriptions, just one complicated ordering page.

Maybe a service for product trade? Btw, I did try this about 6 months ago, but most wanted to just use a template or framework anyway. I'm picky about the code structure and efficiency and probably don't want to lose control.

But, I can't think anymore!! Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by svetafriend to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You know what? Don't be picky abou the code. Just pick the cleanest bootstrap you can find (limit yourself to an hour of time for finding one) and use it as-is. I understand not wanting it to be bloated or have extra stuff but you're really probably not saving that much load time by taking stuff out.

Focus on getting your site up and running instead of making the code perfect or it'll never get done.
posted by dawkins_7 at 5:04 AM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Why not just use a Squarespace template? They're beautifully responsive, and also allow you to tinker with code if you feel up to it, or just leave things on default if you don't. Selling functionality is built in.

If you're not well, just make things easy for yourself.
posted by Grunyon at 5:28 AM on June 26, 2014

Is there a reason you are not using services such as Shopify where you can create a mobile-ready online store in a couple hours? (I am using Shopify as an example but there are at least a dozen excellent options that I'd be happy to share).

I understand that you are stuck on the responsive aspect right now, but once you've figured that out, there will be the payment aspect (with potential PCI compliance issues, and for sure the big piece of integrating with a payment processor, unless you are willing to lose up to a quarter of your buyers with offsite checkout), then the user management aspect, then the email aspect, then the database backups aspect, and so on, ad infinitum.

I am a software engineer with over 15 years of experience building websites and I would not tackle a custom website for a jewelry business, personally, unless it did $20k or more per month in volume. For this type of a business, it makes a lot more sense to invest your time and money into gorgeous product photos, and let a proven online shopping platform handle your e-commerce.
posted by rada at 5:30 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been playing a lot with Adobe Muse lately. It's not totally responsive but it does allow for tablet and mobile alternate versions. It's all GUI, like Illustrator or InDesign. If you must re-make it from scratch, it's not a bad way to go from a design perspective. If you need an e-commerce shop you'd have to sign up with Business Catalyst. It's not the cheapest, but it has every module you could ever need just about.

The alternative is of course, like you said, bootstrap theme, probably built on wordpress. I'm not a coder (yet) but I'm working with a few partners in starting a web design business. I'm more from the design front, but if you like, I could ask my partners if they might be interested in setting you up with a rebuild of your site in the responsive spectrum. If they are not interested, I could do something myself by designing your pages in Muse (excluding your e-commerce). But I take it that might not be much help?
posted by cicadaverse at 6:18 AM on June 26, 2014

If you need a one-pager with a store, maybe you need to toss your back-end items on something like Shopify and then choose a front-end template from someone like this? I was in this same boat (minus the store) and was able to put together a responsive website that linked to a bunch of other things elsewhere but looked completely nice in a few hours and was mostly easy to customize and didn't need a bunch of taking apart.
posted by jessamyn at 6:37 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

You want the following:

1. Advanced responsive design work
2. Written from scratch with no framework
3. That meets your coding standards
4. Done ASAP
5. For free/cheap/trade

This is not even in the ballpark of realistic.

I'd also like to encourage you to rethink the notion that you can do this better by hand than the popular frameworks have. If you could, I suspect that designing a two-page site would not have you in here asking for help.

If you don't like the look of Bootstrap, modify it or use Foundation. Get over your not invented here syndrome and just get the work done.
posted by toomuchpete at 8:37 AM on June 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

Could you maybe expand on why you don't want to use a framework? I mean, I get that you feel like it will be more efficient in the long run (I don't necessarily agree), but in the meantime you've been waiting months and months to get this done, and there's no reason to think it will not take more and more months. You could have a responsive website right now with a framework.

tl;dr: Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
posted by mskyle at 9:23 AM on June 26, 2014

From my experience, building from scratch is actually way more work and upkeep than using a framework. If something changes in web standards or the way browsers render things, when I use a framework I usually just have to apply someone else's patch. When it's my own work, it only gets updated if I do the updating.

However, if you're really set on building something yourself, there are less opinionated frameworks than Foundation and Bootstrap. One that I like is Bourbon + Neat. You get a lot of the benefits of a framework (testing, edge cases covered, a community), but none of the excess implementation that Bootstrap has. It is, of course, more work to get a design built as a result.

I also echo previous commenters in recommending Shopify or Squarespace as very decent turn-key solutions.
posted by heliostatic at 9:47 AM on June 26, 2014

Do you want a working website, or do you want to build a website?

It sounds like you want the former, but you're doing the latter.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:26 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use Bourbon and Neat all the time and it's generally painless to port an existing site to it, after which adding the media queries for responsiveness are very straightforward.
posted by rhizome at 10:55 AM on June 26, 2014

If you want a small framework, PureCSS is pretty small. I'm mostly a Foundation person myself. You can use the SASS version to compile only the parts you need or download a custom build.
posted by foxfirefey at 11:15 AM on June 26, 2014

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