This Is Not My Forte - website building edition.
August 29, 2014 12:43 PM   Subscribe

About 7 years ago, I created a website for my small business using Current Webhosting Company's WYSIWYG editor. Current Company has not really kept up with advances in website technology (i.e., no responsive design options, difficult to create a mobile site, clumsy blogging, etc). But I've worked hard on my site and I'm generally proud of it. Should I cut my losses and start all over again? Or can this website be saved... and how???

I can't decide if I should just cut my losses and start all over again using one of the newer web hosting companies that allows my site to look good on any device (Squarespace, Weebly, etc), or if there might be any advantage to keeping my site where it is.

Specifically, maybe someone who knows more about SEO can tell me: if I switch from Current Company to Modern Webhosting Company, will this in any way affect my ability to be found in google searches? Will it have a negative impact on current rankings (which are not spectacular, but are okay)?

I tried creating a mobile version of my site using DudaMobile, because Current Company specifically offered a promotion through DudaMobile, but it didn't work out at all. Later, I learned that Current Company's website building software wasn't actually compatible with DudeMobile after all, and they offered this feature, essentially, in error.

If I want to keep my site with Current Company in an effort to avoid a total overhaul, are there any options for making it more user-friendly for mobile / tablet users? I have seen my site on phones and tablets, and it's not pretty.

A few additional details:
I make updates to content and images regularly (at least once a month).
For financial reasons, hiring someone to take care of this for me is not really an option right now.
For child-having reasons, the time needed to create a new site myself is limited. I could do it, but it would take a LONG time.
My site does not involve or require comments, forums, or anything more interactive than a "contact me" form.
The site does not get a huge amount of traffic - for the most part, only someone looking for the particular service I offer in my city would be using it.
There is no commerce involved, so the ability to sell things is not needed.
Assume I know nothing about coding... like, really NOTHING.

I hope this makes sense... Thanks for your advice!
posted by JubileeRubaloo to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How bad is your site on a mobile device now?

That said, you should probably be aware of the Ikea effect -- make sure your site is really fine the way it is. I suspect that it is.
posted by amtho at 1:03 PM on August 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

if I switch from Current Company to Modern Webhosting Company, will this in any way affect my ability to be found in google searches? Will it have a negative impact on current rankings (which are not spectacular, but are okay)?

I am about 99% sure that if you move to a more current platform, your rankings will rise significantly without even any SEO effort on your part. SEO is built-in to a lot of platforms in a way that it wasn't seven years ago.

Also: You built a website seven years ago; it's time to make a new website. I recommend moving to a new platform that is up-to-date and well supported.
posted by General Malaise at 2:19 PM on August 29, 2014

Okay, having an old website is not necessarily a problem. Google has retained essentially the same basic design for its homepage ever since its inception, because it works very well for them. Plenty of other companies are similar. What you need to do is reframe this in terms of what goals you want to accomplish with your website. What do you want people to do there? What do you think people want from your website? Is your current website addressing those needs in an adequate way, and if not, what, specifically, needs to be improved? Get good detailed answers to those questions first before embarking on a redesign/revamp/upgrade/whatever, otherwise you will, at best, be putting lipstick on a pig.

Also, the fact that you don't name the company that currently hosts your site makes it very difficult to answer your question in anything but a very general way, as every host can (and does!) have different tools and approaches available to their customers, which can greatly affect what is easy, hard or impossible to do with your website.

Now, to address some specific concerns:

SEO - a more modern CMS (Content Management System) will generally be better optimized for SEO than something older. This, however, has less to do with the company that hosts your site and everything to do with the software used to manage it. If your current site is basically hand-rolled using a WYSIWYG editor they provided, it is probably not well optimized for SEO. Without seeing the site in question, it is hard to say.

Mobile - How important is having a mobile version of your website to you? Do you expect that a lot of people would be interested in visiting it on a mobile device? If the answer is "no" then I'd recommend against investing much in the way of resources doing so. If you do end up switching to a new CMS, then sure, make sure the new one is mobile-friendly, but if you do choose to stay with your current CMS, then I wouldn't bother unless there's a clear business need. As for adapting to mobile with your current host and tools, it depends entirely on the specific host and the specific set of tools they have to offer.

Switching webhosting - This is an area where knowing where you host your site currently would be very helpful. Is it a standard webhosting package where they provide some space and bandwidth on a shared server and you can upload whatever you want to it? Or is it more of a 'hosted CMS' package where they provide all of the content management tools themselves and you can only use those to work with the site? The latter is obviously much less flexible and probably somewhat harder to do anything with, depending on the sort of CMS they provide, and I'd be more likely to suggest switching away from that sort of provider if you can justify the cost of switching. That said, if there is a lot of content you'd need to migrate over, then either you will need to learn some basic coding skills to automate the process of moving it over, hire someone to do the move for you, or spend a long time moving over content manually. It's possible (though not necessarily likely) that someone has already written a tool for migrating content from your web host's CMS, but again, without knowing who your current host is, I have no idea if that's the case.
posted by Aleyn at 5:49 PM on August 29, 2014

Response by poster: Aleyn, my current site is hosted by Yahoo, using SiteBuilder. SiteBuilder is fairly flexible (more so than Yahoo SiteSolutions, for example). My email correspondence with Yahoo so far seems to indicate that there isn't much I can do as far as optimizing for mobile or making the site responsive... at least, not with the tools they have available for non-coders like myself.
posted by JubileeRubaloo at 8:08 PM on August 29, 2014

Best answer: Ah, that makes things more clear. It looks like Sitebuilder isn't a CMS, but an authoring tool that just integrates well with Yahoo hosting. If you're willing to use a more sophisticated authoring tool, like Adobe Dreamweaver, you might have a few more options available to you in terms of SEO and mobile-friendly designs with your existing hosting setup, but even though Dreamweaver is also WYSIWYG, it does have a significant learning curve when you begin delving into more advanced features, specifically mobile stuff, and you'll also have to figure out how to get it to work with the files on your existing site. I don't expect the process to be particularly easy or clean.

It sounds to me like the least-effort approach (aside from doing nothing) would be to find a good hosted CMS that has a good premade, mobile-friendly template that you like, and migrate your content over manually. Both Weebly and Squarespace look like decent options for this, and I suspect that using one of them to rebuild your site will not be as onerous as you think. Going this route will likely mean you're giving up some flexibility in the design in favor of convenience, but unless you're willing to learn the nitty-gritty coding details to make a completely custom website work yourself, I don't see another option that works well with both your time and budget restrictions.

If you do go this route, you'll probably also need to figure out how to get the domain name for your Yahoo-hosted website over to point to your new host to get this to work (assuming you use an address like [mycompanyname].com).
posted by Aleyn at 2:46 AM on August 30, 2014

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