Going 2017 on My Website - But Overwhelmed
January 23, 2017 5:23 AM   Subscribe

My website needs a revamp. Things have changed since I last did an overhaul and I feel overwhelmed by choices. Trying to figure out the best way to approach the overhaul but I need help phrasing/explaining what I need done. I also need to figure out HOW to get it done.

I've kept a blog since the early 2000s and it has evolved into a website just really hanging off the blog. I'm selfhosted, .net domain and fuelled by WP. I've given the site a lick of paint over the years and updated the underlying software dutifully. But what I've got is no longer cutting it. I need to expand into webinars, ecommerce, static pages, and a gallery on top of the blog. I've coped so far with just adding sub-sections/pages in WP but the structure feels clunky and content takes forever to update/upload/freshen up.

I've asked around and people recommend SquareSpace. They've also recommended Websiteinabox which I was moderately excited about until I started poking about and felt it felt too cookie-cutter for my taste. I then began following the trail from that website into other services and if I see another website service devoted to yummy mumtrepreneurs, I'm going to punch the wall.

I have also looking into WP themes/builders like Divi and X Theme, but my brain bleeds when I start reading about extensions vs plugins, design stacks, and whatnot. I am not sure I understand what it is I will be trying to do with these powerful themes.

Currently I have a graphic designer working for me on visual identity (offline and online). This leave roughly $300 in my budget for the website overhaul which is nothing, I realise. So, how do I best spend my money and what words do I need to use to describe what I need done .. and who do I talk to?
posted by kariebookish to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Journey of a thousand miles. There are two ways to break this into manageable chunks: What's the smallest thing you can do that provides value, or what thing can you do that will provide the most value (in other words, what's your highest priority)? Think in those terms (value received) and you may find that a graphical refresh is further down the list that you think).

You're almost certainly better off running with your existing platform and improving it piecemeal than trying to rebuild everything (and more!) on a new platform. The more you try to do at once, the more risk you're exposing yourself to. Many small steps.

Also, I suggest thinking in terms of "web presence" than "web site" - these days you can achieve lots of your goals off-site, in social media land. For example: webinars? Put them on youtube, and embed them on your site.
posted by Leon at 5:39 AM on January 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

Squarespace gives you a 14-day free trial. Use that time to build a basic skeleton of your intended website, but don't worry about filling it with actual content. This exercise should help you figure out if Squarespace will fit your needs.
posted by alex1965 at 8:09 AM on January 23, 2017

There's nothing about WP that won't do what you want to do. You either learn how, or hire someone to help. No matter what platform there's still learning to be done. I can't think of a solution that will do all you want automagically somehow. Even squarespace, you'll have to figure out how to do what you want and then implement it. I get this type of question from clients all the time.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:03 AM on January 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you thought about using different packages like gallery scripts, static pages, etc. in their own folders or subdomains? I have a client who does this. WordPress keeps doing the blogging thing, what it's best at. She pays money to have her logo and color scheme added into the themes for these various software packages, and they hold together just fine under a unified menu system. We've had "the talk" about how her budget currently won't allow this all to happen within WP itself as some kind of masterpiece of integration. The maintenance costs alone would overwhelm her budget, because all kinds of things can and will happen. I remember when a WP plugin provider sold their business one fine day and left us completely vulnerable, with no updates from that point forward.

I can't recommend Squarespace--it feels pretty annoying to customize as a developer, and I often turn away work on Squarespace sites, considering it kind of disposable, a sign of a low budget. Plus you have to kind of anticipate what your needs will be in 2-3 years and check in advance if they have plans to support those things. Their customer support forums are full of people hitting brick walls only after having used Squarespace for a couple of years.

As you expand the features you're offering, I recommend looking specifically for lightweight solutions to your problems. For example, if you want to make static pages, perhaps all you need is a very easygoing PHP script of 10 lines and a free HTML template that is simple to modify (or maybe Statamic, or Sitecake, or Pico CMS, or whatever). There are thousands of _both_ of those. If you want to host webinars, maybe your static pages can integrate webinar code from third-party sites without any modification. If you're doing e-commerce, some people don't even need a cart, just a few links, or buttons. That saves huge amounts of work and budget money.
posted by circular at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had a website/blog from 2000, also hosted on WP. In 2012, I was in EXACTLY the spot you're in now. I moved to Squarespace and never looked back.

I'm not a developer, and whilst I'm fairly tech-literate, I had no more desire to spend my time figuring out plugins, customisations, and more. I just wanted something that would look gorgeous, just WORK, have e-commerce options, and easy to set up.

If this sounds like you, just go for Squarespace. It's seriously easy, and looks professional.
posted by shazzam! at 2:12 AM on January 24, 2017

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