I remember the first time I was underbid for a website project. It was for a contractor in San Francisco. I had designed his business logo a few years before. We met for lunch and discussed his needs and I gave him an estimate, probably around $500. I can’t remember, it was back in the era of static HTML pages. And he said, “Well, this bartender I know is building websites on the side and she is a lot cheaper, so I think I will use her.”
With all my experience in print design and production, I knew better than to chase a low bid. I wished him well.
Over the years, I’ve had similar exchanges. People promised magical sites for practically nothing by developers on other continents. People signing contracts with inexpensive developers not realizing that they will not own their own domain names.
Part of the problem is that, in the early days, you really could just copy someone’s source code, plug in different text and images, upload them to a server, and—voilà—a website! The common perception was that building websites was both a very mysterious process, but almost anybody could do it.
I remember running into one potential client—we had discussed a site for his musical instrument business (it would have been a great asset for his business)—at a restaurant. I asked him if he was still considering building a website. He said,”I think my brother built it, sitting in his car, while stuck in a traffic jam.” He thought that was pretty damn funny. He’s doing commercial real estate now.
One’s website is one’s single most important promotional asset, whether one is a business, a service, an institution, an artist, or whatever. It doesn’t matter: the first thing people are going to look at if they are curious about you is your website. Isn’t that how you find and evaluate people or businesses? It’s what I’ve done for the past twenty years or more.
Today’s bartender-doing-websites-on-the-side are build-it-yourself sites like Squarespace and WIX.
Obviously, I don’t like them, since they may impact my earning potential while providing clients with less than optimal results. As Denis O’Leary would say, “Two words: bloated code!”
A lot goes into building a great website: well-written content, striking imagery, other media, styling, functionality, i.e., a shopping cart or mailing list signups, etc., and a very important factor, site taxonomy, or structure. In my long experience, most people need help in planning their sites so as to optimize user experience and engagement.
I develop and design on the WordPress platform for any number of reasons, the top three being flexibility (in terms of design), functionality, and permanence. Naturally, I am available to discuss your needs for your online presence. Please feel free to call at any time. 510-612-6124.
In the meantime, here are a few articles I uncovered while researching this article. Worth reading, but I’m happy to summarize them for you on the phone!
From the WP Beginner website: Squarespace vs WordPress – Which one is better? (Pros and Cons)
And a really important one regarding SEO (WordPress is vastly superior) from Web Savvy Marketing: Best Option for Website SEO: WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, or HubSpot COS?
I’ll write more about specific design and functionality challenges I’ve encountered and solved in future articles.
For the record, I am happy to design on any platform. A client hired me to finish his SquareSpace website. A builder of beautiful gardens and landscape structures, he had built most of it himself. I came in and did all the styling and completed the site taxonomy, adding contact page, blog, etc. Most importantly I rewrote ALL the text on the site. He was extremely pleased. You can see MICHAEL’S LANDSCAPE CONSTRUCTION here.