I have used a fairly wide range of web development tools. From UNIX shell hard coding, to proprietary systems to enterprise level CMS tools; I know that different projects require different tools and skill sets. While no system is perfect, I admit that I appreciate the flexibility and scalability of WordPress; it fits the needs of my clients, most of the time. WordPress can support a website ranging from a simple blog to a complex site that contains ecommerce, CRM linkages, support hubs, etc. WordPress is also highly customizable and with the right kind of knowledge you can tweak just about any part of it. Just as importantly, a website should grow with a company by adding content and functionality that fits an organization’s evolving needs.
Fit, Meeting Clients’ Needs
The only problem is that WP doesn’t always fit a client’s business needs. The biggest factors are staff resources (time and expertise) and finances. Even if the initial site build isn’t a problem, having the resources to maintain the website is where the rubber hits the road.
Looking for Options
Like many professionals, I tend to cringe and groan when I see a commercial about how anyone can build a web site in an hour or so. Claims like “just use our templates”, “it’s easy, drag and drop your content” rarely find fulfillment in terms of good websites which meet clients’ needs. We have a saying in our family; “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. That definitely applies to web site building.
Building a Good Web Site is Just Like Building a House
Building a useful site involves more than just popping a logo in the header and adding text and media to a page. It requires some planning and forethought – otherwise you end up with a ‘one trick pony, and find yourself redoing the work many times. To bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds, I encourage clients to think about their websites in terms of real estate. Houses or stores must be well designed to be useful. If you think about it that way, then it becomes obvious that construction and design need to be proceeded by some planning. Think about…
- your homepage aka your site’s front door
- traffic patterns aka navigation and site flow
- pages you need aka the rooms in your building
- color schemes and font types aka wall finishes and flooring
- content aka furniture, appliances…
Building to Suit My Client
One of my clients who required a highly customized WordPress site, contacted me about a smaller project. His wife, an Orton-Gillingham Reading Specialist, needed a site to support her tutoring business. While the site might need to be somewhat flexible in the future, the site’s primary purpose was mostly to share her credentials, teaching philosophy, and serve as a contact point. The budget and timeframe were much different than the WordPress site I created for BEI Global (https://beiglobal.com).
Rather than oversell a WP site, I cautiously suggested that we consider creating a Wix or Weebly site. We agreed on a budget and timeframe and I got started. I admit, after working with more sophisticated CMS tools, Wix can be a bit frustrating. After a bit of fiddling with the template and style controls, I took the client’s content and created a pretty decent website that doesn’t look much like the original template and met the requirements.
I shared the URL with Mary Jane (https://og2read.com) and asked for feedback. Aside from some textual changes and a few typo fixes, she was thrilled with the site. It had the look and feel that would make her clients comfortable about approaching her, highlighted her credentials, illustrated her philosophy, and provided an internet presence that wouldn’t require more than payment of a small monthly hosting fee. She understood that it could be improved a bit for SEO, and that updating the site with new content would help business growth but most importantly the site met her needs and budget perfectly. There was even some room for growth without breaking the budget.
As someone who is used to working with more sophisticated tools and a more intensive design process; I asked her if she felt she “got her money worth.” Was it worth having it professionally done since she could have built a site on her own? Mary Jane said “Absolutely!” She appreciated my knowledge of content flow, navigation design, interface design, and what kind of content was needed. Furthermore, she appreciated how I combined that professional experience with how Wix could be manipulated to create a website that matched her requirements.
When to Wix
Wix will never be first my first choice for developing websites, but I do have a new appreciation for how it can fill certain niches for clients with resource limitations who need to begin developing a web presence. Since I don’t believe in pushing clients into a solution that doesn’t suit their needs, it is great to be able to support a business and “build to suit”. Who knows how this will end. Right now the ‘rubber is hitting the road’ with a simple Wix site and a happy client.