MBA441 Q&A Weekends: I need to redesign my website but I’m on a budget. What do you recommend?

MBA441

If you’re looking to redesign your website but you’re on a budget, let us help you. In this episode, we’ll share with you some options to redesign your website. Hopefully one of these options will fit your budget. Don’t forget to take notes and hit play!

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  • I have to disagree a bit with Omar’s advice on this episode (note, I do this for a living, so I’m certainly not unbiased, but I think my advice is sound).

    First, I agree with Omar on the SquareSpace recommendation if you don’t have the budget to do WordPress right. I’m a WordPress guy, so that’s the route I’d eventually recommend for a business or organization, due primarily to it’s flexibility / scaleability. But, I see a lot of people jump into WordPress, do it wrong, and get into costly troubles. So, if you’re not ready to approach WordPress at a certain level, get started with a platform like SquareSpace.

    SquareSpace has great templates, like Omar said, and it can actually do quite a bit of what many starting businesses might need. And, down the road a bit, it’s probably not going to be too difficult to move to WordPress, since what you’re doing should be fairly basic (it will probably have to be recreated, but recreating a simple site from scratch isn’t the big of a deal).

    Where I disagree, is with the DIY approach (unless you’ve properly factored the time investment and willingness to learn), picking a ThemeForest theme or getting one custom-developed, and hosting on a lower-end platform. IMO, that’s a recipe for a lot of hard-learned lessons and bad experiences. (Yet, I’ve watched nearly every entrepreneur I follow go through this over the years… yet it remains the common advice, so it isn’t just Omar.)

    I also – maybe even more strongly – disagree with having someone from a freelancing site build a website for you and go from there. In doing so, you’re not going to learn a lot of what you need from the DIY approach, and you’ll be unleashed on the wild-wild-web as kind of a naive sheep. 🙂 Unless you build a relationship with that developer, or have someone else helping along the way, that approach often results in a lot of pain.

    Here’s what I recommend. Like I said, start with SquareSpace unless you have the budget for a bit better WordPress approach.

    If you have around $900 – $1500 per year to budget to your web presence (and the ability/vision to do a bit of the design leg-work yourself, or maybe another $500 – $1500 for help with the initial design/setup), you want to go with:

    1) Managed WordPress hosting. There is *so* much that can (and will) go wrong on basic shared WordPress hosting. Even if you have the cash to get your own VPS (virtual private server) or a dedicated web server, there’s a lot of IT, security, and website management stuff you’re going to have to learn to do well there. With managed WordPress hosting, that stuff is done for you. They take care of security (even fixing if you get hacked). They backup. They provide a staging environment for testing. They handle scalability stuff like caching and CDN (content delivery network), etc. This leaves you to just be concerned with WordPress directly and your content. My favorite is WP Engine, and I’ve heard great things about Pagely as well.

    2) A great, flexible, well-supported theme. All themes on ThemeForest, the WordPress repository, etc. are NOT created equal. They also aren’t supported equally. And, they especially aren’t future-proofed equally (if at all). Most theme-makers just design a theme, and aside from *maybe* fixing bugs or security issues, move on to create the next theme. This is the case, even with most themes with the best support (which are few to begin with).

    Don’t look for the theme that looks ‘right’ or ‘best’ to you. Pick a flexible, well-supported theme, where the developers keep fixing/building on it. The good news, is that there are only a few of these to choose from. THEN, look at existing themes to get inspiration as to what you want to make your outcome look like. These flexible themes will likely be able to get close, even out of the box. And, with a bit of developer help, they can be tweaked to perfection (in what’s called a child theme).

    I also don’t recommend having a theme custom developed. You have to have a pretty big budget for that, and form a long-term relationship with the developer, as they’ll have to keep building and rebuilding it as time goes on. It isn’t a one-time thing or the initial cost. If they are good, yes, this could be the most streamlined, flexible option, but it doesn’t come cheap. And – this is a big point – it’s unlikely a developer, even a fairly experienced one – is going to be able to keep up with some of the big teams working on some of the top themes, at least in terms of features.

    My favorite theme is X Theme by Themeco. It can be made to look like nearly everything. They are committed to it long-term, and constantly adding features. They also have the best support I’ve seen, by a big margin. There is a HUGE community forming around this theme, including one of most active groups on Facebook, a Slack channel, etc. Or, I’ve heard great things about the Genesis framework and child-themes built on it by people like Studio Press.

    3) Someone to help you or to learn from. Even with the above in place, there is a lot to learn, if you’re going to go beyond the basics (i.e.: various pages, a blog, an email signup.) Adding more functionality (which you’ll want to do, as that’s kind of the point of a web site) is going to take time/money. The good thing about WordPress is a huge community of helpful people… but it’s not going to come without some substantial time investment. Or, there are a LOT of people working in that industry who can be hired to help (including us… shameless plug). 🙂 BTW, we’re hoping to launch our podcast soon for the DIY crowd… but just remember there will be a time investment to going that route (kind of like the MBA thing… it isn’t that any of it is too insanely hard – aside from maybe getting into coding – but it’s quite broad and deep).