build a website
It’s funny, I warn clients not to talk over customers’ heads and just last week, I did exactly that: I wrote about how stoked I was with the new Serif WebPlus X8 software and posted a video of how it all works on my LinkedIn wall. I had a very kind woman point out that she had no idea what I was talking about.
So, I decided to review 3 website building platforms – Joomla, WordPress and Serif WebPlus to give you a view of the back-end as well as the front-end of these website builders along with what the heck is the difference between hosting and domains (watch the video for the exciting conclusion.) I hope it helps bring more clarity – especially if you’re in the uncomfortable shoes of having to revamp a website and you’re not sure whether to throw in the towel and hire a web designer to start new or fix the one you already have:
I’ve been working with Vinny Hebert over at Web Help U.S. because he’s a staunch Joomla fan and I am – well, I’m not – yet. He’s been patiently touting the virtues of a Joomla website and I’ve been slowly coming over to his way of thinking – albeit initially kicking and screaming.
I guess what drives me batty about both Joomla and WordPress is the fact that I can’t see the WHOLE page laid out until after I’ve typed or put in an image. You’ll see what I’m talking about when you watch the video on the comparisons. Joomla’s very left-brained – and I am decidedly right-brained. So, instead of complaining, cursing Joomla’s modules and WordPress’ plugins, I decided to sit quietly and play nice. And just like anything that is new – once I let go of my pre-conceived notions of how I think it SHOULD work, I just accepted the way it DOES work. The result?
Joomla works quite well for enterprise level businesses. If you have a business that needs to scale, that has multiple users, that needs logins, security, variables for products, unique permissions for different users, Joomla’s your go-to. In fact, we’re using it for a MAJOR project we’re unleashing in 2015 for the insurance industry because little Serif WebPlus just doesn’t have her big-boy pants on yet. However, for a small entrepreneur? You can’t beat Serif WebPlus for simplicity, affordability and speed.
So here’s a checklist of what you should ask yourself before you delve into building your own website or hiring a web designer to do it for you:
1) What do you want the website to do?
2) How many people will be updating the website?
3) If it’s an e-commerce, how many products will you be selling off the website?
4) Where is your customer base and how will you attract them to your website?
5) If you’re building it yourself, are there resources you can turn to for help if you get stuck?
6) Database storage – how and where will you store your client list?
I love Serif WebPlus because it’s a wicked (yes, I said ‘wicked..’) easy platform that allows me to draw my ideas out start to finish. Joomla is great for heavy-lifting – sites that need a login, protected pages, a subscription perhaps. WordPress I’ve used primarily for blogging, however, it can also be used as a website and has similar plugins as Joomla’s modules. However, what’s missing for me in both WordPress and Joomla is the ability to create the website as I see it in my brain from start to finish. When I’m talking to a client, I already start forming the website in my brain before I’ve even pressed my fingers to the keyboard. Serif allows me the creative room to put a picture skewed to the left or right – I don’t need to think about it. I don’t need a plugin or module, everything I need is right within the Serif software – I just draw it the way I see it. Boom. Done.
What if you have a website and it’s just not working right? Or you don’t dare hit that update button for fear it’ll blow your website out of the water? Web Help U.S. has a Dedicated Webmaster program that will update your website so you don’t have to think about it. He works in both WordPress and Joomla and you can’t beat the price of $59.95 a month.
As much as I love Serif, there are some drawbacks to Serif WebPlus. One, if you have more than one person managing your website, it’s not the ideal platform. Both WordPress and Joomla allow for multiple users with a simple login. Joomla allows for limiting accessibility to the site as well (as does, WordPress, so don’t get your shorts in a knot for all the WordPress fans…)
Second, it’s not a very robust shopping cart. Vinny showed me some fantastic things you can do inside of Joomla for shopping carts and subscription-based websites that I haven’t seen anywhere else. As Got Clicks grows and evolves, I’m going to need the subscription capability because I’m recognizing many of my clients do not have two grand up front for a website, but they’d be happy to spend a hundred to two hundred a month to promote their business. I need to pay attention to that, lean in to change, embrace it and see which of these platforms will suit my needs.
But dang! You can’t ignore the ease of using Serif WebPlus. I just launched the X8 tutorials last week and already have about a hundred hits on it – so that shows me there is still interest out there. I have looked at Weebly and I do remember the Homestead websites that came and went, but those have a hard time showing in the search engines and didn’t seem to have a place to put metadescriptions in or page names which are critical to search engine visibility.
So if I’m feeling the overwhelm of what’s the right platform – I can only imagine what you must be going through. Yes, there are big changes in the wind for Got Clicks. Yes, Joomla is going to be a very big part of that change and yes, I’m ready to take the next steps – how about you?