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Advice for new website set up

Discussion in 'Website Design Forum:' started by @GCarlD, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Hello all,

    I currently have a 'Cargo website' which is/was fine to begin with, as it enabled me to show off my work etc. But now I feel I need to create a brand new, more 'business like,' professional looking website; as the Cargo site I have is more of a portfolio website.

    I am by no means a web designer; I am looking for advice for the best way for me to go about creating my new website. I am a GoDaddy customer and I get my Domain from them. They have a 'Web Builder' service which I have a little experience with, as I used it to create a friend's site for them. First time of trying it, the result was terrible, but I changed the theme/template and it turned out looking pretty good the second time around. What I dislike about these web building 'programs' is, as a creative, I crave to have as much control as possible over the design, for it to be exactly as I envisage it. But with these services (although improved over the years) I feel shackled, restricted and end up having to compromise my creative design abilities, for the site to function and work correctly within the chosen template theme. In other words, there's only so much you can edit a template to make it 'your own.'

    Which brings me onto my next issue: Is it a bad look to simply sign up to a web service, choose one of their templates, edit it as much as possible to try and make it more unique and use it as your website?

    I know everyone talks about Wordpress these days but is that more for blogs? As when I go to the website, it asks me what I would like my blog to be called? Which is a bit confusing as I don't want a blog, I want a website.

    Basically I am after something that will give me as near as full control over the design but require 0 coding knowledge. Or allow me to fully edit a template, so that if someone else has chosen the same template theme, they won't look identical - which is my biggest worry.

    There's a lot more I could talk about but I'll leave it there for now and wait for your responses.

    PS. I know ultimately the best thing to do would be to pay a web designer to design my website and if I could I would, but in all honesty, I cannot afford to pay the £400+ especially at this time of year.

    Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. FurnitureGuy

    FurnitureGuy Member

    CMS systems like Wordpress and Joomla are often thought of as blogs but with the right templates and a bit of knowledge you can do so much more.

    For my own site Ronnoco Design (see sig) I use Joomla as I have found it to be more workable than Wordpress. I am now getting more used to Wordpress and finding that more can be done with it. For exmaple a very basic Wordpress blog I am going to be revamping this weekend is Personal Trainer in Bromsgrove near Stourbridge | Athletic Performance Training which is just a default theme but with a custom theme you can create something like Home Page | | Heat Exchange Solutions Since 1981 (not designed by me)

    My advice is simply to have a go yourself first, you will not learn how to do these things until you try. There are lots of people on this forum and others who will help with questions. Wordpress is probably easier if you have no real website building experience so it's a good place to start.
  3. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your advice, I have heard of Joomla but I never really looked into it. I'll check out their website.
  4. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Site builders produce ugly results and even uglier code, so I'd refrain from using them as the online face of your business. I use Wordpress and for a long time was trying to design a site that I could code up based on a theme or template. Eventually I just opted for a premium theme that did exactly what I wanted. Don't be put of by the idea of "premium" themes. They actually work out fairly cheap, and will save you a hell of a lot of time and money. Maybe hold off until New Year too, you might find there's a sale on.

    For some slick themes I recommend Theme Trust. I own a few of their themes and they're well worth the money. They're responsive and contemporary-looking. Take a look at their Baylie and Hayden themes for something with an "agency" feel.

    I also use a theme from RichWP for my book design blog, though I personally think the Theme Trust ones are more professional looking.
  5. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Cheers Paul, I'll definitely look into them. One thing I find with a lot of WordPress templates is that they all look so similar, they have similar layouts - it frustrates me. It's either a navigation bar followed by a large image/slideshow the whole width of the template wide or its something similar to Baylie | ThemeTrust WordPress Themes which I think is fine for mobile scrolling but leaves much to be desired when using from a PC/Mac. If its not one of those two then its something that looks too 'bloggy.'

    How customisable are premium themes? Or any template for that matter? And how easy are they to edit? How much control do you have over the design/layout?
  6. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    They can be highly customisable - if you know what you are doing - if you are expecting 'drag and drop' customisation then you will be sorely disappointed I'm afraid.
  7. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    'Drag and drop' customisation is the big problem I have and would be pleased to avoid, as it is no ends of trouble and you can never get anything the way you want it. Saying that if the customisation requires a wealth of knowledge of web coding then that is definitely not for me either.
  8. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    This is partly due to many being based a framework or the developer reusing code and CSS to save time, partly just due to current design convention. Do you have anything in mind for what you want? You could always design something yourself and use a PSD to Wordpress/HTML service. Some offer fixed prices too, though personally I'm wary of any creative service that works on a fixed price business model.
    @GCarlD likes this.
  9. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    This sounds absolutely ideal for me, I would love to create my own design. I'll look into a PSD to Wordpress/HTLM service. What kind of rate do they charge, have you used one before? Any recommendations? I can't complain too much about fixed rates, as I don't charge an hourly rate myself, so I can understand why they may choose to have fixed prices.
  10. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    PSD to wordpress can be almost as costly as having a site built from scratch. All you're doing is taking away the conceptualisation of the project from the developer but still leaving them with the time consuming process of coding the site
    @GCarlD likes this.
  11. JMCDesigner

    JMCDesigner Member

    You could try out the peopleperhour website for PSD to wordpress conversion. There's also many websites, such as htmlburger dot com. They actually seem to be relatively reasonable in price. That said, following on from what bigdave said, if you're taking that route then you're missing out on the web designers input and knowledge in the design of the website e.g how it may or may not work for users etc. If you pass on a design to a web guy, it's kind of on your head if it's going to work as a website or not. I'm in agreement with everyone here about not using a drag-and-drop type product. I've had a few clients come to me after they've tried to do it themselves and it hasn't worked out for them as planned.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
    Corrosive likes this.
  12. LJ1

    LJ1 New Member

    I understand that you have said you did not want to pay for a website to be built, but I assure you, after my troubles attempting to build my own, it really is worth it to get a team in to build one for you. Urban Media did mine for me, they have a free website quote generator as well! They did a very professional job on my site, much better than I could have possibly achieved on my own. Good luck!
  13. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Thanks but I have gone down the Wordpress route and seem to be making progress, it's a bit of a learning curve but I should get there in the end.

    Cheers everyone.

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