More threads by HoosierBuff

Dec 12, 2013
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I have a need to create a real simple website for a customer - in part a test, in part because of a reputation issue.

I work with a bunch of wordpress sites, but, most of that is the easy stuff (mostly just the CMS stuff, only occasionally dipping into the CSS).

What is the easiest path for me to create a new site? I've never created my own WP site before (it would be a great experience, and essential to know), but, I need to get this site up without a ton of effort.

Any suggestions? Weebly? Square Space? or just do my own WP site?
Re: easiest and best way to create a website

Stick with wordpress. Go to themify or and purchase themes. Then learn to tweak the already built puzzle. By tweak, I mean shortcodes, colums, widgets etc. Once you have that down start editing your css files.

To learn css basics start with code academy but you will need more than that. Try try searching google. Break things fix them. Break things learn you can't fix them and start over.

I don't recommend going straight to and html site build with Dreamweaver or some other tool. Stick to wordpress because that way the site will be on a solid foundation. One which Google admits to liking. And has a better chance of ranking. How will you tackle 301 redirects with a site from scratch? You wont. You need those plugins.

Once you can take any basic wp theme and create the design you like. Then maybe look into php. You're hundreds of hours from that point based on your question.

Don't mess with weebly, or squarespace (even though they have really cool commercials) and I don't think concrete5 is a good idea either until you have serious php chops. Same thing goes with Joomla. Yeah its simple, yeah it will work but I don't see enough devs embracing the platform. Which leads to the next paragraph.

Another big reason you need to learn wp is because you are going to mess things up and or want changes and going any other direction is going to cost a lot more hiring that freelance dev for something other than wp. You will have a hard time finding enough talent with other coding directions.

Ruby has a real future but again way out of the ball park based on the question and the fact you said easy. Sorry Mattan Griffen, love one month on rails but again dealing with 301 and countless other seo issues is a nightmare without wp and/or years of coding and optimizing background.

Don't give up. It will be worth every long night, every hour reading stackoverflow, or xyz blog.

It will give you a real edge knowing which coding tasks are gnarly and which are a piece of cake. You'll be able to bid work better, hire better, and will open many other marketing doors. Scripts for Google analytics, xml scripts, APIs and the list goes on and on.
Re: easiest and best way to create a website

I would also say it's probably best to stick with Wordpress. Weebly and some of those other places make it pretty easy, but your domain will also be a free "" unless you pay them. Get a domain, setup some hosting, and just throw Wordpress on there (if you ask me)...
Re: easiest and best way to create a website

Definitely WordPress. I work within WP and it's great because there's so much out there when it comes to the WP codex and forums. If you get stuck how to do something, Google it and you're probably going to find the answer.

Great example I'll give you to hopefully pump you up a little is a project I just worked on. I took a free theme from the WP library to work on for a little side project for my uncle. Make sure to check how often it's updated, because the free themes could screw you if the developer decides to abandon ship... or just pay for one that looks pretty cool and will be updated more frequently. Anyway, the free theme only came with one sidebar but I wanted a different one for the contact form page. It doesn't make sense to have a contact form next to a contact form, so I needed to customize the theme a little. I looked up how to create a child theme, and create extra sidebars off of the child theme. I did some custom styling for the form and a few other places on the site.

For the couple hours of reading, tweaking, breaking and fixing I learned a hell of a lot about PHP and how WordPress sites function at the code level. I can now transfer that skill to any project I work on in the future, and if someone asks about it in the future I know I can steer them in the right direction.

Think of the test in 2 ways. First you're creating a nice site for a client to test out a way to fix the reputation issue, and second you should look at this test as a way to develop your skill set. If you learn some coding chops on one of the largest website platforms in the world, your value as an online marketer just increased. You'd be able to do something that would set you apart from many other people trying to land the same client you would (in the future). Grow as a professional and develop a new skill :)
Re: easiest and best way to create a website

I know there are drawbacks to site builders, but if you want easy and fast they are hard to beat.

I personally have 4 Squarespace sites and think the platform has a lot of strengths (alas, site speed is not one), including how easy it is to make a site that looks nice.
Re: easiest and best way to create a website

I'm going to offer a little bit of a different perspective that's almost entirely unrelated to your question, I apologize in advance.

In my own professional journey, I went to school to learn programming (focus on real time physics simulations) and dabbling with doing cool looking stuff with Direct X. (Direct X 9 at the time... long time ago now).

I decided I'd rather do something else with my life, got into affiliate marketing, and then started working with an old friend that'd spent his career as a graphic designer. It's been 7 or 8 years since then, and I've had my hands in a lot of different kinds of projects, wandering around based on whatever the client wanted. I'm fairly comfortable making custom themes, started out with hacking my own together, then got into bootstrap and sass, from there realizing that even Bootstrap was bloated and not the best for site performance, and looked for other directions. That's not even getting into the time I spent with adwords, organic SEO, outbound marketing and copywriting, CRM, split testing, email autoresponder campaigns, and a whole grip of other stuff.

Here's the thing though... I can sort of get by with a lot of that, and even someone who's actually good at any of those areas might not notice right away that I don't really know what I'm talking about, but if I talk to them for too much longer than that, the holes start to show. Part of the reason I'm here and on the GMB forum as often as I am, part of why I get so interested in new ranking puzzles (especially when someone else points out new tricks, thanks Joy!) is that I don't want to be a guy that can kind of get the job done. Back in college we called coders like that marines. Yeah they could code something that would work, but God help whoever had to come in behind them and clean up the mess.

What's worse, if you're dabbling in something new, it's especially dangerous for the first while to actually get paid for your work, because what you know doesn't line up with what you think you know for quite a while. Worse, even if you're getting paid well for your time, it can ultimately damage how the client thinks of you, and your ability to set good boundaries. (Just because they have a problem doesn't mean you're the right guy for the job).

I know there's a lot of ways to run a business, and I know sometimes it's tempting to just bootstrap something because the client doesn't have funds, or because you want to be the 'answer' guy that can come up with some kind of a solution at least and keep the client totally 'in house', or because you like rabbit holes, or because of any other number of things... but think really carefully before you truly start to invest real hours into learning web development. Is web development ACTUALLY in line with where you see your business in 1 year? 5 years? Is this truly a marketable skill you want to master? It's easy to waste a few hundred hours over the next year cobbling together a skillset that's both second rate, and not even really congruent with your actual core offer. Or maybe it's even valuable, but it's not the most important skillset you could have spent this year mastering.

Personally, I think that's why partnerships with kick ass people is the best way to cover weak spots, but I'm not a good jack of all trades, so that's just my two cents. Either way, be jealous about your time here, this is a rabbit hole you don't want to go down with anything less than 100% intention. It's too easy to spin your wheels and look back and wonder where all the time went. If you're right though, and that with your business model it IS essential to know more about web dev, then treat this like a real education, and be serious about it. Find other experts to learn from, devote some part of every single day to improving your skill set, and don't slow down until you're one of the best in the city. (for local business consultants, that's a pretty low bar, for better or worse). I personally regret wasting as much time as I did on web dev, but c'est la vie. It does inform my decision making now, maybe even to a bigger extent than I think, so who knows?

To actually answer your question though... if you're already familiar with WP, stick with that. Cody's direction if you want to go that route sounds about right to me.
Re: easiest and best way to create a website

I would be interested to know if any Power-User web developers yet have any personal experience with "InstaBuilder 2.0" ?
(a new drop & drag, WSIWYG web development tool)

Thank you,
~ Alan
Re: easiest and best way to create a website

InstaBuilder is awesome, but it's a landing page builder. I would recommend X Theme which comes with the Cornerstone page builder. Great if you are not experienced with wordpress. Integrity | X WordPress Theme | or Visual Composer page builder. Add plugin Yoast or All In One SEO plugins as well.

Hope that helps!

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