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TN94z

Website Hosting and Design

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I have a friend that opened a car shop. He has been doing very well just by word of mouth and social media. He now wants to create a website for the business that will basically list About, services, and current/past projects.  What would be the easiest way to get a nice looking website containing information and possibly a store section? He already has a domain registered. Is it as easy as using one of the online hosting services and their website builder? He is technologically savvy.

If using an online host is best, what are some the best from your experiences?

Edited by TN94z

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59 minutes ago, TN94z said:

I have a friend that opened a car shop. He has been doing very well just by word of mouth and social media. He now wants to create a website for the business that will basically list About, services, and current/past projects.  What would be the easiest way to get a nice looking website containing information and possibly a store section? He already has a domain registered. Is it as easy as using one of the online hosting services and their website builder? He is technologically savvy.

If using an online host is best, what are some the best from your experiences?

Many ways to do this - I built out websites as a favor and for non-profits (it's not my specialty, but I know enough) using Squarespace, Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc... Squarespace is probably easiest, but you pay more. I built this completely from the sofa while watching tv. Wordpress with a cheap hosting plan is cheaper, but don't get all the automagic stuff of Squarespace. Picking a host is tricky, there are so many, I just know I hate GoDaddy.

Ecommerce is a little trickier, depends on what you're selling, volume, etc...

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I was reading about BlueHost. They look very reasonable on price. I don't know that he will be selling products at all as much as selling his services. So a store isn't big deal right now, but may be down the road.

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7 minutes ago, TN94z said:

I was reading about BlueHost. They look very reasonable on price. I don't know that he will be selling products at all as much as selling his services. So a store isn't big deal right now, but may be down the road.

I used to use BlueHost, using something else now. You can Google research it but the advertising has been so gamed. If I were looking for one now, I'd look at the social media of respected web developers and designers and see what they recommend, but to be honest, I think the low price ones are pretty much the same although I would stay away from the likes of GoDaddy, Earthlink (yes still around), big companies, although many hosting companies have been bought out. Again, not my specialty, so caveat emptor.

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I'd just use Squarespace. It's still really inexpensive, and they do a lot of the stuff for you.

Seriously, $18/month or something? If he's worried about $216/year, he's got bigger problems than creating a website…

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7 minutes ago, iacas said:

I'd just use Squarespace. It's still really inexpensive, and they do a lot of the stuff for you.

Seriously, $18/month or something? If he's worried about $216/year, he's got bigger problems than creating a website…

He's not worried about that kind of expense...haha.  He just wouldn't want to pay thousands for someone to build one.

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Squarespace is even cheaper if you do the one page option. It's enough for most static content. Paying thousands for a web site those days are far gone. Very easy to DIY today.

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Having e-commerce enabled vs. not makes the biggest difference, in my opinion.

If your friend wanted a simple site that is flexible and where having a shop was not a big part of his strategy, I would say 100% use WordPress and use Bluehost for hosting. This combination isn't only cheap, but flexible and reliable. You won't have access to high-quality support, so you may want to work with someone who can be in charge of all the website updates and who can fix issues when they arise (which will happen). There is an ecommerce plugin for Wordpress called WooCommerce and it is pretty good, although I don't have a ton of experience managing it, so I'm not sure about what issues it may have. Hosting is like $90/year and you may have to pay a domain mapping to use WordPress with your own hosting (around $20/yr), then there are the domain name annual fees ($15/yr).

The second option is to use shopping cart platform (Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento). Choosing the perfect one is not going to happen because they are not perfect, you are going to experience integration issues and, if his business grows enough, different features will potentially become n obstacle in the future. Magento is the best one, but it's too expensive for small companies and development is more complex than the other 2 options. So, that one is out.

I have used BigCommerce and Shopify and they both work fine, they cost around $30 per month and integrate with multiple 3rd party solutions. Depending on the # of products, I would use Wordpress with WooCommerce (less than 50), but if he has a larger catalog, using one of those 2 is probably best. I personally like Shopify better and I think they adapt quickly to market changes, so they are more up-to-date with eCommerce resources and technology features.

All the easy DIY site makers you can find online are cheap, but they are sh#t. They do not have good SEO features that allow you to optimize your site for crawlability and have an actual strategy that can build traffic, so you pay extra in sweat.

Shopify and BigCommerce are very easy to use and set up, so you don't have to be a developer but you must understand and get familiar with the basics of the platform. WordPress is a little more complicated, so you will need support if you are not good at it.

DM me if you have further questions.

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Having worked as a web designer, and sat the other side of the table a good few times procuring sites, I would urge the use of Squarespace unless there's real reason not to do so. Wordpress can be such a bore – forget to update it and nasty little hacking scum-bags will ruin your site.

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I have tried a few routes. First I did WordPress with Bluehost, then I tried Wix. I think I am going to try Squarespace for my next endeavor. There used to be an advantage to knowing the "technical" side of running a website, but that is now largely marginalized by the service providers like SP. Any time spent on web design is a loss in my opinion, focus on your business instead. 

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On ‎7‎/‎27‎/‎2017 at 1:58 PM, TN94z said:

He now wants to create a website for the business that will basically list About, services, and current/past projects. 

A little late to the party, but as a small business which caters to local customers, why not use FaceBook and possibly a Mobile App which links to a web page for information.

An App is more useful than a website.

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12 hours ago, Club Rat said:

An App is more useful than a website.

I disagree.

And you said "an app which links to a web page"? So even your app needs a web page…

Websites are useful, still, because people search for things in Google and other sites. Apps aren't often shown in search engine results.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

"an app which links to a web page"?

Apps can have links to websites for directions such as a google map to a location, send push notifications, link to email contacts or call anyone, contact various personnel, obtain service requests and pricing or estimates and host a website.

These are all useful tools for a small business operation.

I feel social media such as FaceBook is a really good means to advertise a business, especially a service orientated business. And it's a feasible low cost method.

When I mentioned apps link to websites, it would be for links which have information pertaining to the business and or if the OP desired to have their website.

1 hour ago, iacas said:

Apps aren't often shown in search engine results.

True, but Apps are very useful when used frequently.
As an example, I could write an App for a Teaching Pro such as your self.
Within the App, any client could make a reservation, view available times for a lesson, send you a text or phone call, obtain directions to your facility, view package pricing, select a level of lesson, send pics or videos. 

Most people use mobile devices nowadays and spend less time on a PC.
They want quick, to the point information.
Not a Google search result which pull up thousands of Auto services and products.

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20 hours ago, Club Rat said:

Apps can have links to websites for directions…

You completely misread what I was saying there.

John, I've written, apps. I've written software. I've developed websites. I know that apps can link to web pages.

20 hours ago, Club Rat said:

Within the App, any client could make a reservation, view available times for a lesson, send you a text or phone call, obtain directions to your facility, view package pricing, select a level of lesson, send pics or videos.

They can do all of that on a web page, and they don't need an app to do it. Just a browser.

20 hours ago, Club Rat said:

Most people use mobile devices nowadays and spend less time on a PC.

And smart phones have web browsers.

20 hours ago, Club Rat said:

They want quick, to the point information.
Not a Google search result which pull up thousands of Auto services and products.

Uhhhhh… They have to find the app, John. It's not just magically on their phone.

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So I built my buddy a website and it turned out pretty good. Now my question is, how much would be a fair amount to charge? I put quite a bit of time into it. I will be maintaining it going forward as well. I don't want to make him think I am ripping him off or anything, but I would like to be compensated for my time.

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Bryan, we can't answer that question. I've built websites for free, and I've built websites for $15,000. I've maintained sites for free, and maintained websites as a full-time job paying most of my yearly income.

It may even be in YOUR best interests to swap services, if you need any automotive work done.

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7 minutes ago, iacas said:

Bryan, we can't answer that question. I've built websites for free, and I've built websites for $15,000. I've maintained sites for free, and maintained websites as a full-time job paying most of my yearly income.

It may even be in YOUR best interests to swap services, if you need any automotive work done.

Very true. He is a good friend and has helped me in the past. He also charged me for the work he did, albeit at a discount...lol. I'll ask for the website fees back and maybe a couple hundred in return.

Edited by TN94z

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