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Website Design Opinions

Hello everyone on Treehouse!

I am in the process of determining the best way to begin a web design business. I have a few friends whom I am making websites for (a singer, a yoga instructor, and a personal trainer). I was wondering what is your opinion of the best way to create a website for them? Should I use a CMS like Drupal or is Word Press a better option? Or is it better to create everything in a text editor and then upload it all to the host later on?

Please keep in mind that two out of the three have not bought a domain name yet and I am currently using a local host on my computer.

Also, in the future I would love to do freelance work for other individuals or even companies and I would rather dig in and really learn something (even if it is hard) that will benefit me in the future.

Any suggestions??

Thank you!

11 Answers

kyle rees
kyle rees
1,480 Points

some things to consider when your diciding the best aproach to design a website are

  1. usage what does the cliant want the website for are they needing a site to promote there buisness online or would they like to sell there wares online if they just want a online presence you can go for static html if not then you might consider a cms package

  2. updateablilty how often does the user plan to update there site are they just going to set and forget like mentioned in option 1 or will they be having regular updates for news and promotions if the latter then go for a cms package

3.if cms is required whats the users needs if you can satisfy there needs with something like drupal or wordpress and you can either make or find a theme they like then dont reinvent the wheel go for a premade package however if they need something a little extra or perhaps want a simple no frills setup that say just does simple blog posting to a blog area and the rest of the site is statis then you could consider making them a cms

  1. hate to say this one but money can the user and does the user want to pay reguarly for you to manually update the site not saying you have to charge your freinds but if you was are they fine with paying you every few monthes for the odd change here and there

if after theese questions you decide that they need a cms system i HIGHLY recomend wordpress its come along way since its humble beginings as a simple blog platform and can now be used to host a multitude of different sites from portfolios to web stores to blogs to who knows you also have the pleasure of using there online updates and plugins system so updating the cms is as simple as clicking the update button and boom its done need a theme or plugin search for it in the plugins menu or theme menu and it will download and install it for them just be sure you get the correct version as theres 2 1 is the hosted service that is really only good for blogs and the other is the downloadable version you upload to your own webserver that has all the fancy features i described

as for the future go for it if its what you want to do then dont let anything stop you consider also what field do you want to go into web design or web development ie do you want to make websites themselves or the backend stuff perhaps both some things to consider learning are

responsive web design theme/template creation for wordpress joomla and some of the other major cms platforms image and artwork creation if you want to keep everything in house perhaps a little bit of server side scripting like php and ruby you dont need to be able to make your own cms but its always helpfull to be able to fix problems you may encounter or make small scripts when you need them

cliant side javascript ajax and jquery (there all the same kinda they use jscript but still there different as well)

perhaps some mobile platform development like ios and android usefull to have for some cases

if you havnt already get your self a gold membership even if only for a month because next month treehouse are releasing there freelance webdesign series that will teach you the basics of what you need to get out there and run your own web design buisness

oh oh oh oh and seo do not forget seo that is a must if not for your clients but yourself

Wow!! This is fantastic - THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking the time to respond!! Very helpful! Answered all my questions.

I have some digging to do if they expect me to maintain the site or not.


kyle rees
kyle rees
1,480 Points

take what they say witha pinch of salt if they say oh dont worry i only need to make ocasional modifications and there running a zumba or yoga class just expect that after 4 weeks there gonna wanna have weekly updates of times classes and schedules

also if you watched the smells like bakin video series youll know the power of grid css systems look into going for a more refined grid css like bootstrap or boiler plate those make html development so simple it should be a crime

Have you heard of 960 grid system?

Oh and by the way I do have the gold membership and it is fantastic!

kyle rees
kyle rees
1,480 Points

ive heard of it and will be givivng it a trial run soon my main concern is they used to be static based but now seem to have moved onto responsive and id like to see how it handles bootstrap i have used and its pretty awesome infact go to the forums and youll see the thread i launched earlier today asking about grid systems and youll see they all almost unanmously say bootstrap they go beyond standard grid based css and include ui features like drop downs menu mars buttons glyphicons and they have a online system for customizing the config of the grid and removing componts you dont need do you can download a custom built package

something else to consider as well you might wanna look into reseller or setting up your own webserver for hosting cliants sites on a vps it gives you a more sustainable income cause youll have the revenue from monthly hosting fees your clients will be paying you which could help you in those slow monthes

Yes! I was thinking of that. In the future I am planning on purchasing another computer but a desktop that I could leave running. I could technically get a mac mini but the one that can also be used as a server ... that may be an even better idea. I have to look into it.

You are so knowledgable! So much great info. Thank you Thank you!! There is sooo much out there that it is almost overwhelming. Plus I have so many ideas and things I want to do it is like Okay which comes first ha!

kyle rees
kyle rees
1,480 Points

umm i wouldnt recomend the mac mini idea for the following reasons

first it isnt considered reliable your house electricity might go out you may have a flood anything could happen that would take the server offline and cause downtime which is never desirable a datacenter has backup generators fail over power supplys as well as many other redundancy mechanisms in place to prevent downtime

second is your isp unless you wanna spend the big bucks on getting corperate internet your line is gonna be no where near fast enough for hosting much more than 1 or 2 simple sites

technical ability im not trying to make out your not smart enough but trust me running a webserver with lamp or wamp server is a verry intensive task theres ports to forward routing to take care of firewalls backup config files more than youd know what to do with ive tryed and my god its a pain

if you want to look into hosting for your cliants some options to consider are

reseller hosting where you basically work as part of the sales team for a server company theyll tell you what stuff costs and you build packages to sell to your customers and add your cut on top the customer pays for the hosting through your site and the money goes to the web host they take their cut and you take yours and theyll manage everhting server side for you

vps/dedicated this is basically as good as hosting in your house but with all the safety and redundancy features i mentioned theyll give you next to physical keyboard and mouse access to the server and you can setup the webservers from there this however needs your expertise as mentioned

shared hosting some companies offer shared hosting for multiple sites you just rent a chunk of server space and you can use the automated setup tools on there controll panal to setup servers this is a good option if you want ease of use but you will be handeling billing yourself

the home server however is always usefull as a dev server or a beta server you can give the address to cliants to view there websites on your home server before you upload them you can also use them for php dev and whatnot and maybe even host a little blog

kyle rees
kyle rees
1,480 Points

anouther benefit i forgot to mention of hsoting for your clients is that it makes everything so seamless instead of having them register a acount and domain and you having to have them send you the details you can just have them setup a paypal subscription along with there final bill and you can set the server up yourself and even register the domain for them so it makes everything that much simpler for your clients cause all there needed for is aprovals and final payment

I would just like to throw my two cents into the hosting side of things here. It is very much a double edged sword. You will find that if you touch hosting you are suddenly responsible for every little bit of equipment in their offices that are linked in any way shape of form to a computer.

Yes it does give you an income however it can be a real pain. One thing I like to do is if someone asks you about hosting is to specify one you are comfortable with to make any learning curve less steep on their structure. I personally recommend Heart Internet and push as many clients towards them as possible.

kyle rees
kyle rees
1,480 Points

there was anouther downside i remembered but i cant think for the life of me what it is oh yes thats it with reseller youll be the face to the name so when the company your reselling for has a fault on there servers and are down for a week youll be the one getting the hate mail in some cases if they dont send the hate mail to the support department of the company and your rep will reide on the performance of the server company after all its your name out there the reseller keeps themselves transparrent for your benefit and your demise

Thank you for all of the responses! As of now I think using a host company would be the best solution =) You guys are so knowledgeable! I really appreciate you both taking the time to respond!! Thank you again!