There are an unimaginable number of ways to approach the creation of a website. We know our way around websites and most of the technology behind them. Most web developers will try to sell you on WordPress, but don’t fall for it. WordPress is a scam (in most cases). While there is no such thing as a one-size fits all solution, here are a few of the approaches we recommend:
When a client approached us with an out of date site they were tired of worrying about, the idea for ElevatorSite.com was born. Elevator Sites are single-page, hand-coded, modern, secure, mobile-friendly sites that are super-affordable. There’s much more to learn about the concept at the Elevator Site website, but the basic idea is that our skills let us build a single page website from scratch rather quickly. Because we’re aren't limited by a CMS, we can use a lot of the tools and tricks we’ve come up with over the years without the constraints or configuration problems that come with a closed CMS.
While there's no backend for our clients to access and edit, Elevator Sites can be extended with features like auto-updating pdf links, embedded maps, Twitter feeds, Spotify playlists, YouTube videos, Google Calendars, and more.
The good thing about this approach is that it results in very streamlined and high performance websites. The bad news is that there’s no way for a client to directly make updates to the page. So if you’re looking for a budget solution and have a hands-off mindset, then an Elevator Site might be a good solution.
Years ago I made my own CMS from scratch because all of the other options sucked. If I had the need and means to do it again today, I would aspire to create something very much like Squarespace. It is very clean, intuitive, user-friendly, and extendable (if you know code). Squarespace is the only platform we’ve found that we are comfortable handing off to our clients.
Squarespace is an interesting phenomenon. Since it first launched, it’s tried to be both a tool for web developers and a tool for do-it-yourselfers. In 2020, Squarespace launched version 7.1 of their platform and made a giant leap forward. This new version replaced multiple templates and "developer access mode" with clean, standardized features. This has upset a lot of folks, but I think it’s brilliant. It embraces a core philosophy of programming that is key to web design: Separation of Content and Presentation.
This means the core code of a website doesn’t get mucked up with display settings. Code is kept clean and speedy while the design of the site is handled with CSS, as it should be. If you don’t know CSS, then Squarespace 7.1 will be a challenge. But, if you embrace CSS, Squarespace now lets you build and deliver much higher quality websites. Also, Squarespace is constantly adding new features to their platform. Even if what you're looking for isn't a built-in feature, odds are you'll be able to come up with a solution to do what you want and it may become a built-in feature in the near future.
As good as Squarespace is, there are some web site functions that need to be made by hand or need direct access to a server. Sometimes repetitive items like directories or catalogs need to be programmed straight from a database, or the presentation of content is so specific that you can’t leverage a CMS and make it work. We have a lot of experience creating things from scratch that have never been made before. We’ve created employee engagement programs for fortune 500 companies. We’ve created interactive 3D kiosks for trade shows. So many times we’ve discovered that there simply isn’t an off-the-shelf solution for our clients and we have to make something truly original. It’s hard and it’s challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun and very rewarding to see something new take shape.