But the simple answer is, if you want a really simple 1-2 page site, you don’t mind not having control of it, it doesn’t bother you that if Wix go bust you lose your site and you don’t really see any need to expand it later on, then Wix (or any of the alternatives like Weebly or Squarespace) will do the job just fine. But if you want more complexity, I’d recommend having your own site designed that you can control, and paying for hosting. It’s also worth noting that in some Wix packages if you use their e-commerce solution for online shops, they take a 3% cut!
The vast majority of the work we do is done in a “content management system” called WordPress. WordPress is a software package that sits on the website server and acts as an “intermediary” between the front end that the user sees and the database and code behind the scenes.
In other words, you don’t need to know how to write code to use it (although if you DO know how to write some code it can be even more flexible). WordPress was originally designed for writing blogs, and has now developed into an incredibly powerful open-source (i.e. free, and developed collectively by the community of users) system with somewhere around 54,000 potential add-ons (known as Plugins) and something like 31,000 different visual/layout adaptations (known as Themes). Many of the plugins and themes are free, although the best ones are generally paid-for.
WordPress gets us results quickly; it’s easy to learn and incredibly flexible; we have had great success training clients to use it to do their own updates and blog posts; the basic package is free; and it’s very easy to move from one server to another.
If your website is for complex or very high security tasks (online banking or booking airline tickets, for example), you probably need your own programmer. If your website is solely used to sell a large catalogue of products, then you’re better off with a dedicated e-commerce platform like Magento or Shopify. If you want to host an online forum or chatroom, then something like vBulletin or phpBB are probably best (although you can do this in WordPress).
For everything else, we use WordPress and it hasn’t let us down yet!
- We have a chat to work out what you need, how many pages, if you want a shop (and how you’d like people to pay), calendar, all that sort of stuff.
- At the same time we discuss how you’d like your site to look – if you have examples of things you do/don’t like, how busy you want the pages to be, your logo/brand colours, etc. If you don;t have any logo/brand colours, we can help with that, too.
- We work out an estimate based on our conversations. If you’re happy with the price, we may ask for a deposit, especially on bigger projects.
- We create a home page and one or two sample inner pages to get the branding, imagery and general design feel. You have a look, tell us what you do/don’t like, we tweak it.
- When you’re happy with the basic designs we go ahead and create the site on a subdomain of our site, called yoursitename.pictureengine.co.uk.
- You check it out and let us know if there are any changes. We usually budget for a couple of rounds of this in our estimates – if we feel it’s straying away from the original brief we may need to add a bit to the price but we always warn you before this happens.
- Once you’re happy, we invoice you for the balance. If you’re using our hosting we ask you to sign up to a direct debit for that; once this is done we transfer the site to your domain and launch it. If you’re not using our hosting, once the design invoice is paid we transfer the site over to your hosting and launch it.
- You then get a minimum of 1 month tech support built in to sort out any teething problems.
- You tell the world about your new site!
“To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and everything?”
Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.
“And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonquawl.
“Now,” said Deep Thought.
They both licked their dry lips.
“Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought. “that you’re going to like it.”
“Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!”
“Now?” inquired Deep Thought.
“All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.
“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.
“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”
“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.
“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.
“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
– Douglas Adams: The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy.
42 is the ASCII code for an asterisk (*), often known in computer programming as a “wildcard”. Wildcards are used as a programming shorthand for “anything”, for example you could use “*@pictureengine.co.uk” to mean any Picture Engine email address. Adams knew this, being a massive science nerd, and was therefore telling us in computer language that the meaning of life is
“anything you want it to be”.
Yes, absolutely. By far the commonest way to sell stuff using a WordPress online shop is to use the WooCommerce plugin, which integrates really easily into all the payment gateways you ever need and has a host of extensions that allow a lot of flexibility. If you want to combine a sales site with other things – blog posts, info pages, contact forms, membership, subscriptions – then WordPress is the way forward. There is almost nothing that can’t be sold using a WordPress website, from online teaching to hair appointments to cakes to photographs to… you get the idea. The other big plus for using WordPress for your online shop is the ease with which it integrates into other things like media management – so for example you can have a load of downloadable teaching resources on your site which can only be accessed by people who have signed up and paid in advance.
However, one caveat: if your site is ONLY going to be there to sell things, and you have a big catalogue of products (car spares is a good example), it’s sometimes worth considering one of the systems that was designed from the ground up as an e-commerce system. There are a few of these – Magento (powerful but very complex), Shopify (easier to learn but fewer features) and Prestashop (halfway between!) are three good examples. Picture Engine can help you decide, just get in touch and we can talk you through the differences.
Definitely! Picture Engine has undertaken what we call “Website Rescue” in the past, and you can see example of that work here. Time and cost depends very much on what you already have, of course. It helps if you already have a WordPress site and you know the admin login details, but there always ways to recreate or take over a site if you really don;t have any details of it at all. Just get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.
Very much depends on what you want in it, obviously. It’s quite sensible to have a budget in mind, but make sure that your expectations are broadly in line with your budget – we’ve had one customer reject a quote as “too expensive” but in the same email say that they wanted their website to be “like the one for The Shard in London”, a company that employs full-time web developers in central London…
Picture Engine has a pricing page that explains some of the pricing options, but prices for a simple site start from £199, hosting starts from £15 a month and maintenance/update packages start from £25 a month. You will get a full estimate in writing before any work gets done, and all website work is undertaken with full transparency.
Depends on the complexity of the project, and the current workload. However we’ll always try and work as quickly as possible, and be as flexible as possible if something needs urgent attention. In the past a full e-commerce website has been created over a weekend, although usually like to take a little bit more time than that…!
Absolutely not. Picture Engine is proud to be based in Huddersfield, and as a function of that most of our clients are based in Yorkshire and the North West, but the whole point of an internet-based business is that it can work anywhere in the world! Plus, we don’t have the overheads that some agencies in bigger cities (especially London, where we have already got one client) and we’re able to pass those savings on to our clients.