What are Static Websites?
Lots of small businesses are stuck with a website that they can’t change without either reverting to their supplier or hiring specialized skills, both of which will cost money, and sometimes not insignificant amounts. We call this a static website and there are some very serious consequences of having a static website.
Before we go into the consequences it’s worth thinking about your own website and ask yourself a number of questions:
When was the last time your website changed?
When was the last time you added a blog?
When was the last time you added a new product or service?
If you haven’t done any of these things in the last 3 months then you’re probably losing business.
But why would you lose business?
Well as I mentioned above there are consequences of keeping your website in a state of suspended animation:
The first is that if your website never changes then visitors will stop coming back. Supermarkets have known this trick for years – that’s why they change things around, because they know a static supermarket sells less than a changing one!
The second reason is a technical one – the search engines will stop visiting your site, because they have no need to, because nothing is changing. But that means you’ll start to drop down the rankings.
The third reason is that a static website takes no account of your customers’ changing needs. This inevitably drives customers away because you are not reflecting what they want or need.
If you can hire in resource to change things around, then why worry?
That is not as simple as you might think. Often the resource you need is scarce or it may not be available for the type of website you have.
It’s also perfectly possible to imagine that the resource you need is going to be expensive. If you are in a hurry, then it’s going to cost even more.
Our view is that you should be able to make changes yourself to your website, in a straightforward way. That’s why we build our websites in WordPress, because there are more WordPress websites around than any other type, resource is easier to find and it’s usually less expensive than some of the other types, like Joomla or Drupal. (WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are just different types of website).
Be aware that quite often your web supplier will be using proprietary software which means that you will probably not be able to find any resource from other than your supplier, in which case you’re locked in. At this point, you might want to think about a wholesale change to your website.
Future proofing your business
I want to make it clear that we have an axe to grind here, but the reason we have the axe to grind is because we’ve seen how not to do it and how expensive it can be to do it another way.
I’ve talked about why we think the design process needs to change because it’s been stuck in a time warp for 20 years. You can read about that here.
But from the point of view of how you should build your website there are 3 or 4 things you need to do.
Domains and hosting
The first thing is to ensure that you own your own domain and you host it with a company where you pay the bills. This is not difficult. Go to any Web hosting company like 1and1, GoDaddy and grab your domain name(s) from them. This will cost a few pounds per year.
Once you have a domain name you can then host that domain on a website, again a straightforward process any hosting company can walk you through. We’ve seen web companies charge hundreds of pounds to do this for you, but you should budget for no more than £10.00 per month to do all this.
Content Management System
Once you have a domain and your website you need to have a ‘Content Management System’ so you can build it. We recommend, and would never use anything else, other than WordPress. It’s free and it’s used by some of the biggest companies in the world, as well as some of the smallest, so don’t let people tell you it’s not secure. In the interests of openness and transparency there are other Content Management Systems out there. Joomla and Drupal to name but two. These are not for the uninitiated. I’ve used them both and I find them difficult to use.
Now you have a Domain, it’s hosted and you have WordPress. What next?
The world of building a website now opens up for you. The reason we use Worpdress is that there are a host of tools to help you build your own website. The three key areas are Themes, Page Builders and Plugins. There are thousands of them and everyone has their favourites.
How we do it
Apart from WordPress, we use a Theme called OceanWP and a Page Builder called Elementor. We think they do a great job and we can achieve most things for most of our customers using them. Plugins, on the other hand, are heavily dependent upon the type of website we build, but we always include Easy Google Fonts, Mailchimp, Google Search Console, Google Analytics and a number of smaller ones to ensure we can create specialized websites. For e-commerce we use Woo-Commerce.
Now you may be asking yourself at this point, how much all of this costs, given that these products are hugely powerful and you can build a magnificent website with them? It may surprise you to know that all of these are free. Many of them have paid versions which give you more functionality, but generally speaking the free versions can do most everything. The one exception to this is Elementor – we always use the paid version because it adds so much extra functionality.
We hope that helps you to get out of the loop of the static website.
As always we’re here to help.