Eighteen months is a long time on the internet … and that’s how long it’s been since the WEB-right website was last updated – it seems such a long time ago!
Not a fashion change
Although fashions change and websites can start to look dated, that isn’t the main reason for the new website. While what we do (delivering effective working websites for micro, small and medium businesses – SMEs), hasn’t changed, the way we do it has.
Enter WordPress stage right
When the WEB-right website last changed in October 2011, we had just begun to build websites on the WordPress ‘engine’. For decades, car manufacturers have been producing a limited range of engines which they use to power many models. For example, the PSA Group (Peugeot Citroen) have a family of engines called DW10/DW12. These have been used to power cars made by Citroen, Peugeot, Fiat, Suzuki, Ford, Land Rover and Jaguar. So it is with WordPress – from simple single page websites, to large corporate sites with thousands of pages.
Limitations of WordPress Themes
We quickly discovered one problem with WordPress sites – the limitations imposed by most of the available ‘Themes’ or templates. In the WordPress world, a theme governs the layout and design of a website, all without resorting to programming. In order to make things easy for non-web programmers, themes have built-in settings which give control over elements such as layout of columns, colours, positioning of headers and navigation. Unfortunately, the moment you want or need to change something there isn’t a setting for … you’re stuck.
Some (thousands) of these themes are free, and there are also thousands of ‘Premium’ or paid-for themes. Trying to work out which theme will do everything you want is time consuming and potentially expensive. The final nail in the coffin is that themes have to be updated periodically as new versions of WordPress appear … and many, even the ‘Premium’ ones, are not updated. If you upgrade WordPress to the latest version, this can ‘break’ the theme and the website – WordPress can’t be rolled back to an earlier version, so it can be difficult to recover from this without good backups.
Headway Themes drag and drop theme builder
Then I discovered ‘framework’ themes. These all attempt (with varying degrees of success) to get round the limitations of standard themes. These frameworks fall into two broad camps: internal frameworks used to create a huge range of designs, and frameworks which are sold (or licensed) so the web developer can build their own designs (for those interested, this May 2013 blog covers most of them: The Exhaustive ManageWP Guide to WordPress Theme Frameworks ).
After reading and researching, we settled on Headway Themes. This is a ‘drag-and-drop’ framework (same idea as the Serif WebPlus we had been using) … just what we were looking for.
We took the plunge, bought the ‘Developers’ license, and haven’t looked back. While there are still things which are difficult to achieve, for the most part we are no longer constrained by theme limitations. And as Headway continues to develop version 3 of their product, it’s just getting better.
Looking forward with Bespoke and Affordable websites
Ironically, the WEB-right website is the last of our (many) sites to be moved onto WordPress. Because of the closeness between WEB-right and WORD-right, we decided to have a tighter family look this time. It was easy with WordPress to clone the WORD-right site, change the content and make a few other mods.
Using the the abilities of WordPress, Headway and some clever plugins (more about plugins in another blog), we’ve now created our own range of templates. These form our ‘Affordable‘ website offering, in addition to our usual ‘Bespoke‘ service. Unlike the publicly available WordPress templates (themes), these have none of the restrictions on future development or customisation because they have been built using Headway.
‘Affordable’ websites – a lower cost option
The advantage for potential clients (especially those micro businesses) is lower cost – by choosing a pre-built design, the time taken to build a website is reduced. There is still plenty to customise to ensure every client has a unique website. And when funds allow, their website can be developed and expanded without it having to be completely rebuilt.
Give us a call
By David McCarthy