When I started out with my website design and development business, I was new to the industry. I didn’t have any training (web design or business). As my business grew, I made several mistakes. I publish them here so that you don’t make the same website mistakes I made.
I started small and completed a couple of pro bono websites for friends. This gave me some experience working with clients and helped increase my technical abilities.
Completing the Web Technologies program at BCIT solidified my web design expertise (I created over 80 websites).
Don’t hand code
The first website mistake I made was hand coding everything. While hand coding is a great way to learn how to develop websites, I discovered that I was continuously repeating the same design functions. Create the header, add a navigation system, add the content and finally include a footer. The code-test-repeat process took a lot of time. There had to be a better way.
Then, I discovered Bootstrap. Bootstrap is the world’s most popular front-end component library used to build responsive, mobile-first websites. It literally saved me thousands of hours of hand coding. Bootstrap provided the foundation for most of the website elements. All I had to do was tweak the layout a little and add the content.
As my client list grew, so too did their requests for features. Some wanted the ability to write a blog, others wanted an online store, and others wanted an online booking platform. Hand coding and Bootstrap was not enough to satisfy my client’s needs.
One of the courses I took at BCIT was a Beginner WordPress course. The more I worked with WordPress, the more I liked it. Being the inquisitive type, I tore into the code to see how it worked. What I found was a lot of hand-written code that I could manipulate to get the exact look and feel I wanted. I also discovered that a lot of WordPress themes use Bootstrap. This combination proved to be a winning solution over hand coding websites!
Poor web hosting support
The biggest website mistake I made was I cheaped out on my website hosting platform. At $4.99 USD per month for unlimited bandwidth, unlimited websites, and unlimited disk space how could I go wrong? As the number of clients grew, things started to fall apart. Especially when I needed technical support. The websites were receiving poor performance grades from Google Page Speed Insights and GTMetrix.
Reaching out to technical support was a nightmare! The wait times were way too long. I was constantly on hold waiting for a ‘support agent’. When I got through, there was a language barrier to overcome. When I asked to talk to a technician, the answer was always no.
The support agents said I needed to upgrade my web hosting platform from the basic plan to the business plan ($12.99 USD per month). After upgrading my web hosting plan, the same problems kept recurring. Not happy with the situation, I started looking around for a new web hosting platform. I tried two different (yet highly advertised) companies but the results were the same. Slow performance and poor technical support.
Get the best web hosting service
A lot of research (and I mean a lot!) led me to Dreamhost and a Virtual Private Server. While costing more than the other hosting platforms I tried, Dreamhost gives me the performance I require. Now, my website performs extremely well, and the slow speed issues are gone. Their technical support is awesome! Each time I contact them, I get someone in North America who speaks English.
By the way, Dreamhost is one of the three web hosting platforms recommended by WordPress.
Then the work of transferring all of my client’s websites to WordPress and Dreamhost started. This took a lot of time! But the results were amazing. My clients were happy with the updated look and the performance of their websites.
There you have it. The website mistakes I made were trying to hand code everything and selecting the wrong web hosting platform. Don’t make the same mistakes. Purchase the best web hosting platform you can afford. Go straight to WordPress. Don’t waste time and money hand coding everything.
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