Elizabeth and I recently decided to retire the website I lovingly hand-crafted when she started her organizing business over 10 years ago. It was a good site: simple, easy to navigate, got the point across effectively; Elizabeth has received many compliments about it over the years.
However, the time had come to do something major with the site - it had grown over time to meet the needs of the business, and a number of major features had been tacked on (including a blog and a spot dedicated to videos and other media). I created the site in a time when mobile web browsing was not all that common, and the site was difficult to navigate on a tablet or a phone. I also have to admit that it was looking dated compared to other small-business sites that Elizabeth admired.
The first thing to consider was whether or not to code a completely new custom web site. Our discussions about this surfaced a number of problems which we had over the years:
- The custom site was impossible for Elizabeth to update herself, making me the single point of failure. Any time I was making updates to the site, I was not doing something else, like paying bills or fixing plaster walls. Elizabeth didn't feel like she should have to learn how to use Visual Studio in order to make a minor site update. Adding the blog helped, but she wanted to have some more control in the look, feel and content in the rest of the site.
- Maintaining a custom site means you have to worry about version control, backup, etc. These things have gotten easier in the 10+ years she has been in business, but it was another important task that she had little control over, and was my responsibility.
- I also had to worry about breaking changes occurring in site code when the hosting company pushed upgrades to the server hosting thatsneatorganizing.com. I remember this happening on the site when the .NET framework was upgraded a couple of years back.
I was floored at the capabilities of some of these offerings; all of the major sites we looked at had web based WYSIWYG site creators with integrated responsive design templates, blogging capabilities, etc. A lot different than when she started her business.
We ended up selecting Squarespace as the new hosting company and couldn't be happier.