I am a big fan of do-it-yourself. Obviously when I wanted to build a site, I searched ‘free templates’ and not ‘website development companies’. This was back in 2007 when I had just left my job. I had forever worked with large brands and large budgets. Being a startup with no budget was not easy and here are the pitfalls I could not avoid.
I bought a stunning free template:
I got one from Big Picture. It looked beautiful and was love at first sight. I bought it for $15. Then I bought domain and windows hosting – www.spidercontent.in from Godaddy. Next, I found a freelancer from freelancer.com to install my template for $15 again. I was all set. Now it was time for SEO.
I changed my domain:
The SEO team’s first suggestion was to move the domain to .com if I wanted to target a global audience. So, I did it – www.spidercontentweb.com (spidercontent.com was expensive. Phew!). The SEO team wanted plenty of on-page changes and I wanted few too but I realised I could not, without help from a developer.
I got a WordPress admin panel installed:
Superb idea. Now I can make changes to my site without any developer help. But suddenly, the site turned out to be very very slow. Had to search for a developer again. Yes, getting the right freelancer is never easy. Earlier finds were not satisfactory and I had to search talent from scratch again.
I compressed site pictures:
Yes, that is what a developer suggested and I went with it. The speed was a bit better but still not the best ( I figured why a little later when I met the right guy). I had a few issues with my admin panel too. Pictures were not getting upload. The formatting turned out to be crappy at times. I got the same developer to make coding changes in the template to fix all those minor issues. Suddenly the site was no longer responsive ( mobile-friendly) and the developer kept beating around the bush.
I found the right freelancer for the job:
He spoke the truth from the moment I met him. He did not want to just bag the project. He looked at all my issues which were very minor but meant big changes in the backend. He pointed out the following issues:
a) It was a wordpress CMS on a windows hosting. He wanted me to move to Linux hosting. I refused because I had recently renewed my windows plan. He found me a faster service provider with a lesser outflow (atleast for the first year). I agreed to move from Godaddy to iPage.
b) He said the earlier template code was totally screwed up with random and knotty codes. He wanted me to change the template. I refused because I did not want to go through content development again. He found a matching free wordpress template and agreed to move existing content in the new template with no effort on my part. I agreed.
c) His final advice was to never ever make any hard code changes, unless absolutely essential. This is the reason why my earlier template was no longer responsive. The previous developer made changes in the codes, instead of using the site documentation to implement changes from the CMS. The new developer gave me a site documentation ( always ask for it). Every time I wanted to make changes, I looked up the steps in the documentation. Every template has its own rules. Eg: My site needs me to add a post and not a page for certain new additions.
d) I did not like the way the gallery appeared. The developer showed me a very useful tool called Plugins that WordPress is so famous for. Today, i search a plugin for every new site feature, before I call him to code anything.
My site is a do-it-yourself in the true sense now. Moral of the story: Find the right person for every job and cut down your learning cycle. Want to work with a freelancer like that? Let me know.
How much should a website cost?
Cost of WordPress Template
Free to $100. However, finding the right one is absolutely essential. You need to think the features you need, right at the beginning. You need a community forum on your site? It needs to be a part of your wordpress template. Coding it later can cost you big time.
Cost of Installation
Depends on the developer really. But it does not take longer than 2 days to install and move your existing content. Moving your content is the time consuming bit. It needs to be done as per the documentation only. Look at paying $30 to $50 for sites with less than 5 pages.
Cost of Plugins
If you don’t find your perfect theme, you need to install a plugin to add any extra feature. Extra feature can be a gallery or it can be a complete e-commerce make-over with WooCommerce. I usually find a free plugin but I live with the limitations. You need to estimate paid plugin costs right at the beginning if you are a perfectionist.
Author: Shraddha Yeolekar – Founder @ SpiderContent, an initiative to give mommies a reason to work from home while taking care of their little ones. I am a marketer by qualification and am extremely passionate about creating hardworking content. When I am not working, I am an equally dedicated mommy, helping Reyansh make sense of the world around him.