My Background and Experience Building Websites
Hey, I’m Lara. Thanks for visiting my site. I got into websites accidentally, as a result of being an entrepreneur with no funding, aka a “bootstrapper.” My true mission is to build the future of home organization. In this separate venture I am developing a unique product line of boxes designed for multi-functionality. It’s been challenging to get them into mass-production. I’ve overcome many setbacks, obstacles, and hardships, and still have a long way to go! So in the meantime, I’m sharing my knowledge and skills in making websites with other business owners.
My experience making websites started back in 2009 when Wix was still flash based. It's hard to imagine a time when a platform's solution was incompatible with mobile phones! But that was the state of content management systems in those days. From there I mistakenly tried Joomla, an already outdated CMS (Content Management System) that was both clunky and hard to learn. It would have been faster to learn how to code than to learn Joomla. But I’m an artist. My degree is a bachelors of fine arts. That's why the pursuit of the best content management system appealed to me.
Next I tried Drupal, another old school CMS. This was at a job I had in 2011, where the business owner had engaged a website design agency and they used Drupal. I was not impressed, by them or Drupal. They charged high monthly service fees after delivering a less than stellar website. By 2019, my old boss had an eight year old website that, over the years, had cost him $10,000! And it was in major need of a redesign. (Which he hired me to do!)
Next I tried Strikingly, a much simpler CMS than Joomla, with modern looking templates, but it was limited in its functionality. In 2012 I built my first Shopify site. I spent too much time trying to format the visual elements on my site and get things where I wanted them. And it was not mobile optimized. Also, their app store had very few plugins to choose from, and I wanted more functionality. I wanted a good blog, and more design flexibility. That’s when I made the move to Weebly, in 2014.
I really liked Weebly. (and still use it for hosting my interior design portfolio) It was a lot easier to design with because they had columns and drag and drop functionality. It was naturally mobile optimized. It's a great platform for a first website. But its not robust. It is limited.
In 2015, I got a job working for an e-commerce company. I was the company’s first marketing hire, and part of a three person team including the founder. He had chosen BigCommerce for his CMS. It had robust backend functionality, but the design was outdated. We engaged a remote freelancer through odesk to do the redesign, but promises were not delivered upon time and again. After that I took on the redesign myself, working over the phone with the tech support team at BigCommerce to retemplate his site and do minor customizations to their template. But it was not a CMS that had easy flexibility for customization on the front end unless you knew how to code. However, working with BigCommerce taught me the value of data analytics and how a CMS should integrate with other software behind the scenes to make inventory management, customer relationship management, and marketing automation easier.
When I finally started really using WordPress, it was 2016. At that time, there were no good, un-buggy builder plugins (which let you drag and drop elements to where you want them on a page), so I struggled initially trying to get my site to look the way I wanted. I taught myself bits of HTML here and there, but it wasn't until I found Beaver Builder that I really felt WordPress was it. I've stuck with WordPress, but always with an eye on what else is out there. I’ve re-evaluated Shopify because it has come a long way since 2012, but when I looked at their app marketplace, I could see that going beyond the basic templates was going to cost hundreds of dollars a month in recurring fees. Many of the plugin developers are charging significant subscription fees, but to get the design flexibility and functionalities, you need them. So Shopify is pricey. With WordPress, you can get more for less. I also re-evaluated Wix, but it is limited in some basic ways, such as page management. It would not be good if you have a lot of content and/or want to grow your site. I also have familiarity with Magento and Squarespace, and would not recommend either, for different reasons. Magento requires too much technical skill for the average user, so you need developer$, and Squarespace is clunky to use, at least compared to my WordPress set up.
That said, WordPress is not a perfect solution, and it does have more of a learning curve than it used to because they messed up with Gutenberg, their newest UX update. They should have bought Beaver Builder and brought a good drag and drop functionality into their native interface. At the end of the day, the beauty of WordPress is it is open-source, so people build things to fill in the missing pieces as needed, and it is constantly evolving and getting better and better. It is the largest CMS on the planet, and currently running 30% of the internet. It's what I recommend for my clients.
Still have questions? Let’s set up a time to talk. I look forward to working with you!