What are you betting on when you build your website?

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Website speed is usually a big concern, but with a website over $5K that could be detrimental to your business. I’ve had number of large clients come to me asking to improve website speed. When I looked at the website, it was build using visual editors and had large number of plugins. Unfortunately, I had to tell the truth to the client that there is only two ways to improve website speed, by using a Cashing Plugin which will really serve as a Band-Aid for ongoing problems that will surface down the road, or by rebuilding it ground up with proper coding practices.

It’s actually quite shocking how many websites are build today using visual editors. These websites will work only until that visual editor stays in operation. Majority of my clients won’t bet their money on stock market by investing all of their funds into a single business. Yet in web design if their developer built their website using visual plugin, they are literally betting their website and the money they have spent on a website in hands of that one plugin company. That is a risky business! Why? Because there are hundredths of visual builders on the market right now. When one becomes superior to others, those other plugins will eventually disappear and with that all of the websites that used those visual builders will start to fall out of date, eventually leading to a website that will need to be rebuild ground up.

If you think this is crazy, wait until you hear more. Standard Word-Press website usually has number of plugins that make it work. Plugins are like a set of small programs, together they make necessary functions that allow website to run smoothly. The more complex website is, the more programs it needs to run. Majority of websites I see on the market have over 15 plugins, sometimes that number goes up to 50! Extremely rarely I see a website that has under 10 plugins. Now if any of those plugins becomes outdated, it will need to be replaced with another similar plugin and consequently code will need to be manually modified in the theme files. So really your site is good till any of the plugins you have stop being supported. I do fix many websites that have outdated plugins. The more plugins you have, the more problems you get that’s the golden rule.

Websites that we build, usually have around 5 plugins that are hand-picked. We only use premium plugin versions. We also have built great business relationships with plugin development companies that we use. If additional program is needed, we usually custom-code it.

The last drop of insanity comes with the Word-Press themes. Theme developers who offer “Free” themes which by the way have very limited functionality and if you want improved functionality there is always an upgrade fee. Even with all of the upgrades, themes are extremely limiting in terms of the functionality they provide. Because theme developers do their best to build a theme that can be modified by someone who doesn’t know programming, themes become extremely code heavy with multiple recycled code blocks that they pulled from their libraries and threw together to accelerate theme development process. It is rater hard to find a theme that would be light on code, and yet offer flexibility of ease of layout modification. Quite frankly it was so hard to find that we had to create our own theme that we use for our all of our development needs. Like plugins, themes also go out of date, and if your theme provider stops updating their theme, chances are that eventually PHP code version will introduce a change that will violate some code element causing entire website to go down. Tracking PHP problems due to outdated coding practices is one of the most difficult things to do.

As mentioned in above paragraph, the theme we use that we have built is extremely light. In fact, it looks like a white page in its raw form, without any structure at all. After my graphic designer puts together page prototype, I would introduce a structure to the page. Our maintenance plan ensures that we keep things up-to-date.

If your web developer had run away from you as soon as your website was complete. Now you know why. Yes, as shocking as it is, it is a common practice to run away from the website that you have built for a client. Finished website is usually looked by a developer as a ticking bomb about to explode. Larger companies that decide to cut corners in their programming will have you agree to a large fine-print that will protect them and they will offer you a maintenance package that will usually cost around $100 / month. The money they collect for maintenance will be enough to rebuild your website with new up-to-date coding practices in 2 – 3 years when web would change further.

So when you decide to have a website for your business please ensure that you are betting your money on the right platform, right plugins, and the right company that won’t run away on you, or be collecting large monthly fees to cover their expenses of a major rebuilds due to poor programming practices.