Last year, I had the privilege of meeting Hanna Smith, MA LMHC CGP. She had an interesting dilemma of being locked into a very limited WordPress-based hosting platform. She wanted to expand the functionality of her site and was told the features were not available. I presented her with an affordable solution which included:
Moved the hosting to a flexible WordPress-based platform.
Redesigned the UI and Menu structure.
Added all of her blog posts and provided video training to her content manager.
Implemented spam protection, contact form, subscription form, SEO support, and Mailchimp integration.
Provided custom CSS and code change for content formatting.
Added her Book page.
Conversion of her paper fillable forms to downloadable PDF electronic fillable forms.
I manage the site backups and plugin upgrades.
Primed for Long-term Growth
I am very pleased with how the site has turned out and to see how happy Hanna is with the progress. She now has the flexibility to dream up new features and functionality for her site and thus gain more exposure for her services and products.
Soon, I will be integrating a courseware platform for hosting training videos and content.
A very special thanks to Hanna, for being one of my first website customers and trusting me with her site.
If you follow the trends in the computer software industry, you might have noticed many articles discussing “No Code” approaches to software and website development. Some have even gone so far as to say that programmers would no longer be needed in the future.
I do admit that many of the big website hosting platforms make it easy to dive in and put together a site with a minimum amount of effort. WIX, Squarespace, WordPress, Joomla, Website.com, and Shopify are great examples. You can pick a theme, upload your pictures, drag-and-drop text boxes, buttons, menus, and Boom!, yer done.
So, Why Know How to Code?
Right off the top of my head, I can give two good reasons why developers are still important.
1.) They know what is going on behind the curtain. When a non-developer sits down to build a website with a no-code tool, they sit down and just start building, without giving it much thought. Then the frustration hits when they discover their site is slow, does not look good on mobile devices, fonts and colors don’t blend well, buttons and menus are not staying in the desired positions, and they can’t figure out how to add an extra page. The site sits stagnant and the owner gives up.
A developer who understands the technology will ask the client what they want to achieve with the website. The dev will design a plan for the website, take performance and mobile devices into consideration, structure the pages and menus, select appropriate fonts and colors, and make sure the buttons and menus flow nicely. If the client already has a specific tool in mind, the developer will determine if the tool will match the expectations of the client. Otherwise, the developer can recommend a specific tool or platform based on the client’s requirements.
2.) A developer can customize beyond the limits of the no-code tool. Most of the no-code solutions provide the ability to peek behind the curtain and access the source code for the site. The no-code site tools usually provide a wealth of Themes, Apps, and Plugins for providing the client with decent solutions. However, what if the client does not like the font being used, wants the color changed, or needs an element to be repositioned – and the interface for the tool does not provide for those changes? The developer can go into the code and make the necessary changes.
Why Is This a Topic?
I hear many conversations that make me shake my head.
“I needed a website for my business, so I signed up with so-and-so, but I can’t get it linked to my PayPal account. Can you help?”
“I heard about a new site that uses A.I. to build a website for you. Is it going to put you out of work?”
If you’re a developer, don’t worry. You’re NOT going to be out of a job. If anything, web developers are going to become even more important as businesses, small and large, are discovering they have to be on the web – especially when people can’t visit their brick and mortar stores.
If you need a website, hire an expert! Trust me! You’ll save many hours of time and frustration. Even if the expert selects a no-code solution for you, at least it is a decision made with wisdom and experience. And if later you need to have your site customized, the developer will know what to do.
One of my favorite phrases is, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” Today has been a perfect example of that. I had great expectations of getting this WordPress site migrated over to my timothytrimble.info domain. What could go wrong?
After logging into the management panel for the site, I attempted to set up MySQL for the WordPress database. Turns out, the level of the account I have on the host does not provide MySQL even though it shows up in the control panel. If I wanted I could upgrade for additional money. I’ve been with Doteasy.com for many years, beginning with my old company, ETS Inc. back in the late ’90s. I checked out the pricing and I just can’t swing it at this time. Time to shop for another hosting provider.
I really don’t like shopping for a new provider. It takes time to search through the zillion of hosting providers, read reviews, check the cost of hosting, and the services provided. I strongly considered Bluehost and Siteground. But, again, I’m a full-time student, and I currently have no income. (Ah the joys of living during a world-wide pandemic!) Then I remembered a site we used last semester for hosting some Joomla! sites. It was free as long as we log in once a month to re-register our sites.
The host is CloudAccess.net. I logged into my school account and re-registered my two Joomla! sites, to keep them alive for another 30 days. I then checked out the offerings for the free and low cost hosting for WordPress. Not only did I like the pricing and the ability to pay monthly (instead of 1-3 years lump sum) but I also love their interface and tools. I bit the bullet and signed up for their WordPress mini account.
I found the domain name I liked (pi-development.com) and launched the default WordPress site. I installed the WPvivid Backup plugin then went to my local WordPress host. I did a backup of my localhost with WPvivid, located the backup file, then went back to the CloudAccess site. I uploaded the backup file through the WPvivid plugin, then held my breath as I watched the progress counter roll up to 100%. What could go wrong, right?
No errors. Whew. I stepped through the WordPress dashboard for my site and everything was there. All of the pages, posts, themes, and plugins. Woot! Now for the big test! I went to www.pi-development.com on my iMac. It loaded and I almost shouted with joy! I clicked on the About menu and my heart sank as I got a “page not found” error. I double-checked all the settings in WordPress and the database. I even checked the wp-config.php file to make sure all the settings were good. Everything looked right. I went back to the iMac browser, refreshed, clicked on the About menu, and it worked. Oh, yeah – it takes time to propagate once the site is loaded. (facepalm)
Overall, I’m very impressed that I was able to locate a new host, backup, restore, and then launch the site in under four hours. Regarding posts and portfolio postings, I’ll be adding those directly on the live site. That’s the great advantage of using WordPress – being able to manage the content on a live site. And if I need to make major updates to the site, I’ll backup, restore to my local development box, then do the updates here.
The www.pi-development.com site is now live and ready for viewing. I’ll be adding more posts to the Portfolio, but at least there’s enough to build from. Feel free to take a peek and let me know what you think.