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What is the best way to start out 'on the web'?

I’ve just been asked for advice on the best way for a non-IT professional (a newly freelance architect) to get a low-cost web presence. I’m still exploring what it’s for.

My first thought was to register a domain name and get a WordPress blog as I did myself but then I remembered that I still haven’t got andywootton.com to hide andywootton.wordpress.com. I hadn’t worried unduly because this was intended eventually to be replaced by my own web site with a blog sub-domain mapped over to WordPress.

I’ve just discovered that it costs $13 p.a. to map an existing domain onto Wordpress.com and I’m wondering if a new business might be best biting the bullet and going straight to a cloud-hosted web site. As this is something I know I ought to be doing soon, to have my own web site to play with, I thought I’d ask what advice you webbish experts would offer. What is the best way to get started, if you don’t want to rely on off-the-shelf services with their recognisable styles? Aesthetics probably matter more to an architect trying to establish a reputation than they do to me but we both want low cost because no-one is paying us to do this :grinning:.

The first thing I want to say is this - please don’t just go with WordPress. There are lots of good alternatives (far more than I’m able to list), each one suited to a slightly different experience. It all depends on what you’re after.

That’s the key to any site - working out what the site is actually going to be used for, and choosing a platform accordingly. But maybe that is the benefit afforded to a techie, and so might not be helpful…

…so I’m going to try another one - have you looked at Squarespace? I cannot personally recommend it, as I’ve not used it, but I know it comes with a free trail, and is aimed at non-techie people who want to do it themselves.

Thanks, @LimeBlast. Your answer has just confirmed something I was thinking, but that’s for another post, probably in ‘Meta’.

I didn’t intend WordPress to be a suggested starting place for a good web site, just an easy way to get a blog-based web presence, while thinking about what is really required, without heading in the wrong direction - the agile “what’s the least that would deliver value fast?” approach. I suspect the question comes from “I’m a business, so I need to be on the Net” without much though about the real business requirements. I’m sure we can all think of web sites that do damage to a company’s reputation. I know how to do the BA bit but I’m still techie enough to identify what I don’t know about the Web.

I’m a bit nervous about ‘platforms’. At best they represent greater simplicity at a cost of flexibility; so if you haven’t decided what you want, their use cuts off future options. At worst, they represent supplier tie-in. I prefer to use simple string to loosely tie components together. I named my contracting company ‘System Composition’ in 1988, so this isn’t just me following a recent fashion trend.

I like Wordpress, but if his goal is to try and generate interest in his new freelancing business with a view to winning work, I think I’d prioritise other outlets first.

He may well achieve more by being active on LinkedIn (whereby he can publish articles amongst other stuff) and Twitter. Both of these platforms give him an opportunity to display his expertise and interact with others (selling himself without the hard sell).

We’ve only just got up and running at www.englancer.com but hopefully soon we’ll have a variety of work on there for freelancers like him to tender for (depending upon his particular area of expertise). Hope you don’t mind the plug.

@PhilW The short version: architects are artists, not engineers :smile: (I’m ignoring ‘architectural engineers’, to take another 2 hours off the lecture you’d get from RIBA.)

I’m an engineer though, so thanks!

I don’t know what his goal is yet.

What I’d recommend is to get a student to do it. We are always looking for experience so it’s always great to get some work going, it’s also great because students will always try to make the best project possible as we normally need to expand our portfolio and we want it to look great. Maybe it’s not as fast as an agency but we can do some pretty nice stuff :smile:

Normally, unis have emails you can contact with projects you want done and they will advertise them to students.

(I also need some work during summer, just saying…)

@Fyx I passed on your idea about asking a student.

http://www.squarespace.com/pricing/

The $8 pm plan looks OK but no email.

There is this new service called the grid (https://thegrid.io/) which seems to be all the rage lately in social media, at least they are promoting it a lot. Might be worth looking at that too.

Thanks @Fyx, that looks really interesting. I’d use it but I can’t imagine an architect letting go of the design process to that extent.

Before they knew it, everyone would be designing their own house in Sketchup. I still don’t get shadow-gaps. Surely spiders hide there?

Ha! I read an interesting article on Hacker News about the grid.io. Worth having a look:

https://www.benhorrix.com/Read/the-grid-is-a-scam

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