For the accomplished several years my photography website alleged Squarespace home. Among online, fully-contained, agreeable administration systems, it is adamantine to go amiss with Squarespace. Alms area allotment and hosting, added well-crafted templates, Squarespace makes it accessible to actualize a able attractive website.
Squarespace has abounding benefits. Their choices of templates are great, they are visually ambrosial and about action for the purposes for which they were built. Appetite to add e-commerce to your website? Simple. Appetite to alpha blogging? Add a blogging folio and the blow is done for you. Charge abstruse support? A chatroom or buzz alarm away.
Squarespace has fabricated accessible to individuals what would contrarily bulk abounding hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to achieve through a basal web developer, all for a somewhat reasonable annual cost. While my website doesn’t see abundant cartage (no accountability of Squarespace’s), I absitively to alteration my area from Squarespace to a committed hosting service. Which meant I had to alpha over and anatomy my website from scratch.
Why would I opt to leave the anxiously crafted, able ambiance of Squarespace? Abundantly because of agreeable management.
Before I go any further, I should accomplish a brace things clear. First, this is not a criticism of Squarespace per se. Squarespace exists for a actual specific purpose. Like I mentioned, Squarespace has fabricated accessible accoutrement for anyone to advance a able attractive website; whether that is to abutment a business, portfolio, or activity afterwards the charge for cher web development. If you are accommodating to put in the time to get accustomed with the Squarespace environment, it will acceptable clothing your needs well.
Secondly, users of Squarespace will already apperceive this. If they bald the added adaptability of a self-managed website, they best acceptable would accept gone that avenue in the aboriginal place. In my case, I started with Squarespace beneath the aforementioned circumstances. I capital a well-tailored attending with avant-garde functionality, all for actual little effort. It was afterwards several years of use, however, back the needs for a self-managed website became added apparent.
Now in agreement of agreeable management, you may own your agreeable but you absolutely don’t own your website. Yes, you accept a area name, which you technically own and can booty elsewhere, but your agreeable is accurate by a arrangement that is managed and endemic by Squarespace. Squarespace is a business and like any business, it could shut its doors tomorrow. Leaving you with actual few options to antithesis your efforts in the accident of a affliction case scenario. To be fair, Squarespace does acquiesce you to download your “site”, but not in any way that would accomplish it accessible to seamlessly alteration that agreeable to addition provider.
For a portfolio, this is acceptable not that big of a deal, but can be abnormally so if you use your website for any agency of income. Afterwards several years of use, it was this all-embracing abridgement of buying that fabricated me adjudge to leave Squarespace and host my website elsewhere. There is commodity to be said for accepting complete ascendancy over all areas of your website, from the media you upload on bottomward to the HTML and CSS files that accomplish up the bulk of a website.
Under this scenario, if affliction came to worst, I apperceive that I can calmly booty my website to any hosting annual with little blow in between. This should be an important application for all photographers or creators of any kind.
The afterward is a anecdotal about the decisions I fabricated in architecture and designing this website and that it ability be a accessible ability for others attractive to do commodity similar. I approved to admission architecture this armpit as logically as I could, so anniversary ‘Part’ is, added or less, in adjustment of consideration. As such, I will activate by discussing my aboriginal accommodation in allotment a hosting platform.
Choosing a hosting belvedere was a bit of struggle. With abundant options accessible you anticipate it would it would be annihilation but, however, abundance does not consistently according quality. Artlessly Googling “best website hosting 2018” is not a bad abode to alpha to get a handle on the accepted ambiance of website hosting. You can again use that admonition to added clarify your choices.
Another option, and the one I eventually chose, was to chase Stack Exchange and web developer subreddits on Reddit. Both accept a massive user abject and what bigger way to acquisition this affectionate of admonition than from the bodies who are acceptable to accept acquaintance application hosting services? There was affluence of acceptable admonition to be had, but abounding fatigued the accent of affection chump annual over abstruse differences.
Speaking of abstruse differences, one abstruse accommodation you will acceptable accept to accomplish is allotment amid aggregate hosting or committed hosting. With aggregate hosting, as the name implies, you are administration server assets forth with added websites. Committed hosting, on the added hand, provides committed assets for a distinct website. Both accept their benefits. Aggregate hosting is decidedly cheaper, while committed hosting favors stability. I would adventure to say that for the all-inclusive majority of people, aggregate hosting is added than enough.
After comparing best of the aloft players in web hosting, I eventually chose a aggregate hosting even from Siteground. They accustomed abundant acknowledgment from users (especially chump service), had reasonable annual ante for aggregate hosting, and a solid anterior affection set for users aloof starting out with their own self-managed website.
When you assurance up for a Squarespace account, you will additionally acceptable annals for your own area (website) name. It is absolutely a nice affection that Squarespace offers in that, as a service, aggregate is self-contained. You can accept your area name and website up and activity in the 10 annual that it takes to actualize an account; no charge to buy a area from addition provider. This was the avenue I took back I acclimated Squarespace and registered my name as the area name.
Squarespace, fortunately, makes this a about accessible acquaintance by alms the accoutrement bald to adapt your area to be transferred to addition provider. I followed the exact accomplish activate actuality and encountered no issues. The alteration from Squarespace to Siteground took all of 10 annual (although they do appraisal that it can sometimes booty as continued as 48 hours). With the area alteration complete, it was time to activate putting the pieces calm for this site.
The aing accommodation was to adjudge whether I should use WordPress or changeless HTML/CSS. Saying that WordPress is the best acclimated CMS in the apple is no exaggeration. According to WordPress, 30% of websites are congenital application WordPress, which board a cardinal of big names such as The New York Times, Forbes, BBC America, TechCrunch.
If WordPress is acceptable abundant to administer these websites, it is acceptable abundant to administer your own claimed website. The beyond of WordPress additionally agency that hosting casework about action accessible WordPress installations. So, if you are advancing from Squarespace and still like the abstraction of a CMS, WordPress (or one of the abounding variants) is a acceptable way to go.
But, there is addition consideration, and that is a changeless HTML website. Changeless acceptation no CMS or dynamically rendered web pages say, via PHP. There are advantages to changeless HTML websites. Aboriginal is simplicity. You accept an HTML book for every folio and a alternation of CSS files that appearance them. Already finished, you upload to your adopted hosting annual and you are acceptable to go. Also, changeless HTML websites tend to accept faster bulk times. Addition advantage is that changeless HTML pages can action added SEO (search agent optimization) flexibility.
There is a cogent downside, however, and that is, interestingly enough, agreeable management. A CMS, like WordPress, is congenital to do aloof that, administer content. You can address and upload to a folio through an easy-to-use argument editor as able-bodied as upload photos application any cardinal of photo arcade plugins available. Changeless HTML requires you to anon adapt the HTML of the folio and again upload that folio via FTP to alter the old with the new. It is appealing ancient back compared to WordPress or added CMS systems. If you’re consistently abacus new content, this is not absolutely ideal.
Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of both WordPress and changeless HTML, I went with changeless HTML. In an ambiance area avant-garde websites accept a addiction to be affection heavy, I was attractive for acceleration and simplicity. Changeless HTML/CSS offers both.
I don’t accept abundant acquaintance with web development. I accept managed websites application a CMS, but not coding a website from scratch. My acquaintance with HTML/CSS is basic; abundant to apperceive some of the terminologies and not a accomplished lot else. The one allotment of admonition that I was acquainted of is HTML/CSS boilerplates.
Boilerplates, or skeletons as they are sometimes called, board the basal foundation for developing and designing a website. Since all HTML pages accept a appropriate folio structure, boilerplates board this anatomy as able-bodied as added accepted appearance that admonition acceleration forth the website development process. These boilerplates usually board a CSS book (cascading appearance sheet) that normalizes your webpage to admonition accumulate it constant amid web browsers (typically alleged normalize.css).
Each web browser has the abeyant to appearance web pages differently. Including a normalized CSS book will admonition accumulate your website attractive the aforementioned beyond all browsers. Speaking of web browsers, boilerplates will additionally board functionality that will accomplish your website mobile-ready. The key is to be able to accept your webpage beheld calmly beyond any device; whether it is a corpuscle phone, tablet, or abounding desktop computer.
Like aggregate up to this point, allotment a boilerplate appropriate some decisions. For myself, there were two important factors. First, the boilerplate could not be ample in size. Boilerplates accept a addiction to be absolutely ample depending on the appearance that are packaged in them. Secondly, the boilerplate had to be user-friendly. At the end of the day, all I bald was the bald minimum. Enter Skeleton.
Skeleton is billed as ‘a asleep simple, acknowledging boilerplate’, which is no joke. The absolute download is no added than 26KB. Skeleton additionally includes some nice, simple august appearance like ons and forms if you accept to use them. A criticism that I accept apparent online is that it is not as consistently adapted as added boilerplates and not as affection rich, but neither of that mattered for me. As my website is abundantly apprenticed by photos and text, there isn’t abundant charge for any added aerial by way of user-experience functionality. Simple is all I bald and Skeleton added than fits that bill. Awful recommended.
I knew that putting calm a photo arcade wouldn’t be as aboveboard if I had autonomous to use a CMS like WordPress. Since this website is added hands-on, I knew that a photo arcade would crave a little added work. I capital to abbreviate not alone the bulk of abeyant work/coding but additionally accumulate with my affair of simple and lightweight. It took a solid black but I came beyond the photo arcade annual alleged Fresco. It is fast, accessible to implement, and provides affluence of customizability to clothing best photo arcade needs.
Although architecture should apparently be the aboriginal affair that you accede and annual out rather than the last, it is Allotment 3 in this alternation for reason. From application Squarespace for a cardinal of years, I kept brainy addendum about things that I ambition I could accept afflicted but could not because of the limitations of the templates.
The Squarespace templates are accurately advised that about chase abounding of today’s best accepted web architecture trends: awning spanning images, large, blocky argument and crumbling transitions amid elements. While pleasing, they were alone irritating. I had a abiding brainy eyes of how I would align my own website, so I did not accept to absorb abundant time abstraction out the details. My ultimate architecture aesthetics for this website was appealing simple; failing and fast, apple-pie and neat.
I chose to go with a appealing accepted layout. The alembic (the allotment of the website that you are annual now) is 960 pixels advanced and centered. Application Skeleton as my boilerplate fabricated this simple as this is the absence layout. This 960-pixel alive amplitude can be added disconnected into columns to admonition abutment alignment elements on the page. For example, my Home, Blog, and About pages use 100% amplitude of the alembic (all 960 pixels), or one column.
My photo galleries, on the added hand, are breach into thirds so that I can accept my photos abiding in a three-column grid.
A distinct folio can accept columns of assorted widths to admonition board assorted layouts depending on content. Best of all aggregate is kept acknowledging so agreeable will calibration proportionally.
Choosing the appropriate chantry is a big deal. I would say it is up there as one of the best important decisions you will accept to accomplish design-wise. It does not admonition that there are bags of fonts available. A few key considerations will admonition appreciably attenuated the acreage of choices. Behindhand of whether a chantry will be acclimated for a branch or anatomy text, you appetite a chantry that will be calmly clear and break constant amid browsers. Thankfully, repositories like Google Fonts action dynamically hosted fonts that will affectation behindhand of belvedere and browser.
Another added one for Google Fonts is that they are free. Not all fonts are chargeless and generally crave a authorization to be purchased. As acceptable as Google Fonts is, my thoughts are is that you are bigger off allotment a web safe font.
A web safe chantry will about affectation behindhand of what browser you are using. I capital to use a sans-serif chantry and Arial is a web-safe chantry accessible for affectation on all browsers. Since Arial is advised a arrangement chantry I did not accept to await on Google Fonts to serve the styling. Arial is acclimated for both the anatomy argument and the headings of this website. While Arial may not accept a lot of architecture wow-factor, it is one of those fonts that goes with about anything; affectionate of like the aloof blush agnate of fonts.
I apprehend that high-resolution, screen-filling photos are badly accepted on websites, but this can additionally according slower apprehension and possibly big-ticket downloads. Google has several accomplished assets that awning angel admission that are able-bodied annual the read. They can be activate actuality and here. The images on this website boilerplate a admeasurement of 200KB, which strikes a nice antithesis amid size, quality, and speed.
There are a cardinal of programs that can admonition abbreviate JPEGS afterwards sacrificing too abundant in agreement of quality. Some of them board online utilities such as TinyJPG and Compressor as able-bodied as desktop programs such as imageOptim (Mac only. I’m not too accustomed with what options are accessible for Window users). While I accept acclimated these, Adobe Photoshop covers all of my angel compression needs. If you already accept a Creative Cloud annual again there is little charge to add annihilation abroad to your workflow. If not, the utilities mentioned aloft will assignment well.
I will use this aftermost allotment to awning the workflow and applications that I use to advance and amend this website. There are abundant alternatives to what I will awning beneath but, for now, this is my accepted bureaucracy (may change depending on circumstances. If so, updates will be acquaint here).
There are abundant HTML/CSS editors accessible and I don’t absolutely accept any specific admonition to accord for one over another. Unless you are a developer with actual specific needs, there is little acumen to acquirement HTML/CSS alteration software. The alone admonition I do accept is to acquisition one that has able-bodied HTML/CSS autocomplete and Alive Preview.
Autocomplete HTML/CSS is acutely advantageous and helps booty the assumption out of coding while Alive Preview lets you appearance your webpage as if it were alive and up on the web. This is advantageous back reviewing the agreeable of a folio afore you upload it to your website. I chose to go with Brackets. Mostly because of its artlessness and apprehensible affection set, as able-bodied as the admittance of autocomplete HTML/CSS and Alive Preview. It additionally allows for extensions of which there are many. I use Beautify which helps adapt the HTML/CSS cipher in a added clear manner.
Since this is a changeless website, that agency that I alter the old HTML files with the new HTML files forth with uploading added website content. While hosting casework action online portals to admission your FTP site, the easiest avenue is via an FTP client. FTP audience acquiesce you to abundance your log-in accreditation for after use so already logged in, you can artlessly reconnect. Like HTML/CSS editors there are abounding FTP audience to accept from, but I use Filezilla, which is accessible for both Mac and Windows. It is chargeless and gets the job done.
For chat processing, I will use both TextEdit and Brackets. TextEdit (the Mac agnate of Notepad) is mainly to address the asperous draft. Already I accept the asperous abstract complete, I will archetype that into Brackets to align into sections on the HTML folio and again complete the final review. Alive Preview is abnormally advantageous actuality as I’m able to get a bigger faculty of the folio blueprint afore that folio is fabricated live.
In ablaze of the abounding options accessible to individuals who appetite to actualize and advance a website, this accomplished accomplishment seems a little archaic. I am not leveraging any of the automatic appearance of a added able-bodied framework through a CMS or any server-side administration of pages. On the added hand, though, I accept activate that I awful adore this hands-on administration of my content. It is absolutely not for everyone, but I would not aphorism all of this out completely.
About the author: Matthew Nordhagen is a hobbyist columnist based in Alexandria, Virginia. The opinions bidding in this commodity are alone those of the author. You can acquisition added of his assignment on his website. This commodity was additionally appear actuality and here.
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