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Author Topic: I need advice  (Read 3935 times)

Offline mbeaver

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I need advice
« on: April 13, 2016, 01:45:49 PM »
Hello everyone.  I could use some advice.  I have had a website forever hosted by Lunarpages that I created when I was a lot younger and smarter, and choices were fewer and simpler.  However, it now has some major problems that I don't know how to fix.  The site is photography-plus.com, and it was set up with all the images accessible through Microsoft Access and is on a Windows server.  Every image on the site's many pages are linked to the search set up using Microsoft Access, and it is now gotten incredibly slow.  Plus the administration program someone (no longer in business) created for me doesn't work right anymore.  For many years I was on the first page of Google and Bing for the search terms relating to my aerial photography business.  However, that has now been downgraded.  Since I don't have the expertise needed to overhaul my website myself, I am really looking for advice on who I should hire and what I should request.  Anyone with thoughts on this for me who would like to share would be greatly appreciated.
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Offline MrPhil

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Re: I need advice
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2016, 05:21:26 AM »
With all you do for the business, you certainly are a "Busy Beaver" (rimshot, please!). Performance and search ranking issues aside, the appearance could use some tuning up. Too many links (and default underlined blue), and that mass of tiny links at the bottom is unusable (make a separate index page for that). Your Home Page title is "Insert New Content Here".

It appears that this site functions primarily as an ecommerce site (plus a sales brochure for your custom services), yet there's nothing on the Home Page that clearly says "Stuff For Sale". Maybe you want to be a bit subtle about it and not overbearing, but it's too easy to overlook that you can buy prints and books here.

I don't know what technology was used for your current site -- something custom-written, or maybe a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal (in order of increasing sophistication and steepness of learning curve). I presume the photos themselves are kept as files and only keyword lists and pointers to the files are kept in the database (Access) -- it's silly to load the photos themselves into a database. You might want to look around for similar photo sale sites based on those three CMSs and see if there's a layout template you like. It sounds like you'll want to hire someone experienced with such sites to set it up and transfer your data to the new system. If you use a standard CMS and a commercial template, there will be little or no programming involved, so it shouldn't cost too much. By the way, if you're on a Windows system, I would strongly suggest switching to a Linux server. It's cheaper and most applications run faster on it (Access is too slow for anything larger than a toy-sized site). Also, with more and more people doing their Web browsing on mobile devices, you should strongly consider going to a template that is mobile-friendly (scales well to a smart phone or tablet).

Google regularly changes its ranking algorithms, to keep ahead of the "black hat" SEO experts who game the system to get (temporary) high rankings. It could be that something your site designer did years ago (quite innocently) is now coming back to bite you, such as the mass of links on one page, or the use of table-driven layout rather than CSS-driven.
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Offline mbeaver

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Re: I need advice
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2016, 08:35:37 AM »
How would you suggest I find someone good to hire for updating and transferring my data to a better system?  I don't suppose that is something you do, is it, MrPhil?
Marge

Offline MrPhil

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Re: I need advice
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2016, 03:37:37 PM »
I don't work with those CMSs, so I wouldn't ask you to hire me as an expert in them. I would also suggest that you try to find a local person, who you can visit in person a few times to discuss what you want and monitor progress on it. You probably don't want to fly all the way to New York for that!

As for actually finding someone, you might try taking a look at local Web design firms that advertise their services, and discuss what experience they've had in doing this kind of thing. Look at their portfolio of work they've done. You might also go on to discussion boards for those three CMSs and seeing what people say about various firms, if you can't find someone suitable locally, and need to work remotely with someone. Finally, if you find a site that looks and feels similar to what you want, see if there is a link on it to the designer (also look in the Home Page code, with View Source or the like, for the designer/implementer in the comments).

It doesn't have to be a CMS, but in the long run that might be the cleanest method. It would allow you to most easily add a blog and other such content in the future. It could also be done with a straight ecommerce platform (osCommerce, Zen Cart, etc.) with a few custom pages added, if most of your site is as a gallery/sales tool. Finally, another option is to just fix up the current system to improve its look and feel, and perhaps transfer it to a Linux server (and using MySQL). Do you happen to know what language it's written in, if it's a custom project, or if not, what platform or CMS was used? I see references to some sort of "template", and DreamWeaver file types. If this was hard coded directly in HTML (DreamWeaver), it certainly should be redone in a language such as PHP (or put into a CMS). No site this size and complexity should be fixed HTML code and fixed pages.

I also see that there seem to be two nearly identical copies of the Home Page stuck together, which could be another reason why your search ranking has dropped (poorly formed page and duplicate content).
« Last Edit: April 14, 2016, 03:40:36 PM by MrPhil »
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