by Steve Bell
I wont admit how many years ago it was when Archiform 3D started doing websites because it will make me feel old. But I will admit that Flash was new and fancy, HTML5 was not even thought of, Google was not around and Facebook wasn’t even a twinkle in Zuckerberg’s eye.
I was considered a “genius” because I could write code and embed things like video and virtual tours into a website before YouTube existed.
We all know that the Internet went ballistic and the technology around it changed almost daily. I had a great guy working for me that shared my ideas and we actually won awards in the USA for the quality and innovation of the work. The beauty of the internet was rapidly improving with new design ideas coming to life and everyone was out to be the most creative. We were killing it, right up until the world decided that the offer for cheap websites was too great, especially with the massive economic crash that ensued…
I pulled the pin on websites as compromising quality for price just took the fun out of it, and what’s the point of working at something if there is no joy? I became an observer and while occasionally updating my own website it was being lost in the oblivion of all the other websites, its design was getting more dated by the week and I had lost interest in working on it. All the while my clients kept asking if we can do a website for them, to which I rarely responded.
So, what happened recently that makes me write this article? What would make me reconsider my position? Let me take you on a little more of a journey first, then you may even be able to guess for yourself.
So, I was reshaping my business and looked at my website, realising I now had something that was now so old it needed to be trashed. It was like an old car that had new parts bolted on now and then, but ultimately no number of parts was ever going to change it from just being an old car. I am not talking about a classic either, it was like a 1999 Chevy Malibu – boring, squeaky, uninspiring, and embarrassing to drive.
The thought alone of a total rebuild from scratch was killing me as the work to transition it over was more than one person could do in months. Who has the time to do that? I asked around and got some prices to do it all for me and they all quoted new terms that I wasn’t familiar with, which I will come back to, and I know for a fact that my background will likely make me the most demanding client they have ever had. The first priority had been found – if I was to do this then I had to find an easy way and that may just require a template.
Do you know how hard it is on an ego like mine to accept that? I am the guy who can write code! How dare I even suggest to myself that I cave in and go the way of a template? So I put on my best “whatever” face and browsed the Internet, convinced on the outside that nobody would have anything decent, while secretly hoping on the inside that I find something. Want to know what I found? I came across beauty, style, and innovation – lots of it. There are templates out there that make my old site look so incredibly bad. My ego shrivelled up into a corner, I waved a small white flag, and surrendered to the overwhelming number of high quality examples out there.
The next step was to choose the technology it was based on, which of course comes down to my biggest needs. It’s a given that I need to be happy with the design but it’s even more important that I can add to it at a moments notice without the need to resort to heavy coding, or even any code at all. I create a lot of 3D images and video, and I need to update my gallery often, without headaches, but always with a quality result. This is something that I briefed a few people on and where the magical words, the same ones I told you about, started to appear. You see, a little research has shown all those fancy new words that didn’t make any sense to me all added up to the same thing – Wordpress! It turns out that the fancy new words were code for “we are going to use WordPress”.
The one thing on the Internet that I had scorned for it’s simplicity had somehow became the new backend of more websites than the “web designers” would want you to know. Those lower rates on websites now started to make sense! What has happened is that a balance has been found between quality and simplicity, so the “real” web designers, as they used to be, are hiding away creating templates and the “new” web designers are more or less building on what the “real” guys do.
I considered myself a “real” web guy but have to admit that I am no match for the hours of work and talent that these people put into each design. I have also come to admit that the perception of “adequate quality” needs to come in to play, but am surprised that the quality of most templates not only meets this but also exceed it.
So after I swallowed my pride and ego I warmed to the whole idea and realised that this system comes with some serious advantages:
- There is a wealth of ideas and designs out there and it just keeps expanding, so you always get new choices and clients can now check things out before committing.
- We can now focus on content, not code, which means more time working up beautiful words, 3D renderings and videos.
- Once done my clients can take control and add new items as they see fit, which appeals to everyone.
I went with TemplateMonster for my theme, getting something that suited my logo. I have to admit that the final transition work is painstaking, but there was a lot of history to overcome from a website that had 18 years of stuff piled up in it. Moving content over, redirects, and adjusting links all take time, but in this case I couldn’t think of an easier process.
One can’t help but wonder, “What happens if I change my mind on the design?”
Well it’s no big deal as the effort to just apply a new theme or template is minimal in comparison.
So I am, therefore Archiform 3D is, back and I like it. It’s time to focus on getting entire projects looking awesome from the 3D through to the delivery on the internet. Like before, we are not taking on work outside of our regular 3D and property development clients, which is plenty and allows us to focus. This system works for 90% of the companies out there and I like those odds – I bet a lot of other people will too.