I met John Steiner, the founder of MX Track Builders, in 2010. John is a motocross track designer and builder. He can look at a plot of land and visualize turns and jumps, and then mold the soil into his vision. John had a website for his business, but his content was old, and he had no quick way to make updates. In 2013 John approached me to build him a new website for his motocross track company.
2013 Website Build
John's old website was static and was a mix of HTML and Flash. Flash sites looked cool, but they were a nightmare to update. Also, a static site back then involved using tools like FTP to push data back and forth to the server. The website was old school, and he hired me to bring him to the new school.
In 2013 I was building websites with PyroCMS. A CMS is excellent for creating content online. WordPress is a very popular CMS. From your browser, it allows you to log in to an admin system, create content, and then publish it to a page on your website.
I built John's new website on PyroCMS so that he could add new content quickly. John needed a better design, so I hired a designer and friend, Micah Alexander, to design the logo and site layout. I added a photo gallery and blog to his site. Since many of John's customers found him through his website, I also developed a sales lead capture form. I built the website with responsive layouts for mobile devices.
We launched the site, and John's SEO ranking grew and quickly blew away his competition. He was top listing in all the target keywords across Google. As any wise SEO person will tell you Content is King! and now that John's website was on a CMS, he could update it often. John was impressed with all the new features.
The best feature improvement has to be the ability to make updates to the site on my own.
2019 Website Build
So fast-forward six years since I launched John's MX Track Builders website. John approached me during one of our many surf sessions about building him a new website. His competitors were starting to catch up with his SEO ranking. John traveled often, and this made updating the website difficult. Also, he had to process (color correct, crop, resize) his images before uploading them to the photo gallery, which took time. He needed to be moved off of PyroCMS and into a modern platform.
John needed a platform that had all of his current features plus some modern features that would improve his workflow. The SquareSpace platform has all the features he currently had (blogging, photo galleries) plus a few that he needed (mobile app, image editing, custom page layouts). I spoke with John about the features, and he liked the idea of editing his images online. The improved workflow would save him a lot of time.
New Design by Konig Media
I put John in contact with a design mentor and friend Joe Konig of Konig Media. Joe is a seasoned web designer and has experience in action sports. I spoke with Joe about developing the website on Squarespace, and he agreed it was the right choice. Joe pitched John on a new and clean site design with a focus around his media content.
Squarespace Theme Development
Squarespace development is limited to the theme (website look and feel). They use modern tools to allow for theme customization, but to be honest, I found development to be awkward. For instance, the Squarespace platform manages the layout of each page with a GUI tool, instead of coded templates. Meaning I would need to login to the platform admin to build page layouts. This workflow is just strange to me but is perfect for a designer or someone who does not know web formatting.
Since Squarespace is a platform, customization options are limited to what they allow. For instance, the customized lead capture form I had built before would require the purchase of additional services. Platforms often upsell features.
Squarespace Site Launch
We launched John's new website in mid-September of 2019, and he is thrilled with the updated design and Squarespace features.
The new site is polished, bright, imagery forward, and professional looking. The new system is convenient. It has all the tools I need to get my images loaded quick and easy. It will save me time, and allow me to keep the website current and up to date with our latest projects.
SquareSpace is an excellent option for small to medium-sized businesses. Quickly add custom pages with a layout to fit your needs. I think this platform pairs well with designers since the tools focus on a GUI for page layout and content. I might explore custom theme development in the future if a client should ask for it. I found theme development to be a little awkward, but I was impressed with the modern tools and customization features.