Website Makeover!

Did you know that when you switch websites and maintain the same domain name (such as, I dunno, tiffanyheidenthal.com?), it can take three days for it to work properly on everyone's computer? I didn't until recently. So when I asked Erik to help me with the final step in putting my new website up, I didn't realize that entailed more days of waiting! It's been so hard to contain my excitement.

If you're reading this, then obviously the website has transitioned! Hurrah! Those of you who have been following my blog/website from the beginning will know that this isn't the first time where I've gone hurrah for a new site. I have moved around a good bit. But every time has been in the interest of growth and efficiency.

Website #1 was designed from scratch by my amazing husband, Erik. It functioned. It looked good. But it had some major flaws. 1. No blog 2. I couldn't change anything myself. #2 was a big issue for me. This is my business and my website is my "store," my journal, my connection to new and current clients. If I can't maintain and update that myself and have to wait for Erik to come home from work and ask him to work some more, then I have a problem. Needless to say, that website lasted a few months ;)

Website #2 was a Wordpress website/blog combo. I learned a lot about Wordpress from that website and it functioned well. It was hard to customize and while it looked cohesive and the templates were affordable, it wasn't really "me" at all.

A few short months after that, I won a year's free subscription to a website platform that all my photographer friends know of, called Showit. I was excited because Showit is pretty expensive, so it was like winning $500. I immediately null and voided that savings by buying a professional "template" for the site. Honestly, I was really happy with my site for a long time. I thought it looked good. I liked how easy it was to customize and change things. My clients complimented it. It was a hit.

But over time I did find flaws. Some really HUGE ones. 

1. Showit has no blog function. I had to set up a completely different URL for my blog (tiffanyheidenthalblog.com). No big deal for some people, but my blog is very important to me! Blogging also tells Google you're active and ranks you higher in search engines, so the fact that I had to have a separate blog site meant my WEBSITE was getting no benefit from my regular blogging updates.
2. Showit has a habit of just LOSING people's contact emails. As in, someone could inquire about their wedding, and I might just NEVER receive it. That happened to a lot of my friends so I would frantically log in to check my Showit messages (not my email) to make sure this hadn't happened to me. Just the idea that it could was awful.
3. Not mobile-friendly. I know I use my phone for internet browsing more than my computer now. My site is how I make an impression on people and if they visited through mobile, it wasn't the great impression that I wanted it to be.
4. Terrible SEO (search engine optimization). It's extremely hard to keyword your site with Showit. I never even got my site to the top 10 pages of Google. My Wordpress blog ranked much higher than my actual website! This is another reason that combining my blog and site is important.
5. Expensive. Very. I would never have tried Showit if I hadn't gotten to do it for a year free. Squarespace is about half the price for me. I spent over $400 on my website template, which I haven't really liked for the past few months. I wanted to change it to something that displayed my photos better but wasn't willing to spend that much money again. 

Basically, Erik and I have concluded that Showit is flashy and pretty and focuses completely on the client experience. That's a good thing in general, but not at the expense of function. To me, this new platform with Squarespace is the best of both worlds. Professional, pretty, AND high functioning. I can make client "plus sites," which was one of the reasons I was drawn to Showit initially. I can even set up an online store for my clients to make their payments all in one place. I'm just really happy to have one, cohesive internet HOME.

This sort of turned into an anti-Showit post and that's not what I intended. But Showit is a major investment for a lot of photographers and I want to be honest about my experience with it. If it works for you, that's awesome. For me, with a blog being so integral and wanting to improve my SEO ranking, it was a no brainer to switch sites AND save money doing it.

So what do you think of the new digs!? I'll write another post about my experience with Squarespace and why I made some of the design choices I did. But overall, I ultimately hope this site is just more ME than it ever was before. Comment and let me know what you think! :)