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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2001
    Location
    Catharpin, Virginia
    Posts
    7,688

    Default Farm Website design recommendations needed

    It's no secret my website is very out of date (lots of conflicts put that on the back burner).

    I love the site, but a lot of the problem is that it has been very cumbersome to keep it updated as I have to make a copy of any page/text I want to edit, then fax to the web place...then go back and forth on the phone.

    I'm am basically computer illiterate, but would like to have some ability to update the site (particularly offspring pictures, show results, news, etc) without all that hassle... or will it always be a headache for a person of my limited skill?

    Any suggestions who can re-do my present site the best of what I have and make it more user friendly for me?

    TIA for recommendations.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 29, 2000
    Location
    SE WI- Midwest
    Posts
    3,540

    Default

    www.weebly.com looks like it could be pretty darn easy.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 28, 2001
    Location
    Aiken, SC
    Posts
    2,689

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sid View Post
    It's no secret my website is very out of date (lots of conflicts put that on the back burner).

    I love the site, but a lot of the problem is that it has been very cumbersome to keep it updated as I have to make a copy of any page/text I want to edit, then fax to the web place...then go back and forth on the phone.

    I'm am basically computer illiterate, but would like to have some ability to update the site (particularly offspring pictures, show results, news, etc) without all that hassle... or will it always be a headache for a person of my limited skill?

    Any suggestions who can re-do my present site the best of what I have and make it more user friendly for me?

    TIA for recommendations.
    I was curious so I tried to take a look at your site but's it's presently not accessible. ('Bad Request, Invalid Hostname', 'webpage cannot be found')

    Just some basic suggestions:

    You should always be the owner of your domain name, not the person doing the web designing/maint.

    You should always have a contract or written agreement with the designer and/or the person doing maint on the site.

    It is easy enough to set up a page that contains mostly text for 'news'.

    That page and similar pages can have a security arrangement that allows you to edit the text yourself ( your own ID ). On the other hand you might not want to have access to parts of the website that require programming.

    The person doing design/maint should be able to provide written instructions for pictures ( Size, resolution etc.) and how to load them to the site. You may or may not be comfortable with loading pics after you read the instructions.

    Sometimes it works out best of you hire one person to do the graphic design and a second person to execute and maintain the design.

    There are quite a few web designers who do primarily equine related sites.
    Our local horse show assoc uses one person and the local PHA uses another. They are both excellent and have provided methods for the site owners to update information on their own.

    I also think there are some breeders who do their own sites and also do sites for others.

    I will send you some examples of websites done by equestrian activity specialists.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2001
    Location
    Catharpin, Virginia
    Posts
    7,688

    Default

    Pine Tree, that's right. It's down right now and I can't seem to get any response from my web designer who manages it at the moment.

    I'm so frustrated I just want to start over!

    The farm does have its own domain name through a renewal contract with "Network Solutions".



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 21, 2004
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    4,319

    Default Liz Hall

    I have thought that Liz (of Silverwood Farm) always does a real nice job on her sites

    http://www.lizardgraphics.com/port.html
    *^*^*^
    Himmlische Traumpferde
    "Wenn Du denkst es geht nicht mehr, kommt von irgendwo ein kleines Licht daher"



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 11, 2010
    Location
    Powder Springs, GA
    Posts
    138

    Default

    sid - you should consider a WordPress based site. That allows you to have as much or as little control over the site as you want. I've been doing web development (I write code, not do the graphics) for quite a few years now and currently work for a major telecom doing it full time, though I do some work on the side. See either of the sites in my signature for examples of some of my work, though neither one is WordPress (except for the blog page on the PonyTailAcres site). I'd be happy to give you a quote on setting something like that up if you'd like. Feel free to e-mail me at david@ponytailacres.org if you're interested.

    The advantages of WordPress are that it's search engine friendly, is automatically set up to ping news services when you post news, and is easily customizable. For a few examples of places using WordPress:

    http://wordpress.org/showcase/



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2001
    Location
    Catharpin, Virginia
    Posts
    7,688

    Default

    I wasn't sure if Liz was still doing that...her work is extraordinary. I'll try to contact her.

    I really don't want to "change" the look of my site, I just want to be able to have more control over it in an easy fashion.

    Being the dinosaur that I am, perhaps that is asking too much. A friend recently called me "T-Rex" when it comes to computers/internet...and that's pretty sad, considering I'm still considered one of the leaders in the country after a 30 year career in direct response marketing -- but in mail and print media.

    Old dog needs to learn new tricks..



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 1999
    Posts
    14,409

    Default

    I love Liz Hall and Ladybug Hill's website designs.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,853

    Default

    Carolynne Smith of Pixel Graphix Design (pixelgraphixdesign.com) is awesome. She hasn't done a website for me (yet!), but she's done some oddball advertisements, business cards, etc... for me. Always does a great job! I've been very happy with what she's done for me
    Making Your Ambitions a Reality at Secret Ambition Stables.
    Quality Welsh Ponies and Welsh Crosses bred for sport
    Facebook Page.
    Section A and Section B Welsh Ponies at stud



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 30, 2008
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    294

    Default

    Tracy Dopko - Daventry Farms does my site, and she is great! I am always happy with what she does, and she makes every site very unique. None are done from a template. Everytime I send her something to update on the site she responds right away and it is changed just as fast. That is who I recommend, and she was recommended to me before I had a site as well!
    Crown Ridge Farms
    Breeding Quality Hunter, Welsh and British Riding Ponies
    Youngstock available for sale & Stallions at Stud
    www.crownridgefarms.com



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep. 8, 2007
    Posts
    115

    Default

    I second the work of Pixel Graphix Design She's fabulous and I have liked all of her work. She's done lots of work for the equine industry

    www.pixelgraphixdesign.com



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2007
    Posts
    282

    Default CHRIS TOLAR, LADY BUG HILL !!!

    Hands down....she does my site and I couldn't be happier. She does a lot of COTHer's sites as well and they are all beautiful. Take a look at her web page design client list at : www.ladybughillfarm.com.

    Her fees are extremely reasonable for the level of artistry & professionalism that you receive....

    I was scared to do a website initially, but Chris made it really fun

    Good Luck....we can't wait to see your new site!
    * Magic Hill Farm, LLC
    www.MagicHillFarmLLC.com
    "Bridging the Gap Between the Hunter Breeding and Performance Rings in the US"



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2004
    Location
    Marshall, VA
    Posts
    1,183

    Default

    I had the farm website redesigned by Studio Up - http://studioup.com/web/index.html. They're not horse people, but they did an unbelievable job, and they make everything super easy to update, even for someone who knows nothing about websites. They build you a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor, and you can just add text and photos as you like.

    I had such a nice experience with them on spriesersporthorse.com that they're redoing laurensprieser.com.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2001
    Location
    Catharpin, Virginia
    Posts
    7,688

    Default

    Thanks everyone!

    I'm curious as well, other than the fee to retain your domain name, are you charged by the host every time you update your site with new text, photos or "news"?

    What does/should a nice site cost you annually?

    My site was designed so long ago -- before there was a lot of qualified competition out there - I'm not sure whether the company I was using was even competitive these days. Since I'm starting over, I might as well find out.

    Thanks.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    6,983

    Default

    Another vote for Weebly.com. Gone are the days when you needed a professional webmaster to design and administrate your farm site. Weebly is FREE and you can host your site at your own domain (doesn't need to have weebly.com in the title).

    I recommended it in another COTH thread similar to this one but for an eventing trainer--same sob story, "My web site is too hard to administrate, I don't want to pay big bucks, I am computer illiterate, etc." At first she totally ignored my suggestion, convinced that she was too web illiterate to try it. Then when I re-encouraged her, she tried Weebly and said she was able to build a beautiful site within a few hours. If you can run Microsoft Word and/or a web browser, you are literate enough to build a beautiful Weebly site. And by cutting out the middleman, you'll be able to update it anytime you want.

    A nice site should cost you ZERO DOLLARS except for the cost of web hosting (and the cost of the domain name if you chose to buy one). I think I paid $9.95 for my domain name and $100 for FIVE years of hosting (sorry, made a typo the first time). If you administrate the site yourself, then updates cost you nothing besides your time.
    Last edited by jn4jenny; Jan. 16, 2010 at 03:41 PM.
    ________________________
    Resident COTH saddle nerd. (CYA: Not a pro, just a long-time enthusiast!)
    http://twitter.com/jenlmichaels



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2003
    Location
    Best of golf and equines, NC
    Posts
    5,378

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dressagediosa View Post
    I had the farm website redesigned by Studio Up - http://studioup.com/web/index.html. They're not horse people, but they did an unbelievable job, and they make everything super easy to update, even for someone who knows nothing about websites. They build you a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor, and you can just add text and photos as you like.

    I had such a nice experience with them on spriesersporthorse.com that they're redoing laurensprieser.com.
    Your website is fantastic, but then, so are your facilities and the programs you offer.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 28, 2002
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    4,722

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jn4jenny View Post


    A nice site should cost you ZERO DOLLARS except for the cost of web hosting (and the cost of the domain name if you chose to buy one).
    That's fine if a website owner choses to create their own website on their own time, but to say that a nice site should cost you zero dollars is completely false information! Most "amateur" websites are adequate and functional, but when the average viewer/customer takes less than five seconds to form their impression of a website, first impressions and grabbing a customers attention is everything when marketing a product!!

    While there are definitely web designers out there that gouge and charge through the nose, there are many of us that offer fairly inexpensive and reliable service...and create websites that will outclass any free, mass template service company out there!

    Expensive isn't always the way to go, and neither is free! One main reason for hiring a good, professional website designer is to make sure your website looks exactly the same in every browser out there. Can you guarantee your free website looks exactly the same on a Mac as on a PC? Does it look the same in Firefox browser as it does in Internet Explorer? How fast does your site load in high speed, dial-up, etc.? Can you ensure your website is at the top of the search engines without shelling out any extra money for website placement? And is it unique? I get so tired of seeing the same farm websites looking exactly the same because people have chosen to use the exact same template when signing up for something like Weebly.

    The below websites are all unique in their own way, and would NEVER be a possibility for an amateur using a free template site. And every single one of these sites cost under $500 US to create! Like I said, while the free template sites may create a "doable" website, the below websites are unique to the client, inviting, user friendly, browser friendly, affordable, and most important, create a professional atmosphere for a future client to believe in!

    www.killerneyfarms.ca
    www.kensingtonequestriancenter.com
    www.appetitedelightcatering.com
    www.worldwidewelsh.ca
    www.daventryfarms.com

    Tracy Dopko
    Daventry Web Productions
    www.daventrywebproductions.com
    www.DaventryEquestrian.com
    Home of Oldenburg & RPSI approved pony stallions Daventry's Power Play & Goldhills Brandysnap
    Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals www.EquineAppraisers.com



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan. 28, 2002
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    4,722

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jn4jenny View Post
    I think I paid $9.95 for my domain name and $100 a year for the hosting.
    You are paying too much! Another reason to use an honest, professional website designer.

    Tracy Dopko
    Daventry Web Productions
    www.daventrywebproductions.com
    www.DaventryEquestrian.com
    Home of Oldenburg & RPSI approved pony stallions Daventry's Power Play & Goldhills Brandysnap
    Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals www.EquineAppraisers.com



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    6,983

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Daventry View Post
    You are paying too much! Another reason to use an honest, professional website designer.

    Tracy Dopko
    Daventry Web Productions
    www.daventrywebproductions.com
    Sorry, that was a typo. I pay $100 for FIVE years of hosting. My bad.

    I agree 100% that for a LARGE business that needs an extremely polished and professional web presence, it would be wise to hire a professional. That would certainly be my advice for a large-scale operation, a Big Name Trainer, etc. Those folks really need, and benefit, from having a web designer like yourself.

    For someone who needs to put up pictures of less than three dozen sales horses and update on the happenings of their run-of-the-mill lesson/boarding/breeding barn? They do not need NEARLY the gee-whiz that your sample client sites have. They need something CLEAN and BASIC, and that is what services like Weebly provide.

    It's the difference between someone who needs a $1000 saddle, a $2000 saddle, and a $4000 saddle. Or for that matter, a $3000 horse, a $30,000 horse, or a $100,000 horse. Let's not all pretend that we need the $100K horse and the $4000 saddle.

    For someone with very basic needs--which I would say is 75% of more of the horse-related web site builders out there--Weebly.com and similar sites are ideal. For about 10% more, hiring someone to set up a Joomla/Drupal/etc. portal is ideal, meaning they pay once to have the portal set up and then don't have to pay again in the future. For perhaps just 15% of the clients, someone like you is absolutely indispensable. But let's not pretend that everybody is in that 15%.

    Expensive isn't always the way to go, and neither is free! One main reason for hiring a good, professional website designer is to make sure your website looks exactly the same in every browser out there. Can you guarantee your free website looks exactly the same on a Mac as on a PC? Does it look the same in Firefox browser as it does in Internet Explorer? How fast does your site load in high speed, dial-up, etc.?
    You think the folks at Weebly don't check their templates' cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility before publishing a given template? The whole point of having a drag-and-drop interface like Weebly is that someone who knows what they're doing has already made sure that the incompetent amateur author has limited room to screw up.

    Can you ensure your website is at the top of the search engines without shelling out any extra money for website placement? And is it unique? I get so tired of seeing the same farm websites looking exactly the same because people have chosen to use the exact same template when signing up for something like Weebly.
    I dare you to find me three farm web sites that look "exactly the same" with Weebly. Of all people, you as a web designer should admit that there are other ways to customize a site besides the template. Custom graphics, good content, a few very minor tweaks to the CSS (which Weebly makes very easy) and suddenly things are looking very different.

    Like I said, there is a point at which an equine business grows large enough or has a need for a greater advertising reach, at which point it may require professional web assistance. But the average local-yokel breeder/lesson barn/boarding barn really doesn't need all the gee-whiz that you claim is "essential" for everyone. You talk a good businessperson talk, though. Kudos to you for entrepreneurial spirit.
    ________________________
    Resident COTH saddle nerd. (CYA: Not a pro, just a long-time enthusiast!)
    http://twitter.com/jenlmichaels



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan. 11, 2010
    Location
    Powder Springs, GA
    Posts
    138

    Default

    I think Daventry and jn4jenny both present some good points. But I also think it depends on your location. If you're in the Atlanta metro area where there's over 500 horse farms, all competing for local business, then perhaps the bigger better website is needed. If you're 30 minutes or more from the next closest horse farm and everyone around already knows you, then perhaps you don't even need a website.

    In the end, like Daventry said, a decent website - whether Joomla or Drupal or Wordpress driven - can be had for $500 or less. If you're busting at the seams with business, you're obviously doing something right already. But if you're not... if more than half your stalls are empty (if you're a boarding facility) or you don't hardly ever receive any calls about some amazing filly you've got (if you're a breeder), then you're probably not taking full advantage of the endless possibilities the Internet offers. And if you've got plenty of free time to design your own website, then I say go for it! If you're busy with fixing fences, training 3 year olds, spreading manure, feeding, giving riding lessons, loading or unloading the horse trailer and going to shows... perhaps you'll want to hire someone instead. $500 isn't a lot of money. It's not like we're talking a $10k to $50k website here.

    Since I knew absolutely nothing about Weebly, I've just gone through 10 different Weebly websites to see what people have done. Two of them had good sets of meta tags and title tags. The rest had no meta data or insufficient title tags. Weebly does at least offer the ability to have a blog... but look at this example of a title tag from one... <title> - Blog</title> ...that's certainly going to attract visitors when they see that in a search engine, right? Weebly might be easy to edit, but you've still got a long way to go before you effectively structure your code to place you at the top of search engine listings. Why else would developers be able to charge such hefty sums for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) alone? Hiring a web developer or using a content management system or blogging software correctly can put you at the top. Weebly doesn't do all the work for you. Why not just do it right the first time?



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