Here’s why I created my website again from scratch. For 5 years I have been happily using Moonfruit as my website creator and host. Moonfruit is pretty good for website novices – it allows the user to simply drop photos and text boxes on a screen, and what you see is what you get. Easy.
This method is fine…if you don’t want to update you website very often. As a wedding photographer I often want to put my most recent photos at the top of the page, and on Moonfruit this would mean I had to painstakingly move every existing photo down, pixel-by-pixel to keep the same appearance. Moonfruit would argue that there is a simpler way to do this: Instead add photos to a gallery. But Moonfruit was soooooo slow, that if you try to add 5 images to a gallery that already houses 100+ images, the whole process would freeze up and often crash
On top of that, Moonfruit is not particularly SEO friendly, is certainly not ideal for mobiles and now cost £15 per month for the privilege. It was time for a change. I currently get all my wedding bookings through Facebook advertising or word of mouth
The above photo shows the front page editor for Moonfruit. I had to create the front page grid system myself on Photoshop, as Moonfruit doesn’t have these kind of capabilities. It also doesn’t have the capability to reduce and compress image sizes well, meaning every photo I wanted to upload had to be re-saved as low-quality using Photoshop. Now imagine having to do this with hundreds of wedding photos each week
Large files cause for slow loading – and bad SEO. It is difficult enough trying to get on the first page of Google for searches such as ‘Birmingham Wedding Photographer’ and Moonfruit certainly wasn’t helping matters
The screenshot above is from my old portfolio. It took over 2 minutes just to load it this far, as Moonfruit tries to load all 100+ images at once and struggles to do so. The gallery is also not particularly attractive, and moving an image from the bottom to the top simply isn’t worth even attempting. It will just crash!
My new website instead is created with WordPress. Some people seem to have a rather negative and limited view of WordPress’s capabilities. Yes, you can get a really simply looking blog page if that’s all you require – but WordPress is also an incredibly powerful tool is used correctly. There are different packages with WordPress, and it’s 100% worth forking out for the top ‘Business Package’
The business package allows you to install a myriad of plugins, each designed to make your site perform and appear in different ways. There are plugins to make make your site more mobile friendly, or for better SEO, or more security. Loads of these are free, but some are worth paying for. Straight away I purchased the Avada Theme, which is an ingenious and easy way of making your site with blocks of text, images, products or sliders, which respond automatically depending on what sort of screen you are viewing the site on. This instantly makes the site mobile-friendly, and now your site will look great regardless of whether you are using a desktop, mobile or tablet. Moonfruit would always appear like a desktop site
The other plug in I purchased straight away was EWWW Image Optimiser. This clever plug-in compresses your images to a fraction of their original size (around 80%), so that large files still look great but load instantly. Vital for photographers!
The above box shows the ‘elements’ options of the Adava Theme. Now I can simply choose whether each of these boxes is an image, text or has another function. These will load in a horizontal line on a desktop, but will appear vertically on a mobile screen. The design part is all taken care of by Adava
On top of changing from Moonfruit to WordPress, I am also going to create regular blogs – like this one – to keep people visiting, and hopefully climb the ranks of Google. Only time will tell if this works. I am currently not in the top 100 search results for ‘Wedding Photographer Birmingham’ and my aim is to be on the first page of Google by the end of 2019, without spending £1000s
The photo below shows the back end of creating this blog post, with all the tools available to me at the time, and how easy the partnership of WordPress and Avada make it