Ideas for web building and CMS

We are artists. In the last 6 years we have redesigned our product line from life casting, (casting clients features and creating a finished work in clay) to creating art and accessories with bone.

In the first instance our web site was a billboard, showing the possibilities of what could be created for an individual work of portraiture. This site was hand coded by me with BBEdit and using Photoshop. (Only seen on the wayback machine as life casting(DOT)net)

In our current art form every piece is unique, which makes it difficult to create a sales site, as each piece displayed would have to be pulled from the line of back stock and held aside on the off chance that someone might purchase it.

Which means that this site, too, would be more of a billboard as well, with the possibility of sales.

What I am wondering is:

Would I use a fee of cheap web builder like Webflow to layout a simple design? Or get a Wordpress site after our domain expires, and take the time to learn what appears a difficult service offered by them?

Or use a different CMS, which is might be more intuitive for artists to grok?

OR, bite the bullet and hand code a billboard that has no chance of becoming a sales venue?

All thoughts will be gratefully read and considered.

As a general rule do not let your domain expire, new domains without history (e.g. age, backlinks) are not nearly as good.

Generally, cheap/free hosted website builders have very poor page load times, especially with high quality images and/or embedded videos. A self-hosted WordPress site built using the WordPress page builder might offer you more flexibility with a limited learning curve.

Thank you for your opinion. We still have 2 months to consider keeping our domain.


I’m not understanding what your domain expiring has to do with a decision to use WordPress. No matter what platform you use, keeping your existing domain is usually important unless you have a good reason to change it.

You pointed us to your old site on the Wayback Machine. Doesn’t your business have a current website? You apparently don’t own your old lifecasting domain but you apparently have another that you’re currently using. Is it not associated with a website?

Assuming you currently have a website that you’re not showing us, what platform are you using for it? Did you hand-code it too? Are you using a web-builder site? Are you using a CMS, such as WordPress or Joomla?

These questions seem largely irrelevant to your question about what platform to use to build a new website, but since the majority of your post centered around these things, I’m a little confused.

Sticking to the question of which platform to use, my advice would be to use whichever one seems to be the best fit for your business and how much effort you want to put into learning the website building interface and maintaining the site.

I’ve always stayed away from drop-and-drag website builders because they place too many restrictions on what I’ve wanted to do. However, if your needs are modest and fit within what one of these website builders can do, I see no real problem using one. Even though you hand-coded your site years ago, I’m guessing you don’t want to go that route again. If you want to use an installable CMS, such as WordPress, on a web hosting company’s server, that will certainly give you more flexibility regarding templates, frameworks, plugins, and tweaking the HTML/CSS, but the learning curve will be time-consuming.

If you want to mess around with a code builder, such as Webflow, I suppose that’s an option too. I haven’t used it myself, but unless you need something more customized than what one of the many thousands of WordPress themes and plugins offer, I’m not sure I see the point.

Today, as opposed to 20–25 years ago, there are hundreds of ways to create websites. Each has its strengths, weaknesses, proponents, and detractors. Which one is right for you is something only you can answer.

Lifecasting DOT net is no longer our domain. We stopped creating lifecastings in 2021. We let that domain expire.

We have a current domain but no site) that show cases what we are making now, (bone art and accessories). The domain name expires in Nov.

The wayback site was completely hand coded by me. It is not responsive, nor completely assessable to those with impairments.

I am trying to decide if I should attempt to hand code again, which is not really my skill set, but I could do it, or do I use a third party web site builder. I tried to create something in WordPress 3 years ago and found it unsatisfying trying to get it to do what I wanted.

I am playing with WebFlow and while it is more user friendly than WordPress it has a learning curve as well.

We do not really see this as a webstore, as to be an artist and put articles on line, you must have a constant supply of backstock that is only for online, or take them out of web circulation whenever we go to events to sell (BUT then again …). All of our work is one of a kind, it is not made from molds or patterns.

So I am just trying to image if there is a relatively easy way to produce a site and host it as well. It would be a billboard, unless there is a relatively easy way to make transactions. We have used Register DOT com for the prior site, but they are pretty expensive to host a site.

Which is why I am kind of lost in the wilderness. Some of the builders claim to have hosting services as well. And I was trying to get a feel of what people have used and if they like it.

Or should we just chuck it and not have anymore web presence than our facebook page?

I can’t recommend this or that because there are too many options, and people have different needs and preferences. All I can do is toss out some observations based on personal experience working with clients.

Very few websites are entirely coded by hand today. I hand-coded my portfolio/business site using BBEdit because I’ve designed and coded websites since the mid-90s. However, I’d never recommend that to someone who only needs to build one website for their business — most business owners have better things to do with their time than learning (or relearning) HTML/CSS/PHP/MySQL/Javascript. It’s gotten much more complex than when you previously built your site.

Your website will be your online introduction and sales pitch. It should look, feel, and impart an immediate impression of quality and professionalism. It shouldn’t come across as amateur-built. I wouldn’t say this if it weren’t important, but you’re an artist, not a graphic designer or a web developer. Even by early 2000’s standards, your Wayback Machine archived website was poorly designed and looked homemade, which it was. You’ve supplied no reason to believe your skills in those areas have improved.

You mentioned being dissatisfied with WordPress due to difficulty getting it to do what you want. That’s a fair point and one that I agree with. However, finding the best website on a budget is a bit like shopping for new clothes. Most people look around until they find something they like. They don’t learn how to design and sew their own clothing.

If you can’t afford to hire a professional web designer/developer, you might want to look into a do-it-yourself, drop-and-drag website builder. If those are too limiting to meet your needs, you might seriously want to look into WordPress again. I don’t care for WordPress, but it’s the easiest full-blown CMS to use, and it has the most options for themes and add-ons. Most are easily modified to varying degrees with a little extra work.

As we’ve both written, heading in this direction won’t achieve the wholly customized, bespoke site that you might want. However, your website must look the part if you’re serious about it representing a successful business. A professionally designed off-the-shelf WordPress theme will do that much better than you’ll be able to do yourself. Then again, if this new business is primarily a side hobby, and figuring out how to build your own website is an extension of that hobby, that’s another matter and one for you to decide.

Have a look at Sparkle. Terrible name, but great bit of software. It is, however, Mac only.

It is a wysiwyg builder, so no coding required and you can build exactly what you want from scratch, or use a template. In its latest iteration and AI builder, based on your needs. I’m not a fan of the latter two options, but it suits some people, I imagine.

It works for me, as I can design bespoke sites without coding. I did learn coding and have built sites from scratch, but it’s not for me. I even got as far as reasonably basic php, but I find it all so tedious, I needed a different way. Adobe then brought Muse out. Answer to my prayers. Adobe then canned it, so I embarked on a long journey to find an alternative. Tried loads, but this one I found to be best.

The caveat is, if you don’t know what you are doing when it comes to design, you’ll still end up with a really terrible site.

My advice; either employ a designer, or go with a template. The problem with the latter, is they look like templates and can scream, ‘My business is not worth investing in.’ Like generic anything, it has its place, but it’s not going to set the world on fire and be a showcase for anything unique and individual. Think what IKEA furniture is to hand-crafted pieces, or fast food joints are to Michelin starred restaurants. You get what you pay for.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for your responses.

There is far too much going on here to parse, just skimming it seems like there are some fundamental misconceptions. I just wanted to add that webflow can create E-commerce sites and it can be used to create Wordpress themes using the Udesly plugin. I may be doing that for a project soon.

Consider WordPress for versatile content management, Wix for an easy drag-and-drop builder, or Webflow for advanced design control. Each caters to different needs, from user-friendly blogging to complex, visually stunning websites. Choose based on your project’s scale and your desired level of customization.