No exp. designer, client, Wordpress site &...Wix?

I have a client who has an website for their local business that they’ve had for almost 20 years. It’s not well-designed visually, it’s cluttered, and there’s tacky things like the main logo that has been apparently scanned in low res from a photo and then seemingly cut out in Photoshop with the background of the photo still visible! The whole site, while functional, is just messy, cluttered and doesn’t even look “legit.” I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable placing orders through them online, although they have a good reputation and a lot of high-volume online sales.

So the client came to me asking to make them a new website. I don’t know anything about HTML, coding, Wordpress, nothing. Client knows this and said they’d be fine if I could just make them a website on Wix, as they really dislike what they currently have. Money seems to be an issue, which is why they’re willing to go with me, someone who does not make websites, instead someone with knowledge and experience in this particular realm.

Now, I’m looking into Wix, Wordpress, site builders, “SEO,” “ranking on Google,” etc to educate myself, and the client, before going further. I don’t want to take their money and stick them with a site that they’re going to have issues with in regards to things like search results. The client is willing to risk it to just have a better looking site. I still don’t feel comfortable with that, as they no nothing about how the internet works, and I don’t want them to find out the hard way.

So I got to thinking:
Wait a minute. They already have a website that they own and was built with Wordpress. If that website is already connected to the domain, and presumably the previous designer or web person already did what they needed to to do in order to get this website and their business “ranking” and all that on Google and other search engines, why not just redesign that one?

Could I try my hand at redesigning what they already have now on their Wordpress-built site, instead of creating a potentially limiting and faulty Wix site? Keep in mind that they want to also ditch their third-party e-commerce page and handle their e-commerce directly using Wix, which I know is an additional monthly fee ON TOP of all the other Wix fees. It sounds better in the long run to just redesign their current website, cancel their third-party company that currently handles their e-commerce, and get WooCommerce.

Back to me: I know nothing of coding, WordPress, etc. Is it even realistic that I could redesign their existing Wordpress site, changing colors, replacing stock photos with real ones, and stuff like swapping out the ugly low-res JPEG logo with a high-res Illustrated-designed logo that I made? All in a decent amount of time? Say, within a month, give or take? Or is the learning curve just too steep for an absolute beginner in this particular case?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

It seems as if you are in the correct realm of thinking, but if money is their concern…well a better more legit website would help with that. It seems to me they may be a little cheap if they don’t want any external help with high-volume of sales. You could work with a web dev, or another company to try to get some experience and knowledge in that field. If they insist on doing it in-house…

You don’t need to know coding with a wordpress site but it can be helpful. I’ve always used wordpress in conjunction with elementor which is a decent WYSIWYG but its not the greatest for SEO but that can be managed with plugin’s such as YoastSEO.

I’d really stick to the basics and make sure you use proper naming conventions, and alt text on photos.
If you have no experience, I’d try to keep it really simple. Home page, About Us, and Shop all with a CTA for contact/ordering.

I’ve found the native wordpress to be more of a hassle than elementor.

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Thanks for the advice. Especially in regards to "proper naming conventions, “alt text on photos,” and all that. I didn’t know anything about that.

I took your advice, while also doing some research on SEO, Wordpress, ranking, etc, to understand what’s at stake. Yeah, the Wix site doesn’t seem like it’ll cut it, even at a local level. I explained what I’ve learned so far to the client, but translated that into layman’s terms, so that they can make a more education decision and not get taken by unscrupulous people if they choose to go with someone else. Apparently, the previous web people they had managing their site and who designed it didn’t mention anything about competing with other sites, competing with search terms, needing to constantly add to their site to get people coming back in order to rank higher on Google, etc, none of that. So they’ve had a static website for like 10+ years.

Anyways, the client actually agrees with what I’m saying and wants to keep me on while getting someone in web developing to collaborate and realize what I’ve given them so far: logos, graphics, photos, fonts, etc. So it works out for everyone it looks like.

Thanks Billyjeanplxiv!

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When you get more advanced you could try to develop a site that works well with google amp. They really like when mobile pages are optimized for use on their platform which…in turn helps SEO.

You’ve taken your first steps into a larger world!

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TLDR: You can do it and bill accordingly. Good luck!

I’ve only made a handful of websites (wordpress mostly, none hard coded) and it is totally doable within a month if you have all needed content upfront and pay for a Wordpress drag and drop content builder. (Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, Bridge - uses Qode I think, etc.) Personally, I love Divi or Beaver Builder.

BUT please make sure you are billing your client accordingly. It’s up to you how you want to handle it. Just keep in mind how many hours you put in (including research and education, the build of the website (including if you need to edit or create new content), and any extras the client wants for their site (to me this includes SEO, updates to their e-commerce setup, additional plugins, email setup or migration, etc.))

For example you could sell the website as a basic site without those additions or as a comprehensive package that is of basic website and includes specific additions of the client choosing.

But be careful with SEO. You can certainly add to the site and set it up so the site ranks but it could turn into an additional full time job to make someone’s website rank on the first google page. Even then I wouldn’t promise anything since your new to SEO.

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I don’t like bumping old threads like this, but I didn’t want to create a new one since it seems releated.

I’ve tried to utilize all the great advice I’ve been given by everyone here, but now I have ran into an issue that’s concerning and I was hoping that I could maybe get some advice on how to proceed further:

I’ve successfully reworked/redesigned their website, and it came out pretty good, exceptionally good compared to what they had before. However, it turns out that they’ve trusted incredibly sketchy people to handle things prior to me, and apparently, continue to do so in regards to other aspects of their online presence. I’ve already spoken directly to the tech support of the various big names we use for the website, and they all pretty much confirm my concerns that yes, these actions by other people handling the online aspects are NOT normal or on the up and up. And yet, when I share this with my client, they seem unwilling to believe this.

I don’t know much about ownership of domains, websites, and exactly how all these things work behind the scenes. I’m focused on graphic design, and now, starting to get a handle on Word Press. Is there a person or place I can speak to about my concerns without putting the details out there? Someone who’s knowledgable about this, so when I let my client know what’s going on, I can rely on someone’s expertise, and not just my own common sense?


Can you be more specific for both of these? No need to drop names but without knowing what you and the techs are seeing as sketchy, we can’t know how to advise.

Thanks for the response.

My client knows little-to-nothing about the internet, and doesn’t want to know. The previous person that was running their website told the client that they would need the passwords to all the accounts related to the website (domain, host, wp). Client gave them all the passwords without question. When I talked to the tech support of the domain registrar they told me that the person running the website shouldn’t have complete access to all three of those things, as just with the domain registrar alone has the client’s financial information, pin, account #, etc. The tech support said they strongly recommend restricting this previous person’s access, if not removing their access completely and setting up additional security for the account.

The previous web manager had full access to all three of these accounts, and never bothered to recommend any type of security measures for any of these accounts (back up phone number, 2-step verification, etc).

Additionally, it seems that my client was paying peanuts a month for monthly web maintenance. I would expect that monthly maintenance would be at least $100 a month. It doesn’t make sense to have full access and complete control of all three accounts and the website and charge so little money.

And their online presence is almost non-existent, so there’s no references to go by. The client apparently found them from a local craigslist post advertising web management.

Ok thanks for the additional info. A lot of info ahead and I seem to have brain fog today so please ask if something is unclear.

Access to client’s accounts:
Ok I see. We did something very similar at my previous workplace so I wouldn’t be too freaked. Especially since it seems like the previous Web person is not withholding account access.
We often had clients who needed us to handle everything on their behalf so we had full access as well. We used to try and ask the client to set up and purchase their own domain or a hosting+domain account but too often clients were lazy, forgetful, or didn’t know how to do it. Many times I’ve entered a client’s credit card info and private information on their behalf but I would promise that after I use it, the info is shredded. I agree that this doesn’t feel okay but the client asked so boss said to do it.

Account set up recommendation:
Your client wants nothing to do with the website building or maintaining process so don’t make them. Now that you have access to all of the accounts take a few actions to increase security and prevent future headache for your client. Essentially, make sure your client has access to everything and is always the Admin.

  1. Change all of the passwords. (because you know other people used to have access)

  2. Set up your client’s email to receive alerts for each of their accounts. You definitely want their email listed as default or primary especially if they lose their password.

  3. Set up the client as an Administrator and you as a Manager or second tier from Admin for where they bought the domain, the Hosting service and Wordpress. You’ll easily see this in Wordpress as ‘Roles’. Before confirming this set up for each, review what kind of access each role has. You have to make sure you can still do stuff like editing nameservers, website backups, being able to verify the domain with Google. If needed you can keep yourself as an Admin but still try to make a separate access for the client. So two admins. This way the client will always have full access with a separate password from you or any future person they hire.

  4. Share all of the new passwords with the client in a format that they’re comfortable with. Some clients say to just email it to them, some want it over the phone. Whatever format make it very clear which password is for which account, explain which accounts now have the client as an Admin and the designer/developer as a separate access, explain which don’t, and that it is recommended the client change the password for the accounts with separate access.

  5. Wordpress, the host service, the website where the domain was purchased will all have different options for security but trust your gut on what will work well for you and the client. Back up phone number and emails on the account are good but a 2-step security will make it a pain for you (and headache to the client) every time you need to log into Wordpress for edits.

Maintenance Charge
I’m sorry I can’t remember how much my workplace charged. I know we had at least a handful of active clients so we were able to charge much less than $100/month. It’s possible that’s why the previous Web person was cheap too. I think we were more like $100 or $150/year depending on if the site needed to take up more space on our server.
I’d recommend not doing a monthly or annual charge if this is your only account and to consider a price based on what you need to pay for and hours of work per this client.
For me, if the client is directly paying for their domain and hosting service then I’d just charge by the hour for any changes and problems that come up.

I agree entirely with everything @IzChik said, so I won’t repeat it. However, just to flesh things out a bit.

Depending on the situation, I don’t see anything particularly unusual about complete access to all the accounts in cases where the owner wants nothing to do with them.

Managing a WordPress site wouldn’t necessarily require access to the registrar account. But if managing the website involved switching hosts, access to the registrar account is needed to switch the DNS numbers.

Access to the hosting account might be necessary since the owner is entirely hands-off. For example, suppose the site management takes place through cPanel and involves various things, such as email management or setting up or managing MySQL databases.

Not everything can or should be done through the CMS. File management, .htaccess, bulk transfer of files, theme/template code tweaks, etc., are most efficiently handled through direct SFTP access to the server. I’d turn down any site management job where I didn’t have server file access through SFTP.

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Thanks @Just-B!

Oh yes I forgot how intertwined e-mail can be…

If I had to switch their site to our work server but they wanted to keep email through the old server, my boss would still say to offer an email migration to google. He didn’t quite understand what he was offering… and originally free. :persevere:
Looking back maybe it wasn’t that bad but it always felt not worth the risk of losing email data.