I have built more than 85 websites that are functional, attractive, and accessible — and that get results for my clients. Most of the recent ones were built using Drupal, a powerful CMS that allows clients to easily update the text, images, and videos on their websites.
Below are screenshots and brief project descriptions of just some of the many websites that I have created.
The SDWTG was a technical user group that focused on the various technologies utilized for developing websites and web-based applications. The group's initial website I built using Joomla, which was likely the best choice at the time given some of the group members' strong interest in Joomla. But in August 2008, a severe security hole was discovered in Joomla. Consequently, countless Joomla-based websites were hacked, including an article posted on our website. In addition, we had earlier encountered several problems with Joomla's page continuation links and WYSIWYG editor (changes not saved, uploaded images not appearing, etc.).
Rather than upgrading to the patched version of "Doomla", I rebuilt the website using Drupal — which turned out to be a wise decision.
When selecting a business's name and its domain name on the Web, it is wise to also purchase any and all close variations on that domain name, otherwise a competing company could launch a similar website using an almost identical domain name to yours, thereby benefiting from your marketing efforts. Even worse, the competitor could turn out to be unscrupulous and gain a bad reputation in the industry, thereby damaging your own brand as a result of guilt by association. One of my clients learned this lesson the hard way, and asked me to completely rebrand one of their existing websites, to use a new name.
Because I used Drupal to build the original website, it was straightforward for me to customize an existing professional theme, combined with a logo created by a freelance graphic artist. Moreover, it was an opportunity to add a slideshow to the home page. My client was happy with both the new website and the speed with which we were able to launch it. In essence, the more modern and attractive-looking website was like a silver lining to the clouds of an otherwise disheartening business crisis.
Of all the content management systems one could use for building a website, Drupal has arguably the best security. But any Drupal site should be kept up-to-date with the latest security patches, otherwise it can become vulnerable to hackers exploiting the latest attack techniques. One of my clients was responsible for the website of a poison ivy horticulturist in the Philadelphia area. His Drupal 6 site had been neglected for more than a year, and had missed multiple security releases. The database was more than 10 times larger than needed, and 95 percent of its records were unnecessary, which hampered the performance of the site.
The client brought me in to help. I upgraded the Drupal core to the latest release, implemented critical security updates for more than half a dozen modules, and cleaned up the database. As a result, the site was made faster, fully protected, and easier to backup and maintain in the future. I also later added text, images, and video to promote two successful conferences.
One type of online business that an entrepreneur can create, without having to sell a product or provide a professional service, is one that makes it easier for sellers of their own products and services to find potential buyers.
An example of this was a calorie-tracker website that also matched up nutritionists with people interested in receiving expert guidance in improving their diets and overall health. The website allowed their clients — and other registered users — to record and track the macronutrients of their daily meals and snacks: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as total calories. Any meal entry could be designated as frequent, and given a name, so it would be displayed for reference when meal data was entered in the future. A prospective dietitian could submit a questionnaire and, once qualified, became eligible to be assigned to customers whose needs matched the expertise of the dietitian. Clients could complete nutritionist feedback forms to rate the nutritionist and the consultation. The website offered several pricing plans, a blog for health-related information, a password-protected newsletter, a contact form page, a search widget, and a section for frequently asked questions. Registered users could enhance their profiles with descriptions and personal photos. A forum, with multiple categories, allowed users to post and comment on entries, such as common concerns and success stories. Nutritionists and clients could communicate using private messages without need for any third-party messaging service.
I built the website using Drupal and a customized responsive theme. Consequently, the entire process was quite straightforward, and the website owner had a robust platform for building a community and possibly offering further health-related services in the future.
Even though a website's content is what lures visitors to return, it is the visual design that makes a first impression and determines the attractiveness of the website. A client can pay a professional designer to create a custom theme for her new website. Yet a less expensive option is to purchase a commercially-available theme, and then customize it for the particular website. These themes are usually packaged as Drupal "distributions", with the intent to make them easier to install. But sometimes this is problematic for people not adept with Drupal, as they wrestle with errors, such as database connection problems.
A client of mine, experiencing such difficulties, asked me to install the "Seven" premium theme, which uses HTML5 and CSS3 and is fully responsive on desktop and mobile devices. It offers numerous home page and slideshow options, more than two dozen jQuery effects, and integration with social media networks and Google Maps. I created copies of the website on a local web server first, and then the remote server, after updating all of the Drupal modules as needed. The resulting website looked attractive and served as a solid foundation for the client to build his new graphics design business website.