Small business owner - tackling own web design - best coarse of action, wordpress?

Hello guys.

Back Story: I hired two “reputable” web company’s over the last 3 years to design my website and after $3000 and a small claims court date… i decided to learn web design on my own so i wouldn’t have to hire anyone again if i wanted to change a font color or swap out a picture.

(the court issue was them saying they would take a "web resources page I already had made with about 400 links on it and transfer those to the new website… 4 months into the job they said i only get 10 external links and would need to be charge $10 PER LINK for any extra… even though it was in the contract and corresponding emails… I won)

Anyway… my site is to help people prepare to go into the military.

My site has done really well since i found wordpress and bought a theme from themeforest… but as with anything… I want to do better. My idea now is to basically recreate what i have in my wordpress theme with clean html & css code.

Lately I have been on a “speed tip” …i have tried many things to speed up the site including some wordpress plugins and taking out my big jquery slider on the homepage.

i have been staying up at night trying to learn html and css because i feel wordpress is just slowing me down no matter how much I minify the css, smushit the images or whatever…

My question is… is it really worth my time to learn all of this or is wordpress fine with the few plugins i have (WP Minify, WordPress SEO, W3 Total Cache). It seems like the new SEO plugins are duplicating my page title on some of the inner pages… and this seems like im adding stuff when i should be taking away.

I have been looking into CDN and many other things… am i just over-stressing this thing or what?

Its a real simple layout… just a header, sidebar and footer… should be easy right?

While there are no ads or anything on the site now… I just moved to texas and will open a brick and mortar training center… so the more hits and higher google pagerank will come in handy when i go for that business loan.

There is a vbulletin forum i bought that i have in a separate directory than the wordpress.

I just have this feeling that if i had clean html5 code with clean css3 that with some compression that the site would load quicker and start ranking even more pages higher.

Sorry for this long letter… Im just trying to get professionals opinions on what coarse of action i should take.

the site is if you want to see what im working with.

Thanks for any opinions you guys might have for me.


Just HTML4 and CSS2 are all you need. WordPress is mainly for blogging, but it’s also complex, so the ideal is to learn the basics of HTML and CSS … unless you need more complex functionality, in which case WP can help fast track that.

So you would think I would see an worthwhile improvement in site responsiveness getting away for the wordpress and just using basic coding?

First off I want to say your site looks really nice. It’s simple and easy to navigate and I was compelled to visit it for a few minutes. The thing about website popularity is that if your website has useful information people will come to it. Worry more about the content you are putting out there instead of spending inordinate amounts of time worrying about SEO.

While it is good from a learning standpoint to know html, css, php, flavorofthemonth, it is a more efficient use of your time if you don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Having a site with static pages is fine if you don’t plan on updating it often. Your site obviously is supposed to be a resource for people with dynamic content so it makes more sense to use a content management system instead completely rolling your own.

Wow… thank you for the compliments.

Your suggestions are something I find myself struggling with sometimes. I spent hours trying to find the correct fonts, colors and compressing photos to make the site look professional and forget about adding a few new pages and rewriting the content for a clearer message.

The overall design and flow of your site is definitely a priority. It is much better to have a good foundation using a content management system and then tailoring the theme of the site to your taste. That is something everyone does after they have set up their site with a cms really. Using a cms gives you the option to put your content out there quickly whereas rolling your own takes a lot more time and effort to get a fully functional site. With a cms all you have to worry about is making (or buying) a good theme and posting away.

Also a tip to the wise that it is always better to have a live version of your website and a development version. This way you can see how major changes impact your site first without risking any downtime if you have done something to kill your site. I use a wamp install on my laptop so I can have a similar local environment to my web server. It also lets me work on my projects even if I am offline (which is almost never really lol). Doing something like that early on will make things a lot easier as you go along and become more knowledgeable.

Your site seems like a blog i.e. no e-commerce store or something similar.
Wordpress is good for your site in my opinion.

If you want a more complex site, go with Joomla, Drupal or Magento.

Not really. The site seems alright as is and HTML5 and CSS3 do not provide SEO. From a business stand-point I wouldn’t bother redoing it. Considering its WordPress based there are going to be some obvious disadvantages but nothing to significant, especially with the low amount of content. I think all and all the advantages of WordPress outweigh the disadvantages in your case.

The loading speed seemed fine for me. You do have a number of scripts in the <head>. Reducing them, and moving to the bottom of the <body> may help a bit; but it doesn’t seem like you have a particular problem.

Doing a lot of recoding in HTML5 and CSS3 will give you slim to zero speed benefits.

I’m sure about the big fancy 3D image thing though. Those things have at least as much potential to annoy as impress.