Drupal 7 End Of Life – should I migrate to Drupal 8, or WordPress?

With the End Of Life for Drupal 7 now in sight, the need to migrate to a new platform – whether Drupal 8 or WordPress, or another content management system – is becoming more pressing.

What is Drupal “End Of Life”?

End Of Life doesn’t mean your existing Drupal 7 website will cease to function over night: it means that official security updates will cease, making it riskier and riskier for your Drupal website to remain online.

“What should we do next?” and “What about Drupal 8?” are questions we have heard from our web design clients for quite some time now, and, as usual, the true answer is “it depends” – on your current website, future plans for it, and budget.

Your options for updating Drupal 7

As the owner of a Drupal 7 website, you have a few options for updating and migrating your website available to you:

  • Migrate to Drupal 8 (or Drupal 9), which promises smoother upgrades in future, and maintains a “Drupal” feel to managing your content, which may be desirable if your website team is very familiar with the platform. Whilst it’s possible to migrate your content to newer versions of Drupal, you will find functionality and the design will need recreating from scratch in many cases. Drupal 8 continues to be open source, meaning it is free to use without a license fee for individual and corporate uses, and the Drupal community continues to be active around the world.
  • Migrating to a proprietary or custom-built content management system (CMS). For complex websites this may be a good option in some circumstances, but can be costly both for the initial build of the website, and the ongoing maintenance of the website. Beware of being tied in to a specific web design agency with proprietary software – they can be difficult for other web developers to take over and manage on your behalf.
  • Migrating to WordPress. WordPress is open source, like Drupal, so there are no license fees to pay, and its content management experience has improved greatly since we first started working with it in 2006. It is able to handle membership areas, ecommerce, and custom content types to help make the management of even large, complex websites easier.

As an agency who has worked with a huge range of content management and ecommerce management systems for websites, we feel WordPress now offers:

  • the best combination of functionality
  • easier (and thus cheaper) maintenance of the website
  • a great community worldwide, meaning development costs can be lower as functionality can often be found and reused for our clients.

We are largely keen proponents of the latter option here: migrating to WordPress. Of course, every client is different, and WordPress is certainly not right for every website: it’s worth talking to our web consultants to see what’s right for you.

What a Drupal 7 to WordPress migration entails

Peacock Carter have been migrating Drupal 7 websites to WordPress and other content management platforms for quite some time now, and have expertise in handling:

  • Content migration (pages and news posts)
  • Redesigning – or recreating – your website in to a mobile-friendly WordPress theme reflecting your brand and offering visitors a smooth user experience
  • Custom content migration (e.g., portfolio entries, case studies)
  • Moving membership areas and membership lists
  • Recreating old functionality and workflows from your Drupal website in WordPress
  • Files (images, documents, etc) migration to WordPress
  • Product / category / order / customer migrations for ecommerce websites

As you can see, there are many areas of migrating from Drupal 7 to WordPress, and the process requires a web development agency with experience and know-how to be smooth.

How much does a WordPress website cost?

Something we are often asked at Peacock Carter is how much a WordPress website will cost. As with any website, costs will vary greatly from project to project and form agency to agency.

In this article, we take a look at where the costs in a WordPress website project might come from, and what you’re likely to receive for certain project budgets.

Where the costs come from for a website project

The cost of a website design project is largely related to how long it will take to plan, design and build the website. This will include:

  • Research and planning: your website likely has some goals or targets – to make more sales, or generate more enquiries. This phase looks at your existing website data, and competitors, to ensure what is being built will be suitable for your organisation’s needs.
  • Design: the design component in a project isn’t just about making your website look “pretty”: true design encourages users towards a specified goal (such as completing your contact form, or ordering a product), and so incorporates information design as well as visual design for your website.
  • Development: once the design is decided upon, the “build” of the website can begin. This typically includes building the visual design of the website as a mobile-friendly WordPress theme, and developing functionality for your website such as secure members areas, online shops, and more.
  • Migration: if you’re moving from an old website system (commonly called a called management system, or CMS) to WordPress, existing content – text, images, users, products – may well need moving to WordPress. This process is known as migration, and for large sites only an automated process for this is worth considering to prevent human errors.
  • Content: employing a professional copywriter and photographer can make a world of difference to your website, and these are worth budgeting for.
  • Marketing / search engine optimisation: if the website being built is revenue or enquiries generating, an important element is ensuring it is working for your organisation in terms of your targets. Digital marketing may be an initial one-off fee for a consultation or website audit, followed by monthly costs for ongoing optimisation and marketing.
  • Project management: it takes time to coordinate web designers, developers and marketing experts, so some design agencies will charge a separate cost for project management.
  • Training: if you’re migrating your website to WordPress, or even if you’ve used the platform before, a training course for key staff is advisable to help you make the most of your new website.
  • Ongoing costs for website hosting, support and maintenance, and license fees. With WordPress, there are no license fees for its use – a great benefit of the WordPress platform! You may need to pay annual, quarterly or monthly license fees for plugins for WordPress for additional functionality, but your agency should explain these costs to you.

Depending on your WordPress project, there may well be more costs involved, but the above is fairly typical for many of the website design and build projects Peacock Carter undertake.

Our guide to WordPress website pricing

Here’s a very rough guide to WordPress website pricing. Prices vary hugely between different web developers and agencies, and countries, too. These costs are provided as a guide only, and are based on U.K. WordPress developers and design agencies.

Free WordPress websites 

You can create a free WordPress website by signing up to WordPress.com. These provide limited functionality, but are a good starting point if you’re not too familiar with WordPress, and have a small business idea you want to test. Note that you will have to pay if you want to run this website through a custom domain (e.g. yourwebsite.co.uk, rather than yourwebsite.wordpress.com).

What you might get with a £500 WordPress website

As we’ve said, costs vary hugely from developer to developer, and web design company to web design company, but for a £500 budget WordPress website, you might receive:

  • installation and configuration of WordPress
  • customisation of a pre-built or off-the-shelf WordPress theme to match your company colours and logo
  • perhaps some basic onsite search engine optimisation

Bear in mind that website hosting for your WordPress website will likely be an additional monthly or annual cost.

WordPress website projects with a budget of £1000 – £4999 

If you spend a little more, you can expect to receive a markedly better – and more customised – WordPress website for your money. With a budget of £1000 – £4999 or so, you may receive:

  • A fully custom-built, mobile-friendly WordPress theme designed to match your existing branding / logo design
  • Creation of custom post types to help you better manage your content
  • Importing or migration of your content in to WordPress
  • Consideration of search engine optimisation in the website’s structure and development
  • Perhaps a short training course to help you and relevant team members become familiar with managing the website’s content via WordPress
  • Perhaps some additional functionality such as a secure membership area or ecommerce store

£5000 – £20,000+ WordPress websites

Typically, larger budget projects require more customisation and thus more effort from marketers, web designers and web developers, increasing the project’s overall cost. With a larger budget, you may expect the project to include:

  • fully custom theme design, with many template variations to provide different layouts for different situations across your website
  • significant thought to search engines and how the website will be indexed by them
  • migration of a significant quantity, or challenging types, of content in to WordPress
  • great customisation of functionality to your organisation’s needs

If you’d like to discuss your next WordPress web design project, get in touch – we’d love to talk to you.

Photography tips for websites

Our next article in our ask the experts series is all about photography. Photography can make – or break – a website, so we’ve compiled this list of tips for your website photography to help.

Peacock Carter talk to North East photographers to get their best tips for making the most of photography on your website. A good photograph can really make a good website design brilliant. And whether it’s portrait photography for your team members, or product photography for your ecommerce website, these tips should help you to make the most of your website imagery.

“Pick your photograph’s perspective carefully” – Graeme Rowatt Photography

Tips for better website photography - Graeme Rowatt, North East England

Image: Graeme Rowatt Photography.

We all have a viewpoint about things in life… in the current circumstances there appear as many “viewpoints” as there are experts and critics… and from where they stand what they are seeing is important to them.

Photography is no different… where we choose to take a photograph from is personal and based on too many emotions and conditioned behaviours to count. But choose we should… don’t just accept the viewpoint of 5ft 8”… or however tall you are! Climb up… get down low… move to the left… move to the right… and by doing so include other elements that help tell the story. Indeed only by exploring the possibilities of the subject/object we are trying to photograph will we find  a viewpoint that instinctively feels right for that picture.

Looking up at buildings, or people, makes them appear taller and more important… why do you think speakers stand on a podium? And the next time you fancy a burger (other fast foods are available) check out the viewpoint… it’s usually from slightly below and makes your quarter pounder seem so much bigger than what arrives in the wrapper… you know why they chose that viewpoint now!

Graeme is a photographer in the North East of England. You can visit his website at graemerowatt.com.

WordPress logo

Should you enable auto-updates for your WordPress website’s plugins?

With the recent launch of automatic updates for your plugins, should you enable auto-updates for your WordPress website’s plugins?

The WordPress experts at Peacock Carter take a look at what these automatic updates are, and whether it’s right for you to enable them on your own website.

What are automatic updates in WordPress?

If you missed the original announcement, here’s a introduction to automatic updates (or “auto-updates”) in WordPress: as of WordPress 5.5, launched in August 2020, you can now manage whether plugins automatically update when a new version is available.

Automatic updates in WordPress have been around for quite some time, as it happens – but there was not previously a way to enable automatic updates of plugins in WordPress’ administration panel.

By default, auto-updates are not enabled for your website, and you need to manually enable them. You can read about how to do enable auto-updates on WordPress on our sister blog, here.

You can ascertain if enabling auto-updates is suitable for your WordPress website by asking a few questions:

1. Do you have a sturdy back-up and restore process for your website?

If the answer is yes, and your website isn’t “mission critical”, you should be OK to enable auto-updates for your plugins. Even non-critical websites should be backed-up and easily able to be restored, so if this isn’t something you have in place, we highly recommend you ask your current web design agency or hosting company for guidance.

(As it happens, a future upcoming topic at our local WordPress meetup, WordPress North East, is on the very topic of backing up and restoring! Videos of the talks will be made available after the event.)

2. Do you trust your WordPress plugins?

The testing and quality assurance of WordPress plugins varies greatly. Some more well-known plugins such as Yoast SEO, are regularly updated and compatibility with new versions of WordPress will be high in most cases, whereas more obscure plugins will have a less frequent update timetable. You can review how often plugins are updated on their plugin page on WordPress.org to give you an idea of whether they’re maintained on a frequent basis and therefore – in theory – are more likely to be suitable candidates for enabling auto-updates.

If you don’t trust all of your WordPress website’s plugins, you could enable auto-updates just for those you do: this is a smart way to manage smaller WordPress websites with a variety of plugins.

3. Is your website “mission critical”?

If you website is “mission critical” (e.g., an ecommerce store which sells 24/7, or it contains some business tools which are high priority for your business), then enabling auto-updates probably isn’t for you, at least in your live or production website, and it may be worth talking to your WordPress developers or hosting company if you don’t already have processes in place for regular updates.

If you’d like more insight on WordPress and auto-updates for your organisation’s websites, please do get in touch on 0191 375 5713, or by emailing hello@peacockcarter.com.

Copywriting tips for small business websites

Ask The Experts: Copywriting tips for your business website

Peacock Carter are experts at web design and development, but it takes a huge variety of skills to design, build, and populate your website with content and imagery, and then to market it to your customers.

Our new ask the experts series takes to Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to bring you hints and tips from experts in their own fields, and today we’re looking at writing content for your website, or “copywriting”.

What do our copywriting experts recommend to those small business owners trying to write their own website content?

“Only write to one person”

“Only every, ever write to one person. Not “as many of you know”. Not “Hi, everyone” – write every word with a laser focus on your one reader and, while we’re on the subject, make sure use the word “you” far more than the word “we”. People are interested in one thing. Themselves. It’s up to you to tell them how you’re going to make their life easier.”

Katherine Wildman is founder of Hadyn Grey Copywriting Agency

“Your visitors want clarity, not poetry”

“If I had one piece of advice I could give to someone who was struggling to find the right words for their website, it would be this:

Your visitors want clarity, not poetry.

Most of the time, people get scared of writing because they have the wrong idea about what those words need to do.

You are not writing to make your reader fall in love with you.

Yes, your text should reflect your personality, and express what matters to you (and them). And yes, a good copywriter will be able to craft sentences that are neat, clever, fragrant, and enjoyable to read.

But that’s secondary to the main role of words on a site, which is to tell the reader who you are, what you do, what you can offer them, and HOW THEY CAN COMPLETE THE TASK OR ANSWER THE QUESTION THEY CAME FOR.

It’s like being a doctor. If you’re giving a diagnosis, the most important part of that exchange is to get that vital information across clearly, so they can act on it.

Of course, the way you speak, make eye contact, stand, and express yourself play an important role in how much they trust you, or are comfortable around you.

But if your method for getting that stuff across is to tell them a 40-minute story about how you’re cool under pressure, then you’ve failed the big test – which is to give them what they need, and get out of the way.

Plus, you’ve probably bored them to tears, and their parking has expired.

So, by all means think about how you talk, how you’re different, and what you offer. And when you’ve done that, make sure you offer REASONS AND EXAMPLES of why you’re special, rather than just say you are. Keep practicing, and drafting, until you’re happy. Even the best writers do that. It’s okay.

But the most useful work you can do is to find out who your users are, and what they want from your site. What questions they’re asking. What they need to know. And how to satisfy that need in as simple and useful a way as possible.

And if your site doesn’t answer those questions, or doesn’t help them get where they need to go, no amount of flowery adjectives or wild word-magic will win them back.”

John Hill is a freelance writer and audio journalist, and also a head of content at Pickle Jar Communications.

“Not every can write effectively”

“One point I always come back to – and which it took me years to truly realise – is that not everyone can write effectively. Don’t feel ashamed if you’re struggling to write your website content, but conversely, don’t think it’s a breeze and your copy will never be the root of any issues you’re having.

If you have budget for it, hire someone who does it day in, day out. Your copy is the first piece of brand engagement someone could have with you. Make that first impression count. If you don’t have budget, write regularly and analyse your results. The more you write, the more you’ll realise what does and doesn’t work. Learn from this and you’ll end up producing content that’s perfect for your audience (but this does take time – it’s a process that you’ll hone over months and years, not hours or days).

For B2B organisations in particular, tell your audience what problem your solution will solve. Put yourself in their shoes – what do they want to hear? 9 times out of 10, they don’t want to know the ins and outs of your technology (at least not at first). They want to know how it’s going to make their life easier, save them money, improve their processes, etc.”

Dan Smith is Head of Strategy at Quadrotech.

Approach your topic from the perspective of your customers

Approach your topic from the perspective of your customers, not from your perspective. Think about the language they use, the things they ask for or search for and write to make things easy for them. Having a specific customer in mind (the sort you want more of!) when you’re writing web copy will help you focus your tone and content to your target audience.”

Jessica Rose is a copywriter and founder of Co Relate, a content creation agency.

WordPress training courses in the UK

Introducing virtual WordPress training courses

As a WordPress design agency founded in 2006, we’ve worked with clients including the University of Edinburgh, the NHS, and Women’s Aid Scotland to deliver valuable training for a wide variety of organisations, from universities and charities, to public sector and commercial clients.

We’ve translated our popular WordPress training courses for virtual learning, delivering the same high quality of courses we can be happy with. Digital and video conferencing brings its own unique challenges for training courses, including audio and video issues, and our trainers are now well versed in working around these wherever possible.

How the virtual WordPress training sessions work

Our virtual WordPress training sessions typically run for a half or full day (or for some courses, over multiple days), and are structured enough to provide all of the content you need, whilst being paced to allow you to absorb the information and skills we’re sharing. You and your team are invited to a video conferencing session (or we can use your preferred system), and our experienced trainer will guide you through the course content.

As with all of our training courses, we use a mixture of learning styles, including presenter-led learning and “learn by doing” content. We also recommend our popular WordPress workshop / Q&A format, which allows trainees the chance to try and test their newly learned knowledge with the support of a WordPress expert on hand to ask questions as they apply their learning.

Clients are welcome to “mix and match” learning modules to better suit their needs.

Available virtual WordPress courses

Our full range of WordPress courses are available to be delivered virtually, including:

  • introduction to WordPress – great for beginners and those new to using the system to manage their website(s)
  • Introduction to SEO for WordPress – ideal for those small business owners and website managers who need to know what they can to do improve their website with search engine optimisation techniques within WordPress itself
  • How to build a WordPress website – ideal if you want a helping hand to create your own WordPress website

If you would like to book a virtual WordPress course with Peacock Carter, please call us on 0191 375 5713, or email hello@peacockcarter.com.