I was one of the first indie production companies to run a website in the UK, we launched back in 1994 when I learned to code HTML in notepad. Every few years since, I have reviewed my website and upgraded it to newer technologies. But to be honest, it’s all been getting a little on top of me. Updating my static website, along with my blog, Facebook, Twitter and lord only knows what’s next… well it just became too much this year. For the last few years I have hobbled along with a website that was out of date and getting long in the tooth. But to overhaul it always seemed like so much work, it ended up back at the bottom of the pile (you can see all my old websites on Wayback Machine – very very cool).
And so I set about finding a solution.
What I needed was a Content Management System (CMS). But I didn’t want one building for me, that would end up sucking more time and money again in development and subsequent updating. I wanted to buy a solution ‘off the peg’.
You would think this would be easy nowadays, but finding something flexible, powerful, feature rich and cost effective wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. But I did find something. It’s called Jimdo. And it’s what I have chosen for my website. (they have a free version so you can get up and running easily)
Jimdo is a CMS that offers a robust, simple, elegant (without being overly fancy), flexible and easy to update site for very little money. And over the last few months I have migrated my whole site over to the new URL, www.livingspiritgroup.com
So is it the right choice for you? That depends on your level of programming skills, the size of your site, how often you want to update it, how ‘deep’ the site goes.
OK so here is, for me at least, what Jimdo does REALLY well.
1. It is easy to add, remove, drag and drop all manner of elements. That’s usually headlines, text, text with graphics etc.
2. It can handle adding HTML, so it’s easy to add pretty much anything you want. You will see on my main page I have Vimeo windows, Twitter feeds, Facebook, Google calendar. All added very easily. Check it out here.
3. It is robust. So far, it’s not failed at all.
4. It is rigid. It forces me to work the way it wants to work, and so I never get wrapped up in fiddly coding. It’s now all about content.
5. It’s skinable with LOADS of themes to choose from, though many are far from elegant!
6. It has a built in shopping cart system which just works. It’s easy to setup and run, unlike most other solutions which require a lot of work.
7. It’s cheap at around £150 a year for the top package (Business), or £5 a month for the medium package (pro), which includes them backing up your site and supplying bandwidth etc.
8. It’s updated regularly with new cool stuff, but not ‘so cool’ that I get distracted.
9. By its very nature, I am forced to be minimalist. This is a good thing.
10. It’s a perfect solution for a long term static website.
11. You can get into the CSS if you like. I haven’t bothered.
12. It has its own online slick control panel, the upshot being that I don’t need anything more than my browser to update the website.
13. It has a free email newsletter tool (though I don’t use it as I have a legacy solution).
14. It has a blogging tool too, but again I don’t use it as I have my own blog on Typepad. If I were starting a blog now, I might have considered using it though (and over Xmas will look at migrating it over).
15. It has a free version which I used to get going, then I upgraded to the Business package once I was happy (and they took care of the new domain name).
UPDATE – I als0 have a few WordPress sites which have all failed on occasion, or have been hacked. Either way ,I needed to fix them, something I am not good at nor do I need the stress. Jimdo being a hosted solution means THEY need to fix it if there is a problem. This is now my main reason for sticking with Jimdo.
UPDATE – Jimdo have given me a discount code so you can get 10% off if you use the code GUERILLA13 ).
UPDATE – Jimdo now has an iPhone and iPad app so you can edit on those more portable devices. Cool!
OK, here’s what it’s not so good at.
1. It’s not very flexible. This can be a bit frustrating, but for me this inflexibility freed me to concentrate on content and getting it done. There is also a learning curve. It’s not too long or too steep, but you do need to invest in learning the system.
2. It’s not for you if you like coding. It would drive you mad. Jimdo is for people who might understand some basic HTML and coding, but don’t want to do much of it.
3. It costs money. If you can set up a website yourself, why pay? (I pay to not have to spend time coding and for peace of mind).
4. There are a few ‘odd’ workarounds, but overall, I can live with them.
So there you have it. It really is a website-in-a-box and I can recommend it 100%. And I have tried several of the others now, which look better at first glance, but after you get your head under the bonnet, they just don’t offer the freedom or power that Jimdo does.
Onwards and upwards!
Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author