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The Great Migration - Winter is Coming!

Why we are moving all our clients to Wix's new Editor X.

Looking outside my window and observing the first 'real' snowfall of the season, I can't help but notice how absolutely beautiful it is! The new, shiny white coat of fluffy clouds covering the ground, hiding all the little imperfections. A bright red robin brilliantly contrasting against the 'modern' minimalist backdrop the snow created. The branches of the trees that have long since lost their leaves coated in a thin layer of snow and ice reflecting the sun in a million different directions and covering the ground in sparkles that dance with the wind while interlacing with the dark green of the evergreen trees which are sporting their own dusting of snow. It is picturesque. Almost designed. And yet, despite the beauty that comes with the fresh snowfall, I have lived here in Canada my whole life and I know what comes next. There is a reason that Game of Thrones easily popularized the saying: 'Winter is coming.' It's not scary snow wizards we need to be afraid of. It's: Shoveling; Defrosting the car; Slipping and sliding while trying to navigate the parking lot with my feet; The plow will coming and digging up all the dirt and debris under the snow only to place it into ugly brown piles all over the place; Dodging the cars of people whose overconfidence convinced them that they didn't need to invest in winter tires this year. Speaking of which, all the preparations that had to be made for this day: Throwing a small fortune at specialized snow tires so my wife can get to and from her work which never has a snow day; putting all the comfy outdoor chairs and kids toys into the storage container for the winter, not to mention the money that will disappear into keeping our home warm this winter. The fact is, despite its initial beauty, I know how much work it is going to take to make it through the winter, and a little piece of me feels the jealousy creeping in of those who are waking up in homes, looking out the window at the palm trees and double-checking to make sure their swim gear made it through the wash so they can enjoy a dip in their pool this afternoon.

And just in case you thought I was about to try and sell you a winter home in Florida and were about to go find something else to read to avoid the sales pitch, let me get to the point:

I have worked with several online website building and server hosting platforms over the years. WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, Spotify, Weebly, WebFlow, and more. While each of them has its strengths and weaknesses, I have settled into using and specializing in a single platform and have slowly, successfully, and with high client satisfaction, been moving all our client's websites into Wix. Specifically, Wix's new Editor-X, while using Wix's coding integration tool, Corvid, (not to be confused with Covid) which we have been spending many hours each day pushing to its limits. Between the powerful grid and layout system available within Editor-X so we can design just about anything we can imagine; the large dataset and database organization and coding available through Corvid that allows us to develop self-creating sections of the website based on client or user input while creating great web apps to accommodate both our clients and their users; And the basic website building needs like their amazing pricepoint, low maintenance, ease of use, client dashboard, integrated and powerful social media and email campaigns, built-in analytics, customizable workflows, and so on and so forth, it is no wonder we settled here.

Ok, now to bring the idea of website builders and that beautiful snowfall outside together:

We built and maintained websites primarily in WordPress for our Clients. Why? Because...

  • it was the industry standard.

  • if we could dream it, theoretically, we could build it.

  • there were a lot of people creating and selling apps, widgets, and templates that could speed up our development speed and initial cost.

  • while more user friendly for our clients, we were confined by too many limits on use and design on simple web builders like Squarespace and GoDaddy.

But, despite the online real estate beauty we could achieve using WordPress, the development time was extensive and expensive and the maintenance afterward was not much better.

Let's use one of our client's sites that we recently migrated from WordPress to Wix's Editor-X as an example. The website we built to house New Brunswick's Recreation and Sports Policy Framework. A report the New Brunswick Government released in 2017. This website's original purpose was quite simple. Have an online home where people could read and download the Policy while displaying those businesses and organizations who helped make the policy a reality. Easy Peasy!... or was it?

The original design was to be a landing page with a read online and download button, and a gallery to display logos. Then the framework would be broken down section by section to match the layout of the print copy of the policy, which was also beautifully designed by Abol Media (then Terry Kelly Productions).

The landing page was easy enough, but the gallery did prove to be troublesome with the multiple sizes and dimensions of the logos. The framework was a little more complicated. We used a template and purchased a plugin (widget) to build the pages to all be similar. This limited us in design but gave us functionality. It always felt like we could have one or the other, but it was a struggle to have both beauty and functionality. We also purchased several other plugins to add security, a back-end login for the client, to better arrange the logo media gallery, etc. etc. etc. Several days later, a number of headaches, lots of coffee, and some plugin installation issues, and we finally had a beautiful website worthy of the policy. But it was slow. So we bought another plug-in to speed up the site and paid for better hosting. And it was... less slow, but certainly not as fast as we would have liked.

The client loved it. We launched. It looked beautiful and was functional... for a few days. Enter the annoying maintenance requirements. Almost weekly updates to the plugins, sometimes to the point where the website would freeze up, sections would stop working, or page load times could exceed 20 seconds. Then enter WordPress updates, where the site would break until the developers of the plugins caught up to the update. Fast forward to a year later when the plugin and hosting fees all came due and we had to forward the invoices to our client. Just like that beautiful snowfall, it took a lot of work to prepare for it, and a lot more to live day to day life within it.

About a year ago now, Wix launched its Editor-X Beta and I was one of the first to get my hands on it. And I had caught on to all the nerd hype surrounding its release. I jumped in headfirst and started spending days, evenings, sometimes entire nights in the editor obsessing over what it could do. The first few weeks were quite buggy, but a stuck it out because the new grid and layout system had me hooked, and I had built a couple of dozen sites in Wix's original editor (I loved it as well, but it's layouts, while super user friendly, were limited) and I had always loved Wix's commitment to their product just always working. After a few months in Editor-X, with the bugs mostly worked out and us having coded workarounds for the rest of them using several clients who were willing to deal with the potential issues (which were really very minimal) in exchange for the design and functionality we could achieve using the editor and our design and development skills, we started the process of migrating our existing client sites to Wix. It was an easy sell for most of them. We would create for them an easier to maintain website, with the client having more control over the content, that was better designed, faster, cheaper, and never went down.

Fast forward to December. We had become very proficient at website design and development within Editor-X. We have now created an extensive library of our own custom designs, apps, plugins, and widgets which we can adapt seamlessly to our client's design. We have perfected client content input making it so they can do their own updates to commonly changing content and can even fill in easy to use forms to create entirely new pages and searchable and filterable content. So we took the Sports and Rec Policy website, which was broken yet again on WordPress, spent a couple of hours redesigning in Adobe Xd to better match the original print version, a day to create a develop everything from the site -map to the individual pages. Came back the next morning and added all the media and content. Beta-tested. Fixed a couple of the issues we found. Soft-Launched. And voila. Done. What originally took us several days to complete, without being able to achieve our full design, now took only 2 days and was everything we dreamed and more. Not only is it the full realization of our design, but it is also lightning fast and it is always functional. No weekly checking up on updates. No stressing out for our clients that a large invoice is coming each year to pay for plugins. Just a simple hosting fee.

This is why we are in the middle of the great migration. Because winter came. It took a lot of work. It cost a lot of money. And we found a way to enjoy the beauty of winter without all the hassle. Design liberty mixed with a commitment to maintenance-free functionality.

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