Alternatives to Microsoft FrontPage (WordPress of course)
It seems odd that I would put a blog up about a software that has been retired for 10 years now. Funny thing is there are still a whole lot of FrontPage users out there. And on the eve of Windows 10 (can you believe windows 95 was 20 years ago…wow), it seems like an appropriate topic.
First I want to tell you there are still people out there that offer FrontPage hosting. I would be very leery of those hosts. Its not possible to offer true FrontPage extensions and be running an up to date server. Sure there is Sharepoint but that’s not what the home user would be exposed to. What that means to you guys is that the server is far more vulnerable to attack.
Plus it seems that as the versions of Windows has marched on, how well FrontPage works seems to be diminished. Honestly I’m pretty shocked when someone can actually still install and license their old version of Microsoft 2003. My ability to register the software stopped sometime back in 2008. But, I change my computers a lot.
Now I have to admit it. I LOVED FrontPage. I was always better at it than Dreamweaver and making edits were a snap. I could make any type website you wanted with it and understood it inside and out. So I truly understand those of you out there that are reluctant to put the software down and step away. Its like loosing your childhood pacifier on some level. But and this is really big but, you cannot be a serious web marketer in 2015 using MS FrontPage.
We can first look at why Microsoft abandoned the software. Mostly it was aimed at the home user that wanted to build a website. As time has evolved, many folks use MS Word to publish docs to their intranet so its just not that necessary anymore in the business world. There are so many applications that would do what FrontPage would do and I think Microsoft could see the writing on the wall that FrontPage was going to go the way of the dodo.
More importantly the feature that we FrontPage junkies loved the most was the one thing that makes it extremely deadly for web server security. I could pull a file and edit it over port 80 and save it. For those of you that are tech types, it means its writes files over the same port that displays files for the web.
Not to get into a huge web security discussion, I hope its sufficient to just say, that’s not the best way to do things. But boy was it brilliant and probably why I’ve moved in the direction I have in web development.
So how do you kick the FrontPage Habit?
There are many different ways to approach this. Of course there is Adobe’s Dreamweaver, which really is a great piece of software, but complicated especially if you don’t have CSS down. It’s not easy to get the hang of out of the box. Really its for the pro’s.
The next path is one that makes me insane, I admit it. There is a whole group of people that offer web sites with this easy to use interface. It makes having a web site easy. But easy is not really what moves a business down the road. But there are HUGE drawbacks from these websites you sign up to and build your site on their platform. I have a mental block when it comes to SquareSpace, mostly because I”m a gamer and remember when SquareEnix was Squaresoft. SoI can never remember their name. But here’s my beef with these type sites, in my opinion, small business cant compete with large competitors using these tools. They are billed as such but I don’t really find that to be the case.
Not to get in a huge discussion but in my opinion you cannot control the software to the level that is needed to compete on Google. So I know what your thinking…your thinking, how can an old FP website be competing on Google. The navigation of a Frontpage website that is set up correctly, allows you to easily rank. So despite all the other reasons I don’t like cookies cutter, come here pick a template. We’ll give you 5 pages web builders. It’s just not in small business’ best interest to go down this road.
So What DO I recommend as the alternative to FrontPage? Why WordPress of course!
Let me lay out for you why WordPress is the perfect bridge from a Frontpage site and keeping your successful FP website successful. WordPress allows you to the ability to build your website in the same manner your old site was done. Once you wrap your head around the fact that you don’t have to build everything by hand, or add to the navigation, you’ll be off and running.
There also is not a sole alive that can tell me they can’t learn WordPress, there is a glut of WordPress help videos over in YouTube so you can get the hang of it. Yes I understand when your older change is hard. And I’m assuming if your refusing to give up your software from 2003, your now older. But once you get the hang of it WordPress is a fantastic and secure alternative to FrontPage, if you keep up with your patches (its easy, you just push a button)
From the hosting perspective, wordpress hosting costs you nothing extra. You have total control over your website and can edit it. And the day you decide you don’t like your web host, you can EASILY roll up your tent and move on without being stuck like you are with these Wix-Weebly-Square-Shopify models. Sure there are some people that want a 5 page brochure website.
If that is your goal, I can’t really argue that. But if you ever intend to rank in a search engine and have a website that your customers will take you seriously, those are not the roads to follow. Again that’s my opinion. And sure you can say I have a dog in the hunt. But really, because of all the mentoring I do though the SBDC here in Houston as well as HWCOC, I can’t tell you how many folks I run into that can’t do what they need to do to to have an effective (with the word effective being the operative word) website. One of the first things I cover in base SEO class is there is a need for 100 pages for the website to be perceived by the search engine that your a serious website.
You easily could have 100 pages in FrontPage. I once had a client with 250,000 pages built in FrontPage. In WordPress, easy to have 100 pages…And that’s what’s needed for you to be a serious contender on the web.
Lastly finding a WordPress web host is not hard. If your one of our clients, you already have it available to you. And of course, my staff is well versed and helps get things running. I don’t know that all web hosts do that. So if you need that extra support with the product I would recommend asking.
And just for that one tip. Ask your host to set you up a beta version of the website that you can easily move the copy of your website into, get all setup and moved over and go live.
Later this week I’ll blog on some of the best WordPress Plugins to help make your transition easier!