I’m facing a bit of a dilemma.

I’ve been asked to setup a new website for someone who wants to stand up a new business. In therory this is something that I can do quite easily. I know HTML and CSS. I’ve made a living building backends for web-apps. I do have an undeveloped eye for design, but I like to think I have an idea of the principal of good website usability; and as long as I’m not too ambitious, and aim for a minimal usable site, I can probably put together a simple static website.

The only problem is that this may not work for the person that I’m building a site for. This is someone that has no experience with putting together websites, and if I were to go down the static HTML road, I’d probably be on the hook to make changes going forward.

So the alternative is to use a CRM like Wordpress. That way, once I hand ownership of the site to the client, he could either contract someone else to maintain it going forward or even learn to do it himself.

Only problem with that is that my experience with Wordpress is quite minimal. I can get around the dashboard no problem, but when it comes to designing or customising themes or (sigh) using the Block editor, I’m just as much as a novice as he is. And I’m not sure to what degree I can leverage my HTML and CSS skills to style the site. I may be able to change a few things but I’d have to do so within the confines of the block templating system.

So, what to do?

Maybe the best way forward is to get a sense of how often this person would need the site changed. That’s by far the biggest variable here. I only know what he wants at a very superficial sense at this moment. I don’t believe it’ll need any sort of blog or product catalogue; just a simple landing page with contact details.

In that case, I’m wondering if a static site with just plain HTML and CSS would be enough. That’ll be easy enough to put together. It can probably scale with some basic dynamic aspects as well, maybe powered with a simple backend that can regenerate the site. Maybe something like Carrd could work here as well.

But the danger is that he’ll be locked into using a static site. Any changes would require someone who’s versed in HTML and CSS. Even worse would be a static site with a bit of backend “sprinkled in”. Then he’d be locked into using me. Not sure I like that for his sake or for mine. You read about those developers in The Daily WTF who’ve put together a custom backend for a “simple website” that has grown unwieldily and become a huge mess that someone who inherits it needs to cleanup or take responsibility for. The prospect of being such a developer is not a great one.

Which is why I’m looking at Wordpress, and wondering the pain of learning how to work with it is worth it. I guess it’s offsetting the potential future pain (and embarrassment) of transitioning a static site to a proper CRM later.

So, Leon, which pain is worse?