Building Sitebase

Sitebase is a project I have been working on behind the scenes for a couple of years now. It offers small businesses with smaller budgets a clear path to a successful website.

Often small businesses with limited budgets don't have a lot of options that actually get them results when it comes to building a website. Custom development is expensive, and they are often faced with the choice of using a website builder platform like Squarespace or Wix and having a go at it themselves, or paying someone off Fiverr and the likes to do it for them. If they have a bash at using WordPress they'll usually be dazzled by some $39 theme on Themeforest that looks great in a demo, buy some crappy hosting, throw a bunch of plugins into the mix and create themselves a bunch of headaches. Which ever way the results are always pretty dismal.

Then there's the bad copy. Small business owners are pretty bad when it comes to writing copy. Often their websites end up being a shrine to themselves, with empty promises and generic cliched sales messages. In short, they tend to forget the focus of their website should be their customers and not themselves.

So the challenge and the nut to crack was to create a platform that made it easy to put together a great looking website with, robust managed tech so headaches didn't exist, and a blueprint for creating great copy.

The Solution

The Builder

The first step was to build the "site builder". It needed to be opinionated and have a structure and layout that was hard to mess up, whilst still being flexible enough to make each site look unique. A problem I have seen in the past is that site builders used by people that aren't designers is kind of like giving a kid a crayon.

Sitebase forces consistency in colours, typography, image sizing and text width.

The admin interface is also really easy and intuitive to use.

The Plaform

Getting the tech stack right was critical. It needed to be easy to maintain so we could deliver on our promise to make the whole experience stress free, it needed to be quick to spin up a new site so we could keep the price down, and it needed to be secure and redundant.

This was achieved by :

  1. Using a common codebase for all sites. A base stack could simply be cloned to create the skeleton of a new website.
  2. Using Amazon Web Services for upstream offsite backups to take care of the backup side of things.
  3. Using a proven server stack on a dedicated server in an Australian data centre to provide the hosting for all of the websites other than e-commerce.
  4. Using Vultr High Frequency Compute cloud server instances for the commerce sites.

The Blueprint

Surprisingly this part came last. I got to a stage where I had built out all the nerdy stuff and let some people loose on it. It quickly became pretty clear all I'd created was an easy way to make great looking websites quickly on a secure and reliable platform. Great, but it still didn't solve the whole content and copy issue.

So I went about creating the Sitebase Successful Site Blueprint which is introduced to the clients during the onboarding process. It goes through in plain language how to create the content and copy for their website in a way that when followed will work and get results.

The Service

The other thing that became apparent was that even with an easy to use site builder, a great platform AND a blueprint. People still needed a hand in putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. So I decided it would be best to bundle the product with a build service where customers would have an Australian based web professional put the site together for them and then provide some tuition in updating the content going forward.

The end result is a great package that is producing some awesome results for our customers. We've had a number of customers move over from other platforms like Wix seeing real SEO results for the first time. Our customers love the fact they just don't have any issues keeping their sites up and running, and they've always got someone to call if they need a hand updating their websites.

You can check it out at

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