Creating Sparkle sites as a business

Hi all —

Can I ask if anyone in the community is creating Sparkle websites as a business? I am thinking about this initially as a side hustle with a view to expanding more full time later if it works.

Does anyone have any tips or pitfalls to avoid if starting out using Sparkle? Where do users host their client sites, what kind of workflow do you follow? any help appreciated before I dive in.

Thanks

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I do use Sparkle for client work. The best advice I can give you is to know the limits of the software and to design the solutions with that in mind.

Whenever i’m in the prototype and design phase I take the limitations of Sparkle in consideration from end to end - like right now we’re developing a web app that’s rather complex in structure but not in technology, so I just have to keep in mind what Sparkle do and don’t and then find a third party solution for that need and integrate it with Sparkle. Also practice alot so you get to know how to do Xs and Ys quicker in Sparkle.

My workflow is plan > design > prototype > information architecture (+ any third party service) > Sparkle

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Hi @Gordie… it is not a matter “if it works”!..
Sparkle is a very capable free-flow design platform for creating outstanding websites, minus all the hassles of the common issues with “responsive fluid” web design - Sparkle is “responsive fixed”. In the end it will be you behind it (Sparkle) that will make it work or not.

A reasonable sound knowledge in web design and development for paying clients I feel is a must. I mean they will becoming to you for professional advice. Also having a good understanding how far you can push Sparkle would be a great help. That knowledge allows me to know if I will take on the project or not.

I’m here in Australia so I rent space on a Linux-based sever running the latest PHP, that allows me to service our own clients. Sparkle uses a little bit of PHP for the form and the Blog Index page, so PHP is important. I have never had an issue with our clients over nearly 3 years hosting a Sparkle website! :slight_smile:

Mmmm… The workflow in the end is a personal thing but like Primo pointed out, it follows a pattern. What I do is get the most I can out of the client through a questionnaire > then interview > proposal / contract > plan on paper or iPad > prototype (sometimes I do this in Sparkle, or sometimes in Sketch and import it into Sparkle) > information architecture (including 3rd parties if needed) > design (client has access to a development platform to view milestone progress) > SEO > test > launch to the world wide web.

In some cases a pitfall could be clients not being able to make simple edits to their Sparkle generated websites, but there again I only deal with clients that just want to get on with their business and leave everything website up to me.

In the end your side hustle, possibly become business, is your creation. And the way you run it is totally up to you and in the end (if you don’t flip-flop) you will attract the clients that prefer your way of building Sparkle websites and maintaining them.

An extra tip - If you are good then charge a good price! Don’t base your services on price because you will get the clients “knocking on your door” based on price and looking for the cheapest… and those sort of projects never end well, mainly for the Designer!

I hope that is of help, and good luck! :slight_smile:

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Thank you for the information and tips – I appreciate the time you’ve spent replying. I suppose one of the reasons I asked is because I wanted to know if it’s the right software for me to invest time in learning. There are a few others I’ve looked at, including Webflow, Blocs etc and wasn’t sure which would have the right feature set.

I’m from a design background so Sparkle feels immediately familiar to me and I really enjoyed using it during the trial period. It’s good to know others are using it to design websites for a living.

I’m moving into digital more so any further tips are most welcome. Thanks for the help so far – I think knowing the limits of Sparkle is a good idea.

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@FlaminFig That extra tip is vital to filter out potential conflicting customers. Moreover, it is applicable to all areas :wink:

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Interesting:)
Concerning " information architecture (including 3rd parties if needed)":
I know the general, broad definition but how does the matter apply in your world? Can you mention some examples?

Kindly, Raaskot

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Yes sure @Raaskot

You can say building out a website is like writing a novel. There is a starting point, a story, and an outcome/ending. For the most part websites have a purpose behind it and that is the starting point that we “conjure” from the client. The client wants the User to perform certain tasks on their website before they leave, aka the outcome.

So the information architecture is the story… how we arrange the information to lead the User to the intended outcome, or in some cases outcomes.

So an example let’s look at an Online Coach. The aim for them is to have the User book a 1 on 1 introduction consult. So the information architecture would be emotively enticing with the language used and placed, the typography, constant reminders throughout the website’s pages via call to action buttons, clear directions in how to find the needed information for the User to make up their mind, etc…

In the end it is a fancy word for plain old common sense - how do I need to go about, and what do I need to do, to get the User to book with me before they leave my website.

I hope that helps! :slight_smile:

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Wonderful, thanks! Very comprehensible and useful explanation :slight_smile:

Kind regards,
Raaskot

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I have created Sparkle webpages in business context and used the app for finished web sites on several occasions.

Examples: The first one for the Danish Foreign Ministry is quite extended with many subpages of information/images/videos

Right now I use Sparkle to convey my progress in a e-learning project where I produce the content — mostly animated videos and motion design. Thus to make my work appear “internaly corporate visible” for the many participants. A tool for information/acknowledge if you understand.

I very often ask my self how to get clients to use Sparkle instead of ordering a webpage build in ie. Wordpress, but I simply haven’t figured it out.

Many webpages – especially presentation/contact pages – for small businesses aren’t that complicated. With little effort (I guess), purchase of Sparkle licence and my instruction the client could receive a finished predesigned setup and perform update editing themselves. With backups of course.

A business approach would be getting the client to understand, that Wordpress-management often appear much more confusing (and prone to plugin-update-misery) than earning basic interaction in Sparkle if the task was just ie. updating text and images.

People recognise the Wordpress biosystem and seems to put up with the utterly irritating wp-admin hassle. To suggest or “selling” Sparkle as platform as alternative yet seems uphill.

Perhaps a question in a new thread: Do any use Sparkle for client webpages (with client involvement) and how to manage objections?

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In my specific case, I handle everything for the client - so I don’t ask them to buy Sparkle or anything of the sort.

Objections are handled in the design phase (i.e Figma or whatever tool you would use to lay out the design and functionalities before going into Sparkle). That way you already have settled with the client:

  1. What the website should/will do
  2. How it will look like
  3. And if the website does what it should do.

As a professional, skipping this phase is going to generate you headache, generate the client some sort of confusion and it’s not a good approach to the job.

This is why Wordpress agencies are so successful with their approach: they already have everything laid out since their priority is on the client support and (mostly) not in designing or creating something new, rather just using a template and changing some things. The clients also have limited access to their Wordpress admin dashboard (in most cases), so they do still rely on the agency to create stuff.

With Sparkle you have an opportunity, as a professional, to really create something unique with your clients, and to let them be a part of the process, even when it’s not in the “Sparkle” development phase - in this becoming a technological partner for your clients, rather than handling them everything.

Also, as a example: I don’t understand law, i’ve never studied law/advocacy - I don’t want my lawyer to handle me the stuff and say good luck. When going pro, you need to be there for the client, since you’re the pro. You’ve studied, have experience in the subject and is a reliable source. Own it, charge what you must and be the pro.

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Thank you for all the additional information and viewpoints - and for taking the time to share it. It’s good to know there aren’t many things Sparkle can’t do which makes me feel more confident about using it going forward.

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The major problem encountered was that most of my clients wanted to manage their website content after delivery, but most of them did not own a Mac… Apparently, it’s common practice in my area to teach clients how to edit their Wordpress website. The solution I came up with was to offer free content editing service for a year (using Sparkle it is as easy as breathing).

Lately, as Sparkle’s features have been rapidly updated with what a web designer needs, I have rarely had to use third parties or HTML embeds to get what I need for the website.

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