blog, Website Design

Independent Car Dealer Websites

A while back I posted about the headaches of automotive website CMSs (http://defoenet.com/2016/01/06/another-cms-change/). Now just over a year later I’m working at a company that sells software and products to the automotive industry.

Since I started working at this auto dealer vendor I’ve been thinking a lot about creating a CMS for independent car lots (for those not familiar with the industry, these are the stand alone used car stores that have no new car manufacturer affiliation).

WordPress?

I have tested a few designs using WordPress and found them to complicated.  I also don’t like the server resources that a WordPress site uses.  Because the website is essentially a retail website there is no reason to have all the bloat that comes along with WordPress.

PHP and MySQL?

I started working on a site using PHP and MySQL and the site was running efficiently and had a very quick load time.  Then I tried to consider the ease of creating a back-end tool for very non-technical people to be able to add and modify content.  Rather than write the code myself I went looking for some sort of plug-in that could be used.  I found a few but haven’t been able to test them out yet.  Part of this due to the fact that I actually need to purchase the software before I can test it.  Limited budget is a problem.

Having worked on a mobile app in the past year a thought occurred to me.  “Why not try using PHP and SQLite?”  I found a nice little free SQLite CMS and played with it a little bit.  This may work with some modification.

Why SQLite?

One of the nice things about SQLite is that it is portable.  In many of my automotive industry rants there is a common theme . . . no portability of data/content.  Because the SQLite database is a single file it can be moved/exchanged by a USB drive or if small enough even email.  Plus most modern languages work with SQLite so the data can be easily moved from one programming environment to another.  For more advantages visit: https://www.sqlite.org/aff_short.html.

Hybrid Environment?

Thinking about this issue for a while I’m leaning toward a hybrid situation.  Because the main issue is the content (hence the CMS term) of the website and not the functionality.  Moving forward the programming for the independent dealer websites will be done in PHP using MySQL for the majority of the site.  However the individual pages that make up the content of the site, including a blog section, will all be housed in a SQLite database.  That way if a dealership wants to move the content, have content for a mobile app, or who knows what else the future will bring, it will be portable and easy to move.

I had hoped to have something up and running by the end of 2016 but that didn’t happen.  Hopefully this project will be completed by the end of this year and full featured websites at a reasonable investment will be available for sale to independent car dealers across the nation.