If you are thinking about creating your own business’s website take a minute to consider the following:
1. What kind of website you need?
2. What features you want?
3. What are the website goals?
4. Do you have the time, dedication, knowledge and patience to create a website by yourself from scratch?
Creating a successful website is not easy. My students spend between 2 and 4 years learning web development, SEO, Internet marketing, ecommerce integration, color theory, layout design, photo retouch, image optimization, and design principles in order to become successful designers and developers.
Depending on what kind of website you need, creating your own website might be a good or a very bad idea. Below I review some of the pros and cons of building and maintaining your own website.
1. Site Builders:
Many web hosting companies offer many “easy and fast” site builders that claim you can build a website with no prior experience necessary in minutes. But is it really all just drag and drop?
a) A site builder option might be a good idea if all you need is a small, basic and static personal or informational website.
b) Most site builders are free so this is a good choice if you are under a budget.
a) Informational website: An informational website usually has only 1 or 3 pages where customers can basic find information about the business but they cannot really interact with the owner or the community.
b) Generic templates: If you are looking to stand out among your competitors this is definitively not a good idea. Unfortunately memorable websites don’t fit the generic template approach and these templates can never really match your company’s personality or goals.
c) Limitation: The drag and drop approach to build a site limits your creativity and your needs.
d) Tasteless free image library or clip art: Images are very important in a website. With good images user can get perused to buy a product or subscribe to a service. Good images can evoke emotions, trust and credibility in a website. Without a professional designer that can create unique icons or take, retouch and optimize photographs your business’s website is missing one of the most powerful tools to engage customers.
e) Website Analytics: Most free site builders do not provide you with essential data necessary to improve your business’s online presence. A successful website needs to track and collect visitor information so it can be analyzed generate more revenue.
2. WYSIWYG Editors:
What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) editors claim to provide an accurate editing method that displays real time results of the final website. Some of the most popular WYSIWYG editors include Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Contribute, Microsoft Expression Web and iWeb.
Most WYSIWYG editors state that “no XHTML, CSS or web design knowledge is required” however after many years of experience (using them and teaching how to use them) I can guarantee you that this is not true.
a) Familiar Interface: If you have use Microsoft Word or any other word processor, you might find that WYSIWYG editors have a very similar interface. You can copy/paste text and drag and drop images very easily.
b) Wizards: Most WYSIWYG editors provide some kind of wizards that will help you start up a website from scratch.
a) If you run into a problem and you don’t know the code there’s no way for you to troubleshoot. It’s like hiting a brick wall. When I have students that are new to XHTML they usually start from scratch every time they encounter a problem in Dreamweaver that they don’t know how to fix. This can be a real nightmare because it’s very tine consuming to start from zero every time you have a problem.
b) WYSIWYG editors do not display the content accurately on design view. This can be a real hassle because after working for 3 hours you might realize that in the browser everything is looking upside down. I always advise my students to work in code view and frequently test in browser to avoid layout and CSS inaccuracies.
3. Free Blogs:
Free services like Blogger, Thoughts, and Myblogsite offer a great alternative for personal pages but not necessarily for business’s websites.
a) Free hosting
b) Free templates
a) Reputation: Unfortunately blogs don’t have a good business reputation. Since the early 2000’s they have been associated with trivial everyday private thoughts and activities.
b) Ads: Some free blogs make revenue from ads, and this can disturb your customers affecting your online presence.
c) Unprofessional URL: The free URL you get once you sign up in a free blog website are a subdomain of the blog’s web hosting company so instead of getting a URL like www.mybusiness.com you’ll get mybusiness.bloghosting.com. This can look amateurish and unprofessional to potential customers.
4. The solution:
If you want to alleviate the costs of having a website build and maintained by a professional web designer or developer you should consider investing in the design and development of a CMS website.
CMS stands for “content management system” and it can provide you with the tools you need to manage your site’s content. Most CMS systems use a SQL database to store the information that is dynamically display with PHP or other web language.
CMS will allow you to publish your own content, interact with your customers, create user profiles, integrate social media, and keep your users informed through RSS feeds.
If you invest in a website’s solid foundation you can start small and grow later on.
If you have any questions about CMS based websites please contact me through my contact form. I’ll be happy to discuss the best web options for you and your business.