Designing Your Website

So, you're thinking about building a web site. After choosing your virtual private server or shared hosting provider, it's time to design your site! www symbol Designing Your Website

But where do you begin? Should you try to dive in and design it yourself? Sometimes this is just fine. However, if you don't have the time or talent, you might want to choose a professional to do it for you.

When choosing a professional to assist you in creating your website, you have numerous options and each option brings a higher cost. If you break it into cost tiers, it looks something like this:

  • Tier 1: You purchase a ready-made template, which the professional then customizes for your needs. Then, a content management system (CMS) is installed on your web host. They might or might not offer training, which will allow you to make updates to your own site using the CMS in the future. Expect to pay anywhere from $500-$2,000.
  • Tier 2: The professional helps you design your site, including developing the site architecture, and installing the CMS on your web host. Training is provided so that you know how to use the CMS, and support is provided in areas such as analytics, security, email, and SEO. Expect to pay from $2,000-$10,000.
  • Tier 3: This is not a wise option for the small business, with cost being the main reason. These professionals will develop and build multi-page sites that can be quite complex, complete with custom CMS. Of course, they offer all the services the Tier 2 professional would provide as well. Expect to pay over $10,000.

As you can see, it can be quite costly the more you require in terms of assistance in the building and maintaining of your website. So what should you know if you do it yourself?

Designing Your Website: CMS Is Key

If you decide to build your own site, a CMS is of the utmost importance. It will allow you to easily modify the content on your site, whether adding or removing content, without needing to know a single line of code.

If you're not relying on a CMS, you're using static html files, requiring you to locate the file you want to revise on your web server and then make the changes. Usually, you'll require assistance from a professional. Plus, relying on static html files lowers the chances someone can find you in a search, which will probably lead to you converting to a CMS in the end.

Designing Your Website: Look To Your Host

Does your shared hosting or virtual private server hosting provider provide a free site builder? Put it to work! This site builder usually gives you a few choices as to templates that you can then configure to fit your needs. Go Daddy offers a website builder, as does Bluehost (called Weebly.) They are both simple drag and drop interfaces, making it a great starting point to getting to know website building.

Designing Your Website: WordPress

WordPress is the most popular CMS today. Why? It might be the plug-ins and add-ons that are free to users, and the fact that it is created by an entire community of developers — this means a lot of places to turn when you need questions answered! Thousands of themes are offered for free, and they're easy to customize.

Designing Your Website: A Word About Website Templates

If you've decided going with a template is for you, here are the pros and cons:

PROS

  • It is ready to go, and customizable.
  • It is fast. You'll find your website up and running a whole lot faster than starting from scratch (as long as you have your content planned out!)
  • It is much cheaper than paying for a professional graphic designer, and if you don't mind design limitations, even free!
  • Thousands designs are available all over the Internet.
  • The template was designed by a professional, and therefore looks attractive.
  • Highly functional, with sub-domains like ‘about,' ‘contact,' and ‘home' already provided for you.
  • When choosing a template, you get to see how users will experience navigating your site before you spend all that time building it yourself.

CONS

  • Many others might have the same design as you, so it is no longer something that represents your company exclusively.
  • Most templates are limited in the level of customization you are able to perform.
  • Some templates require specific software to perform those customizations.
  • You need to know how to optimize any images you intend to use for proper website performance. You don't want an image causing your page to lag when loading, losing customers before they've even seen your homepage.
  • You need to pay attention to the amount of graphic content vs. the amount of text your site is showing. If you have too many Flash animations and graphics, search engines will place your site lower in the rankings. SEO is important!

So, do you think you'll opt for DIY or template? What led you to that decision? We'd love to know!

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