Okay...I Need a Website, Now What?
Part 2: Software or Web Designer?
In part 1 of this article, we stressed the importance of branding to your business and to your website. This being the case, selecting the right domain name is crucial. Now that is done, it's time to think about how you are going to create your web site. You have several choices, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
You can purchase a design software like Microsoft's Frontpage or Macromedia's Dreamweaver and create the website yourself. The advantage to this is that the website is created and updated by you and you have no other cash outlay other than the cost of the software itself.
The disadvantages to this method are many. First is the steep learning curve required to create a website with these software packages. They appear easy, but it takes time to really learn how to use them effectively-so you have to weigh the value of your time while you are learning the software. Although these packages do a respectable job, they do add extra code which can cause your website to appear differently in different browsers if the user does not know how to modify the page at the code level. Another disadvantage is that by going this route, you are missing the expertise of someone who specializes in web design. Web designers take many factors into account: the goal of the site, the time it takes for the website to load on various connections, how the website will look in different web browsers, and usability principles just to name a few. A web designer will also offer you ideas on how to keep people interested in your website and how to draw attention to your website.
Another option, is to hire a web site designer or webmaster. I've mentioned some of the advantages of having a web designer above. Web designers are professionals who live and breathe everything Internet. They have ideas on what features to add to your website so that it will help various aspects of your business. Working with a web designer is a partnership and you must be prepared to spend time with your designer explaining what you want your website to do for you, and your corporate image.
The disadvantage to hiring a website designer is that the project can take several months depending on the web designer's project load and how quickly you can give feedback and content to your designer. The other disadvantage is that the cost of a truly professional web designer can be prohibitive for many start up businesses. However, if you are planning an e-commerce business with a completely integrated shopping cart and payment system, for a beginner to design the site themselves with Frontpage or Dreamweaver would take many months, a lot of trial and error and in many cases knowledge of other programing languages beyond these software programs. In this case hiring a professional web designer would be beneficial as they have done these types of websites before and can get you operational more quickly and avoid many of the e-commerce pitfalls. Even though your startup costs will be more, you will be earning an income quicker and it frees you up to market your site and find suppliers.
The third option is a combination of the two. By using a build your own website service, like Simple Site, you can have a professional layout and navigation system to your website without paying a professional designer; you have the control to add and remove your content as often as you wish; and, most of these services are available for a reasonable monthly fee which makes them affordable for everyone. More importantly, you can have basic website up and running within a few hours, then expand on it as time permits.
The disadvantage to this method is that you are limited to the features, layouts and colors that the service you choose offers. You also do not have access to the personalized knowledge of a web designer who can help you develop ideas for you website.
This is a critical decision in the process of creating your website. Take into consideration the amount of time you have to spend on the project, how much money you have to spend on the project and the role you want your website to play in your particular business.
Now that you have decided how you are going to build your website, the next step is to decide what information you are going to put on your website. This is discussed in Okay...So I Need a Website, Now What? Part 3: What should be on my website? Coming Soon!
InfoClear Internet Consulting