Building a website using today’s tools
Building a simple website used to be an ordeal that was only attempted by those with a large enough budget or the extensive knowledge to build one from scratch. As times have changed, and new technology invented, building a website today is nothing like it was ten years ago. New tools allow what used to take days in design and coding to be as simple as dragging and clicking your mouse. While that is great news, there are still some decisions to be made before jumping in.
Where do I start?
Building a website is a lot like getting a new home. There are tons of options to consider like starting from scratch and building from the ground up, or finding a condo that you can decorate to your heart’s content without a worry about structure and hard maintenance. For a comparison of the top three options, read our Affordable Website Design & Development article that covers the popular methods of website building. Picking what’s right for you and your small business from the start will save you time and money.
Hiring a professional
This is the most expensive option on our list, and for good reason. Hiring a professional is the way to go if you need a personal castle or skyscraper of a website created, or if you have the budget to just let someone else handle all the work. First you will need a Web Designer, who will act like the architect and make the blueprint for your website. With design in hand, it’s then time to consider where you will build your site. Think of hosting as the plot of land your home will sit on, making sure it’s big enough to fit the house you’re building. Once your blueprint is done and hosting set up you will need to hire a Developer who will actually build your site and put into play all functionality and code enhancements. Depending on the size and complexity, the price range can be dramatically different from one build to the next as well as from one developer to the next.
With WordPress you will need hosting first so that it can be installed. Getting WordPress is like having a house kit delivered. (Some assembly required.) There are tons of customizations and modifications for WordPress that change its form and functionality. This is great for the DIY business owner who doesn’t mind rolling up their sleeves and working to build something by themselves. Knowledge of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is almost essential, especially if you intend to modify WordPress from it’s blogging roots. We don’t advise trying this at home without it. WordPress core software is free and fairly easy to grasp the back-end content management system (or CMS in geek speak) making this a popular choice for those with the coding know-how. If you get in over your head it should be fairly easy to find a professional, which should make it a lot cheaper than starting from scratch. We’ve compiled all the steps you need in How To Make A WordPress Website.
Setting up a website with a website builder, like IM creator, is a lot like getting a luxury condo. Complete with a doorman. There is no prior knowledge required (all of the hard framework is already built-in), nor do you need to worry about maintenance as it is all included as well. All you have to do is pick or modify a pre-designed layout or create your own design to make your site look good, and “move-in” your content (like furniture). This is all done visually and in real time so there is no second guessing if you did it right or if the public is actually seeing pink elephants on the other end of the screen. Probably the best part is that for the price you usually pay just for hosting, you get the whole package with a website builder too!
Go deeper and compare your options
For an in-depth comparison between WordPress and Website Builders, see our recent article, WordPress Vs. Website Builders -The Guide For the Uncertain
More Ways To Create a Website From Scratch
While those are usually the top three picks for most small business owners, there are several other tools that can help you build your online presence in conjunction with the above mentioned services or can be used as standalone options to help build some buzz about your business.
Medium was created by the co-founders of Twitter for those looking to extend beyond the 140 character limit imposed by each “Tweet”. It has a full WYSIWYG style interface with plenty of options for formatting. Once you are satisfied with the layout you simply select a category and publish your content. In similar vein to Twitter, other members can recommend or upvote your content for more to see. To sign up for this service you are required to have either a Twitter or Facebook account.
Tumblr is Yahoo!’s foray into the social media landscape. It is what is called a “microblogging” platform combined with social networking. Most of the sites features are found within the dashboard upon login. There you will find live feeds of blogs you are following as well as the option to create your own. The most notable features is the ability to post nearly any type of content from video to text, and once connected with Twitter and Facebook, will automatically post for you. There is also the option to set up a queue for your content, allowing it to be spread out at pre-determined blocks of time, drip-feeding to your readers on auto-pilot. Another feature popular with this platform is the Tags feature that allows user to search based on a tag to find what they are looking for. It should be noted that Tumblr has a fair amount of Adult Content, so as a small business owner, you will want to keep on eye on your social connections.
With all the social media outlets available to market your business on, it can be difficult to maintain all those accounts. About.me took that premise and created a platform to link all of the most popular social networking identities that you use into a single place for convenience. You can also link to all your external sites and fill out a short bio to fill out this one-page, who you are at a glance similar to an online resume or CV.
Soup.io is another microblogging platform with social networking ties. This Austrian based site allows HTML editable posts of just about any kind of content. It proclaims to follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple,Stupid!) in it’s layout that features infinite scrolling. Users can also share up to 10 MB with other users and create events, as well as the standard bevy of social network features.
This is one of the most visually appealing blogging sites out there. Utilizing “UI schemes” you can easily turn a boring post into a visually appealing piece. Every post you make can have a full-page image which is great for building a brand. This site has a unique feel and has been picked up by some celebrities including Anthony Bourdain for their blog-use. If most blogs seem “boring” to you, this is definitely worth checking out.
We’ve mentioned just a sampling of some of the bigger, most often used options out there. With all these great tools at your disposal, it should be easy for you to get something built and to get noticed on the world wide web. Getting noticed is the first key step to increasing online revenue. And we like revenue.