So, you want a website?
You want it to look professional and bring you more followers, money, readers, friends or whatever you want it to do, you want it to do it well. There are so many options for someone in your position that it can sometimes become overwhelming. In this article, I will explain all the options you have to get your dream website listing all the pros and cons for each option, so hopefully when you have finished reading this, you will know which route is for you.
Let’s get started with the basics:
All websites need a domain name.
A domain name is how people can access your website’s files and folders using a browser on their device. For example, Google’s domain name is “Google.com”.
All websites need hosting.
Websites are made of files and folders, like what are stored on your home computer. On your home computer your files are stored on your hard drive so you can access them when you click on the file/folder icon. So that people can access your website’s files and folders, you need to have “a hard drive” online, also known as “Hosting”. A place to host your website’s files.
That’s it. Pretty simple for what some people think is very technical, it’s just files and folders, online, linked to by a domain name.
Your website design options:
1. Website Builders.
“Drag and Drop” website builders have been entering the market now for many years. These multi-million-pound pieces of software provide users the ability to create a website without knowing any coding. Most hosting companies offer a site builder for free with their hosting these days, however the most popular site builder is Wix.
What are the benefits of using a website builder like Wix?
- You don’t need any coding knowledge
- You can quickly and easily set up a website
- You are in control of your content
- Wix will walk you through the domain & hosting purchase
Which all sounds great! But hold your horses, there are unfortunately a few downsides:
Using a website builder requires skill. Although the software is quite intuitive, you will still need good design skills to produce anything remotely close to what a professional web designer could do. You will also need to spend time learning the software which may or may not be your thing.
- You’re limited in functionality
- You are locked in to Wix’s service and can never leave
- You’ll pay extra for services as your website grows (emails etc)
- Potentially have lower search engine rankings
- It takes time to master
To summarise, if you need a simple website with limited functionality reasonably quickly, feel you have a natural eye for design and have spare time on your hands then I’d suggest going for a site builder.
If you are building a website which may need to grow, look at option number two.
2. WordPress CMS
WordPress claim to be powering “over 33% of the web”.
Which is probably true. It’s an amazingly powerful piece of open source software.
Here is a brief explanation of how WordPress works. There are two versions of WordPress. One is an online blogging platform which you can find here https://wordpress.com. The other version is the open source power house which you can download here https://wordpress.org. The .com version costs money, and the .org is free! (Although you still need a domain and hosting, like every website ever).
For the purposes of this article I will be talking about the .org version, as it is much more flexible than the .com version. With WordPress installed on your hosting, you can install themes and plugins on your WordPress website. Changing your WordPress theme will completely change the feel of your website’s design. There are millions of free and premium themes available to download online, just do a Google search to find some. Adding plugins to your WordPress website will add functionality to your website. For example, John decides he wants to make a WordPress plugin that will allow his website visitors to chat to each other using a live chat box on his website. Dave also has a WordPress website, he wants to allow his visitors to chat on his website too. Unfortunately, Dave doesn’t have the coding knowledge that John has and can’t make his own plugin. However, John shared his plugin with the WordPress community for free. Dave can download the plugin, install it on his website and have the live chat after all! Horary for John & Dave.
So that’s WordPress and how it works. What are the main benefits of using WordPress?:
- It’s highly functional
- It’s Free
- You can add functionality for free
- You are in control of your content
- You can change the look of your website with the click of a button
What are the drawbacks to using WordPress:
- There is a large learning curve
- There are so many options you may become overwhelmed
To summarise. If you need your website to be functional, scalable and you have time on your hands and a passion for web-based technology make your website from WordPress. You can even download and install themes like Divi from Elegant Themes, which is an intuitive site builder to be used within WordPress. Giving you the best of both option number one and two.
3. Pay A Professional
This option is the costliest, but the most efficient time wise. A professional website designer will be able to create your website better than any website builder. You can employ a WordPress developer to build your website using WordPress or you can have a custom built website for your business. Having a custom-built website will cost you a lot more than a website built using WordPress. It will also mean you will most likely have to stay with the same web designer as they know how they built the website and another web designer will need time to learn the website structure. However, a custom design will provide you with the exact website and functionality you want for your business or project.
Using a WordPress developer will give you the option of employing other WordPress developers or working on the website yourself.
To summarise. If time is important to you, you don’t feel like you have the technical ability or design skills to use WordPress or a website builder, then get a professional to build you something. If you have very specific needs, you’ll need something custom built. However, these days WordPress developers can modify the WordPress CMS to provide the most advanced functions, which will save you money building a website from the ground up.
Thanks for reading, I hope this has cleared up any questions you may have had. If you’re still unsure which option to take, contact us, we’ll gladly advise you further.