Field Notes Blog
News and thoughts on UI/UX, web design, and more.
There are LOTS of options for creating websites nowadays. As a new site owner you're most likely looking for one that's appealing, effective, reasonably priced and easy to use. For many people the best option is a hosted content management site they can log in to from anywhere and update using simple, web-based tools. For others a good choice might be learning some html and working with self-hosted Wordpress site. What’s best for you? Let's take a look.
Option A: Freebie
You can create a free site yourself using blogging services such as Blogger.com, Wordpress.com, TypePad.com or a website service like Google Sites.
Summary: A freebie site is a great option for a novice who is willing to roll up their sleeves and learn and who doesn't require a highly unique or customized site.
Option B: Self-hosted Content Management System (CMS) Site – WordPress/Drupal/Joomla/Etc.
These are sites built by downloading, installing, configuring and customizing free, open-source website/blogging content management system software. They are typically hosted on shared server hosting at about $8 per month.
Summary: A self-hosted content management system site can be a good solution if you're willing to handle the maintenance yourself or hire a pro.
Option C: Hosted Content Management System site – Weebly/Dashboard/Ning/SquareSpace and others
These sites are created on a hosted website platform, sometimes referred to as "software as service". Rather than downloading free software and running it on your own server, you pay a monthly fee to access the system where your site is built and hosted. These sites are backed by companies with developers and support staff who continually work to improve the system and keep it secure. Your monthly fee frees you from worries about database backups and security patches.
Option D: Custom HTML site
These are sites built from scratch by a developer usually in xhtml and css (or a database language such as php) and are hosted on shared server hosting (Blue Host, GoDaddy, Network Solutions or one of those services).
Putting It All Together
The options put forth here are based on what I’ve learned in working with over 300 sites since 2003. As you can guess, my best recommendation for small business owners is usually a hosted content management system site, but no two people or businesses are alike so the solution depends on your particular needs.
For most of my clients, loading security patches and learning html is not their idea of fun. It makes more sense for them to get a website that’s easy to work with and worry-free so that they can focus on writing compelling copy, getting great photos, and developing their marketing. The extra cost per month in hosting is quickly recovered in the time you save in being able to quickly and easily work with your site - especially in being able to promote it with search engine marketing.
I see a lot of sites that are seldom updated because the owner can’t remember how to work with the site and can’t afford to hire help. This dramatically reduces the site’s effectiveness for search engine optimization, not to mention the fun of having a site. I believe that the hosted content management system sites offer the best combination of value, scalability, and ease of use. They provide a great foundation to build a business upon. If you’re interested in trying out a free demo, just drop me a line.
There are more options and details than listed here of course, my goal is to peel away hype and complexity and give you simple, useful options you can immediately put into action. I'm here to motivate you to take the first step and help as you learn ... and there’s never been a better time to jump in. Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments and feedback!
If you are looking to start a freebie blogging site, I recommend Wordpress.
If you are looking for high quality, inexpensive shared server hosting I use and recommend Blue Host.. You get a free domain ($12 value) with their $6.95/mo. hosting. I’m proud to be an affiliate and recommend them because of their stellar support.
If you are looking for an easy to use hosted content management system site I recommend Dashboard, again based on ease of use and terrific support.
One More Getting Started Idea:
If you are interested in just setting up a Facebook Business Page to begin with, I offer an inexpensive FaceBook Start Up package that is a quick and easy way to get online in no time.
About the author
As the owner of Pixel Lava Interactive I've helped hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits with websites, graphic design and more. I hope you'll find this blog full of useful information.
~ Ame Stanko