So You Want to Build a Website
Launching a new company website is a daunting task on any level. There are so many variables – so many things to consider. Outsource or in-house creation? Who writes the content? What framework to use? Where to host? Do we even need a new site? That last question is usually asked while frantically trying to juggle a normal workload with the creative thinking required to design, build, and deploy a website. Let’s walk through each of these questions.
Our journey in Web development hit a few speedbumps. Initially, we decided to outsource our design to a local company. The result was, to put it politely, unsatisfactory. After 6+ months of drafts, sample pages, miscommunications, and copywriting, we were left with a simple single page scrolling site and an unfulfilled contract. Here are the questions we asked ourselves before we started our second round of design. Outsource or In-House Creation?
As I mentioned above, we attempted to outsource our development. While not entirely a disaster, this ultimately wasn’t the best choice for us. We wanted some very specific functionality for our site that our development company couldn’t wrap its head around. While outsourcing didn’t work in our case, it may be the best option for your company. If you have any personnel with a knack for Web development you can probably create a good site. However, be aware that creating a site is VERY time consuming. This can be a tricky balance if you have to re-allocate billable personnel in order to create a website. When deciding outsourcing vs. in-house, the decision basically comes down to money spent for outsourcing vs. your time spent creating. If your time is more valuable and you don’t need as much control then outsource your design, but if money is a bigger priority, go ahead and build your own site.
Who Writes the Content?
In simple words, content is king. The content on your website dictates almost everything from where your site shows up in Google search results to how long visitors stay on your site. With that said, it is an understatement that your content needs to not only capture the essence of your company, but also be well written and readable. In our experience, the content creation was very much a team effort. Between our President, Sales and Operations Manager we were able to generate the bulk of the content needed for our site. It is important to have meaningful content that reflects the values and offerings of your company.
What Framework to use?
When choosing a framework there are a myriad of different options: HTML in a Bootstrap framework, Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, Wix, Square Space, and many more. Again, when choosing a framework, it’s a balance of work vs. worth. How much time and how much money do you want to put into the design. With options like Square Space and Wix, you need zero technical knowledge to create a good looking site. However, you are very limited by the functionality that they provide. Content Management systems (CMS) including Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal offer greater flexibility and expandability while still giving a solid framework. The CMS route requires more of a technical mind, especially if you want to expand the functionality of your site. Finally, if you have a good amount of Web Development experience (which probably isn’t the case if you’re reading this), then you can create your own site from the ground up using HTML, CSS, JQuery and whatever else you want.
We ended up choosing WordPress. It offered the functionality, security, and expandability that we required, while offering easy maintenance and upkeep. There are also 1,000’s of themes (some free!) that you can use in your WordPress site to make it look exactly what you picture in your mind.
Where To Host?
There is a reason that this is the final question. Your answer to the framework question dictates what hosting options you have. There are so many ways to host. You can use your own local server (not recommended), you can use GoDaddy (most popular, especially with WordPress), you can use BlueHost. Again, there are so many options. Some are cheaper, some are more expensive. Some things to consider when choosing a hosting package are your estimated site traffic, the size of your site, and how often you plan on updating your site. Most hosting providers offer support to help you get set up initially and keep your site running.
In The End
What it all comes down to is you - what you want and how you’re going to get there. Ask yourself the questions above and answer them carefully. The last thing you want is to waste time and money going down one road and then decide that you want to go a different route. I wish you the best of luck in your WebDev endeavors. Check back on the blog for more posts about our journey in the Web Development realm.
Digital Marketing Specialist
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