Do you really want to go it alone?
These days you have to have a website for your business. There are an infinite number of options as to what that site can do for you – and how much you can spend on it.
Before deciding whether the decision to build your own is really the cost-saving measure it first appears, it’s important that you know what you want your website to do for you. What’s its objective?
Is it a simple web-brochure or should it be a fully-fledged online shopping experience? Do you want your website to be something else entirely? Will you be maintaining it or will someone else be doing it for you?
If you’re reading this Websites 101 series of articles because you’re unfamiliar with the web and all it entails, then you should be aware that you may be better off hiring an expert to build (and possibly maintain) your website for you.
Having a play with some DIY website options is a good way to get some understanding about whether building your own website is feasible for you, or likely to be a long process that’s fraught with stress.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business websites section.
Building a basic website yourself and plonking it onto your hosted web space will involve a reasonable grasp of more than just a few computer concepts.
You’ll also need to know how to do a little computer programming in HyperText Mark-up Language (HTML).
If that doesn’t scare you off, Coffee Cup is a great HTML editor to use. It’s cheap, and you get a 30-day free trial to see if you like it. You can even get the previous version, which works fine, totally free.
In fact, there are a lot of great tools available from Coffee Cup that make some of the trickier aspects of website programming available to the beginner. There are even templates that allow you to build quite complex sites quickly and easily.
Content management systems
If the thought of programming scares you, but you still want to build and maintain your own website, then a website built on a content management system (CMS) may suit you best.
With CMS-based websites you are entirely shielded from the code for as long as you want to be.
If you want to try out a CMS-based website to see if you like the idea before you spend any money, I suggest you pop along to Blogger, create yourself a blog-based website and experiment a little. (You’ll need a Google account to get started, but that’s free too!)
With a CMS-based site you choose a default layout and design from a huge selection of templates and then add your personalised content, which can be in the form of blog posts, static web pages, text, pictures, audio, video… whatever you like.
CMS websites are great because what you see is what you get and it’s all done right there on the web and live immediately.
If you like the way Blogger works, then your website developer of choice can provide you with a customised CMS-based website to more closely suit your needs.
Be aware though that all CMS-based sites need to follow some rules in order to function. That means they aren’t as flexible as having someone write the website code from scratch to your precise specifications.
I think you’ve got enough homework for now. Feel free to have a good play with these tools, because you can’t really break anything.
Meanwhile, if you’ve got any questions about DIY websites, or can recommend some other resources for beginners, please share them below.