Why You Need a Website and Where You Can Start
As you focus on moving forward to launch, build or advance your business, website development should be an important part of your strategy. In a not so distant past, most people would pick up the phone book and thumb through the yellow pages to find a business that could service their needs. Or some would just hop in their vehicles and ride to the commercial districts to access their favorite businesses.
Now that we are fully immersed in the technological age, most consumers hop on the handy-dandy internet to locate the products and services they need. When most people want to research your business and all it offers, they most likely will cruise on over to the internet and put in your website address. If they don’t have a website address on hand, most will go directly to a search engine like Google, and start with an investigating search to see what comes up. But when they launch their search what will they find? Will they find a well designed website that rocks? Or will your business website even be available on this vast computer-generated terrain we call the internet?
As a business owner, plugging into the stream of internet traffic is paramount to the growth of your brand and business. Not having a website or not having a web presence, such as a social media page, is not a good thing. You have to be present or be over looked.
We Are Social (https://wearesocial.com) in a recent study reported:
- There are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9 percent) versus January 2018.
- There are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, with the worldwide total growing by 288 million (9 percent) since this time last year.
These numbers are astounding! With that said, as a business owner you can’t ignore the importance of having a web presence of some sort. If you don’t have a website, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and prepare to showcase how you service your community and the world at large.
When preparing to build and design a website, the best place to start is determining what type of website platform is best for your business. Let’s dive in and see what’s available. But before we do, let us first define what a website platform is. A website platform can be define as online technologies and tools used to design and publish your website.
There are different types of website platforms in the marketplace that can be used to create your website. Let’s look at two types of website platforms:
- Build-it-yourself template platforms
Build-it yourself template platforms are great to jumpstart the process of creating your website. Some of the more popular platforms that fall in this category are: weebly.com, wix.com, squarespace.com. These website platforms are great for people who want to get their hands dirty and make the magic happen themselves by using the templates provided by these platforms.
When jumping in head first, just be aware of the pros and cons of using build-it-yourself template platforms. One of the pros include the various website templates available on these platforms. Starting with a template is a wonderful way to get the ball rolling. On the flip side, be mindful that some of the templates can present limitations when it comes to features and functionality. One functionality limitation that comes to mind is the ability to connect robust e-commerce systems commonly used to handle weighty transactions. If this something your business would need, then this type of platform may not be the best fit for you.
Another pro is the price to create your website using build-it-yourself template platforms. Some build-it-yourself template platforms start from $0-and up. When it comes to the free use of the platform’s website service you have to be willing to allow the platform’s branding to tag along on your website. Some of these platforms may require random ads on your site as well. From a branding perspective, this isn’t the ideal situation when you are working to build your brand.
One final con I would like to mention about build-it-yourself template platforms. Because these type of platforms tie the use of their template to their hosting packages, if you ever decide to stop using the platform’s hosting service and want to move on to another hosting company, you can’t take your website with you. This could present a big problem. This basically means you would have to start over when setting up your site on a new platform. With the amount of work, time and resources used to create a nice website design, this wouldn’t be an ideal scenario if you want to continue expanding your web presence to other suitable options as your business website functionality needs grow.
Let’s look at another website platform option:
2. Content Management Systems (CMS)
Now content manage systems platforms can be a little intimidating to those who are not tech savvy. This would be the first con I would point out. I suggest you work with a website design professional if this isn’t your thing. In any case, if you are willing to learn how to use these systems or hire a professional, the pay offs can be rewarding. Two of the popular CMS are Joomla and WordPress.
One key pro for these platforms are they are free and open source. Just so you know, open source means the source code can be inspected, enhance and modify by anyone in the software coding community. This is great because it allows the software to keep evolving and getting better, which is great for those who use the platforms.
A pro similar to the build-it-yourself template platforms, CMS offers templates too. As mentioned before, templates are wonderful for jumpstarting your website design. To add to this pro, CMS offers a ton of extensions and plugins to expand the website’s functionality. You can’t go wrong with that. There is a con though when it comes to the use of the extensions and plugins. Some extensions and plugins can be complex and the instructions not well-documented. But if you are working with a web designer familiar with CMS sites they should be able to figure out the complexities that come with the territory.
Another important pro worth mentioning as it relates to CMS, is the ability to take your website with you if you decide to change your hosting service provider. Just be mindful though when using the WordPress platform to opt for WordPress.org instead using WordPress.com. The latter can limit moving your site to another hosting company.
Well, this wraps up our look at website design and some of the options available to start creating your business website. Going forward, I encourage you to spend time educating yourself further on the options presented. In doing so, you can make educated decisions when building your website yourself or hiring a qualified professional to work with you. All the best and may you prosper!
© Tarsha L. Campbell, All rights reserved.