1. Launch Your Site With Website Builders
Website builders are a type of online software provided by hosting companies that allow you to create and publish a website without manual coding. These include companies like Wix, Weebly, SiteBuilder, SquareSpace, and Webs.
Website Builder Pros
Website builders are great for beginners thanks to their user-friendly interfaces. Most feature page templates and drag-and-drop editors that make it simple for anyone to set up a website.
Not only that, but many website builders like Wix are free, with upgrades available for just a few dollars per month if you need additional features.
Website Builder Cons
Although website builders are user-friendly and cheap, they come with their limitations. For one, without access to your website’s code, customization options are limited.
With many free packages, you’re limited on the number of pages you can have, how much storage space you’re provided, and what domain name you can choose. In many cases, the website host reserves the right to display advertisements unless you upgrade your plan.
Website builders are best for beginners on a budget who are wanting to set up small personal websites. Website builders can also work for small businesses depending on their needs.
2. Use a Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is a type of software like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal that allows you to create and control digital content. Though there’s a bit of learning curve, they are more versatile than website builders.
WordPress is the most popular content management system, powering over a quarter of the Web. Though you can get started for free at WordPress.com, your best option is to go the self-hosted route and download the full version of the CMS at WordPress.org. The software is still free, but you’ll have to pay for hosting through a company like Bluehost or Hostgator. (You can also host your website on your own servers, but this is rare.)
Once you’ve set up your website through your host, install the CMS software onto your site. Luckily, most hosts like those mentioned above offer one-click installs to make the process completely hassle-free. Your host will email you when the install is complete. Then, simply log in to your website and begin building it!
With a CMS like WordPress, you’ll have access to thousands of templates or can upload your own. You can also install third-party plugins, which expand the functions of your site, as well as access your website’s code for full-range customization.
The software can power the smallest of personal websites to large corporate websites. In fact, many big brands like Tech Crunch, Time, and The Wall Street Journal are powered by WordPress.
WordPress can accommodate blogs, portfolio sites, eCommerce websites, forums, booking sites, coupon websites, and much more. Plus, it comes with the tools to make your site mobile-friendly and easily discoverable by search engines. Basically, your only limitations are in your hosting provider.
It helps to have a bit of technical knowledge when using content management systems, but with how popular these platforms are, it’s pretty easy to find help around the Web.
Also keep in mind that security is an important concern, especially with a platform as popular as WordPress.
Content management systems are a great choice for most people, and though they come with a bit of a learning curve, there are plenty of resources available online. However, they aren’t for everyone; large corporations, social networking sites, and large eCommerce operations may find that going the complete custom route is better for them.
3. Build Your Site From Scratch
A final option for building your website is starting from scratch. You can do this by designing your site through HTML, which is a globally recognized programming language that controls your site’s formatting and content.
Building From Scratch Pros
Building your site from scratch with HTML is a good option for static websites. It allows for complete customization on the appearance and layout of the site, and assuming you don’t plan to change your content often, there’s little to no maintenance required.
Plus, these websites tend to be more secure than those built with website builders or content management systems.
Building From Scratch Cons
Building a site from scratch comes with a huge learning curve and can be difficult to manage if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
If you want to hire a web developer to handle the customizations for you, it can get quite costly. Plus, you give up some of your control because you’ll have to get in touch with your web developer when you want to make changes.
HTML isn’t the best option for dynamic websites where the content is constantly changing.
Unless you’re a web developer yourself or a large company willing to hire out the task, there’s really no reason you need to go the completely custom route.
With all these choices, it can be tough to decide which option is right for you, but it all comes down to your needs, budget, and skill level. If you’re an individual on a tight budget, start with a website builder. If you’re a bit more tech-savvy, willing to put in a bit more money, and need additional functionality, go with a CMS. If you’re a web developer or a large company with the means to invest in a completely custom design, consider starting from scratch.
This is a guest post by Robert Menning.