Intro to Websites. A General Approach for Anyone that Wants to Get Started

With over a billion websites on the internet, a website has become a necessity for every type of business. A website is most often viewed by a business, a group, or individuals. It is intended to help people learn something about the company or organization behind the website. Most often we think of business websites that provide information about what they do or what services they provide and how to contact them. Some businesses also sell products or services through their website. This is commonly referred to as “ecommerce”. There can be a large variety of features and functionality available for websites, but you must be able to answer a very basic question. What do I want my website to do for me?

Your answer will lead to more questions and in doing so you will come up with a list of important features that are needed to support the purpose of your website.

Not all websites are alike. Here is a description of common types of websites:

Content Management Systems (CMS

A CMS website is built so that the end-user can manage the content of their website rather easily. The basic website software has to be installed on a large computer called a web server. When it is installed you will have the ability to log into the software and make changes or edits to the website. It is designed to help website owners maintain their content such as text and images. You can also do more advanced changes to the website like adding more pages and changing the navigation, but you will likely need to learn how to do these more technical edits with help from tutorials, other educational options or you can hire someone to build your CMS for you and then you can take it over and manage it yourself.

Custom vs. Template Designs

The layout of web pages will determine where text, images, etc. are placed, can either be purchased as a template or it can be constructed one component at a time. You can learn more about the dos and don’ts of website layouts by searching the web for more information on that topic. A template is often purchased for a modest fee and then installed as part of your CMS. A template is designed by someone else and is sold to lots of other people. The other option is to hire someone who has knowledge and experience to design the layout for you.

In contrast to a template, a custom layout will be specific and unique to you and your needs. You can think of it as buying a new home. You can buy a house in a neighborhood where all of the homes look the same and they were all built by the same contractor using the same blueprint, or you can sit down with a contractor and tell him what you want and he will build it for you and to your specifications.

There is a consensus that a custom-built website has marketing advantages over a template website. Most businesses want to be recognized as different and unique from their competition. When you are different from your competition, you give your potential new customer a reason to pick you over them.

Custom Built Websites

Your other choice if not going with a CMS website is to have a website designed and developed by professionals. This option will limit some of your editing ability and you will need to submit your desired changes to the web developer and they will make the changes for you. The real advantage with this option is that you will have a minimal learning curve compared to managing a CMS. Using web service providers is much the same as using a plumber, electrician, or an accountant. They are all specialized in their field, can help out whenever needed and it will be done right.

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