There are many ways to approach setting up your website. There
are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options,
and you have to weigh the pro’s and con’s for
yourself to determine which of these options would be best
for you. Just a few of the factors that you will need to consider
will include how much you will be able to spend, how much
time you have to invest, whether you will want to take the
hands on approach or leave your project in the hands of someone
more technical, the degree of difficulty that you feel comfortable
with, and how much freedom you will ultimately wish to have
in the direction you want to take your website.
I am going to discuss here three primary options in creating
your new website, one of which should be a terrific fit for
your online business.
1) Make use of a pre-fab website
Today there are multiple options for creating your website
inexpensively and easily without learning intimidating skills
like HTML coding, using complicated web authoring software,
or being a computer programming genius. Most of these services
charge only a small monthly fee (like $20 a month or so),
but many of these options are even FREE these days. All you
have to do is a little searching on Google or Yahoo on “free
websites” or something of the sort and you should be
able to find all sorts of options (I believe that even Yahoo
itself offers free websites now). It gets easier every day.
All you have to do is fill in some text fields to place your
content, choose your visual theme (colors, text, etc.) and
even upload some images from your PC, and submit, and you
are ready to go!. Many refer to this type of website service
as a pre-fabricated (from a template) website.
These types of services design a solid and universally formatted
website that can easily meet the needs of most people, but
they have created it so that it is completely editable and
customizable for each individual’s needs. You simply
choose the features for your website while you set it up.
Some of these pre-fabricated services are more flexible than
others. Usually when you want to update your site it can be
done instantly because you do it yourself instead of it having
to be done by someone else. This approach is very convenient
and your website could be created in as little time as an
hour if you have planned properly to begin with. You should
have the flexibility to add links to your site to other destinations
like … say, your electronic product for example!
Making use of a pre-fabricated website service can be a very
viable option for those would like to keep their costs down
and would prefer to avoid having to learn any kind of web
design skills at all, but there are some big disadvantages
to approaching your online business this way. The biggest
disadvantage is that you have far less freedom and flexibility.
Normally these pre-fab services limit you to only a tiny amount
of space or small number of pages. They also don’t always
allow you to have your own catchy domain name (YourBusiness.com).
You may also think of some fantastic feature (either functional
or aesthetic) that you would like to add to your site and
you may be disappointed to discover that this kind of service
may not offer the opportunity to include that kind of feature.
In other words, with a pre-fab site, you can save money and
avoid having to develop computing skills, but you are left
with less control of your business web site than you may want.
It would probably be just fine to start off most e-businesses
this way, but eventually as you grow you will find yourself
outgrowing this approach.
2) Designers for hire
Another method of getting your site built is by hiring someone
to do it for you. This approach leaves you in total control
of your website (albeit indirectly) and business and keeps
you from having to deal with the technical aspects. You simply
tell them exactly what you want and they do it. A designer
can even give you direction for planning your website as well.
Planning a website can be a little tricky if you are not used
to it, only because of the internet’s non-linear nature.
Pages have to be designed and organized with this kept in
mind so that the website doesn’t become confused.
This approach, like the pre-fab approach, also has it’s
disadvantages. While you do have far more control and you
don’t have to deal with technical issues, you do have
to shell out a lot more cash. It can get pretty pricey the
more involved the project becomes. If you have some money
saved to invest in this project, what better an investment
than your business and your future, but before you do consider
a few more disadvantages to a “hired gun”.
When you depend on someone else for you website, you also
depend on them for updates and changes, no matter how small
they are. If you don’t know how to make simple changes
or updates to your information or links, you will have to
depend on your designer to do it, not to mention it will also
cost you. One option you can arrange is to talk to your designer
about setting up Macromedia Contribute for you so you can
make these tedious updates yourself to save yourself money
and get the job done instantly.
While I tend to discourage people from developing a dependence
on someone else for their website of business, in some situations
this may be the most practical way to go. If you have the
start-up funds and have no desire to ever learn any degree
of web design, then this is the option for you.
3) Do it completely yourself!
This is the way to go if you have the time and patience to
learn, want total control of your web site and don’t
want to shell out the big bucks for a designer. This is also
the best way to go especially if you wish to take advantage
of the search engine optimization pages later on in the next
section of the book.
This book is not about web design per se, as much as it is
about coming up with a ecommerce business concept and putting
it in motion, therefore I won’t be going into great
detail on how to step by step build a web site in this book,
but I will point you in the direction of a great book that
Web Book: An Easy Guide to Creating, Designing, and Posting
Your Own Web Site (Paperback)
by Robin Williams, John Tollett
This is an excellent book that is extremely helpful and practical
for average schmos like us. The Non-Designer’s Web Book
will give you everything you need to learn the basics of web
design quickly, such as tables, type, implementing images,
changing background colors, etc. My book will help you turn
your web site into a thriving business. Another tremendous
read (and short) is “Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense
Approach to Web Usability” by Steve Krug. This book
is brilliant with its guidelines on web page navigation and
interface design. Everyone who creates a web site should be
required to read this book.