By December 3, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Set Up Your Website (2)

Choose How to Set Up Your WebsiteChoose How to Set Up Your Website

As outlined in the previous article about Website basics, your choices to set up a website often come down to using professional web development software or a content management system (CMS).

The main alternatives include:

1. Use Professional Web Development Software

Over the years I’ve met brilliant designers who use Web development software called Adobe Dreamweaver. Determined to follow their example, I spent a lot of money to license Adobe products, only to conclude that the software is appallingly difficult to use and the documentation is just about worthless. So I bought a 1,064 page instruction book by independent experts and spent many nights studying the text and trying the examples.

After great time and expense I did manage to build our first successful online store using Dreamweaver. But despite those sacrifices I feel certain that our Dreamweaver site it too difficult to maintain and doesn’t look as nice as websites that use free WordPress software (described below).

2. Use a Website Builder from Your Web Hosting Company

Your web hosting company probably offers a web builder application that’s really a simple, hosted CMS designed to help novice users create a website. These packages typically add around $15 per month to your hosting fees.

The few web builder applications I’ve tried weren’t as stable or user-friendly as WordPress (described below) and forced me into a lot of troubleshooting to get pages to display correctly. One web builder seemed to have intentional limitations that made it difficult to add a shopping cart – perhaps as a way to get you to pay for the web host’s more expensive eCommerce service.

3. Use an eCommerce Service

If you Google eCommerce Software as a Service you’ll see ads from many companies that offer paid monthly software as a service (SAAS) to set up an online store. An eCommerce service is really a combination of an in-house CMS that the company provides, plus a shopping cart and possibly other features.

Early-on I signed on with one of these services – called Yahoo! Stores – and created a working Web store as a test. At the time I thought the software was very painful to use, and because the service levies its own transaction fees in addition to its monthly service fees, plus the charges you’ll pay the payment gateway, I thought that particular company was a poor choice.

4. Use a Free Content Management System (CMS)

A CMS gives you intuitive tools to design and maintain your website. A CMS makes it easier to create and organize your content and even instantly change the look of every page of the site. Around 20% of the world’s websites, including this site, use WordPress as their CMS.

This website also uses a WordPress theme to give it the features and appearance of an online magazine. It’s easy to install and try different free and paid themes that can give your website the look, say, of a web store.

To run WordPress you’ll need to upgrade to an inexpensive Linux shared hosting package with the web hosting company where you registered your domain and then download and install WordPress in your web space.

Ignore the Noise

You can choose from a number of alternatives when setting up your website. My advice is to always set up and thoroughly test any option you’re considering before you make a commitment, since the decision might be difficult to change once your business begins to grow.

It’s important to test the options for yourself, and to treat review sites that offer comparisons of different solutions with great suspicion.

I’ve found that many review sites seem to publish inaccurate information, and it would take a great deal of work to configure and objectively compare even a handful of competing solutions. I seriously doubt that many of these comparison sites – including the best known – actually go to the trouble.

What’s Next?

Once you’re ready to set up a website that communicates the right information, you’ll need to choose a shopping cart and payment gateway, as we’ll explain in upcoming articles.

First let’s cover some Website legal basics to help keep business trouble-free.

Next: Website Legal Stuff

Posted in: Your Website

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