Photography by Hillary Ehlen
One of the first steps to starting a business in 2018 is hanging out your digital shingle, i.e. building a website.
Unlike the old days when you had to go out and buy a copy of “Building Websites for Dummies,” there are a lot more options today. This month, we take a look at the three broad categories of websites that range from drag-and-drop design to coding everything from scratch.
1. Website Builders
Website builders are the simplest way to create a website quickly. These services host your website and provide a variety of templates and themes. From there, you can use their drag-and drop-tools to customize your website to your specific needs. That said, the degree of customization is limited, and you are entirely dependent on the specific service you are using to add new features.
Also, because website builders are intended for small businesses, they aren’t very scalable. If your website starts to get too big or you need unsupported features, these web sites are also the least portable, i.e., there is no good way to switch services without starting from scratch.
Who it’s for: If you need is a simple business or e-commerce website with no immediate plans to scale, this may be the best option for you.
2. Content Management Systems
ProTIP: Content management systems are designed for use by non-technical users, so you can train your staff to update website content.
Content management systems are the most popular way to create a website today because they provide many of the features of website builders but are much more customizable. Plus, there is a huge developer community (especially for WordPress), meaning there is a third-party solution for virtually every scenario.
The downside is that the initial set up and website creation is more difficult. If you have a technical background, or are ambitious, you should be able to set up a basic website with patience and a lot of Googling. Or you can hire a web designer to create the initial website and then run with it. You can easily update products, company details, contact information, add blog posts and a whole lot more.
Who it’s for: If you need a business or e-commerce website and you have plans to grow, this is probably the best choice.
3. Web Frameworks
Web frameworks allow for essentially unlimited customization, scalability, and features, but you have to build it yourself (or hire a developer to do it for you). The web framework you choose — along with open-source tools such as Bootstrap — will do a lot of the work for you, but this option is still a lot of work.
Who it’s for: You should really only consider this option if you require something highly customized or you are building a completely new web product.