Building a company website can be a bit of a daunting task. Most entrepreneurs aren’t particularly well versed in web design or programming, which can lead to some pretty short sighted quick fix solutions that end up being inferior in the long term. With a little research and planning, you can make sure that you get off on the right foot with your company’s web presence.
The first thing you should think about is the purpose of your website. Your website could become the face of your business, more so than your actual physical location. You will also want to attach a company blog, which will be at the heart of any content marketing strategy you create at any point down the line, and will represent your brand to the world. Having to redo your website when you get to the point of creating this strategy is a big waste of labor, so it’s best to think ahead now, before you build up something, only to tear it down later.
You need to think about the content management system (CMS) you will be using to build, maintain, and update your website and how you will be hosting your domain.
You will want your own domain. The reason for this is that any subdomain, which you will be saddled with if you go for the free shared hosting option with sites like WordPress.com, will leave you with an unprofessional URL, for example: (your company).wordpress.com.
This means that you will be spending money. You can self-host for a fairly reasonable price, around $5 a month. This leaves you with low security, no backups unless you do them yourself, and you are responsible for funding data recovery and de-hacking. You also run the risk of downtime, data theft, and data loss.
Managed hosting is less affordable at first, but as your website traffic grows and your content expands, you will probably have to switch over to it. With managed hosting you get good security, dedicated server space, and as much computing power as you want to pay for, depending on your needs.
Content Management Systems
To build your new website, there are many free, open source programs available online.
- WordPress: The greatest advantage of WordPress is that it was designed with beginners in mind. It is easy to use and there is an incredible wealth of free plugins and templates.
While modification requires a knowledge of PHP, and altering the graphics requires literacy in CSS and HTML, there is such a large community that you can customize with the many modifications made available by other people.
WordPress is an efficient system that scales fairly efficiently, but becomes less efficient as you add the many plugins that make it useful, so a balance has to be struck.
- Drupal: Drupal is a big boy CMS. It has a steep learning curve, and is the kind of system that you use for your website if you have more ambitious plans for your web presence. Because it requires a working knowledge of PHP, I recommend hiring a proper web developer to handle it.
This system is very versatile and secure, and is very good for multiple administrators to work with. Whitehouse.gov is built on Drupal, so that’s not a bad endorsement. It scales less efficiently than some other systems, but there are plugins that can help with that reduce the server load as your website grows.
Drupal is like the Windows of CMS. If you can figure out how to use it, you can do pretty much anything you want.
- Quick.CMS: This system, while superior to WordPress in that it is easy to use and learn, scales well, gets along well with the Google web crawler, has a built in mobile version, and is compatible with everything, has far fewer plugins and templates than the WordPress giant.
It also requires the same programming skills for custom modifications as WordPress, which means that anyone who can’t program their own plugins and graphic modifications will have more freedom in WordPress.
- Joomla: This system is a little more complex, though less so than Drupal. While there are many free plugins and modifications available for Joomla, it relies more on paid plugins than WordPress or Drupal. It also suffers from some plugin compatibility issues, which may force you to tinker with the PHP code yourself.
Joomla has greater capabilities than the simpler Quick.CMS and WordPress systems, and is easier to use. This makes it a fairly popular choice.
Think about how complex and how large your website will need to be in the future and make sure you choose options that will allow you to expand without having to start over from scratch later.
This guest post is courtesy of Jared Whitehead.
“Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.