The Best Ways to Build Your Website
For those new to the world of web design it can feel like there are as many tools to build websites as there are websites. So to help you get a better understanding of it, we’re going to talk soup. Yes…soup.
Soup is one of the simplest of foods, yet it can also be one of the most intense and flavorful. And the most fun part of soup is all of the options:
- You can go to your favorite restaurant and order gourmet soup prepared by a professional chef;
- You can go to the store and buy one of the popular and tasty ready-made soups that simply require heating;
- You can buy soup in a can and indulge your tastes by adding a few extra ingredients;
- You can buy the ingredients and make the soup from scratch;
- Or, you can go really native and grow your own vegetables and use those to prepare your soup.
Ways to build websites can be categorized in a similar way:
1. The Professional Chef
This option involves hiring an agency to build a totally unique website from a blank canvas. They will create your design and then employ coders to make it work.
With this option you don’t need to learn anything further about web design. Instead you simply need to decide on the functions you would like and the type of visual you prefer.
The downside is this is the most expensive option – by a considerable margin.
2. Ready-Made Gourmet
A step down from hiring an agency is employing a website designer. Most website designers use the tools listed below (CMS applications) so there is much less hard coding which means the costs are a lot lower.
You end up with a professionally built site and if you get the right website designer, the results can be stunning.
One downside is that you may face some restrictions meaning you can’t get precisely the functionality or design that you are looking for. However, this will only apply to a very small minority of websites.
The other downside is cost – while this option is cheaper than an agency, it is still more expensive than the options below.
3. Buy A Kit
There are many website builder tools available on the internet – the iPage Website Creator is a perfect example. They are designed to be used without any knowledge of website design or code by using drag-and-drop functionality. Many blogging platforms fall into this category (e.g. Blogger) and you can also get shopping-cart builders.
This method of building a website is very cost effective so it has wide appeal. The downsides are the design restrictions. You’ll have limited templates to work with and then there may be restrictions as to how you can customize the design.
4. Buy The Ingredients And Build It Yourself
With this option you will need to learn some new skills. This will usually mean gaining a basic understanding of website design and a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. You will also have to learn new software.
The software falls under the broad category of a Content Management System (CMS). The big three are Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal and they are all free to use. You will also need a template to set the overall design of your website - there are thousands to choose from, including free options.
You will also need extra pieces of software to run within your CMS to give your website the functionality you desire. In Joomla these are called Extensions, while in Wordpress they are called Plugins. For example, you would get a slideshow plugin if you wanted your website to have an image slideshow on the homepage.
While you will need to spend time learning how to build your website, you will save money and you will have much more flexibility to create the design you want.
5. Go Native
The final option you have is to go native and learn some code in order to build your website from the ground up. One tool you can use for this is Dreamweaver. It is visually based so it’s easier to learn than raw code. However, you will still need a good understanding of HTML and CSS. Microsoft’s Frontpage is something similar, although it’s been discontinued. Less well-known Microsoft tools are Microsoft Expression Web and Sharepoint Designer.
To choose the best tool to build your website, first look at your budget. Then look at the required functionality, how much control you want over the design, and how much time you have to learn. Just like soup, you have many different options. Find the one that soups up the job, and makes your website look (and taste) the best.