I Want a Website. Where Do I Start?

There are gobs of reasons you might need a new website. Most of them revolve around communication or sales, but it doesn't matter whether your a start-up from your garage or a government organization, it's no secret that a fresh website is a must have. It's a little scary for anyone darkening that door for the first time, though. There are loads of terminology you might not understand. There are lots of pieces that have to work together, and depending on your goals and demands, websites vary greatly. The trouble is, unless you're a web developer or at least exceptionally savvy with your tech skills, it's hard to differintiate between solutions and know that you're getting your money's worth. So what do I need, and what is it worth? I'm going to offer you a list of solutions you might or might not have heard about, and give you some pros and cons for each.

Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and other "free" website builders

I'm not putting free in quotes because I'm selling web pages, and I don't like the free competition. I've seen alot of great pages built with these platforms. Usually they have some great tools for making a quick and simple website for a business at a stellar low cost. Why wouldn't I want that?

Pros: These platforms usually have simple tools that are easy enough to use that a not-so-savvy individual can successfully assemble a website. They are free, or typically come in at a competitive monthly rate.

Cons: These platforms often will cost you as much as a more formal solution if you pay for the upgrades. Often, the sites they promote in their showcase were assembled by designers who have skills that you probably don't have. They lack customization options that a true web developer has to work with. If you think you will ever need anything truly custom, look for a better supported platform.

The $500 (or less) option from an actual development firm

It doesn't matter what you buy, you get what you pay for. Usually the $5oo option is a door-buster. They want to get you in the door, then show you what the potential is if you double your money. Solutions I've seen used typically are a little rough around the edges. They are simple (which isn't necessarily bad), but lack refinement. Essentially, if you're on a low budget, and you just need the bare minimum, that option might be the right fit for you.

Pros: The price is pretty reasonable. You are already in contact with a firm that can likely migrate your page to a much better solution when you are ready to invest more.

Cons: Usually this is a gateway to a bigger sale. Don't expect any whistles or bells. You get what you get, and nothing more with these solutions. Poor quality and limited options are what you are paying for.

Solutions that are designed for your specific types of needs

There are lots of great solutions that develop sites catering to specific industries and needs. Depending on what your long-term goals are may dictate whether these options are good for you. If you want a site that is just like many other sites in the industry, and your goal isn't to grow to be something original and innovative, those may be good solutions. While that may sound like a negative thing, often these companies specialize in an industry, and have more background building sites to meet those needs. They tend to have the same problems that other entry-level options have, and maybe worse. The potential for doing any more than the capacity of the company is simply impossible.

Pros: Appealing site, backed by commonalities in an industry. They usually can talk the talk when it comes to your specific needs.

Cons: They are often much more expensive than the entry level solutions, and suffer even greater limitations.

Beyond the entry level solutions

We don't market any gateway solutions. I'm sure it is a great marketing tactic, but we're not interested and working on any site we aren't prepared to invest ourselves in fully. If you are looking to really develop a solution that can offer you a promising start, and grow with you infinitely, you'll probably want to look beyond free or low budget solutions. Web development firms typically rely on Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, or a variety of other great platforms to build you a website on. These solutions are almost infinitely scalable, affordable to maintain, and are essentially of unlimited capacity.

Pros: You can have a site that does and looks however you want. The interfaces are typically fully customized to meet your specific needs.

Cons: These sites are usually more expensive to build due to the amount of man-hours required to assemble them.