What’s the Best Way to Build a Website?

website vending machineDo you need a new or redesigned website? I have good news for you. There are a lot more options for how to build one than ever before. But the bad news is… there are so many options! How do you decide which is best for you, your business, and your customers? Don’t worry, there’s no wrong answer. It just depends on your needs, your preferences and your budget.

I’m going to break it down into three basic approaches you could take and help you decide which is the best for you.

Option 1: The DIY Method. Make your own site from a hosted template service. Popular examples of this kind of service are Squarespace, Wix and Weebly.

This option is for you if:

  • You have almost no budget.
  • You like DIY projects and researching online.
  • You don’t know or want to learn any code, but you don’t mind learning an online interface.
  • You want one-stop shopping for website creation, domain registration, hosting, and backup.
  • You have the free time to invest in planning your website and creating its content, and to choose your service, pick a template and enter your content.
  • You’re not that particular about your design as long as it looks professional and works.
  • You are OK with a tool building your website rather than a human.
  • You don’t mind using forums and/or support lines for help and troubleshooting.

Option 2: The WordPress Theme Method. Hire a web designer to help you pick a theme* for WordPress or other content management system**. They can provide a little or a lot of customization to the visual styles that are available out of the box, and guide you in choosing colors, type choices and functionality options.

This option is for you if:

  • You’d like some help planning your website.
  • You want some customization in terms of colors and typefaces along with the guidance of a designer to choose them for you.
  • You want to work with a human. :)
  • You have at least a modest budget. Although keep in mind, it can be a broad range of pricing, depending on the level of customization, planning and/or content creation help you are requesting.
  • You want popular and common functions, like a contact form, but you don’t have very specific technical requirements for those functions.
  • You will be ok (or willing to increase your budget for custom programming) if the answer to your request is, “This system doesn’t do that.”
  • You are willing to keep your CMS up to date or pay a developer to do it for you on a regular basis. It’s common for plug-ins to break when the CMS is updated. ALWAYS have a backup! If you don’t keep WordPress or any CMS up to date, you’re opening yourself up to a security risk.
  • You don’t mind doing research or paying for tech support when you forget how to do something in the CMS.

Option 3: Custom designed and developed website or web-based document (like an online annual report, mini site or custom landing page for outbound marketing)

This option is for you if:

  • You’re invested in your brand and its online appearance is very important.
  • You are particular or like things a certain way, or your website goals or technical requirements are very specific.
  • You’d like to set your business apart from the crowd.
  • You can see the benefit of building a relationship during your project with someone who cares about your success.
  • You’d like the choice of entering your own content via a customized CMS that is tailored specifically to your needs (or hiring the content entry work out, if you prefer).
  • You have a unique design or functionality requirement you are trying to fulfill, like a mini site or special landing page. OR, you’d like a design tailored for the devices it’s being viewed on. Yes, you can get responsive design from the services and themes, but just because it works on mobile devices doesn’t always mean it looks good at every screen size.
  • You need training in the CMS and the ability to contract follow up support for website changes, website backup, content entry questions, keeping the CMS up to date and fixing bugs that arise with updates.
  • You expect your website goals and functionality to evolve and need a website built to accommodate your growth and change.

shu shu design can help you with any of these options. You may want to go the DIY route, but have someone help you plan the site and deal with building it for you. You may want a content management system with a little customization, or a lot. There’s no right way to build a website, just the right way for you. If you’re still wondering what that would be, please get in touch. I’d love to help you make sense of it.

This article was co-authored by my friend and trusted custom developer, Alex Kendrick of Two Six Code.

* A “theme” is a set of templates that tell your website how to look. It includes colors, typefaces and styles, page layouts and some built-in functionality with widgets or plug-ins, like a contact form.

** A “content management system” keeps the content of your site (your bio, your photos, your blog posts, etc.) separate from the way it looks (the style). 

Illustration by shu shu design. copyright 2016