Setting Up a Basic Website for Your Services or Local Business
Since I have covered many ways that you can create a fully functional online store, I felt it was necessary to go over a couple of ways that you can setup a basic website that doesn't need to be capable of processing transactions.
These type of sites are useful if you own a local business, or even if you offer services online that you need to first calculate the price for.
The trend for website developers:
Content management systems such as Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal are just a few popular programs that many website developers tend to use. Most importantly, because they are free and only require hosting. But does this mean that it's the right solution for your business?
Choosing the right program:
Well, if you start searching the web for recommendations, you will most likely see everyone recommending Wordpress.
Personally, I like Wordpress but for it to work for a basic business site, you need to slightly modify it and maybe even add a few plugins because it was mainly designed for blogs which are time sensitive.
For a basic site, you would need to use pages instead of posts.
If you're not familiar with the difference (I wasn't initially), a blog post is used for time sensitive information while a page is used for pages that will remain current for a longer period of time.
On this site I actually needed software that was capable of both because my site offers plenty of timeless information, as well as time sensitive information. While WordPress is capable of handling both, I actually chose Drupal because I liked the interface and its capabilities a little more for a site such as this one.
If you read a few articles on this site, you might have noticed that some of them show a date in the upper left corner while others don't. The ones with the date are the time sensitive ones.
I did this on articles that cover current events or pages where I review programs. When discussing technology it makes sense that something written within the last year is more helpful than something that was written 5 years ago.
As for businesses that are only looking to advertise their services, static pages make more sense. For example, if you have a construction business (just an example), you will most likely need a site that can explain the services being offered, the areas in which these services are being offered, an about us page, and maybe a gallery showing off the work.
For something like this, why would you need a solution that can handle time sensitive information? After all, you will most likely just setup this website and leave it that way for a while -- at least this is what most owners of these type of businesses do.
Now, I'm not saying that you should just build the site and forget about it. I'm basically just saying that such a site won't be updated with tons of information on a daily or weekly basis.
So, should you use a program like Joomla, Wordpress or Drupal?
It depends... If you like working with these programs, I say why not.
Also if you need a cost efficient solution that can handle plenty of content they are great. I just know that many of them will need to be slightly modified for a static site as I've already mentioned.
I even had to modify my installation of Drupal for this site because I needed a Wysiwyg editor, a module that can allow me to display content in a predefined way rather than by date and more.
Such modifications usually need to be made when you are trying to get programs to do a job that they weren't exactly designed for.
Also, there is a little bit of learning involved. For this reason, I'd recommend using a website builder if you are not interested in learning how to use a CMS or if you don't feel like hiring someone that knows how to use them.
Build the site yourself:
If you are, however, interested in building the site yourself, I recommend watching my video tutorial on how to create a basic business site using WordPress which covers the entire process in detail.
Solutions that are a little easier to use and were designed for business sites:
Below are a couple of programs that are very affordable, easy to work with and suitable for businesses that are looking to promote their services online.
They are also much more affordable than hiring someone to build a site for you. Just remember not to purchase more than you need. Especially since many of these businesses like to up-sell features that you will never use.
Things to avoid:
- You'd want to stay away from upgrades that offer you more pages or storage space than you need. For example, if you plan to only publish 5 pages of content, and if the plan that you're purchasing enables you to publish 5 pages of content by default, avoid up-sells that give you more space (something like the ability to publish 15 pages).
- Avoid up-sells on bandwidth. When you are new, the chances of attracting a ton of customers and exceeding your bandwidth limits are very slim. For this reason, first figure out how much bandwidth you're actually using prior to purchasing more of it.
- Some of these companies offer a shopping cart add-on. Since we already figured out that we don't need a shopping cart, there is no point in upgrading to one. If however, you do need a shopping cart, I have written about this over here.
- Avoid search engine submission or "web exposure" services. This is such an overstatement it's not even funny, because in reality how many popular search engines are there on the whole internet? 3 maybe... Bing, Google and Yahoo? In reality there are only 2 because Bing powers Yahoo's results. So you tell me, how hard is it to submit your website to 2 search engines? Don't know? Well here is Google's submission page and Bing's submission page.
One thing you should get:
You really should have your own domain name regardless of which website builder program you choose. I strongly believe that you cannot build a brand online without having a domain.
If you already have a domain, you should look into transferring or forwarding it over to the company that will host your site.
If you don't already have a domain, I recommend purchasing one either through your web host or a domain registrar. For more information on registering a domain, please see this link.