Building an Effective Web Presence – Part 3: Types of sites and how to get them up and running
There are a number of different types of websites and ways to get them running. How you decide to go will impact on the costs of not only building the site, but maintaining it. The options range from free – but involving a lot of your time – to having someone totally build and maintain the site for you. Of course, there is the in-between option as well – someone else builds and you maintain.
The first thing to decide on is the platform or in non-geek speak – what the basic foundation of the site will be.
One thing to keep in mind – regardless of the platform the coding for the site will generally be in HTML which is the most common language used on the web.
Traditional website: Usually coded using HTML, but may also have underlying coding in ASP or SQL (other languages). Websites of this nature generally require more advanced technical knowledge not only due to the coding, but also because such coding is usually done at a local computer and then uploaded to a web-based server using an FTP program (File transfer Protocol). In general, sites like these are created by programmers and also maintained by programmers unless you are well-versed in HTML and FTP.
One thing to consider with a site like this is to have it programmed by someone who has a writing community, such as Writerspace, Romance Designs or Noveltalk. These communities will not only build and host your site, but include you in their community listings, etc. giving you immediate exposure to your core audience – other writers and readers.
WordPress/Drupal: These are two of the hottest platforms out there. Both platforms are freeware (always nice). That means that you pay nothing for using the software that is the basis for the website, but you will notice that the WordPress/Drupal name will appear on every site using this technology. Sites based on these platforms are generally easier to maintain, especially WordPress. They are menu-driven and allow users to create and edit new pages via the internet, eliminating the need for the FTP procedure. WordPress also allows you to work with a WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) editor which eliminates a great deal of the need for HTML coding (although those you know some basic HTML may find it more reliable to use the coding).
Drupal is a little more complex in terms of coding, but is quickly becoming popular, especially with programmers since they believe it provides more flexibility than WordPress.
I must confess to loving WordPress. Both of my sites are written using this platform. For more information on WordPress, you can visit www.wordpress.org. WordPress is also blogging software and so you can have your website and blog all with the same look and feel at one place.
If you chose this route, you will likely need a programmer to install the WordPress/Drupal software at the company which will host your site. Once that’s done, however, you should be able to apply one of their free themes to your site and begin coding it. Another option is to have the programmer design a custom theme and then you start coding and/or maintaining the site. Or, last but not least, you let the designer code and maintain the site.
FYI – WordPress also has a free site (www.wordpress.com – not .org) where you can create your website, pick a theme and be up and running with very little effort. The downside to the free service is that there is little you can do to change the theme, etc. without paying extra.
Finally, one of the other ways that you can have a web presence is by going with a blog only one of the free blogging services – Eblogger, WordPress or LiveJournal are some of the more popular services. You can customize the looks of the sites on these services and there are generally no (or few) charges associated with having your site at these locations. If you decide to move to a different web presence, I believe all of these sites have a way of letting you move your content to a new site or you could just choose to link from your new site to these services for the blog aspect.