When you decide you want a web site, there are many items to consider. Any answer to each of the questions below have both positive and negative ramifications. This is just a basic list of considerations, and some positive or negative results of various answers to the questions, when thinking about putting a site on the web.
Will it be a personal site or business site?
If you are doing a personal site you have a world of creativity available to you with fewer downfalls as a result of those choices than a busness would. This creativity can make designing the website take longer as you discover new “cool” looks.
If it is a business site, in general, you cannot be as creative. The internet has matured quite a bit since the wild and wooly days of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. As a result of this increased maturity the people on the internet have let businesses know what works for them – things such as ease of navigation (easy to find links that help them get around the site) and basic structure (where on the web page they will look, and expect, different things to be). This can actually make the designing of the website faster.
Will you need a basic storefront for a business, a catalog site, or a full e-commerce site?
- A basic storefront could be considered as a fancy business card for your business. It is a simple page that provides the who, what, when, where, why and how of your business.
- A catalog site allows a visitor the ability to browse your wares and/or search for specific items or items that meet specific needs. This is very much like someone browsing a print catalog at home.
- A full blown e-commerce is probably the closest you can come to having a “physical” presence on the web – exclusive of virtual reality. You can have shopping carts, real-time interactive customer service/ sales associates available via online chat sessions, order tracking and more. The downside to this is that it CAN take a considerable amount of time and money to get it all set up – especially if it is a custom solution.
Will you do your own developing, or have someone else do it for you?
If you decide to do your own development, or have someone in your business do it for you, it can save you a lot of money, but it can also take longer to do. It can provide you with a lot of satisfaction but it can also look unfinished.
With a professional doing it for you, it may cost you quite a bit but it will look finished and get finished quicker.
Will you have a directory on another server, a subdomain or a full domain?
When I started with the web back in the mid 1990’s a domain name lease – you don\’t actually own the domain name – cost $1,000 per year. This was a major consideration on how people would type your website into the address bar of the web browser (e.g. mydomain.com vs. mysite.ahost.com or ahost.com/mysite.) Today it isn’t much of a concern as domain names can be had for about $10.00 per year.
Having said that it still has an impact whether you have a domain name or not.
Having a domain name basically allows you to say this is my island in the sea of information known as the world wide web. It is easier to remember, however, it is getting tougher to find a good domain name for a couple of reasons: 1) the sheer number of sites on the web, and 2) cybersquatters (people who buy domain names in the hope that they can “sell” them at a profit.
Using subdomains can save the expense of registering a domain name. It can also say “Hey! I’m part of a cool community” just like at younglivingcircle.com or wordpress.com. It also eliminates the need for a domain name altogether because subdomain names do not need to be registered as it is considered part of the domain that is registered such as wisemanoils.younglivingcircle.com is part of younglivingcircle.com.
Will you be managing your own server or will your site be hosted?
Managing a site (meaning server hardware, server software as well as managing all the files that comprise your website) can be a full time job unto itself. It requires continuous monitoring to ensure that it is running and running right as well as taking care of security holes. Most people do not opt to host a site themselves, which is usually a wise move. Having said that if anything goes wrong, if you know what you are doing, you can get your site back online in a matter of minutes.
If you will be paying to have the site hosted someone else is responsible for all of that and more. Can you say double edged sword? That strength is also its weakness in that you are relying on someone somewhere else (usually hundreds of miles away or more) to do it for you. If anything goes wrong you must rely on them to sort it out and fix it – hosting systems are very complex and it could take a while.
Who will host your site?
If you decide to have someone else host your site look at them very closely. Do they have something that meets your needs in your target price range? Do you need unlimited storage or bandwidth? How reliable are they?
I recently moved some sites from one host to another because the old host had some major issues. Issues such as ftp connections dropping and not being able to restart them, they were restoring from a backup files that were months and many versions out of date (the kicker that made me move the sites), DNS issues and many other smaller issues. Their uptime was great, their customer services was good but those issues made me say enough.
How will it tie in with your current marketing? Will you need to make changes?
When it comes down to it there basically two ways of approaching anything short term and long term. A website is a long term object, especially when it comes to maintaining a presence on the web. You shouldn’t change it to suit a whim because visitors will get used to how things are presented or how things work and a change can be more than they are willing do deal with.
I have a client that decided to move away from wordpress.com because they made some changes on the back end that really put this person out. Personally I could understand – the colors changed , the layout changed and some of what you had to click on to get to certain things changed. They really liked wordpress so we decided that self hosting wordpress where the upgrading could be controlled and access to workings of the wordpress application gave us the opportunity to mitigate any egregious problems.
If it is for a business, how will the site tie in with your regular business?
Ultimately this is the question. This is the why of the whole deal. Why do you want a website?
Do your research and make your plan.