Your Web Site-Part 2

Initial Considerations

The first post on this subject discussed the importance of spending time on thinking about what you want your web site to do. Once you decide that, you need to make some basic decisions on technology choices. For instance, do you plan to outsource the development and maintenance of your site, or do you plan to manage it yourself. You can also get a professional to design the site so that you can do the maintenance and updating. Let’s look at the basic options.

Do It Yourself Options

It’s possible to create a credible web site with no technical knowledge. Online tools, such as Wix, and Squarespace. Let’s take a look.

You could also save yourself some time and take a look at this piece from Cloudwards that does a terrific job of taking you through the website builder arena.

Wix

Wix is a robust drop and drag model that allows a novice to put up a useable website quickly. The free version comes with the disadvantage of using a wix subdomain in the universal resource locator (URL). With the free site your site would have the address username.wixsite.com/sitename/page-ur. This is less professional that the premium version, which has a normal url. Wix has an impressive catalog of apps, such as a calendar, photo gallery, scheduling application, forums for customer engagement and contact forms.

Your Wix site can also be updated by anyone with the authority to edit. So, if you come across an important piece of information while you’re at the airport and want to upload it before you board, you can do it on your laptop in the departure lounge. You don’t need to choose a separate hosting option, since both Wix and Squarespace host their own sites.

Squarespace

Squarespace is another very popular choice for creating a web site for non-technical people. It has all the features of Wix, but doesn’t offer a free version. However, basic business plan pricing begins at $18 per month.

Like Wix, the site can be edited by anyone with editing authority, and both Wix and Squarespace can be optimized for search engine optimization (more about that later).

Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, have much in common with the drop and drag site builders, but require a bit more technical knowledge to create. As CMS, they allow an administrator to authorize others to edit, publish and moderate content on the site. The development tools associated with CMS sites are robust and these platforms power major corporate and non-profit websites.

It’s difficult for someone with no web development skills to create a great CMS site. Although these sites use design templates and great plugins that add almost unlimited functionality, each CMS has its own quirks that require a bit of knowledge to use effectively. Many companies pay a consultant to create the site and then hand it over to the client (you) to manage the content. Professional WordPress, Joomla and Drupal designers typically charge $5,000 to create a robust site. You will also need to budget a time commitment to ensure that the designer knows exactly what you need early in the process.

LTCpharmacy.net is built on a WordPress platform, which is the most popular CMS option in use today.

Creating a Site from Scratch

Creating a robust web site without template-based help, as described above, require basic knowledge of a few fairly simple scripting skills. These include hypertext markup language (html) which includes placing tags around your text to make it appear in a web browser. The next skill you need is CSS, or cascading style sheets, which is a formatting language. If you want to create text boxes, color your text, insert images and videos and control how they look, you will need a basic understanding of CSS.

The next set of tools are scripting languages, most important of which is javascript, which sends instructions to the users browser to allow interaction. The final language you will need is PHP, which is a server-side language that allows the designer to incorporate a database. WordPress is a robust example of the use of PHP.

Although the learning curve to self-design can be steep, the languages are not especially difficult to learn and the tools required to use these languages are free. The big advantage of a self-designed site is complete flexibility. You can design a site that is exactly what you want without the limitations of templates.

Buy or Build or Both

You run an LTC Pharmacy-related business. Your basic business is not web design. This argues for, at the very least, using a CMS to get your web site online and operating. However, since all business is becoming dominated by digital platforms, knowing the basics of web technology gives you an advantage in knowing what is possible and how the various technologies work together to provide the best user experience.

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