For small business owners, what is likely to be the most beneficial option when considering how to create and manage their websites is simply to document your needs carefully before making any decisions.
Then you can make more informed choices, and have more realistic expectations.
It wasn’t that long ago web designers were in very large demand because they could provide great assistance to small businesses. However, due to that demand, they can charge high or sometimes outrageous rates.
Today though there are free, open-source content management systems available to everyone such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. These content management systems offer a range of features and make adding new pages, uploading images, integrating social media and installing plug-ins for SEO very easy – so simple a non-technical person like an Administrative Assistant can do basic content updates to sites built with them.
Word Press is the most popular free content management system currently available. The main reason for its popularity is ease of use and how adaptable it is depending on the needs of an organization.
For example, a one-person company can set it up to run a blog and some Word Press bloggers make a good living running everything by him or herself.
A company with five employees can set it up as a content management system rather than as a blog, and post as much content as they want. They can also integrate social media, Web analytics and a reputable e-commerce platform called Magento.
A person with average computers skills might be able to set up a basic Word Press site and have it live within a couple of hours. There are also Word Press specialists who can help do custom design and feature enhancement.
Though they may charge between $20 and $50 per hour, the number of hours they need to complete work within Word Press is generally very small. Spending $150 for some enhancements to a Word Press site is likely to be a sound investment. For example, a programmer could probably install and get an e-commerce module like the aforementioned Magento operational in five hours or less.
Due to its popularity with bloggers, and the fact some of them began to generate enough money from their blogs that they could quit their day jobs, WordPress began to be adapted to be a content management system for large websites as well.
Photo Credit: Digital Markketing
There are so many Word Press users currently that a cottage industry has sprung up which specializes in creating Word Press templates. These are files that control the layout and look and feel of Word Press websites.
Some of these templates are free, while the custom designed templates can range in price from $20 to $100. To find them, simply Google ‘WordPress templates’ or ‘free Word Press templates’. There are sites that provide lists of the top themes, and have arranged them by types such as News, Business, Sports, Blogs, and so forth.
Some may prefer other free, open-source content management systems such as Drupal and Joomla for their ability to accommodate databases and e-commerce functionality.
Drupal tends to be used by larger companies, perhaps because it is known for its e-commerce capacity and customization. It also has a reputation of being difficult to use on the ‘back-end’; the interface administrators use to edit a site’s content. The learning curve may also be steeper, so it may not be as effective for small businesses who want to be able to set up and maintain their own sites without having to absorb as much new information.
Joomla is sort the sibling of Drupal and is also generally used by larger organizations and is better for building online applications and sites that require complex navigation, like Guggenheim.org which uses Joomla.
Larger organizations typically have a budget for an in-house website manager or more than one, so Joomla or Drupal may be the correct choice if that is the case, because these technical workers should have no problem learning it.
In a smaller organization if a non-technical marketing person is charged with implementing and maintaining the site, then Drupal or Joomla may be a bit too much to manage.
There are also low-cost CMS options such as Square Space, which offers an unlimited number of pages, contributors, photo galleries, hosting and blogs for $16 a month. Square Space offers templates which are clean and simple, so many people using it for their CMS tend to be photographers or designers of some sort.
Website design is no longer controlled by web designers. Today, literally anyone can have a basic site up and running fairly quickly and the only cost is for hosting.
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