Like many of our current clients, you are thinking about a new website. That site you had done is now looking so 2004! And you are looking at the options. Friends and ‘network-meeting experts’ give you loads of advice – and it all conflicts!
Do you buy a template- based site for £1.99 per month – the cost looks very appealing and the sales patter implies you don’t need to do anything but sign on the dotted line. But will they deliver? Or what about a bespoke site that I can have genuine design input – aren’t they too expensive? And what about maintenance – won’t I get stitched up each time I need a change? Well I hope that in this short article we can debunk some of the myths!
There are basically 2 kinds of site – those that you can edit – and those that the web developer or digital agency has to do for you. The sites you can edit are called CMS sites and are based on Content Management Systems – essentially a clever set of software tools that sit behind the visual stuff on-screen that the people who visit your website will see.
The benefits to you of CMS sites are:-
They are really easy to update – and you are in absolute control of this. This can be a double edged sword – if you can change it, then the boss might ask you to keep changing it all the time!
Websites developed using CMS can be updated anywhere that has Internet connection – your office, Starbucks, or your friendly WiFi pub.
If you develop new products or run offers or want to add landing pages for your email marketing campaigns, then CMS sites allow you to add pages really easily and expand the site to site your businesses growing needs.
Want to add new features, for example an e-newsletter, a Blog (great for SEO), rolling news feed (RSS) plus a host of other features – CMS sites can add all of these pretty much on the fly as and when you need them. They can integrate Flash (although Matthew would say sparingly for SEO reasons!)
They are more expensive to set up because there is a 2 part process – the back end design that allows you to edit the site is separate from the work to develop the visual designs and it can mean a longer lead time.
Here’s a really great example of a custom CMS site http://www.stag-geological.com
There is also the WordPress option, which we now very much favour. WordPress was originally developed as a blogging platform, but because it can utilise templates and has a built in content management system, it has become a really popular superb website platfrom for all but the most intensive e-commerce website designs.
Bespoke websites are developed by your web designer using a package like Adobe Dreamweaver. If you are looking for the ultimate in creative design and flexibility then this is the type of website for you. To your brief, your web developer can embed anything into the web pages such as Flash, RSS feeds, Forms and graphics
Depending on the design brief, these types of website are be less expensive to set up initially and will be quicker to set up and there is absolute flexibility for maximising SEO and maintaining competitive advantage here.
Other functionality can be embedded into the site such as blogs and forums but they have to be added separately as plugins; however this is not necessarily a bad thing as again this gives you greater control and choice of the technology you may prefer to use.
Bespoke websites can only be updated by your web developer, unless you have the necessary software and abilities and they tend to be serviced by your design agency or web developer. This does not have to be expensive if you do all your thinking first in terms of marketing strategy – also you can pre-negotiate these terms with your Design Agency upfront – many will agree to a guaranteed maintenance agreement for changes. Here’s a great example of a Dreamweaver website – www.Snapcreative.co.uk.
Author Matthew Simmons