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So You Want to Build Your Own Website - Part 1. Why?
by William Szczepanek

Article 2: October 15, 2007

The time has come for you to establish a website of your own.  The ultimate decision of whether to build the site yourself or defer to a professional will vary depending upon the complexity of the site and the amount of time you have to spend learning to design and program it yourself.  There are thousands of alternatives.  That alone should make you wary.  So, where do you start?

What is the Purpose of Your Website?

Let’s first determine the main purpose.  Is this a personal website or a business website?  If it is a business website then please stop reading after this paragraph.  Unless you have the talent and knowledge already it is rarely the best choice for you to develop the website for your business. Most large companies have on-site Web developers on staff.  They have chosen to hire people for control and speed in developing and maintaining the site.  Most mid-sized companies would do well to hire a staff or outsource the work.  The problems occur most often for the small business owners who do not have the time or the knowledge to do the job properly, but think they can save some money by doing the job themselves.

Do we ever ponder a difficult legal question and then decide that we need to go forth and buy books on the subject, learn all that we can, and try to solve these problems ourselves rather than contacting a lawyer?  Sometimes we do, but more often than not a lawyer can answer our question better than we can ourselves and in a shorter period of time and probably for less time and money than if we did it ourselves.

When people have accounting questions, whether they are personal or related to a company or small business, do they then take accounting courses to get up to speed, or do they contact a CPA?  Again, being an independent person and finding answers for ourselves can broaden our knowledge and make us better for it, but spending time on arcane issues rarely pays off.

Time is money and the more time you spend away from your core business requirements, the more likely your business will suffer.  Small businesses should spend time researching Web developers. Colleagues in local business associations can usually provide a good referral.  How to find a good Web developer on your own is a topic for future articles.  We will also investigate the cost of a poor website. So, we will excuse those with a business interest for now, but if you are inclined to continue reading, please do so.

Why Do You Want to Develop Your Own Website?

If you want to develop the website yourself, then the next basic question is why?   There can be many good reasons including the following:

Many companies offer the ability to create a website from a template.  Others can provide content management systems whereby you can change parts of a website. Plug in text,  plug in graphics, add some menus and you're ready to go. Someone with good layout skills can create a very respectable site very quickly in this way.  The problems occur when the site needs changing or expansion into an area that can't be handled by the specific template system.  Over time, like word processing, these systems will get better and better, but you will need to ask yourself the question of whether doing this is time well spent. 

For someone with the time and a small amount of computer aptitude, the choice to venture out and develop a website solution can be very rewarding.  Again, there are solutions galore.  I am not going to provide you with a list of hosting companies, since there are thousands, many of which do a very good job and some that don’t.  You can spend a considerable amount of time researching companies that allow you to quickly develop a website, including those that will enable you to do it absolutely no charge.  My usual response to using a no cost website is that you get what you pay for.

Continue to Part 2: What is the Cost of a No Cost Website