Guest post By Dennis Barber , DMB Web designs
Today, if you are in some form of business, you need a website. According to Research Local, 85 percent of consumers are searching online for products and services. Many people are selling websites either custom, semi-custom, or out-of-the-box. You can expect to pay, on average, from $2,500 for a simple template-based site to $10,000 and way on up for a customized site.
I’ve provided a simple explanation for a few terms and topics you might have questions about when approaching website creation, management, and cost.
Web designer versus web developer (frontend versus backend) *see Team Tree House article for more detail
While many designers and developers are multi-talented, they serve two different functions.
In general, web designers deal with what is called the “frontend” of the web, i.e. the visual part everyone encounters. A designer creates imagery using a tool such as Photoshop. They may also work in code such as HTML and CSS.
Web developers use technology to enable what you see on the “frontend.”
A server, an application, and a database make up the “backend.” A server stores the information placed into a database using an application.
Where is my website once it’s created?
Your site “lives” on a server. It could be in Phoenix or London. When someone searches using the name of your site, a request is sent to the server for the website. The information is then sent back to whatever browser is being used and that browser displays the imagery and words.
Code, or the files created to make words and images appear in a browser, is written in PHP, Ruby, Python, etc. Some sites are still written in ASPX. ASPX is the fifteen-year-old Microsoft version of website code. It is complex and requires purchase of their software. PHP is open source (WordPress uses PHP language).
Think of your lawnmower. It’s “made by” Honda, John Deer, or some other company. All their engine parts are designed a bit differently. However, they all accomplish the same goal. This is the case with web design.
What’s the difference between a custom website versus a template-based website?
Do you have a lot of products (or expect to add many more products) or do you primarily want to share information?
The obvious difference between custom versus template is complexity. If you need web pages with specialty functions, e.g. tabular functions to associate with multiple product codes and prices, you need a database driven website. This means a WordPress template will not be your best choice.
WordPress technically does use a database and can handle ecommerce with a Woocommerce plug in, but it is a bit like duct taping your side view mirror back onto the car.
If you look at the West65 Inc. site (www.west65inc.com), it’s very simple. Each page has one function.
Now look at one of their client’s sites at www.cdynamics.com. This is a complex site, built in ASPX by the way, selling lots of products. It is a custom site.
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
In simplest terms, a CMS is a web application that makes it easy for anyone to add stuff to a website and even edit and manage a site. A CMS can also do “backend” functions as well.
There are many CMS brands. A few of the more common brands for basic websites are Drupal, Joomla and WordPress. You can learn more about these three choices at The Code Less Travelled.
WordPress was designed as a blog. It is a good choice for people who primarily want to talk about stuff.
Magento is one of the easier, open source, out-of-the-box Ecommerce platforms, but it still takes quite a bit of time to get up and running versus the basic WordPress site that can be built in a couple of days.
What if I can’t get .com for my business?
Some .com names have been purchased and would cost a lot to get. Originally,.com was intended for use with commercial sites, but everyone likes .com and wants to use it.
There’s some movement toward use of .guru, .expert, and .reviewer. Read more about that option here.
If you have a strong brand or are committed to building one, it’s not so important to get .com. It’s a preference you should weigh against the cost of getting the .com name you want.
What does responsive, static, and dynamic mean?
Responsive – your site pulls up for easy viewing whether on a phone or desktop. It mainly refers to an ability for the site to view easily on mobile devices. Seeing your site on any mobile device is very important.
Static – the site does not scale to a devise. It’s 950 pixels wide and stays that way no matter where you view it.
Dynamic -The term dynamic may be a bit misleading. Dynamic means that the content is in multiple small parts that are stored in a database making it flexible. It has nothing to do with “what” it displays, just “how” it displays it. A dynamic site is built by developers who write backend code, e.g. PHP, ASP, Ruby, etc. The content is pulled from a database to be displayed in a “framework” on your browser. You could have certain things display depending on the date, or user preferences, or those pesky cookies we all try to avoid but do not know why. Amazon.com is a great example of this. All the ad banners that display things you have searched for in the past such as product content, images, user comments, “what users also bought” links, your account, etc., are all dynamically gathered when the webpage is sent to your browser.
Do I need more than just a home page?
It depends but likely the answer is yes, you do.
Home Page – The home page is like the entrance to a store. The visitor should not be confused. They should get a good sense of what’s available and easily find what they want.
Your basic website should include a navigation bar with links to who you are who you are, what you sell/offer, what sets you apart, and how to get in touch with you.
Landing Page – If you are attempting to draw customers into your site with a campaign, you’ll need a landing page. Each marketing campaign needs a landing page. It’s specific, like a billboard. You don’t want to drop a customer that’s picked up a lead for one product off at your home page. The home page has many pieces of information and is too generic. The chances your customer will get lost or bored are too great.
Think of your various inbound marketing efforts – email, PPC, social media, etc. – as funnels. Make sure you bring people through the funnel to the place they expect to find.
A landing page should have links back to your home page. You don’t really need landing pages for SEO (site engine optimization) purposes any longer. Explaining SEO would require another article.
Product page – For those more complex sites that sell multiple products, you’ll have many product pages based on a template that connects to a database.
Each product will have a page that provides information needed to understand and purchase the unique product.
Website building has become a big, complex business. It’s easy to get confused along the way. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. I’m here to help. Find me at https://dmbwebdesigns.com.