Approximately 70% of the people I talk to
would like to be able to update and
make changes to their web site themselves.
Many business owners have heard of, or have experienced, site designers and companies that offer a low initial design cost, but have large maintenance costs. I have had clients tell me of previous webmasters who have charged hundreds of dollars to literally make a couple of text changes.
There are equally as many who take months to make these simple changes.
Obviously, for a business owner, this is extremely frustrating, especially when the changes are urgent. This has led to an increased interest in change-it-yourself-capable web sites. This is a concept that we totally embrace. We have taken this concept and run with it.
We have several clients whose sites have been developed so they can update and make changes themselves, immediately. They do not have to wait for a webmaster to do it. They also do not have to understand web design or be able to read and write code. They can also make such changes knowing that what they do will not bring their site down or mess up the site structure.
There are basically two of these types of sites available. Both appear to be pretty much the same in principle, but there are vast differences in look, capability and over all performance.
Template Sites - Simply put, are web versions of do-it-yourself web design software packages. They are the most basic type of site and have been designed for mass production. Often touted as much cheaper than a custom, professional site, business owners should be aware of a few drawbacks.
The templates are extremely generic. Since all elements (including, Your Business Name Here) are generic, corporate identity, such as exact color scheme, and specific fonts, are not achievable in a professional-looking manner. For example, if your company logo uses the font Tango + a little star and swirl around it, the graphical elements of the logo (star + swirl) will not be possible. The font for your company name may look fine on your template from your machine, but if any viewer doesn't have that particular font installed on their system, the font will be substituted and look different. That is unless you pay the template designer extra to produce a customized version of the template.
Of course, when you do that, the cost increases dramatically. In the majority of cases, just a few little modifications can easily make a template site more costly than a professionally-designed, custom web site.
When using a template site, there are often much higher monthly fees for things like hosting. These sites also do not include search engines submissions, and in many cases, your site can't be found unless you yourself are savvy in search engine submission.
Summing up, templates can often work out to be more expensive in the long run. They require a high learning curve for the client. They also don't really make your business stand out as far as first impressions and search engines are concerned.
Content Management Sites - This really is the best of both worlds. You get a professionally-designed site, including search engine entry, etc., with the ease of updating the site yourself. You do not need to understand how a web site works, or know HTML or graphic design.
These sites are controlled from a password-protected admin panel behind the scenes of the site. Using this, you can add and remove pages, or edit existing pages. Using the panel, uploading new photos, changing text and adding new pages can literally take only a few seconds. These changes can be done without fear of compromising the web site.
Summing up, with a content-management site, there is a much smaller learning curve because when the site is created it is tailored specifically to your business and your requirements. When we create these sites, we encouraged our clients to test drive the site through the development process. This way, by the time the site is launched, they are totally at ease with the updating process, plus any wrinkles have been ironed out.
Next Month - Defending yourself against spam and viruses.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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