So you want to build a new website but don’t know where to start. The important thing to know is that you have options. For those of you that are ‘Do It Yourself-ers’, there are plenty of options for cheap or free ways to ‘just get online’. These options typically come with limitations in functionality and challenges with getting indexed in the search engines, but they are inexpensive and quick. However, don’t get worried if you don’t want to build a site by yourself and you have some money to pay for help. One of the quick and easy ways agencies (and people with a little more technical skill) build websites is through the WordPress Content Management System (CMS).
We currently build websites on two different CMS platforms: WordPress and our custom CMS called Radmin3. WordPress is a great tool, and has a built in blogging platform, so it makes it easy to add content and new pages/posts to the site. For most companies that are looking for ‘brochure’ site and do not have too complex of an inventory list or data, this kind of CMS is perfect. WordPress becomes more difficult to work in when a company has a lot of data, inventory, categories, or levels of data (parent, child, grandchild relationships) to manage. That is when a more custom and robust database and CMS is necessary.
So, what do you need to consider before deciding if a WordPress website is appropriate for your needs? The three biggest factors in deciding how to proceed with a new website is: Budget, Time and Flexibility. Let’s look at each of these factors a little more in depth.
WordPress: Although the software is free for download and relatively easy to install in a hosting environment, building your website with WordPress isn’t exactly free. Many of the features are pre-built into the framework or can be added in terms of themes and plug-ins, so you don’t have to put forth an extensive budget toward development. Even though the basic template is free some additional design (themes) and features (plug-ins) may come with an actual cost in addition to the time of developer effort. Keep in mind that pricing is not an exact science. A website “can truly cost anything depending on the client’s needs.” – Brian Krogsgard
Custom: A custom site will cost you more, but if you have the budget it’s well worth the money. However, it may not be significantly more, depending on your design and functionality. It is worth looking into at the onset of your web project so you know what your options are. Remember, you get what you pay for, and it is important to consider your return on investment. I would gladly pay $20,000 for something that produces $60,000 in return than $5,000 for something that only produces $2,500.
WordPress: Time is money, so the two really go hand in hand. While development tools make tasks go a little faster, you still need to master them or at least have some knowledge of how to employ them. Remember that if you are not familiar with WordPress you will still have a learning curve even though much of the heavy lifting has been done for you. With that said, it could take you anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get a blog, informational or simple e-commerce site set up and running.
Custom: When you hire the right firm, a custom site may just take you a few weeks longer than if you completed a WordPress site yourself. If you don’t have the time, you can free yourself to accomplish other important tasks while your web dev firm handles all the intricate details of your site. Marketing Relevance has performed site re-designs in a matter of a few short weeks, to a new fully developed site in a slightly longer time frame. It’s a matter of your needs and what your end game plan looks like.
WordPress: Unfortunately what you save in time and money with WordPress (and other web building tools) you sacrifice in flexibility. With the technological advancements of tools like WordPress they are improving, however you may come to a point where the structure and options provided simply don’t meet your needs. If you have specific demands from a CMS or precise design criteria, it may be that you will require a custom site. This would be something to discuss with a potential web development firm. There may be options for a synergetic union of the two.
Custom: If you can afford the time and money a professional website development firm will most definitely be able to provide you with a more robust website and design experience. In the end your site will look exactly how you envision it and function exactly the way you want it to.
In summary, put your thoughts down on paper. Figure out what you want and where you want to go with your new site. If you’re just toying with ideas and have a limited budget, keeping in mind the limitations of design and features web building tools like WordPress provide, give it a try. Measure your results and if you find that you are gaining the momentum you desired, you can then invest in a custom site that provides a better version of your website down the road.
If you find that you don’t have the time needed to devote to developing and managing a new website, please reach out to us. Marketing Relevance can help build you a website that engages your user, encourages call to action and drives leads. Call 847-259-7312 or visit our website.