Choose the Best Technology for Your New Website
Congratulations! You have decided that you want a website for your business. Before you can get to the design and the content, you will need to make a few basic technical decisions. There is no need to be intimidated by technology. Don’t worry! Once you understand some basic terms, it won’t seem so scary.
One of the first decisions is to determine the type of website you want. Why is this question important? You need to know this in order to determine the best platform and find a place to host your website. Every website needs to have a home!
Before you can get to the design and the content, you will need to make a few basic technical decisions.
What kind of website do you want? Your website could be a hybrid of more than one type. Here are some examples.
A brochure or informational website is a good choice if you want your site to be fairly static and just display information about your business. You can compare this to a traditional printed brochure. It is the simplest kind of website.
If you want to sell your products online, you will need an e-Commerce website. You will need a product database (a listing of all products in your store) and a way to process payments from your customers.
You would choose a blog website if you want to share your thoughts (or your photos) on a regular basis. These types of sites function best with a Content Management System (CMS). A Content Management System stores your blog posts in a database and displays them in chronological order on your website.
A news website is very dynamic, so you will also need a Content Management System (CMS) and a bit more flexibility than a blog site, since you will have many different kinds of articles to publish.
If you are looking to grab your visitors’ attention with animation and video clips, with the sole purpose to entertain them, you may want an entertainment website.
Have you ever taken an online class? These sites are very popular. These sites will require more programming logic to keep track of courses and students, reviews and certificates of completion. They also need to have a payment gateway, with a secure login and area where only paid students can access.
Membership sites vary in their complexity, but there is usually a secure area where members can login to access information meant just for their eyes.
Forums allow users to connect with other users and share information. They can be either simple or complex. Social networks are a good example of this type of website.
There are a few different website platforms to consider. If you are working with a web designer/developer, they can advise you.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
There are a few different Content Management Systems (CMS) available. The most familiar is WordPress, followed by Drupal and Joomla. These platforms allow you to update your website easily on your own. Once you or your website developer has set up your site, you can post blogs anytime you want, in addition to updating other areas of the website if desired.
There are some very simple Website Builder products. Examples include Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Google Sites. If you are an artist, you may consider using Artspan or Fine Art Studio Online. These platforms are proprietary and belong to a particular web host. You will not have the ability to move your site to a different web host. If you are technically challenged, a web developer can help set you up and teach you how to upload your latest artwork.
Some platforms are created especially for selling products online. Shopify and Magento are good platforms for your online store. There is also a WooCommerce extension for WordPress sites.
Every website needs a home. The platforms you use to build your site will influence which web host to choose. Each web host supports different technologies, provides different products (i.e. email, security features, automatic backups, Microsoft Office 365, etc.), and has their own restrictions. Depending on the programming language used, your website may need to run on a Microsoft or Unix/Linux server (different operating systems). You may also want to look for managed WordPress hosting so maintenance will be easier for you. Having an idea of how much traffic will likely be coming to your website will also be a factor. Costs will vary based on the host and the features you choose.
There are three different types of hosting available. Think of them as apartments, townhouses, and single-family houses.
- Shared hosting – Your website will be on the same server as many other sites. It is the cheapest option and is simple to manage, but there is less control, and the space and traffic restrictions might be tighter.
- Virtual server – You have control of whole server for your website, and there could be many virtual servers on the same machine.
- Dedicated hosting – You have complete control over the hardware and business critical applications.
There are many different web hosting companies available to choose from. Some popular companies include GoDaddy, Blue Host, Gator Host, 1 & 1, and Yahoo.
So now that you have a better grasp of the terms, you should feel more comfortable moving forward and creating your new website.
If you would like help with your new website, feel free to reach out to Lange Art & Design. I would be glad to assist you.
Author: Annette M. Lange, website and graphic designer at Lange Art & Design