A constant issue for any new startup or expanding business is understanding not only the different types of website building options out there, but what they all mean. There on two main directions to go down initially, HTML or CMS. One is designed to be user friendly and the other requires hiring a professional or really learning your stuff.
Now you may have heard of HTML but probably don’t quite know what it is and CMS is just another technical set of letters.
CMS stands for Content Management System and HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language.
HTML is basically the foundation of every website. It is the bedrock code which writes everything you read on the web. If you where to start writing a webpage from scratch you would find yourself creating a screen that would look like this:
Which looks a little daunting.
But what if someone could build you a template written in such code, a bit like a computer game where you can just fill in details as you would on a console and hey presto it takes that data and writes it into to the code and configures the files automatically i.e. building your website as you would a building on minecraft. This is were CMS (Content Management System’s) come into play and are a saving grace to entrepreneurs.
Business people are usually far to busy building our companies and managing our trade, stock, staff to even have time to learn coding. The options though available are numerous and we shall break them down here.
WordPress is a CMS blogging platform that has evolved into a major player in business web creation. It is the backbone of over 60 million web pages across the net and is is used by massive companies such as BBC America and Bestbuy. It is famed for its sturdiness and is extremely user-friendly with millions of apps and themes to find the look and application that suits your business (this website uses WordPress and i have done a breakdown of every step required to build a page like this for next to nothing here).
WordPress plugins have many options for eCommerce like Woocommerce and Spotify. Also, order forms and booking systems can be implemented off the shelf.
Another CMS is Joomla. I began building websites for small businesses around Liverpool 2 years ago and used Joomla. It isn’t as user friendly as WordPress but it does allow more flexibility to play with the look of the page. Usually you would have to buy a fully adaptable theme such as www.joomla51 which i used. This system does require a fair bit of HTML knowledge to really utilize it but nothing that isn’t a google away. Implementing eCommerce and booking forms can be tricky and will require quite a bit of css/HTML work.
Wix, Squarespace and other paid for platforms.
I’ve had clients who have used these systems, with regards to flexibility of design they are very limited. It uses a drag and drop system which can be cumbersome. They are though good as a grass roots ecommerce platform and have the hosting built in which saves a bit of time. Ironically the cost has often left people with small businesses with on/off stock running out of money in order to maintain the site while stock needs replenishing and, it has damaged their accounts. If you have deep pockets and are lazy it can be a good option, but learning how to use a CMS sites such as WordPress will not only save you money but empower you to open and close your site whenever you require. Another problem with these options is, if your are doing well, and require a more powerful, larger or a different style website as your business evolves, you’re practically stuck in a contract and will have to rebuild a new site anyway and possibly re-brand under a new domain which is just a waste of time.
HTML does have its advantages for larger companies but if that’s the direction your going in you’ll need some serious capital behind you and probably a team of experts. For systems requiring huge databases, large inventories, complicated new applications and graphics, it is the way to go. I mean if you’re challenging major corporations with huge budgets you’ll easily park 40 grand on it and don’t forget companies like Burger King use Joomla, and CMS suits the majority of business requirements with ever evolving applications. The times when new startups were expected to to employ a web-developer and write a page from scratch you cannot adapt or afford is over.
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