You’ve decided you’d like a website. Now what?
There are various ways to get your site online. Do you get a “website” (or blog), using webspace provided by your ISP or other company?
Or, do you go for a professionally-designed website (or blog) which is custom-designed for you, using your own domain name (yourname.com)?
Which should you choose? Let’s explore the options.
Free & do-it-yourself websites
Free webspace is available from a number of sources. Internet service providers (ISPs) often will include one with your account. There are also other companies, such as Yahoo (Geocities) or MySpace, that offer free websites, or free single webpages.
Another alternative is to start a blog. Blogger, Blogspot, and WordPress are some places where you can blog for free.
The advantages to a free website are that there’s no cost, and some sort of “site builder” which helps you create your own webpages is usually included. (With a blog, you choose a template & use a form to add your posts.) This is a risk-free way to get your feet wet & see if you enjoy having a website of your own.
In addition to the free services, there are also companies out there that offer a “site builder” for a fee. These are not necessarily of higher quality than the freebies.
In addition to the positive aspects described above, there are also many drawbacks to having this sort of site.
disadvantages to free websites
- They often include banners or other advertising – whatever the company hosting your site wants to put there – that detracts from your site’s presentation.
- The “site builder” – if one is included – usually creates fairly generic or amateurish-looking pages. Or, you may not like the choice of templates.
- Since you’ll likely be using a template, your site will look very similar to others
- Your web address may be hard to remember. (something like www.yourisp.com/web/~yourname)
- If you ever decide you want to move to your own domain name (or if you change ISPs), you will have to change your web address (letting everyone know about the change, & asking them to update their links to your site). Gathering & moving your website’s pages can be a hassle, too.
- The amount of space allotted, is often quite limited, which may become a problem as your website grows.
- Search engines and web directories – the primary ways people find websites – don’t take free websites very seriously. It can be difficult to get indexed & found in a search. If you are serious about promoting your site, you’ll need your own domain name.
- If you have questions you’re (mostly) on your own. Free webhosts usually offer very limited support.
- Less credibility. If you are running a business or are serious about growing & promoting your site and your work, this is a real problem. People like to buy from sites that inspire confidence.
about do it yourself websites
Homemade websites – or those made by family members or friends – can sure seem like a good deal. But unless they are a professional webdesigner; consider whether they have the expertise to design your site so that it presents you & your work effectively, and so that it is easily found in a Google search, drawing visitors to your site.
The money you save with a homemade website may not be much compared to what you lose in lost positive impressions, sales & opportunities. So, give it some careful thought.
Learn about some of the things that do-it-yourself websites tend to lack:
- 4 steps to a successful website
- Common webdesign mistakes
- and…more info on what’s involved in making an effective site
Remember that a professional web designer has spent years learning how to build a website that works effectively and will do what you want it to do. You will need to invest that same great amount of time & experimentation in order to figure out what they already know. Or you can just hire a designer who will get it right the first time. That will free you to do what you do best – create.
A website custom-designed by a professional
If you are serious about creating a web presence for yourself and your work, consider a professionally-designed website. (It could be a blog, if you prefer.)
advantages to professionally-designed websites
- Your site will be custom-designed by someone who does it for a living. They will take your needs, desires and preferences into consideration. Your site won’t be like any other; it will be a reflection of you and your work.
- Your site will be more attractive and better designed than a free site would, conveying a positive impression.
- You won’t spend hours trying to figure out how to do it yourself, freeing you to concentrate on what you do best (writing, performing, creating your art, or running your business).
- There’s no advertising!
- You will have your own domain name, which will be easy to remember and specific only to you. And, your web address (and email address) will be unaffected should you change ISPs or webhosts. Your site is very portable and your webdesigner can move it to another webhost without any interruption, if you should ever decide to do so.
- You can get as much storage space for your site as necessary; you need not ever run out of room for your pages, and other files.
- You will have a webdesigner who can answer your questions and address your needs.
- Your website will be designed to be friendly to your visitors, and the search engines, too.
- Your webdesigner can promote your website so it will be well-ranked and easily findable on Google & other search engines.
- Your webdesigner can update the website whenever you’d like, so you don’t need to bother with it. Alternatively, it can be designed so you can update it yourself. It’s your choice.
- You’ll have your own email address: email@example.com.
- Your webhost will provide detailed site statistics, showing how many people visited, how they found your website, & what they looked at.
- A professionally-designed website will give you added credibility and will cast you & your work in a much more flattering, and professional light. This is crucial for a business. It shows you take your work seriously and that you want to convey a professional image.
The only real disadvantage to a custom-designed website, is that it’s not free. (But it can be very affordable! Read on for details.)
3 steps to getting a professional, custom-designed site
To have your own website, you’ll need 3 things: a website designer, a domain name, and a place to put the site (webhost). It doesn’t have to be expensive.
- The web designer is the person who will custom design your website just for you, taking into consideration your needs & preferences, and the site’s content. Cost varies, depending on the designer and your particular needs. (See below.)
- A domain name is inexpensive – about $10-15/year – and easy to obtain. You can get one yourself with a registrar such as GoDaddy.com. Or, your webdesigner can probably do it for you. (I offer that service.)
- A webhosting account may be provided by your web designer may also be able to provide webhosting for you. (That’s the case here at Quanta Webdesign.) If not, there are many webhosts out there who offer reliable hosting for as little as $35-40/year.
cost of custom-designed websites
If you search around the internet (perhaps do a Google search for web design rates) you will find that rates vary a lot. However, I don’t think you’ll easily find a designer who can build a more effective or attractive website than I can for the same rate.
Since 2000 I’ve designed a number of websites for small businesses, artists, musicians, writers, and the literary community. Complete websites begin at about $500. (One-page sites are less.) Features such as a shopping cart, mp3 player, video player, custom-designed forum, are available, too.
Would you like more information?
Want to get started?
Or, feel free to drop me a line with any questions about websites – free or custom. I’m always glad to help, and consultations & advice about anything internet-related are always free.