Building Your First Website

Author: Rachel
November 2, 2019 | 5 mins to read

The needs of every business is different. Currently, there are many solutions available for building a website, from drag and drop website builders to customized websites by design agencies. Choosing the right solution can be challenging when there are so many solutions.

Read this quick primer before making a decision. I'll review website builders, content management systems, and customized web solutions and outline the pros and cons with each option.

The Website Builder

Budget: less than $1k USD

As of this writing, several popular website builders exist, including Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and Shopify. Using a website builder is a great option if you don't require significant customized functionality and simply need a place for you to tell your story to potential customers. This includes answering questions such as Who am I? What do I do? What makes me unique? Why should you choose me?

These website builders offer a fast way to get up and running. They also allow you to tweak pre-existing themes to your needs, adding your own personal touch to tell your story.

Benefits of using a Website Builder

  • Quick and easy setup
  • Fixed setup and ongoing maintenance cost
  • DIY Friendly & easy to maintain
  • Low budget required to get started

Disadvantages of using a Website Builder

  • Limited customization available
  • Limited growth potential
  • Fixed ongoing cost
  • High switching cost

Generally speaking, you'll find this the recommended option if your budget is under $1000. This is because on average, these subscription services will run you $250 a year. If you're willing to do everything yourself, then that's the most you can expect to pay, but if you plan to hire a developer to help with maintenance, updates, and the initial setup, you can expect to pay a bit more for setting up one of these services.

If you're in a niche industry, such as a fitness studio or local business, there are specific software products catered to your needs. These options will take care of many aspects for running a small business but come at a higher monthly subscription charge, which may make it more cost effective to build out your own custom build with the next option described below.

Content Management Systems (Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.)

Budget: $1k+ USD

Content management systems have become pretty popular as the middle ground for being beginner friendly and customizable. Since the late 1990s, several popular content management systems such as Wordpress and Drupal have become popular frameworks for building websites. These systems are easy to set up and offer many options for developing your own solution. For a simple website, you may be able to set up your own website. Hosting providers will offer free installation and plugins to get you up and running with a customizable theme. For more custom functionality, open-source plugins exist to offer solutions for common problems, such as e-commerce, membership websites, contact forms, social media integration, etc.

This makes it cost effective to build a solution with these websites. Typically you'll find a higher upfront cost but a lower overall maintenance costs for running these custom builds.

My personal preference is Wordpress, due to the large ecosystem available for customization, but there are comparable solutions, such as Joomla and Drupal. Wordpress has a large community of developers that specialize in development, so you'll likely be able to find support whenever you may need it.

Benefits of a CMS, such as Wordpress

  • Quick and easy setup
  • Lower ongoing maintenance costs (for hosting fees, limited developer support)
  • DIY friendly & easy to maintain
  • Greater flexibility for adding on features such as e-commerce, membership websites, etc.

Disadvantages of a CMS, such as Wordpress

  • High upfront costs
  • Limited scalability and growth potential
  • Fixed ongoing costs
  • High switching costs

Generally speaking, you'll find this a recommended option if your requirements are more specialized and cannot be done with a drag-and-drop solution. You will also have a budget greater than $1k. Some web hosts offer one-click installation solutions, and if you're comfortable installing your own theme and plugins, then you can get started for a fairly low price. If you need further customization, development can run from as low as $1k to as high as whatever your budget will allow. Wordpress is a great way to get started quickly, but I would not recommend it as a framework for any custom product development, only for content oriented websites - such as blogs and business websites. There are many Wordpress themes that are optimized for SEO though, so if you're interested in building out a your business brand in a specific industry, Wordpress is a great option for helping you find your audience.

Examples of sites that can be built with a Wordpress website include:

  • e-commerce (online shop)
  • multi-vendor marketplace (etsy, ebay)
  • membership and subscription websites
  • blogs
  • business websites
  • event management websites

While Wordpress can be used to test the market, expect to completely redo any development if it is used for product development. It ultimately is too opinionated for building a scalable custom solution. That being said, it can be done, and I have seen it done. It just tends to be costly and "heavy" (which is why it is costly), which starts to hurt as you scale. If you're interested in a product solution, keep reading!

Custom Web Solutions

Budget: $10k+ USD

Aside from using a website builder and a content management system, you can opt for a custom solution. I'm going to define this as any custom development solution that likely would require ongoing developer maintenance or at least initial custom development. It offers the greatest flexibility and support, which may be optimal depending on your goals.

If you're looking for a minimum viable product, this is the place to start. A custom web solution allows enterpreneurs to scale as their company grows, while not tying them down to a bulky framework such as Wordpress. It offers flexibility of building both a mobile app and a web app to reach users on different platforms. There's many custom solutions available, and there isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer.

Benefits of a Custom Web Solution

  • Extreme Customization Available
  • Extreme Growth Potential
  • Lower Switching Cost
  • Based on Your Budget

Disadvantages of using a Website Builder

  • High upfront costs
  • Likely requires ongoing maintenance and hosting fees
  • Requires a developer or development team

I offer custom development with the Vue.js framework. I chose this framework because it offers great flexibility, not only in web development, but mobile app development as well with the Quasar framework. As one of the most recent frameworks gaining popularity, it has taken the "good parts" from other popular frameworks, such as Angular and React, while improving the "less good" parts.

It's a framework that any developer who has had exposure to other modern frameworks can easily adopt, so finding ongoing support won't be an issue, unlike less popular technologies. As an open source frameowrk, it's often reviewed and vetted by the community for security concerns and improvements, so it is constantly improving to create a better experience.

If you're looking to build out a new website or product, schedule a free consultation now, and use the code 'FIRSTWEB10' to get a 10% discount off your quote!