Finding the Best Web Design Solution

Finding the Best Web Design Solution

Web design has become much easier than it was back when I first began building websites. There were a few programs that offered some WYSIWYG (What You See Is What Get) interfaces, but you still had to do a good deal of the HTML coding by hand to get pages just how I wanted them. Javascript coding was done almost entirely by hand. Add to this all the new technologies that have emerged. CSS, PHP, ASP.NET, AJAX, and Web 2.0. Fortunately new technologies have come along to make things easier as well. You can either install software to build your own site, or use an online site builder.

Webpage creating software.

Web Design Software
Programs like Dreamweaver and Visual Studios now remove any need to do any HTML coding, but there is still the occasional need to modify code, but for the most part all the basic coding is done for you. If you are building a simple static site, this might be all you need. If you need to access information from a database, provide and dynamic and interactive site, or develop an e-commerce site; there is no way around having to know some coding.

Build It Yourself Web Design
Another alternative is to use a one of the online build-it-yourself services. Google lets you build free pages, and you can build an ecommerce site (for a fee) using Yahoo! or Big Commerce. These are just a couple options; there are literally hundreds of options. Having used several of these programs, I can say you can build a very nice website, with a lot of great features quite easily. The problem with these options arises when you need your website to do something unique that is not a feature of the site builder. There are a couple of other disadvantages with these types of sites. First, you are tied to services provider for your site. If for any reason, they go out of business or just decide to stop offering the service, you have to start over. This has happened with Lycos, Angelfire and many others. If you have a site built on HTML / Web programming languages, you can host your site where ever you wish without having to redo anything. Second, with these online site-builders, you are normally charged a monthly fee considering higher than it would cost to simply have the site hosted on your own. The initial cost of hiring a web designer will be much higher, but if you plan to keep your site several years, you will not only save money in the long run, but you will have a much more flexible and customized design that you own and do with as you please.

Web Design using Content Management Systems
A third option is called a Content Management System. These are like a hybrid between web building software and online site builders. CMSs are pieces of software that you install on a web server. Some of the best and most popular CMSs are free to use. Once installed they assist you in building your own site much like the online site-builders. CMS software is usually has a steep learning curve than online site-builders, but can create incredibly robust, well featured websites. In the hands of a seasoned web developer, a CMS can be customized to provide almost anything you wish. One strategy I would recommend is to have a professional web designer build a site for you using a CMS, and let you do your own updates and changes. With a CMS making these changes is very simple and about as complex and using a word processor. With this strategy you'll have a website that can still be upgraded and customized if needed, but you still control it and can have it hosted anywhere you wish without an additional cost for using the software. A web developer that has experience in building CMS websites will normally charge less to build a CMS based site as opposed to building and coding one from scratch.