Student of International Business Administration (M.Sc.), technology enthusiast covering mobile apps, startups and social media



How to Create a Website: 3 Important Questions to Consider

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1. Hand Coding vs. CMS?

You have decided to create your own website (a personal blog, an online resume, a corporate website). Then, you first need to decide whether you will code the website yourself or you will rely on a content management system (CMS).

For the first case you will need to know programming languages, such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. This scenario is particularly appropriate when you need to build a small and static website. This means a website which doesn’t need to be updated on a regular basis. This method has several advantages:
  • no hacking (security)
  • you can host the website everywhere you want (it can be quite cheap too)
  • better performance (a CMS would often produce lower quality code that can impact page load speed among others)
Let’s compare a hand coded website with websites using a CMS. Note that the hand coded website contains considerably more information, but is still smaller in size and loads faster.
A content management system would allow you to build a website considerably faster compared to when you code it yourself. This is mainly due to the fact that for this scenario you won’t need programming skills. Besides, a CMS would often have a front end (a presentation layer visible to the website visitor) and a back end (a data access layer accessible from the website owner). From the back end you would be able to create content, publish it and make it visible to the website visitor.

Why you should choose a CMS?

The main argument would be saving time, in particular the time for creating and maintaining your website. With a CMS solution you will be up and running in hours if not in minutes. Furthermore, a CMS would offer a wide range of built-in website functionalities – a blog, a shopping cart, integrated SEO (search engine optimization) and security options.
If you are all alone on this journey or supported by a small team, then a CMS is the way to go. As I wrote above, it is about time and your time is limited, so don’t waste it starting from scratch with a self-coded website. You better concentrate yourself on your key capabilities – your content or your product.

2. Which CMS Should You Use?

From a business perspective, you should go for the most widely adopted one that suits your needs. What you should try to avoid is a hold-up problem. Going for a very small and specific CMS provider and creating a big website is the worst thing you can generally do, because you can become dependent from that provider. The CMS supplier may in this case show opportunistic behavior as assumed by Oliver E. Williamson and charge you a higher pay. And you will have to accept that in the case you have high switching costs (when you cannot easily transfer your content or a service to another provider).
The most popular CMS with 59.3% market share according to W3Techs is WordPress. Furthermore, WordPress is also powering 26.3% (W3Techs) of all sites on the internet. If you go with this CMS, you will enjoy:
  • a large number of themes
  • customization options
  • plugins that will extend the functionality of your website
  • a sizable pool of specialists that can help you in every aspect and problem you may encounter
All other CMS options in front of you are considerably small, since WordPress is the market leader with a large distance between it and its closest competitors. They, however, are worth considering if you look at factors such as price and website functionality. At this point it is important to mention that you can either use the WordPress software on your own server by downloading it for free from wordpress.org or creating a blog on wordpress.com.
The difference between the two options is mainly who is providing the hosting (web space taken from your website) and who is maintaining the software (updating it and taking care of security issues). If you go for wordpress.com then this would be the company Automattic which has also developed the software.
At the time of writing a one year subscription to the service that will allow you to attach your own domain name will cost you 99 Euro. This is a compelling price, for which you will receive a hassle free blogging solution. The main benefits are that you don’t have to worry about bandwidth (how many visitors your site receives) and security.
On the negative side, wordpress.com’s functionality may be a bit limiting. For security reasons they will not let you install developed for WordPress plugins and will not allow you to post code from external providers of widgets that can extend the website functionality.
If you would like or need to do these, be it for more services or improving the user experience on the website, then you will have to go for a self-hosted WordPress solution. Be careful which hosting provider you are about to go with. Generally, self-hosted websites are more vulnerable to hacker attacks. Furthermore, many hosting providers offer plans that will charge you differently based on the number of visitors coming to your page.
To date, the best provider of hassle free managed WordPress hosting is wpengine. Their plans, however, are a bit pricy with a personal plan starting at 29 dollars per month and suitable for about 25 000 visitors per month. They would also still not allow you to install all possible plugins, but for good reasons, such as site loading speed and security.

3. What other hosted CMS solutions are available out there?

Popular options include but are not limited to Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Jimdo, and Shopify (if you want to build a shop) … (to be continued)
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