What’s in a site? – Part 1: Getting started

[I’m going to break this topic up into several posts because there’s a ton to relate and it will give me something to blog about for the next few days.]

Creating a compelling website is a key component to the success of your project or at least so I’m told by virtually every article, blog and pundit I can find, so it must be true.  Right?  OK.  Let’s take that as a given, but where to begin?

First, like I’m guessing pretty much anyone would, I surfed around to a bunch of websites, author’s sites in particular, saw stuff I liked and stuff I didn’t and started piecing together how I wanted to design my site.  Once I had a decent idea in my head, it was time to think money.

To pay or not to pay redux

Like with finding an artist, first you have to decide on your budget.  Unlike with the artist, websites can have recurring (typically annual) costs as well as the initial start-up one-time costs.

For free, there are there are a number of website providers (e.g., Weebly, Webs, Jimdo, among others) which offer websites with limited customization and usually some sort of advertising on your page(s).  They also offer paid upgrade plans which expand the customization and eliminate the advertising.

The upside?  Well, they can be free!  (I thought I mentioned that.)  They also have reasonably robust design engines and even a total technophobe can create a good looking and functioning site in a matter of minutes.

The downside?  You are limited by their design options and upgrade plans can get pricey.

The cool part is since you can start for free, nothing is preventing you from signing up (to multiple sites if you wish), experimenting and seeing if you like what they have to offer.  Maybe that’s good enough and you’re done.

As a card-carrying nerd (see About Adam), I have some tech skills and I had some specific design ideas which these sites didn’t offer.

Among other things, and to state the obvious, I wanted a blog on my site (which some of the website providers do offer) and I noticed that a number of blog sites were “powered by” WordPress, so I looked at wordpress.com (the “.com” is important).  WordPress.com is a very cool site, easy to use and has an enormous number of themes you can use to create just the look and feel you want for your site…to a point.  On the free plan, you can’t dig into the code so if you don’t like a design element in the theme you choose, you are out of luck.  Even the paid customization option is limited.

OK.  So, picky me was definitely headed toward a pay option of some sort.

[Next  – What am I paying for?]

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