Start An Online Business
This is the first of a three part series on launching a small business website.
Web Development Options to Consider
- Custom Build
Starting an online business and launching a website can be challenging for people relatively new to web technologies. I spoke to an individual a few weeks ago that was getting ready to start a travel agency and was concerned about how she could hire someone to build her website. She mentioned that she thought she needed at least a $1,000 budget to get her website off the ground. So many small business owners seem to be in this situation.
The truth is you should be able to build an outstanding website yourself for around $100. Website Content Management Systems (CMS), like WordPress, have made creating beautiful websites extremely easy for anyone. The three most popular CMS’s are WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. We believe that the best content management system for small businesses is WordPress. However, we explain the most popular web development options below, as well as the advantages of each.
Advantages of WordPress
- Easy Search Engine Optimization
- Huge Online Support Community
- Large Amount Of Free Plugins
WordPress began as a blogging platform and was designed to be a simple and straight forward way for bloggers to get their content out on the web. As a Content Management System it has always prided itself with its super-simple setup process. In recent years though, WordPress has developed into a full featured and customizable web platform. WordPress is by far the most widely used CMS online, which means it has the largest online-support and development community. It makes it very easy to add and update content, which is the most crucial part of creating successful internet marketing campaigns.
Once WordPress has been installed you can choose from numerous free themes, which will change the design and user experience of your website. There are also tons of great paid themes available. Many people are concerned that because WordPress started out as a dedicated blogging platform it will not be able to handle all of the needs of their website. However, even if there is something you need done that it cannot accomplish by the standard installation there are countless ‘plug-ins’ developed by third-parties that can most likely help accomplish your goals. Most of these plug-ins are also free and available right in the WordPress Admin area. Search engine optimization is also made extremely easy. For almost all small businesses that are just starting out WordPress will be the best option because of its ease of use. It is not just for small businesses though, many large corporations use this CMS as well.
WordPress vs Joomla (Small Business Winner: WordPress)
Advantages Of Joomla
- More Secure Than WordPress
- Less Complex Than Drupal
A few years ago Joomla had an easily defined niche as being the most user-friendly platform to host full-featured websites. It sat in between Drupal and WordPress as far as customization vs ease of use. Today, it still sits in the middle. However, it occupies a much more narrow region of interest, as WordPress and Drupal close in on both sides. Joomla does still offer some customization options that are not initially included in the WordPress infrastructure and is generally accepted to be more secure. Though, in many situations where major customizations and online security is needed people often choose to go with Drupal.
Joomla vs Drupal (Small Business Winner: Joomla)
Advantages Of Drupal
- Most Secure
- Most Customizable
- Better At Handeling User Registration
Drupal is widely thought of to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from WordPress. It is highly customizable and much more secure. This would be a great CMS to handle the internal network for a large corporation as it has great capacity to handle lots of people logging in simultaneously and/or generating user profiles. For most small businesses though, Drupal contains a vast exaggeration of features that is not needed. WordPress remains superior for adding and updating content, which is what small businesses should be focusing on.
Drupal vs WordPress (Small Business Winner: WordPress)
Advantages Of A Custom Built Website
- Greatest Control Over Design
- Best For Developing New Technologies
While many people just starting their business may think that a custom built website is for people serious about starting a great online business and view it as going in ‘whole hog’, 99.9% of the time this is not true. The only time you should think about hiring someone to program your website from scratch is if you are developing a new type of web technology like ‘the next Google’. In almost every other case you should consider using some type of CMS. All of the above mentioned CMS’s are based on a programming technology called PHP. However, there are numerous other Content Management Systems that use various other types of programming languages.
CMS Comparison Conclusion
At the end of the day if you are a traditional small business trying to get off the ground and launch a website, we recommend using WordPress. It is capable of far more than people often give it credit for, and it is very easy to setup when compared to other CMS platforms. The fact that it has a gigantic online support community is great to. It enables you to easily put together great looking shopping cart websites, start your own niche social network, and so much more. Most importantly, it allows you to very easily publish and manage web content.
Joomla offers a little step up to WordPress in the online security and customization department, but it seems to be loosing its space in the market as WordPress and Drupal expand their features. Drupal is more robust in features and more secure than Joomla or WordPress. However, this also makes it much more complicated to setup and manage. Lastly, hiring someone to custom program your website from scratch should only be considered if a brand new type of technology is being developed. Besides being much more expensive, it would also be much more difficult to update content on a continual basis. Small businesses should focus on great content and creating as much of it as possible.