Though the internet is still (in the grand scheme of things) a relatively fresh daisy in the great modern world of technological progress, it has had an almost unprecedented effect on the way our lives are lived, governed and enjoyed. We’re all online, even if we don’t necessarily want to be and if you own (or hope to own) a business or operate any kind of enterprise that alludes to making a name for itself, you’re going to need some kind of online presence beyond the social networking sites. You’re going to need your own website.
Though until recently designing your own website might have necessitated taking an evening class in HTML programming or hiring a ‘specialist technician’ to man the computer whilst you waffled off a list of demands, it’s not quite so complicated in 2013. You no longer need a degree in computer studies in order to build the website of your dreams thanks to the raft of preset templates and bespoke website design tools on offer. Here we’ll be examining a few of the most popular options and making conclusions as to which tools are best suited to first time users.
Of all the content management systems, WordPress is perhaps the most well-known and the most flexible. The online, award winning ‘PHP’ (hypertext pre-processor) software was first released more than a decade ago but it’s only been in the last few years, as the software has become more user-friendly, customisable and ergonomic, that it’s really found a place in serious internet users ‘toolkits’. WordPress works like a central ‘base’ through which you can create, edit and post to your website through their own bespoke software. It’s incredibly intuitive and infinitely expandable thanks to a wide variety of ‘plug-ins’ that can be utilised through your own native WordPress ‘dashboard’. The real ace this particular CMS has up its sleeve though are the WordPress themes, skins that can be swapped out at a moment’s notice, changing the functionality and look of your site without sacrificing its information or the general structure of the site. Using WordPress themes you will be able to ‘audition’ themes without fear of deleting anything and the interface is clean, simple and effective. Thanks to these options, the software’s adaptability to suit mobile platforms such as Android and iOS and integrated SEO (search engine optimisation) features, not to mention the price (the basic package is free), WordPress is an industry leader you could be proud to stand behind.
Adobe Business Catalyst
The new kid on the block, Adobe Business Catalyst is (as the name suggests) a CMS engineered specifically to appeal to businesses. It’s a SaaS (software as a service) package, which means users pay a fixed monthly fee in order to use it. By veering away from the ‘freemium’ template used by most other CMS providers, Adobe have essentially cornered the market in terms of powerful, non-technical software and can offer a higher level of customer support than its rivals. It is just as intuitive as WordPress and the integration options with other business elements mean that for larger businesses it’s probably the most attractive option.
Wix.com differs from many other CMS platforms in that it’s ‘cloud-based’. This means that all of the sites created via Wix are stored on their own servers. The site uses advanced ‘HTML5‘ technology, which means that all of the programming and coding is done ‘under the hood’ so that all of the coding is taken care of by the software itself. Wix is an ideal solution for absolute beginners with its colourful layout, step-by-step tutorials and drag-and-drop functionality. Though it lacks the customisation features and flexibility of other, more feature rich (and harder to use) packages, Wix is ideal for creating personal sites or sites for small businesses that won’t be processing much data. At last count there are over 40,000,000 Wix users and the range of websites that have used the Wix feature set prove surprisingly eclectic. From band websites and artist portfolios to small businesses and hobbyist blogs. Unfortunately, as the site is cloud based it can be a little slow if your own connection isn’t particularly fast but considering the majority of Wix users won’t be building particularly intensive websites this shouldn’t be a major issue.
Of the three options examined here WordPress is by far the most fully featured and as it already has more than a decade behind it, most of the ‘kinks’ have already been ironed out of the system. It’s also constantly expanding and if you are not keen on the standard themes there are even sites (such as i3dthemes.com) that provide their own custom themes for a small price. The sheer ease of using Wix might prove too tempting for some less technologically minded users and Catalyst is undoubtedly the most business focused option but for sheer breadth of options and overall stability, WordPress wins hands down every time.
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About the author:
Ben Grant works as a freelance copywriter and has been using WordPress to manage his own website for more than a year now.