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Do-It-Yourself Web Sites:
The Pros And Cons

Posted on October 13, 2000

by Tim North

Not sure what's involved in getting a web site started? Well, there are really only three ways to go about it. In this article, I'll provide an objective review of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.




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1. The DIY solution: Create and maintain your web site yourself by using software such as Microsoft FrontPage or by writing the HTML directly.

2. The half-n-half solution: Have an external party create the web site. You then do the regular updating of the site yourself.

3. The full outsourcing solution: Have an external party create and update the site.

1. The DIY Solution

Advantages:

  • This is the cheapest solution. You don't need to pay any fees to consultants.
  • If you enjoy being creative this could be an enjoyable and rewarding activity.
  • You'll have complete control over your web site's "look and feel."
  • There's no chance of a consultant handing you a site that isn't what you wanted.

    Disadvantages:

  • DIY sites often look amateurish. This can turn away customers.
  • DIY sites often have poor navigation controls. In a well-designed site, the user should be able to find what they want in seconds. Achieving this is not as easy as it sounds.
  • You'll need to obtain some suitable software and then spend time learning how to use it -- perhaps a lot of time.
  • You will need to learn the arcane secrets of effective META tags, JPEG compression, browser compatibility, FTP clients, loading speed and more if you want the site to perform well.

    Skills Needed:

  • Patience: This will all take time.
  • Good PC skills; e.g. a familiarity with both text and graphics applications.
  • Technical skills or the willingness to acquire them.
  • Graphic design and page-layout skills.



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    2. The Half-N-Half Solution

    Advantages:

  • You'll need far less technical knowledge.
  • The graphic design, page layout and navigation elements of the site will all be done for you thus avoiding many of the pitfalls that strike amateur designs.
  • A consultant will probably produce the site faster than you can.
  • If you have the skills (and the desire) to update the site yourself, this may be the best trade-off between price, speed and professionality.

    Disadvantages:

  • You'll still need to have (or learn) some technical skills, but not nearly as many as with the DIY solution.
  • Consultant's cost may be hundreds of dollars even for a small site. Larger sites will cost more, of course.
  • You run the risk of the consultant not providing the design that you were looking for.
  • Major changes or upgrades to the site will probably need to be done by the consultant.
  • When you update the site yourself you risk "breaking" something or just "messing it up."

    Skills Needed:

  • Some technical skills or a willingness to acquire them.
  • The ability to liaise with the consultant about how you want the site to look and what you want it to achieve.

    3. The Full Outsourcing Solution

    Advantages:

  • You are not required to spend time and effort learning technical skills that other folk already know and (let's be honest here) can probably do better.
  • This requires the least effort on your part.
  • A consultant will produce the site faster than you can.
  • This should produce a professional looking site that navigates easily, loads quickly, is compatible with all browsers and works well with search engines.

    Disadvantages:

  • This is the most costly solution.
  • You have less control over the content of the site.

    Skills Needed:

  • The ability to liaise with the consultant about how you want the site to look and what you want it to achieve.

    Conclusions

    Choosing between these solutions comes down to two main issues: your budget and your skills. If you have the skills needed (and the free time), you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in consultants' fees. If not, consider bringing in a consultant to design the site for you and, perhaps, to do the updates as well.



    Tim North (info@betterwritingskills.com) is the author of "Better Writing Skills" -- an easy-to-understand, jargon-free, downloadable book that can make you a better writer easily.

    You can DOWNLOAD A FREE CHAPTER that's full of useful hints and tips from http://www.betterwritingskills.com


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