Building & Maintaining your Website
March 16, 2009 at 4:37 am Justin Wilcox
A healthcare consultant friend of mine recently asked me how she could maintain her own website (changing links, updating content, etc.) without having to enlist the service of the company that built it for her.
She’s in luck, kinda. There are several easy to use services that enable consultants to build and maintain their own website…as long as it was created with a certain set of services. Unfortunately, her website wasn’t so she has three options:
1. Learn how to maintain her own website. There’s nothing hard about this option, but it is a timesink. Considering the amount of money she’ll save going this route, it’s probably not worth it.
2. Rebuild her website with one of the following tools. This will take less time than learning how to update her website, but it’s still going to be a bit of endeavor. The nice thing is, she already has her content, she just needs to adjust the “look & feel” so that the site looks exactly how she wants it.
3. Pay someone to maintain it for her. Between Craigslist and the original designer she should be able to find someone to help her for a reasonable price. Like I said, this is basic stuff so quite a few people can give her a hand.
Of course, the same applies to you if you’re in her situation.
If you’re not, and you’re looking to build a site from scratch and maintain your website, take a look at these services:
Google Apps is many terrific, terrific things – one of which is a basic website building and maintaince tool. With Google Apps you can put together a basic website in under an hour. They’ve got templates that will get you started color-wise and an easy to use editor for creating your pages & content.
Also in the Google Apps suite is gmail hosting for your business account (firstname.lastname@example.org), Outlook-esque calendar capabilities, Sharepoint-lite functionality, and a couple other nice tools. We use Google Apps, although not to host our website, at Nimbus Health and couldn’t be happier. Also a nice bonus, Google Apps is free.
This suite from Microsoft is similar to Google Apps (you get email, Sharepoint-lite functionality, and website building capabilities) with a couple distinctions:
1) Microsoft will buy and configure your domain (www.YourCompanyName.com) for you. With Google apps, you’ll need to buy the domain and configure it yourself, which requires a bit of know-how. Not so with Microsoft.
2) The free version of Microsoft’s offer puts a little ad from Microsoft on your website.
3) While I prefer GMail (Google) to Live Mail (Microsoft) and I like Google Docs more than the Sharepoint-lite functionality within Office Live, Microsoft’s website builder is better in my opinion than Google’s. We’re still talking about basic websites here, but when I used these services, about a year ago, Microsoft’s site builder was more powerful IMO.
Note: There’s no reason you can’t use Google for your email and online document management and Microsoft for your website building.
If you’re looking for a bit more horsepower, and blogging capability built-in, check-out WordPress. It’s a flexible and relatively straightforward tool for buliding nice looking and fairly functional websites. There is a free version of WordPress you can play with but you won’t be able to change it’s design at all.
If you want to change the design of your WordPress site, you’ll need to find a “hosting” company (someone who will put your website on their computer) for it. There are several of them, most of which will do so for < $10/month.
If you’re looking for a bit more powerful website, like one including blogging capability, check out Joomla. Joomla will enable you to build a robust website with limited expertise.
Like with WordPress, you’ll need to find a hosting company to post your website for you.
Best of Both Worlds
Finally, a hybrid I’d recommend for anyone daunted by learning one of these tools on your own:
Get someone from Elance.com or Craigslist to design your site with WordPress or Joomla and then have them take an hour or two to train you on how to maintain it. They’ll do all of the heavy lifting and leave you with an easy to manage website.
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