There are two prevalent website construction approaches being utilized on the Internet today. The first of these approaches is custom website development where your development environment allows you to be easily exposed to the programming logic of what you create and you can work within the programming logic to create exactly what you want to create. The second of these approaches shields you to a significant extent from the program logic and you construct your website through a series of tools in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) environment where you utilize a series of templates, tools and plug-ins to get the job done without delving into the code itself.
In the earlier days of coding websites, and I am only going back around 10 years ago, custom website development required you to learn in detail a number of programming languages to get the job done and you pretty much had to pay professional developers to build your websites for you. And this could get quite costly. Even today, to build a website of any higher sophistication level, will require you to have significant programming skills.
You will need to know languages such as HTML and PHP at the website presentation layer level, languages like JQuery, and SQL if you want to interact with databases, database modelling and design to design your databases and database tools themselves to build the databases (such as Access, MYSQL, SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, etc.). And if you want to interface with 3rd party systems such as travel, car rental and booking systems as just one example, then you will need to be learning additional languages like XML. Not to mention the development tools you will need to learn such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Visual Studio. This should give you pause if you are just starting out in a business and you are thinking about building a custom website for yourself. It is not easy work.
However, there are opportunities for you to still go the custom website development route these days if the level of sophistication in the site you are desiring is not too extensive and if it falls within the patterns of website templates available for purchase from any number of vendors today. You still can't go too far off the reservation, but you can now reasonably expect to be able to purchase a "template" website design from a vendor and construct a website of your own without too great a learning curve.
Within these templates, the baseline coding has been done for you. You get the screens already constructed, images already in place, links between pages built, and links to 3rd party payment services like PayPal already built, etc. You would need to still use a website development tool to finish the construction of your site, but you should be able to figure it all out yourself albeit with a number of frustrating "How do I do this?" moments along the way.
On the other hand, you could take the approach of using a website construction system that shields you from the coding. The most widely known of these systems is WordPress and to be frank, if this is the direction you choose to take, there are only a few places you should look: WordPress, WIX, and Allwebco being high among my recommendation choices.
Through a series of templates (often called Themes) that you can chose from for your base design, coupled with WYSIWYG design tools and feature set plugins, you can build your own website and be in business with it in only a few weeks. Your site will have limitations technically, but template themes these days are quite visibly appealing and you can make a quality site if your interests lie with just selling some affiliate products, running your own Blog, promoting a cause or providing an online presence for services you wish to provide.
This approach will keep your cost of entry very low and it is a good place for most people to start if budgets are limited. Be aware though that as you grow and your sophistication requirements increase, you may have to move across to a custom solution as you will outgrow the capabilities of your template site - and template sites are often coded in ways that hinder good SEO, so they are not great at getting you organic traffic such as natively constructed sites are.
So as you think about building your business, understand the differences in the above approaches and what your business requirements are and then proceed accordingly.
By Dan Grijzenhout - December 20, 2016
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