Having built over 250 websites in the last ten years, I have a good sense of what tools would be a good fit for a particular project. If you’re thinking of building a website for your own business, you’ll want to identify some key needs around the following:
1) your budget — how much can you realistically spend
2) your timeline to get the website up — when do you need a working version of the website
3) specific functionality — what do you need the website to do for you
4) who will maintain it — do you have the internal capacity to make ongoing website updates?
5) other sites you like the look-and-feel of — identify a list of 5 websites whose design and layout you like
What about using a WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal site?
The basic rubric we use when figuring out which tool best fits your needs is the following.
1) WORDPRESS is an excellent tool for blogging and simple page content management. Typically a variety of bloggers can access it and add articles (blog postings) or pages as needed. It is much more of a “news publishing” type of software. Consider WORDPRESS MU (Multi-user) if you need multiple bloggers contributing to one major news-type site.
2) JOOMLA is an excellent tool if just a handful of people will be controlling most of the page content. This is a tool mostly for publishing content and doing things like displaying information to certain levels of group access.
3) DRUPAL is becoming our favorite choice. It’s an excellent tool for managing multiple members: members may have profiles and there are standard tools like discussion forums, blogs, and groups that may be set up “out-of-the-box”. May member-to-member/social networking type sites are built on Drupal. You have an ability to leverage the work of built-in modules, contributed by hundreds of thousands of programmers around the world, to make your site work the way you want to.
If you need customized functionality, for example if your website needs to fulfill specific functions, or you have specific forms or databases unique to your business, consider a customized content management system.
We’ve developed a comprehensive checklist on the web design and development process here, and we now have some social networking resources and packages available.
Contact me directly if you’re considering developing a website or you need additional information on your specific project — I can at least give you a sense of what you’ll need to budget for and how the web development process works.
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