Well that is a very good question, and not easily answered. First lets look at the reason websites exist. A web site’s sole purpose is either to entertain (www.kongragate.com) or to inform (www.wikipedia.com). Those are the only two things a web site can do. Rather it’s information about your favorite music (www.last.fm) or products your trying to sell (www.ebay.com), a web site must fit one of those two things. It is possible to have a cross section of both with an edutainment website, but that is pretty rare.

 

Lets look at some examples. Starting with the easiest to answer.

 

1. Your a person, who wants a personal web site. It could be to show off pictures, or to just keep in touch with friends and family. Maybe you would like to keep an online journal. The answer in this case is usually no, you do not need a website. Many services exists that will allow you to use their frame work to show off your information. Take a look at FaceBook, MySpace, and Wordpress.com. All of these have free options that allow you do create a personal landing page/web site, and share your self with the world. If for some reason these sites do not fill your needs. Then I recommend you look at prepackaged systems like Wordpress or Joomla. Many of these systems will come with enough power and function to suit your needs. They are always a good place to start with personal websites and are relatively cheap when compared to custom development. For example I run a $50 wordpress install package deal (that I frequently extend to other prebuilt systems). That $50 investment is enough to get you well on your way. There are several free themes and plugins that will allow you to customize your blog or site. You get more freedom and expansion capabilities then a FaceBook or MySpace page, but there is also a cost. I always recommend to potential customers that they try a free solution first. Worst case senario, they have a better idea of what they don’t like and what they need.

 

2. Your a group of people. Your not doing bussniess, but you need a way to keep in touch and keep the group up to date. For example game guilds, structured social groups, churches, and user groups like LUG. A Wordpress.com or FaceBook page might not bee enough for what you need. Again a great place to start is a prebuilt system. For Game Guilds I encourage clients to look around. Many games that promote guilds (MMORPGs) will have a facility for hosting a guild website. For those that don’t have that option, I recommend a Wordpress install or Joomla.  There fast simple and can be expanded later on. Depending on this size of the guild, custom integration with the game or games can be accomplished at little cost.  For church groups and social organizations, many times, if a website is needed, its for a specific list of members. If that is the case, then a Joomla or Dupral install is the way to go. If it’s more of a public message board or calendar, then MySpace or FaceBook (or other social site) would work just as well. If you looking for a group calendar then take a look at google calendar. You might be able to get everything set up for free or little cost. Basically, if security isn’t a concern, then try a social site. If it is, then host your own (just a rule of thumb).

 

3. Business to Consumer. Categorically yes. You need a site. Your customers probably won’t take you serious without one. The size and location of the site is whats in question. If your a CPA and you have all the clients you need. Then a very small single page site is perfect. Kind of like a digital business card. If you want to expand a bit or are a more public business (restaurant/bar/club) then maybe a prebuilt system is in the works. If your looking to take your business online then you may need something a bit more robust. Several business start with a wordpress install and work out from there. If you have more defined needs then custom is the way to go. There are also options available based on what your trying to do. For example salesforce.com. I recommend staying away for social sites like MySpace. Your page might sit there, but you also loose a bit of credibility.

 

4. Business to Business. This is the tricky one. In my experience, it’s 50/50. If your selling an online service then yes you will need a site. And it will need to be shiny, have lots of things that blink and all kind of goodies that your sales team can show off. If your not selling an online service, then more often then not the site either doesn’t exist, is a small extension (1–2 pages) of an existing B2C site or is a simple static landing page.  Often times a site doesn’t exist at all and your potential  clients are directed to your consumer site.  With a B2B site you really need to weigh you options. The site will be a reflection of your product/service more so then a B2C site and could end up costing you a sale. Many B2B businesses forego a site all together to avoid the risk. A good rule of thumb in this case is “if your not selling an online service then leave the website small and detached. If you are selling an online service, then the sales site should have more visible features and a better look then the product your trying to sell.”

 

In closing here are a few general guidelines. First, look at free or low cost options. Even if they don’t work they will give you a great idea about what you need. Business should look like there in business, try free or low cost options but never forget your customers can see that. If you need custom development then don’t hesitate to do it. The cost of converting an old system into a new system is much higher then just doing the new system from the start. And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your developer for options. If they present one option it’s usually because they feel it’s the best, not because its the only option. Take their advise under consideration, but if you have an idea make sure to get it out there. A good developer will find a way to make it work. A great developer will be able to tell you why they chose their solution to present over the one you had your eye set on, giving you even more options and knowladge to choose from.

Coteyr.net Programming LLC. is about one thing. Getting your project done the way you like it. Using Agile development and management techniques, we are able to get even the most complex projects done in a short time frame and on a modest budget.

Feel free to contact me via any of the methods below. My normal hours are 10am to 10pm Eastern Standard Time. In case of emergency I am available 24/7.

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