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Would you build your own website?

Posted on 06 November 2011

The Sunday Times recently did a feature called "Creating a Website? It's Child's Play" (23rd October, InGear section).

The writer had looked at various website building packages and claimed that building a site from scratch no longer requires specialist knowledge. He's absolutely right of course - it used to be the case that building a website was one of those dark arts that involved groups of sandal-wearing programmers, sitting around in dim lit rooms, smoking strange cigarettes and was best left alone by the average person in the street.

But like most things tecchie, packages came along that meant you could design and build web pages without knowing anything about the various programming languages involved, such as HTML. Products like Dreamweaver were used by designers - but even these packages needed quite a lot of tecchie knowledge.

In the last few years, packages were developed that allowed people to build or edit their own websites.  At first, these were rather cumbersome packages which were aimed at corporates who wanted to give their marketing department heads the ability to update web pages on the fly, to add in a news announcement or an event, for example. These packages are all called "CMS" or "Content Management System" packages and can cost anywhere from zero to thousands of pounds. Some are extremely difficult to use, others much easier, but are often designed with the larger website in mind.

More recently, tech firms have realised that smaller businesses want to design and build their own website - or maybe a large corporate may want to build a smaller, separate "micro-site", for a special project or campaign.  Even non-business people want to build their own websites these days, maybe you run a club or have a special interest you want to share online with friends and family. After all, how difficult can it be?  

Luckily, in many cases, it's not difficult at all.  Packages are now available from software companies, which are specifically aimed at the non-technical user.  You pick from a selection of designs, upload your own colours and logo, and then you can add your own pages, images, content, forms and whatever else you need to make up your website.  Some of these packages can create quite sophisticated sites, suitable for small to medium sized businesses and can be a useful place to start, either for your very first website, or maybe one that you want to look a bit more professional after a basic first attempt, which you later realise, doesn't quite cut the mustard.

If you've had any experience with these kinds of packages, please let us know, we're always interested to hear about people's experiences.

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