Can I Do My Own Website?
Many businesses or individuals in Windsor who want a website commonly ask the question: “Can I develop my own website?” The short answer to this question is yes, absolutely. In fact, developing a simple website is easier now than it ever has been. Programs such as Macromedia’s Dreamweaver or Microsoft Front Page have made it easy to develop web pages with little to no skill. Simply pick a pre-made template, type in your text, add a couple of pictures and voila! You have yourself a website, right? Well, sort of.
The simple fact of the matter is, you can’t expect to develop a professional looking, tightly coded, website just by plugging your text into a pre-made template with a code generation tool. Yes, software has greatly improved over the years with how it generates HTML, the markup code that defines the structure of your web pages, but generated code will always be bulkier, and less efficient than hand coded HTML pages.
Most professionals in Windsor develop their HTML pages by hand. In fact, most page developers rarely ever use anything but a text editor to generate their pages. Professional page developers will use HTML for what it was developed for, to describe the structure of a page, and encapsulate the content of said page via the markup tags relevant to the content at hand. What does all that mumbo jumbo mean? Well, simply put, it means that a professional web page developer is going to structure a page correctly, using the correct tags, not just using tags that look right when a page is rendered to the browser. A professional page developer never concerns himself with how the HTML makes a page look, HTML is there to structure a page, not describe how the style is defined. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) describes how the nicely structured pages should look when rendered to the browser. Moreover, the developer structures his/her pages so they render correctly in all browsers, a task that the code generators fail miserably at most times.
What’s In Your Page Source?
Alright, I will be the first to admit that most people don’t care how bulky their web pages are or how inefficient they are coded. Granted, most visitors are on high-speed internet and those extra 500 milliseconds your page takes to load isn’t going to matter, right? Again, sort of. You always have to be aware of how long your pages are taking to load, and how responsive they are for your visitors. Studies have shown that an average user will wait about 10 seconds for a page to load before they navigate away out of frustration. I have a feeling that this study was done before the vast majority of users had high-speed internet. I suspect that tolerance to waiting is actually much lower.
Experienced web developers and web designers will always optimize their images, and HTML to load as quickly as possible. Images that are not properly compressed can easily be 5 times larger than a properly compressed image. Improperly compressed images can easily increase a web page load by 5-10 seconds!
One of the biggest detriments of doing your own web development is the lack of search engine optimization. One of the most common causes of websites having poor search engine rankings is because the page is full of HTML errors which throw off the search engine crawlers. Web pages that are not structured correctly, and have a lot of styling information inline with the content will never rank well compared to websites that are structured correctly with nice clean content.
So does this mean that if you do your own website, you won’t ever get listed in the search engines? Of course not, but if a professional web designer or web developer programs your HTML pages, your pages are much more likely to get indexed correctly. Moreover, most web developers will put a link from their well indexed site to your new site, which will further help the crawlers find your site quicker. If your developer is experienced in search engine optimization (SEO), that will even further liken your chances to high rankings in the search engines.
How’s It Going To Look?
Ok, so we have established that yes you can do your own website. It might be coded terribly, and not rank well in the search engines, but you are still determined to do it yourself. Quick question, how is the site actually going to look? If you are a good designer, and can make a nice picture of how you want your site to look, you can use your code generator to make it look the same right? Not quite.
Getting your website to look the same as what you had envisioned is a very tricky proposition for an inexperienced web designer. Developing for the web is very different from developing a page for traditional print. In traditional print, you have a fixed canvas (the page), whereas on the web, you have several variables to contend with. First, you have no idea what resolution your users will be viewing your web-pages at when developing your website. What looks good at 1024×768 might look terrible at 1280×1024 resolutions. To further complicate things, different browsers can show the exact same HTML much differently. Specifically, Internet Explorer based browsers use a different engine than Gecko based browsers (Mozilla, Firefox etc). It can be truly frustrating even for experienced developers to try and keep things looking the same across the board, but for a do-it-yourselfer it can be an impossible task.
Ok, let’s say you’ve tackled all the compatibility issues. How will the website actually look when it’s done? Will it look professional? Or, will it look like a do it yourself site? If your website is being used for business, what image do you waAnt to attach to your company?
Are You Scared Now?
It really isn’t my intent to suggest that you shouldn’t try to develop your own website. I still maintain that a lot of people can develop a fairly decent site themselves, especially if they have a basic understanding of HTML and a fairly good design sense. One good approach to doing it yourself is to have a web developer that you can consult with on some of the more technical issues. You can save a lot of money by doing it yourself and letting your developer check your work for any major issues with the web pages. Many web developers in Windsor will gladly check your pages over at an affordable hoAurly rate, correcting any major issues.
Having a developer to walk you through some of the more technical aspects of web developing can be a very sound approach if you want to do your own web programming. You really do have to weigh the hourly rate of checking the code against the cost of having the developer program everything.