When to Use an Inexpensive Wizard-Driven Website
There is definitely a time and place for using a wizard-driven tool to build your website. By "wizard-driven" I mean an easy online program that permits you to login and create your own website very simply, by filling in boxes, uploading a couple of files, and clicking some buttons.
Wizard-driven websites are ideal for the small startup company or outreach that does not need a custom appearance, or any significant interactivity between their website and their website visitors. They obviously need an online presence that says who they are, what they do, and how to reach them. They may also benefit from some fairly standard canned functionality on the site, such as blogs, calendars, and contact forms.
There are a variety of excellent choices available for building such a site. Just FYI, we offer a simple no-cost solution, available to anyone who needs a basic one-page website or possibly a larger simple website at no cost. (Just visit www.urangatang.com/freesites for details.)
NetworkSolutions.com offers a package that runs $19.95 a month. In addition to letting you choose the layout, and letting you capture your text and photos, it also allows you to keep an online calendar, create a smart contact form, and maintain a blog, among other things.
Register.com offers a package that costs $12.95 a month and does something similar, plus it offers the ability to upload videos, Flash animations, and sound. Their ecommerce version runs $19.95 a month instead.
In addition to these, Iíve seen phone companies and yellow pages and all kinds of service providers that offer low-cost wizard-driven websites. If you opt for one of these sites, however, be absolutely sure that you own and will continue to own your domain name. You do not want to wind up in a situation where you lose your domain name when itís time to upgrade to a professionally designed custom website.
There are a few disadvantages to using wizard-driven sites... youíre necessarily going to be limited to only the layouts they have available. Wizard-driven websites are also not going to give you any kind of elbow room. When you want to bend something differently, typically the answer will be "no... you canít do it." A wizard-driven site, by its very nature, must provide identical functionality to a wide variety of users. Itís not going to let you decide, for example, to send an extra email to your administrative personnel when somebody signs up for something special on the site. Also, you cannot take the look and feel, or the functionality of the site with you when you leave. Regardless of how much you like the site or how many months youíve subscribed to it, you wonít be allowed to copy or reuse any portion of it in any way once you switch to another service provider or to a professionally designed custom website. Itís much like a rental arrangement on a house... regardless of how long you live there, you wonít ever own the house.
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