Lesson #8 - To blog, or not to blog?
In Lesson #6 we discussed the process of picking an idea. There simply comes a time in your life when you decide to create a Web site, so you pick an idea and start down the road.
Once you have picked your idea, the next question you face is, "what sort of structure should I use to contain my site?" That depends on the type of site that you are creating. Look back at The different types of Web sites. The big categories are:
- Content sites
- Brochure sites (primarily to advertise a business or organization)
- Stores (retail sites)
- Forum sites
- Database sites
Let's get the retail sites out of the way quickly. If you want to set up an online store, and if you have never done it before, I would recommend that you go to a place like Yahoo Small Business and use their toolset to create an online store quickly and easily. You will pay $50 to $100 per month for their tools, and it makes your life easy. You can focus more on selling and less on "technology".
If you have read lesson #6 and you know that you want to create a pretty straightforward blog, then I would go to a place like Blogger or LiveJournal and create a blog using their free tools. It only takes five minutes to get everything set up, and then you simply start writing. It is quick, painless, free and easy - what more could you ask for?
That leaves us with content. Let's say that you know you would like to create a content Web site, or a business brochure site, but the free/easy Blog structure does not work? For example, let's say that you want to start your own site like HowStuffWorks, or you are a dentist and you want to publish a brochure site to advertise your dental practice?
In that case, what you need to do is create a "normal web site". You need to sign up with a company that hosts web sites, create a URL for your site and start building your site. This is not quite as easy as creating a blog -- it might take you two to four hours instead of five minutes to get things set up. However, you have a lot more freedom and control with this approach. You can build almost anything you can imagine. You can add forums, create multiple email accounts, post images, let visitors look at video, etc. It does take a little more work to get going, but you can do a lot more down the road.
Let me give you two examples to make the difference more obvious:
- What is WebKEW? It is a "content web site". What I am doing here is publishing an online book, really. I have started WebKEW using a blog in order to demonstrate something -- If you do not want to go through the steps of creating a custom web site right now, you can actually do your publishing in a blog structure. I have created a Table of Contents page for WebKEW to make it a little easier for readers to get oriented, but otherwise I am using a blog framework to publish content. Admittedly this structure has its limitations, but you can see that it is possible.
- Now, let me show you another online book that has been published as a simple, custom web site: CarefulParents.com. This custom web site has its own URL and logo, it has a custom home page, it has a standard template for article pages and so on. If you are creating a brochure for your business, or if you are publishing non-blog content, this is most likely the road you will want to travel.
If you are getting ready to create a "real web site" for your content, or if you need to create a business brochure site, you can click here and look around. Whether you go with ez-web-hosting or somewhere else, the features and the price will be nearly identical -- this is a commodity business with thousands of companies providing approximately the same packages.
In Lesson #9 we will look at the steps that you need to take to get your "real web site" going once you sign up.