Building A Web Site Fast

The good old days were good for lemonade, porch swings and the price of gas. But those days were not good for everything. The computer you just bought for $1,000 would have cost you $10,000 10 years ago for the equivalent computing power. If you’re thinking about updating or creating your web site, happy days are here.

According to my classification, we have entered the 4th era of web sites. The first era was way back in 2000 right in the middle of the internet bubble. The budget for your website was $125,000, it would be online in 4-6 months and for $3,000 a month they would have programmers available to change and update your content. This was around as late as 2004.

Then came the era of “your neighbor’s brother-in-law”. This meant you had website that was “cool” and done for very little cost. Word to the wise — when ever anyone mentions “cool” when talking about a web site — run! You can recognize these web sites as having lots of colors, scrolling text (vertical and horizontal) and icons and smiley faces flashing all over the place. The core problem was that the website was built with every known gadget available. I call it the guy-in-the-hardware-store-syndrome. I want that tool, now what can I do with it?

The next era was the Andy Warhol era. Art became more important than commerce. It had to be pretty. Who cared if it made any money. You could tell you were around this one if you heard “they design great brochures — why not websites.” These websites are recognized by their flawless design, the nice clean look and the use of color and images to really convey the meaning of the site. Oh by the way, it takes 10 minutes to load the home page.

Most people have come to accept that web sites are where a lot people will go to find out who you are and what you have to offer. But your website also has opportunities to:

• Reinforce your message
• Build trust.
• Make emergency information available
• Conduct research
• Sell to a new market

So if today is the time you want to update or create your web site — you’re in luck. The industry has matured, there are a lot of talented experienced people around and OpenSource (free) software has matured.

A company I’ve been working with, isResearch, has a product they call “Web Site Overnight” which applies these new tools. Recently isResearch created a web presence for YIELDirect. Bob Hughes and his son John along with Joe Kaisher, operate YIELDirect, a successful seed corn business in northern Illinois. Their success is built on understanding the product, their customers, and providing a “yield and profit advantage” Trust me, you wouldn’t want to compete against these guys.

So when they called us in, we were really excited to be part of their success. Their requirements were to have a full featured web site including video, newsletters, seed guide, and the ability to have their customers download files. And after we got them up and running, they wanted to maintain the website themselves. This feature is called Content Management Software and allows someone with basic computer skills to maintain their own web site if they so desire.

I’m happy to report that the result of this project is The cost was about 1/20th of what it would have cost 10 years ago. Now that’s progress!

Bob Paarlberg, a frequent contributor, is working with isResearch on their “Website Overnight” product and can be reached at [email protected].

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