a Web site developer, I have spent much of my career
listening to tales of woe from people who have tried
to get a Web site built and have ended up spending a
great deal of money and not getting what they were promised—or
worse, getting a terrible mess that was not even usable.
Beyond that, they find that the person or company they
used to build their Web site has disappeared and they
have to hire someone new to clean up the mess, incurring
further expense. This is a deplorable situation and
can be avoided by doing a little research. Never hire
a Web site developer or designer who is not willing
to give you a list of active Web sites that they have
built. You can then contact some of their clients and
ask about their experience.
I am going to give
you some options that can, in many cases, help avoid
the need for a Web site developer altogether if you
are willing to spend some time reading instructions
and/or have someone that you trust who has a beginner’s
level understanding of the Internet. These are entry-level
solutions and can get you up and running. As time goes
on you will want to have a more robust Internet presence.
This will get you started and will give you some confidence
about what you do and do not need in a Web site. The
examples we are dealing with here are essentially blog
engines that can be used as Web sites. Next month we
will deal with Content Management Systems (CMS) that
can be developed at a low cost. Any experience you gain
through this process will be positive in familiarizing
yourself with the working of the Web.
You must have a domain name, and you can purchase
one yourself. You do not need professional help for
this. I recommend GoDaddy
because that is the company we use and it has never
let us down. I have been using them for over eight
years. If you are uncomfortable buying a domain name
online they will walk you through it and any other
problems you might encounter. There are other sites
that sell domain names and the prices vary broadly.
The most important part of doing this yourself is
that you will have control of your domain name. This
is of huge importance. NEVER let a Web developer or
designer have control of your domain name.
Your Web site has to have a place to live. Hosts maintain
servers that allow your Web site to be seen on the
Net. The pricing for this service varies greatly,
as does the quality of service. We use ValueTech
and have had a fabulous experience with them. Others
have good reputations like Yahoo and GoDaddy. I just
mention these few because I have personal experience
with them. Again, ask people you know who they use.
You should expect to pay around $250 to $300 a year
for hosting for an entry-level Web site. If you want
to include e-commerce, you will pay more, but we will
save that discussion for another day. (Most Real Estate
professionals will not need conventional e-commerce
you use be sure to ask them about their up time and
redundancy. You want to be sure that your site is going
to be reliably up (visible on the Web) and that should
something terrible happen, your data is backed up and
ready to be sent on the Web from another location as
seamlessly as possible. Their only job is to protect
and show your data.
Blog/Web Site Solutions:
The solutions below
are ones that I have had hands-on experience with and
feel very comfortable in recommending. As we have stated,
we have no affiliation with these vendors, just knowledge
of their high quality and ease of use in this scenario.
a creative option for building a blog/Web site. It
is not free, but it is worth the small price you pay
from $7 to $175 per month. Here is a perfect example
of how a blog can be used as a Web site: I used it
when it first came online 5 years ago and found it
quite straightforward even then. It is much more efficient
and easy to use now. It offers a 15-day free trial,
so you have nothing to lose by trying it out. They
do not require that you give them your credit card
information to use the trial, so you are not going
to find that unexpected charge a month or so from
now should you lose track of time or are too busy
to use or cancel it during the trial period. But I
suggest that you not sign up for any free trial until
you do think you have time to work on it.
When you go there
take some time to look at their features page and
you will see a listing of the things that you absolutely
need now and others that you will need as you grow.
When you are ready, you can upgrade to your own domain
name with no sign of Squarespace being your underlying
architecture. No matter what solution you use—or
even when you go to a developer to create a Web site
for you from scratch—this is a good list to
I spent about 45
minutes on the site and built this skeleton Web site.
I know you are thinking, “Sure 45 minutes for
you, 45 days for me.” Just go there and try
it out. They have extensive help and support options.
The interface is very intuitive.
Besides, what is
the worst that can happen? You can always start over.
This is also a good
service and it ranges from $4.95 to $29.95 per month
for a wide range of services. We used TypePad as our
blog early on and found it very easy to use. It offers
a huge number of templates that are easy to apply,
as well as many Widgets (little programs that do special
things like add videos from your YouTube account,
etc.). You can upload custom banners to further brand
your site. It also offers stats tracking and has the
added advantage of being almost instantly listed on
most major search engines.
TypePad offers a
14-day free trial, so you have nothing to lose by
trying it out. (They do require that you give them
your credit card information to use the trial.)
One well-known Real
Estate blogging information site, Real
Estate Tomato, began on and still stays with TypePad.
Usually once a site develops some traction online,
they will upgrade to their own Web site.
WordPress is the only free option I am mentioning
here. It is an awesome application on many levels
and you can put it on your own domain name. It has
most of the features that the above-mentioned options
have and is highly customizable. We use it as our
blog on ExecMediaGroup.com and love it. You can also
easily adapt it to use as a Web site as was indicated
in last month’s article.
As you can see, there
is no sign of this Web site not belonging completely
to ExecMediaGroup, because in essence, it does. WordPress
is an open-source engine for blogs and Web sites.
This is an example of the best of the open-source
There are massive
numbers of WordPress templates that are available
for free or at reasonable rates. This is an example
of a template for sale by Revolution.
It is rather traditional, but there are many more.
Remember the thing that you pay the most for when
you are building a Web site is not the design itself,
but the mechanism of the Web site that makes it possible
to function online. Do not put design ahead of functionality.
You can have both.
There are many more
blog/Web site solutions out there. I have used the above
examples because I have had personal, positive experiences
Here are a few more:
There are companies
that dedicate themselves to developing these services
and architectures for clients who do not have either
the skills or the time to customize the solution for
themselves. Of course, we would like to think that you
would come to sublingua for such services, but you will
find that there are many developers out there who specialize
in one or more of each company’s options described
I hope that this has
given those of you who have been worried about the expense
or difficulty of getting out there on the Web the courage
to try one or more of these providers. I think you will
be amazed at how easy it is. The one goal that they
all have in mind is to develop a solution that is user-friendly.
Try it and use the comment section below to let me know
what you think or to ask any questions.