Does this sound like you? At some point, it’s important to identify the areas you should focus on yourself and the areas you should delegate to others with expertise in that area. In this article we share important information relevant to entrepreneurs like you who might be thinking of building their own website.
What is Open and Closed Source and What Does it Mean to Me and My Website?
If you are a non “techie” person doing research to build your own website you’re likely looking at the “do-it-yourself” solutions out there that claim you don’t need any IT experience to use their tools. A lot of those solutions are what we refer to as closed source platforms. Let’s take a look at the distinction between open and closed source platforms.
With a closed source platform, source code is proprietary and not released to the public. Closed source software usually is developed and maintained by a team who produces their product and limits what the outside world is allowed access to. You can only change what they want you to. You can only use the widgets and functionality they deem appropriate. External developers are NOT able to contribute code and you yourself will not be able to customize further unless you pay to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
For example, in a standard package they are likely to limit the number of pages you are allowed on your website, amount of storage, bandwidth, customization available, and special permissions areas of your website. They will try to upsell you to more expensive packages by limiting the standard more affordable ones. The fee is typically on a monthly or yearly basis and continues indefinitely until you shut down your site.
Most closed source platforms require the use of their own website hosting plan. That is one way they make their money. In most cases, if not all, this means that you are tied to their hosting plan and the website design cannot be transferred if you should find a more affordable hosting plan elsewhere.
Closed source companies will tell you that they allow this fantastic access to analytics for your website. Analytics tell you how many visits, views, clicks, etc. This functionality is available to you ANYWAYS — for FREE — from one of the mostly widely used search engines around – Google!
Here’s another cautionary word. Look behind the beguiling “create a free website” or “easy to build website” slogan. Determine if you are giving a third party the right to plaster advertising all over your website in exchange for using their “free” website building tools and servers. Do you have control over the brands and businesses being advertised? Will this distract your website visitors away from your product or service offerings?
Now, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin and the open source platforms available. There are a few but we will focus on WordPress because we believe it offers the most user-friendly ‘end-user’ experience — particularly for those who are not tech savvy.
WordPress is an open source platform that allows for able users to view and modify a product’s source code. The most common advantage being that there is a trust, acceptance, teamwork and quality for the community of users who choose to work with that platform. Yes, it is wise to hire a professional WordPress developer to build the site for you, and that will cost money, but in the end you’ll have a portable, user-friendly, and adaptable website for the long term. Best of all you’ll have a website that works cross-browser, is mobile device friendly, with no glitches or strange quirks that make you pull your hair out.
Is your time worth money? Do you want your website to increase the success of your business? Think about whether or not you can afford to do this yourself.
WordPress does not limit customization, functionality, hosting providers, number of pages, bandwidth, or storage space. You have access to absolutely tons of both FREE and affordable plug-ins to enhance your website at any time. Also, Google analytics is easily integrated into WordPress websites for FREE.
The more popular and widely used the platform — the more support and options will be available when you need them. The WordPress community consists of thousands of developers creating brand new plug-ins and widgets every day. The options are endless, limited only by the imagination and abilities of the hundreds of developers using the platform. Can the company you are considering say the same?
WordPress has such a user friendly interface that when the website development is complete, with a little training you can learn to manage your own content. So you could still save yourself some money BUT in a smarter way.
Lastly, if you plan to enter content and design the website yourself BUT you are not a professional developer, you need to think about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Crafting your content and site structure with SEO in mind is an important part of your marketing plan, and gaining relevant traffic to your website.
We wrote this article because it is important to your business to make educated and informed decisions that will create a successful online presence for your business. Hiring a professional using an open source platform like WordPress is a SMART choice.