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Here we summarise three approaches to buying a website – website builders, ready-to-go websites and custom solutions – and offer an overview of the trade-off between time and money spent, and the quality of the website you finally own.

By Patrick, 24 April 2012

Option 1: Website builders

Low-cost, do-it-yourself website builders are growing in popularity and improving all the time. Marketed at those with little technical knowledge, they need only a few clicks to set up and cost almost nothing to run. (See choose the best website builder for more details.)

What’s out there?

Here are some platforms that put you in the driving seat – making it easy to update your content:

Search ‘website builders’ on Google for other platforms and their reviews.

Advantages

These do-it-yourself platforms are very cost-effective and enable even the smallest organisation to get online. They offer functionality at a click and designs that can be changed in just a few seconds. Do-it-yourself platforms are also supported by active communities who pride themselves on solving any problems that might arise.

What to watch out for

These platforms do have their limitations: your organisation will need to be flexible about what it wants from them. If you anticipate your content will evolve quickly, structure a website that can be expanded or exported to a more complex build. Think about what future functionality you may want – customisation tends to be less flexible than developers claim. You’ll also need to put in a lot of time or employ an expert to help out. Organising online information effectively and implementing good design demand time and experience.

Verdict

While perfect for small websites, these platforms are not suitable for complex websites or specific user needs. If you have little budget, they offer excellent value and are great for publishing content quickly and easily. Be prepared to spend time in forums when issues arise – and to put effort into learning what works and what does not.

If you think this might be the option for you see choose the best website builder.

Option 2: Ready-to-go websites

Many companies sell off-the-shelf platforms that will accommodate additional functionality and thus create a truly flexible website for a non-profit on a budget. These are usually easy to maintain and use but require technical knowledge to set up. (See find the ideal ready-to-go website for more details.)

What’s out there?

Ready-to-go websites are often tailored to specific sectors – shop around to find the one that truly fits your organisation’s needs.

Here are some platforms and functionalities that can be tailored to specific sectors:

Platforms
Functionalities

A platform tailored to your particular sector will provide tried and tested functionality at a fraction of the cost of a custom website. It will offer a better visitor experience than a ‘point and click’ website bulder and will adapt more readily to changing needs.

What to watch out for

You will need to employ a developer to set up an ready-to-go website. Before you commit to one, make sure it is genuinely tailored to your sector and is able to adapt to your future needs. Although website designs can be modified, they have their limits – if you want a custom solution you must be prepared to pay for it.

Verdict

A ready-to-go website is an excellent choice for an organisation whose site functionality is relatively complex or is likely to evolve. This solution can be even more cost-effective than do-it-yourself website builders, as everything is already set up.

If you think this might be the option for you see find the ideal ready-to-go website.

Option 3: Custom solutions

Whether you need an entire custom website or just a module, there is really no limit to what a good company can create. Large corporations will spend millions on the latest online functionality – but a cutting-edge custom website can cost much less than you imagine. (See obtain the perfect custom website  for more details.)

What’s out there?

There are thousands of web companies – so take your time and be choosy. If you like a company’s website, call and find out what they can do for you. Do they have experience of your sector? Do they have relevant work to show you? Are they helpful and do you feel positive about their designs?

Advantages

A custom website allows you to present your content exactly and entirely as you choose – while close analysis of user journeys will ensure visitors enjoy the best possible experience. Coupled with a unique design and tailored functionality, this attention to detail will make them far more likely to come back.

What to watch out for

A high price does not necessarily guarantee a good website – if you’re non-technical, you may find it difficult to judge its quality and functionality. Call other clients and ask them if they’re happy – and make sure you fully understand the contract before you sign!

Verdict

If your organisation needs very specific functionality – and you have the resources to build one – you should certainly consider a custom website. The benefits to the overall image and success of your organisation will be well worth the extra cost.

If you think this might be the option for you see obtain the perfect custom website.

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