The type of web site you will want to deploy, will determine who you will want to develop the site and who will host it.
The Brochure Site
This type of site deploys “static” content. The Basic HTML language is used and anyone can host one. You will have a 24/7/365.2499 marketing tool.
A brochure site can describe your business, contain a mission statement, provide bios of key personnel, document the history of the company, post hours of operation, advertise products or services, or display contact information. Be sure a proper strategy is employed to provide web crawlers with keywords describing your business so search engines can deliver eyeballs to your site. By using web site templates, even a novice web developer can build and publish web pages with little training or cost.
You may want to offer more dynamic content. You can provide product specification sheets in PDF format that can be downloaded by users, collect email addresses for email newsletters, display calendars with a schedule of events, or offer blogging. These capabilities use a technology known as server side scripting. Your web site will now involve some kind of scripting language like VB-Script or java-script and technologies like PHP,.ASP, .NET, MySQL, or SQL. You may want to obtain the help of a developer, like your kid brother’s 12 year old son. These technologies also limit your choices of web hosting providers and increases hosting costs. However, they make your site way more kewl.
If you have products or services to sell, an eCommerce site is probably your ultimate goal. There are hundreds of eCommerce web templates available at little or no cost. Your eCommerce site could be an inter-active site where your buyer prints out a generated bill of sale and FAX-es or telephones the order into your traditional brick and mortar structure. To do everything on-line requires another technology called an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. SSL provides security for a financial transaction at many different possible levels. At the simplest, SSL provides encryption between two machines that no other entity can read or impersonate (write). At the highest level, the CA (Certification Authority) that issues your SSL certificate guarantees the certificate holder is who they say they are. A well known CA is Verisign. To obtain their level 3 certificate, they perform a background check, interviews your bank, and verifies that your company indeed owns the domain name listed in the certificate. SSL certificates cost anywhere from free to thousands of dollars. A free certificate can be obtained from many CA’s with just a drivers license. At the time of this post publishing, the street price of an SSL certificate is about $200.00 There is also a technology called a self-signed certificate that can provide encryption but obviously won’t vouch for a valid identity.
There is a significant overhead in data communication when an SSL certificate is employed and is reflected in the cost of deploying a certificate by a web hosting provider. Encryption triples the size of data transmission. The browser and server both must communicate with the CA to retrieve the encryption keys. If you will accept online credit card purchases and you want the financial transaction to be fully automated, you must add the cost of a validation service. You send the validation service the credit card number, billing address, shipping address, amount, card-holder name, expiration date, and CVC code. The validation service returns an authorization/validation code guaranteeing the funds to your merchant account. Otherwise, most templates will securely email you all of the transaction data and you process the order from your sales desk using your own validation protocols.
Website Development Platforms
Website development platforms and content management systems have becomwe increasingly popular. They are initially low cost or free, they are turnkey, and you can have a fully functioning website in minutes. Two of the most popular CMS platforms are Joomla and WordPress. Both of these applications have hundreds of millions of installations. A website developer may well sell you on one of these platforms only because that developer is only familiar with one platform.