A quick scroll through the options for building and maintaining your web presenceJust as DJs recommend that brides hire a DJ versus using an iPod for their wedding, it’s in your best interest to hire a website designer to create a website for your business. However, there is now a wide variety of options you can use, either to launch your first website or improve on your current website quickly and easily, even if you don’t know HTML or website design.
Unless you’re a graphic designer, the first step will be determining where the design for your website will come from. You can hire a designer to create the design; use a template from within your website building software; or buy a template from somewhere online. Finally, you need to decide if you want to utilize a web-based editing tool or traditional website building and editing software.
If you decide to use traditional website editing software you’ll need to either find a designer or choose to go with a template. If you’re not familiar with website templates, they’re simply the basic design or shell of the site. If you buy a template you can do all the editing yourself to customize it for your needs. Templates are good for advanced users who don’t mind the possibility of another website having the same basic design as their website. If you’re looking for DJ-specific website templates check out Disc Jockey Templates (www.discjockeytemplates.com). There are also probably thousands of other websites that sell templates. You can do a search on your preferred search engine for either “website templates” or something more specific like “wedding vendor website templates” to find something that suits your taste.
Traditional Website-Building/Editing Software
If you’ve chosen this route, you’re either buying a template you’ll be editing or you have a designer creating a site that you’ll be maintaining. Your goal is to find software that’s easy for you to use, so maintaining your website isn’t a challenge. The following are some of the more popular choices:
Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 ($389)
One of the most popular WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors. I think there’s a bit of a learning curve to Dreamweaver but most people who use it swear by it. If this is your first venture into working with websites, I would not recommend starting with Dreamweaver.
While still available for purchase, Adobe isn’t promoting this software as much as they promote Dreamweaver (they inherited Dreamweaver when they bought Macromedia a few years ago). The GoLive page on the Adobe site does offer an electronic download of the software but also recommends checking out Dreamweaver before buying GoLive. It is believed that there are no plans to release a new version of GoLive.
Microsoft FrontPage 2003
Despite FrontPage being discontinued I still mention it because it is a very easy to use WYSIWYG editor. I learned how to edit websites using FrontPage and it was easier to use other website software after knowing FrontPage first. This last version of FrontPage was by far the best version of the software. I checked the websites of several big-box stores to buy FrontPage but came up empty. I did find some smaller, lesser known software websites still selling it but be sure to exercise caution when buying from a site you’ve never heard of before. I personally still use FrontPage and know many other people who maintain their sites with this software.
Microsoft Expression Web Designer ($229)
This is Microsoft’s replacement for FrontPage. I personally haven’t used it but I’ve read that it is pretty similar to FrontPage. If that’s the case it’s probably worth checking out. There is a demo version of it on the Microsoft website.
Most people reading this probably won’t be able to build or maintain their site with Notepad (I know I can’t!) but I wanted to mention it because it’s the simplest form of creating and editing websites. Believe it or not, even with all the website building software out there, some people still prefer using a basic text editor like Notepad to edit their website. I wouldn’t recommend this option unless you’re an expert with HTML.
Yahoo! Sitebuilder (free, plus paid hosting)
This is somewhat of a hybrid between traditional and web-based. Sitebuilder is downloadable software that you run on your computer but it includes a lot of features similar to the web-based solutions (more on that below). The software includes 380+ templates to help you create your website. It features easy to use drag and drop capabilities, making it like the web-based tools. The Sitebuilder software is free but it is $11.95 per month to have your website hosted with Yahoo, which is the only place you can have your website hosted if it’s made with Sitebuilder.
There are probably hundreds of website/HTML editors available for purchase and even some available for free. (A great source for completely free software is http://sourceforge.net-a quick search for “WYSIWYG HTML editor” came up with over 6,000 results, with at least a percentage of those being programs that would be useful to non-computer geeks.) Your best bet is always to download a demo before making a purchase.
Web-based options are probably the easiest to use and usually include free use of templates/designs, so you don’t need a designer. You can also save some upfront costs by eliminating the need to buy software if you choose a web-based solution.
While web-based solutions are appealing they do have some negatives. Usually you can’t move your web-based design from one host to another, so if you’re unhappy with the host/company you’re stuck unless you want to build a new website from scratch. Also, web-based solutions work in such a way that sometimes doesn’t give you as much flexibility with the design and layout of your website as traditional software does. Finally, web-based solutions are completely stored on the website hosts servers. Since you always want to have a back-up of your website, find out if there’s a way to back-up a copy on your computer in case there’s ever a problem on their end.
The following are a few of the more popular web-based solutions:
Ranges in cost from $99-$199 a year, depending on how many pages you’d like for your website. The Bronze ($99 a year for 5 pages) or the Gold ($119 a year for 12 pages) would probably be sufficient for most DJ companies. You can choose from 12 different templates as well as a variety of pictures to use on your site.
A nice feature of EZDJWebsites is the ability to easily integrate DJ Intelligence tools. (DJ Intelligence, at www.djintelligence.com, provides modules you can seamlessly plug in, to add booking, scheduling, event planning and many more interactive features to your website.)
Sample site made with EZDJ Websites: www.jbsentertainment.com
Website Tonight (www.godaddy.com)
Features over 800 templates and 8000 pictures you can use to build your website. Prices range from $4.99-$12.99 a month (they do also offer discounted rates when paying yearly). Includes the ability to add a Flash (animated) intro, forums, RSS news feeds and more.
Sample site made with Website Tonight: www.hailmarysonline.com
Offers a free 30-day trial that includes website hosting, 5 web pages, site stats and more. Choose from over 2000 templates to help you create your site. They have 3 different packages from $4.99 to $49.99 a month. The $4.99 option would work for some DJ companies who want a very simple web presence. The $19.99 is probably what most DJ companies would want. They also have an option where you can have a website designed for you and then you can maintain it with their online tools; this way you’re not just using a template.
Sample site made with Homestead: www.nzadventureco.com
As you can see, you can make a very nice looking website with web-based tools but while they are easier to use than traditional software (in most cases), still takes a fair amount of work on your end to make the site look clean and professional.
Let’s Build a Site!
If you don’t have a website yet (living in the Stone Age, eh?) now you have no excuse to not have a website. The best advice I can give is don’t make your sole decision on which route to go with your website just based on cost. If you know nothing about websites and don’t plan to learn, hire a professional to design and maintain yours, or check out one of the web-based solutions.
I designed my first website and now look back and laugh at it. (If you want a good laugh too go to www.archive.org and type in www.discoverydjs.com to check out my site from back in 2000). Despite having website design and maintenance experience for 7+ years, I hired a designer to design my current website and I do all the maintenance. I also recently launched a new website using Website Tonight. Within a matter of hours I had a very nice looking website just for weddings.
When a potential client visits your website for the first time, it is a lot like meeting you for the first time; it becomes their first impression of your company. Would you show up to a consultation looking like you haven’t bathed in a week? Probably not. So why would you let your website look like a mess? Take the same pride in your website as you do your appearance and performance and you’ll be on your way to having a successful presence on the Internet
*All prices taken from NewEgg.com and are for Windows versions. Check with your preferred software retailer for their prices.
Jim Weisz has been a DJ since 1999, working on-air and as sole performer for his company, Discovery DJs. A regular MB contributor, Jim has also spoken about websites at Mobile Beat and other national DJ conferences. He is a moderator at the ProDJ.com forums, and provides a regular online column on websites, “Weisz on the Web,” at www.mobilebeat.com. Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Issues from 2008, Sales & Marketing
Leave a comment