Altering your own website is now easier (and cheaper) than ever

It’s one of the biggest myths in small business. And it may well be happening in yours.

And that myth is that you need to have reasonably advanced computer skills to be able to maintain and alter your website.

You see it all the time in job ads for marketing assistants and webmasters: “Must have html, php, javascript, AJAX etc programming skills.” 

That may well be the case when your website is more of an operational part of your business (i.e. your website IS your business) but for the vast majority of SMEs, it’s serious overkill.

And it represents unnecessary expense.

Easy website management

Because these days, a reasonably competent PA or anyone conversant with tools like Word, PowerPoint and Excel can pick up website editing skills within an hour or two.

The reason for this is that most website CMS (content management systems) are not built for techies or developers at all, but for real people with fairly basic computer skills.

And we are no longer just talking adding text and images here, but banners, effects, functionality and layouts that not so long ago really did require a computer science degree to operate.

DIY FX

A great example of this is the ‘hero image rotator’ effect that is so commonplace these days. 

Not so long ago, a flash or animated gif file had to be created or altered by a designer every time you wanted to change this rotator on your website.

These days, a good CMS will provide an area that you can manage the images text and even speed of rotation with just a few minutes tuition.

 

Pretty much every area of this Home page can relatively easily be edited by the business operator or staff member

Good CMS developers know that smaller businesses don’t have the budget to hire a developer every time you need to make a simple change to your website.

So they have cleverly created website editing tools to most mimic the kind of Office software tools most business operators are familiar with – in particular Microsoft Word.

A snapshot of the web page editing tool of popular website platform Business Catalyst

The all-important proviso

But these capabilities come with one important caveat: That your website designer or provider has set up your website to be easy to alter.

A too creatively focused and even self-interested designer will set up your website so that only they can make alterations of pretty much any kind.

If you’re lucky they may set it up so that you can alter text and even images, but typically these designers will make everything else way too complex for ordinary users to be able to consider altering.

But a scrupulous and customer-focused web designer will set up your site so that you can alter as much as possible without compromising the professional appearance or functionality of the website.

It’s all in the brief

The best way to ensure your website is as editable as possible is simply to specify this clearly in your brief to the web designer or developer.

In addition to being able to edit text, images and menus on your website, you can also specify that different page layouts and effects (such as the rotator above) can be fully edited by you and/or your staff.

If your provider can’t do that for you, there will be plenty who can.

And by sticking to your guns you will save yourself a small fortune in website alterations down the track.

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.

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