Using Adobe Contribute, Web Site Builders or Blogs to Update and Maintain Your Website
Over the years, I’ve had numerous clients ask me about the possibility of updating their own websites. I’ve typically steered them away from this for several reasons, the first being that most people don’t have the training necessary to be able to maintain their own website. If they did, they probably wouldn’t need me in the first place, which many people seem to forget. Maintaining websites is not as simple as it may look and involves the knowledge of HTML code, CSS, SEO and graphics editing software, to name just a few.
The second reason is that, as a designer, I was very reluctant to turn an unknowledgeable client loose on my designs. Design integrity is very important to me. While a web site represents the owner and their business, that web site also represents me, and I’m not so quick to just hand it over when my reputation may be at stake.
Lastly, and let’s just be honest here, this is my livelihood, my bread and butter, how I pay my bills! Maintaining web sites is a large part of my business so naturally, giving it up isn’t something I’m all that thrilled about.
What I’ve discovered however, is that recent software developments have made it much simpler for clients to maintain their site, without the site losing it’s design integrity, through pre-defined “editable regions”. One problem solved. Additionally, this software is designed for the end-user, so the client doesn’t have to be so knowledgeable about HTML and CSS in order to perform the updates, and anyone with moderate computer skills can master these programs. Another problem solved.
There are three main methods of maintaining your own web site, that I’m familiar with. The first, and probably the easiest, is Adobe Contribute. Contribute is purchased by the client and installed on their own personal computer. It works with Dreamweaver, a popular software used by designers to build web sites The designer creates editable regions within the pages, and these regions can then be accessed with Contribute and edited as needed. The software retails for approximately $200 and it is helpful if the client receives some training from either their web site designer or another trained individual, so they don’t spend countless hours trying to figure it out. If you’ve never worked on any web sites before, figuring out Contribute all on your own might prove a little challenging, but in the long run, you will probably save money over paying your designer for updates.
The second method is using a blog to build a web site There are many different blog platforms available to choose from, one of the most common being WordPress. WordPress has hundreds of different free themes that can be used, so most people will find one to their liking. The admin section of most blogs is fairly easy to navigate and with a little time, users will figure out how to get all their bells and whistles working properly. While you could use a blog for static, informational sites, their layouts are typically much more suited to articles and galleries, as the heading show posting titles and dates. Frequently updated blogs, once found by web spiders, are heavily crawled, which helps improve your rankings and get your site found.
Free blog themes have their limitations however, primarily with the design. Most are only moderately customizable, allowing for pre-selected color choices, header images, etc. If you have knowledge of CSS however, you can customize them more than the typical user. There are themes available for purchase that are completely customizable
The third method that I’m familiar with is to use one of the many web-based site builder applications that are out there such as Homestead or GoDaddy’s Web site Tonight. While I find them limiting, simply because I’m used to doing whatever I want with the web sites that I build, many people find them to be sufficient for their needs. Additionally most services charge a monthly subscription fee so, in essence, you’re still paying to update your web site, and you’re having to take the precious time to do it yourself as well.
The bottom line is this: while there are ways of maintaining your own web site, the only thing that is completely without any additional cost is learning the ins and outs of web site development yourself, which has taken me a decade, and I’m still learning! Technology changes rapidly and I find I’m constantly trying to keep up. Wouldn’t your time be better spent doing what you do best…….earning money with your web site instead of working on it?