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A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Website

There are many thousands of people and companies who design or build websites and it’s not so easy to understand the differences – after all, you want a website and might not want to understand what makes it work… so here we explain exactly what we do and give you a quick guide on what to look for when choosing someone to build your website.

A website can be anything from a single page to a highly functional and complex site such as google.com, amazon.com or wikipedia. The big difference is that a simple website just displays “static” pages – it’s a bit like a book or brochure on the internet……..  A more complex website performs advanced functions such as letting the user edit pages, buy products or search for information…..  At Infomagnet, we build functional sites – the most common types of functional site are e-commerce sites where visitors to your site can buy goods online with a credit card, CMS sites (content management systems) where you or your users can edit pages, upload photos and video and sign up for newsletters…. but there are other kinds of functional sites we build too – broking systems, interactive libraries, online newspapers – we build websites which require some kind of functionality and interaction with the user.

That’s what we do but is it useful for you? To help you make the right decision about which developer is right for you please read our guide here (or download it here).  If you’re going to get a functional website, then you’ve just become a software buyer.  It’s a confusing world with different programming languages and all kinds of probably unfamiliar phrases.  But understanding the basics of these and the differences between different systems and approaches is essential if you’re going to make the right choice and not an expensive mistake.  We’ve tried to give an unbiased approach on how to go about making the right choice of web developer.

And Now That You Know What You Need......

We’re website builders, not designers (we work with plenty of different, talented designers) – and there’s a big difference between design and build.  Creating a website requires the skills of a designer (to make it look great) and a programmer (to make it work fantastically too). Designing and programming are such different skills that you won’t find anyone who’s great at both so the best thing to do is to let the designer design your site – and let us build it. (If you’re a designer, see the designer pages to find out what we can do for you).  It’s like the relationship between an architect and a builder – and what’s more, designers challenge us to make sites in ways we hadn’t thought possible before.  It also allows you the freedom to choose the right technology for your website – so which one to choose?  We use Drupal because we think it’s the best and also the most flexible for our clients – read here to see if it’s right for you.

"I was introduced to Drupal when I was a software buyer," says Matthew Leigh, MD of Infomagnet, "I was looking to build an e-commerce site but wasn't sure quite how the project would develop.  I knew we needed a great, easy-to-use, stable CMS with huge flexibility as well as scalability.  And then I was introduced to Drupal....."

"It's wise to be sceptical about a solution that does everything but I was an experienced software buyer and was soon convinced," Matthew continues. "if you think about it, everyone wants to do more or less the same things on the internet - selling, showing video, blogging, uploading images, text, audio, user profiles, sending messages........  And instead of many individual users each developing their own solution to do these things, Drupal is a collaboration of many many thousands of programmers, all wanting to achieve the same things, all contributing to and testing each others' work.  It's no surprise that Drupal has fast become the most popular open source CMS by far with some very high profile sites running on Drupal."

The biggest single advantage that Drupal-based sites give to small and medium businesses is that you're not locked in to one supplier or an obscure technology.  Whatever happens to your developer, however your relationship with them develops, you're free to shop around and you never come to the realisation that you're going to need to start again.

Whether it's a simple gallery site with a blog, an advanced e-commerce store with EPOS integration, a broking system, the latest hot idea you have for the internet or something inbetween, chances are that most of the technology already exists to build it quickly and get it to market before your competitors do.

So that's how we build websites - it's cost-effective, fast, scalable and they're really easy to use.  All our websites come with training including some SEO basics - enough to get you online quickly with a great website........... and because you are completely free in your choice of designer, you get a site that suits your image and budget too.

If you're looking at other kinds of website or technology, we'd love to chat with you too..........  We take a realistic view and although we're Open Source and Drupal enthusiasts, we're web enthusiasts more than anything.  We know there are other good technologies and solutions out there and if you're looking at them, let us know - we'd like the opportunity to compare them too.

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