Paralysis of Choice

So you want to create your first web site but are feeling more than a little
daunted by the thought. First step… relax. Just about everyone who has ever
created a web site has been here before. The feeling is not uncommon. Perhaps
one of the scariest things about the whole prospect of creating a web site is
the sheer number of choices out there.

There is a phenomenon that I like to call the paralysis of choice. It goes like
this? give me a choice between two or three items, no problem. That?s easy. But
now make it a choice between twenty items and a paralysis starts to set in.
There are simply too many choices! And with people afraid of making the wrong
choice, they decide that the safest choice is no choice at all. At least this
way, they haven?t made a mistake. So instead of getting wrapped-up in things
like HTML, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Php, let?s go more basic where there are
fewer choices.


The first choice is whether to do it yourself or pay for someone else to do it.
For many people, this one is decided by budget alone. Web sites built from
scratch can cost a lot of money. So let?s assume that you?ve already decided
that you want or need to do-it-yourself otherwise you probably would have
already shelled out the money and wouldn?t be reading this article. Am I right?

Web-Based Services

The second choice is whether to use a web-based service or to construct the web
site on your own computer. Many hosting services have built-in online web site
building tools. While you can certainly construct a web site, the end results
are usually pretty rudimentary. This avenue is probably just fine for a little
personal web site, but most likely not enough to impress more important
visitors, like clients and customers.

A Step Above

A step above the online web site building tool is the stand alone program that
allows you to construct a web site without knowing any HTML or other types of
coding. Among the better ones is Incomedia?s Website X5 which comes in two
flavors: Compact and Evolution. Think of these as personal and business.

You start from a number of template choices and then color combinations. Between
those two elements alone, the chances of your site looking just like someone
else?s is pretty slim. The main idea of Website X5 is to divide each page into a
grid. In each square of the grid you decide what?s going to go there: text, a
picture, a flash movie, or a slideshow, etc. Adding those elements is easy. Not
bad. And it gets you an end product better than those online web site builders.
But I?m still a less than wowed.

Web Templates

OK. As is usually typical I?ve saved the best for last! Unlike the canned web
site templates that come with software like Microsoft?s FrontPage (now dubbed
Expression Web); professional web site templates are much more sophisticated and
give you much more control over each design element. Each template typically
comes with a list of software you would need to edit the template before you buy
it. Higher level templates may require specialized software like Flash. But for
a typical price of between $55 and $75 for most templates, this is short money
compared to paying someone to design a web site from scratch.

Most templates also come with Adobe Photoshop (PSD) files. Even the low-cost
Photoshop Elements can fully edit these. The beauty of this is that for the
price of less than $100 you?ll have the ability to edit every single little
design element. This makes customizing your template much easier. For most
templates, the only other software you would need is the design software like:
FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Expression Web, SharePoint Designer, and more.

If you?d like to add Flash elements to your website, but can?t afford Macromedia
Flash (now Adobe Flash) there are the poor man?s alternatives like SWiSHmax.
SWiSHmax allows you to create Flash (SWF) files without having Flash and costs
only a fraction of the price. Take a look at SWiSHzone on the web for more
information. If you?d like to use SWiSH as an alternative, simply look for web
templates that list SWiSH as one of the softwares.


Many people don?t realize that most templates can be professionally customized
for an individual. Simply look for template customizing services where you buy
your template. Since you are beginning with a template that you?ve picked out,
you have a much better idea how it?s going to turn out after some custom
tweaking and there are fewer surprises. There?s much less risk involved than
with a web site designed from scratch.

You can generally save hundreds of dollars by starting with a template even
after adding in custom tweaking if you prefer someone else to do it. Remember,
you?re not starting from scratch. You already have a fully function site, so the
costs of editing a template are small compared with the cost of constructing a
full web site.

Bottom Line

So for a novice like yourself that wants to do-it-yourself, you basically have
three choices: 1) use a web-based service like the one than probably comes with
your webhosting plan, 2) use standalone software like Incomedia?s Website X5, or
3) start with a web site template. The results you can expect will probably
increase in quality in the same order.

Malcolm Broderick’s web templates are all about the ability to draw visitors
into a site. While good content will always bring visitors back a 2nd, 3rd, and
4th time, the truth is there won’t be a 1st time without a visually striking