You don’t need to go to your web designer for every change to your site – there’s some great software out there that can help you make basic changes quickly and easily. The trick is knowing which changes are basic…and which are better left to the professionals.
[If you haven’t built your site yet but instead are doing research on updating—first, my compliments—you are web savvy. Second, look into building a WordPress site. With WordPress you’ll be able to update your site yourself which will save you lots of money. I’d be happy to discuss with you whether WordPress is a good fit for your web project or not.]
Cost: onetime $199 fee and your own time
Convenience: high, no communication or waiting
What Contribute Can Do: Let you update text and photos on sites built in Dreamweaver
I highly recommend Contribute to our clients because it’s so cost effective and convenient. It allows you to do your own updates from your office whenever you want. Contribute works on all web sites built in Dreamweaver, which is most of them – your web developer will be able to tell you if it’s right for you. It’s wonderful to be able to fix typos, add new content, or change a picture without waiting for a developer to get around to your updates. Plus, with Contribute you don’t pay a consultant’s fee – there’s no cost to you once you’ve purchased it.
Get Adobe Contribute by going to Adobe online, and paying for the download with a credit card. It’s very easy to use, but if you’d like guidance there are several Contribute manuals available from Amazon.
When I polled the Contribute users among my clients, they all gave it between 8 and 10 on a scale of 1-10.
Your Web Designer or Virtual Assistant (VA)
Cost: hourly rates vary $50-100
Convenience: depends on the turn around time
What the Web Designer or VA Can Do: update text, photos, add buttons, add charts, add keywords, links, probably anything you need
I recommend using your Web designer to change buttons, add features, add keywords and other tasks more complex than adding text and photos. These days, many VA’s will also be able to add buttons, links, keywords and other medium complex .html changes..
Email or fax is the best way to communicate changes to your Web designer or VA. Give them clear and detailed instructions about what you want. Clear communication keeps the cost down, and facilitates timely changes.
Content Management System (CMS)
Cost: large upfront cost; most cost effective option for complex information
What CMS Can Do: ideal for information that gets updated frequently and has a particular format…like a table
It’s a good idea to consider a custom CMS when your site has an event calendar, news ticker or something like that. The CMS is designed so a non-techie can enter the data into the fields and upload it. The custom table is made once and the data replaced as needed.
If you are planning a site, you want to make sure you plan how you are going to update it…because an out-of-date site is of little use to you and your business. Fortunately, there is a easy to use solution for every size business. For small business, that will probably be WordPress or Contribute (existing .html sites). For larger companies and more complex websites, that would be a built in Content Management System or a webmaster.
Karen Nierlich, internet marketing consultant with Full Orbit Web and Marketing, enjoys her role as an educator on web issues. She delights in providing reliable and up-to-date information to business owners and entrepreneurs who want to know how to successfully market themselves online.