Free Tips and Article on Blogs and Hybrid Site Creation, Design and Social Media Management for Authors and Publishers

Custom-Designed Websites vs. Websites Created on Social Networking Platforms

        In general, an author or publisher will go one of two routes in creating a promotional Website. This article aims to pinpoint the differences between the two most popular methods. It will also reveal a third more innovative method for authors who want an active role in the success of their virtual home. The scope of this article covers only dedicated Websites, since non-dedicated Websites cannot be considered a serious promotional or e-Commerce tool.

Custom-Designed Websites
        Traditional Websites are created using coding language generated from a software or individual. These are considered custom-designed sites. Websites have been created in this way since the dawn of the Internet. Site owners hire a hosting company called an "ISP" to host their sites on a dedicated server for a fee. Once a site is complete, the site owner may hire a Webmaster to maintain and update the site.
In practice, most site owners do not have Webmasters, nor do they maintain and update their sites on a regular basis. Sites lacking regular maintenance and updates are often left "orphaned". These neglected sites are often scattered with dead links, contain outdated or irrelevant information, have compromised credibility and low sales, and miss out on the full potential of Search Engine Optimization. Nevertheless, custom-designed sites, if executed well, have a unique look and generally succeed in targeting the book's market and portraying the author or publisher positively.

        Custom Webdesign has functioned well for quite some time; however, the Internet is constantly evolving. A recent major change is the trend towards more frequent site and content updates. This makes sense if you think of Websites as the building blocks of the Internet. The more frequently a site is updated, the greater its effectiveness as a continual source of information. Thus, custom-designed Websites have trouble staying competitive with blogs and forums. Blogs and forums can provide sites with new content sometimes on a daily basis.

Social Networking Websites
        Websites created on a social platform are Social Networking Websites. The scope of this article, as mentioned earlier, only addresses dedicated and hosted versions of these sites. Free hosted blogs created on WordPress.com, for example, or free Social Media Networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, are not within this category.

        In most cases, Websites are created and stored within a database provided by a dedicated ISP, but not every ISP offers such services or provides personalized technical help with its set-up. Consult Authors' Web Design.com or WordPress.org for recommended ISPs. As opposed to custom-designed Websites, Social Networking Websites are usually created by site owners themselves. The "look and feel" of these sites is chosen from a selection of templates. With a small learning curve, Website owners can edit content and images, create and delete pages, and manage posts with no knowledge of coding languages. Examples of Social Networking tools include: blogs, RSS feeds, and comment sections. These all open the door for greater visitor interactivity and create a feeling of connection via comments, ratings, forums, and polls.

        Isn't this swell? It's the answer to all our needs as Website owners!

        Well, not entirely. As mentioned, the design of a Social Networking Website is created from a template. As thousands more of these sites are created every day, the rate at which the same templates are being reproduced is similarly rising. I personally have noticed the Internet losing its edge due to the fact that, let's face it, many Websites look identical. I am also certain that the major engines will notice and correct this issue. The shortcoming will be corrected by rating custom-designed sites higher than Social Networking sites. The creation of Social Networking sites is simple, but only if you already know what you're doing. You will be required to deal with your ISP and setup and activate your database within the platform. You will need to upload files to your server and frequently change the entire platform due to version changes. If you get stuck or have questions—and mark my words, you will!—the only help available is within forums where you can search for answers and post questions. There is no technical support provided. On top of the potential for glitches with database set-ups and the absence of truly original templates, purely Social Networking sites also have great difficulty in gaining and keeping Search Engine Ranking Positions ("SERP") compared with custom-designed sites. This is a sign that search engines already rank unique Websites higher than Social Networking Websites.

Hybrid Websites
        But what if, you say, we could combine the advantages of a Social Networking site with those of a custom-designed site?

        I've already seen these "hybrid" Websites appearing. Site owners will organize their site pages into two categories: those pages that need frequent changes and those that don't. This arrangement means that frequently edited site pages are set up like a Social Networking Website, while less frequently edited pages are set up like a custom-designed Website. The cost of a hybrid site is usually lower, not to mention that hybrids allow owners more flexibility than ever, and with no loss to a site's originality or Search Engine Optimization potential. With a hybrid site, you have the best of both worlds.

        Still have questions? Consult our Frequently Asked Questions and access further information on creating a hybrid site or making over an existing site into a hybrid.

Copyright © 2009 Substance Books Inc. All Rights Reserved. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher.

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