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A Professional Looking Website for £50!

Feb 20, 2013
Colin Wynn of Administer Software describes how you can build a professional looking website for just £50.

By Colin Wynn of Administer Software

Yes you read correctly, £50, and with change too. Administer Software Limited (www.administersoftware.co.uk) has always had a web presence, albeit a poor one but nonetheless a web presence. Each time we decided to embark on having a professional website designed we were always set back by three things, firstly the cost, secondly supplying the content and thirdly the on-going fees should we want pages added/updated in the future.

In November the subject of a new website came up again, however, this time we decided to tackle it ourselves. First we sketched out our requirements and it became apparent that we needed a system which we could update on a regular basis, so basically a Content Management System (CMS), and with this in mind we chose Joomla! Joomla (www.joomla.org) is the most popular website software available today, it’s an award-winning CMS, is highly extendable (with thousands of extensions available) and best of all its freely available to everyone.

Now you’re probably thinking that as we are a software company we are complete ‘techies’, so this would be a doddle to us, but rest assured that no ‘techie’ knowledge was required. Once installed, Joomla is simply a system of menus and lists, each of which points to an article (content), which can be simple text, images, video or anything else. Joomla actually comes installed with a sample website showing you how to get started.

We simply set about entering basic content into Joomla to get a good feel of how it all looked and interacted, implementing some of the images from our huge library as they are mainly our product screenshots and example stationery.

When Joomla say it has thousands of extensions it’s not wrong, and most are freely available. We implemented several, one takes care of displaying thumbnails of our images and when clicked upon then expands them into a slideshow, one provides us with Google Analytics (www.google.co.uk/analytics - a service freely available to all that generates detailed statistics about visits to your website), and another gimmicky one that when turned on had snow falling over our content during the festive period!

From start to finish the entire project took 2 weeks, which included supplying and formatting the content, playing with extensions, etc. To give it the ‘professional’ look we purchased a professional, affordable and easy to use template (www.joomladesigns.co.uk – approximately £30 for 3 months access to all its template designs), which when implemented updated the complete look and feel of our website layout.

The best thing about Joomla from our point of view is that we can change or add to it at any time, from anywhere in the world, without the need of going back to web designers time and time again.

You can also use Joomla for blogging, but because we already had two blogs running for several years we decided to leave these as they were. Surprise, surprise they are created and updated using another freely available software package, WordPress. WordPress (www.wordpress.org) is simple to use and we have installed extensions to provide us with analytics, email us backups of our blog, fight spam postings and more, again all free.

Joomla and WordPress come with easy to use documentation, online getting started videos and free support forums.

You might be wondering, as we at The Mover were, how these companies make a living and, is there a catch.  Colin Wynn explains:

Both WordPress and Joomla have several non-dedicated developers that devote their spare time to the project, in a way it gets your name out into the public domain, or more importantly in front of blue-chip companies. It’s the same for the plugin/extension developers, a lot of these people develop a plugin/extension to serve a specific purpose for their own site, then someone sees it, asks about it and before you know it they’ve released it free for others to use, but then comes the support and the requests and more time is then required, but again it’s about getting your name out there, and some of these plugins/extensions do cost money, these are the serious ones. And then there’s the donation way, if you like what you use then make a donation to support the pizza and beer consumed during development, Joomla offers this as a way of receiving money too.

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