The Benefits of Building a Web Site | WebReference

The Benefits of Building a Web Site

The Benefits of Building a Web Site

Excerpted from Macromedia Studio 8 All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies by Damon Dean and Andy Cowitt. ISBN 076459690X, Copyright © 2006 Wiley All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: Why Build a Web Site?

In This Chapter

  • Exploring the reasons that Web sites get built

  • Finding your place on the Web

  • Understanding what drives people to the Web

  • Investigating common types of Web sites

  • Getting ready to build a Web site

S o you want to build a Web site? Well, congratulations! If you're reading this book, then you've probably already purchased a copy of Macromedia Studio 8, and you're ready to dive right in. Macromedia Studio is a fantastic tool that enables you to create a wide array of content and graphics to deploy on a Web site that is dynamic and easy to maintain.

But software isn't all you need in order to create a wonderful Web site. It also takes creativity, a good eye, a well-thought-out plan, and some serious soul searching about why you want to undertake this endeavor in the first place. This chapter offers some insight into how sites get built, why they are created, and who they are aimed at. So grab your pen and paper and get ready to jot down your own ideas about the great site that you want to build.

Understanding Why People Build Web Sites

In the early days of the Internet, all Web sites generally looked the same and served similar functions. Back then, an average Web site could be described as a big online book with linked pages. In short, in its infancy, the Internet was not all that interesting graphically and was severely lacking in interactive sophistication. All that has changed. Today's Internet is a dynamic amalgam of text, graphics, interactive tools, commerce, and communication. If you are part of a business, an association, the government, or an academic institution, chances are a Web site supports some or all of your group's mission. But not every venture requires a Web site, which naturally leads to the question, "Why build a Web site?" Most organizations and individuals establish a presence on the Internet for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To sell a product or service directly online, as shown in Figure 1-1

  • To provide information or tools

  • To provide an extension of — or support for — products and services

  • To find other organizations or people to work in a particular area of interest

  • To introduce and promote an organization and its mission

  • To remain competitive with other organizations that are on the Internet already

  • To promote community development by bringing groups of people together around ideas, people, or causes, either online or in person

  • To share artwork, writing, or photographs

Figure 1-1: A common product and service-style Web site.

Finding Your Place on the Web

Before you begin to think about the kind of site you're going to build (either for yourself or for your organization), you should consider each of the following questions carefully. Doing so can help you target your site to an appropriate audience and prepare yourself for the work ahead.

Consider your content:

  • What is the content going to be on your site? Is it unique?

  • How often will you be updating this content?

  • Are there any other sites that already do what you want to do? If so, how will you differentiate your site?

Consider the early explosion of sites during the dot-com boom. At one point, more than five pet sites were all trying to hawk their wares to users. Only one survived, and that was because it was a traditional retailer first. Market saturation is a sure way to spell doom for your venture, so be sure to check out the competition first!

Select a format and interface:

  • In what formats will your content be delivered? Will you just use text and graphics, or will you also need animation and/or forms that respond to user input?

  • What are the technical requirements needed to view your content? Will users need a video or audio player or plug-in? For example, to view a Flash animation, users need the Macromedia Flash Player plug-in. (Luckily, almost all users will have some version of the Flash Player installed, and if they need a more recent version, they can download it easily from

Know your audience:

  • What audience or audiences are you trying to reach with this content?

  • Do they need or want it?

  • Is there any other place they can get this content already?

  • What are the demographics and technical capabilities of this audience?

  • If your site has more than one audience, are there differences between them and do they need the content delivered differently? If so, you will want to take advantage of ColdFusion's dynamic scripting language to deliver different content to different audiences.

Manage your workload:

  • How much time and effort are you willing to give in order to support this site?

  • Are other people working on the site with you?

  • Who's going to create the graphical design for the site? Of course, if it's you, you've got powerful tools at your disposal with Macromedia Studio 8.

  • Are there any deadlines you need to keep in mind when developing your site?

These questions have no right or wrong answers. Instead, they're designed to help you formulate an idea of where you're going when you're building a site. Frankly, if you're building a personal site, then these questions are moot to some degree because you can build whatever you want and it may not matter whether someone else can read it or see it. Of course, if you're thinking about selling your new products on the Web, then these questions can be critical to your overall business success, not just your Web site's success. For example, if you find that a number of other sites have similar products or a similar focus to what you had in mind for your site, you may consider not building a site at all or changing the focus of the products you are selling.

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: April 3, 2006