Guide to the right programming platform for your website (full sample)
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Choosing the right programming platform is one of the most important decisions when you're building a new website. This article explores several options, frameworks, and languages for web development. It covers areas including blogging frameworks, online website builders, locally installed software, and various programming languages.
Building a great website - Choosing the right programming platform
Choosing the right programming platform and language for your website is vital. The approach affects the functions, technology, and many other aspects of your website. There are dozens of platforms and programming languages available, depending on your needs. Your options include:
Blogging frameworks like WordPress and Blogger.
Online website builders.
Locally installed website building software.
Custom languages and development platforms.
There are two main blogging frameworks: Blogger and WordPress. Blogger, by Google, is an online-only platform designed around content creation. It lets bloggers and writers create content quickly, upload images, and design beautiful blogs with a minimum of fuss. Google hosts all blogs created on the platform. You don't need to worry about web hosting, speed, or anything besides creating great content. Customization on Blogger is limited, and you will need to use various widgets for any advanced functionality.
WordPress is the most popular website technology platform in the world. Over 75 million websites publish on WordPress, and half of the world's top blogs use the technology. WordPress isn't limited to blogging, though. The platform is used by many businesses, membership websites, and online stores. WordPress has a vast amount of community support, together with templates, tutorials, and plugins. This makes the platform highly customizable, and it's a good choice, whether you want to build a website yourself or hire a developer.
Online website builders
Another popular option for designing and publishing a website is to use an online website builder. These solutions are focused on the pages, themes, and structure of your website. You can drag and drop various elements onto your pages and create content.
These website builders are easy to use, inexpensive, fast, and functional. The four most popular website builders are Squarespace, Weebly, Jimdo, and Wix. Each has a free trial, so you can try them out and see if they work for you. You can set up shops, membership programs, and more, but they are best for simple websites without unusual requirements.
Locally installed website building software
Locally installed software is often used by professional web developers to create a website on their local machine. They can then upload it to a hosting service. Popular solutions include Adobe Dreamweaver, Aptana Studio, and Microsoft Visual Web Developer.
The software supports many types of programming languages. One of the main features is a "What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)" editor, which shows you exactly how your website will look. The software lets web developers customize websites to a high degree, and allows for great flexibility in web design.
Custom language and development platforms
There are many specialized programming languages used to build websites. These include:
Simple languages such as HTML and CSS.
Advanced languages such as Drupal or Joomla.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
HTML is the standard language used to build the vast majority of websites. HTML code tells your web browser about the content of your website and where to display it. If you look at the source code of a website, most of what you see will be HTML.
CSS affects the visual elements of your website. The styles in CSS tell your web browser how to display the fonts, colors, spacing, borders, navigation, and other parts of your website. This makes it easy to change styles and colors across a website without having to edit the HTML on each page.
PHP is another popular choice for web development and runs on a web server (where your website is hosted) rather than in a browser. PHP is a flexible language allowing a website to interact with databases, membership sites, logins, and much more. There's lots of community support and tutorials for the language, although it needs a professional developer to make the most of it.
Python and Ruby
Python is a multi-purpose programming language used for many different types of development. One of its main advantages is a wide variety of pre-coded functions that make writing complex web applications a little easier.
Ruby is a programming language that's growing in popularity due to its ease of use. It's also good at handling large volumes of website traffic, so if you're expecting lots of visitors, it's a good choice.
MySQL is a relational database platform designed to allow websites to store and retrieve information. It's an open-source platform, so using it is free. Many websites use MySQL to provide personalized information, products, and services to customers.
Joomla and Drupal
Joomla is a language developed for content management systems (CMS). It specializes in allowing people to create, upload, and share content. Consider using Joomla if you have multiple contributors to your website.
Like Joomla, Drupal is a CMS. It's also extremely customizable, allowing professional developers to create websites to exacting standards. Drupal is specially designed for web developers who want to customize every piece of their code.
Many of these programming languages require specific expertise. If your website needs a more customized approach, think about hiring a professional web developer. The right programming and technology makes a big difference to the functionality, usefulness, and success of your website. If you're not sure what you need, speak to an expert to learn about your options.
Content originally written by Paul Maplesden, a freelance writer, and edited by me.