So, you want to make a website but you don’t know how to program and don’t have a huge bank account to bankroll a development team in order to make a custom script. That’s where pre-programmed scripts come in to play.
There are scripts for blogging, such as WordPress or Ghost. If you want a social network script, you can choose from the many out there such as SocialEngine, phpFox, Oxwall and many more. Perhaps you need a content management system (CMS), Drupal is one that comes to mind. If you search google for website scripts, you’ll find many more than these few examples we listed. For a forum, Vbulletin or Vanilla Forum come to mind but there are many forum scripts as well.
With all of the options available, from free to paid to subscription based cloud versions, it’s difficult to know what to choose. You can look at review sites, but keep in mind that many of those are paid to review or paid by referral commissions. You can tell from the url as they will contain an affiliate link at the end of, or someplace in, the link to the script they are reviewing. Not that those are unreliable, but you’ll want to keep in mind that they are paid advertisements in many cases. They can be very helpful in helping to make an informed decision, but we would suggest to check various sources when deciding what to do.
When choosing a script, first you need to know the main “must have” features that you just can’t do without. “Must have” features are a key to your vision for your site. These should be features that your site just would not work without. When listing these features, be sure they are actual “must have” items and not just desired items.
Once you have a “must have” list, you can make a list of the “would like” to have items. These are things that would be nice to have for the site but are not deal breakers. Just remember when listing your features that you should not have too many features on a site or you can end up with user burn out as there are just too many things to do and learn how to do on the site. Perhaps start out with a few, and then once the site has a good amount of users, maybe add a few other features you think it needs.
Now that you know what you need for your starting features, you need to decide if you want to host the site on your own server (via a hosting company) or if you want to use a cloud (hosted) version. There are pluses and minuses to both options. Not all scripts offer a hosted version though, but this step is good to look at for the ones that do.
When you use a cloud (hosted) version, there will be restrictions as to what you can do, bandwidth or users, ftp access( some do not have this and some do), plugins or apps (some allow it and some don’t). You also can have higher costs per month than hosting it yourself as most hosting companies offer very competitive pricing and services.
If you choose a self-hosted option, you’ll then want to shop for hosts. We’ll go into how to find a good host in another article though. Hosting it yourself does give you more control over the site, things you want to load on it, security, etc.
With your feature list in hand, and your hosting figured out, you need to check the various scripts for the focus of your site. Each script will have a website set up to show their features, pricing, support, requirements and most have demos. You’ll want to check out each demo and test everything you can. If they offer a downloadable trial, do that. It will allow you to set it up on your own hosting choice and get started setting up the site as you want it. This allows you to fully test it as you are setting it up. You can see how the features will work for your site.
This is the time to be asking questions for paid scripts you are looking at too. Make sure the script offers a money back guarantee and that you are aware of their refund policy. Ask questions about it if you are unsure. Check license terms as well. If they have a forum, check there. Ask at our forum for advice as well as there is always someone that will help.
Just about every script we know of also has a marketplace with extra plugins, apps, themes, etc that you can get for your site. Some allow external, third party developers and some just do internal apps/themes, etc. In many cases, it’s nice to have lots of options for plugins or customizations other than just the script company itself as it can keep costs down.
If the perfect script for you has many of your features you need, but not all of them, usually you can find what you want in the marketplace for that script or via customizations. With third party developers to choose from, it can really open up your options. We’ll go into how to choose developers for customizations and plugins in a later article. A small tip here would be to make sure you check ratings as most places do have reviews or ratings for third party developers.
We hope this helps you choose the perfect script for your website!
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