Create a website with the right tools
Choosing a Website Builder
Consumers now have access to a plethora of do-it-yourself (DIY) web builders that make the process of making a website much simpler and cheaper than it was previously. In the preceding section, we detailed the features offered by various website templates that can be edited manually.
What kind of website do you want to make, and what features does it need to have, are important considerations when deciding on a website builder. Here’s a rundown of some of the more important considerations to keep in mind as you shop around for a website builder to help you create the site that’s right for your needs, whether personal or professional.
Consider the Software Features
There is a wide variety of excellent website builders from which to select the one that best meets your needs. Wix and Squarespace, for example, are great platforms for those who prioritise ease of use. Wix and Web.com both have great tools for editing photos and adding stock images. Both Squarespace and Shopify provide state-of-the-art shopping cart software.
If you just need a reliable hosting service that is compatible with WordPress or your preferred content management system, then you may find your needs best met by either iPage or FatCow.
A Great Website Deserves a Great Template
To put it simply, your template is the foundation of your website. It consists of everything from the menus to the colours to the backgrounds to the placement of the photos and text. The quantity of templates offered by a website builder isn’t as important as the quality of those offered. The free templates offered by Wix and Network Solutions, for example, aren’t as numerous as those offered by some of their rivals, but they are among the most aesthetically pleasing you’ll find. You can also find high-quality templates on Squarespace.
To Pay or Not to Pay?
Should you use a free platform, like WordPress, or a paid platform, like Squarespace? That is a question of scale and the amount of authority you wish to exert over your website.
Although free website builders can save you a lot of money in the long run, they typically don’t allow you to use your own domain. Also, the company’s advertisements must remain on each page.
It’s true that using a paid builder costs money, but the extra space, speed, and features are well worth it. It’s possible to use your own domain and avoid intrusive advertising.
If you’re torn between a free and a paid website builder, here are some additional things to think about.
The Brand is Important, Too
When deciding on a web host, reliability is crucial. Several of the website creation tools we’ve profiled and compared here have been around for more than two decades, making them true industry veterans. In comparison to Web.com (1994) and GoDaddy (1997), Register.com (1994) has been around for much longer. The company that would become Network Solutions first opened its doors in 1979.
Numerous awards have been bestowed upon these businesses as well. BigCommerce, for instance, has won two Stevies in the category of “Best Overall Business.” GoDaddy was named one of Arizona’s Most Admired Companies for the second year in a row, and the company also won three Stevie Awards for sales and customer service.
Awards and recognition from within the industry are also very telling of a product’s worth. Consider Squarespace, which has won numerous Webby Awards in categories ranging from Features & Design to Web Services & Applications to Best Practices.
Looking for Design Services?
There are many beautiful templates available with these website builders, but sometimes you need something more unique. Wix, Web.com, and Network Solutions are your best bets if you want a professional to design a beautiful website for you. These websites provide DIFM (Do It for Me) web design services at reasonable prices. Once your site is up and running, you can keep it looking fresh with their intuitive CMS.
BigCommerce is a great choice if you want to run an online store from your website. They can put you in touch with one of the best BigCommerce design companies around. The best part is that you can pick and choose from hundreds of partners, each with their own rates and portfolios, until you find the one that suits you best.
Don’t Forget About Google
You need a site that is search engine optimised for people (whether they be visitors, readers, customers, or groupies) to find you. SEO, an abbreviation for “search engine optimization,” is the process of improving a website’s visibility in search engine results.
To make sure your website builder is optimised for search engines, look for functions like:
- Changes to HTML elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and alt image attributes.
- Create sitemaps in XML and HTML format automatically.
- Search engine friendly uniform resource locators (good: mysite.com/latest-news; bad: mysite.com/349596).
- Tools for measuring keyword density and for converting between formats.
Wix and Web.com are two of the most SEO-friendly options for creating websites. Both have all the aforementioned benefits, but Web.com has SEO experts on staff to do the work for you (additional rates apply).
And Then There Are the Hosting and Domain Bundles
What you host is analogous to a piece of property. You’re not paying for five acres and a duplex; rather, you’re buying a few gigabytes of storage and enough bandwidth to keep your site up and running. All the website creation tools we’ve reviewed here also provide hosting for your site, and for a nominal fee you can even use your own domain name with most of them. If you sign up for a full year of Squarespace hosting, you’ll get a free domain name.
Both Weebly and Web.com offer unlimited storage and bandwidth in their hosting packages. It’s a huge boon for any website that offers this feature. BigCommerce provides the same features, but an upgrade to the more expensive enterprise plan may be necessary if your online store has thousands of products and customers.
When comparing hosting plans, keep in mind that “unlimited” and “unmetered” bandwidth mean slightly different things. Even an unlimited plan with no usage data to worry about has limits. Meaning, the host won’t prevent you from getting lots of visitors, but it may slow your site down once you hit a certain volume.
The Advantages of Using a Website Builder
A professionally designed website may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000, with the price potentially increasing with each revision you request. You’ll also need to wait until your designer is free to implement your revisions. Finally, you might end up settling for a website you’re not happy with just because you think it would be too expensive to try something else and you end up feeling like you have no choice.
The use of a website builder can significantly reduce your costs. The most reliable website generators provide a wide range of features and total creative control. Wix, for instance, lets you play around with fonts, colour palettes, slideshows, galleries, and even video backgrounds, in addition to offering more than 500 templates arranged across 70 categories. The Wix App Market, which has received much acclaim, provides users with access to more than 300 useful applications that can be easily added to a Wix site.
From the placement of the CTA button on the homepage to the choice of font, you have complete freedom when using a website builder.
What to Consider When Choosing a Website Builder Platform
If you want to create a website, the best tool is the one you can actually use. Some questions to ponder as you design your new website:
- What will the format of the site be?
- Which essential qualities do you seek?
- Do you have a virtual shop up and running? What size would it be if that’s the case? In order to keep their Ecommerce plans affordable, some website builders put monthly caps on the number of products you can sell.
- Can you describe the company’s atmosphere?
Ease of Use
Usability is essential in a website creator. Get a feel for each of the 5 top website builders we reviewed by creating a free account and playing around with their trial site creator. If you try out both, you can see which one works best for you. Check that the website builders also provide you with access to the CSS code if you have some coding experience.
Ideally, you’ll be able to grow your company. To that end, you should consider whether or not you need a website builder that can handle an increase in online bookings, reservations, sales, or inquiries. Can you easily download the entire site if, in the future, you decide to switch to a different hosting service?
It’s also a good idea to see what kinds of templates can be found. Make sure they aren’t just variants on the same theme by taking the time to compare and contrast them. If you want to promote your local cafe, you won’t get very far with a builder that offers hundreds of blog templates but none that are geared toward food service businesses like yours.
When comparing the best website builders, you’ll find that they all provide a wide range of optional extras meant to streamline and improve the website-building process. Take note of the following characteristics:
- Constructing with the aid of setup wizards.
- A simple drag-and-drop interface for making web pages.
- Equipment for Search Engine Optimization; modifying meta tags, for example.
- Marketing resources like email marketing.
- Statistics gathered automatically about site visitors’ age, gender, location, interests, and more.
- Resources for online business, including payment processing, stock tracking, product descriptions, etc.
- Connect your new site with your social media accounts with the click of a button.
- Sites that adapt to mobile devices and refresh in sync with the main site.
- Mobile website editing features that let you keep working on your site even while on the go.
Site Speed and Tech Support
The time it takes for your website to load is also crucial. The loading time of your website is crucial, as you do not want to lose customers because of it. If you’re building your own site and run into trouble at any time, day or night, having access to technical support is critical. Finally, compare prices. Quality should be your primary criterion when selecting a website builder, but you shouldn’t have to break the bank to create a functional website.
Is a Free Builder Worth It?
A free website builder is a great option if you just need to set up a simple site without an e-commerce component. Keep in mind that there will be storage and load time limitations, as well as a lack of search engine optimization and marketing tools, with the free plans. Free site builders are not a good option if you require features like an online store, large file storage (for high-resolution images, videos, etc.), dedicated customer service, and/or a large number of pages.
However, free website builders are great for getting your feet wet and having a ready-made platform to share with connections and social media followers. And if you decide you want to add more features later, you can often do so with minimal effort and expense. Wix, for example, offers four premium upgrades with progressively more bandwidth, storage, and access to analytics and marketing tools, allowing you to scale up at a rate and cost that makes sense for your website.