Does your business – or your customers’ businesses – need a website? It could be easier than you think with these user-friendly tools.
A basic website is essential for every business, yet many small businesses either have no website at all or have one that is outdated and neglected.
Building a website can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with these user-friendly, cost-effective, and easy-to-use tools.
A brave new world
Previously, businesses had to do three things to create a website: register a domain name, create web pages using a software package, and register with a web hosting provider.
The process was complicated and often required the expertise of a professional to code in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and other web languages. Larger sites also required working with a database.
There are many companies these days that sell domain names, host web pages, and offer drag and drop website building tools that don’t require coding expertise.
These tools don’t offer all the power and flexibility of a professionally built site, but they are inexpensive, simple to use, and tick most, if not all of the boxes a small business requires.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the more popular options.
Wix is the big name in hosted website builders, and for good reason – it offers everything many small businesses need from a website.
Wix includes hundreds of stylish, mobile-friendly templates to choose from as a starting point, as well as an easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor that lets you customize many design elements.
There are many complementary apps for email and social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), website analytics, and customer relationship management.
If you need more, there is an app market with hundreds of third-party tools that can be easily installed.
Wix offers a free basic plan, with several paid plans also available, depending on the features and customizations required.
Square space is another popular hosted website builder that might be ideal for those looking for a modern and sleek design. Its templates are beautiful and its editor is also quite easy to use.
Unlike Wix, Squarespace designs are ‘responsive,’ meaning Squarespace web pages seamlessly change to accommodate different screen sizes, while Wix uses separate stationary designs for desktops and mobiles.
Squarespace can’t match Wix’s sheer volume of functionality, but it does offer a lot of similar options, including portfolio sites, blogs, online stores, and service company sites. It also has SEO, email marketing, analytics, and other useful tools.
Wix and Squarespace have everything you need to quickly launch an online store, but Shopify is designed solely for this purpose. All of its templates are designed to sell products and services, and it offers a more comprehensive suite of e-commerce tools.
For example, Shopify offers more payment gateways and thousands of integrations with third-party apps to help increase sales, manage shipments, and add many other features.
Shopify takes a little longer to learn than Wix, but there are still no coding skills or specialist knowledge required, and it’s ideal for businesses revolving around an online store.
Come on daddy
Many hosts such as Netregistry and Come on daddy now also offer online website builders. GoDaddy’s app, for example, lets you build a basic website, online store, or service site with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
It even includes SEO, social media, email marketing, and other tools. However, while this is a comprehensive offering, its tools are more rudimentary than Wix’s, and its templates lack the finesse of Squarespace.
Nonetheless, GoDaddy’s Builder is a very affordable way to quickly build and run a beautiful business website.
One problem with hosted solutions is that you are effectively locked into the platform of the host. You may be able to export content, but you cannot move the entire site, including the design, to another provider.
Mobilize solves this problem by offering a more traditional website building approach. Users download its software (for Windows or Mac), create the website on their computer, and then download the finished files for publication.
Users need to organize domain and web hosting providers on their own, but once done Mobirise makes it easy to build and publish a website, and the site can be moved to another hosting provider at any time.
Mobirise lacks many of the tools that Wix has to offer, but it’s great if you want to build a basic yet attractive website. It’s also free, or you can purchase additional templates and add-ons for a one-time fee.
If you want more power and flexibility, you may need to upgrade to a content management system. WordPress is the clear market leader here, thanks in large part to its relatively easy-to-use dashboard for adding and managing content.
It also offers thousands of themes and plugins to add just about every feature imaginable – and it’s supported by most web hosting providers.
Many web hosting providers make it easy to install WordPress, although until recently you usually needed a web professional to create a custom website.
WordPress is still not as easy to use as Wix, but using a page builder with WordPress offers the best of both worlds.
If none of these options are right for you, there are plenty of other website builders, content management systems, and other site building tools.
Alternatively, there is no shortage of web designers and developers who can do the job for you. Just make sure you do your homework and choose the right people or the right tool for your needs.