If you have a business, you need a website – no two ways about it, I don’t care what business you’re in. Because such a large population of the world is online (almost 4 billion to date), a missing website means missing customers. With the exceptional (and easy-to-use) site builders available today (many of them free), there is no excuse for not having an online presence.
Many organizations hire a web content producer/manager as part of their marketing and/or communications team to oversee this. However, if you’re just starting out, you may not yet have the financial means to hire. You’ve probably heard of the resources you can use (ie. Squarespace, WordPress, etc), but navigating those is a process itself and let’s be honest, probably not the reason you went into business. Your time would be better spent writing your mission statement, developing your marketing, whatever, pretty much anything else.
I’ve broken down the pros and cons of the most popular site builders, so you can select one and quickly move forward without having to do a bunch of research and comparison. As long as you know the needs of your business, you should be able to pick from the list below. Not sure where you fit in? Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with me.
My business is an eCommerce site / online retailers.
Use … SHOPIFY
Cost: $29 – 299 per month
If you know from the get-go that you’ll be selling physical goods online, do yourself a favor and shell out the extra cash for a Shopify account. It’s a hefty monthly fee of $29 but worth it. If your business blows the f**k up and you end up rolling in sales, you can rest easy on your new king sized bed covered in bills knowing your site and customers are taken care of. There’s nothing worse than finding success quickly, scrambling to get your site together, and losing customers in the process. I’ve built sites on the cheap elsewhere and them migrated them over to an eCommerce platform later. It’s not a fun process. Every time, I wished I’d known the business goals early and started everything on Shopify from the start – reason being, eCommerce / online sales is their specialty. There’s less flexibility in terms of “look and feel” but TRUST ME, this is a worthwhile sacrifice in exchange for a platform that is expert in providing customers an easy and safe shopping experience. They take care of the cart, securing credit card info, etc. Plus, when you do get to a point where you can pay for a more customized look, you can always hire a freelance Shopify developer via Upwork to do this for you.
My business is highly visual (ie. fashion, art, photography).
Use … SQUARESPACE
Cost: $12 – 40 per month
Of the site builders out there Squarespace is the most aesthetically pleasing and modern. Their designs are eye-catching in a minimal way that is perfect for showcasing work that is highly visual. The downside here is the cost, which starts at $12/month – possibly a bit steep for someone starting out. If you’re resourceful, you can find coupon codes and offers by listening to the ads in podcasts (I know Two Dope Queens used to do one). All that being said, Squarespace’s easy drag-n-drop style interface, combined with its exceptional design is definitely worth the cost if your business depends greatly on a sleek, minimal, contemporary look and feel.
My business is brick and mortar. I just need something basic to let people know I exist.
Use … WEEBLY
Cost: $0 – 49 per month
Weebly is the simplest of all the site builders. It is quick, free, and you can have a basic, good-looking site up in a matter of hours. There’s not a lot of customization but their chat support is helpful and will try their best to work with you. I do not recommend their commerce platform – though they do have one. As I mentioned before, if you know you’ll be selling goods, spend the extra money and start with Shopify. With Weebly, be sure you select a responsive template design. Don’t bother with the others. If your site doesn’t work on a mobile device, you might as well not have one.
A note about …. WIX
Cost: $0 – 30 per month
Wix is another site builder people use comparable to Weebly. It fits in between Weebly and Squarespace in that it’s not as easy to use as Weebly, and isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as Squarespace. However, it is free and that’s an appealing factor to their users. If you want to keep costs low, then I suggest browsing both the Wix and Weebly templates. Unless you fall totally in love with one of the Wix templates, go with Weebly simply because it’s more user friendly and they have a good customer service team.
My site is a blog and/or it relies heavily on communicating information out.
Use … WORDPRESS
Cost: $0 – 25 per month
The biggest drawback about WordPress sites is that their backend interface is more complicated than any of the other tools I’ve described. It is by no means impossible to learn, but getting the hang of it can take a while if you find technology frustrating.
There are two types of WordPress sites: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
I’ll talk about WordPress.com first. This is ideal if the main purpose of your site is to communicate information one-way to your audience – meaning you don’t necessarily require them to do anything except read and comment – such as with a blog. WordPress.com is ideal for bloggers, researchers, educators, anyone wishing to simply share information. There are a number of free templates, or you can pay a one-time fee of $30+ for something more stylized. I’ve been very impressed with WordPress.com’s customer support, which seems to be open almost 24/7.
You will want to go with WordPress.org if you need “extras” such as email signups, popups, etc. These are available to you as plugins that you would install into your base site. Now, this is tricky because the plugins are created by different companies, so if one makes an update, it may not be compatible with other plugins or even your entire theme. An issue like this can take down your entire site. The good news is that there are many developers you can hire to fix these issues for you – but of course this comes at a cost depending on the severity of the situation. Bottom line, expect to encounter compatibility issues at some point and have some money in your budget to account for this.
I hope this list has helped you in your search for a site builder for your business. The important thing is to get started and realize that even in the worse-case scenario, you can always migrate your site to another platform. It happens all the time. If you’d like my services in getting your site off the ground, please get in touch with me!