You can personally build a website for your business without needing to learn how to program or train as a website designer. Fortunately, you don’t need to despair if you don’t have several hundred dollars to spend on developing a website as there are many programs and online resources available that will cost you a minimal amount to get up and running.
The dilemma is that there are so many programs including the cheap, the free and the expensive – that it has become difficult to choose which option to use to build your own business website.
1) Free Website Builders
You may be wondering where on earth you can get a website builder for free? The answer is simple; from a website host. Many or indeed most website hosting companies will give you access to a free website builder as a free resource along with the hosting package.
Unfortunately, as in life generally, things you get for free tend to come with some disadvantages.
In the first place, in most cases the free programs have limitations – one of which is likely to be that you are only permitted to build a few pages. If you want any more, you often have to upgrade to a paid version of the website builder.
Next, most of these programs while quite easy to use tend to produce very basic websites which may not be anywhere near the standard of your competitors professionally constructed websites.
Apart from these factors, web hosts website builders tend to in my opinion lack flexibility so that as your business grows and you want to add features such as polls or forms to gather information or add a video or sound media or even adverts, you may find these features are lacking and impossible to add.
Lastly, how about if you want to move your website to a new host – Sorry, a website hosts website builder is likely to be so knitted into the system it is impossible to move. You may need to start from scratch on a new website host.
2) Software Based Website Builders
In this scenario, you simply purchase your website builder from a company and download the software or you pop into a shop and buy it as a CD or DVD package. Then you follow the instructions and carry out a simple installation. Next, you allow the built in wizard software to lead you through various choices such as which design template and features to use etc., add your content and then upload your website onto your webspace on the Internet.
To successfully apply this method you will need a bit more technical knowledge than the other options as you will need to ensure that the package you have is compatible with your computer, select compatible website hosting and make sure you understand how to transfer files from your software and computer to your website hosting package.
Some of the downloadable packages come with free trials so you may be able to test the software and see if the designs are good enough and the processes are easy enough for you to work with.
Most of the time these software programs are much more advanced and provide better, more modern resources than the free hosted packages. One major advantage is that in most cases, you only need to pay once so your only further expense is your monthly website hosting.
Another advantage is that since the software is on your computer you can load your website to any web host you want and therefore can move to a new host easily and quickly whenever you want to.
3) Internet Hosted Website Builders
Online website builders are hosted on the Internet by a dedicated website builder provider company. They can be much easier to use as you don’t have to download or install the software. Rather, once you pay your fee (in most cases monthly) you are given a user name and password with which you access your web space any time you want to modify your website.
Often these programs have a free trial period as well. In some cases hosting is free unless you want extra services such as a dedicated website domain or more features.
Another advantage is that unlike the software packages, you benefit from any upgrades and extra features are added on automatically.
These programs tend to be quite easy and rapid to use and full featured. They often come with a demonstration or wizard to walk you through the whole process of creating your website.
Factors you should consider when choosing a website builder:
Clear instructions – You should either be provided with clear Step-by-Step Instructions or a video which shows you exactly what to do and how to build your website.
Designs – Before you pay make sure you check the quality of the templates they provide or if they showcase their clients go and have a look at their actual websites.
Resources – What kind of resources are they providing you? Think forward. What do you think you may need to add to your website in future – video, music, flash animation, adverts, forms, polls, downloads? Find out if the service or software provides these resources
Support – What kind of support facilities are provided? How do you contact them if you get stuck or your site is down? Don’t wait till you have a problem, find out before you sign up or buy.
Domain / Website Hosting – Will these facilities allow you to buy your own domain name or transfer it to other website hosting if and when you need to.
E-Commerce – Will these services allow you to turn your website into a shop when and if you need to. Will they accept PayPal or do they provide a shopping cart. What about security if you want people to pay you online? Are secure facilities available to you?
Free Trial – Can you start with a free trial – look for at least a 30 day website trial before you start so you can test the services thoroughly.
Ease of use – Don’t persist with a website builder that is proving difficult to use or does not work properly during your free trial. Your website builder should be easy to use and understand. If it is not, you will most likely get more and more frustrated as time goes by and stop updating your site when you ought to be updating it regularly.
Payments – Make sure you read their terms and conditions properly. How often do you have to pay and how much? Which facilities cost extra. Note that over time, a hosted solution could possibly cost you more in the long term than a professionally built website . If you are on a hosted website builder solution, check how much you would need to pay for hosting only at a dedicated website host.
Optimisation – Are you being offered any optimisation, website marketing facilities or website traffic building facilities – if so make sure these are for free or determine whether and how much you are willing to pay for them.
Finally, take a good look at the services and facilities your website builder is offering you in light of your business model and services. If you think a website builder will provide you with value for money or really help you save money in the short term then using one could really help you build your business.
The best website builder to choose will depend on whether you are technically advanced or a novice when it comes to computers. Other considerations are which features you need, future goals and how speedily you require your website to be built. If you take all these factors into consideration, you will be able to build the best possible website for your business.