Can I Afford to Use a Website Builder?
Considering the nearly billion of websites that exist on the internet today, it’s a little mind-blowing to think that the first site went live in November of 1992. The basic, all text based sites, created during the early 1990’s, were a big deal, but by today’s standards would be less than impressive. Not only were first websites hard to come by, but they took a long time to create and only a small handful of website designers could afford it and figure out the complex codes needed to get (and keep) a site functioning 24/7.
People and businesses, who had a website in the “early” years, were either incredibly lucky or had connections because the cost of creating a website was not affordable for everyone. Those interested in having a site needed a separate budget for a website as there were many factors to consider in the cost of creating a website, such as the purchase of a domain name, the server for the site to be hosted on, the marketing, and optimization.
Set a Budget
According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), hiring an independent web designer can cost you anywhere from under $1,000 to over $5,000. If you’re not afraid to get a little DIY (with some guidance), a website builder is much more budget friendly, gives you more control, teaches you some tech basics, and will cost you far less than an independent web designer.
While a majority of website builders are affordable, “affordable” means different things to other people. For example, some people would have no problem spending over $500 to get a website up and running, where you might think $100 is the maximum you can spend on a site. Set a budget and start looking for website builders who offer services within your price range, but keep in mind that you may have some separate costs when it comes to the initial setup of your website and ongoing maintenance.
Brainstorm Your Website
To get the most for your money, as well as efficiency, it’s a good idea to have your site planned out before you visit a website building site. Although you may not know exactly how you’ll want your site to look, it’s important to make some decisions before you get started. For instance, you may have a vision of having a “highly interactive” website. However, it’s important to consider that the more involved it is, the more you are likely to spend and may require more maintenance and updates. Remember, you can always improve your website as your business grows and your site proves to be effective (which may also give you more of a budget to work with). Don’t feel too pressured to make it perfect right away; websites, like businesses, often evolve. Your primary goal is to launch your site at a price you can afford and gain exposure.
Know What You Need, Know What You’ll Get
Before you settle on a website builder, it’s important to decide what you need in a website and what you’ll be getting. Although there are a few top website builders who offer free trials and even full accounts, allowing users to pick a template and publish it on their subdomain, these particular sites may not provide the level of customer care or technical support that you need or desire. If you opt to use any site builder, whether on a free trial basis or a minimal monthly fee, make sure you read the terms of agreement closely and understand how the pricing works (such as “add-ons” and upgrades), as well as the cancellation policy.
Time is Money
Like the cost, the level of “hands on” work can vary based upon which website builder you choose. Overall, most website builders make the process of creating a website easy to understand and manage. While building a website for your business is important and should be considered during the beginning stages of your business, you don’t want to choose a site creator that will take up too much of your time, even if you’re paying a minimal fee each month. Regardless of how much money you spend on a website, whether it’s free or you spend thousands of dollars, it should require minimal “extra” work from you.
Websites have evolved so much in the last 25 years that they should require little maintenance or thought. The time you spend on checking to make sure your website is in good working order or fixing any glitches is the time you could be using connecting with your customers, processing orders, and growing your business.
Read & Research
Finally, before you select a site building option, be sure to read website builder reviews and do your research. Talk with friends, family, and even fellow business owners. You should also be able to ask the company that creates the website builder any questions and get the answers you need, without committing to their monthly plan. Additionally, don’t be afraid to try out website builders that offer free services or trial periods. Higher priced website builders will not automatically mean that they provide a better service. If you have a vision for your site and do a little research, there’s no reason that you can’t find an affordable site that will suit all of your needs whether you’re showcasing personal works of art or launching an online business.