How to Choose a Website Builder
Coding and web design are valuable skills, but you don’t need to be a professional to build a stunning website for your business or own personal use. Website builders and hosting services are designed specifically to make every step of the process easy for people who have little to no experience creating a website.
Website Builders vs. Hosting Services
While builders and hosts are two different services, sometimes the two are one in the same. Most website builders offer their own hosting options while hosting services specialize in server storage for an externally built website. So in this article, website builders and hosting services will be discussed as one total package.
Questions to Ask
Just like planning the perfect website, you need to ask yourself the right questions before you will know what to look for in a site builder. These five questions will help point you in the right direction when you start the search:
- 1. Is this business or personal? Is this a company website or just a fun project for your free time? Could this hobby possibly turn into a business?
- 2. Will this site make money? Do you plan on selling advertising or charging users to access content (the latter is not recommended if this website/service is brand new)?
- 3. Will you sell products or services on this website? Does this site need to be configured for eCommerce and a payment account?
- 4. Do you want to add more to this website over time? Will this site always be a work in progress or do you have a fixed framework that will likely stay the same?
- 5. What’s your budget? Website builders are very affordable, but the more you have to spend, the more options you have at your disposal.
Set Your Goals
Setting goals will help narrow the scope of what you need from a website builder. For example, a simple blog would only require the most basic plan from a website builder whereas an eCommerce site for a t-shirt company could require more work and a bigger budget. There’s nothing a website builder can’t handle, but it’s a good idea to have a scope in mind before you start searching.
There are different kinds of hosting servers, such as shared and dedicated servers, but these shouldn’t matter much to you. What you want to focus on are the options that will impact your website directly:
- Storage: How much space does this hosting service allow for pictures, video, and other data that takes up more space?
- Bandwidth: How much data does this hosting service allow your visitors to consume? (for example, a host might have unlimited storage, but your visitors could only open so many of your pictures or files)
- Domain: Does the service give you a free domain name when you sign up? Does it require a lengthy contract (some hosting services want a year up front for a free domain)?
- Ease of Use: On top of actually hosting your site, how easy is it actually to build one? Website builders and hosts live and die on this interface.
Searching the Crowd
There are a lot of website building services to choose from, but we help rank the best in the business to suit your needs better. You will find that 5-10 services will make the same lists in most of the reviews that you read, so it’s best to stick to the popular services to ensure your own building process goes smoothly.
The most basic website builders can cost less than $10 per month. These plans are for one-page landing sites, simple blogs, and other non-business websites that anticipate a moderate amount of traffic. If you need eCommerce, merchant accounts, or expect to yield a ton of traffic, website builders could cost up to $50 per month (but this is still much cheaper than hiring a professional web designer, at least in the short term).
Focus on Primary Needs
If your search for a website builder feels overwhelming or you have trouble finding the “total package” service, try narrowing your search for 2-3 primary needs. Whether it’s data storage, the free domain, or an easy user interface (a top pick for most people), don’t stress yourself looking for every last amenity under one roof. Most services will have their specialties—focus on those and move forward.
You’ve chosen a website builder! It’s time to put on the hard hat and start construction. Don’t be afraid to use the builder’s tutorials and customer support options. Even the easiest interfaces can cause headaches along the way. Call, email, or tweet to make your experience comfortable, enjoyable and efficient.